THE MIGHTY PIÑATA, WARRIOR of Justice, Soldier of Fair Play, Sentinel of Everyone Getting Along for Once in Their Lives, clawed his way into consciousness as if he were a cat breaking in his newest scratching post.
When last he’d looked out upon the world through the eyes of Clarity and Not Being Passed Out, he had been on the floor of a small office. Now, he was once more in one of the hospital’s beds. He might have thought for a moment that it had all been a dream, that he was finally waking from having been shot across the top of his head back in Bill’s Diner. He might have thought that. Of course, if he had given that thought more than a passing fancy, he would have been wrong.
The moment he woke in that hospital bed he knew he was in trouble. The cuffs they’d used to lock him to the bed was his first clue. Had he not noticed the cuffs however, a thought that almost made him laugh due to its ludicrous nature, he would have certainly realized the bother he had been put in simply by the six men and women standing around the bed aiming rifles at him.
“At last,” the Piñata said to the room. “I finally understand the meaning of the word ‘overkill’.”
“You have been very pesky for us today, Mr. Wei,” said a voice. Whoever was speaking stood some distance away beyond the soldiers with guns. “You will need to try very hard to convince me that you do not deserve a slow and most violent death.”
“First off, villain, you will address me as the Mighty Piñata, or, if you prefer to keep things brief, if you are the type of person that feels the need to shorten everyone’s name, you can call me Piñata. I will answer to either. I may even, if I am in the mood, answer to the Mighty P. I will not, however—”
“Enough!” said the man in the shadows. “You do so like the sound of your own voice, don’t you?”
“What I like is the sound of cell doors slamming shut behind people like you.”
“People like me?”
“Criminals,” said the Piñata. “Villains, ne'er-do-wells, evil doers. Take your pick.”
“What about idealists?” said the man. “What about someone who is just trying to make the world better?”
“By holding a hospital hostage? By terrorizing the frail, the sick, and the infirmed? How does that make the world better?”
“Sometimes you have to break a few eggs if you wish to make an omelet.”
The Piñata didn’t respond.
“What?” said the man.
Again, the Piñata was silent.
“What? said the man with more instance.
The Piñata said nothing.
“Why will you not respond?” With this, the man stepped forward so that the Piñata could see him clearly.
King Crab, the Piñata thought. I knew it would only be a matter of time before he showed himself.
“King Crab,” the Piñata said aloud. “I knew it would only be a matter of time before you showed yourself.”
“Why do you have nothing to say about my presence here? About what I am trying accomplish?”
“What else is there to say?”
“I am not a villain,” said King Crab.
Of course you are, thought the Piñata.
“Of course you are,” said the Piñata aloud.
“Okay,” said King Crab. “I can admit that my methods do make it appear as such. But you have to understand that—”
“The end justifies the means?” the Piñata interrupted. “Everything you do here today is in service of the greater good?”
“Yes,” said King Crab, smiling. “You do understand.”
“What I understand is that you, sir, are a stupid little man. A sad, pathetic excuse for a human being who derives pleasure from terror and gets off on bullying the defenseless and infirmed.”
“How dare you,” said the man dressed as a crab, his face pinched up incredulously. “I am King Crab and I will not be spoken to in such a fashion. Most especially by a man who chooses such a silly way to dress.”
Once again, the Piñata did not respond. Instead, he only looked at King Crab. From the red and white epaulets upon the man’s shoulders, to the thin and twisty mustache that stuck out on either side of his face, until finally resting on the crown upon the man’s head that had been adorned with a large, red, crab.
“What?” King Crab said.
“Have you looked in the mirror lately?”
The Piñata felt a grim sense of satisfaction when he saw one of the six rifle-wielding soldiers, a woman, smile at his words.
IT HADN’T TAKEN TRISHA long to realize that all of this, her decision to join a paramilitary organization bent on changing the world by any means necessary, was probably a mistake. Politically, she didn’t agree that the current administration, or any administration before, had the people in mind when making policy. In her opinion, it was all about how much money they could make and nothing more.
