Iku’s Defeat

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Read “Scale-Lord’s Victory” here

My hallowed sword. Clear as ice. Invisible to mortal eyes. Her’s was the red dagger. Black edges. Boisterous. Hellish. Magma. My off-hand weapon.

I stalked her.

Her dagger-like nails. She swiftly peeled through my sanctified steel.

Now!

I flung Ice at her eye. Cleaved down on her wings with Magma.

Unholy rage. Desperation. Love.

Ice shattered like glass on impact. Magma snapped in threes.

She cackled. “Hopeless boy…”

I scrambled for the shattered weapons.

Useless weapons! Lying old shaman! 

Phwoosh!

Wings sliced over my head. Clipped my knotted mane.

“Enough!” I pleaded.

E’lees… save her.  

I retrieved pieces of Magma in stealth.

Enchanted weapons were her last hope to retrieve what’s left . Of her.

She summoned machines. Slicing. Crushing. Machines.

I screamed. “Stop!”

She took flight. Whipped her wings. Summoned gusts of wind which pinned me against a crumbling column.

My despair dissolved to acceptance.

I failed. 

I braced my body for a pain worse than death.

She caressed my cheek. “Oh, Iku…”

Pity in her demonic tone. Pity for me.

I opened my teary eyes.

Wings. Leathery skin.  All vanished in favor of her angelic flesh.

“Stop fighting.” She cuffed my cheek.

I looked away.

Tricks. Glamour.

You wear her flesh. But you are not her.

I unearthed her broken Magma.

“Be with me,” She pleaded.

Fine. 

I drove Magma into my chest.

To be with her. In oblivion.

Her wings sprouted. Form shifted from flesh to scales.

“Iku!” She shrieked and collapsed the temple on top of us.

 

 

 

Mem-brain Theorem

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Reality’s collapsing around us. Just… us.

Volatile, inter-dimensional shifts bubbling throughout our home. We’re existing in the same space, breathing the same air. Or so it seems.

She enters our kitchen. Phases through me.

“Morning,” I say.

Silence. No reaction to me. She sips coffee. No slurps nor satisfied gasps.

Thick layers of brane… brain? Translucent fields inflaming and growing denser. Filtering my greetings. My regrets. My apologies.

I waved. “Hey”.

Marcey nodded.

“Good?”

“Great…”

Final hypothesis. 

We are occupying the same time and space. But never quite the same time. And. Or. Space.

Mission critical. Must. Reunite. Our. Realities.  

Rockstar’s Rent I

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Goddam apartment. Can’t stand it. 

Putrescence in the atmosphere. Emanating from the mold crusted vents and the endless cracks in his one bedroom death-trap. Stagnant, like the rotting sphincter of a weeks old rat corpse but worse.

Damn.

He taped his guitar neck.

He may have cracked the guitar across the spine of a moron who interrupted his music set. Idiot. Damaged his instrument more than he damaged the disruptive moron.

Strings popped. Pegs missing. Freaking guitar neck was one hard strum away from swinging like a wooden guillotine.

Mental gaps flooding… Recalling the night.

Head pulsating.

He caught a glimpse of himself in his cracked mirror. His sickly- pale frame and sunken eyes.

Tape. He needed tape.

He searched.

Not a single piece of tape below the sea of empty bottles and ripped pages.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

“Open up!’ Landlord roared through the keyhole.

Rent day? Crap. Losing whole days now. 

“Hold on!” He abandoned his tape search to find booze.

Thoom! Thoom! Landlord pounded with something heavy.

He found a half empty marble flask. This’ll do. 

He opened his door. “What?!”

A gelatinous, cane-carrying gimp with a kickable face, piss-colored eyes and teeth like rotting toenails was at his door.

“We want you out,” Landlord said. “Tonight.”

He smirked.  “I’m all paid up, bitch.”

Landlord narrowed his eyes.

“Gold watch I handed you was collateral,” He said.

“What gold watch?”

He laughed. “Don’t play stupid.”

The watch worth more than your shitty existence. 

“I’ll pawn the watch. Get you cash,” He said.

“Bullshit.” Landlord popped two cupcake sized pills. “Pay what you owe then hit the sidewalk, deadbeat.”

I shrugged. “And my watch?”

“Ain’t no watch, shithead,” Landlord jabbed him with his cane. “Get out or get your kneecaps split.”

He balled his fists. “A threat?”

“A vow. ” Landlord poked.

Each syllable of Landlord’s threats and lies echoed in his mind.

Pak!

He smacked Landlord’s cane from his hand. Backhanded Landlord across the face.

Landlord staggered. Rubbed his jaw. Wiped tears. Rushed him swinging like a blind swordsman on steroids.

He snatched the cane out of the air.

Cane was heavy. Denser than it looked. Nearly broke his hand when he caught it.

“Wait!” Landlord pleaded.

He beat landlord bloody with the cane. Kicked him and his cane down the jagged stairwell.

Landlord screamed. “Has-been prick… You’re finished!”

He slammed the door.

Tried to be peaceful. Fuckin landlord wanted this. 

