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July 16th, 2017
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that back there.” Dion said.
“It doesn’t matter now, none of it does,” Apollo said. Staring down below was intimidating for Apollo, with the hot fumes of an exhaust pipe blowing up at him and the skin underneath his mask collecting sweat.
It was caught, the wetness of his sweat. On his collar, on his brow, on his wrists. It was if it had just rained. But really, it wasn’t the heat that made him this way, what made him nervous was down below, it was the red-colored comet zooming across the street. As if it had just been plucked the overcast sky. It was a car with one tire missing, driving on rims and skittering and sparking and wobbling down the street. It was the monster behind the vehicle. The demon, with the fur that covered most of its bodies and the dozen legs it crawled and jumped off, and the tongue that shot out like a pike or reeling line. A rapier. That’s it was. A rapier blade.
The car hiccuped.
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It went over a small bump, then swerved. It followed the contours of an uneven road until it finally crashed through chain link fence. The metal dragged atop the front of the car. It made a long, sc-sc-sc-scraping noise. Apollo cringed.
The car. The fence. The monster all fell into a culvert, so fast, that all they could see was the silky-fur and the red sparks.
“It doesn’t look particularly smart, probably minion-class. A servant, perhaps,” Apollo said. Though he wasn’t half as confident as his words. He was terrified, he could feel it like a cold scraping hand going down his backside. That was part of the reason he kneeled at the edge of the safe balcony.
His whole body refused to move. Maybe he wouldn’t have until he felt the rough hand. Until Dion tapped him forward.
“What are you waiting for?” He said. Apollo looked out to the screeching car. Dion was putting his mask on. Both wore the ivory on their face, rough and dull and shaped to the contours of their faces. It shielded his red eyes from the wind, and it kept them anonymous. That’s all. They jumped off the brick and concrete pillars that held the freeways above, they ripped through fences. The metal dangled from their hands and feet then fell off with each new gallop through the air.
Now standing on the floor, in the culvert and looking down, he spotted the car. It wasn’t hard to miss. It was screeching, both the vehicle and the demon. They were heading into a sewage hole too small for a car. Apollo reached into his coat, he felt his hands dig – quite literally – inside his jacket.
“Get ready,” He rested his giant blade on his shoulders.
Then he ran.
The wind currents grazed him, he felt the whistle of the air as he zoomed by and gained speed, then as his posture lowered and he was low and lean, he stopped feeling the molasses-like drag. With the reflection of light posts against him, and his sword glistening and reflective, he almost looked like a half crescent moon running by. A failed abortion of the celestial bodies, half a shadow, and half blinding light.
Above, he heard Dion. For Dion was moving, jumping rooftop to rooftop with his guns and shoulders in front of him. Apollo nodded to him, Dion nodded back.
They looked like dogs, acted and hunted like them, heads forward, weapons forward as if in a four-legged sprint. Dion fell, finally. He landed and slid down one side of the culvert. His mouth open. He felt his tongue dance, and he shot mid-slide.
The demon felt one of its legs go.
The limb passed Apollo, the drizzle of blood sprayed against his mask. But it didn’t stop the speed of the monster, it had eleven more legs to support itself.
Dion shot again. The noise crippled Apollo’s ears for a moment, he was right next to the shot.
The car honked.
The creature shot back.
For the monster, although not stupid, was at least battle inclined.
The demon shot its tongue into the ground, like the mighty Excalibur being sheathed. It vaulted. Turned around, faced them. It retracted its tongue with such strength, such blinding speed, that the rocks holding it had shot out forward. As if an anchor sweeping the ocean floor, uncaring of all the harassed fauna or creatures.
Apollo put his arms in front of his faces and lost sight for a moment. The rocks struck him, some impaled his abdomen. They bruised and hurt more than bled. When he let down his arms to see again, he frowned.
It had gained on the car. So they gained on the creature.
It was like watching three dogs chase after the shiny object.
“Don’t f*****g miss,” Apollo ran ahead.
“I’ll try not to.” Dion paused, his knelt and steadied his gun. He shot again. The air of the bullet pushed Apollo’s hair. And he missed and missed and missed. Or rather, the creature dodged and dodged and dodged. And Dion spat.
Battle inclined. Apollo spat.
“What’d I say?” He screamed behind him.
“I’m trying,” Dion struggled to reload as he started running again. He hid behind Apollo. Then, after a while, passed him. Apollo knew that naivety, he saw it before. Dion was pissed.
“Hold on,” He screamed.
But rage was in Dion’s hands and his legs as he raced forward. Apollo tried to catch up. His sword was massive though.
The wind snapped and broke at his ears as he was approaching the pace of the car with those inhuman muscles.
