War

When the sun’s rays started to hit the horizon, the little band of handcrafted vehicles drove across the sand in a hurry.  8 vans, 3 motorbikes speed toward the tall walls of Plastic Beach. Ren and Bandie lead the little fleet, bundled up in blankets and goggles.  Bean sat in one of the vans, bouncing around nervously.  Horne was talking to one of the adults, worrying about the triplets they left behind at the Oasis.

As the forehead of the rose, they were on the compound.  The blankets flew off as a signal.  Like a well oiled machine, everyone got into positions; Bean climbed into a small compartment, opening up a smaller box.  Horne climbed up a ladder, throwing open a hatch and holding their hands on a built-in machine gun.

The van that held Bean sped up past Ren and Bandie, jumping over a dune.

“NOW,” Ren shouted into a hidden headset.  Bandie stood in her seat, her grey afro blowing in the wind.

“Not yet,” the children whispered to themselves.

As the van sped closer to the walls.

“BEAN, WHAT ARE YOU DOING, FIRE.”

Bean saw the walls were 50 yards away.  The van hit the breaks hard and started to skid.

“FIRE,”  Horne yelled.

Bean pressed a button.  A rocket flew from the side of the van and into the wall, creating a dust cloud and debris.  When the rocket soared, Ren sped up as well and hit the breaks.  Bandie jumped up and screamed bloody murder at the dented wall, causing the hole to cave in.

Sirens rang through out Plastic Beach.

“Light ’em up!” Ron said, putting two wires together, causing the homemade bomb to blow up.  The hole that opened up lead right to one of the hangers that housed the ships.  Teams of 3 scattered to various ships, Ron finding the one he had called home.

A few others started to open the hanger doors.  Bullets rang through the hanger.  Security rushed in, about 10 or so, opening fire on people.  Some were grazed, some weren’t so lucky.  Ron was fumbling with the controls, telling the two on his team what to do.  He tried to ignore the gunfire and screaming.  The power came on in 8 ships.  Engines started to roar.  Bullets kept flying.  A giant metal rod came flying through the air from the entrance of the hanger, hitting one of the security in the chest, pushing bits of lung out their body.  Another one soared, knocking into one of their heads.  Charger and 3 others rushed into the hanger, swinging giant hammers made from metal and concrete.   They swung them a knees, chests, heads, stomachs, leaving carnage behind.  2 more of Charger’s people entered, helping people navigate the ships out the hanger.  When Ron left his ship to find Charger, there was a dead body at his feet.  He stared at the body, remembering it was the person who translated the book.  He bent down and closed their eyes, before rushing to Charger.

“You ready?”  She asked, getting into one of the vans that was housed in the hanger.

Ree and Sasha were in the resort, helping other people make their way to the hanger in hidden tunnel.  Ree was guiding people into the tunnel while Sasha was trying to gather people to safety.  Sasha saw security trying to fight through the waves of people.  She whistled loudly and started pushing the people she was herding into the tunnel.  Just the hatch to the tunnel closed, security showed up.  Sasha looked at Ree.

“I’m gonna go to the next floor.  Get these people to safety,” she said, taking a left out a fork.  She must have gotten turned around at some point because she felt like she was going for far too long.  As she rounded a corner and opened a hatch, she was snatched up by a red hand.

“LOOK AT WHAT YOU’RE DOING,” Raz roared, shoving her face roughly into the glass window.  To the east, smoke bellowed.  To the west, the giant tree that once stood tall was gone.  Sasha smirked.  Raz threw her to the ground and started to pace.

“I can’t find my cousin.  People are pulling my funding to keep this place going.  I will NOT have this place shut down, do you hear me?!” he bellowed, kicking Sasha in her stomach. Even with the wind knocked out of her, Sasha couldn’t stop laughing.

The vans drove through the empty streets of Plastic Beach, looking for people to round-up.  They were close the hanger before Ree dashed out in front of them.  She waved them down.

Ren pulled up and Bandie ran up to her.

“Ree!”

“BANDIE!”

They hugged and squeezed, Bean and Horne rushing out.

Ree hugged them all, kissed their heads.

“Now isn’t the time.  Sasha is missing.  I think she’s still in the resort, but it’s locked down!”

Bandie and Bean looked at each other and ran up to Ren.

“We need to go to the resort!”

“What!?  But the hanger–”

“RESORT, PLEASE.”

Bean walked back to Horne.

“You gotta come too.  You have that sweet hand gun.”

Ree took Horne’s place for machine gun duty and rode off to the hanger.

Ren’s little motobike squealed through the resort, rounding its way to the pool area.  Bean looked around, looked up and spotted Sasha.  Well her hair.

Raz had her pressed against the window again, two hands around her neck, two hands holding her hands up against the glass.

Bean pointed to his siblings before making Ren stop driving.

“How do we get up there?”  Bandie asked, watching the window.

Ren looked around and saw a giant slide and a bad idea.

“Ohhhhh, boy.  Okay, bops.  Hold on.”

He revved the bike up before taking off toward a flight of stairs.  They rode them to the walkway.  The zipped and zoomed by lawn chairs and tables.  Ren jumped the bike and sidecar over a railing, landing on a wide water slide.  As they rode the slide down, the screws that held the sidecar to the bike came out.  As they peaked over the ramp at the end of the slide, Ren’s bike took off to the left, while the side car made a shot toward the window.

Raz’s hands suddenly fell off Sasha’s body as he fell back, seeing 3 children in a sidecar, bust through the window.  Where glass should have been, it was harnessed in a ball of blue.  Bean’s eyes were wide, hands holding an invisible ball in front of them.  Bandie stood behind Bean, her eyes sparkling.

“Fire!”  Horne shouted.

Bandie screamed, Bean let go of the ball.  The shards of glass threw themselves into Raz’s body.  Raz stared wide-eyed at the children, falling over.  Everything seemed to move in slow motion to him.  The twins made their way to the lifeless body of Sasha, trying to move her.  Horne was walking to him, drawing a gun.

Horne placed the barrel to Raz’s forehead.

“W-Wait–”

“No.”

The gun clicked.  Purple blood sprayed into Horne’s face.

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Pray

Ron and Aya were dressed in the better clothes they had.  He was dressed in a nice pair of black slacks and button shirt.  She was dressed in a long purple robe.

The stood in front of the church, away from the line of people walking in.  The made their way to the back of the line, stepping in unison with those ahead of them.  As they got the doors, they suddenly shut.  The pastor stood in front of the doors, his closed eyes somehow finding their faces.

“Can I help you?” he asked, his voice mixed with hatred and annoyance.

“We just wanted to pray this morning,” Ron said, puffing his chest out, standing tall.  The pastor smirked, tucking his hands into the sleeves of his gold adorned robes.

“Praying is paying vacationers here, not dirty refugees.”

“Oh, how very religious of you,” Aya said, rolling her eyes.  The pastor moved like a snake in the grass, his face barely an inch away from Aya’s.  Her breath got caught in her throat.

“And religion is for people who want to feel good by giving money and not do anything.  I know it, you know it, these people know it.  Why would I, a man of coin, turn my back away from people who want to give me money so that they can feel good about themselves?”  He moved a step back and cleared his throat.

“Anything else I can help you with?”

“So, what’s that monster underneath your church?”  Ron asked.

The pastor froze.

“Oh, so you know about it then?  What is it then?”

The pastor let out a laugh.  The laugh made Aya’s blood freeze, Ron’s knees buckle.  The pastor opened his eyes, the empty blackness of nothing staring at the two.  The gold that laced his robes suddenly shimmered and started to crawl up and around him, running through his pale skin like blood vessels. His golden hair rose up and swayed like grass in the wind.

“That monster is the last living relic of this shit desert planet.  It swims its ancient waters and we feed it people like you.   We feed it the nosy people, the people who think they’re doing something, the worthless people.”

Something in Aya and Ron woke up, their fingers and toes getting warm, their hearts filling with rage.

With grace, Aya smiled at the pastor.  Ron noticed the pastor stammer a bit at that.

“Then we will take our prayers elsewhere.  To the monster, I suppose,” Aya whispered coolly, before walking off, her robe (and Ron) trailing behind her.

“So, it’s the last living creature here?  How terrible.  I’m sure there were more, but after 300 years….”  Sasha said, helping Aya out of her robe.  Ron rolled up his sleeves and gathered supplies before heading off.

“If y’all talk to Ren or Charger, tell them we’re ready,” he said before leaving the room.

