Michael and Jacob – Plywood derby

“Do vampires have feelings? Asking for a friend.” Narrator

Michael’s head began to swim then a wave of nausea struck. He heaved and this was followed by a second. His throat screamed as nothing came up. Michael looked down to notice blood on the ground when his body seized and he fell to his side.

Michael woke up strapped to a piece of plywood. The plywood was canted upward and he was moving backward. Michael could see someone above him. A monstrously tall man with a large backpack under a black trench coat. To the right Michael noticed Jacob strapped to a second piece of plywood. Thick leather straps held him securely as his sneakers dragged over the asphalt.

Michael looked himself over and found a large, bandage wrapped around his waste. A large red stain near his wound and a second near his chest. His boots dragging the ground. Behind him was a mob of zombies. Michael began to get a better sense of his surrounding as he continued to wake. The houses had begun to get bigger as he realized they had left his previous street and were now moving toward the center of the city.

“What is this?” He thought. “Broadway? Richie riches used to live here. Now they are all dead or fled to the North. The monster do not like the cold up there. Leave us poor folk to lie and steal and spend eternity in the City of Monsters. Frick’n backwoods justice from here to Buffalo. If that city still exists…”

Michael’s driver suddenly dropped him with a thud and he complained. He watched as the zombies approached. To the left was a large gate. The tall man was struggling to close. To the right was a small army. They fired and Michael’s ears rang. A row of zombie lay motionless. The tall man strained to pull the heavy gate further till a zombie approached and attempted to surprise him.

“Holy crap,” Jacob said as the tall man grasp the zombie and bit into its rotten flesh. The man didn’t chew but seemed to suck from the zombie victim. He then tossed it away, shook and pulled the gate closed like it was a thin sheet of paper. He turned to Jacob and Michael, his face covered in gore.

“Come on, no! This is not happening,” Michael began. “I understand the zombie apocalypse and all and the shit show my brother and I started by stealing from the Governor. I get that the punishment was life behind the walls of the city for me and my family. All that sucks and now my family is dead but this is not going to happen. I’m done. I am not staying here strapped to a wooden barbecue plate waiting to be sucked dry.”

“Michael.”

“No Jacob. This is the end for me. I’m not being left a husk of skin and bones.” Michael struggled to free himself but was barely able to move.

“I understand,” said the tall man as he grabbed a towel from a go bag and cleaned up his face. “I should of introduced myself.” He said.

“John Peterson and I am a vampire.”

Dirt and Grime

Jacob woke up first, half buried in dirt and with his brother’s feet in his face. His face felt as if someone has superglued half of it together with rocks and other crap. He looked up at the bottom of the house. The jagged escape hole was covered in debris. Jacob could hear movement above the debris.

“Wake up, Michael.” Jacob said as he shoved his brother.

Michael woke up then winced as the pain from the tear in his side screamed. He looked himself over and found himself and the wound caked in mud.

“The zombies! In the house can they get us?”

“No, apparently the closet collapsed covering our escape.”

“Well, that was easy enough,” Michael said with a weak smile. “The escape that is. What do we do now Jacob. This was your idea.”

“Crawl to the back of the house. There is a way out under the back porch.”

“Sounds easy. Is it?”

“Yea, how’s your side? That nail tore you up.”

“Got some dirt in it. Can’t be bad, right. At least it stopped bleeding. Let’s go.”

Michael started the crawl through the dirt toward the rear of the house.

“So that has been here since we were kids?” Michael asked after a moment.

“Since before dad left.” Jacob replied.

Michael growled. “Ass.”

“Tell me about it. You left it got worse. He beat me, locked me in the closet and forgot about me. I would show up two days later through the front door and he never questioned how. Never was so happy to be beaten and locked up.”

The two men crawled under the kitchen floor listening to the footsteps of the undead searching for a hint of life to chow upon. Michael winced as his dirt covered bandaid fell away and the wound bled.

Michael headed to the left corner and grabbed an aluminum sheet. He attempted to remove it but it resisted. Jacob came up from behind him.

“It’s not the exit. There is a loose piece near the center.” Jacob said and began toward the exit when a loud ripping noise stopped him and he turned.

“What the hell, Michael!”

Light from outside snuck under the house revealing blood on Michael’s hands and upon the ground near his side.

