#3: Flooders

Mud wipes the crumbs from his hands and puts the leftovers into his bag. “Come on, we’ve waisted too much time here. Hop on… my… do you hear that?” He asks while looking around, confused. He stands, scanning our surroundings for any movement.

I listen carefully then look up at him. “Yeah. What was that?” I glance about, worried.
“I don’t know.” Mud admits, “it sounded like a machine… well, it’s gone now. Let’s get moving.”

“Yeah!” I attempt to stand, but fall over. “Oof! Still to weak. I hope this won’t last forever. I have another job besides this one.”

Helping me onto his back, he starts carrying me down the road. “Are you strong enough to use a weapon? You may need to act as gunner if we’re attacked.”

“I can try.” I’m sure I could aim and shoot, but the gun recoil might be too much for me… especially with this Squiffer.

“Good. We’re still a good hour away from the surface.” The sound returns and he quickens his pace. I see his face go a bit pale.

I hold tight to my old weapon. I wish it was my Splatterscope, though if I can’t handle recoil with this little, sniper gun, there is no way I could handle my Splatterscope’s recoil.

The noise slowly becomes louder. By now he’s jogging and looks very concerned. “What is that?!” I ask.

“Nothing to worry about.” He says as he starts to run.

“Then why are you running like there’s a mob chasing you?!” Not a second after I said those words a Flooder Machine drives around the corner.

“THAT’S WHY!!!” Mud shouts and the little color drains from my face. “Sorry. I thought it was going to go the other way, so I tried not to worry you.” He says as he sprints, carrying me, his wounded passenger.

“What do we do?!”

“Look for an open door in one of those buildings. We need to get inside and out of it’s line of sight!”

I keep my eyes peeled. I search the front of each and every building. “…There!” I point to one.

“OH JOY!!!” He shouts as we get into the old building. He hurries through the building, trying to find a way out. “You know, I don’t think it can get us in here.” As he is saying that, three more Flooders join in the hunt.

“What do we do?! We’re trapped!”

“I’m thinking! I’m thinking!” He looks about the place frantically, “Ok I got it. We could wait them out. Flooders will move on after a while, so we have to sit tight and splat a path when they leave.”

“Ok.” He sits me on the ground and kneels down next to me.

“You feeling any better?”

“A little bit. I’m just scared and nervous. That always makes me feel weak.”

“Understandable.”
With a loud BANG the entire building starts to shake.

“Woah! What the heck was that?!” I scream. Another BANG!

“I think it’s the Flooders. They’re trying to topple the building by ramming it!” I stare at him. We’ll be buried alive by the remains of this building. I didn’t even know that this was in the Flooders’ programming! SMASH!

“Wha- what do we do?!” I gasp. He’s looking around the place.

“… lightbulb… upstairs. Quickly!” I hold my arms out to him and he picks me up, then runs for the stairs. The Flooders ram into the building again, and when they do a part of the building collapses.

I gasp and hold tighter to him. I’m so scared I’m beginning to cry. This is worse than the fight with Octavio, and THAT was scary.

“Shoot that window!” I hear him order urgently. I look up while he repositions me so that I’m on his back. Seeing the window, I take aim at it and shoot. The window bursts.

It turns out I was right. I can’t take recoil. The force from the gun throws me back and I fall hard onto the ground. The steps under me start to crumble.

He seems to be acting on instinct when he grabs my ankle and throws me to safety. But, in doing this, he trades places with me. The steps collapse.

“Ugh!” I look back. “No!!!” Hurrying to the edge, I look over. I gasp at the sight.

He is lying on his back and his arm looks JACKED. It looks as if it has to be Stretch Knotted at least.

************************************************************************************

Hello. Splat here. I need to break into my story a moment so I can explain to you humans. Ok, so Inklings do not have bones. This makes us very flexible and our injuries are different from you guys’. Instead of broken bones and dislocated shoulders and the like, we have stretches, knots, and clusters, etc.

A stretch is where the skin is pulled so bad that it stretches farther than the muscle making up our bodies. Depending on the extent of the stretch, the injured Inkling may need to go to the hospital. A knot is… just that. A knot. It can be either skin or muscle. Muscle knots hurt way more than skin knots and typically require surgery. Finally, clusters. A cluster is where the muscles inside us get bunched together and stuck. Like a stretch, cluster degrees vary and the injured might need a hospital.

Stretches, clusters, and knots can happen together. So a Stretch Knot is where the skin is Stretched and the skin or muscle is Knotted in the same area. Stretch Cluster, you can probably guess. Then a Cluster Knot… if an Inkling gets a Cluster Knot… oh man, get that squid to the hospital. It hurts just thinking about it…

Alright… well that’s your lesson on Inkling injuries. There you go. Now you know what I’m talking about. Back to the story.

