Giant Monsters vs A Toddler
Who is your money on?
Frank waited at the mouth of the alley, watching the fog swirl in the moonlight. A car drove by, upsetting the fragile balance and scattering the mist in its wake.
A light hiss sounded behind Frank. Sneakers on asphalt. Frank turned and saw the silhouette of a man approaching, a single orange prick of light flared as he took a drag of a cigarette. The man stopped, and Frank took a step out of the shadows.
“You Francis?” the man asked.
“Frank,” he said in a flat voice.
“Sure. Whatever.” The man took a step forward and squinted down at Frank. “So, the rumors are true. You’re a dwarf.”
Frank snorted. This guy was stupid enough not to be able to tell the difference between a four-year-old and dwarf. “Did you bring what I ask for?”
“Yeah, I got it.” The man reached into his jacket, but didn’t pull his hand free. “You got my payment?”
“Of course.” It’s not like this was Frank’s first clandestine activity. “Can you guarantee me that this will be the winning ticket?”
“On one condition.”
Frank narrowed his eyes. “And what would that be?”
“You tell me your age.”
Frank sighed. He’d spent the last six months, right after he’d emaciated himself from his idiot parents, building his reputation. If he told this man his age all that work might go down the drain. “That wasn’t part of the deal,” Frank said.
“The deal changed. I had to pull a lot of strings to get this ticket. Call in all my favors and—”
“And you’re getting paid handsomely for it,” Frank interrupted. “Enough that you can retire.”
The ground under their feet rumbled enough to make Frank take a step, reminding him and the man that the concept of retirement was a farce unless someone could figure out how to stop the giant monsters that had risen from the earth, as if from a bad Japanese film.
Frank was that person, if this dolt would give him the ticket.
“What do you need a robot for anyway?” the man asked.
Frank pointed in a random direction. May as well give this guy something to gossip about to his criminal friends. “To stop them.”
“That’s right.” Frank smirked.
“How do you expect to do that?”
“I expect you to give me the ticket, then you’ll see.” Frank wasn’t surprised when the man snorted in disbelief.
“The best minds on the earth are working on it.”
“They’re trying,” Frank said. The ground shook again. He needed to get out of here before the police “rescued” him and tried to put him into child services again. He didn’t have time for that. He sighed. “Fine, I’ll tell you my age, but in return, you escort me to get my winnings.”
The pause that followed lasted longer than Frank had anticipated.
“What cut do I get?” the man asked.
“Yeah. I help you save the world, I’m sure you’re going to paid for it. I want a cut.”
Frank rubbed his forehead. Of course there would be a reward, but if all of the governments fell before then, then there wouldn’t be much left.
Still, Frank could use a man to pose as his father when he went into public, and this guy was at least twice as smart as his own dad, rest his soul. Frank had told his parents they needed to run from the coast, but they wouldn’t listen. “Okay, tell you what, you work for me and I’ll pay you one percent of what I earn.”
“Don’t be absurd. Two percent.”
Frank sighed. “Four. Final offer.” If they lived, they’d both be filthy rich.
Frank held out his hand. “Ticket.”
The man stepped close enough for Frank to see his face. He was older than Frank had thought. Deep lines etched his face, and thick peppered gray hair topped his head. Maybe Frank would say this guy was his grandpa.
“You really think you can use this robot to stop the monsters?” the man asked.
Frank reached out and took the ticket. “I can.”
The man shook his head. “A kid is going to save the world?”
“The adults are too busy panicking to do it.” Frank checked his watch—a huge thing that he’d had to make a custom band to fit his scrawny arm. “We’d better get going if we’re going to make it to the drawing.”