Hey, remember about a year and a half ago, when I decided to try and write a serial novel for a lark? And then Crazy Shit happened, and I pretty much abandoned it because I was insanely busy and distracted? Well, last night, I was feeling restless, so I pulled up the file on my computer, and as I re-read what I’d written in the past, realized I knew exactly what needed to happen next. And I started writing again.
No promises as to when the next installment is going to be, but hope you enjoy this one.
The usual disclaimers about the lack of editing and research applies.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.
Also, a word of warning: This particular bit is gruesome. Those who are squeamish or weak of stomach: I really recommend that you skip it.
The thing in the mirror had very sharp nails, nails that cut into her arm, creating little furrows of heat and pain. The pain galvanized Jennifer into action. She slammed her palm and one foot against the tiled wall, grabbed her reflection’s arm in return and yanked as hard as she could. The thing looked surprised, then gave a short barking shriek as it came flying through the mirror, its passage marked by glittering silver distortion but no broken glass. The momentum sent the two of them flying backwards. The smell of rotting meat and eggs immediately filled the bathroom, the stench unexpected and overpowering; that, together with the jarring impact against the back wall, loosened Jennifer’s grip on the thing she’d pulled out.
The thing squirmed out of her grasp like an angry cat and gave another shriek, one that might have been laughter. Quicker than the normal eye could follow, it gathered herself and leaped at her, long, yellowed fingernails extended.
The dark, quiet part of Jennifer’s brain that assumed control under battle took over, and she ducked and rolled away. The thing hit the wall hard, its claws embedding themselves several inches into the tile where Jennifer’s head had been just moments before. It tried to free itself, but its claws were stuck. It curled its lips back and hissed in fury, a wisp of reddish steam escaping from its mouth, eyes flicking between the wall and Jennifer.
As it braced itself to pull back again, Jennifer made a long, sweeping kick at the thing’s head, aiming for its chin. The thing’s head snapped back with a satisfying crack. She’d hit it hard enough to break the average goon’s neck.
This creature, however, seemed just a bit hardier than the average goon. A small trickle of black blood trailed from one corner of its mouth, and it shook its head briefly, slightly dazed, but it otherwise seemed unhurt. Jennifer kicked it again, a small knot of fear intruding the dark, warm blankness of her mind. The thing merely shook its head again, and this time its laugh was unmistakable. It said something to her, a series of ugly sounds that scored her ears and mind like broken glass, and then it licked its lips with a pointed black tongue.
Well, shit, if kicking don’t work…
Jennifer moved up, shoved her left elbow against the thing’s back to push it back against the wall and grabbed a handful of its hair. She experienced a moment of disorientation: the hair looked exactly like hers, even felt like hers, except the scalp underneath was blazing hot, and she could feel the skin writhing as if a multitude of worms were frantically working just beneath the surface. The desire to flinch was almost overpowering, but instead she tightened her grip and yanked the head back. It thrashed and screeched as Jennifer slammed its forehead against the wall.
The head hit the wall with a dull, solid thump, the force jarring up her arm. The thing shrieked, lashing out with strangely-jointed legs and thrashing like a landed fish. Jennifer dodged its feet with ease, and slammed its head against the wall again. The stink of the creature was making Jennifer’s eyes water, and she felt her stomach tighten up and her mouth flood with an ominous wash of saliva.
She ignored the nausea, pulled the creature’s head back again and smashed it against the wall. The tile cracked, and when she lifted its head, there was a small spot of blood on the surface. Encouraged by the sight, Jennifer slammed the head against the wall again.
The sounds of the impact were getting wetter and wetter, the smear of blood on the wall blossoming as the cracks spidered out. Small chunks of flowered tile broke loose and clattered on the floor. And still the thing fought and kicked and howled, spitting dark ichor and red steam.
As Jennifer yanked the thing’s head back yet again, the clump of hair she’d been holding came off in her hands, a scrap of bloody scalp attached to it. What looked like small, black leeches poured out of the wound, and a few landed on her arm. She couldn’t help it: she leaped back, yelping and slapping the things off her. They left dark pink marks on her skin, marks that stung and burned.
The thing placed a foot against the wall, and with a loud grunt of effort, finally pulled its claws free.
Jennifer made a run for the bathroom door. She was fast. She always had been quick on her feet, and the Agency had done things to her to help her move even faster. But the thing wasâ€”well, it was inhumanly fast, and Jennifer wasn’t quite at the threshold when she felt its weight slam into her back.
