“What the hell am I supposed to do with those?” I said, glaring at the frilly pink socks dangling between Hummer’s pincers. “I’m twenty-two, not two.”
He grunted and tossed them over his armor-plated shoulder.
“Just stick to looking for band aids,” I said, and carried on riffling through the racks. “Or even better, try and root out some shower gel. You stink worse than these rotten rags on my feet. Damn this war, and damn you and the rest of those… cockroaches!”
With a swipe of a claw, he smashed the contents of the shelf he’d been picking through to the floor, before snorting and stomping away.
“Hummer, wait!” I called after him as he shot through the exit. “I didn’t mean it! It’s the blisters talking!”
I swept the rest of the ransacked store, and unearthed a battered carton of Hummer’s poison, but no socks.
Outside, on the deserted street, Hummer was in full sulk-mode.
“Peace offering,” I said, holding out the carton of banana milkshake.
He shook his bulbous head and jabbed a claw towards a plume of black smoke rising in the distance.
I sighed, but decided to play the game anyway. “You’re going back to the army?”
“The end of Annie and Hummer, huh?” I tipped my baseball cap. “I’ll be sorry to see you go.”
“Oh, I believe you. Only, you have threatened this before, many times.”
“I just wonder if they’ll take you back. You know, after the whole defecting business. Plus, once they find out you’ve been travelling with the enemy who knows what they’ll do.”
He shrugged and turned his back on me.
A series of explosions went off, the smoke tower growing.
“Sometimes I wonder whether there’ll be anything left once they’re through, anything worth winning. Maybe you’re right. Maybe we should both go back and fight ‒ get it over with.”
His head snapped around, his beady eyes wide with horror.
I chuckled. “Knew that would get your attention.”
He grunted, snatched the milkshake and stabbed a hole in the top of the carton. As he guzzled, I spotted a figure, a young man wearing a tatty military uniform with a green pack slung over his shoulder, sprinting at us from an alley across the street. He clocked Hummer and pulled a gun from his holster.
“Gun!” I yelled, but it was too late. The man took a shot.
Scales flew as the bullet glanced off Hummer’s upraised arm. He howled and fell to his knees, the milkshake carton flying out of his grasp. I drew my gun and fired back, hitting the man in the shoulder. He sagged, his injured arm drooping, and the pack slid off his shoulder. He stooped to try and snatch it up.
“Don’t even think about it,” I said, aiming my revolver at his head.
He froze, dropped his gun and backed slowly away down the alley, before turning and breaking into a run.
I propped Hummer against the store front and checked him over: some missing scales, nothing serious.
“You’ll live, kid,” I said with a smirk.
He groaned, watching a trail of milkshake trickling down the gutter.
I looked across the street to the abandoned pack, then to Hummer for approval.
I bolted across the street, grabbed the bag, and ran back to Hummer. I unzipped it and started pulling out the contents: a flashlight, a hunting knife, two cans of beans, protein bars, a half-full bottle of rum, and, buried at the bottom, two pairs of socks. They weren’t fresh by any stretch, but heaven compared to the sores.
I cheered and flapped them in the air.
Hummer grumbled, folded his arms and snapped his beak shut.
“For crying out loud. Don’t pout. Look, I’m sorry. We’ll find you some more milkshake.”
He started wailing.
“Alright, alright,” I said, silencing him. “How can I make it up to you?”
His eyes drifted to the socks.
The pair on his feet lasted five seconds before his monstrous hooves tore two gaping holes in the toes. He trudged through every puddle and patch of filth he could find, the second pair I’d wrapped around his “wound” shredding and laying a fluffy cotton trail on the road with every joyful swing of his arms.
I knocked back a mouthful of rum, limping along behind him. “Happy now?”
This story was originally published by spacesquid.com on 23/01/2019 . To view it on their site and read many other great scifi tales follow the link below;