The Stakes (pt. 1)

“This War guy,” Simon whispered, crouched in ankle-deep mud beside Blake, “he, like, shifted this neighborhood into a pocket universe, right?”

“Basically, yeah,” Blake grunted, keeping an eye out, his .44 cocked and loaded.

“Cool. Kinda like an Instance. You know, in Warcraft.”

Blake turned, fixing Simon with a suspicious glare. “You’re speaking nerd again. Quit it.”

Simon sat, his butt squishing in the cold mud, and listened to the report of distant automatic weapons fire. He’d grown up in Detroit, and was used to hearing gunshots pop in the night, but never like this. Overhead, a mortar exploded like fireworks.

“But why’d he do it?” Simon asked.

“My best guess?” Blake answered. “To keep The Man Upstairs from figuring out what’s going on.”


“It’s like this, kid,” Blake explained. “The Big Guy and his winged stormtroopers don’t give a crap about what we do to each other down here, in the mud. We can go to war, poison the planet, whatever, just as long as we don’t interrupt his beauty sleep.”

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