The tanker’s boot, at least a size fifteen, took him in the side, and Smith rolled. He bit down hard and tried to stifle a scream. He didn’t, as razorblade pain went through his ribs.
The tanker went to take a step forward and the girl was there, grabbing his other foot and putting as much of her weight into it as possible. She wished she had a fucking slingshot. She weighed maybe a third of what the tanker did. It was just enough to send him off balance. He stumbled, went down hard on one knee.
Smith got up on his hands and knees. He looked at the tanker, who was roughly in the same position. The girl came around the tanker and kicked him as hard as she could. It looked liked she was trying to kick a field goal with his head.
Smith was on his feet, and he looked down the road. The runners were coming. He dug in his pocket for the key. The tanker swung an arm at the girl, knocking her down. She hit the ground at a roll and came back up.
Smith almost had the key in the lock when she slammed into him. Unexpected, off balance, his ribs screamed. He dropped the key. She caught it, a second before it hit the ground.
There was nothing to say, so he didn’t. She put the key in the gate and the lock was open. Smith grabbed her, got a hand on her helmet. Once quick twist and she’d be gone. The tanker’s fist hit him hard enough that his helmet slammed into hers and hers slammed into the gate.
He felt the tanker’s hand clamp down on the back of his neck and he was rolled away. He tried to grab at the tanker but there was no angle for it. He managed to keep his feet, barely.
The girl heaved the heavy gate sideways, tried to get through but the tanker’s hand were on her and he picked her up threw her away from the gate. Smith slammed an elbow into the runner’s face and went for the gate. The girl was on her feet and sprinting. The tanker stepped over the line.
Smith got there just as the gate slammed shut. The girl screamed. Rage. Pure rage. The runners were there, a dozen or so. Smith put his back against the wall. The runners grabbed the girl, started fighting over her.
Smith raised his fists. He was exhausted, his ribs were smashed. Smith smiled to himself as the runners came.
He felt alive when his fist smashed the first one’s jaw