Child’s Play, chapter 1

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    Hey, guys, I know this isn't all of the first chapter as I intended.  But my computer's acting urpy, and I'd like to get something up on the forum just in case it goes down for the count.  So I'll break it down to two smaller bites.  And so… following Alex's advice about posting in FMG Fiction… here's the first installment of my Monty Bank sequel.

    Child's Play
    Chapter 1:  I've Got a Secret

    “Crazy men drivers,” muttered Martissa.

    “I think your bulk popped the thing,” I mildly snapped back.

    I know, that was catty. Especially since Martissa was using her day off to coach me in driving a stick shift. Since my new boss Gracie Terrance-Cristofan wanted me ready to drive heavy vehicles for my new job, I needed to ace the commercial driving permit test. Until I first met her, I was enslaved to the automatic transmission.

    Anyway, I pulled the ute off the trail and stopped thirty yards past a lonely church, and we exited into the Australian Outback to check. Yep. The tire was flat as my dad’s jokes. I quietly headed to the ute’s back to fetch the spare, jack, and tire iron. “What are you doing?” Martissa asked.

    “Brushing my teeth,” I said. “Are you kidding? I’m gonna fix it.”

    “Hey, I can get that.”

    “Well, I’ve got it now, thanks.” I rolled the spare around.

    “Look, you don’t have to do this.”

    “It’s my fault, my flat, my job.”

    “And it’s my truck.”

    With only a grunt, I sat down, pried off the hubcap and put it aside as I loosened the lug nuts. She stooped down behind me and took my shoulders. “Baby, it could’ve been me. Maybe I am getting a bit big for this old beater anyway. Maybe I should trade it in for an SUV. Or maybe I’ll just give this heap to you.”

    I shook my head. “Please don’t do this.”


    “Please stop being so… so… look, you’ve been providing the lion’s share of the last few dates, all right?”

    She whipped her head back incredulously. “What? This is a problem?!”

    “For me, it is.”

    “Come on, you’ve been pulling your share, too. I mean, remember when we went to the park for a Frisbee throw? That was a great idea of yours. I hadn’t done that in years!”

    Yeah, I picked that date for two reasons: one, Dad had advised me to keep my first dates cheap and simple so I wouldn’t lose much if I found out my sweetie wasn’t a keeper. And two, I was dead broke, and my pay from my Crimson Cow trainee job hadn’t come in yet.

    “And then you took me to the Women’s Rugby Championships,” I replied, “and bought my Cokes, hot dogs, fries, and program. Autographed by the Brisbane Banshee’s captain, too.”

    “Well, then you took me to the art museums and we got great pictures. And that coffee shop/bookstore for a poetry reading the week after.”

    “And you bought me a bunch of books and a supply of coffee that I still haven’t finished.”

    “Well, then you went ahead and paid for my pinball, air hockey, and video games at the fun arcade the next weekend.”

    “And THEN the next week you took me to the laser tag and paintball range, paid for MY games, AND bought me my own paintball gun, ammo, uniform, face plate, and membership. To own.”

    She sighed testily. “Well, what about two weeks ago, when we went to the mall and you got me those DVDs? Y’know, X-Men 4, the remakes of Ben Hur and Lawrence of Arabia, and Ernest Meets Mr. Bean?”

    None of which would’ve been possible would’ve been possible without CG animation of the guys. “And last week, you took me to the Weird Al concert. Orchestra pit seating. Souvenir sweat shirt, T-shirt, hat, knapsack, and a Shirley Temple, and after THAT, you had us wait backstage and got Al to autograph that copy of “Peter and the Wolf” with Wendy Carlos you got on eBay.”

    “Yeah,” she said with a grin. “I had to do some serious hunting for that one.”

    “Well, giving it to me with a boom box as its ‘case’ was overdoing it.”

    She stared at me as I cranked the jack open. “Sweetie –“

    “And now you’ve beaten me to the punch by taking me out driving, and offering me a truck. Forget who pays how much, I can’t even keep up with whose turn it is!”

    Silence. Then she said icily, “Do you know how many guys out there would love to have your problem, Monty?” I said nothing, just kept cranking. It then got stuck. “Monty, this isn’t a competitive sport. This isn’t one-upmanship or me putting you in your place. This is…” Then she saw me pushing repeatedly trying to force it open. “Monty, don’t do that.” She took my thin upper arms. “Monty—“

    “Don’t! I’ve got it!” I barked, shaking her off.

