“… well now Dimi, if that doesn’t take the cake!”
“I haven’t any reason to turn my back now on my brothers now in face of an invasion like this,” a teenaged boy said in a matured toned defiance towards his mother’s disgust. “To allow Terminal City to succumb to the infectious disease they bring on the tip of their teeth is treachery of the highest order and I for one will not allow them to be infected.”
His father led him to a private room, away from the worrying clutches of his mother, and sat young Dmitri Malouki down on the red wooden stool he had used so much as a child. Every Sunday he would sit down on that red stool and peek through the window to watch his father work on the family’s Mazda sedan or fix the bird feeders his dad loved so much – almost as much as the birds Dmitri loved.
“I hate it when she calls me that name. I am no longer her little baby!” Dmitri said moving uncomfortable on the small stool.
Mr Malouki looked upon Dmitri as he did when his son was four and eight and twelve. The soft respect in his father’s eyes did not please Dmitri, who at 15 thought himself very ready to be a man and not the child his parents wanted to protect. His work in helping the humans win the battle of East 1st had endowed in him the strongest sense of manhood, a sense he had never felt before but was sure that in fact he was authentically experiencing it.
Many of the experiences under the Skytrain had confirmed that he was now a man. There was the rye contestes with the Frankie Biggs, Ernesto Chow and Wilson Sebulsky. The three much older Anti-Terrifying Forces members would share manly stories of years ago when they hunted werewolves and survived the early days of the zombie invasion, instilling a spirit of tradition in Dmitri’s ATF soul.
Often they would share cigarettes when they told these stories and when Dmitri had offered Frankie a cigarette for the first time, a stick of Lucky Strikes, Frankie said: “now that’s my man.” Not boy – man. There was also the moment he shared with Stacy Berry, though he could not figure out if it was love or lust. Lost with each other in an empty room of an abandoned warehouse, while hell was being fought outside, they, as Frankie also told him, “got it on,” to which every present male member of the ATF shouted: “that’s our man!”
It was just another false alarm. ATF members were trained to know that you needed three siren warnings before you could worry about a zombie uprising but Mr Moulaki did not see it this way and had ran to the door to make sure his family would be safe. There had been many false alarms since the win at East 1st. That was because people were still afraid and even the slightest growl was enough to send the zombie siren off. Fear in this Zombie era had a much tighter grip on Terminal City then the Werewolf era ever had. The Maloukis were not immune to that sentiment. Though the battle their son was involved in took place some distance away from where the Maloukis lived on Western Beach, it was close enough that they boarded up the doors and kept the lights off unless they needed them on.
During this time, Mrs Malouki rarely slept at night. She cursed Mr Malouki for letting her only child leave home and join the ATF in their endless war against the Zombies. She told Mr Malouki that there was no way to win a war like this. She asked how could you kill the undead, and how could HE let HER boy go, which to her was a kin to selling a cow off for meat.
“You served them another piece of beef,” she cried at night in bed. “My son will be eaten and either killed or turned and it will be YOU who is at fault. If that happens so help me I will never forgive you.”
“Hush my dear,” Mr Malouki consoled her. “He is no wimp. He will survive.”
And Dmitri did survive and when he returned to the house one month later there was only one noticeable difference – a strip of fur above his top lip. But that small touch of macho belied the still young features of his face that reminded Mrs Malouki of her baby Dimi.
However, under the skin much had changed. Dmitri was sure of this. He stepped around the house with more authority and, although his voice squeaked and changed at intervals, he used the words his father would say for most situations.
“Honey, get me the paper,” he would ask of Mrs Malouki in fictitious deep voice, to which a newspaper would be presented solidly across the back of his head – just like his father.
Sitting on the red wooden stool, he awaited his father to realise what he already knew.
“Just a false alarm,” said Mr Moulaki beginning to relax.
“Now son, I understand you are going through a lot…”
“Been through a lot,” Dmitri corrected his father.
“Yes, well that might be true however you are still fifteen and your mother and I have discussed it. You are not to take part in any further ATF campaigns.”
Dmitri slumped his head forward and then shook it slowly. Perhaps his father hadn’t heard the story of the slaughter. He could recount the night when he and eight other men walked in to what seemed like a forest of blood thirsty zombies, hunting them down in a derelict alley near Brand for Sale Place – surrounded by the most hellacious, thoughtless, brain hungry rabid creatures who had ever walked this fine earth – and fought them not with fear but pleasure for the sacrifice and the deed they had done was never to be equalled, according to Frankie Biggs.
“But… but, come on. I am a man now and like, you are going to have to accept it,” Dmitri argued, his voice rising to a rooster level.
“Son I have seen a great change in you but to assume that you flick a switch and CLICK you become a man is ludicrous. You must know how dangerous it is out there.”
Mr Malouki pleaded to his son’s fear for he knew that he would not win any war of reason with this teenager who had already seen more than he should have. He begged as a prisoner of love for his only child t not be rash in deciding what he would do next. To be a man, his father lectured, was more then just killing mindless beings that had to be killed. There was more to maturity then telling off you mother, more then smoking and drinking, more then even sleeping with a woman, he said with a wink and twinkle in his eye.
“You have to know when not to be rash, when not to kill my boy,” Mr Malouki said with a hopeful smile cutting above his stubbly chin.
The sound of the sirens rolling down the street caused Dmitri to jump off the stool and run to the front door. Something was happening and his young heart beat rapidly in hopes to be part of it
“Where are you going Dimi?” Mrs Moulaki called out to her son as he turned the brass door handle.
“I’m going to a fight,” Dmitri said in a very juvenile voice.
Dmitri ran out the door and with a smile across his face, high-fived Frankie Biggs and marched off to a fight.
ONE MORE SMOKE FOR THE ROAD
9 years ago