Hello friends and fictional folk! I am super excited to hear what everyone thinks of this chapter! It’s a little experimental, but that’s why its exciting. Anyway, let me know what you think in the comments below and, in the meantime, I hope you enjoy!
Chase! Chase!! Chase!!! Kill!!!
She is predator. I am prey. I am predator. She is prey.
Chase from territory! No, not territory. Don’t let escape! Wall opened and let her out. Don’t let Predator-prey out! Let me out! Where out? No out? Attack! Attack wall? Wall is where Predator-prey escape. Is door? Yes? No?
Attack! Attack! Attack!
CHASE! KILL! OUT!
Movement. Hear it. Feel it. Out room. Down hall. Door open? Feet walking.
Weight. Speed. Pattern.
Hear-feel Danny is walking away. Why? Find out.
Turn. Walk? No. Slither? Yes.
Hear-feel door close.
See down hallway. See Danny? No. See Danny heat-sight? No. Hear-feel Danny? Yes. Danny which way? Left? Right? Left is yes.
Walk? No. Slither? Yes. Slither down hall. Look right.
Is no light. Dark. Is still heat-light. Heat-light see someone. Flick tongue. Smell-taste someone.
Mom? Dad? Grandma? Teacher? Predator-prey!?
Walk, heat, smell-taste? Yes. Yes! Danny!
Danny safe. Not Predator-prey. Safe from Predator-prey. Keep safe from Predator-prey. Are protector.
Monster. Snake. Beast.
No! Hero. Danny says hero! Danny smart. Danny knows. Are hero!
Is Danny safe? Yes? No? Not sure. Make sure. Know. Must know. Go and find.
Danny heat-light high. Lots of blood. Covered in blood!? No. Fast heartbeat. Blood is moving fast inside him.
Excited? Excited to see? Yes? No? No.
Anger? Is angry? At me? Me? Me? Yes? No? No.
Scared? Scared of dark? Predator-prey in dark!? No? No. Is scared, but not of Predator-prey. No way for Predator-prey to get back in. Is still scared. Yes. Make safe? Make safe.
Danny turned. Danny facing me. Slither toward.
Danny is holding out hand. Take hand. No hands to take his hand. Why do I have no hands? Nuzzle hand. Danny warm. Danny safe.
“It’s ok, Natalie. We’re here for you. We’ll fix this.”
Danny is here for me. Danny is safety. Wait. Fix? What mean fix? What is wrong? Not matter. Danny says it’s ok, then it’s ok. Enjoy Danny warmth.
Movement. Hear it. Feel it. Behind. Door open. Feet walking.
Weight. Speed. Pattern.
Teacher. Mr. Ross?
Turn and look. See heat-light. Flick tongue. Smell-taste. Walk pattern. Hear-feel.
Yes. It’s Mr. Ross.
Teacher pointing gun. At Danny? No. At behind? No. At me?
Holding something. Holding gun. Why point gun?
Why is Mr. Ross pointing the super-taser at me?
Natalie’s scream tore at his ears and his heart, but Danny couldn’t afford to hesitate. He charged.
Pulling out the tongs he had hidden behind his back, he ran past Natalie’s flailing limbs, dodging shrieking heads. The super-taser shot would only last so long. He stepped in close and thrust.
The tongs passed through Natalie’s scales, sinking into her body like a pool of water. Her body turned luminous and translucent. Just like with Sam’s body, he could see the shard embedded in her chest. Unlike Sam’s shard however, Natalie’s was a whirling, spinning piece that took a nerve-wracking three tries for him to grab hold of.
Daniel nearly lost his grip on the tongs as the shard tried to continue its momentum. Sweat poured down his face as he wrestled with it. The shaking traveled up the tongs, into his arms, and all the way to his head, setting his teeth chattering.
Knuckles white, he pulled against the shard’s inertia with all his weight. Slowly, it yielded to him, twisting where he wanted it to go. It was still hard, like dragging a parachute against the wind, but he had control. For how long though? He wasn’t sure. Already he could feel his palms growing slick with sweat and his muscles turning to jelly.
He wasn’t strong enough to pull the shard out. He knew that much. It wanted to stay with Natalie, and he didn’t have the strength to pull it free in its current state. But there was something he could do.
Faintly, through the sweat in his eyes, the shaking of his arms, and Natalie’s shrieks in his ears, he could feel how the shard wanted to be positioned. It was like an imprint in the mud. A place where the shard had grown comfortable and would fit in easily.
Releasing a war cry at the effort, Daniel wrenched at the shard with his whole body and dragged the shard into place. Natalie’s body began to shift: retracting heads, shifting colors, growing hair. For a terrible moment, Daniel thought he might not be strong enough to reach the position.
Then the shard snapped into place.
The tension in Daniel’s arms evaporated and he released the tongs, falling backward. The tongs tumbled out of Natalie’s body and clattered onto the metal floor. One use left. As for Natalie…
Her body slowly returned to its familiar, pale green, half-snake form. The translucence of the tongs faded until she was solid once more. Her eyes were closed and her arms hung limply at her side, but she remained standing, perched on her tail. For about three seconds.
Daniel sprang forward, catching her head and shoulders just before they hit the ground. He held her close and checked her pulse. Still beating. And the rise and fall of her chest confirmed that she was still breathing. He sighed with relief and pulled her into a tight hug. The rapid-fire transformations of her battle with Ahuizotl had shredded her clothes into little more than rags draped over her shoulders, but Daniel didn’t care. She was alive.
A short musical tone rang out through the spaceship. He looked up to see Mr. Ross looking at his phone, worry creasing his forehead.
“We need to go,” he said.
“But what about the spaceship?” Daniel asked. They had only explored a small portion of it and, other than fainting, Natalie seemed unharmed. A little rest and she’d surely be back to full power soon.
“We will have to return another day. Omphalos has just contacted me.”
He met Daniel’s eyes. There was graveness to them that sent chills down Daniel’s spine.
“The hybrid in Lake Levi,” he said. “The one we believe to be Patrick. He is trying to leave the water.”