The stone archway of the Temple’s ancient entrance loomed before Tommy
like a gateway to his own sarcophagus. Once he went in, there would be
no coming out. The cold feel of the ancient ruins sang in sharp contrast
to the hot and smoky air that filled his lungs. Every second or two a
bullet broke the air just over his head, or ricocheted wildly off the
stone columns, whistling as it tore past him. He tried to make himself
as small as possible, but the two crates of tartar sauce, currently
serving as his only protection from the armed pirates closing in around
him, offered little in the way of cover. A bullet struck one of the
crates, exploding the cheap white condiment all over his face. He wiped
it off with his shirt and checked his sword. No more bullets, so he
tossed it aside.
The body of one of the pirates lay crumpled on the stairway to his left.
A slow red trickle issued forth from the body; it looked like melted
strawberry jam. Above the noise of the battle Tommy heard them shouting
at one another as they closed in. He only had a few minutes left before
they finally overran his position and filled his body with lead. The
thought made him queasy and he attempted to push it away. He had to
think. If only Harry was here, he might know what to do. Thunk! Crack,
thunk, crack! More shots rang out and slammed into the crates. Soon they
would be no more and he would be fully exposed.
Tommy moved to his knees and crept forward. He saw more armed pirates
shooting and moving forward, taking cover where they could. Think,
stupid, think! He recoiled as a bullet clipped the crate, sending
splinters of deadly miniature shrapnel through the air. He turned his
attention to the archway. Inside was the Insane-O-Tron, imbedded in the
Temple’s stony grasp, an aqua jewel in a stone sea. He had to get it
to work. He turned around, staying as low as possible, and waited until
there was a momentary lull in the shooting, then he sprang to his feet
and rushed inside the Temple.
The air inside was thick. It threatened to choke him as he rushed
forward, guided through the darkness by the dull aqua glow. He vaulted
over a broken slab of marble and ran to the crates stacked around the
Insane-O-Tron. Thunk! Thunk! Two bullets pinged off the stone wall above
him, showering his head with sharp pieces of rock. He saw five pirates
come rushing through the archway and take cover. He didn’t have much
The chamber he was in was wide with high ceilings stretching maybe
thirty feet to the top, open and cavernous. A large hollow echo sounded
every time a gun was fired. It amplified the sound, rattling his brain
and making his ears ring. Tommy shrank down, his back now against the
crates. He looked at the Insane-O-Tron and its foreign symbols – an
untranslatable alphabet that wrapped around it. For a brief moment Tommy
thought he could actually read the symbols, as if they suddenly made
complete and total sense to him. Then that feeling passed and he was
left staring at them, unable to read the cryptic language. He needed the
code. That was when he noticed the eye patch.
It was sitting on the ground at the base of the wall. Tommy scrambled
forward, staying low, and grabbed the patch. Bullets pinged from
everywhere now and Tommy knew he only had thirty seconds at most. He
slipped the patch on. For a moment nothing happened and then the patch
sprang to life and the symbols shone bright blue in his left eye.
“C’mon!” he yelled.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw the flash of tropical pink. He
whirled to his right and saw someone appear out of the dark recesses of
the Temple. He ducked back down and realized this would be his last
chance. He tapped at the eye patch and quickly said a prayer. He stood,
completely exposing himself to the gunfire, and tapped a symbol on the
face of the Insane-O-Tron. The symbol glowed a little brighter. He
tapped another symbol and it glowed brighter still. He reached out to
tap the last symbol in the sequence when he heard a click behind him and
realized that he was out of time.
“You’re a real scum-sucking, shit-eating, fucking shit, shitty,
shit-eater,” Mr. Greene said. Tommy slowly turned and saw Mr. Greene
with his sword pointed right at his face. His stomach took a hellish
drop. Mr. Greene smiled, exposing perfectly straight white teeth. He
looked like a shark before a meal.
“Fuck you, Mr. Greene. Fuck you in your ass,” Tommy said.
Mr. Greene decided to pull the trigger, and that’s when the lights in
the cave went out and the laser show started.
Mr. Greene looked toward the cave as a blue laser beam shot across it
like a deep blue lightning. It arced up the steps of the Temple, gaining
altitude, then leveled off and entered the chamber. The laser found its
mark; Mr. Greene’s head exploded and his lifeless corpse crumpled at
Suddenly shouts and gunfire once again filled the air as the pirates
turned their attention to the laser shooter. Blue lasers filled the
darkness. Tommy, realizing his opportunity, turned back to the
Insane-O-Tron and pushed his finger on the third symbol. Suddenly it
began to spin and he was caught in an intense white light. Something
inside the Insane-O-Tron was screaming. It was high-pitched and
powerful. Then Tommy was gone, disappeared, to God knows where... or
Excerpted from "Insane-O-Tron" by Nick Alverson. Copyright © 2015 by Nick Alverson. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.