Thanks for reading! Next week Max DIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A crash like an orchestra that only employed cymbal players shook Max to his core. Scrapdragon had dove beneath the surface of a ruined Mayview’s rusted metal landscape. Max could see his spirit streaming closer, weaving in and out of junk with grace that didn’t match the horrid scraping sound it made, picking up new armor all the while.
Max’s heart leapt into high gear, heroically and unfortunately spraying a rush of adrenaline at three separate reflexes like a hose with a fireman’s thumb on it. The first told him to throw his bat away, which was an admirably sensible instinct on paper. This was all an illusion, or something like that, and he could break his spirit trance by getting distance from Scrapdragon’s cage. Max burst into action, awkwardly lobbing his tool towards the brand new gap in his room’s wall from his less-than-ideal pitcher’s mound, the floor.
This worked, and quickly too. Max did not have Isabel’s uncanny range when it came to connecting with haunted objects; the heat and hue that filled Scrapdragon’s domain disappeared, the spirit trance shattered, even before the bat had reached the wall. Sadly, this meant that said wall was once more very much right there. Max’s second reflex sparked to make him catch his bat when it bounced straight back at him.
He was again partially successful, thanks to both his face and one good hand, and found he had a grasp on the baseball bat’s grip by the time his third reflex had activated. Max’s muscles tensed, electrically switched to hold on for dear life, as he was dragged bat-first into the air by Scrapdragon. He was back in the junk world, back in the ruined version of his room—no, above his room now, pulled through where its roof once was, above the street, above where he’d only just been a blink ago, again and again and above it again... until at last he was dangling a truly deadly distance from the jagged waste below.
“Ah,” Max hoarsely mumbled, having realized now exactly how his reflexes had failed him. “I should’ve, uh. Let go of this. When you first started pulling on it
Max’s bat was magnetized to the elevated underside of Scrapdragon, a central coil of whom had been arched above his house like a great black rainbow when he’d returned to spirit trance. His one-handed hold on it was now the only thing keeping him from falling to his doom.
Luckily, Max still had options: Scrapdragon had snaked its head around to observe its suspended catch, and was advancing ever closer with two sets of snarling teeth, so he was just as much at risk of getting eaten as he was of plummeting to join the junk beneath him.
“Hey there, Scrappy. Scrappy Doo. My man,” Max squeaked out, kicking his little legs. He’d never been afraid of heights, but phobia was hardly a prerequisite for panic in the moment. “I’m down to hang, I really am, but this is—ha ha. Hoo. Okay! Boy, is this just something.”
Scrapdragon was drifting still closer; Max could feel its hot breath swirling past him, competing with the arid air in sheer scorching unpleasantness.
“Man, I, uh... I bet what PJ just saw was a hoot.” Max couldn’t stop his mouth from moving; his mind had chosen to churn out as many last words as possible in the hopes that its host would monkey-with-a-typewriter his way into a meaningful conclusion. “The dive, the glowing eyes, the ricocheted bat to the face, the shooting through the ceiling—which I guess I could just slip right past since it’s, like, not also here in Mad Max world? Wild stuff
Scrapdragon tilted its metal-crusted head, which screeched softly like an old suspension bridge.
“Oh,” Max said through gritted teeth, “Mad Max is a movie. I’m not mad at you. Though, y’know—EVERY RIGHT TO BE, at this point. Ha ha. I could get there. Still up in the air right now. Get it?” A weak breeze limped between them. “Do you get it?”
Scrapdragon opened two huge mouths to eat him in one bite.
“OKAY OKAY, I GET IT! I GET IT!!” Max writhed frantically, scattering sweat like a piñata would candy. “YOU’RE MAD AT ME!! AND YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO BE!! I’M SORRY FOR BONKING YOU THE OTHER DAY!! AND I FORGIVE YOU FOR WILDLY OVERREACTING—”
His spirit hesitated, given pause by its meal’s wild struggle. What little wind was left in Max was knocked out as Scrapdragon slowly rolled itself so that he rose, rotating till he lay sprawled out atop its winding bulk. “Oof!” The motion swung Max flat on his back against a bed of scrap and smooth black scales. His iron grip on his magnetized bat only faltered for a moment—Max quickly realized that leaving spirit trance still meant falling about a hundred feet.
“S-see?” Max wheezed with effort. “I... knew that we could... t-talk things out
He did have a shred of hope now, though not for his spirit—as he’d been jostled to and fro, Max had caught a glimpse of Lefty in the corner of his vision. The helping hand was rushing to the rescue at full speed, which meant about an inch a second to Max while he was still stuck deep in spirit trance. If he could just stall long enough to give Lefty the lead he’d need to catch him when he fell...
Scrapdragon’s great maw dawned over its own vast silhouette. The crackle of its rumbling hiss caused all the metal around Max to tremble and whine, and the shaken young spectral hardly fared much better.