By now, Horne was almost an expert marksmen, Bandie could handle her screaming, the triplets would do their “talking” late into the night.  Bean sat on a box, pouting.  Ren came up to them.

“What’s going on?” He asked, sitting on the floor.

“Every one else has these neat things they can do and I can’t do anything!  Why didn’t you give me something to train with?!”  Bean yelled.

Ren frowned.

“You just didn’t seem interesting in anything.  You just…. Kinda watched your siblings do their thing.”

Bean huffed and crossed their arms.

“I wanna be awesome.”

“But you are!  You’ve been going back and forth between those 5 and making sure they were alright, helping them with their being.  Just because you don’t have something doesn’t make you less awesome at all.”

Bean huffed again.  Horne came rushing in, holding onto the radio.

It’s Charger and nem!”

“Sunrise, two days,” was all that was said.

Ren nodded and looked at Bean.

“Tell ya what.  You can push the button to blow shit up,” he said, watching Bean’s face light up.

Ron and his team were huddled in one of the pipes, a line from them to the a what looked like a wad of chewed gum 500 feet away.

“And now… We wait,” he said.

Charger and her crew were getting their weapons ready.  Ree was with a small band of people, running around serving food, getting first aid boxes ready.  Aya was with her fighters, wrapping their hands in tape.  Sasha was with the runners, those who would help people make it to the ships. 

Plastic Beach went on as usual for 48 hours.  People enjoyed themselves, enjoyed the peace that was given to them, died from overdosing, died from just being old.

It wasn’t until hour 46 when someone climbed down into the hole by the church with a bucket.  It wasn’t until hour 47 when they painted an X made from the red in the bucket on the ceiling, where the floor of the church was.

As the sun peeked over the horizon at hour 48, when the first wave of church goers for the day were settled in their pews, putting their money into the collection plate, the pastor singing “hallelujah” and giving his sermon, that the earth shook underneath them.  The congregation quieted itself, listening, feeling for another rumble.  It didn’t happen after a few moments, so they continued with their songs.  A siren went off, the earth shook beneath them again.  The tree that the pastor told the congregation was the last tree on this planet swayed violently as the earth kept shaking, the thuds underneath their feet coming faster and faster.  The sirens were louder now.  The people in the pews started to scream.  The ran to the door, scratching, clawing at it to get it open.  One more giant thud caused the tree, which was nothing but a realist statue, to shatter and fall to the ground.  Where the tree stood, now lay a hole.  The pastor screamed, his black eyes watching the monster come out from the hole, like a breaching whale, only to be swallowed up by it and taken down into the dark, murky water that was Plastic Beach.

Figured

“They betrayed me, dear cousin.”

“Well, of course.  What did you expect when you send armies to destroy their homes?”

“I bring them to me and I give them everything they have ever wanted and this is how they repay me!?  Missing food stuffs, chemicals that are fine by themselves, but when put together can cause massive damage?  Oh, cousin… How do I ever fix this?”

A jingle of credits rang out through the room.

“You strike them down.”

“And we strike from here,”  Charger said, pointing at a mock-up of Plastic Beach.

Sasha and Ree stared at it before Sasha raised a hand.

“So, yeah, underneath there… By the church… There’s a hole there with a monster in it.”

Charger stared at Sasha, eyes wide.

“How… Long have you known about that?”

Sasha and Ree glanced nervously at each other.

“Oh… A while now… Like when we first met a while now…”

Charger nodded.

“Interesting… How did you see it?”

“Oh, I spat in the water,” Ree said.

Charger squinted at them.

“Change of plans,” she said, pushing the mock-up of Plastic Beach away.

Ren was pacing, Horne was taking care of their gun, Bandshee was learning how to control her rage into screams with the help of Bean.  One night, right before bed, the triplets came into Ren’s room.  Ren stared at them.

“Oh, what’s good, lil bop bops?”

Nere, the one with the white eyes, stared at Ren, while the other two held onto her hands.

“She… Waits… Patiently…”  They all said in unison, in a voice that didn’t sound like their own.  “She… Tries… Now…”

Ren stood up.  Mere, whose left eye was white and right was black, stared at him along with Nere.

“The fires will burn her,” the said, the voice getting stronger and more coherent.

Tere stared deep into Ren’s soul, the black left eye and the right white eye boring into his being.

“Cast the man of white into the sea of red that his cousin started.”

When the teenagers (except Ron) returned back to their room, 3 men were waiting for them.

“Captain Raz would like to speak to you all,” one of them said.  Before they could protest, they were dragged off.

It took what felt like 20 minutes to get to Captain Raz’s penthouse.  The men tossed them onto the floor.  The penthouse had slick marble flooring and various bits of furniture scattered the room.  It was eerily empty.  Captain Raz had a glass of wine in one of his 4 hands, staring out over his resort.

“Do you know how long it’s taken me to build this place?”

Aya helped Sasha and Ree up.

“It’s taken me 300 years,” he said, not waiting for them to respond.  “300 years of tech and 300 years of research to make sure people like you are happy and safe here,” he said turning around and looking at the young women.

“And yet… You aren’t happy.  Why is that?”  he asked, taking a sip of his wine.

They said nothing, unsure if an answer would get them killed.

Without his captain’s uniform on, Raz was a very thin man.  His red skin looked like hot coals, his eyes were yellow like highlighter on printer paper.  He smiled at them, his lipless face showing off a row of crooked, brown teeth.  Aya glared, putting herself in front of her sisters. Raz cackled.

“Little girl, I am not here to fight you and your giantness,” he cooed.  Aya sneered, her fist clenching.

“I only brought you here to let you know that… I know what you are all doing, I cannot wait to see what you have in store.”

He snapped his fingers.  The men came back in and pulled them out the penthouse.

“WHAT THE FUCK!?”  Aya screamed, punching the bag a little harder than normal.

Sasha was going over what just happened with Charger.  Ree said to she had to go to the kitchen area to make dinner, to “cool out”.

Charger was re-doing her hair, half of it in a giant poof, the other half tightly braided cornrows.

“So, we don’t have much time,” Charger said, putting her arms down to get blood flow back to her hands.

“What!?  We’re still going to do this?!  Charger, we–”

“Might die, but dammit, I’ve been dead for the past 5-7 years, so who gives a fuck?  Y’all act like this is the worst thing because y’all are still new here.  I’ve lost friends…. I have… Waited here.  If me dying frees me from this place, then so fucking be it,”  Charger said, staring at Sasha.  “And don’t you want to go get your siblings?  You’ve been crying about those ugly little bastards for a year now and now  you wanna turn chicken because he threatened you? After killing your family, your home, your PLANET, you’re scared of this man?!  You have NOTHING, what are you afraid for?”

Ron was almost 21 now.  With this new sense of adulthood, he asked Charger to be the team lead for getting some of the ships off the ground.  He and his team of 8 others who also came to Plastic Beach on one of the pre-determined ships discussed how each ship looked on the inside with the help of Sasha’s information.

“If we can figure out how to turn off the courses, we can just get the fuck outta here,” he said, flipping through the manual he still had.  “But this shit doesn’t say anything about that.”  One of his teammates took the book and flipped through it as well.

“The last two chapters are in some language, I can’t read,” Ron said.

The person who took the book started to panic.

“I… I can…”  they said, tears running down their face.  “It’s my native language.  I never thought….”  The team comforted them, trying to calm them.  After a few minutes, they started working on a translation.

“So, pretty much, we need to reset the computer, but it’ll take 3 people to do so,” the translator said.

“Fuck… I was hoping we’d have one ship for each of us to fly,” Ron said, rubbing his temples.

“Well, it’s mostly just the pilot and two people in the engine room.  Those two don’t need to know how to fly the thing, they just have to pull a lever and press a button.”

Ron sat quietly for a moment.

“We’re gonna have to do practice runs.  Find two people for your team, we meet up at dawn.”

The dinner talk was quiet when Ron arrived.  Ree handed him his plate, then served someone else theirs.  Ron sat with his sisters.

“What’s going on? Why the long faces?”

Aya told him what happened.  Ron’s ears got hot with anger.

“I’m so sorry, I wasn’t there,” he whispered.

“Not your fault,” Sasha said.  Ree sat with them after a time, nibbling on a roll.

“Charger said we have a little over a month to be ready.”

Ron blinked.  “That soon?”

“Hey, if dude already knows, might as well just go for it, ya know?”

“Ren and Horne know as well.  They said they’ll be ready.  Ren also said something about casting the man in white into the red??”

