Chapter no 15 – THE BIG SLIDE


Isaac climbed higher, setting in his footing on the giant rope structure. His initial idea was to stay as far away from Bobby as possible, but the sense of impending doom that continued to loom was finally prepared to blossom.

CJ and Tanya rushed around, cycling through the many parts of the playground. Sam and Sadie continued to seesaw. The constant chorus of laughter kept them occupied and every bit as fulfilled.

Bobby had already had his fill. He’d tasted enough of the entertainment to know he needed another form of it. He craved a different variety than the silly structures could offer. An enjoyment that he’d been thinking about from the moment Isaac’s father had squared up with his.

Isaac knew the results could potentially be disastrous for him. He’d survived in schoolyards long enough to sense when the crosshairs were on his back. When he saw Bobby, and the malleable minion he’d enlisted, Kip, flank each side of the rope tower, he knew he was about to have a terrible experience.

Shit, shit, shit, Isaac thought.

He discreetly shifted his body to stay in between Bobby and his little brother.

“You’re fuckin’ dead now, dandelion-boy,” Bobby snarled from below. He took hold of the cherry-colored rope and pulled himself closer to


“Yeah! Dead!” Kip affirmed.

The brothers climbed up the structure like spider monkeys closing in on succulent vine fruit.

As they moved in on Isaac, he looked down behind him; the fall was at least fifteen feet above the soft sand. Unsure of the best way to avoid them, he raced straight down. If he could get below Bobby and Kip before they got close, he’d still have a chance to make a run for it.

“Where you goin’, nerd-boy?!” Bobby yelled.

With fright fueling the swiftness of his strides, Isaac carefully knifed his way between the many ropes. He paused his descent about halfway from where he was originally positioned to look up.

Kip was only a short distance away.

When Isaac twisted his head in the opposite direction, Bobby was already within arm’s reach.

“Come ’ere!” Bobby yelled.

The surprise made Isaac twitch. As he tried to evade Bobby’s swipe, the foot Isaac was using for leverage slipped off the rope. The sudden shock of his full body weight instantly fell upon his hands. Isaac’s grip wasn’t strong enough to hold him in place. The skin over and above his palms ripped down on the coarse twine as the instantaneous rope burn tore into him.

Isaac tumbled back-first and bounced off the ropes, hitting their harsh textures, causing his body to twist. The rope scraped against his face, then his arms as his body slid through them. Isaac’s glasses rocketed off his face and down to the dirt below. His fall finally finished a few feet down when a rope landed square between his scrawny legs.

“Ahhhh!” Isaac cried out.

He immediately clasped at his balls as a stinging hurt spread through both of his testicles.

Bobby and his brother laughed hysterically. “Ha-ha, right in his privates!” Kip yelled.

“That’s alright, this dork ain’t gonna need his balls for anything anyway!” Bobby said. Then to Isaac, “Aww, what happened? Did you lose your glasses, four eyes?”

“Why don’t you guys leave him alone?” CJ interjected.

He stood at the bottom of the structure with a look of disappointment. He’d seen this idiocy from his older brother many times before. Kip wasn’t usually that mean, but CJ noticed, for better or worse, his youngest brother tended to be easily influenced.

“Why don’t you mind your own business? We didn’t even do anything to him. He just slipped,” Bobby lied.

“Just knock it off,” CJ said. “Or what?”

CJ didn’t answer Bobby back. He knew arguing wasn’t going to change anything. Instead, he scanned the ground underneath Isaac. He saw the glasses half-buried in the sand below the rope tower and decided to focus on something productive.

“All children, please move towards zhe big slide at zhe back of the playground,” Fuchs’ voice instructed, via the loudspeaker mounted on the top of the black fencing.

“Huh? I—I thought they said we couldn’t use the big slide,” Sam said.

She stared across the seesaw at Sadie, who mirrored the same confusion.

“Me too,” Sadie replied.

A few yards behind them, they heard the fence closing shut. When they looked in the direction of the noise, they saw a young boy that was new to the group.

Donnie Clarke stood with a fresh bandage on his knee and a lost look in his eyes.

Behind the boy, through the fencing, Sam and Sadie saw Rock’s massive backside as he walked away from the gate.

“Who’s that?” Sam asked. Sadie shrugged.

Sam wasn’t sure why, but something about Donnie was interesting to her. The feeling wasn’t new. Like her mother, she was a people person. The urge to interact crept up inside Sam. But the crackle of the loudspeaker interrupted her thoughts.

“Once again, please, everyone must move to zhe back of zhe playground. Your parents are watching and zhey want you to go zhere now,” Fuchs continued.

The confused children began to slowly migrate away from the fun that they’d been having.

Tanya dropped off the monkey bars into the sand not far from Sam and Sadie. She mirrored the confusion they were feeling. Both sisters followed Tanya, moving further away from the play area.

Sam looked back at Donnie, who still stood dumbfounded near the gate. “Hold on a sec,” she whispered to Sadie.

