The Blood Of Palken
Alex’s vision was filled by the large, clawed hand that was reaching out to him, he was certain that he would die.
“Struuuppp!!!” The call came from a short way off.
He heard him mutter something about a prince then Strup charged for the voice. Alex was elated.
Terra was still unconscious so he turned his attention to the monsters. The new arrival was strange, it looked like a literal boulder bounding down the street.
Rox and Strup ran head on into each other.
Alex pulled himself away from the spectacle and dragged his friend to where Sensei Tainaka hid.
Despair poured over him.
Sensei Tainaka recognized this. “Alex, focus on your breathing. Terra’s alright, she was just knocked out.”
Alex took a knee and closed his eyes. He tuned everything out and steadied his breathing, listening only to his heartbeat. Warmth overcame him.
Sensei Tainaka could feel his student calming. “Good. Now I think we should stay quiet and wait for Terra to come to.”
Alex stood up. “What do we do if those things get tired of fighting each other?”
“We’re stuck here Alex, you can’t carry us both.”
“Great, we’re just sitting ducks then.”
“When are you going to mature? Everything is a learning opportunity, stay silent and observe.”
Alex knew he was being immature but couldn’t really help himself. The situation was filling him with anxiety and to be frank, he was feeling a lot like he did while he was growing up, helpless.
He stayed quiet and followed his sensei’s instruction to observe the battle happening in the street. It was brutal.
Strup bounced back from a nasty gash in his side to grab Rox by the wrist. Rox attempted to bash his head into his but Strup was quicker. He pushed Rox’s head aside and bit into his arm.
Rox couldn’t believe he was strong enough to break through his skin.
Strup bit off a piece and backed away. He chewed slowly with a thoughtful expression on his face. “I always wanted to taste the flesh of the Lord Dragon.”
“Enjoy it, you won’t get any more.”
Strup cackled. “I’m going to eat you Prince.”
“Try!” Rox dove at him with his claws. When he was in range he slashed with both hands, ripping deeply into Strup’s chest. Rox’s momentum carried him forward so he then bit into the wound.
They hit the pavement.
Strup howled in pain as Rox chewed at his flesh.
Growling fiercely, he went into a frenzy as he kicked and struggled until he could tear Rox away from him. He had expected the prince to be tough to defeat but in his current form he had no chance of victory at all.
“Damn you Prince.”
Strup fell forward and began to grunt, his bones broke and his body and face stretched. When his metamorphosis was complete he resembled a cross between a lizard and a snake, he was twenty feet from tip to tail.
He flicked a long, forked tongue back and forth in the air.
“No, damn you Strup.” Rox dodged out of the way just in time to avoid his large set of jaws. Whilst in motion, he scraped a set of claws down the left side of Strup’s face.
“Arghh!!!” Blood poured from his eye. Strup wrapped his tail around Rox, flung him up then batted him across the street.
Alex’s eyes widened. “Sensei look out!”
Rox crashed and rolled just a few feet from their alley.
“It’s like a snake now.” This was like a nature documentary to Sensei Tainaka.
“Who cares Sensei?!?” I don’t think this is the best time to learn our enemy.”
“Don’t be ignorant Alex.”
Strup was crawling across the road.
Rox got to his feet and ran back at him.
“Sensei, we have to wake Terra up and get out of here. These things are going to kill us.”
“Don’t be so sure.”
“What makes you say that?” He asked incredulously.
“Look,” Sensei Tainaka pointed up the road at Nick and Timothy clumsily attempting to hide behind a public mailbox. “Those children arrived with the rock monster.”
“You were on the ground so you couldn’t see but they walked up together.”
“Alex, shut up and get those kids over here.”
“Yes Sensei.” This hero business was the pits.
Nick and Timothy were watching the showdown in awe when suddenly they saw a man running at them. He was waving his arms like mad.
“Kids!” Alex yelled. “Kids come here!”
“Nick, I think he wants us to go out there.”
“Yeah well he can forget it! That snake thing’s going to crush us.”
Alex made it to the mailbox. “Hey kids, come over there with us.”
They didn’t move.
Alex looked at Nick, he was flummoxed. “Because there’s monsters everywhere trying to kill us... come on there’s three more of us.”
“Not that one.” Timothy said.
“That’s right, he protects us.”
“Sure does.” There was a smug tone there.
“Huh, we’ve only been attacked by them.”
Nick became excited. “The others did attack us, but the rock one saved us and told us he was from another world.”