“Dude, you’re losing a lot of blood. We need to get that wrapped up and stopped.”

“I’m not staying under this house to be treated by Doc Brown,” Michael snapped.

“Look, you attracted attention so now we are stuck.”

Outside the covered porch the two men could see them roaming.

“Can they leave us alone for a damn hour. They are always around. I just want a moment to breath without death trolling me from outside a freakin porch.”

The creatures outside the enclosure stopped. They stood for a moment then began to rip the wooden slats from the back porch.

Both men stood and watched. Jacob crawled backward and tapped Michael to do the same. A second then a third slat disappeared revealing a pair of jeans working hard to make a hole. A second set of hands grasp the wooden slats and tore them from the porch. The jeans knelt and revealed a pale, dark-skinned face and a wide unnatural smile.

“Thank the Lord… we have survivors,” said the man.

“I knew I heard something a few days ago but it was in the garage over there,” said a second voice.

“We have a horde on the way. We have minutes,” said a third.

The man with the huge smile reached forward, “We are here to rescue you. Hurry time is short.”

Jacob began forward but Michael hesitated.

Jacob and Michael – The escape – part one

“Your closet is great and all.  Who knows what you did in there… you spent a lot of time in there growing up but I ain’t getting eaten hiding in a closet,” Michael spat.

Jacob smiled, “dude, if you only knew.”

“I do not want to know what you did in the closet, by yourself when you were alone. Change of subject.”

The two zombies, that had tumbled over the bedding blockade, began to stir. They stood upon the mattress. Attempted to move and fell. Three more stepped forward into the bedroom and approached the blockade. The lead zombie paused causing the second to stop suddenly and step to the left. The third slowed then stood and seemed to be listening.

“IQ test,” Michael said while watching the trio attempt to navigate the obstacle.

“Idiot zombies,” Jacob added. The closest zombie snapped at Jacob. Lunging from its prone position.

“F-U Teeth mother–”

“Let’s hide in the closet,” Michael interrupted.

Both men skirted past the fallen zombies and the mess on the floor. Jacob opened the faux walnut closet door. Inside, an arms length of women’s clothing.

“It’s her clothes,” Jacob said. The color in his face disappeared.

“We have to move them,” Michael began to pull handfuls of the clothing from the closet and toss them behind him while Jacob watched.

“No! Not the dresses! You’ll get them all dirty. They will!” Jacob screamed and attempted to stop Michael.

“Jacob stop!” Michael replied. Zombies crawled over the mattress and approached the two men. They were a foot from Jacob when Michael grabbed his brother and threw him into the closet. Jacob inhaled Sharon’s scent as the material overwhelmed him. He fought back and more of the clothing tumbled in all directions. Michael joined his brother inside the cramped, dark room. He attempted to close the closet door but realized that the door was blocked by all the clothing. Michael listened as the closet door behind them rattled. The prone zombies used the closet door to help them stand. Michael tried to close the door a second time with the same results.

“Jacob, can you pause your psychotic break and clear the floor so WE DON’T DIE!” Michael screamed. The zombie’s outside the closet clawed at the closed door and began toward the open door. Jacob recovered and shoved the clothing on out of the way. The door, free of debris, was jerked from Jacob’s hands. The zombie stepped forward and screamed. A guttural noise full of anger. Jacob felt hopeless as the creature lunged forward. It’s hands raised, became trapped within the metal hangers that remained on the curtain rod. The zombie attempted to rip its hands from the trap but became more tangled. Jacob shoved the clothing he stood behind into the zombie. He pushed the creature off its feet and it tumbled backward. Jacob grabbed the closet door and closed it.

Jacob and Michael – Fist-d-Cuff

Your not going to win an Oscar for best Action scene punching a zombie. In fact it’s the most uncomfortable feeling as solid mass meets gelatin.

Narrator

Michael swung first. He struck the zombie in the temple. The zombie stared forward, as the right side of its head collapsed. The bone under the rotten flesh stopped Michael’s blow. The pain of the impact forcing Michael’s hand open and he finished the blow with a slap.

The zombie stumbled to the right, opposite direction of Michael’s blow. It crashed into the bedroom wall. Hitting it hard with it’s fragile face. The profile of the creature’s face collapsed. Leaving a soft, gooey center and blood spread upon the wall as it slid down.