They sat quietly before Ree’s eyes got wide.

“The pastor.”

Work

It was months before Horne’s radio was fixed.  It was months of Charger showing the older kids the underground tunnels of Plastic Beach.  It was months of letting young folk know what was going on on this planet.  Charger’s numbers grew.  Aya was in charge of helping folk with fighting, Ron led a small crew of people who wanted to be pilots, Sasha and another person were making maps, Ree and a team were cooking food stolen from Plastic Beach’s kitchen.

When the older children snuck back into their room, the radio went off.

“Hello????”  It was Horne.

Sasha snatched the radio up before anyone else could make a grab for it.

“Horne?”

“Sasha!  Sasha, oh my goodness!”

“How are you?”

More little voices started to talk over Horne.

“Sasha!  Sasha, is Ron there?”

“Did Ree make more cookies?”

“Bean keeps eating my food!”

The older kids laughed.  Once Horne settled the other children down, they started talking.

“Ren is teaching us how to shoot guns.”

“Oh?????” Sasha looked at her siblings.  Aya was impressed.

“Why… Are you learning to shoot a gun?”

“Because it is important,” Horne said.

“They do have a point,” Ron said, shrugging.

Sasha sighed.

“Is everything okay, though?  You’re eating well, I hope.”

“We’re doing fine,” Horne said. “Do you know anyone named Charger?”

The older kids huddled closer to the radio.

“How do you know about her?”  Aya asked.

“Ren just wants to know if things are still on,” Horne replied.

“Of course things are still on,” Charger said, sitting in an old stuffed chair.

The teenagers stood and sat in various parts of where Charger stayed.  They listened and watched Charger hold onto the radio for dear life.

“Ren, things never stopped being on!”

“…How are you doing, Charger?”  It was Ren, or the old man as the children had called him.

Charger stared at the radio.

“…I… I’m scared,” she whispered, lowering her head.

The teenagers watched her, Sasha making a step to comfort her.  Ree pulled her back.

“I’m talking to you… After so long… I… Are you just my imagination?  Or did I finally die?”

When the sun started to rise was the best time to see the sky, before the sun bounced off the sand.  The slight pink made way for purples and browns before the sky turned into a sandy red.

Horne and Ren were up, Ren walking behind Horne.

“Again,” Ren said.   Horne made a movement toward their left hip.

“Fire!”

Horne pulled out a small hand gun and shot it at a target on a piece scrap of metal.  Ren walked up the metal and looked at it.

“Good job, but it’s still not close enough,”  Ren said, scratching his head.  Horne watched Ren.

“How close to do I have to get?”

“In his brain,” Ren said, firing a finger gun into his temple.

“Oh…  I can do that,”  Horne said.  Ren smiled.

“I believe you can, boss.  You wanna try again?”  Horne nodded.

Bandie walked up an hour later, holding her head down.  Horne was in the middle of aiming, but they pointed the gun down and set it on the ground.

“What’s wrong, Bandie?”

“I did something,” she said, her eyes hidden by her grey afro.

“Show me?”  Horne asked.  Bandie took their hand and walked them away from Horne’s assignment.  Bandie went back to the scrap metal.

“Bean did something and it made me so mad!”  She yelled.

“They hit me and pushed me down the stairs and I YELLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEDDDDD!!!!!”

Bandie started screaming in the direction of the scrap of metal. The sheer force of the wind that escaped her little lungs made her afro shoot back, her yellow eyes glowing like orbs.  The metal didn’t stand a chance as it folded over itself.  Bandie snarled and took a deep breath before looking back at Horne.  She waved at them.

“So I did that and now there’s a hole in the wall, byeeeeee!!!”  She took off toward the Oasis.

Ree and Sasha were laying at the pool one day, enjoying the sun and the artificial trees.

“How many people do you think are here?” Ree asked, turning her attention to the pool.

“I don’t know, why?” Sasha asked, rolling over onto her back.

“Well, it just sounds like Charger and Ren think it’s going to be a blood bath,” Ree confided, watching the tiny children play with their families.

Sasha nodded.

“If things go well for Ron, they should be fine.”

Ron was a hundred or so feet underneath the docks, following one of Charger’s men.  They moved swiftly but carefully as to not jostle the homemade explosives they managed to make during the months.  The man stopped and pointed up.  The gently placed the explosives on the ceiling above them and quickly got out of there.

“How long do we wait?” Ron whispered to the man.

“Until it’s time,” the man replied.

Horne was talking to Ree on the radio.

“And then she screamed and she nearly crumbled the metal!”

“That’s so neat,” Ree said, listening in awe.

“Are the children able to do anything?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“That’s so weird that it’s manifested like this.”

They were silent.

“Are we going to make it?” Horne asked.

Ree let out a sad laugh.

“I can’t tell the future, baby.”

It was another year before anyone had any idea with the Bucket that was starting to get covered in sand.

Ren and his gang started to uncover it, dragging it back to the Oasis.

He and Ron talked over the radio about how to update the computer and how to take out the seats and what to do with the “spare” parts. Another few months went by before Ren was done with what he wanted to do with it.

Ren asked Horne and Ron if he could just have an hour to talk to Charger.

“We are getting out of here,” he told her, pacing his room.

“You are,” she said sadly.

“We are,” he repeated.

They were quiet for a while.

“I love you,” one of them whispered.

 

Information

Ron’s drug induced night wore off and he “woke up” while he was taking a piss.  He startled himself as he flushed and looked around the bathroom. 2 other bodies were in there with him.  They laid on top of each other in the tub, a red liquid pulled at the bottom. Ron opened his mouth to scream but nothing came out.  He stumbled out the bathroom.  More bodies laid on the floor of the resort room, but they were all sleeping.  He quickly left, looking around the hallway, trying to remember which way to go back to his siblings.  He found an elevator and hit the button for his floor.  He paced the square, only to stop when another person walked in.  Ron watched them hit a button, resetting the whole board.

“Wait, my floor–” Ron started, before the person turned around and glared at him.  Ron lowered his gaze, causing him to miss the giant fist come toward his dome.

Sasha and Ree laid next to each other on a stretched out net.  Ree was the first one to wake up.  She stared up at the hole they fell through, which seemed to be miles up.  She rolled over and looked down through the netting.  Pitch black water laid still beneath them.  She spit into it, watching the baby ripples move the water.  The water started to bubble and a giant mouth shot out from the water.  Ree screamed as the mouth chomped close to the netting.  Sasha quickly sat up from the scream, looking down at the splash that happened.  Ree stared at her.

“We need to get out of here,” she yelled, trying to standing up, but ended up just falling back over.  Ree looked around and spotted a ladder, quickly crawling toward.   Sasha followed the mouth jumping up again, trying to chomp at the net.  Ree scrambled for the ladder, quickly making her way up it.  Sasha got her foot tangled in the netting.  She screamed, trying to break her foot free.  Ree froze, unsure of what to do.  She started to cry.  The mouth jumped up again.  Sasha managed to get her foot free.  The mouth chomped on the netting, tearing it and pulling it back down.  Sasha jumped for the ladder, barely hanging on to the last rung.

“I swear, if you don’t move your ass,” Sasha screamed.  Ree yelped and quickly made her way up the ladder, into the tunnel it led to.  Sasha punched Ree in the arm when she pulled herself up.

“The hell is wrong with you?” Sasha asked, glaring at Ree.  “What did you do to wake that thing up!?”

“…I spat in the water.”

Sasha rolled her eyes, her head, her neck in disbelief before standing up.

“Let’s go find where this ends,” she said.

“But it’s dark in there!” Ree replied.

“Okay, and there is GIANT MOUTH down there, so where are you gonna go, sis?”

“…The dark.”

“Oh, right.”

As they made their way down the tunnel, which seemed like hours, the sounds of flesh getting hit, followed by the sounds of yelling got louder and louder.

“You fucks can’t even hit a little girl!?”

“She ain’t even little!  You get in here and try to fight her since you so fucking tough.”

“Charger said–”

“I don’t give a fuck what the man-looking bitch said, get in here and fight with us!”

The glow of many candles appeared at the end of the tunnel.  Sasha and Ree slowly peeked out.  Beneath them was Aya and she was fighting about 4-5 grown men.  She stood in a ready stance, her mouth bleeding slightly.  She was grinning.

2 of the men tried to rush at her, but she managed to move out the way and trip up both of them.  Another men flung himself at her.  She caught him by the arm and snapped it, tossing the man aside.