He walked to the window. Stared longingly at Rose City’s skyline.

Fucking city… Just die already.

He took a swig from his marble flask.

Forget the watch… not worth it.

Boom! A blast through the door caused a hole as big as his torso. Dust cleared and two piss yellow eyes were peering through the hole. Landlord pumped his cane. Aimed.

A pump action cane… interesting.

He grabbed his guitar. Escaped through window and onto the fire escape. Flashed Landlord his middle finger.

Fire escape gave way. He and the rickety structure crashed four stories onto the sidewalk.

Fifty Fifty

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He heard a chorus of whistles. Familiar tunes. Old slave spirituals he sang in Sunday School.

He paused. Considered turning back. Kept walking.

Something about suffering and Christ and finding salvation in heaven. Lyrics he didn’t believe… Not until Lucifer offered him free, fluorescent bottles of Moonshine. Money. Love. Promises of salvation. The catch… meet him in the alley.

He stepped through puddles.

Blood. Warm to the touch.

Money. Respect. Fame. Every desire. For something intangible. Illogical. Something he didn’t believe in…until the Devil offered him everything he desired. For a price. His most valuable asset.

Tightness in his stomach as he turned the corner. Into the alley.

The smell of sulfur was at its peak. Nausea.

He gripped his pistol in his pocket with one hand. Crucifix around his neck with the next.

Tink! Tink! The coin flips echoed through the alley. Pap! Pap! Spotlights exploded around him.

The sulfur. The nausea in his stomach. The impure thoughts.

He was getting closer.

The sharply dressed boy awaited him under the remaining spotlight.

Last time it was a woman. A woman who resembled his childhood sweetheart. The Devil loved to play games.

Smack!

The boy snatched coin out of the air. Pointed a fist in his direction.

“Play?” The boy asked.

He shook his head.

“Heads or tails?” The Boy inquired.

“I don’t-”

“Fifty fifty chance.” The boy insisted. “Heads for salvation… Tails for…”

For… Damnation?

A lava red glow burned behind the boy’s jagged smile. “Fifty… Fifty.”

 

 

The Upside I

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Zay promised to never look back. Or down. Only up. At the perfectly capsized city in the clouds.

Clearest skies on record since the mirror world –The Upside– emerged from the smogosphere, according to Templar meteorologists. Its the divine sign he’d been praying for. Do what’s necessary. Take flight. For Shalewa.

He pumped the burners.

Balloon ascending. Turbulence. Thinning oxygen.

Flying a hastily built helium-craft composed of antiquated parts from abandoned shipyards was high-risk. Highly illegal. Suicidal. Still… far safer than returning to the Seminary.

Shalewa tiptoed to peer over the edge. “Is that heaven?”

He gently pulled Shalewa back. “Just another city.”

“Mommy and daddy there?”

“Possibly.”

Mirror versions, but their parents nonetheless.

Shalewa smiled. “Great.”

His sister was smart for her age. Much brighter than he was.

Chilly. Temperature dipping.

“Will we feel upside down?” Shalewa asked.

“It’ll feel like normal.”

Or so he’d heard from Solomonic diplomats who’ve visited the Upside.

“But then, our city will be the one upside down,” Shalewa said.

“Correct,” He replied.

“Interesting…”

Rising doubts… They’re breaking laws and risking lives to meet strangers. A selfish, dangerous plot. But… Shalewa deserves better. She needed parents, even if they’re doppelgangers of the ones they lost.

“Are versions of us there?” Shalewa asked.

“Maybe,” He answered.

Shalewa bit her fingernails. “What if they hate us?”

“They wont…”

“But what if?”

Zay felt for the pistol with the disintegration rounds hidden in his belt.

Then we’ll have to replace them…

He pinched Shalewa’s nose. “Don’t worry.”

Too Early

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She’s more interested in war than peace. And by now… So. Am. I.

She’s in the living room. Morning exercise. Smirking like our disagreement is her improv skit.

Too early…

“Sure… you’re above it all.” I climb the stairs.

“Your tone,” She snipes.

Riiight. Play innocent.

I return. “Don’t dictate how I respond.”

She snickers. “Wow.”

“Laughter?”

“Wipe your mouth before you argue.”

I scrape my lip-corners. “Always agitating.”

“Nope…”

“Name-calling, shit-talking…”

“Wrong again.”

She judges. Points fingers. Ignites conflict like an emotional arsonist. Never concedes or compromises! Yet… my tone?!

“I’m done,” I ascend the stairs.

“Fine…”

“Perfection…”

The Order: Monster Mash

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“Their existence is a declaration of war.”

The centennial Monster Mash.

A once a century, secret Congress of the most powerful and influential monsters of all nationalities, species, and realms. A parlay among humanity’s predators. He was tasked with surveilling the meeting by the foolish and misguided Humanic Order. He had greater plans. The Order will thank him whence the smoke clears.

Red Vampire, the host, was in his cross-hairs. Succubus brides trailing behind him, arranging and rearranging furniture. Preparing for their big feast.

“Doesn’t feel right,” Squire whispered. “Ambushing them.”

“It’s war.”

