Ticket to Ride

“Might as well,” Lucy shrugged. She accepted the plate with two slices on it with a nod of thanks. “We’re all gonna die anyway.”

“Don’t say that,” Mando smiled at her as he plated another pair of slices. “My wish has worked out pretty well so far.” He patted the brick oven on the side. “This thing hasn’t let me down yet,” the older man smiled at the rest of his gathered friends. Though their attention was on the news, not on him. Mando’s large screen TV showed skeletons raining out of black holes in the sky. The view switched to different cities, but it was always raining skeletons. Each member of the small group that showed up took turns looking up at the sky. Lucy laughed.

“You’re right! I remember when it popped out at that banana and honey pizza,” her laughter drew everyone else’s attention. Greg, Mando’s stepson, joined in on the laughter as well.

“We didn’t know what to do with it! HAHA. We left it out and the next thing we know a monkey shows up from out of nowhere and starts eating it!” He doubled over in his seat, red-faced from laughter.”

“And then the doorbell rang,” Carla took over the story with a broad smile. “A clown was going door to door looking for his lost monkey.” She nodded at the pizza oven, then patted Mando on the shoulder. “That monkey’s favorite pizza was banana and honey, the clowns give it to him as a treat sometimes.” She shrugged. “There’s no way any of us could have known that, but it worked. That’s why we’re here today.”

“Or to spend our last day together,” Lucy added.

“Have some faith in the oven!” Carla said with a smile.

“Fine. I have faith in the oven,” Lucy rolled her eyes. After her statement, the oven dinged to let them know another pizza was ready. Mando looked at his guests’ plates, but everyone had at least a slice.

“Did someone want something else?” he asked while he moved to the oven. He grabbed the wooden peel and pulled the pizza out. “Uhh. Looks like ham and pineapple.”

“Gross, no,” Lucy replied first, but the rest of them seemed to agree the pizza sounded disgusting.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH” Lucy shrieked suddenly. Mando looked to see what the problem was. The short woman pointed at a vertical black hole hovering a foot off the ground.

“Get behind me!” Mando moved to stand in front of his guests. He held the loaded pizza peel in front of them. He saw white come out of the portal and panicked. He swung the peel like a catapult to launch the steaming pizza at the portal.

A deafening yell, louder than a train whistle, caused the pizza to explode in mid-air. The volume drove Mando and his friends to their knees. Once they were on the ground the sound stopped.

“Rude!” a girl’s voice said. Mando did not recognize it.

“We probably scared them,” another girl said. Mando looked up and saw three young girls. A tall one with short, spiky white hair, a short one with long black curls, and one between them with short, spiky black hair.

“Hi.” the Asian girl with black spikes waved. “Sorry if we scared you.” Mando felt safe enough to stand up. He helped Lucy up while Greg helped Carla. Once they were all on their feet Mando looked at the dark-haired girl and nodded.

“I think we’re all okay. Sorry for throwing the pizza at you. We thought you were invading. Who are you?” he asked.

“Oh! I’m Jenny,” she smiled. “That’s Dread,” she pointed at the tall white-haired girl. “And that’s Dirge,” she gestured at the girl with dark curls. “Why did you think we were invading?” she asked. Mando pointed at the TV. Black portals continued to rain skeletons on cities.

“We need to leave. Now,” Dread said. Dirge nodded and turned towards the portal.

“What’s going on?” Jenny asked.

“Ballisea’s taking over.” Dread answered her.

“Whoa…” Jenny watched the TV for several seconds. “You said she was powerful… but…. wow..”

“Let’s go, Jen.” Dread placed a hand on her shoulder. The girl nodded and turned to go back into the portal. She caught sight of the pizza remnants on the ground.

‘Oh man! Was that ham and pineapple?” She stopped before entering the black hole. “I love ham and pineapple.” The girl turned toward Mando. “Hey. Got any more?” The oven dinged and Mando nodded.

“I do if you take us with you.”

“Okay,” Jenny smiled.

“And the oven too!” Carla added.

“Uh..”Jenny looked at Dirge. The curly-haired girl nodded with a shrug.


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