She’d been half-expecting it to do that, and she tucked and rolled as well as she could under the impact, which was both heavier and harder than she’d anticipated. The thing clearly hadn’t expected her to do that, and she successfully flipped it off her back. Momentum made it skitter across the floor before it was brought up short by an armchair, its pulped head smacking sharply against a leg.
Jennifer had started running as soon as she’d thrown the thing off her, sprinting as fast as her enhanced muscles would let her, feeling the familiar buzz and hum under her skin as the micro-implants kicked into high gear. Her gun was on the bedside table. If she could get at it, maybe a few slugs in its head would finally slow the fucking thing down for a few seconds.
She was there in six bounding leaps. Just as her hand closed over the grip, she felt a hand grab at her hair and an arm snake around her middle. Its nails tore into her scalp, a startling pain that she registered and then ignored as she fought to free herself, but she didn’t have quite enough leverage. As it dragged her backwards, she could feel it trying to bore the nails in, only to discover that Jennifer was, in a very literal sense, one hard-headed bitch. It gave a frustrated snarl and drove its nails harder against her skull. The blow made Jennifer’s head ring and her sight dim, and she thought rather blackly, Well, shit, I’m dead, or I’m in for a big motherfucking headache.
But the bone reinforcements held. They held so well, the thing’s nails broke from the force of the impact. It bellowed in pain and fury, the sound reverberating in Jennifer’s sternum, and its grip around her middle slackened.
Tightening her hold on the gun in her right hand, Jennifer dropped down and slammed her hip back into the creature. It let go and fell backwards with a grunt, while Jennifer fell free, landing with a hard, wrenching crack on her left knee. Pain shot up her leg. She gasped and gritted her teeth, then turned around just as she felt its hand grab her ankle.
Many black leech-like things were working its way out of the thing’s pulped face and shredded scalp, squirming and crawling around in the raw flesh and bone; a few dropped onto the floor and thrashed wildly. Jennifer was struck with the thought that several of them may have landed on her during their struggle and may be, right at that very moment, burrowing into her. She resisted the urge to drop her gun and smack at her shoulders and back; instead, she aimed as best she could and pulled the trigger.
The results were spectacular. The upper left quadrant of its head exploded, showering the area behind it with blood, bone and hundreds upon hundreds of black leeches. The creature gave a hoarse cry and fell onto the floor, where it twitched and gurgled wetly.
Finally. Jennifer scrambled to her feet, hissing at the pain in her knee, and limped to where the thing lay. Its remaining eye, pupilless and red, glared at her, and it tried to hoist itself up onto its feet.
Jennifer took somewhat wobbly aim, trying to point for the center of its head, but it moved just as she squeezed the trigger. The right side of its head blew clean off, and the thing immediately slumped over. A torrent of the black leech-like creatures burst out of its ruined head and neck, and Jennifer couldn’t stand it any more: she screeched like a little girl and leaped back, feet flailing for purchase. She didn’t stop until she thumped against the wall several feet away, hard enough that it knocked the breath out of her. Her legs finally decided they’d had enough of the bullshit she’d subjected them to; she collapsed with all the grace of an epileptic stork, panting and shivering uncontrollably.
A rasping voice with just a hint of a wheeze in it said, from off to her left, “Not bad. Not bad at all. Messier than we would’ve done it, but you took care of business, sure enough.”
She turned her head, too tired and too much in shock to do much more than stare. Standing in the doorway to her room was a tall, stoop-figured black man with dreadlocks down to his shoulders and a massive sword strapped across his back. Off to the right and slightly behind was Nadia herself, her dark eyes bugging out slightly, looking distinctly green around the gills. And between the two of them…
Between the two of them was the Angel of Death in all his stern, bronze-faced glory, sword drawn, black, unfathomable eyes boring into her head. Except his left arm was heavily bandaged, and angels didn’t generally need bandages, did they?
She was marveling at the interesting halo around his head when she noticed that everything had taken on that fascinating shimmer, and why hello there, the room was tilting in the oddest way. Next thing she knew, the black man was catching her in his arms; as she slumped against him, he hissed sharply, flipped her onto her stomach and said, emphatically, “Motherfucker,” and he started plucking away at her back, muttering something about worm demons.
She raised her head, even though it cost her an inordinate amount of effort, and she managed to say, rather muzzily, “I knew those fucking leech things were on me, I knew it, I knew it, fucking things burrowing into me, godfuckingdammit—” before her world dissolved to a strange, buzzing grayness.