Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Man Of The Worlds, Part IV

Soot called to them and soon three women of various ages came out to stand with them.

"Where is the door to the cellar, Soot?", asked the Blue Man.

"There's one just inside the kitchen. We built some fires around it so nothing's coming out that way. The other one's behind the house. There'll be a short passage before you get into the actual cellar and I imagine you'll have to stoop."

The Blue Man cringed inwardly as he thought about all the cellars he had been in. He always had to stoop.

Dipping two clean fingers into a packet on his belt, he pulled them out, covered with a thick, brown sauce. The staff was then planted into the ground and the upper six inches was covered with the sauce. The Soots looked on with not a little bit of interest. The Exterminator held the top of the staff with one hand while reaching to the sun with the other. A few mysterious and guttural words later, the top of his staff as well as his hand was on fire. This drew some cries of concern but he quickly beat his hand out on the ground. He smiled to the Soots reassuringly. "I've done this before. It doesn't hurt anymore."

The family stepped aside as the Journeyman Exterminator went to the back of the house. "Bite his ear off!", encouraged the old man. Now on the other side of the house the Blue Man heard the young boy scream, "He ain't got no ears to bite!"

I know, the Exterminator thought. He came to the wooden door set into the ground. Lifting it, he descended, taking care to keep the flame ahead of him.

The passage was indeed small and he was forced to walk sideways while in a split-legged crouch just to fit through. The walls felt cool and alive with vermin; He could feel the worms burrowing between the stones. It stank as, he supposed, the entire cellar did, of excrement, dampness, and fear.

Finally arriving at the mouth of the passage, the Blue Man found himself hoping the creature was what he expected it to be, but deep within he dreaded even that.

The scream started slowly in the far end of the open room and it built up with ferocity on top of ferocity, with terror and pain, fear and aloneness, and at its very core was an empty chasm that could only be called Hunger. A large shape charged the Blue Man with shriek after shriek of coldness and hate. He instinctively lowered the staff to impale the beast with the flaming tip. And with this a different cry of agony was born from the creature's throat as it swatted wildly, knocking the Exterminator to his knees.

They were in darkness now. The fire had been extinguished as it ground deeply into the darkthing's belly/head. The Exterminator cursed himself, for he knew the fire and the light to be poisonous to the thing but he had only brought enough to anger it. Now he was unable to see, without his primary weapon, and his opponent definitely had the upper hand. He felt and heard the insectoid exoskeleton of which his armor was composed cracking under the repeated blows of two club-like arms and knew that his spine would soon follow.

(To Be Continued)

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