Jacob swung next and missed. His fist skated over the zombie’s nose, breaking it easily. Jacob’s elbow followed and struck the zombie in the right eye. The zombie’s head fell backward. The rest of it’s body forward. It’s rubbery arms flailed. The bones shattered from the first attempt with the bat. Jacob and the zombie collided. The zombie’s head snapped forward. It’s right eye hid behind its boney socket. It’s long grimy teeth struck Jacob in the shoulder. Jacob fell on his back. The zombie fell upon him but struck the hardwood floor with its forehead. The noise from the impact echoed through Jacob’s right ear drum. The zombie skull cracked with the first blow. It shattered with the second. Blood sprayed the floor and covered half of Jacob’s face. Jacob wanted to move but his body didn’t. His arms and legs wanted to lay under the creature and think about this a moment. Jacob screamed at Michael as warm, retched smelling liquid dripped upon his T-shirt and jeans. He tried to shove the zombie upward and right but the body didn’t move.

Michael slowly lifted the body and moved it. “Jacob! Shut the hell up.” Michael said in a forced whisper. “There are more and your going to bring them all in.”

“I’m done Michael!” Jacob replied a little more carefully. “I can’t do this shit anymore. My wife died twice everyone else wants to eat me. I’m going to just stop fighting.”

Michael grabbed his brother and lifted him from the ground. “Stand up, boy. We do not have time for this.”

Jacob shoved Michael’s hands away but his knees sank. Michael grabbed Jacob before he fell. “Jacob, now stand on your feet!”

“I’m trying dude.”

Footsteps approached the bedroom door and the blockade. A zombie fell forward the moment it attempted to step through it. A second appeared, paused and fell. A third set of footsteps.

“The closet…”

Jacob and Michael- The next part – part 4

The beginnings of a trap emerge. The room constricted as a pair of zombies approached. One on the right and the other near the center of the room. The two remaining zombies negotiated a pile of bedding in the doorway.

“Bust the window!” Jacob shouted.

“No way, it will attract more from outside. We will never make it through without being mauled,” Michael replied.

Michael peered out the window, into the darkness.

“I can’t see a damn thing.”

“Smash it!” Jacob insisted. He approached the zombie in the center of the room with the bat. He swung and struck the creature in the chest. It heaved a breath. It stumbled, stood for a moment then continued forward. Jacob swung a second time hitting the creature’s shoulder. The bat fell. Jacob’s hands shook.

Michael tapped the window with his own bat putting a small hole in the center of the lower pain. A second tap shattered the rest of the glass. Michael pushed out the outside screen and stuck his head out the window. A pair of arms wrapped themself around Michael’s waist and he took in a panicked breath. Pulled from the window Michael turned and shoved Jacob into the opposite wall. Jacob tumbled into the wall, stuck it and slide to the floor.

“Dude.. no!” Michael warned.

Jacob gasp then replied, “Ass… look.”

Michael turned to find a pair of swollen hands grabbing at the meal that was in the window for a moment.

“Damn…” Michael grumbled. “Frickn monsters. Five years Jacob! We have been in this crap five years. Monster invasion in New York City and now were are all in the soup. Brother…”. He said to Jacob. “We are done.”

Micheal squared up in front of a zombie. He swung at his face and stuck the zombie. It’s face twisted, the zombie didn’t hesitate and stepped forward.

Jacob stood and prepared to attack the other zombie but his bat lay on the floor beside the creature.

Michael swung again and his zombie fell. He banged the gore-covered bat on the floor. Moved to face zombie two, Michael swung and the bat became twisted in the rubbery arms of the reaching zombie. Michael watched the bat cartwheel into the wall. The zombie’s arms fell to its side at the elbow. It moved forward as if it hadn’t just walked into an aluminum fan.

“What the hell, dude?” Jacob grumbled.

“Hey, you did it first.”

“Now what!”

“We go melee,” Michael said as his took a boxer stance.

“Like your cleric… what was it’s name Wisconsin. Remember that melee?” Jacob asked.

“This is not a remember D&D moment Jacob!” Michael warned, paused then laughed.

“Wisconsin was a good character name.”

Both men laughed then stood firm waiting for the inevitable.

Neither knew how to fight outside of an occasional scuffle. They managed to scrap out some life within the City of Monsters.

City of Monsters – Jacob and Michael – The Wives – part 2

“Just push through it Michael.  You can do this,” Jacob said as he sat upon a chair on top of Barbara.