“C’mon, y’all need to do better,” she teased them, holding her firsts up, ready for the next one.  The man who was talking shit was getting annoyed and finally stepped in, pulling out a knife.

“Let’s go then, man-bitch,” he said.

Aya laughed, a laugh so unnerving, Sasha, Ree and the men shivered a bit.

“You keep saying man-bitch like this man-bitch won’t rip out your fucking throat,” Aya whispered to him, her pupils turning into little slits.  Her smile turned wild.  She looked like she was out for blood.  All the men tried to rush her at once.  She moved like water, grabbing a man by his shirt and throwing him into another man.  Another man tried to charge at her core, but her knee reached his chin before he could tackle her down.  The man with the knife tried very hard to not look scared, so he charged at her.  She grabbed his wrist and snapped it, making him scream and drop the knife.  Her other hand grabbed his throat.  She stared him down, her forehead against his.

“This man-bitch ain’t such a man anymore, eh?”  she said to him, before squeezing his throat, her nails digging into the skin.  He gurgled, his unbroken hand trying to pull her hand off his neck.  She laughed and pulled her hand back, a chunk of his neck in her hand.  The men who started to get up, started to scream in horror and ran off before getting stopped by another tall woman.

Her lone grey eye stared down the men, who cowered in her presence.  She spat at them and they ran past her.  She rolled her eyes and walked into the room where Aya was.  She looked at the dead man bleeding on the floor and then look at Aya.

“HA!”  She screamed and clapped.  Aya looked at the woman.  She was tall like Aya, dark-skinned, with cornrows and an eye patch over her left eye.  Aya was suddenly in awe of this person.

“So they thought they could fight you and win huh?  I remember when that happened to me 5 years ago.  Been in charge ever since.  I’m Charger,” she said.

“Aya.”

“Where you from?”

“Don’t matter, that planet is gone.”

Changer nodded.  “Where’d you learn to fight like that?”

“On the way here,” Aya replied.

“Eh?”

“We ‘won’ a ship.  The ship was programmed to take us here.”

Charger was silent for a moment.

“Let’s go talk.  Your friends can come, too,” she said, pointing to the tunnel where Ree and Sasha were.  Aya looked up and smiled before running over to the tunnel.  Ree and Sasha jumped down, a bit afraid of Aya now.  They hugged her however.

“So glad you’re alive,” they said to each other.  Charger smiled, the young women followed her.  As they entered the sanctuary that was Charger’s domain, a huge person had Ron slumped over their shoulder.

“Found the other one, boss” they boomed, dropping Ron the floor.  The young women ran over to him to check on him.

“How do you all know each other?”  Charger asked.

“We’re family.  Our baby siblings are missing.”  Charger got quiet again, before pulling out the radio that Sasha was missing.

“How did you get that:?”  Sasha asked, quickly standing up.  “Give that back, they could be trying to find us!”

Charger tossed it back to her.  Sasha quickly turned it on, a red light showing up where a green one should be to show that the other radio was also turned on.  Sasha started to sob.

“—t now—”

The radio cracked.

Sasha and Charger stared at the radio, Ree and Aya looked up from Ron.

“…The light is on!”  It was Horne.  Sasha started to sob again.  Aya and Ree rushed over, staring down at the radio.

“Hello, hello, this is Horne.  Is anyone there?”

“We’re here!”  Sasha said back into the radio.

“I can’t hear anything…”

“Fuck, we didn’t fix it.  Turn it off.”

Charger’s face from stoic to soft for a brief second.  She turned away and started to pace.

“I can’t yet!  If you can hear this, we are safe!  We are pretty far from Plastic Beach, but we’re safe!  This old man–”

“I’m not old!”

“–is gonna try to help us get to you and free people from there!  Please be safe!”

And the radio cut off.

Ree and Sasha sat on the floor, Ree comforting Sasha.  Aya went back to Ron’s side.

Charger had huddled her people and started talking to them in a hushed voices.

After ten minutes, she walked up to the young people and squatted next to them.

“Look.  Plastic Beach is the…. pet project of this alien.  He calls himself Captain Raz, but in reality he is a sick fuck.  His people have been destroying planets and harvesting people under the guise of “relaxation” but all he does is get you intoxicated and kills you.  If you don’t do as he says, they’ll send you off the desert to die.”

“How do you–”

“My grandmother was a refugee and they brought her here, same as you.  She lived her for five years before she got tired of watching her friends die from ODing.  So she tried to make nice with the Captain.  She tried to start a rebellion with others.  It took another 2 years before they stole enough ships to leave.  He shot them down, at least tried to.  Her and another 50 people or so made it and started a colony out in the desert, named it Oasis.  My father was born there, I was born there.  A few years ago, some of us managed to sneak back in here, to blow this place up for good.  But we got stuck. So we’ve been trying to round-up people, younger people, to help us.”

“So you consider knocking people out as a way to recruit people?”  Ron groaned from the floor.  Charger chuckled.

“It’s not fucking funny.  We have 6 small children out there to worry about and you over here chasing out down and punching us in the head and having us FIGHT your people, and you want us to HELP?  All you had to do was ask. We know all about this war-monger aliens.  In case you forgot, they destroyed our home and brought us here!”  Ron yelled, sitting up.  Charger watched him.

“So whats your fucking plan, you sack of shit?”  Ron asked, glaring at Charger.

“Fair enough.  You all had enough of my shit.  We steal the ships and get off this planet.”

The young people rolled their eyes and laughed.

“How you gonna do that?  Did you say they shot your gramma down?  The fuck you think is gonna happen if you do the same?  And then what?  He’s still gonna be alive and gonna be doing the same to other folk.  You a selfish fuck,”  Aya said.

“What y’all need to be doing is trying to kill him and then leave,” Sasha said, staring at the radio.

“But if we do that, his people will find us,” one of Charger’s henchmen said.

“Then kill them, too,” Ree said.  “These aliens deserve to die.”

Hidden

Ron had somehow wandered into the “city” part of the resort.  It was 2 long blocks of food, bars and dance clubs.  The sun had started to go down and the streets started to get a bit crowded.  Music started to pump through many of the buildings, some of the restaurants started to close down.  Someone bumped into him.  She giggled and winked at him.  Ron blinked and looked around, unsure if she was winking at him.  She and her friends started to laugh, walking into one of the clubs.

Ron stood off to the side, watching all these people who were around his age come out from the resort.  He hadn’t had anyone to talk to around his age in years.  He watched all the colorful, beautiful bodies walk up and down the street.

“Yo, man, you good?”  Someone asked from behind him.  It was a group of guys, a few ladies sprinkled in there.  Ron nodded.

“Uh yeah…”

“Aww, it’s his first day!” one of the ladies cooed, laughing at him.

The man who had addressed Ron grinned and grabbed him by the arm.

“Well come on the, newbie, let’s get fuck up!”  he said, pulling him into one of the dance clubs.

As they group made their way through the many bodies on the dance floor, Ron looked up at the stage;  It was the three from the docks.  They seemed to stare right at him.

“Hello,” they said in unison, their voices making Ron’s skin crawl.

“We’re tonight for a special offer,” they said with a smile.  “Please stand in the middle of the circle and lock hands.”

The many bodies stood together in the middle of the circle.  Ron watched the three still, his stomach sinking.

“Please follow instructions and the winner gets to woo the crowd,” they said, the one of the end pushing a button on their lapel.

The floor gave way.  Everyone fell into the hole, screaming.  Their bodies fell for about 2 seconds before being suspended in air by a giant fan.  Everyone, except Ron, started to laugh.  The three were suddenly surrounding them, being projected on a giant screen in the tube.  They issued out ridiculous orders, so Ron didn’t do any of them.  Instead, he got accustomed to the weightlessness and started to float around everyone doing their awkward line dance.

The fan suddenly let out a force of air that pushed the bodies back up, closing the floor beneath them.

“You’re wiiiiiild,” the man who dragged Ron in the club said to him.  “No one’s not done the dance before, woooow,” he said, laughing.  One of the ladies walked up to Ron, a pill in her hand.

“Eat this,” she said, pushing it into his mouth.  He choked a bit, before shaking his head.  They dragged him back to the hotel, taking them to a party.  Whatever that pill was, it made Ron’s eyesight hazy.  He started to giggle at everything.  He danced with the ladies, with the fellas.  He drank something that made his throat and chest burn.  The night started to blur together.