Sam jogged over to the little boy.

“Hey, what’s your name?” she asked. The boy gave no response.

“Are you okay?”

Donnie continued to look at her with kindness in his gaze but said nothing.

Sam wasn’t upset, she just didn’t understand. The lack of reply only made her more curious about him.

“I—I think we’re supposed to go to the back now. Do you wanna come with us?” she asked.

Donnie took a moment and looked toward the massive slide that Tanya and Sadie were heading towards, then back to Sam. He slowly nodded his head.

“Okay, cool! Follow me,” she said.

A girlish smile displaying many of Sam’s freshly grown adult teeth appeared on her face. She grabbed Donnie’s tiny hand and tugged him along.

Back at the rope climber, Bobby and Kip watched the others migrating toward the rear of the playground.

“Should we go too?” Kip asked.

As usual, he looked to his big brother for guidance. “I guess so. Everyone else is,” Bobby replied.

The duo dismounted the web-like structure and followed Tanya.

CJ watched them pass, then looked back at Isaac. “Sorry, man.

Sometimes they can really be jerks.”

He cleaned the dirt off Isaac’s specs with his tee shirt.

Isaac continued to lower himself down until his feet finally touched the ground. The jarring landing sent aching reverberations through his testicles. Isaac weaved his way through the remaining ropes until he finally found freedom outside of the tower.

“Here you go. I tried my best to clean them off,” CJ said. He handed him the glasses.

“Thanks. And I guess it’s okay. I’m pretty used to jerks,” Isaac replied. “Yeah, but try living with them.”

Isaac put on his glasses just in time to see CJ’s silly smirk.

The frames sat crooked on Isaac’s head. They were a little looser than before, but he was still more than grateful to be able to see again.

“I’d rather not. I’ll just take your word for it,” Isaac snorted.

“I’m CJ, by the way. I promise I’m not a total butthole like my brothers can be.”

CJ extended his hand.

“I can see that,” Isaac said, accepting the handshake. “I’m Isaac.”

A genuine sense of both shock and appreciation echoed in his tone. CJ looked like the kids in class that were always ready to dump on him, but he didn’t act like them.

“Everyone, move now! Quickly!” Fuchs blurted out, his voice seeming angrier than the previous announcements.

The two boys looked up near the side of the big slide where everyone else was gathered.

“Why the heck do they want us over there?” Isaac asked. “I don’t know, but it seems kinda weird,” CJ answered.

The sound of barking dogs suddenly cut through the refreshing sea breeze. The boys could see through the grid fencing in the distance as Rock’s enormous frame stepped closer to the gate.

In front of the big man were a pair of over-agitated Doberman pinchers. They each frothed at the mouth, clawing their way forward with rage and chaos in their piercing eyes.

Rock’s grip on the dog leashes remained firm as he unlocked the gate. “What’s he doing?!” Isaac cried.

“I—I dunno! They didn’t say any stuff about dogs, did they?” CJ asked. “No!”

“Maybe we should get to the back like they told us to. C’mon, let’s go!”

CJ bolted toward the rest of the kids that were already gathered at the back of the playground.

Isaac hesitated for a moment, looking back at Rock as he reached for the fencing.

“He can’t be…”

What was happening didn’t seem possible; it stretched beyond Isaac’s logic and reasoning.

The sudsy slobber flew from their muzzles as their rage boiled. Their snapping jaws unhinged while their spiky teeth glistened in the sunlight. The thunderous barks roared, providing bone-chilling motivation.

Isaac had seen it enough. He took off toward the rest of the kids.

The other kids at the back of the playground were now also aware of the dogs.

“What’s going on?!” Tanya cried. “I hate dogs,” Sadie whined.

She looked at Sam and Donnie for comfort, but neither had anything to say. Donnie’s dark overall emptiness dominated his expression while Sam’s mouth was slacked in terror.

“What the hell’s wrong with that dude? He’s—He’s not gonna let those loose, is he?!” Bobby asked.

“Why would he do that?!” Kip asked.

Suddenly, the rectangular shaft beside them attached to the monstrous slide opened. The forest green walls lifted like a garage door and a steel, cube-like room appeared before them.

“Enter zhe big slide now!” Fuchs commanded.

As the gainy screech of the German’s voice bellowed out, Rock let go of the leashes. The pair of ravenous dogs shot forward and the shrieking children all rushed into the belly of the slide.

“How do we close this thing?!” Kip cried.

The children chattered in fear, but there was little they could do. The room didn’t offer any buttons, knobs, or doors. Only the opening they’d entered through and three metallic walls.

“CJ, hurry!” Kip cried.

The all-star athlete had already turned it on, CJ closing in on the slide. But when he cranked his head back to check Isaac’s progress, it wasn’t what he’d hoped.

Isaac was mid-stumble, heading face-first toward the ground. The boxy, wireframe spectacles flung off his head again and landed in the sand.