    “Monty, if you keep jerking hard like that, you might—“

    Screeeaunch! Thud! The thing bent, and I flipped it and myself over on my right side, sucking red dirt. The vehicle landed roughly back on its flat.

    Martissa sighed. “…break it.”

    I swung upright, tried to salvage what dignity I could, and looked at the jack. I’d stripped the thread on the bolt inside, too. She shook her head as she put her hands on her bulging muscular tree trunk thighs.

    “Terrific. We have a flat, no jack, we’re smack dab in the middle of Outtdawazoo, and I don’t think our cell phones can reach the auto club, even if we belonged to one.” She stood to her full 7 foot, 5 inch height and put her hands on her hips, bending her arms just enough to flex her basketball sized biceps. “What are we gonna do? Oh, what are we gonna dooooooo?” She reached behind her head and relaxingly pushed her shoulders back, tightening that Banana Republic blouse over her massive bodice atop a goblet-shaped torso. She had been gaining weight, and all in the right places. “Well, I’m not gonna sweat it. I’ve got a smart, strong, able, capable man’s man among men to take care of helpless, li’l ol’ me.” She twirled a lock of hair. “I’ll be in the cab if you wanna chat. ‘Kay?” And with a finger tap to my nose, she opened the passenger side door, squeezed in, closed it behind her, grabbed an emery board from the glove box, and did her nails.

    I wasn’t done here. Not by a long shot.

    Oh, sure, she probably could’ve been the jack if she simply lay on her back under the chassis and inhaled. But don’t let my puny-looking buggy whip body fool you. Men nowadays may be the Yugos of the world… but my new boss has done a little not-so-street-legal tinkering under my hood.

    I searched around and found a boulder the size of a hassock. Perfect. I rolled the thing over and kept it near the tire. Then after several deep breaths, I put my hands under the ute’s frame, locked my legs, and pushed up as hard as I could.

    I could feel the veins popping all over. I closed my eyes as sweat beaded on my forehead. And yes, Martissa’s now pushing 400 pounds herself wasn’t helping at all. But very slowly, the side of the thing inched its way up. Just when I felt it get high enough, my boot pushed the rock under the vehicle, and I set it down. Then with a satisfied smile, I took the flat off, rolled it and the useless jack to the back, stowed them, dashed around, put on the spare, and threaded on the lug nuts. Then I reached over, and with more deep breaths and a grunt, I hefted it up again and pushed the boulder away with my toe. And though I probably lowered the ute harder than I should have, it wasn’t like I dropped it. I then tightened the nuts with the tire iron, slapped the hubcap back on, sprang up, slid across the ute’s hood to the other side, and slid in the open driver-side window a la Bo Duke.

    With a flip of the iron and a catch, I grinned like a Cheshire cat. “Auto club, shmotto club. Shall we go back to town and find a parts store, or is this thing still under the dealer’s warranty?”

    Martissa didn’t say a word. She just stared into the rear-view mirror blankly.

    “Marti-pie?” I asked. “What’s wrong?”

    She pointed at the mirror. “Look in the church window.” I did.

    Urk! A ten year old boy was staring right at us!

    "Drive," she said shortly.

    Fumbling the keys and steering wheel, I started us up herky-jerkily.  She didn't put her hands on my knees and smoothly guide the feet up and down on the pedals like earlier.


    We pulled into the lonely airfield at last.  "How long was he watching us?" I asked.

    "Watching you," Martissa answered.  "He popped up a few moments after I climbed in.  He never saw me, as far as I know."

    Rolling up to a stop, I parked and and turned off the engine.  Just as I hopped out with my suitcase, I saw Martissa open her door.  "What are you doing?"

    "Brushing my teeth.  You kidding?  I'm gonna spend the night."

    "Bad idea."

    "I'm gonna bunk in the ute, Sir Galahad."

    "I mean spending the night by the airfield."

    She sighed.  "NOW you give a rip who's looking."

    "It's not that, and you know it.  The vehicle's spotted with my face, and you don't need to get your face added to the mix.  You'll have to take it and yourself back to Brisbane.  You, Ms. Security Hotshot, should know this."

    "And YOU, Mr. Insecurity Hothead, could've avoided all this if you'd've just let ME help change the tire."

    "Well, excuse me for not being clairvoyant!"

    "What is your problem, anyway?  Why can't you just take a good thing and say thank you?"

    "Because I'm not giving my share!  I'm not doing my job here!"

    "Pfft!  Please!  Your job?  What the fuzz is THAT supposed to be?"

    Just then a hangar's door opened.  Out walked an Aborigine associate of mine:  Larry Billamontonga.