Aya had found a gym with a punching bag.  The punching bag could move if you wanted it to.  So Aya made it move.  A few people started to gather around her, commenting on her speed, helping her with her form, cheering her on.  After about 20 minutes, her arms were a bit sore.  She stretched, walking around the area.  She noticed Ree walking up to her in a hurry.

“What’s going on?”  Ree looked up at Aya.

“Ron is missing,” Ree whispered.  “And Sasha can’t find the radio.”

“Let me go gather my things,” Aya said, Ree nodding in confirmation and walking away.

Aya headed out the gym, a man walking next to her.

“Hey, you did really good punching that bag!  Have you been fighting for long?”  Aya blinked and stopped, looking at the man.

“No, leave me alone,” she said flatly, before walking off again.  She suddenly shivered; the hallway was empty, except for her and that man still following her.  She took off in a sprint, dropping her bag.  The man took of behind her, pulling out a gun.  He fired, the dart missing her back, as she turned down another hall of a sudden.

Aya made another turn, suddenly in a stairwell.  She went downstairs, three at a time.  She ran down another flight, then ran down a hallway.  She bumped into someone.  It was him again.  He fired a dart into her belly.  She fell down.

Sasha and Ree waited for Aya for an hour before walking out the room together.  They held hands, their knuckles white, their nails leaving marks into each other skin.  They made their way to the square where they church was.  They sat on a bench.  The square was empty and bare.  The church’s front was very small, but no one came to the church to pray.  No, they came to the church to pay money to see Plastic Beach’s only tree.  The only tree on the entire planet to be exact.

The church bell gonged.  Ree and Sasha jumped.  A line of people started to walk down the street, each stepping in unison.  The bell gonged again.  The doors of the church opened.  Many voices sang in harmony inside the church, the line of people now swayed in step with each other as they walked inside the church.

Ree and Sasha watched in amazement. As the people stepped into the church, a pale man greeted each of them, shaking their hands and nodding to them, blessing them.  His golden hair matched the gold stitching on the hem of his white robes.  His eyes were closed, but he stared in the direction of the two as he greeted the church goers.  They turned to face each other, but he still stared.  Once they heard the door close, the young ladies took a deep breath in relief.

The singing and humming made them try to find a window to the church.  While the man who was probably the pastor frightened them, the singing soothed them.

“I can’t believe we’re doing this right now,” Sasha said.

“I know, it’s like my stomach is in knots,” Ree replied.

They cane across a hole, barely covered up by boards.  One by one, they crossed.  Ree nudged Sasha, pointing at the scaffolding.  They climbed, coming up to a hole just big enough for them to look through.

The church goers sang and swayed, people walking up and down the pews, collecting plates filled to the brim with credits.

“Thank you!” He started. “Thank you, good people for trusting in me to protect and provide for the Lord Reszra’s tree.”

He walked up and down the aisles, touching people with a leaf that fell from the tree.  He walked up to the balcony that over looked the congregation.  He blessed them, the leaf and turned around.

Ree and Sasha held their breath. He was right in front of them.

The pastor started to laugh, his tongue coming out his mouth like a snake.  He opened his eyes, black pits of nothing stared at the two.  He pressed his face against the hole.

“HALLELUJAH, MONEY,” he cackled in their faces.

They two screamed, stepping back.  Ree’s foot slipped.  She grabbed on Sasha.  They fell off the scaffolding and through the wooden boards that covered the hole.

The congregation kept singing.

Stuck

The Bucket managed to fly several miles before the power cut off.  Horne did their best trying to guide the ship into a corkscrew, wanting to face Plastic Beach, just in case.  The ship came in too low on the front and clipped a dune, causing the ship to flip in the air and land on it’s back.  It slid to a stop.

Horne groaned, rubbing their head. There was a small cry from the back of the ship.  A ringing noise bored through Horne’s head.  They kept trying to keep their eyes open as they struggled with the straps of their seat, but they failed.

“….oing on?”

“….PLEA… …RNE…”

Horne struggled to keep conscious for what felt like hours.  When Horne finally managed to keep them open, Bean was looking down on them.  Bean’s red eyes met Horne’s green ones and the little one smiled.

“Horne’s up!” They squeaked and the other 4 children rushed over.  They were underneath a large blanket, to keep the sun out and to keep it from frying them in the heat.  The Bucket was a few meters away, sticking out like a sore thumb.  Horne tried to sit up but laid back down.  Bean held a metal cup full of water and poured some into Horne’s mouth.

“H-How did we get over here?” Horne groaned through the water.

“An old man!” Nere said, opening a box of the jellyfish cereal.

“Has that all you been eating?”

“Nooooo, we traded a lot of it for water and shelter and information!”  Mere said proudly.

Horne wasn’t sure if they were dead or still trying to fight a concussion.

“The old man said that he was gonna get more people to take us to the Oasis!  They were gonna help us get Ron and ‘nem back!”  Tere said from atop a box.

“Where’s Bandie?”

“Awww, Bandie went with the old man to make sure everything got done,” Bean said in a huff, crossing their arms.  “I wanted to go but she threw sand at me!”

“Wait, she’s just… by herself with an old man!?  We have to go gaaahhhh…” Horne tried to sit up again but ended up just falling forward and laying face down.

“Oh, you should have seent’t’ed it, Horne!” Bean said,opening their arms up to the sky.  “Bandie’s eyes got real yellow, like they glittered like the stars that night and her hair turned to snakes!  And she let out a roar and knocked that old man on his ass!”

The triplets gasped.

“You can’t say ASS,” they cried in unison.  Horne managed to laugh.

“But… You said at night?  How long has it been since we crashed?”

“Like 3 days.  Drink up,” Bean said, holding the metal cup to Horne’s lips.

It was a few more hours until Horne could sit up without the world feeling like it was spinning.  They had some of those jellyfish too and they made Horne feel like garbage.

“Does the sun ever go down?”  Horne asked, looking in the general direction of it.

The triplets nodded.

“But just for a few hours,” Bean said.

A low roar was heard in the distance.

“It’s Bandie!” the triplets cried, running a few feet from the safety of the cover and jumping up and down.

Bandie was sitting in the make-shift sidecar of a make-shift desert motor bike.  Her grey little afro blew behind her in the breeze, her red dress following, looking like a flag blowing in the wind.  She started to wave her arms around, letting the triplets know she saw them.  Two vans drove behind the motor bike as well.

As the vehicles pulled up, Horne suddenly felt defensive but nothing to use except for a metal cup and a box of cereal.  4 adults were accounted for, Bandie hopping out the sidecar and running up to her siblings.

“Got a doctor!” She said, pointing to one of the adults who rushed over to Horne and immediately started to check on them.  Bandie and Bean sat next to Horne, watching the doctor do her work.

“Look at my ear,” she said, moving a flashlight back and forth in front of Horne.  The triplets were running between the legs of the men who were driving the van, who were unsure of what to do.

The old man stood above Horne, pulling the scarf and goggles from his face.  He was grizzled with an uneven shave.  His dark skin held many scars.

“Hey, old man!”  Bean said, waving at him.

“Okay, can… Can you stop calling me old?  I’m not … I’m not that old…”

The doctor stood up and told one of the other men to bring the van closer.

“Not good for this little adult to walk any time soon,” she said.

“Am I okay?”  Horne asked, clinging to one of the men as he picked them up.

“We just need to get you in a brace.  We have to be real gentle not to bump you,” she said.

“Don’t fucking bump me,” Horne said to the man.

Bean cackled while the other children screamed that Horne shouldn’t swear.

Horne rode with the doctor in the med van while the other children rode in the other van, the “old man” driving behind them.

In a day and a half, they arrived at the Oasis, which was anything but.

It was a “building” made out of old ship parts from years ago.

“During the First Rebellion,” the old man said.  “That was some 50 odd years ago.  A lot of our parents  were born here because of that.”

“Where are they now?” Bandie asked.

“Dead.  I was 10 when they tried to take it down again.”

“Take what down?”

“Plastic Beach.”

The children froze.  Bandie started to sob, Bean consoled her.  The triplets held hands and put their heads together, muttering to themselves.

The old man looked at Horne.

“What is happening?”  he asked.

“Our older siblings are there.”  Horne started to tell the story about what happened to their home planet, Koro and the moon, the Glitter Freeze.  The old man stopped them from talking.

“That’s how my grandparents got here,” the old man said.  The small crowd that had gathered to see the children and hear the story agreed also.

“We have to talk to Charger,” the old man said.

“She’s dead, get over it!” Someone said from the back.  The old man spun around.