CJ peered past Isaac. The dogs were already en route.

“Don’t do it, don’t do it… ugh!” CJ mumbled to himself.

He turned back toward Isaac, feeling dread and regret instantly swell inside his chest.

“CJ, what the fuck are you doing?!” Bobby yelled.

He ignored his brother and focused on the task at hand. CJ ran past Isaac as he searched for his glasses in the dirt, attempting to create a distraction to divert the dogs away from him.

“You better find ’em fast!” CJ yelled.

The tactic worked—somewhat. The dogs split. One pup veered in CJ’s direction while the second made a beeline for Isaac.



Isaac’s fingers finally found the spectacles, but as he slipped them back on, pointed canine teeth penetrated his triceps. The dog clamped down hard, drool secreting from its jaws as it jerked its head side to side. The ferociousness made it clear the dog had been trained to inflict agony.

Isaac cried out as the meat on the back of his arm broke open. The heavy pressure of the canine jaws caused a stinging terror to surge, pushing and amplifying the internal tsunami of anguish inside him.

CJ jumped up the wide steps, past the monkey bars, and towards a smaller tube slide he’d played on just a short time ago. There was a series of four additional stairs he needed to ascend to reach the pinnacle. While the structure was designed for children, the athletic Doberman had no issues following CJ up each of the rubbery platforms. The dog was every bit as athletic as the boy.

In hearing the scratching of the Doberman’s overgrown nails right behind him, CJ knew he needed to think fast. As he reached the summit, he quickly slipped off his tee shirt. Bare-chested, the boy snapped around to face the direction of the dog in chase. The hound was nearly in his face when CJ opened his shirt as wide as he could stretch it.

As the Doberman pounced with its fangs brandished, CJ knew he only had one shot at the patchwork plan he’d invented on the fly.

When the dog lunged for his hand, he yanked it upward, slipping the shirt over the relentless head of the beast. He was able to get the dog’s snout through one arm of the tee. The hole that the Doberman was stuck in was tight enough that the rest of his head couldn’t squeeze through.

Blinded, the Doberman whimpered.

Isaac’s screams found CJ’s ears again. He had to act fast. He pinned the distracted dog against the structure. The Doberman flailed wildly as CJ peered toward the tall perimeter fencing that surrounded the playground. The steel divider was only a few feet away.

CJ knew what he had to do but had no idea if it would work. He leveraged every ounce of his athleticism to wrap his arms around the dog’s belly and hoisted it up.

He’d done a German suplex wrestling with friends but never a dog. CJ channeled his inner Bret Hart and tightened his arms around the dog’s underbelly. In a stream of steady momentum, he yanked upward with everything he could muster and tossed the chaotic canine.

The shirt-draped Doberman almost made it clear over the perimeter fencing. The hind of the dog came down on the pointed steel atop the fence, scratching several streaks of deep lacerations into its fur. The impact caused the dog to land neck-first on the ground.

Upon the Doberman’s stiff landing, a thunderous crack erupted from its skeletal structure. The pup’s fuzzy jaws offered a single, heart-wrenching whimper as the animal’s drive was snuffed out.

The sight of the motionless dog sickened CJ. To know he was the force behind such violence was jarring. But, as Isaac’s screams rip through the air, CJ knew he had no choice.

CJ saw himself at a disadvantage being shirtless. But he dashed back down from the slide, nonetheless. His body and mind raced. When he saw the other Doberman gnawing on Isaac’s arm, his brain nearly went blank. The shirt idea was lucky enough, how on Earth would he deal with another one?

Isaac wailed. “Get it off me! Ahh! Get it off of me!”

As the hound clamped down ever harder, blood oozed from Isaac’s arm. CJ took in his surroundings. There were no weapons to get the dog off the kid.

Suddenly, it hit him. He was standing on a potential solution that there was nearly an endless supply of.

Without thinking, he scooped up two big handfuls of sand. He crept up from behind the occupied Doberman and thrust the clumps directly into its eyeballs.

The dog mewled and CJ landed a stiff kick into its throat. The Doberman relinquished its grip on Isaac’s arm and rubbed its face into the ground. The dog howled as it attempted to use its paws to clear the dirt from its eyes.

“Get up!” CJ screamed.

He slapped Isaac’s back and lifted the wounded boy by his shirt.

The dog continued to moan, scratching at its face. The boys took advantage of the distraction, running off toward the rest of the other kids.

Isaac tripped again, but this time, CJ was there to keep him moving forward.

When the boys stumbled into the cube, Isaac dropped to the ground, blood squirting from the back of his arm.

“Everybody, get back!” CJ yelled.

His nerves were on fire, but he found a tiny ration of relief as he watched the retractable door descend. CJ stared at the blinded dog in the distance, hoping it wouldn’t recover anytime soon. His limbs trembled uncontrollably as the last traces of daylight between the door and the ground disappeared.

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