Michael paced the floor. Mixing words of disbelief with cursing. Banging on the back door began to spread around the house as zombie brethren began to beat their way into the house..

“You need to do it, Michael… now!” Jacob shouted.

Michael walked around and stood at a window.  He stared at the destruction of the once bright city.

“All these people…,” he said to no one.  “They just stand in the failing daylight staring at a charcoal drawing that was once a city.”

“Could you ever imagine something like this happening?”  He says too Jacob.  “A catastrophic infection spreading from the center of the country. Trapping a whole city within its walled boundaries?”

“I don’t know what to tell you Michael!” Jacob replied, his voice shaking.

Barbara managed to grab the small man’s right leg. Jacob reached down and shoved her hand free but it returned and strangled his bare ankle.

“If she draws blood you will be without a wife and a friend.” Jacob struggled to stay a top Barbara.  He manipulated the chair and dug a corner leg into the infected woman’s left shoulder.  The weight of the chair melted quickly through the rotting muscle.  Jacob moved his legs to the left.

Barbara pushed upward on the chair with her free right hand. Jacob set his feet on her left side and pushed back.

“Michael please…”

The back door opened with a crash. The large zombie stood in the kitchen and roared.  Michael swung the bat.  It struck the floor with a loud metallic boom and Jacob leapt from his chair.  Michael swung again striking Barbara and collapsing her chest.   The large zombie moved forward, followed by others.  Barbara attempted to breath, her infected lungs compressed. Rotten air retched from her mouth. Her broken face stared forward, human feelings of sorrow and pain vacant from her grey face.

Jacob ran forward and pushed a large leather couch into the smaller doorway to the kitchen.  Michael stared downward at what used to be his wife.  The body of his wife, her face, attempted to take in a breath but it wouldn’t come.  She stared at the ceiling.  Michael began to cry.  The pain in her face wasn’t there.  Michael knelt next to his wife, her breath slowing.

“Barbara,” he whispered and watched.  He reached forward.

Barbara turned, her eyes flashed.  She snapped at Michael’s hand.  Michael fell backward.  He grabbed the bat and swung three times.  Barbara took a final breath and finally left the world of the living.

“Help me, Michael,” Jacob pleaded.

Michael shot up from the floor,  swung and connected with the bat.  The zombie stumbled to the side and knocked over a second.  It then straighten up and charged forward.

“Hold the couch,” Jacob ordered.

The large zombie stepped forward and charged.  He struck the couch and fell forward.  The couch moved forward but the two men held the other zombies behind it.  Jacob grabbed another bat, and Michael his, and both men beat the zombie to death.

“Yea! buddy,” Jacob screamed.  He continued, his voice escalating with every sentence, “Its like we’re in a movie.  Remember those… fun little contraptions we could do before we had monsters attacking us every moment of the day.  We were so lazy back then.  Relaxing, watching stuff… doing nothing. Oh, and not killing our wives.  Michael we had wives that hated us.”

“They didn’t hate us,” Micheal said.  “They loved us.”  He looked back at what remained of Barbara and was suddenly jerked forward.

The Bite and it’s Rage

“Gaaaa.”  A mass of fur and human parts wrestle in the dirt as they strive to best each other.

The human, clothing torn, places both hands on the fur covered werewolf and pushes.  The human wolf hybrid tumbles down a small ravine.  “Scott,” the human shouted as he watched the werewolf tumble.  “You don’t know what’s your doing.  The beast is taking over.”

The werewolf slowly gets up.  Sticks and leaves attached to his fur.  “You slept with my wife, Eric!”  He shouts.

The human stood over the edge of the ravine.  The revelation shocked him.  His childhood friend stood three feet below him, covered in fur.  His face grotesque and extended outward into a canine-like jaw.  The muscles in his shoulders twice the size of the human that is still within him.

“I did not,” Eric replied as convincingly as he could.

“You liar,”  Scott shouted back and began to walk back up the ravine.

“You stay down there.  You are not coming near me again,” Eric warned.  Scott negotiated through the young trees and loose gravel.  He approached the edge of the ravine when Eric attempted to kick him.  Scott grabbed the human’s leg and pulled forward.  Eric fell hard to the forest ground.  Scott dug his claws into the dirt and leaves and climbed from the ravine.