    "Right now, it's going in and waiting for my contact and load," I muttered.

    "That's not what I meant," Martissa said.

    "Well, that's my answer."  I turned to go.  She grabbed my wrist.  "Let go."

    "I'm not finished here."

    "Well, I am." 

    She huffed and geared up for another tirade.  Then she saw Larry staring at us.  Lowering her voice, she drew closer.  "Let me tell you something, Monty Bank," she hissed.  "You're very sweet, upright, and the last person on the planet I'd ever call a mooch.  You're someone I wish I could take home to Mom and Daddy.  But you've got a serious ego problem, and for a little twerp, you sure can carry a huge chip on your shoulder.  One day someone's going to smack it right off.  And one day, you may find yourself in a jam that you're not going to get out of without someone else's help.  I hope you're not too manly man to take it."  And she softened her tone.  "And I hope you don't get hurt."  She let go.  "They'll be here at two P.M. tomorrow.  Keep your head down until they show."

    She hopped back in the ute, slammed the doors shut, and kicked up some dirt as she pulled away.  Billy walked up.  "You must really care about each other to drive each other balmy like that," he said casually.

    "Don't start," I grumbled.

    With a grunt, Billy led the way in.  "So how's the new job, by the way?"

    "It's okay.  How's yours?"

    "A little lonely, but comfy enough.  Digs are kinda plain, though."

    "I've slept in worse, trust me.  Anywhere I can shower?"

    "Yeah.  Cot's by the door."  He pointed to the bathroom.  And okay, his apartment and spare room wasn't up there with Chateau du Motel 6, let alone the Brisbane budget hotel room Gracie had comped me, but it was MUCH cleaner and nicer than Charlton Rooms, the first Ozzie dump I stayed in.  I walked into the bathroom with my suitcase.  The shower curtain over the tub was kinda mildewed, but I could stand it.  Besides, I had my own. I pulled out a small metal collapsible frame, and pulled it into a phone-booth sized frame.  I then pulled out a grey plastic shower curtain and ringed it around the top, enclosing the shower head, and faucet knob.  and pulled a swatch over for a roof.  Then I stripped off my shoes, socks, and clothes and left them by the toilet.

    Now came the tricky part.  I stood in my full body leotard with 8 buttons like handshake buzzers on the shoulders, wrists, ankles, and on the chest. After I stepped into the shower with my soap, I tapped each one.  They spun, un-ratcheted, released, and sprang into my hand, which put them into a plastic ziplock bag.  When I got the last one… POP!  My flesh burst out of my tights like Hungry Jack biscuit dough from its just-opened can.  My 5'9" frame insantly decompressed into a 6 foot tall, 240 pound muscleman.  All masked from the Bureau of Global Safety, Surveillance, Transfer and Redistribution's satellites courtesy the miracle of Shrink-Wrap!  With that, I draped my tights over the top rack bar and turned on the hot water.

    Yes, I know, it's a lot to go through to bathe.  And I didn't look forward to scrunching into my clean skinsuit.  But if Big Sister ever scanned this, they'd wash away a lot more off my body than the day's grime. 


    Squeaky clean, fresh Shrink-Wrap suit buttoned on, and reclothed, I settled in.  Billy said there wasn't much for entertainment, so I just sat down and watched the news on the telly.  The world hadn't gotten much better lately.  In business news, I saw a report where the European Union's labour department was decrying the salary gap between male and females, which had widened since the Big Zap.  Labour bigwig Francesca L'Outrance claimed it was the male business owners trying to fight the battle of the sexes on an economic front, and demanded immediate regulation and wage equalization.  Meanwhile, Handel Jackson, the CEO of HandeeJack Third Arm Gadgets, a company making motorized hand trucks for men, said that most of the lower-pay menial grunt-work jobs went to women, because they were the only ones that could do the heavy lifting anymore.  Most men had to turn to higher-tech work, and thus got the higher pay.  In fact, the average technician's salary had gone down because of a glut of people looking for work in that field.

    In international news, I saw a lot of tension in Kenya.  Starvation had settled in pretty hard, and the African Union peacekeeping forces were struggling to keep control.  Because of the wildfires in America, foreign aid had gotten much scarcer, and even Canada and Australia had to pare back its food donations due to the sluggish economy.  The original pre-Zap policies had only women eligible to receive what little food there was, since they were more likely to give it to their families, not sell it on the black market like men, who were more likely to belong to a guerilla movement or crime gang.  But now with only women strong enough to fight, the AU wasn't sure who to trust with handouts now.

