This story takes place just after Red Zone.
“Right,” Mace said to Striker’s woman, Friday, as he pushed the ancient DVD into the equally ancient player. “We’re starting your cultural education with one of the classics—Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
There were groans from the back of the room, making Mace glare at his team members. “If you’ve got a problem with this, one of you can choose the movie next week.”
“Yeah,” Ignacio said from where he was lounging in a beanbag of all things. “I have a problem with this. Why can’t we watch Scarface, or The Godfather, or Die Hard, or—”
Mace interrupted him, “I’m gonna stop you right there. Friday isn’t ready for Die Hard. That’s advanced viewing. We need to start off slowly. Break her into this movie-watching thing.”
“But Indiana Jones?” Ignacio groaned. “I haven’t watched that since I was a kid.”
Mace pressed play and settled back into the armchair he’d recently brought into the cave. It was big enough to hold him, which made it comfy. He looked around the roughly hewn cavern at the other armchairs, sofas and bean bags that had appeared in the past few days since he’d announced his plan to ‘educate Friday.’ It was either teach her about popular culture—twentieth-century style—or go insane answering her questions every time he referenced something in a conversation. Not that they had many conversations. Mainly, they just sniped at each other. But whatever. Her lack of knowledge was getting on his nerves, and he intended to do something about it. Starting with regular movie nights.
Hunter, their tech guy, had rigged up a data projector and a massive screen in front of one of the cave walls, and Mace had sourced the DVDs on one of his raids into the Red Zone. Getting tech from a century earlier was easy for the team. They just walked through the red mist to the nearest town and helped themselves to whatever they needed from the long-empty stores. Everything was perfectly preserved, and all it needed was a dusting off before they used it.
“So, a hundred years ago, everyone watched movies stored on shiny disks? Wasn’t it hard to keep them clean? What happened if you scratched them?” Friday helped herself to a handful of popcorn from the tub Striker held in his lap. They sat, cuddling up on a small sofa.
“No,” Striker said, “we downloaded movies or streamed them from the net. It’s just that we can’t do that here in the Red Zone—if the movies are even still stored on the information network—so we’re using the DVDs.”
“What’s this movie about again?” Friday said.
Mace heaved a sigh. “It’s about an adventurous archaeologist who kills a bunch of Nazis.”
“Oh. Is it historically accurate?”
“No,” Mace said as some of the guys chuckled.
“So, you don’t learn anything from it?” Friday persisted.
“No. It’s entertainment.”
“Can’t you be entertained and educated at the same time? It would be much more efficient,”
“Striker,” Mace rumbled.
With a grin, Striker threw an arm around Friday’s shoulders and tugged her into his body. “Just watch it and then ask questions, okay, bébé?”
“Fine,” she grumbled before falling silent.
She lasted ten whole minutes, which was a lifetime for her when it came to resisting the urge to ask questions. “He isn’t a very good archaeologist, is he?” she said as Indiana Jones ran away from the huge rolling stone. “He destroyed a whole cave system full of priceless artifacts just to get to that one statue, only to hand it straight over to someone else so he could run for his life. If he was doing his job properly, he would have sealed the area, called in a team, and documented every square inch of that place. Are you sure he’s the hero?”
“I take it back,” Ignacio said. “This is way more fun than I thought it would be. Good movie choice, bro.”
Mace glared at his grinning face.
“I’m gonna need more popcorn.” Jeremiah sauntered over to the kitchen. “Anyone want a beer? This is gonna be great.”
“Assholes,” Mace muttered.
“How can he hate snakes?” Friday was gesturing to the screen, where Indiana was sharing a plane with a pet snake. “Snakes are great.” She grinned up at Striker.
“You bet they are.” Striker leaned down to kiss her, making Mace roll his eyes.
“You’re missing the movie,” he told them.
When Friday turned back to the screen, Indiana was teaching. “Oh, he’s a much better teacher than an archaeologist. He should stick to that.”
Mace ground his teeth as the rest of his team laughed. “Can we just focus on the movie and tear it apart when it’s done?”
Friday nodded absently, her eyes remaining fixed on the screen until Indy’s love interest appeared. “That woman is an alcoholic. There’s no way anyone could drink that much hard liquor and not suffer from alcohol poisoning. She should be in a coma, in hospital, instead of talking with the hero. How is she even able to speak in coherent sentences? This isn’t realistic at all.”
“She’s just built up a tolerance to alcohol,” Mace said. “It happens.”
“Look at her physiology.” Friday pointed at the screen. “She has a slight build, and she’s downed a lot of alcohol in a short amount of time. There hasn’t been the time to process it properly. She should be dead.”
“I agree,” Jeremiah said as he passed his popcorn to Ignacio. “And another thing, Indy never carries a bag, and we don’t see him do any laundry, so what’s he doing for clothes?” He shared a grin with Ignacio.
“Don’t encourage her.” Mace glared at them, but they ignored him.
