Monday, November 2, 2009

Embers Continued

The creature slithered across the landscape leaving a black ooze in it's wake. The wildlife were eerily quiet as the traveler stalked his prey. The beast absorbed everything in it's path, drawing debris and living organisms alike into it's bulbous form.

The stench of decay was nearly tangible as rolled over the traveler's tongue. He'd smelled the thing before. Fought it before, none of this was new to either of them. He knew what tricks the creature preferred, but the traveler was ready for them this time.

Slowly the traveler closed in and used the stench of the beast to cover his own scent--giving him the advantage of surprise. He pounced near the thing, careful not to touch it, lest he be devoured by the ravenous beast and drove the spear into what must be it's back. There was a popping sound followed by a hiss and a new depth to the noxious fumes as black gas poured from the beast.

It slithered to a halt and turned it's empty sockets toward the traveler. "You," it garbled through the filth and trash and remains protruding from it's body. The traveler tipped his hat politely and replied, "always."

The creature laughed and the objects forming its body shifted until a lone skeleton fell limply forward. Her once raven hair hung in muddy strings, the flesh long since decayed from her bones, but she still wore the tattered dress he remembered. The creature caressed her face...or where her face should have been...and growled to her, "awaken."

Slowly her bones began to crack and creak as they moved. She made a soft hissing sound as she extracted herself from the monster's belly and she walked toward the traveler on unsteady legs. Her once beautiful yellow dress swirling around her ankle bones. "My love," she hissed and reached for the traveler. Her gruesome, fleshless smile a mockery of the beauty she'd been in life. Her decayed hands wrapped around his shoulders and she croaked, "give me a kiss, pet."

The traveler's chest tightened, his love for this woman unyielding, but he'd been prepared for this trick. Delilah was long gone and this rag doll was naught more than a puppet. Still...he embraced her one last time and danced with his dead bride. Tears streaming down his face, he waltzed her to the edge of the clearing. And quick as a flash he spun her round as he had before the beast had come and stolen her away. As she spun he doused her with gasoline and tossed a match at her. He sobbed as the night sky lit up with her burning bones and filled with her shrieks.

Then he ran at the monster and pummeled it with grenades. He dove into the underbrush and rolled down the hill, his old bones cracking as he rolled over fallen branches and rocks. Just as he reached the bottom an explosion racked the countryside. Birds burst, squawking, from the trees. He smiled, knowing he'd done it this time. The thing was surely dead.

He climbed up the hill and ran into the woods, gagging and covering his face as he went. Decay and filth and rot sagged in the air, pressing against the traveler's lungs. But the beast was blown to smithereens! He laughed out loud, not caring that his lungs were rasping and struggling to breathe in the sludge polluting the air.

With a flourish, he bowed and tipped his hat to the smoking embers and goo that remained. His heart was whole again, his vow to his Delilah finally fulfilled. She was free of the monster. She was his again. He turned on his heel and walked away.

As the sound of the traveler's retreating boot-steps shrank in the distance a small glob of goo inched it's way toward a pile of ash. The earth gurgled and moaned and purged itself of the beast. And slowly, unknown to the traveler, the creature began to re-assimilate.

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