CHAPTER 3 – Twinkies are Forever
by John “Greyhawk68” Roling
Albert crashed into the stacked palettes with a sickening wet crunch as dust filled his nostrils and stung his eyes. Pain seared his chest and he knew instinctively that he had broken some ribs. It wasn’t the first time, and probably wouldn’t be the last.
If he survived the night, that is.
Breathing came hard as he pushed aside boxes and rose to one knee. That’s when he saw him standing in the dim light. “Great, it’s you” Albert coughed, blood welling in his throat, “I should’ve known.”
Bryce was at the other end of a large cavern. Metal beams supported the walls and ceiling, albeit tentatively. Thick dust covered hundreds, maybe thousands of boxes; boxes that filled the area from floor to ceiling. It seemed to be a fallout shelter of some sort, and by the looks of it, it had been abandoned since the Cold War.
“I guess this is the end then” said Albert, looking at the gun Bryce held at his side.
But Bryce didn’t respond, he was too transfixed on a pile in front of him. In the dim light, it was hard to make out, but Albert soon realized that it was money. Bundles of green stacked nearly seven feet high.
“There has to be millions here,” Bryce muttered.
Albert stood fully now, using the dusty boxes as leverage. The artwork on them all showed the same thing: yellow snack cakes with cream filling. “Twinkies?” Albert puzzled. “This cave is filled with Twinkies.”
Without his eyes leaving the stack of cash, Bryce swung his pistol in Albert’s direction. “I prefer Oreos.” he said flatly. “Oreos are nice,” replied Albert, “but Twinkies are forever.”
Indeed, if anything were to survive a nuclear holocaust, it would probably be Twinkies. Twinkies and roaches anyway.
Albert studied Bryce for a moment. ‘Bingo’ Bryce had once been the best enforcer Mr. Giuseppe employed. But that was long ago. Years of alcohol and drug abuse had taken its toll, and Bryce was simply a shell of his former self. Albert was actually somewhat insulted that Mr. G would have sent Bryce after him. Surely he and his cargo were more important than to send just Bryce. Bryce was vulnerable and both he and Mr. G knew it.
“C’Mon Bingo, it looks like you found enough scratch there to disappear forever” Albert said “You don’t need me anymore. You don’t even need Mr. G.”
“SHUT UP!” Bryce fumed, the pistol trembling slightly in his hand, “I’ve still got a job to do. This is just icing on the cake.”
“Or the Twinkie” Albert thought to himself.
Just then a flash of white flew by Bryce’s ear. Startled, he whirled around and fired into the wall behind him. The gunshot seemed much louder than it should have, the acoustics of the cave acting as an amplifier no doubt. It was a split second before the gunshot gave way to thunder and the wall and ceiling collapsed into a thick cloud of dust.
Albert winced as he stumbled back into another pile of boxes, rubble nearly missing where he had been standing only moments earlier. He wiped the grime from his eyes and squinted through the haze. The section of the cave where Bryce had been was gone, the money with it. The shelter had undoubtedly become a tomb.
Fortunately, the wall behind Bryce had given way to where the ladder was located. As the moon was directly overhead now, the tunnel up glowed in the moonlight. Albert gingerly made his way through the debris, bid Bryce adieu and started upwards, rung by painful rung.
The cave was intriguing. Twinkies and a million dollars would cause anyone to do a double take, but Albert didn’t have time to explore right now. He couldn’t risk anyone finding his cargo.
When he reached the surface, Albert emerged and promptly vomited. His side throbbed, and his vision blurred. As he spit chunks of a long ago meal into the weeds, he gasped for air and noticed something peculiar.
The car was gone.
The car was gone, but his backseat blanket was still covering something in the middle of the road.
Albert forced himself to rise and walk to the highway. He found her there, face down, the lower half of her body sticking out from under the woolen blanket. Her feet were still bound by the duct tape, and as he followed her curves upward past her hips, he noticed something he had never seen before.
The small of her back contained a tattoo of a tiny pale butterfly.
Just as the chill started down his spine, a moan emanated from the asphalt. Apparently the drugs were wearing off.