Chapter 2

The pink haze of the setting sun gave the garage a surreal glow. This time of day reminded Zwain the most of his home. The setting sun looked just like the bright afternoon sky. It was nice that it was no longer all of the time, it made them feel all the more special.

Zwain popped open his guitar case to put away his own home made guitar. It was fashioned out of scrap metal he found in the junk yard that Tony worked at. Back in the wastelands, Zwain and his father would make anything out of pretty much everything they could find. One particularly fond memory was of an entire living room set made out of tire rims from the abandoned cars.

The guitar was called The Axe. Zwain had a huge fascination with battleaxes. When he was younger he found old novels in the library that spoke of knights and wizards. The way the axe seemed to empower the character using it always fascinated Zwain. There were times where Zwain needed to feel powerful, to rise up from the hardships of his past. Mostly, he just used it to rock.

A couple of years after Zwain arrived, he and Tony started the band A Flock of Cows. It took a few more years to finally settle on the other members, but they filled out the rest of group with a couple of friends of Tony’s son: Mandy and Duece. They were a fair bit younger than Zwain and Tony, but Tony had known them for years, and they just happened to enjoy the same type of rock that A Flock of Cows was going for.

He was snapping the case shut when Mandy walked up, her guitar already in its case and strapped to her back. Her red hair seemed to glow in the pink light of the sunset, which also made the green of her eyes pop out like emeralds. Her wardrobe consisted largely of leather, from the soles of her platform boots, right up to her top hat. She was the lead guitarist for the band, and her fingers flew up and down that neck faster than Eddie from PBJB could ever hope to be.

“Great practice! I can’t wait for this weekend! Our first tour, all down the west coast!” The excitement in her voice was impossible to disguise. She was usually the more calm and collected member of the band, but this close to the start date and everyone was getting excited.

Zwain shrugged on his navy blue vest. The spring air was still a bit nippy, but the warmth of an early summer could be felt on the wind. “I know, this is going to be awesome. I’ve waited 7 years for this. Ever since that PBJB concert. This music has changed my life! I want to share with as many people as we possibly can!!”

“Easy there, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ll take it one show at a time,” she said with her levelheadedness coming through a bit.

“No way, I say we go balls out!” cheered a voice from behind Mandy. It was Duece, the drummer. He reached an arm around Mandy’s shoulders, they had been dating for the past couple of years. “Oh right, I forgot, you might be lacking in that department, hun!”

“My balls are bigger than yours, and I should know. I’ve seen them!” She said dripping with sarcasm and air quoting on the word ‘seen’.

The guys let out a collective, “Whoa-oh!” Even Tony, who was busy pushing the microphone stands into the corner of his garage turned and had to chuckle at that burn. Mandy had no problem holding her own with the guys and she could even out sailor-mouth Duece, if need be.

Duece feigned being hurt by this remark and mimed taking an arrow through his heart. “Your breaking my balls here.. oh wait, I guess I don’t got to worry about that, ” he chuckled.

“Yeah, nice recovery there,” Zwain said, eyebrow cocked up.

Duece shrugged nonchalantly. He was a smart-ass; his specialty was coming up with jokes off the top of his head. The jokes weren’t always the best, but they were usually dumb enough to get some sort of laugh. Duece had this philosophy that so long as it got a chuckle, it was worth it.

“So, Mandy and I are heading out to see a movie tonight. Any of you old farts interested?”

Tony, who was not quite done tidying up the garage enough to get his car in, walked up and asked, “Oh yeah, dude, which movie?”

“I was thinking, maybe, Back to the Future? You know, research.” Duece eyed up Zwain, hoping to get a rise out of him. Zwain had told them his story, but Duece never truly believed him. Zwain was still a pretty cool guy, so he paid it no heed.

“Oh, you little fucker!” Zwain gave him a quick jab to the shoulder. It was playful. Zwain had long since accepted his fate of being stuck here. Even though when that movie first came out Zwain was searching high and low for a Delorean to see if he could use it to get back.

Laughing the whole while, Duece took the jab on the shoulder. Mandy shook her head and rolled her eyes. To an outsider they must seem like 2 drunks in the street, ready to brawl, but that was just the way Zwain acted around Duece. He was different around Mandy, more somber and regulated. Zwain was quite good at adapting his personality to his surroundings. She figured that if he really was from this future, maybe that’s why he fits in so well around here.

“Haha, I’m just shitting you, buddy, ” said Duece, “I don’t know what’s even playing. Figured we just wing it.”

“Let me guess, man, this evening is all your planning?” Tony said, “Cause, dude, Mandy would never be the one to just wing it.”

Mandy replied, “Well, he has to learn some responsibility at some point. I figured I’d ease him into it. Let him plan a date night.”

“Ooh, well in that case. I’m out,” said Zwain lifting his arms in surrender. “When Duece plans shit; hellfire and brimstone rains down from the heavens. I hope you can survive until tomorrow.”

“Hey! I can totally plan a fun as all shit evening!” Duece stepped forward in a challenging manner.

Zwain and Tony shared a look.

“Shit evening?”

“Shit evening! Sorry dude, I’m gonna pass as well.”

Mandy embraced Duece and kissed him hard on the cheek, “Aw, don’t listen to them. They’re just old fuddy duddies. You’ll plan a fine evening for us both.”

Zwain and Tony just smiled at the scene. Whenever Mandy sided with Duece, that was when it was time to end the friendly ribbing. It’s not like it would’ve gotten much worse, but it usually just seemed as good a time as any.

Like a true gentleman, or an hammy, over-acted gentleman from some soap opera, Duece puffed out his chest and held the crook of the elbow out for Mandy. She took it, and in perfect unison tossed their noses into the air, turned and strutted out the garage door.

Tony laughed and sighed, “Man, those two… Like peas in a pod.”

Zwain with a big smile on his face, threw the strap of guitar case over his shoulder. “Kinda makes me wonder…”

“Hm?”

“To their kids… Will we be uncles, or grandpas?”

Mandy and Duece could clearly hear the laughter from 2 blocks away, and smiled as they walked off into the early night.

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