By Tomara Armstrong
As an accountant for NOSSA, you aren’t the sharpest with a firearm, but you have watched plenty of television. You know you must first flip the safety on before shoving the barrel into your pants. You shove a little farther than is comfortable, to ensure zero slippage while scaling the ladder up to the service hatch.
The rungs are a bit sticky, sending a wave of nausea over you. You can’t help but notice the air is thicker above the lake of waste, and attempt to hold your breath as you continue to ascend.
At the top of the ladder, you wiggle the latch and slowly push the door open a crack. The room above is fairly large, and appears to be empty. Feeling safe to proceed, you flip the door open and climb through the hatch.
You carefully lower the hatch door and lock it. When you turn around, you’re surprised to see two small children dressed in school uniforms standing side by side. They are studying you, tilting their heads. “I see you,” they say in unison.
You back away slowly, trying not to trip over your feet. There is something strange about these kids, but you just can’t put your finger on it.
“Do you want to play with me?”
As they move closer to you, their faces ripple and pulse; their eyes flicker. You continue to step backwards as they move toward you. “I’m kind of busy right now.”
“Do you not like me?”
“Um… “ You scan the room looking for a quick out. “I’m sure you’re great kids and all, but I really must be going.”
“I’m not a kid.”
You watch as the children meld together into a revolting blob and quickly ooze into the form of your naked friend, Captain Harper Malloy.
“Crap!” You should have known it was a shape shifter. All those weeks of taking Possible Threats and Extermination in Academy could have really paid off… if you hadn’t slept through the class. Way to go, you.
Though you are disgusted, you are also surprised at how the shape shifter mimics Malloy’s dangling bits with complete accuracy.
“Is this better?” he asks.
“Not at all.” You frown.
Irritation sweeps over the face in front of you, and the shape shifter quickly changes into a topless cheerleader holding pom-poms. “Better?”
“Not really.” You shrug, eyeing her breasts. “Obviously not real… they could be bigger.”
Her head begins to smoke, and the shape shifter begins to flip through different objects trying to impress you; man, beast, and monster.
You remember the gun delicately wedged between your butt cheeks, and attempt to dig it out without drawing attention.
“Surely you are impressed now,” the shape shifter asks as it takes on the shape of a towering dragon with flashing orange and blue scales. Its gaze is drawn to the pistol you are holding out in front of you.
You shake your head, irritated, and unlock the safety. “Why are you even here?”
“Silly human,“ it says, laughing at you.
The laughing strikes a nerve and you fire a blast from your pistol. It clips the wing of the shape shifter’s current form.
“I AM THE SECRET WEAPON!” he booms.
You are so impressed, you wet your pants. Your hands are shaking and the pistol is growing heavier; it falls to the floor and fires again, ricocheting off the metal in the room and braising your ear.
You clutch your misshapen head and fall to the floor. Tears and snot slide down your face as the dragon hovers over you, his steamy breath pushing your hair into and out of your face.
He waits for you to stop crying, to look him in the eye, but you don’t allow him that. You sit and cry in the puddle you’ve created.
As he descends upon you, you will your body to be tough and gristly. You vow, as the dragon wraps his slick lips around you and swallows you whole, to be the greatest cause of indigestion this shape shifter has ever experienced.
Oops...RETURN TO CHAPTER 3