Tanner and Zack, the Unstoppables

by Katie Harder about a year ago in friendship

A Short

Tanner and Zack, the Unstoppables

One boy prefers organization and planning to perfection. On the other hand, one prefers just jumping in guns blazing, getting what he needs, and hauling ass to the nearest safe spot. Tanner and Zack have been best friends, practically brothers, for forever and are the leading two hackers at Glendale High. They can get you anything you need, from anywhere or anyone. All they request is the proper information to receive passing grades on homework, quizzes, and tests. You know, normal high school stuff. Occasionally, they will ask for a 200 dollar equipment fee and/or shipping and handling costs if the item is especially tricky to get a hold of.

The eldest sat, hunched over, in a dark room with another unoccupied metal chair, the table he was handcuffed to, and a mirror.

"Yes," he sighed, "quite lonely indeed." Looking around, he bit his lip and groaned.

"Can I please go home now? I'm hungry." He stated to the empty room. It seemed like all he's been doing over the last day is wait. He rested his head on the table and, finally, heard the door squeak open.

"Tanner, we were unable to contact your parents. You will have to be detained overnight. If you'll please follow me," a short woman with curly brown hair and bushy eyebrows walked over to uncuff him.

"Big surprise, mommy isn't here to kiss my ouchie. Does this apply to Habeas Corpus? Because I've been here for like four hours and-"

"Enough," she cut in, throwing an irritated look at him. "I have enough problems without you sticking your nose in police business. Keep quiet." She roughly re-cuffed him with a different pair, the one from her belt of mystery.

"Hey, what's all in the belt? Looks like a taser, handcuffs," he lifted his hands as she shoved him forward, "obviously, a long-ass flashlight, mace- or is it pepper spray? What's the difference? A baton, keys, what else?" He glanced back, grinning.

She scowled at him, "None of your beeswax, kid. Get a move on." She directed Tanner down the hall and to the right. They came to the third cell on the left-hand side, and she unlocked it.

"Am I gonna have trouble if I unlock these cuffs?" She raised an eyebrow questioningly.

"Of course not," he grinned at her. "there's no easy way to get out. I'll go quietly."

She unlocked the handcuffs hesitantly, her body tensed as he rubbed his wrists.

"Those things hurt. Do they have a size Large?" He asked playfully as he leaned against the rusted bed frame.

"You're in a good mood for being locked up," the cop closed the cell door, smirking, "don't sleep too well, you might wet the bed." She snickered and walked off.

"Whatever," the boy mumbled under his breath. Something tickled the back of his brain...

It was their first sleepover, and Tanner couldn't be more excited. He brought over Halo 3 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 for them to play on Zack's Gamestation that night. After dinner, they head up to the loft to slaughter aliens in the game.

"Yes! Take that you slimy son-of-a-beehive!" Zack yells at a Grunt he slashed. "This is great! I've only played this game at my cousin's house, my mom doesn't like violent games. She think's I'll shoot up the school or something."

Tanner snickers, "Well it doesn't seem to stop you from getting your hands on them. I saw your little collection of the Resident Ghost series in your backpack the other day."

"Oh," he raises his eyebrows, still immersed, "those. I had a friend hook me up." He jerked the controller to the left, barely dodging a bullet in the game.

The two stayed up until one o'clock in the morning playing Halo, then switched to C.O.D. Around 45 minutes into an online Zombies match, Tanner started dozing off.

"Hey, don't piss the bed, alright?" Zack asked jokingly.

"No promises, man. Tonight's been crazy. I'm gonna crash. Goodnight dude." The lanky boy curled up and pulled a blanket out from under him.

"Night." Zack grinned.

Early that morning, around 2:30, Zack stuck Tanner's hand into a bowl of warm water, giggling to himself, before he fell asleep on the other couch occupying the space.

Tanner woke up to a gray ceiling, in a gray cell, on a cloudy day.

"Oh, good." He sat up, itched his head, and swung his feet over the side of the small cot. Stretching his arms, he groaned, and promptly heard a, "Shut the hell up!" from the town's drunk, Andy.

He took a leak, and laid back down, seeing as he had no other option at the moment.

Later that day, after a bland breakfast of microwave oatmeal, the lady cop came back and transported him to the courthouse. In the back of her cruiser, he attempted to tame his hair by repeatedly running his fingers through it. It didn't work too well.

The trial proved successful, he only got charged with breaking and entering; petty theft and petit larceny; and 35 hours of community service with parole.

Not too bad, Tanner thought.

His mother did show up for the hearing and took him home in a steely silent mood. She slammed the car door in his face when he tried to talk to her about it.

They walked up the front steps, and he tried again.