“We have been friends since third grade.  I trusted you.”

Eric kicked dirt upward but it deflected harmlessly off the werewolf’s body.  “I didn’t do anything Scott.  I didn’t.”

Scott grabbed Eric’s shirt and held tight.  With enormous strength he lifted the five and a half foot man to his feet.

“She told me,”  Scott said rage pulsing through dark, crimson veins.  Scott then tossed Eric into a tree several feet away.  Eric struck the tree square between his shoulders and fell to the side.

He didn’t move when Scott approached.  Scott wanted to check to see if he was ok but the rage overwhelmed him and he picked him up again.  The human’s spine snapped and he could feel the life drift away.

Scott cried, alone over the body of his best friend.

Romance in a World of Horror

“Jason, you shouldn’t be here,” Amy whispered as the too young lovers hid behind a tree in the back yard.  “You didn’t see what my father did to a Hawkin the other day.  He’s becoming insane.”

Jason leaned back on his heels, looked toward the back porch and then back to Amy.  “I don’t care what he does too me.”

“But… I do.”

“I get that,” Jason replied.  “but I can take care of myself.”

Amy frowned.  Her concern was noticeable even in the darkness.  Jason held her face gently.

“My Amy… this world as twisted and dangerous as it is still evolves but love stays the same.”

“If that’s how you think then meet my parents.”

Jason stepped back.  He stammered all attempts to hold strong disappeared.  Fear evident in his hesitation.


Staring out the window of the house Paul watched as the shadows in the yard stood silently talking.

“They will be ok, Paul,” said Stacy as she approached.

“Will they,” he replied sharply.  “This isn’t pre-invasion earth anymore.  Nobody is safe.  Even if this boy… um… Jason isn’t some shape shifting monster how are we going to protect any more kids.  He is almost a man.  He has reckless passion.  I can’t protect my daughter from the monster and influence of this boy.”

Stacy placed a gentle hand upon Paul’s shoulder.  “She is becoming a woman too.  We can’t protect her from everything…”

Paul turned from the window and stepped to the door.  He slowly opened it.  Stacy protest but he ignored her.  She didn’t know for sure but she felt no reason to worry about her sometimes irrational husband’s actions.  She watched from the covered back porch as Paul approached the couple.

“Son,” Paul began.  Both young adults leapt straight.  Paul had interrupted a kiss.  “I caught you before you ran away this time.  For a young man that wants to be brave for my daughter you are cowardice.”

“Dad, don’t hurt him.”

“I’m not going to hurt him,” Paul replied.  “You love my daughter?”

Jason pawed at the ground with his black, military boots.

“Have you done your mandatory time in the service yet?”

“I have not, sir,” Jason said.

“How are you going to promise anything to my daughter when you may not make it through the service?”

“But… sir…”

“I don’t want to be a ballbuster here son,” Paul began.  “The world is not for the Romantics anymore.  Romance has no place inside a world of horror and pain.”

“I disagree,” Jason said as he straightened his posture and stared at the older man.  “You dare to call me a coward even knowing the facts that I suffered the most horror.  My parents and my sister all killed while I watched with axe in hand.”

Paul tried to respond but Jason continued.  “Even after that horror I still have enough hope to speak to Amy every night.  Enough hope to stand here as you insult me and promise that your daughter will be happy with me as her husband.”

Amy stood shaken by the promise of marriage.

“You would promise to be my daughter’s husband in this world?”

“What other world would I possibly be able to be her husband?”

Paul stood quiet for a long moment.

“You will have to live here with Amy.  How are your grandparents?”

Paul directed the pair toward the house.  Stacy was thrilled to hear the news and invited Jason to dinner.

Young Harkin

“Oh my Goddd…,” shouted Stacy as she tried to pull her husband Paul from the carcass of a large, pregnant Harkin.

“What are you doing?  How is this helping!”  She shouted.

Paul stood up and turned, covered in dark, oxygenated blood.  “This may not help you but it’s helping me.”  He suddenly saw movement within the abdomen of the beast.  A pair of legs struggling to move from under to crush of keratin.

Paul cheered as he grabbed one of the thin, young legs.  He pulled and it yanked back.  “Oh no!  Your coming with me,” he shouted.

The young insect fought as Paul dragged it out into the open.  From within the carved out bowl of blood and organs the small Harkin attempted to stand.

