Chapter 2: Surfing...WITH DOOM!
Call it detective's intuition, or barbarian instinct, but the moment I stepped out of my office and onto the streets, I knew something was wrong. Maybe it was something in the air. Maybe it was just that initial list of questions that comes with the start of a new case. Or maybe it was the large mob of volatile crackheads gathered around my front step like it was the center stage at Woodstock; all staring at me like I was the world's biggest, most succulent crackrock, just begging to be smoked.
I was planning on going to The Shady Underground - an appropriately-named club for goons, henchmen, and other shifty types - and see if I could dig up any information on Professor Apocalypse and his whereabouts. Honestly, I wasn't expecting to get much if anything from it, but I didn't really have any other options. Now, the only thing standing between me and a quick rocket-surfboard trip to The Shady U was every single crackhead in Exploding Crackhead Boulevard and their damn cousins.
A small opening began to form in the crowd, revealing the alpha crackhead. I could tell he was the alpha crackhead because; along with the array of filthy rags that make up standard crackhead attire, this one also had a dingy (but still quite smart looking) stovepipe hat. Slowly, he lifted one gnarled arm and pointed at me, his fingernails yellowed, his eyes bloodshot and full of insane hate.
He shouted "DRAK! SHUBNOOSEEROG!" to the crowd.
The crowd responded in unision, "GURKKEN SCHLABBLEMORF!"
I hadn't the slightest idea what they were saying - I couldn't speak crackhead. I noticed I was instinctively reaching for my broadsword and stopped myself. Although, I wasn't sure what was happening around me, I knew that, unfortunately, my trusty broadsword would do me no good here. The problem with crackheads is that they explode. They explode if they don't get enough of their precious crack. They explode if they smoke too much crack. They explode if they are struck hard enough. They explode at any damn time for no reason whatsoever.
These bastards are very unstable.
With a unifying cry of "RAGGLPAK!", the crackheads slowly began to advance towards me.
Think, dammit. THINK!, I told myself. The good news was there were no innocent bystanders. Aside from me and the crackheads, Exploding Crackhead Boulevard is completely uninhabited. I actually set up base here because I liked the privacy and the crackheads always kept to themselves. The bad news was the crackheads were no longer keeping to themselves. They were working in groups, with a (technically) clear objective. They were behaving almost like real people. And now I was surrounded by hundreds crack-powered bombs, all of them after me.
They were only about ten feet away from me now, it was clear that the time for thinking was over. I removed my rocket-surfboard from the strap holding it to my back and tucked it tightly under my arm so I would have it ready when I needed it. Then, with as much might as I could muster, I leapt on one of the crackheads, planted my foot into his shoulder, and kicked off; sending me flying above the mob. While midair, I quickly scanned the street. I didn't like what I saw.
The entire street had vanished, in it's place were shoulder-to-shoulder crackheads stretching the entire length of the few blocks that make up Exploding Crackhead Boulevard. Beyond the boulevard, everything was normal. Cars on the streets, people on the sidewalks; it was like there was a magic line that neither side could cross. That's where I had to get.
I landed on another crackhead's dome and pushed off; I was running atop a sea of pure crackhead. I needed some kind of solid ground. If I landed wrong and fell into the crowd, I was done for.
Then I saw it. An overturned car, an island in the crack sea. I began to make my way towards it, springing off crackhead faces, a chorus of unintelligable curses slurred in the bizarre crack language following every step. They were definitely angry now.
By the time I got to the car, my legs were completely drained of strength. I felt like I had ran a marathon in waist-deep mud, but I had made it. Before I even landed on top of the car, I had already flipped out the rocket-surfboard's handheld controlometer and was working the startup controls, tweaking the speedulation module and setting the beebopulator. As the crackhead's swarmed around my car island, the rocketboard finally beeped to life.
"Initiating startup process. Please be patient."
"Dammit!" I cursed aloud. I kept telling myself to install the latest firmware so I wouldn't have to wait for these slow startups, but I kept putting it off.
A crackhead grabbed my ankle. I punched him in the face. He yelled back at me. I didn't understand what he said, but I think he may have called my mother a penguin. Then they were all over me, crackhead hands reaching up and pulling me in every direction. I crouched down, grabbed the car's axle with one hand, the rocketboard with the other, and held on tight to both. If they managed to pull me off the car, or wrap their heads around something as complex as climbing on top of it themselves, I would be a goner.