"Look, mom-"

"I don't want to hear it, Tanner. I'm done. This is the last time before I send you to a facility. I can't handle your bullshit anymore." She hastily unlocked the door, pushed her way inside, and sat at the kitchen table with a glass of whiskey.

"Drink your life away, mother." He glared at her and lunged up the steps to his room.

"Ditto, asshole," His mother replied, toasting to the wonderful gift of children. "this place is a fucking mess!"

He heard glass shatter.

"Take the cat for a walk!" She demands, "Now!"

He's reminded of the cat lady of Arrow Appartments...

They were 15, causing fuckery like normal teenagers. They stole gum from a convenience store and ran off laughing like idiots. They slowed down for a minute and saw a random lady walking a cat.

"Dead ass, let's follow her." Zack blurted, nearly out of breath.

So they did. They followed her down the street, they took a left into an alley behind her and walked towards her apartment. As they neared the place, Tanner pointed to a rusted but legible "NO PETS" sign and gave Zack a questioning look.

"No fucking way!" Zack started losing it, laughing so hard he clutched his abdomen. Tanner looked ahead and watched as the lady took the collar off the cat, stroked it, and went inside.

"Holy shit dude," Tanner started. "she's not just going to.."

The lady came back outside with a rather large food dish, and cats started to sneak out from around the boys: the bushes, the alley, one came from underneath a dumpster.

She set the metal bowl on the ground, and the clang alerted a few more mice eaters that it was mealtime. She poured dry food into the dish as the boys started laughing harder, and she took notice.

"Wha- What are you boys doing? Leave! Leave at once!" she started yelling as the boys scurried off, still wiping tears from their eyes as they went.

He fell asleep listening to Eminem, and mumbling the words to himself.

In the morning, his alarm went off and he desperately needed a shower. He stretched, got up, stretched some more, and headed for the bathroom. Glancing at his face in the mirror, he noticed the baggage he was sporting.

"Good God," he exclaimed, examining his face, "I need a smoke."

He proceeded to take a leak and shower, taking extra care not to rub his left wrist too hard. It hurt, for some reason. He glanced down at it, and nothing seemed off.

Weird, he thought.

At lunch that day, his friends joked about his absence, saying things like "Hey, did you get caught with a stripper again?" and, "Dude, I heard you knifed someone! Gnarly."

"No, I did no knifing and I don't do strippers, everybody knows that. I like my women like I like my bedroom: clean."

They ate and discussed what Tanner had missed of class. He still had to gather missing work from like three teachers, but it could wait. He had connections to get him squared away by fourth period tomorrow. The bell rung, and the group moved to head to class.

"Hey," Devin announced, "don't walk in on Mr. Hemmings again!"

He chortled and headed for Spanish.

It was junior year, and Zack desperately needed help with Physics homework. Tanner was okay in science, but chemistry was more his style.

"C'mon, please?? I really don't want to go in alone, the guy intimidates me. I can't help my insecurity," Zack pleaded.

"Fine," Tanner groaned, rolling his eyes, "let's make it quick though? I'm starving, and I hear today's pizza day."

They make their way down towards East Wing, the science hall, and crack some jokes to pass the time.

"Hey, do you think Abby got tested yet? Devin told me she has the clap."

"Ooh, yikes," Tanner grimaced, "that's gotta-"

They turned into Hemmings' classroom, and what they saw made them stop in their tracks.

He was shaving his face with a pink razor and women's shaving cream.

"What in the actual-" Zack started.

"What are you guys doing here?! It's my lunch, and supposed to be yours too! What do you want?" The teacher looked like a deer caught in headlights.

The boys started laughing, and couldn't stop, so out of "respect" they left and had lunch.

Class for Zack that afternoon went very well. They watched a video about aerodynamics, instead of a usual lecture.

Zack sat in a white room, alone with his best friend. How could this have happened?? He looked down at the pale face of a once lively Tanner.

"Oh, Tanner..." he trailed off, sighing sadly. The nurse came in to check his fluid levels.

"Any change?" she asked quietly.

"No. I've been telling him stories, but it doesn't seem to be working. I don't know how much longer I can do this.." His green eyes welled up.

"Oh, dear," the nurse came to his side and smoothed his sleeve, "he'll come around." She gave a reassuring smile and nodded.

After she left, Zack closed his eyes, and gently tugged the IV out of his best friend's arm.

It's been three years. He wasn't coming back, and his mother stopped paying life support after she filed for bankruptcy.

"Drink your life away, Tanner."

Read next: 'Chocolate Kisses'
Katie Harder

I'm an aspiring poet and short story/novella author. I enjoy the Office and being outdoors with my two beautiful pups, Sauci and Mia. I'm 17 years young, and love to read and write!

See all posts by Katie Harder