Forty, forty-five, fifty, sixty miles per hour.
Dion shot twice. Too wild though. Too unrestrained. The floor looked molten where his bullets missed and ricocheted. They struck a building off the side and took off chunks of its cornices. The casings shed off. He was getting closer. Apollo’s heart pounded. He forgot to breathe. His red eyes were stuck in that glazed fear.
The monster turned around.
“Wait, Dion. Wait!” Apollo reached out a hand.
Dion pulled the trigger. Click.
Click, click, click, click.
Out of ammo.
The monster looked at him, Dion. Dion fumbled his hand in his pocket. The barrel withdrawn, the smoke rose. Red hot, steaming.
Dion’s eyes opened wide. The monster was opening his mouth. His tongue was protruding, aiming.
It looked like a vortex, a blender, a black hole; the black hole where all hope goes down.
The blade-tongue shot out. Apollo shot out.
His shoulder pushed Dion aside. He held his giant steel sword in front of the tongue. It didn’t matter. The tongue cut through the sword, chipping the steel off. The reflective metal, now blinding white in the air, fell behind Apollo. It sat in a mess of metal shavings, a small pool of a thousand brilliant flaws like the water surface of a lake.
The tongue went through the blade. Apollo leaned his head back. The last thing he remembered was red waves in the air.
Dion, however, saw it clearly.
The blood on the floor, the broken mask on Apollo.
His body was still on the floor. The monster started for the car again.
“Hey, come on,” Dion shouted.
Apollo was still. His body looked stuck into paralyzed deadlock, crooked on the floor. He walked up to him, more afraid than sad really.
He heard a breath. He knew it wasn’t his because he had forgotten to breathe this whole time.
Apollo breathed. Then Dion breathed.
He raised one hand, then put it against his face. He covered his mouth or what was left of it, trying to hold what ever was spilling out; teeth, blood, pale-bone.
“My hucking hace.” Apollo cried. He had no bottom lip to say f. He let go of his blade, his other hand worked to removed pieces of the white mask embedded in his face. They looked like small gems. Blood diamonds, literally.
“Let me help,” Dion said.
“Ho,” Apollo waved Dion away. “Ho!”
Apollo curled into a ball, he grabbed his face tight. Then he rolled around as if that could cure pain.
“Alright,” Dion said. Looking forward wasn’t a better sight though.
A loud crash. Hot streaks. Gasoline. The smell of ruin was intense, of rubber and fire. He was thankful for having a mask that covered the smell, most of it at least. He could still taste it though. The bitterness. Dion looked back, Apollo was still rolling. Then he ran straight towards the explosion. The demon was on the roof of the ruined car, aiming down. He would have gotten his target. Would have, but a bullet grazed him. The demon jumped into the air, it was like hearing the crack of a whip. It latched onto the graffiti-laden walls. The sewer was right beneath it.
Dion looked at the monster, his blood was hot. He shouted at it, a guttural scream, he knew not why he did it.
It was instinct. Just like the demon.
And the demon shouted back, high-pitched, a screech that broke glass. The air shook at the monsters shout like an after blast shock of a missile, a loud horror in the night, the stuff myths were made of. The devilish choir bells, here to alert everyone to the congregation of chaos. The fire around them rose, licking the air like Satan’s tongue. The rancid sewage emanated from the dark hole underneath the creature. And next to them, the crying whine of a woman.
It was primeval, the whole scene. A mini-Armageddon.
The demon spat. It ran. It raged. The rustling of its furry face thrilled Dion as if a taunt. It looked like a chimera, half-reptile, half-lion. It wore the crown of a lion, at least. Yet it had no pride. It shot its tongue into the floor, used the rubble as a smoke screen. When it cleared, the demon was gone.
It disappeared into the hole.
Dion looked back to the crashed car, to the woman. It was like before, with the men, with a heart that could not decide. Or he thought at least, that it would be a hard choice. He thought his mind could argue better. But his adrenaline was too much, the thought of failure was too much, the thought of killing the monster was too much.
After all, he almost killed Apollo.
He looked to the car. All he could see was blood on the windshield or what was left of it. The woman had stopped crying. A wheel rolled away, tapped along the surface like a drum line, and fell flat.
She’s probably dead.
He reloaded his guns.
And this thing killed her.
His face tightened and lowered.
Dion prayed for her.
“I need to go.” He said. But his voice sounded nothing like horrified. His voice sounded…excited. Like a child reasoning for play, for his toys, for his fun. Dion smiled. He was glad he was wearing a mask. He walked into the hole, dipped his feet into sewage and walked, walked until he couldn’t even see the outline of his body from within the darkness.