“Who the FUCK said that?” he demanded.  The Oasis was eerily quiet.  He turned back around toward the children.

“Do you know if your siblings are safe?”

Horne suddenly panicked.

“My backpack,” the stammered.  Bean raced out the Oasis, coming back a few minutes later with Horne’s back.  They started digging through it, pulling out the radio.  It was almost broken in two but it still worked, barely.

Horne turned it on.  It hissed.  No response.

The old man took the radio and stared at it.

“We can fix this.  It will take a few days, but we can fix this.”

“Sasha, it’s been a week!  They aren’t there!”  Ron said, taking the radio from Sasha’s hands.  Sasha glared at Ron, her eyes puffy and red from crying.  Aya and Ree sat on the balcony drinking juice.  They hadn’t been able to leave their hotel room until they had followed the man to the theater.  But Sasha had wanted to wait until the children checked in.

“We can’t sit in here, they’re more than likely thinking we’re up to something!  And it won’t even take that long!  I know you are worried, but if we want to go find them, we have to do what that man says!”  Ron said to Sasha.  Sasha sniffed.

“I know,” she grumbled, going into the bathroom to wash her face.  Ron put his face in his hands.  Aya and Ree came back inside.

“Are we doing this now?  People are playing in that pool and I’ve been wanting to go swimming for the past 6 days,” Ree said, putting on her boots.

When Sasha was done cleaning herself up, the man who had seem to wait outside their door took them to the theater, where they learned the rules of Plastic Beach:

HAVE FUN

DON’T OVER DO IT

The orientation was over in about an hour.  Sasha took off back to the room.  The other three sighed.

“I’m worried too but… We can’t do anything from here,” Ron said, rubbing his temples.  He walked off down the hall, going who know’s where.  Ree wandered off toward the pool.  Aya stuffed her hands into her pockets before going off to find the gym.

As the many feet stomped against the floor, beneath the boards, the concrete, people crawled through the empty pipes, trying to get information.  One of these people passed under Sasha’s room.  They watched her fiddled with the radio she had.

That needed to be confiscated.

Lost

Sasha’s head snapped back up from her slump in the seats.  She groaned, trying to stretch out but her body was still too stiff.  She looked around.  Everyone was still asleep.  She looked out the window.  The ship wasn’t moving and they were on the outskirts of the Glitter Freeze.  She unbuckled herself and slowly got up.  She noticed the door was slightly open.  She slid it open a bit more and slowly stepped out.  It was still dark on the ship, so she hugged the wall.  As she slowly made her way down the hall, the ship jerked to the right, causing Sasha to fall over.  The ship started to glow pink.  They were back in the Glitter Freeze.  She stared out the window, watching the swirls of pink fog blow by, the twinkle of starts millions of miles away made her tear up.

Something told her to go back to the safe room. As she closed the door and strapped herself back in, she watched the window again.  In the middle of this pink fog was a small space station which housed a portal.  The portal snapped on as the three ships approached it.  The two smaller ships that had pulled early had begun to attach themselves to the children’s ship and started to speed up.

The hissing in the room started up again and Sasha fell asleep once more.

As the ships sped toward the portal, the two ships pulled away, hurling the other ship into the portal.

The ship blasted its way through space because of this portal, blasted itself into another galaxy or two, looking like a shooting star to a small child on a planet far away.  The ship sprinted through space for a week, before it slowed down and came out another portal.  Two ships swooped in and attached themselves onto the ship, slowing it down to an acceptable speed and steering it back on course before flying back to the portal.

A few hours later, the safe room blasted fresh, cool air, waking up the children.

Disoriented, they freed themselves from the room and stumbled into the galley and started to eat everything they could.  When they had readjusted, Sasha, Ron, Ree and Aya huddled into Sasha’s room.  She pulled out her little computer.

“I had it keep reading where we were,” she said, pulling open the map.

They all stared at the screen.

“There’s no way we traveled that far in a…” Ron started.

“Week,” Sasha finished.

“Get the fuck out, we were out for a week!?”  Aya yelled.

Ree rubbed her temples.  “Why the fuck do you need to be asleep for a week to get to this resort? Do they not want people to know where it is?”

They got back into the swing of things after a day or two.  The computer went off that they were entering the solar system where Plastic Beach was.  They had another month.  The solar system had hundred of planets, most of which were dead.  This system seemed like graveyard so far.

Ree tried her hand at the cookies again.  They were a lot better than last time.  The triplets learned their multiplication tables, the twins could write sentences, Aya could 500 crunches, Sasha read the notes the computer took and wrote some her own, Ron messed with the ship.

“So, like, do you think the whole planet is a beach??? Is it like… a planet made out of recyclables?”

“What if it’s prison planet and you gotta clean up all the trash of the galaxy!?”

The smaller children talked to themselves at dinner.  The older children played with their food.  The gloomy questions didn’t help with the fact that all the planets looked like were thriving planets.  It reminded them of Granny and Grampa.

Sasha suddenly had a thought and it worried her.

“What if… This place isn’t… Safe for children?”  She suddenly blurted out.  Ron’s face dropped.  They had two weeks before they got to Plastic Beach.

“The Bucket,” he said, looking at Sasha.

“What?”

“We put them in the Bucket.  And we can use the radios?  I read that they can go up to 20 miles.”

For a week, Ron taught Horne how the Bucket worked, what buttons to push to get it to work.  Aya and the little ones helped stock it with clothes, food and the many boxes of Super-fast Jellyfish Horne had won at the carnival.

“Once it reaches a week, just get out of here, okay?”  Ron said, looking into Horne’s eyes.

Horne nodded.

As they approached Plastic Beach, they buckled in the kids and left deck 3.  The ship was headed to the coordinates of the docks of the resort.

Plastic Beach was a desert planet, the resort having the only place for “water” in many miles.  As the ship soared to the docks, the hatch door opened at the bottom of the ship, dropping the Bucket into the air.

Horne tried to straighten out the ship, the struggle to regain control made them panic and fly toward the sand dunes.  Ron turned on the radio on his end.

“Horne, it’s alright!  Just relax!”

“They’re trying!” Tere said into the radio, laughing.

Ron turned the microphone off on his end, staring at the green light that show that Horne’s was still on and working.

As the ship moved its way into the docking station, the older kids grabbed their bags, trying to pull off the tourist look.  Ron had on his jean jacket, Aya had her tank top and wide pants, Sasha’s skirt/legging combo, Ree’s giant sweaters and boots.

They walked off the ship, clinging to their bags.  The sun almost blinded them.  Hundreds of people were waiting in the entrance way to the resort.  The made their way to the commotion.

Aya watched everyone.  These people didn’t look like vacationers.  They looked like people fleeing something, refugees.  A group of triplet female aliens, appeared in front of the people.

“Hello,” they said in unison, giving their audience a gentle bow.

“Sorry for the confusion.  We just wanted to give you all the best experience you could possibly have.  However, before you go in, please say hello to the resort owner.”

They walked off stage.

A very skinny man with red skin and yellow eyes slinked his way onto the stage.  He had four arms and was wearing a smoking jacket and slacks.  He grinned.

“Good morning everyone.  I’m Captain Raz,” he bellowed, waving at everyone.  Some people in the crowd waved back.

“Plastic Beach is my… home away from home and I cannot wait for you all to make yourselves comfortable.  Please, enjoy yourselves, take a load off, escape your problems.  Be at ease here.  After all, haven’t you earned it?” He asked.  Some of the people yelled to agree with him.

“I hope that you all stay here forever, with me.  With us!  We are a family now and I can’t wait to get to know you!  Welcome to Plastic Beach!”  He grinned again, disappearing into a pitch black prop, his smile lingering against the dark.

The gates opened and people rushed in.  Sasha was bumped by someone.  They locked eyes for a moment before the person walked away.  Sasha raised and eyebrow but squeezed her hand, noticing something was in it now.  As they followed the crowd, Sasha opened up her hand, opening the note inside.

He Watches.  resist.

A tall man was suddenly in front of her.

“Ticket,” he demanded.

“Oh… Uh…”  She stumbled for a second before handing him his ticket.  Ree, Aya and Ron handed their tickets to him as well and followed him onto a tram.  The man took their bags.  The tram chugged up a sand dune, before peaking.  

The resort of Plastic Beach had tall hotels, a casino, amusement parks, a church, food and all the debauchery anyone could ever want.  Everyone glanced at each other, before staring at the resort again.  Trees and grass went on for miles it seemed, rows of pools went one for a mile or two.  As their tram pulled into one of the hotels, the man made them follow him into a pent house suite.  He dropped their bags off by the door.