    And an amateur video in Montreal showed a hospital practical joke go wrong and ugly.  Four nurses were sitting in a break room, exhausted after pulling 24 hour shifts without any breaks, even for a meal.  Then suddenly from the ceiling dropped an extra large deluxe pizza, set up by a doctor.  I never saw such a brawl even on the WWE.  Pulling hair, body slamming, kicks to the face… all the furniture and dental work got demolished.  And sadly, so was the pizza.  In the scuffle, they'd smushed it into an inedible mess.

    Also, an announcement reminding us that the B.G.S.S.T.R was going to do an additional worldwide beam-up tonight for security reasons, since it was the one-year anniversary of a bombing of a Manchester women's clinic.  It turned out the bomber was a disgruntled employee who got shafted with her pension, but that part of the story was buried on page 20 in the papers.  Aesop was right:  any excuse will serve a tyrant.

    PUlling out a bottle with powder in it, I poured in some water from the sink, shook it once it was full, and sipped on my protein shake while I sat and read a book on the cot after the news ended.  I settled in to get some early sleep. 

    Quite a few hours later, I heard it.  My buttons whirred and spun like disk drives.  Seemed that Big Sister was helping herself again to what it thought was my own bodily strength to give over to my female counterpart in France, Switzerland, or the U.K.  The drain's feeling of dizziness and exhaustion didn't come this time, though.  Neither did the drowsiness.  So much for my sleep aid.  Ah well, ya win some, ya lose some.  I flipped over and looked at my book.  I'd probably drift off when I got to a good part. 


    The next morning, I couldn't sleep in anymore, and I'd finished my book.  I wanted to grab a newspaper, but the nearest one was probably 30 kilometers away.  Billy was still asleep on his cot.  I tippytoed to the TV and turned it on, trying to keep the volume down.

    "Oi!" groaned Billy.  "Keep the ruddy thing off!  I got a headache!"

    "Sorry," I peeped, turning it off. 

    "And not so flamin' loud!"

    "Uh… got anything for breakfast?"

    "Not flamin' likely.  Look in the fridge."

    Inadvertantly kicking empty beer cans out of the way, I strode over to the mini-fridge and stole a quick peek inside.  Except for one coldie left, it was bare as Mother Hubbard's cupboard.

    "Vending machines're by the door," he moaned.

    Slipping away, I spotted the Pepsi and pseudo-food machines by the hangar door.  On the way, I glanced over at an older-looking twin engine prop plane.  Something about the engines didn't look quite right, though.  Mulling it over, I arrived at the vendos, fished out some bills, and got myself some Pepsi, sour cream potato crisps, and a Mars bar.  The pre-Zap machines didn't have ration card scanners, and the food looked just as old.  Ehh.  I was hungry.  I popped the stuff open, and munched anyway.

    Stepping outside with my Pepsi, I decided to enjoy the morning sky over the Outback.  I should've foisted myself up earlier; I bet the sunrise would have been absolutely glorious.  But there wasn't much else out now except a bright sun, a sharp blue sky, the control tower, an office, two girls on a tandem mountain bike towing a cart, and a couple more hangars. 

    Wait up… two girls on a mountain bike?  Out here?  On a Sunday morning?

    "Hiya, stranger!" said a cheery voice behind me.

    I spun around.  There was a third girl.  Tow-headed, ponytailed, and 16 years old, she sat on a three-wheel bike with a big cart full of fruits and vegetables behind her.  Hopping off, she stood at a neat six feet, one inch tall.  While she was a bit more slender than the female norm nowadays, her build was very athletic.  Her sleeveless peach flowered dress left her softball-sized biceps in plain view.  She'd have held her own against any pre-Zap lumberjack. 

    "Sorry," she offered with her hand and a sweet smile.  "Didn't mean to startle ya.  Name's Zoe."

    "Hi," I said tenatively, taking it to shake.

    "What's yours?"

    "Well…" I started.  "I've been called Twerp, Puke, Dope, Septic Tank, Pig-Headed, Hick, Gay, and lots of other stuff too rude to repeat."  I shrugged.  "But I'll settle for Ward Teller."

    "Oh.  Well, hi, Mr. Teller," Zoe said again.  By then the tandem girls pulled up.  They were about the same size as Zoe.  "Oh, and here are my sisters."  They hopped off the bike, one with auburn hair under a broad sun hat, the other with hair so black it was almost blue.  They also wore flowery sun dresses, with Auburn wearing blue, Blackie wearing off white.

    "Hi there!" chirped the auburn one.  "I'm Yolanda."