She wanted to change that. Tried to change it. She’d gone to rallies and marches. She’d signed petitions and participated in sit its. All of which had done squat.
So, she looked for ideas elsewhere. In her zeal to make a difference, she’d chosen the first group that had come along. Now she was in a red jumpsuit, in a hospital room, holding a gun on a man cuffed to a hospital bed—a man dressed as a piñata—standing with five others who also held guns on the piñata garbed man, while their leader, the man she’d chosen to follow into all of this, cowered in the dark.
Any respect she had held for King Crab had quickly been dissolving as the man argued with the Piñata.
“How dare you,” said King Crab to the man in the piñata suit. Her leader, the man she had looked up to just moments ago, was practically foaming at the mouth. “I am King Crab and I will not be spoken to in such a fashion. Most especially by a man who chooses such a silly way to dress.”
It was then that it really hit her. With those words everything had finally fallen into place. A man who chooses such a silly way to dress? King Crab wore a crown on his head with a crab on it. A crab! How could she have not seen it before? How can he not see it himself? A man with a crab on his head throwing judgment at someone else for the way they dress? Has he looked in a mirror lately?
“Have you looked in a mirror lately?” said the man on the bed.
She couldn’t help but smile.
“You are quickly moving yourself into a situation that could very well end with your death,” said King Crab. “I mean, you have no idea what it is we are doing here. What we are trying to accomplish. The changes we are making to the country.”
What were they trying to accomplish here? They, the Prawn, were told very little. Only that what they were doing here today was to be an important moment in the history of the country. A big step in a long road to fixing things. But what that step was, well, she had no idea.
“Why don’t you fill me in, then?” said the Piñata.
“Oh, right. Yeah,” said King Crab. “Like I’m just going to tell you my plan. What do you think I am, an idiot?”
“Until proven differently, sure,” said the Piñata.
That’s when it happened. She hadn’t meant it. She’d tried to hold it in. But at the Piñata’s words she’d let escape a single, solitary, giggle.
King Crab spun, facing her with a face nearly as red as the crab on his head.
“You think this is funny!?” King Crab practically spit. “Do you, prawn! Well, in that case, I want you to show this… this… Piñata how we do things in the Crustacean Conglomerate. Shoot him.”
“What?” she said, her eyes going wide.
“Shoot him at once,” said King Crab. “I command it.”
Trisha looked from King Crab to the man in the bed. The man dressed as a piñata. She raised the rifle. She looked the Piñata in the eye, frowning. He, in return, smiled a reassuring, almost comforting smile.
“Is this truly what you want to do, dear lady?” said the Piñata. “The choice, in the end, is yours. Not his.”
“Shut up!” King Crab shouted. “Shoot him!”
“Look into your heart,” the Piñata said. “Only your heart knows best.”
“Shut up,” Trisha said, her voice cracking.
She placed her finger on the trigger. She inhaled, then exhaled. A bead of sweat rolled out of her hair, down her forehead, and travelled along the bridge of her nose, pausing there at the tip, before falling onto the rifle.
“Is this what you wanted from life?” the Piñata said, his voice almost a whisper. “Killing a defenseless man who has been chained to a bed? Is this how you always saw your future self?”
“Shoot him now!” King Crab screamed.
Trisha sighed, took her finger off the trigger, and lowered the rifle.
“I can’t,” she said, turning to King Crab. “I didn’t sign up to kill people. Not like this.” She dropped the rifle to the floor.
“Well then,” said King Crab. “You reveal yourself to be a traitor to the cause. Take her,” he said to the others.
Two of the prawn grabbed an arm each.
“You will learn the price for betrayal, prawn,” said King Crab. “But don’t worry, you will die knowing that your gesture was futile. Kill her,” he said to the others. “But not before you kill our colorful friend.”
We have now reached the end of what is Part One of the Saga of the Mighty Piñata. We will pause here for a month or so, ending as we have on a number of cliff hangers over the last few chapters, as I prepare the next Part.
I only have one question. Do I put Part One out on ebook and paperback now, or wait until I have a few more parts under my belt?