At opposite ends of the dead-end road two groups stared at each other in the waning, unnumbered hours of a summer evening. One group was comprised of seven boys on unmoving BMX bikes. They shifted their weight and twisted their hands nervously around the rubber handlebar grips. The other group was made up of a boy and a girl, twins. They were poking gingerly at a pancaked, run-over bird with long sticks. They looked up, sensing eyes on their backs, and instinctively went motionless.
The boys on bikes looked at each other with sidelong glances. Then the one in front nodded slightly. The siblings saw the move, even from a distance, and immediately, together, bolted for the woods that rimmed one side of the road. Fourteen wheels spun into furious motion. The leader of the group yelled out primally. They quickly crossed the length of road to where the others entered the woods--but the brother and sister were now deep in their most familiar territory. They ran down two nearly-invisible parallel paths, through ferns and moss and around young sequoia.
The leader, stronger, was quick behind them. He navigated the undergrowth expertly on his bike. His retinue was less experienced in the art of forest riding. One stumbled quickly, hitting a hidden rock and capsizing. The others passed him without trying to help him up; their pursuit too important, their quarry too agile. Another found himself facesmacked with a low sapling branch and too stunned to continue.
The siblings ran to the base of a small ridge and climbed up, helping each other.
"You can't run forever!" yelled the leader. Then he reached into his jacket and pulled out a plastic handgun with an orange barrel tip. He braked suddenly, swerving the bike out in a spray of dirt. He took sight of the brother and aimed. "Pew!" The siblings took cover over the ridge just as the bullet grazed by. The other boys pulled up next to the leader, dismounted, and pulled out their own plastic guns, and ran towards the ridge.
Laying down behind the ridge on their stomachs, brother and sister simultaneously brought up the long sticks they were still carrying over edge and sprayed the approaching boys with a hail of machine gun fire. "Bup-bup-bup-bup--bup-bup-bup!" The boys ducked down, unharmed. The brother picked up a short rotting stick from the ground, stood up, and took aim at the leader. "Pow!"
The leader, dazed, shocked, jumped and fell backward into the center of a large fern. One of the boys turned, and screamed out "No!" He ran to the leader in a crouch, where he cradled the leader's head as gurgled, spat out foaming saliva that ran down his cheeks, clutched his chest dramatically, and finally mimicked a full bodied spasm before going still. "I'm gonna get you!" vowed the boy.
The sister let out another round of strafing fire, but the remaining boys clawed up the ridge with intense anger. The brother and sister looked at each other for a nanosecond and voicelessly decided to split up. The ran down the backside of the ridge and headed in opposite directions. The sister found cover behind a large, fungus-festooned log, while the brother hid behind a cedar tree in eyeshot of his sister. The other boys spilled over the ridge. They stood still momentarily as they tried to determine where their enemies went to.
Brother and sister looked at each other, and at the same time, each lobbed a pinecone into the group of boys. The grenade impacted at their feet. The boys looked at them, disbelieving, then "BOOM BOOM" said brother and sister together. The boys jumped up high, and dove in arcs for the ground. They lay still.
The siblings stood up from their cover to assess their handiwork, hands and weapons lax. Then the boy that went to the aid of the leader came over the ridge, with guns in both hands, pointed at each of the siblings.
"Drop your weapons!"
"No, this is our forest!" said the girl. She raised her gun.
"Pew, pew!" bullets arced down through the air and caught in the chests of both siblings. They stumbled backwards, clutching their chests. "Pew, pew, pew pew! It's my forest now!"
"No--it's not!" The brother cried out raggedly, in obvious pain. He lifted his machine gun and strafed the boy even as the boy squeezed off another round. The girl crumpled to the ground, sighed and lay still. The brother fell to his knees, they fell forward into a patch of moss, facedown. The boy on the ridge tumbled backward, and rolled down the other side. He crawled towards the leader, and rested his hand on the leader's foot, before collapsing.