“Paul, you need to stop.  The Pterodactyls are above us.  Paul!  They are going to eat us!”

Paul ignored his wife and grabbed the axe, that lie, beside him.  He set it behind him but the little creature flipped to it’s feet.  Blood and gore hung from the sharp corners of the beast.  It clicked softly as it stared at Paul from opaque eyes.

Paul swung the axe and stuck a front leg.  The Harkin squeaked as it tried to step back.  It’s right, front leg swung free of the joint.

“Oh, believe me.  You are not getting away from me.  I don’t care if you are a young one.  I had a young one once,” he shouted.  “I had a young one!”

Stacy began to sob and stepped back.  She watched as the Pterodactyls began to glide downward.  Paul raced around the body of the parent and screamed as he tried to prevent the smaller Harkin from escaping.

The little creature was four-foot tall compared to twelve to fourteen foot adults.  It threatened to pierce Paul’s head with a pointed front horn but Paul jumped out of the way.  Paul reared back and swung the axe again contacting the hard body.  The blow pushed the insect over the side of the adult remains and onto the broken asphalt below.  It shook off the blow and stood simultaneously.  It stepped forward.  Paul was six foot tall.  Taller then the creature but intimidated.  Harkin were fierce fighters.  It was possible, even from a little one that Paul could be torn to pieces.

Paul stepped back.  He carried a shotgun, as did many humans now, but it was near the truck fifty feet away.  He looked for his wife but she stood, terrified behind the drivers door.

“You idiot,” came the thought as Paul stepped back again.  He watched as the young beast bounced to the left.  The broken front leg didn’t seem to set it off any.

“Swing the axe,” Paul told himself but the bravery within his hands had disappeared as he dragged the axe in front of him.  The little Harkin leapt forward.  It’s armored horns pressed against the thin skin of Paul’s forehead.  Paul fell backward.

Stacy stood across from the carcass and pointed the shotgun near the young beast.  She watched as Paul fell and fired.  The shot spread and pierced the thin armor.  The Harkin stumbled to the side then fell.

Predatory

“I wish we were back to the olden days,” Tracy shouted.

Darrin watches as they drove farther and farther from the Reaper.  It stared at the Jeep as Darrin left.  It’s charcoal eyes looking toward the Red aluminum vehicle.

“You wishing the monsters gone isn’t going to help you survive a world that has monsters.  I have also grown up in this world of ours.  You grandfather got to see the world when it was relatively peaceful.”

“I can’t talk to Papa.”

Darrin grimaced at the mention of his father’s nickname.  “Right, Papa has passed away.”

“What are we doing, anyways,” Janice said from the passenger seat.

“I need to see why that Harkin was in such a rush.  I’ve never seen one run, let alone walk fast.”

“Your curiosity is going to get your family killed.”

Darrin’s face got red, “my job remember?  I can’t go fight the war so I’m going to find a way to defeat these beast.”

“Yea, Darrin the hero.  I recall?”

Darrin was ready with a retort when his oldest daughter Sarah stopped him.  “What is that?”

In front of them was a destructive scene, covered in blood and monsters.  A broken Harkin, it’s large, thin insect legs pointing skyward, sat in the center of the road.  A second Harkin stood over the body snapping at Pterodactyl diving into the remains.

“I didn’t know they did that?”  Janice responded.

“Neither did I.”

“What do we do now, dad?”  Sarah asked.

“I need to write this down,” Darrin pulled a notepad from the floor beside Janice’s feet and began to write.

Janice’s nerves began to fray as she waited.  Outside the Jeep she watched as the Harkin struck one Pterodactyl and brought it crashing down into the trees on the right.  Another flew over the Jeep and spread it’s large claws.  It pulled open it’s wings and slowed till it was over the back of the Harkin.  It sunk the claws into the soft sections separating the hard keratin armor.  The Harkin immediately a long tail and pierced the Pterodactyl.  The flying reptile screamed and took off into the air only to fall feet from the Harkin.

“Darrin, maybe we should of stayed home,” Janice said.

“Can’t do anything about that now… wow did that just happen?  I’ve never seen a fight like this.”

“Darrin, what is this coming?”

To the right and between a set of trees the family could see a collection of beasts charging toward them.  They were small but large groups could batter the Jeep into submission.