"Hurry up!" I shouted at my board with no effect.
Then, the crackheads stopped and turned away from me, gazing towards the direction I came from. None of them saying a word.
What was this random, eerie calm? Some sort of ancient crackhead ritual? Slowly, to avoid redrawing their attention, I stood to see what they were looking at.
It was a crackhead. Specifically, it was the first crackhead I jumped up on when I started my impromptu crackwalk. He was spasming violently, his head and arms flailing, an odd smile across his face.
For a moment, I was bewildered. Then it hit me, I had seen this before. The crackhead was going to explode.
I must have triggered it when I jumped off his head. I scanned the path I had ran to get to the car and - sure enough - every crackhead I had stepped on was doing a happy little pre-explosion jig. They were going to explode, which would cause the crackheads next to them to explode, and so on and so on.
The sea of crackheads had just became a sea of grenades with the pins pulled out. And I was smack dab in the middle of it.
They cheered, "YAY! GRAGGLESCHMUK!" whatever the hell that means. I turned back to my surfboard.
"Hurry up!" I repeated, adding an extra "Dammit!" for emphasis.
"Startup is completed. Thank you!" the board politely beeped back as it sprang to life, it neutral thrusters fired to make it hover in midair, awaiting a rider.
I jumped on and - right before I pressed the gofastification button on the handheld controller - turned back to the sea of crackheads. "Hey!" I shouted.
They all stopped they pre-explosion celebrating and turned to me. I heard most of them say something along the lines of "Gurh?"
"Surf's up, crackheads!" I shouted at them as I fired the gofastification rockets.
They all threw their arms up in the air and cheered. "Yay! Brobblegop!"
And then they exploded.
Flying down the road, I had the gofastificators going as fast as I could handle. I looked back and saw the fiery wall of exploding crackhead gaining on me, so I set the board to go faster, almost throwing myself off in the process.
Going at breakneck speeds, all I could do was focus on dodging lightpole and powerlines. If I hit one at that speed, the collision would probably kill me before the explosions did.
After an adrenaline-pumping, pulse-pounding eternity, I began to see the end of Exploding Crackhead Boulevard slowly getting closer; my light at the end of the tunnel. If I could just make it out, I might just survive this.
Then, just to be a bitch, the board began to slow down and descend into the swarm of crackheads.
"No! NO!" I shouted, smacking the controller. This couldn't be. The board should have been at full power! Why was it dragging? It was like something...was weighing it..
I looked behind me. The wall of exploding crackheads was gaining rapidly. I was gonna be toast in less than half a minute. Then I looked down at the back of my board.
A flaming crackhead had latched on to the back of the board, trying desperately to pull himself up. "Pa!...fessir!...pokker!...mips!..." he shouted, each word...thing strained and desperate.
I didn't know what it meant, and I didn't care. It was time to ditch this load. "Fessirmips yourself, sucka!" I quipped as I planted my boot in his face, knocking him off the board.
With him gone, the board immediatly sped back up. I could feel the heat of the giant crackexplosion on my back. This thing was right on me, but I might just make it.
With crackflames lashing out beside me, I shot out of Exploding Crackhead Boulevard like a bullet. The explosion did not, it had ran out of crackheads to fuel it. I looked back at the damage and saw that not only was everything that wasn't EC Boulevard completely unsinged, but no one seemed to notice the quick massive burst of flame that had shot out of it. And if they did notice it, they didn't care. Apparently when you live near Exploding Crackhead Boulevard, you get used to shit like that.
I was glad to be alive, but I probably shouldn't have spent so much time looking behind me. Had I been looking the right way, I may have not slammed into the wall of an old shoe store and plummeted into a dumpster. Unharmed, I drug myself out and found myself staring up at an obese hotdog stand vendor.
Ignoring him, I picked myself up, dusted myself off, grabbed my board.
"Whas yer deal bub?" he grunted.
"Which way to The Shady Underground?" I replied.
Stay tuned for the next awesome-packed installment of SPACEDOOM: A Johnny Explosion Adventure!