    "And I'm Xenia!" went the other.

    I smiled.  Nice folks.  I know, I know, I should've acted less friendly, and been someone they wanted to forget.  I couldn't help it.  But I looked back to the door to duck back inside.

    "So, are you staying with Billy?" Yolanda asked.

    "Yes," I said, "I'm just… waiting for a flight here." 

    "Is he up?"

    I shook my head no.  "He's… got a headache."

    Zoe hung her head knowingly sadly.  "Oh.  Hung over again."

    "And we wanted to invite him over for brunch," Xenia pouted.

    "Yeah, sorry about that," I said.  "I'd better head in and make sure he's okay."  And I went towards the hangar door. 

    But Xenia intercepted me.  "Wait, wait, have you had anything for breakfast?"

    "Uh, something like it," I said, holding up my Pepsi and unfinished junk food.

    "Blech," went Yolanda.  "That stuff's been sitting there since World War II!"

    "Hey, we got an extra place at the table.  We wanted to invite Billy, but he's got to sleep it off," Zoe offered.  "Why don't you come with us and have a hot meal?"

    I shifted my foot.  "Uh, sorry, that's very nice of you, but I've got an appointment to meet someone here at 2, and I can't afford to miss it."

    "We'll bike you back here in record time," said Yolanda, patting her thick, well toned thighs. 

    "But there's a food shortage on," I protested.

    Zoe patted the cart.  "Harvest from our farm.  Plenty for everyone." 

    "But…" I said weakly, "what if someone calls here?"

    "We got boosters for your mobile phone," Xenia said, pointing at my cellie in my shirt pocket.  Crud.  I should've left it inside.

    "But…" I trailed off, trying to think of another excuse.

    The girls sensed this, and drew closer.  They stood squarely, surrounding me with my back to the hangar's wall.  While their faces expressed gentle pleading and persuasion, their closeness and tense postures showed they were ready and able to hogtie me and carry me off.

    Zoe folded her arms and looked at me cockeyed.  "Mr. Teller," she said coaxingly, "you're going to hurt our feelings if you turn down our invitation."

    There were three of them, and one of me.  While I supposed I could hold own against one of them, or two if I fought dirty, I'd blow my cover for sure if I did.  I'd shown off my strength once before by mistake in my shrimp disguise, and that was too much.

    "Well," I said, "I guess I could choke down some orange juice or coffee."

    "That's more like it!" beamed Zoe.  "Thanks!"  And she took both my arms and in a light dance, she twirled me over to the wagon, had me sit on it along the side, and took her seat. 

    And we took off across the Outback.  The girls' legs pumped the pedals so quickly, we got up to 45 miles per hour once they shifted gears. 

    About 15 minutes later I decided to chat.  "So you had a very good season so far?" I asked, patting the produce.

    "Oh yeah," said Zoe.  "This is going to be great for the Angels' Harvest."

    I blinked.  "Angels' Harvest?"

    "Uh-huh.  It's something all us farmers are doing.  We're gathering up ten percent of our crops and giving them to food pantries and hunger drives across Queensland.  Heaven knows, a lot of folks need it."

    I smiled.  "So where are we going to take all this?"

    She smiled right back.  "Right where we're going to have the breakfast."  And she pointed to the horizon where there was a gathering of trucks, tractors, and wagons around a building.  I squinted to make it out.

    And I instantly wanted to jump off.  And if it weren't for fear of ripping my body suit, I would have.

    We were going toward the church.

    To be continued in Chapter 2:  Inspiration, Please!


    This is sweet!

    I’m loving the nearly Western feel of this episode!

    Monty isn’t so much a magnet for trouble as a freaking black hole swallowing the light of hope. Hopefully Hubris won’t doom him to confinement in a bucket.:twisted:

    He’s a pulp hero trapped in a shrimp’s body!

    Doc Pipestem!

    Can’t wait to read more.

    Thanks for keeping on this fictional journey. 😉

    Also the Mr.Bean crossover and Weird Al involvement were quite inspired!


    Waaaaaaaaaay belated thanks, Probster. I’m glad you like.

    Oh, and I’m updating this to let y’all’s know my Monty Bank stories’ chapter names in the "To Be Continuted" lines at the end are now linked for your convenience.

    Matthew Lim

    Yeah, this has to be a really overlooked gem of a story. I wouldn’t have read this story if you hadn’t posted the second chapter.


    Well, if you’ll delve back a little further (or click the link in my new sig), you can read Monty’s first adventure… Power Play.

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