Eyre and Nash made their way around the ruined house and saw Ben Rose jogging across the back lawn. When Eyre called out to him, he stopped and turned. He cupped his hands around his mouth and hollered back.
"Morrell's in trouble over here," he said and urged them to follow with a huge swing of his arm. "Come on!"
"He's insane," Nash said. "Altmann always said so."
"Jens always said Ben was naive," Eyre said and saw Morrell was crouched behind an SUV that was about to give way to the onslaught of huge sandstone rocks that were being launched by the Bellkon that Nash had mentioned before. "It was Betsy who said he was insane. You coming?"
The ran through the trampled back hedge and across the back yard of another house that suffered damage from the rampages of the monsters and when they came 'round the north side of the house, saw that Ben had made it to Morrell's side. The Bellkon, a creature that resembled an amphibious panda with spines in stead of fur, caught sight of the two arriving monster hunters and launched several large sandstones their way. Dodging easily enough, the rocks passed them and crashed into the house, tearing the side off.
Eyre looked up and saw a woman and a child of no more than six huddled in what remained of a closet. She held out both hands, palms toward them hoping that would keep them calm enough to not try to move. She then put one finger to her lips to indicate silence and turned quickly to the Bellkon.
Ben Rose had an arm around Morrell's shoulder and they were as close to the ground as they could be and running toward where Nash was crouched behind another SUV and working his magic.
Eyre took five running steps and leapt at the Bellkon. The creature saw her and swatted her aside, sending her halfway down the block to crash into a little Indian-made Tata import. It crumpled under the force of her landing.
"Shit," Morrell said, out of breath.
"She'll be all right," Ben Rose said looking over the hood of the SUV. "She's tougher than all of us put together."
Nash stood and turned to face the Bellkon which was advancing on them. "Q'ta dor fwash sziertchen!" A bolt of green light lasered out from his fingertips and lanced its way toward the Bellkon, turning three right angles left, down and back to the right before striking the creature under its chin.
The Bellkon staggered backward and roared its pain toward the source of its pain. "Twe Neggeth shum'a gorn awth detrase!" Another bolt, this one bigger and yellow now shot toward the creature and surrounded it in orange bands that formed into an ovoid cage. The monster raged and grabbed the bars, trying to pull them apart. It turned, trying to work each bar in turn, roaring anger that seemed to take on a tone of desperation.
"Can you hold it?" Ben looked at Nash, who was exerting a great deal of effort.
"Don't know how long," Nash said, gritting his teeth. "Stronger than it should be."
Ben Rose turned to Morrell, who was standing now and drawing a longsword from an invisible sheath at her back. She glowed with a red aura and the concentration evident on her face was grim. Ben ran to her as she took a step toward the Bellkon. "You know what you're doing?"
The young woman did not take her eyes off the monster. "Bhadra is here," Morrell said. "The creature is brought to ground and she is anxious to face him hand to hand with the sword of Diana."
Ben had never seen her in her fighting state but looked back at Nash, who was beginning to falter. "Okay, then," he said. "If you need help I've got your back."
The woman gave a fearsome yell in a language that Ben didn't understand and ran at the Bellkon, swinging the impossibly long sword around and over her head. When she leapt at the mystical cage containing the creature, Ben winced knowing the power of Nash's spells but she climbed the bars halfway up the cage and dove between them to lunge in. The Bellkon roared again at the pain of the sword's entry into its body. It gave up pulling and prying at the bars of its cage and swatted at the source of agony.
Nash took the opportunity to close the bars tighter and start squeezing the monster. Her full-throated battle-cry ringing in Ben's ears, Morrell slashed at the monster, opening gaping wounds in its legs and side. She looked up and Ben saw a wicked smile on her face as she prepared to stab upward into the monster's throat. She didn't see the creature's claw dive for her and barely felt it's inhuman embrace as it tried to break her in half.
The Bellkon's eyes went wide and then rolled back into its head. It toppled inside the cage and its claw released Morrell, who fell forward through the dissipating mystical bars to the pavement, her sword disappearing as Ben watched. Eyre came around the cage as it disappeared and scooped up Morrell just before the thud of the Bellkon's body hit the ground.
She was covered in the blood of two creatures now and brought her colleague to the SUV where Nash was near collapse and Ben had opened the driver's door. "She's bad," Eyre said. "Nash, can you drive?"
The southerner nodded and came around the front of the vehicle as it started. He looked at Ben and arched an eyebrow. "Misspent youth," Ben said. "I'll tell you about it after this." Nash nodded and climbed up into the car, then pulled the door closed.
Eyre had set Morrell in the passenger seat and buckled her in. "Stay awake," she said to the wounded woman, then looked at Nash. "Chandler's, Nash. Step on it. Tell them everything."
She and Ben Rose watched the SUV drive away. "Hope he's got enough gas. Allen's a good twenty miles the other side of town."
"They'll make it," Eyre said. "Let's get to the Hollow and end this, all right?"
Lanette screamed as the creature came through the window, spraying glass into the simple living room. Jimmy put himself between the thing and her.
The creature clad in furs, leather and leaves, looked vaguely human if glowing red eyes and terrible-looking four-fingered claws instead of hands were human. It stood like a man, looking at Jimmy and Lanette through the tangled mass of long brown hair that hung in greasy ropes and she could see fangs as it smiled.
"Esme," it said. "Want --- Esme."
"Esme died four hundred years ago," Jimmy said. "You know it and so do I." He was backing Lanette toward the door.
The creature stepped toward them and pointed a ragged claw at them. "Her. She Esme."
"Are you kidding?" Jimmy was moving Lanette, who cowered behind him trying to be as small and unnoticeable as possible, more boldly toward the door now only ten feet away but easily reachable by the monster in the room, too. "Esme's dead, Staggers. She died because you killed her. Her soul's long gone."
Staggers, growled, a feral thing that echoed around the room with inhuman clarity. "Esme," it said. "Kill you."
Jimmy didn't take his eyes off Staggers and kept on the path to the door. He whispered sideways to Lanette. "You have to run when I open that door, Lany. You run and don't stop until you get to Oregon."
"Jimmy," she said.
"No arguing, kiddo. I'll be fine, you just go when I do. Understand?"
"Yes," she said and hugged him quickly. Staggers was only ten feet from them, and as close to the door as they were. Jimmy lunged toward the door knob and Staggers went for him. Lanette didn't move until the door was opened and slamming into the monster's leaping body.
She came to her senses and darted behind Jimmy who slammed the door again into the face of the thing and was yelling at the top of his lungs.
"You fuckin' piece o' shite! Four hunnerd fuckin' years, goddamn ye!"
Lanette took the stairs down two at a time and leapt the last six to the foyer of the building. She ripped the front door open and hit the street then looked up at the window of her apartment. She could see shadows playing on the wall of the living room and could hear the crashes of furniture and shouts of both combatants. She turned right and ran up the street. She didn't know where to go. She looked back again.
"The Hollow!" Jimmy shouted from the window. "Run to the Hollow!"
Lanette took one step back in the direction she'd come from, but Jimmy was pulled back into the apartment and she didn't hear anything else.
Thanks for reading A Monster In Repose.
©2010 By Jason Arnett.
Some Rights Reserved under a Creative Commons Attribution-
Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States
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