“Tomorrow morning there is orientation,” he said before leaving the room.

The young adults stared out the giant window that over looked the resort.

They had never been this scared.

Changes

“What do you mean ‘the ship is driving itself’, Ron?” Sasha asked, looking at him confused.

“That’s what the fuck it means!?  Why are you questioning me!?  ‘Hey, Ron, you must know how this ship works all of sudden, so you must have put in that protocol!’ The ship is FLYING itself TOOOOO Plastic Beach, PAY ATTENTION,” he snapped, rubbing his head in frustration.

Aya and Ree snickered, their faces going to stone when Ron turned his head to look at them.

“So, no one else is worried about this ship just… Taking us to a place we don’t want to go?”  he asked, trying to get past the bewilderment of his siblings not giving a shit.

The young women were silent.

“Oh.  That’s what I thought.  Well, while y’all are doing… Whatever y’all were doing, I’m gonna try to find the manual for this ship…”  Ron left the room that Sasha had claimed, which happened to be the captain’s room.

Sasha was helping Ree color her hair, Aya was going through the boxes of clothes.

“Can we talk about how really weird it was that Koro had all these clothes?  Like, I get being a merchant, but man, this is ridiculous,” Aya said, holding up a pair of pants to her waist before tossing them aside.

“That whole station was weird,” Ree said, tilting her head  as Sasha laid dye on a grouping of her hair.

“Can we talk about that war-monger singled you out, though?” Sasha asked.

“No.”

“Why?”

“Because it doesn’t matter,” Ree responded.  The room was quiet, aside from Aya ripping open boxes of clothes.

The door slid open, Horne walking into the room.  They walked over to Aya and started digging through the clothes with her.

“Whatcha looking for, babe?” Aya asked, opening up another box

“I want dresses,” Horne said, throwing clothes on the floor.  Aya nodded.

“Well, let’s find you one!”

“Horne, what are you gonna do if people ask you if you’re a girl?”  Ree asked.

“I’mma fight ’em,” Horne replied.

“And what if they ask if you’re a boy?”

“I’mma fight ’em!”

Aya laughed and tossed a dress over to Horne.

“You’re perfect.”

It was a few months, almost a year, before anything happened.  They got situated in their rooms, the triplet toddlers found out one of the rooms was a play room, so they stayed in there most of the time.  The babies were learning how to walk and talk and were growing fast.  A bit too fast.  The smaller children were their own person’s now and it was a bit surreal watch them blossom into their… differences.

The triplets, Tere, Nere and Mere, were all dark-skinned.  Tere’s left eye was black, his right white.  Mere’s left eye was white, her right black.  Both of Nere’s eyes were completely white, but they could see just fine.  Their hair was white.  When it was time for them to pick out new clothes, Tere chose a green shift, Nere chose a black one and Mere chose a red one.  And they each picked out a necklace to match.

“We’re The Super Trips!” They said in unison before chasing each other.

The twin babies, who were now toddlers, weren’t actually twins at all.  At least, not identically.  Bean, short for Bean Nighe, was a bald, light skin child with red eyes, who picked out a brown robe and pink sneakers to wear.  Their twin, Bandie, short for Bandshee, had yellow eyes and dark skin and at the moment, a small grey afro.  She chose a red dress and a stuffed animal of a 10 legged creature.   They rarely talked to their older siblings, only talking to each other in grunts and shrieks.

Aya kept her head shaved.  After she woke up and looked at herself in the mirror, she let out a yelp.  Her eyes had started to change.  Her irises were turning grey, the pupils yellow.  During the last few months, she started to bulk up in weight.  She had always been tall, but now she was 6’5.  She wasn’t even 16 yet and she felt… powerful.  There was a weight room and every morning, she would be in there for a good two hours.  The eye thing frightened her, however.  So working out would have to wait.

Ree was down in the galley, cooking breakfast.  Her hair was pulled into 2 huge afro puffs, one green, one blue.  She wore a giant sweater that went down to her knees and big puffy socks.  Her dark blue eyes squinted at a pan of bacon that popped hot grease at her dark skin.  She tossed a pancake into the air and barely caught it back in the pan.

“Hee heeeeeee.”

Sasha’s red afro was pushed back in the front by a headband that matched her purple eyes.  She sat on her bed, watching the vastness of space and stars pass by.  It made her remember the moments her and Grampa had when he would take her outside during winter break to look at the polar lights or the meteor showers during summer break.

Horne was 9 now and had to be about 5’4.  They kept almost all of the things related to Granny and Grampa in their room on a bookshelf.  Today, Horne was looking at an old photo album of them, looking at their faces, at family they’ve never met.  A cookie recipe.  Horne’s eyes went wide before gently and carefully taking it out the book and running toward the galley.

While everyone else slept on deck 1, Ron slept on deck 2, close to the engines.  He was making notes and drawings about what he could fix and mess with without the computer needing “adequate credentials”.  Aya helped him keep his (little) beard and head shaved.  He was still asleep when Horne came over the intercom.

“Ron, I found a recipe for Granny’s cookies!”

Ron wasn’t even awake, but his body somehow managed to make a break for it toward the galley.

Ron was the last one to show up.  The smaller children were already eating their breakfast, making small talk among themselves at a table.

The older kids were huddled around the island counter, staring at the piece of paper like some sort of bug.

“So, is it real?” Ron grunted.  Ree shrugged her shoulders.

“I’ll have to make it.. But it might not taste like Granny’s… It’ll taste like mine.”

Sasha looked up, realizing that Aya wasn’t there.  She walked to Aya’s room and buzzed for Aya.  No response.

“Aya?”

Sasha slid the door open and looked around.

“Aya??”

She walked to the bathroom and looked at Aya.

“Aya, you good?”

Aya looked at her.  “I don’t know, you tell me.”

“What the fuck!?”  Sasha rushed over to Aya and looked at her eyes.

“How do you feel?”

“I feel fine…?  I’m still just still… Yeah. …What was Horne saying?  I didn’t hear them because of well…”

“They found a recipe for cookies and they think it might be Granny’s.  Ree is gonna make some”

Aya’s eyes got wide.

“Shut up!?”

Sasha laughed.  “Well, you can try some when Ree is done making them.”

For an hour, the older kids sat on the counter in the galley, watching the oven slowly brown the cookies.  The smell of brown sugar and honey wafted through the deck, the children moving out their rooms to play out in the galley.  The oven dinged. Ree let out a long, loud noise in excitement.  The children peeked out from behind the counter.

As the cookies came out the oven, hands immediately reached out to grab one, heat and 3rd degree burn be damned.

“BACK UP,” Ree boomed.  All the hands backed up.  It was the longest five minutes of their lives.  Once they had cooled, everyone grabbed one and took a bite.

“Oh, naw.”

“Nope.”

“Uh uh.”

“Put these in the trash.”

Another 6 months passed before Ree got the cookies to taste edible.  The twins could read and write, the triplets found math books to study, Horne helped out their younger siblings.  Ree’s cooking had gotten better.  She also managed to stumble on a room they hadn’t opened yet.  A greenhouse.  She had taken up residence there and was learning how to take care of plants.  Aya could now bench press 150 lbs and do 300 crunches.  Sasha kept a daily log and was mapping their route to Plastic Beach on a stand alone palm computer.  Ron had finally found the manual for the ship and started copying the notes he had written before in it.

An alarm went off and the main power shut off, the emergency lights turned on.

“Now approaching: Glitter Freeze.  Please make your way to the safe room.  Time until Glitter Freeze entrance: 2 hours.”

The children had planned for this.  Sasha had read a file about this and did drills about this for a month straight until they got it under 30 minutes.

“The book said the sooner you close those doors, the sooner you get there.  It just doesn’t say how.”

They gathered their bags and locked their doors with a code; just in case.  They hustled to the safe room, did a head count, shoved their bags into the overhead compartment, strapped the younger kids in and shut the door.  As the older kids strapped themselves in, the room got dark and a window slid open.

The Glitter Freeze was a grouping of old stars, the gasses so close that the constant fires made the space around them give off a hazy pink fog.  The stars behind the haze gave off the appearance of diamonds, old space bandits would say.  If they were still around.

