I Ducked as Paintballs Whistled Overhead

Putting a finger to my helmet where my lips would be, I peeked over the edge of the plastic barrier. Blobs of crimson from missed shots riddled the opposing side’s barriers, but there was no movement. A breeze rustled the leaves on the trees running along the side of the ditch we were in front of, and in the distance, a dog howled. The bellies of the clouds overhead were splashed with the paint of the setting sun.

Do you think we can make it?” DeMarcus said, putting his gun on top of the barrier and aiming as if there was something to hit.

We’d better,” I replied. “I’m tired of losing to Big Mac and his stupid gang of bullies. They’re probably trying to flank us, so if we hurry, we can flank them instead.”

Jimmy was pressed against the pylon beside ours, but the rest of my crew was done for. Jimmy was the worst shot out of everyone, but at least my right-hand man DeMarcus was still with me.

Okay,” I started, looking through the clear plastic on DeMarcus’s helmet and into his brown eyes. “Cover me as I go through the ditch. If we can flank them, we can end this. They can’t have more than—”

DeMarcus’s head jerked to the side and red splashed across the side of his plastic helmet. He slumped over to the right and dropped his gun, groaning.

Son of a biscuit!” I yelled, ducking as a salvo of paintballs whistled over my head.

I’m sorry,” DeMarcus said.

He took two fingers and wiped some of the red paint from his helmet, looking at it as if he needed to see it to believe it. He let his hand flop down. He scooted back and rested against one of the hay bails.

Those little boogers are cheating. Everybody knows headshots aren’t allowed.” I said, balling up my fists.

DeMarcus coughed out a laugh before responding. “Yeah, but everybody also knows Big Mac doesn’t care about rules.”

Grenade!” Jimmy yelled, his voice cracking on the ‘A’ sound.

Acting before I could stop him, DeMarcus sat up, grabbed me by the collar, and flung me to the side. Time seemed to move in slow motion as I went airborne. I watched the water balloon jiggle through the air and slam right into DeMarcus, and he fell back into the bail of hay in an explosion of milk. His face turned in disgust, but after taking a second to recover, he flung his gun over to me.

It landed a few inches in front of me, but I looked at him. He wiped the milk from his visor and gave me the thumbs up as Big Mac’s crew made cow noises from behind cover.

Make ‘em pay the piper!” DeMarcus yelled.

My eyes lowered, and I picked up his gun. I checked my surroundings for options. The forest that ran parallel to the course was at my back. A maze of plastic pylons, walls, and tubes was in front of me. Jimmy was still behind his cover, visibly shaking but still holding his weapon.

Staying low to the ground, I ducked behind one of the trees and peered around it. Big Mac and his goons came out from behind their cover, standing and resting their guns against their shoulders. There were three of them left. The biggest of the lot, Whopper, was tossing a milk bomb up and down in his hand, grinning.

You heifers want any more?” Whopper called, and the whole group laughed.

They walked forward with pride and reached our side of the ditch after a few seconds. Big Mac had a sandwich wrapped up in his pocket, and he lifted his mask. He peeled back the wrapper and took a bite, chewing with his mouth open like he always did.

AHH!” Jimmy yelled, standing up from behind his cover and opening fire.

The gang jumped as Jimmy startled them, and they flinched a few times as the puff of Jimmy’s gun sounded over and over again. I slapped a gloved palm to my forehead as I realized Jimmy had closed his eyes through the whole ordeal.

The three looked at each other and laughed louder than before. Mimicking his actions during his baseball games, Whopper postured, wound up his arm and threw a fastball right into Jimmy’s chest. His shoulders slumped, and he dropped to the ground. For good measure, BigMac shot him three times in the stomach and Jimmy started whimpering in pain.

Mooove over James Bond,” Big Mac said, holding his gun to his lips and blowing. “There’s a new Sheriff in town.”

And lookie here,” Whopper said walking up to DeMarcus.

If it aint’ dumb dumb DeMarcus,” Big Mac said.

DeMarcus balled up his fists, and I knew he was gritting his teeth, even though I could only see his mask. Big Mac put his sandwich to his mouth and held it there as he pointed the gun at my friend.

Seeing how mean they were made me lose it, and I roared into action. Time slowed down again as I ran out from behind my tree, going full Call of Duty akimbo with my duel guns. Being on the track team, I’d always been fast, but at this moment I felt like Usain Bolt would have eaten my dust.

Before any of the gang knew what had happened, I’d popped Whopper in the throat, and he dropped to the ground, and holding his neck. I got Silent Bob in the groin, knowing that he never wore the protective gear for down there. I saved Big Mac for last and caught him right as he turned. His sandwich was still to his mouth, and I fired both barrels right into it. He coughed from the impact, trying to swing his gun around to fire back.

I barreled into him before he got it around and we both tumbled to the ground. I was on top, and I pushed up until I was standing over him. I put a foot on his stomach and emptied both hoppers into his chest. He coughed and wheezed, and I finally let him roll onto his side. He continued coughing, and I smiled, victorious.

After helping DeMarcus to his feet, he reared back and kicked Big Mac in the butt.

That’s for calling me dumb. Do it again and next time and I will kick you on the other side.”

All smiles and feelings of pride, we helped Jimmy to his feet and headed back to find the rest of the crew.

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