************************************************************************************

He seems unable to speak and attempts to point to something.

I begin looking for a way down. Upon seeing one, I attempt standing. Adrenaline pumps through my body, it gives me my normal strength and enables me to walk on my own. I start climbing down to him.

“Wait.” He whimpers, “J- ju- u…” He can’t get the words to come out. In a moment I am at his side. I look him over quickly then hoist HIM onto MY back. I am not sure how I am managing this, but I am.

Ignoring Mud’s protests and cries of pain, I start carrying him up the way I came down. “Win… Win… dow… up…” He’s out of breath and desperately trying to tell me something. I make for the window that he had me shoot. Going up is much more difficult than going down. He finally has his breath back. “Stop! Put me down!”

“N- no way! You didn’t leave me, there’s no way I’m gonna leave you!” But as I say this I feel my strength waning. I force myself to go on. He doesn’t realize his arm is hurt, I can tell. There is no way he’d be able to climb with it.

“No! No! I’m ok! You don’t need to carry me!”

To buy me some time to get to the next floor, I ask, “You sure? That was quite a fall.”

“I’m fine, just winded!” Now I know that he doesn’t realize his arm is screwed up! “Head for that window! It’s our ticket out of this mess!”

I really did intend to put him down when I reached the next floor, but there wasn’t time to. The ground was crumbling and we had to move. Fortunately, we reached the window sill.

“Ok now you have to put me down.” He frowns, “See that Flooder about to pass by? We need to jump to it.”

I swallow hard. Setting him down, I prepare to jump. I hate falling. Jumping from a window is no good either.

“Wait for it… Wait… NOW! JUMP!” I shut my eyes and do as he commands me. He jumps when I do and we land with a hard thud. “Yeah! We are out of here!”

“Yay!” I grin then drop to my knees exhausted, “That was scary.” 

“Sure was. What say we take a little break, because the pain is starting to settle in.”

“Let’s do.” I agree.

“Thank you…” I watch him waiting for the moment he realizes. His eyes slowly grow wide and he cries out in agony. He grabs his shoulder in pain. “I think it’s Stretch Clustered.”

Well… at least it’s not Knotted. Still it wasn’t what I was expecting and can’t help it when I say, “What? Oh no…” I don’t like what I know I have to do, “Look… I had that happen to me once and a friend fixed it and taught me how. I had to do it to someone once… I can fix it, but it may hurt.”

“Just do it. I know it will suck.”

“Ok… take off the vest.” He does. “Lay down.” He plops down on his back.

I sit down so next to his bad arm and shoulder. Then I roll up the sleeve of his black shirt. Deftly, I touch his shoulder and determine where it needs to be pushed and pulled into place. I lay both hands on his arm.

“Ready?” I ask him.

“Nope! But here we go…”

With a quick and sudden jerk,  pull his skin back into place. I could tell, from how it felt under my hands and how it sounded, that it was painful. All he does is lay still. Very still. I see a single tear flow from his eye.

After a moment of quiet I say, “… You were much stronger with this than my friend. He screamed pretty loudly when I fixed his.”

“I’m… screaming…… on… the…. inside…..” he tells me brokenly.

“Oh… well, we aren’t done yet.” Carefully, I begin massaging out the muscles in his arm and shoulder. I move them slowly and gently back into their place. Even though I try my best not to hurt him, I’m sure it’s not very pleasant at times. Soon his arm is back to looking normal

After a few minutes of him lying still, he lets out a small squeak in pain. Then he takes a deep breath and his whole body quivers. “Thank you. I guess I owe you now.”

I shake my head. “No. You’re saving my life. This is barely beginning to repay that debt.”

“Right. Right. Right… speaking of which, I think we should get off this Flooder. It’s heading in the wrong direction.”

“Oh!” I stand up quickly and help him up. I’m surprised by how much stronger I feel now. The rush of fear seems to have kicked most of my weariness out the window. “I don’t think you need to carry me. I have some energy and you need to rest that arm.” I pick up my old gun and hand him his.

“Thanks.” He smiles then asks, “Are you strong enough to go squid.”

I nod. Squid form has always been easier for me than this form. “Yeah. I practically live in squid form. My other job requires it of me all the time.”

“Nice.” He fires a quick burst at the ground then squids into it. I follow. “Alright, we have at least 45 minutes to an hour of straight walking. Let me know if you need to rest.”

“Ok.” I fire a long range blast on the road as far as possible. “Might be faster if we squid.”

“Good thinking.”

“Let’s go!”