“I know… Still doesn’t feel right to me.”

They bared the mark. His was the mark of a Knight of the Humanic Order. Far more prestigious than that of Squire. He was born superior. A living weapon. A machine sculpted by the Gods. 

“Is a preemptive strike the right move?” Squire asked.

Squires were servants. Living tools and nothing more.

Their existence is a declaration of war. 

Squire sighed. “I think we shoul-“

He twisted squires ear until it bled. Are you Knight or Squire?”

“Sq… Squire, sir.”

“Then be a squ-“

Squire’s pupils turned white.

Its time.

Phwoosh! Inter-dimensional tears formed near the mansion walkway.

He released Squire. “Clean yourself.”

Squire’s blood could attract Red and his wives.

Dragons, basilisk drawn carriages, private jets, stretch hearses and cloaked helicopters emerged from the inter-dimensional tears. Filth. Creating portals with accuracy. Strong magic. 

“Camera,” He commanded.

“Should we contact-“

“No.”

The  Order would stop him. Or try.

Squire handed him the full-spectrum camera. “Red organized all this.”

“Irrelevant.”

Monsters swiftly gathered in the mansion dining room to feast on the raw carcasses on display.

Squire’s eyes widened. “Temporal-“

Knight yanked Squire to the ground.

Whoosh… Whoosh…

Dragon wings materialized among the stars.

Teleporting dragons. Blind, with other Godlike senses encircled them for several minutes. Vanished as fast as they arrived.

Idiot squire left blood-specks on his shoulder plate. Attracting the beasts.

Must act before squire ruins..  

“Amazing,” Squire said.

Knight loaded his cannon.”No more waiting.”

Enough watching.

“Claim your weapon,” He commanded. “Time to cleanse this world.”

Explosion will eliminate most. Then he and Squire will head down and finish all who survive the blast.

Squire knelt to reclaim his scythe but pulled back.

Coward.

He drew a pistol and trained it on Squire. “Claim. Your. Weapon.”

Squire claimed his scythe.

Monster unification is a threat to mankind. Can’t allow it.

“Cleanse the world…” Squire said.

“Yes…

“Okay.” Squire sliced Knight’s neck open with his scythe.

Knight desperately held this throat together with his hand. Collapsed.

Blood gushing. Shadows appearing around him. Reapers? No… worse. Red Vampire and his succubus wives.

Traitor.

“All yours.” Squire handed a succubus bride the bloody scythe.

“I can feel its power,” Red sampled Knight’s blood.

Succubus danced around Squire.

“Stay for dinner?” Vampire sampled Knight’s blood with his fingernail.

“I’d be honored,” Squire answered. “To discuss peace-“

“Yes…Yes…  peace.” Red Vampire licked his fang-tips. “Prepare a meal for our human ally.”

“No, I-“

“We insist,” Vampire whispered in Squire’s ear.

Michaela’s Price

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They summoned me early…

Humans gathered in the city square. Visibly frightened but with an unmistakable resolve in their eyes.

They offered me no praise, nor sacrifices they’ve owed me.

“You no longer want immortality,” I concluded.

I wasn’t the creator, but I protected them as such. And unlike my mother– the creator, I was conflicted. Caught between virtuous duties as a cosmic being, and obligations I bestowed upon myself when I shielded them from extinction.

“We’re grateful,” The Governor declared. “But we can no longer offer you our children.”

I was not mother. My power required Life for life. An expensive, but unavoidable cost. Draining my own cosmic well could be catastrophic for all realities.

“You’ll be erased,” I warned.

Governor wiped tears.  “We understand.”

They chose offspring over immortality. Perplexing.

“Are you certain?” I asked.

Governor nodded.

I summoned swords. “Worship me.”

“Okay…” Governor’s face ashened. “Michaela.”

‘Michaela”…  the embodiment of mother’s wrath. The sword with dreams of being a shield.

My protective seal appeared above the city.

I wished to give, not take life. But they left me no choice.

I raised a sword to the exosphere. Let it simmer in the hellish heat before cleaving the seal with angry force

My seal shattered on impact. Mother can see them now.  The city and everything in it, turned to dust.

Damn you, mother. 

I felt rage. Sadness. Guilt.

Brother was right to rebel.

“Mother!” I slashed gashes in reality. “Show yourself!”

I leveled my swords at Heaven.

 

Baby Tongue

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It scorched layers off his Lingual Papillae.

A mere thirty seconds for the microwave to bubble his mac and cheese into molten lava.

He gulped water.

Efforts… futile. Tongue screaming.

“You okay?” She smirked.

“Hot,” He replied.

“Seriously?”

“Yes….”

“Baby tongue.”

“Hush.”

“Want milk, baby tongue?”

“No…”

He had warm cranberry juice. No need for milk, ice, or her debilitating jabs.

He blew on his bowl before eating another forkful of her macaroni.

“Tasty?” She asked.

Nicely crusted…. perfectly seasoned parade of cheeses. Brilliance in a bowl.

Spectacular.

The best he’d ever tasted.

“Its okay,” He answered. “I’ve had better.”