The children stared in awe of this phenomenon.  As the ship slowly started to turn toward it, the room started to hiss.  The children didn’t hear it. As their breathing slowed, their eyes closed, the hissing kept going.  The ship steered itself toward the middle of the Glitter Freeze.  The children slept peacefully.  As the ship got further and further into the Glitter Freeze, two ships pulled up along side theirs.  The door to the safe room opened.  They children were still asleep.

Play

The doors hissed open.  The children walked down the stairs and walked out the station, eyes going big at the hubbub happening around them.

The carnival was housed in a barely visible barrier that normalized the atmosphere for the visitors.  The dark shy of space sparkled with stars, giving the carnival the nighttime experience all day.  The dome was bustling with bodies compared to the station.  Laughter, screams and yelling, bright, flashing neon lights, fried foods, all filled their senses.

A person on stilts walked past, bending over backwards as they did so, their head level with the toddlers.  They shrieked and clung to each other, then started to laugh.  The children moved together, looking at all the attractions.  A bearded lady, a man who can eat swords, a fire magician, fun house, games, rides.

Horne tugged on Sasha’s hand.  “I want to go play,” they said, pointing at a bounce house.  Sasha smiled and nodded, following behind, one little voice from a toddler screaming “waaaaaait for meeeeee” to Horne.

Ron and Aya followed behind with the other two toddlers, the babies strapped to their chests.  Ree watched them go, free of any baby or child.  She took off in a sprint in the other direction.  Koro had slipped her some credits the night before and dammit, she was going to buy herself a fun time.  She hit up the fun house, the fastest (but not safest looking) roller coaster.  She wandered around, passing a small building, before doubling back and going inside.  She came out 20 minutes later, a little ring now placed into her septum, several earrings dazzling her ears.  She passed a little store and bought some coloring for her hair.

She continued her lone walk.

“Hey, you there, girl!”  a voice rang out to her left.  She glanced over in that direction and froze a bit.  It was one of the war-monger aliens.

“Got a prize for you if you can throw this dart at this balloon!  Free of charge!”  She stopped walking and glared before walking up.  She took the dart and threw it, missing the balloon by inches… But it still popped as if she hit it.  A siren went off, causing her to jump.

“Winner!”  The alien said, handing Ree an envelope.  She snatched it away and stuffed it in her bag, before taking off again.

“REE!  There you are!”  It was Sasha.

“We’ve been looking for you for two hours!” Sasha said, before staring at Ree.

“Nice,” Sasha said, point at her nose and ears.  Ree grinned like a cat.

“I got hair dye too!  Will you help me with it?”  Sasha laughed nodded, giving Ree’s arm a squeeze.

They caught up with everyone else, who were enjoying a big helping of cheese fries and hot dogs. Ron and Aya were feeding and burping the babies.

“Ree!  Ree!  Ree, look!  I won this!’  Horne said, pulling up a box of cereal.  “I won a lot of it!”

Ree took the box and looked at it.

“Super Fast Jellyfish??”

“It has a toy inside!”

Ree handed the box back, before stealing a fry.  Ron and Aya started to fawn over Ree’s new modifications, each of them contemplating getting their own.  As they finished lunch and cleaning up sticky children, they started to make their way to back to the tram.

“Hey again, girl!  Got another prize for ya!”  The group stared at the war-monger alien.  Ree took a deep breath and walked toward the stall.

The alien grinned.  “Throw a dart in ‘twixt these balloons, and I’ll add something else to ya prize,” they said, handing Ree the dart.  She took it and stared at the triangle of balloons.  The dart soared and landed right in the middle, the balloons popping in unison.  The alien let out a belly laugh and handed her a small box.  She took it and ran back to her group.  They didn’t say anything.

As the settled into the tram-car to go back to the station, Ron and Aya put the smaller children into the other car, changing them and changing their clothes before laying them down for a nap.
The teenagers sat together in the other car, staring at the box and envelope Ree had won.

“I don’t wanna open ’em,” Ree said, sitting back, crossing her arms.

“What!?  You won the shits!”  Aya said, pushing the items toward Ree.

I’ll do it,” Sasha grumbled, grabbing the envelope.  She ripped open the top and pulled out a folded letter and tickets.  Ten of them, oddly enough.

“‘Dear Winner,

I am pleased to inform you that you and your family have won a trip to Plastic Beach!  Inside this envelope, there are tickets for you and yours to come join our resort for a time of fun and laughs!

Can’t wait to see you,

Captain Raz’

Huh,”  Sasha said, putting the letter aside.

Ron picked up on the tickets and fiddled with it.

“It feels like a real ticket,” he said, holding it up to the light.  Sasha had opened the box now.  Everyone peered inside.  It was an ignition starter, a piece of paper with a name on it and a pass.

“That’s a really fancy key for a really fancy ship but we don’t have the ship,” Ron said, frowning.  Sasha picked it up and looked at it.

“There’s a button on it… I’mma press it,” she said, her thumb smashing the little blue button.  Nothing happened.

“You got some dud ass prizes,” Aya said.  “And the what the fuck is Plastic Beach?”

“A resort,” Ree said.  Aya mocked her with a face.

“Yeah I got that, but what IS it?  Do you think Koro would know?”  Everyone shrugged.

“We can ask.”

At that moment, a rocket flew past the tram, shaking the car.  Ron raced to the window, watching it fly.

“It’s headed toward the station!” He cried out.

The ride back to the station seemed like it was faster than the ride to the carnival.

Koro was right at the door when it opened.

“Who gave you that ship?!  Hm!?  It came flying the docks like a bat out of hell!  And the… THING who handed it off.  The war-monger!?  How could trust them!?”

Aya rolled her eyes.  “I won it in a game,” shouldering past him, carrying a sleeping baby on the other shoulder.  Koro helped put the smaller children to bed, regrouping with the older teenagers.

“Plastic Beach?”

“Yeah, what is it?”

Koro’s eyes started to glaze over.

“It’s a magical place.  A place where happiness and relaxation are a top priority,” Koro said, almost in a monotone voice.

The teenagers watched Koro before looking at each other.

“Where is it?” Aya asked.

“Beyond the Glitter Freeze,” Koro responded in that same voice.  Ron and Sasha felt uneasy.

“Maybe we can just take the ship and go?” Ron whispered to his siblings.

NO,” Koro suddenly roared standing up.  Koro’s whole demeanor had changed all of a sudden.  They cleared their throat.  “I mean, you all should go.  After everything that’s happened to you, you need to recharge,” they said.  The teenagers eyed him, before getting up and going to look at their new ship.

It was almost quadruple in size of the little rust bucket Ron and Grampa built.  It was so big their bucket could fit in it.  There were three decks, enough space for everyone to have their own rooms and then some.  The galley was stocked, the ship full of fuel.

Ron was excited about the ship.  Something new for him to pilot and learn how to repair.  The young women were more excited to have their own spaces.  They met up in the captain’s room.

“Everything is brand new,” Aya said.  “What the fuck is happening?”

Ree shrugged.  “I say we take this ship and just… Go.”

“Where, though?” Sasha asked.

“Maybe we should go to Plastic Beach?  I mean, maybe it’s like an island world?  But if it’s a resort, there are people and maybe they can tell us where the nearest hospitable planet is?  I don’t think they’d let us LIVE there,” Ron said.  Everyone was silent.

When they walked back into the station, Koro seemed to be back to their old self.

“Have y’all figured out what you’re going to do?”

Sasha was about to open her mouth, but Ree interrupted.

“We don’t know yet,” she said, glancing at her siblings.

“Yeah… We’re gonna go store our things in it, though.  Less for you to worry about when we decide to leave with you,” Ron said, with a small smile.

A few days putting boxes of clothing and maneuvering the rust bucket into the third deck, the children were packed to go.  In the middle of the night, the children quickly and quietly packed themselves into their new ship.  As Ron settled into the pilot’s seat, the alarm for launch started to go off.

“Fuck.”

Ron started to scramble, pressing buttons, the ship slowly starting to wake up and turn on.

“Destination: Plastic Beach,” the computer said coolly.

“WHAT?!”

The dock bay doors opened, Koro and a few other station dwellers started to run into the docks.  The ship suddenly took off as soon as the doors were fully opened.  The speed took Ron by surprise as he was thrown even further back in his seat.  The ship whizzed off into the atmosphere, the broken moon turning into a speck within a few minutes.  When the ship finally stabilized in speed, Ron tried to alter course.

“Destination: Plastic Beach. Heading north to the Glitter Freeze.”

“Where’s fucking north from here?” Ron demanded, trying to stop the trip to Plastic Beach.