“Are all movies like this?” Friday asked Striker. “That could be why they went out of fashion. I can actually feel myself losing IQ points as I watch this.”
With a grumble and a shake of his head, Mace went to fetch a cold beer. Maybe he shouldn’t bother trying to educate Friday. Who cared if she didn’t get his references? Maybe it’d be better if he just stopped talking to her altogether. Yeah, he liked that idea better.
He lingered in the kitchen are in the hopes of missing out on some of her running commentary and came back in just as the movie revealed how the Nazis had made a copy of the ancient Egyptian staff headpiece.
Friday was on her feet, hands on hips, outraged. “There is no way they could have made a mold from the burn marks on that Nazi man’s hand. First, the wound wouldn’t have scabbed over in time for them to put anything on the skin, let alone a molding agent. And secondly, the burn-damaged muscles would have warped any design on the hand. It wouldn’t have been an accurate representation of the medallion headpiece. If it was even possible at all. Which it isn’t.” She glared at Mace. “Did they have any scientific consultation on this movie? Any at all?”
“Best movie night ever,” Ignacio said, grinning at Friday.
“And how stupid is this hero, that he leads the Nazis right to the ark in the first place?” Friday just kept on going, there was no stopping her now. “If he’d just destroyed the headpiece, the bad guys would have spent the rest of the war digging all over Egypt trying to find the ark. Because they couldn’t have found anything from the mold they made. Was he trying to help Hitler? Was he a German spy?”
Mace groaned as laughter filled the cavern. And he was done. He switched off the DVD to boos and hisses from the peanut gallery. “Movie night is now officially over.”
“What about next week?” Friday said.
“It’s been canceled indefinitely.”
“Chicken,” someone said.
“Hey, I was enjoying that,” someone else shouted.
“Mebbe we should start with an easier movie, or something more suited to Friday’s interests?” Striker drawled. “Like The Terminator.”
“Yeah, let’s start with time travel.” Mace growled at his best friend, who seemed far too amused by the situation.
“Time travel?” Friday said. “That isn’t possible. Do you know any realistic movies?”
There was silence. The Red Zone Warriors looked at each other, clearly stumped.
“The point of a movie,” Striker said, “isn’t to be realistic, but to entertain.”
“But how can it entertain when it’s full of inaccuracies?”
“It’s pretend, chère,” Striker said. “You understand pretend and playin’. Well, movies are where we get to watch other people play.” His voice dripped with deeper meaning, making Friday’s cheeks flush red.
“Oh.” She straightened her shoulders, turned to Mace and looked up at him. “You may continue the pretend movie. I will assume that all the people in it are playing at being really stupid, just to have fun.”
Mace pinched the bridge of his nose. This was giving him a headache. “Fine. But no comments until the end.”
“I promise,” she said solemnly, before flashing a pity filled smile. “Please tell me you don’t believe any of this. Do you? Have I burst your bubble? Did you think it was real?”
“No.” His jaw clenched so hard he felt it might break.
“That’s a relief. I thought that maybe because you aren’t very good with tech, you might not have the capacity to understand that the movie is entirely inaccurate.”
Jeremiah’s deep belly laugh filled the cavern as Hunter stuffed the bottom of his shirt into his mouth to stop from laughing out loud.
“Are you saying I’m stupid?” Mace said.
“Of course not.” Friday patted his arm awkwardly. “Just a little naïve.”
That set everyone off.
Mace ignored the assholes who were supposed to be his teammates—his family—and stared in disbelief at the scientist they’d rescued and taken in. Against his advice. “I’m naïve?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Didn’t you know?” She looked at Striker. “I thought he knew.”
“Come here, bébé.” Striker reached out a hand to her. “Before Mace strangles you.”
“What did I do this time?” She climbed onto the sofa beside Striker. “I was being sensitive.”
“I know, you did good.” The asshole’s eyes sparkled at Mace.
With a sigh and a shake of his head, he pressed the play button on the DVD player.
Friday lasted fifteen whole minutes before exploding again. “He hitched a ride on the outside of a submarine? And he’s still alive? The captain just gave the order to ‘dive.’ Did he go down with it? Is he genetically altered too? Maybe part dolphin? Because that’s the only way he could hold his breath that long under water.”
Mace’s head fell back and he groaned at the ceiling, as his so-called friends rolled around with laughter. It was official. Movie night was the worst idea he’d ever had. All it’d done was allow Friday the opportunity to ruin one of his favorite movies.
“If you all don’t shut up, I’m switching the damn movie off,” he growled.
There was silence.
For a beat.
And then someone started singing the movie’s theme tune. A few seconds later, they all joined in, grinning at him while they filled the cavern with song.
“Idiots.” Mace shook his head at them, fighting a smile, because they sure as hell didn’t need the encouragement.
“What am I missing?” Friday looked around, bewildered. “What’s going on? Is this normal? Should I sing too? Is it part of the movie watching experience?”
And this time, it was Mace’s turn to laugh. This was life in the Red Zone. And he wouldn’t change it for anything.