“Wow... okay tell me about that later. For now just come over there with me.”
The brothers were unsure.
“I don’t know if we should.”
“Alex!” Sensei Tainaka called, he was signaling them to hurry.
“Who’s the old guy?”
Timothy perked up. “You mean like kung fu?”
“More like karate, that’s Sensei Tainaka.”
Now the brothers were intrigued, they’d never met a real life karate master before.
“Alright, we’ll go.”
“That’s what it took?”
“You said it, there are monsters all over and my brother’s injured, we’re going with whoever can fight.”
“Well, Sensei is injured too but it’s still safer in numbers.”
The combatants roared.
Timothy jumped. “Let’s just go Nick!”
They joined them in the alley.
“Good, good, kids get down.”
Timothy pointed at Terra. “What’s wrong with her?”
“She’s just knocked out.” Alex told him.
“So what now genius? Looks like two of us can barely walk and one’s out like a light.”
Alex couldn’t deal with kids like this. “How old are you, like ten?”
Nick bristled. “No, I’m twelve, he’s ten.”
“Children!” Sensei Tainaka snapped.
“Sorry Sensei. Just hang tight kid, we’re waiting for her to wake up then we’ll hightail it out of here.”
Strup had his tail wrapped tightly around Rox and was gnashing at him with his teeth.
Rox was getting angry.
“Let’s stay for a few more minutes Erica, I’m not ready to leave yet.”
The pharmacy proved itself to be a pleasantly safe haven for them. It had been a taxing a morning and if Erica was being honest with herself, she wasn’t quite ready to leave either.
“Yeah, there’s no point in rushing.”
Paul was walking around the store as if he were shopping. “We should probably take whatever might be useful.”
“Good call. I’ll grab a first aid kit and extra bandages.”
“I’ve got a backpack for everything and some more water.”
“Hmm, what else? Rope? A hammer?”
“Okay, check and check.”
Erica inspected their emergency pack. The rope was no better than twine and the hammer was light and poorly made. “I don’t think I trust any of this with my life.”
“Yeah, hopefully we won’t have to.” Paul held the hammer threateningly.
“Ahh...no...” She teased.
Paul got serious. “I’m definitely still scared but I’m glad I’m with you.”
“Paul honey, you gotta stop reading those books.”
“Yeah well I may no longer even have the choice huh?”
Erica smirked. “Fair point. Alright, you ready?”
“As you said, we’re in it now.”
“There’s my brave man.”
“Okay that’s not helping. Can we just go?”
“Stick with me babe.”
Erica led them out, all was quiet. “Let’s try to keep it down so we don’t draw attention to ourselves.”
Paul stayed silent and followed closely behind. He was only twenty years old and he’d never had any ambition, he was just coasting through, simply hoping that he could be a kid for a few more years.
It turns out that he was very wrong, he would have to grow up fast, fighting for his life.
They walked eight blocks before they heard anything.
Erica and Paul were coming up on a large department store. The entire front was demolished so the screams and growls that came from within were crystal clear.
Paul froze. “There’s more.”
Erica looked around for a spot to hide and saw a half open crawl space in the side of the nearest building.
She tried and failed to force it open. “Paul, help.”
The hatch swung out and they went in. Erica left it open a crack so she could keep watch.
Paul held his breath. “I guess now we wait.”
Erica sighed. “This sucks.”
“Whitaker. Whitaker, do you read me?” The radio finally squawked to life.
“Finally,” Whitaker grabbed it and eagerly mashed the button. “Wills! You’re alive! Oh man I can’t believe it.”
“Haha you too! Where are you?”
“Me and the chief are holed up in the parking garage.”
“What the hell are you doing down there?”
Chief took the radio from Whitaker. “The guns were in my truck. Where are you?”
“You aren’t that far, can you make it here?”
“About that, they haven’t seen me yet but there are two of ‘em not far from my hiding spot. I’d have to go right through them to get to you.”
“Shit, what are we going to do Chief?”
“Grab more ammo out of the truck. Wills, we’re coming to you. We’re getting the hell out of here together boys!”
Chief traded the radio for a box of shells. “You ready Whit?”
“Let’s get our boy back Chief.”
They loaded their shotguns and set off to rescue their squad mate.
It was a short walk from their place in the garage to the entrance, then on to concessions, Chief was confident that his squad would complete the mission. They’d worked stadium security together for over five years now, they were tough.
Whitaker on the other hand was more of a realist, he knew the difference between dealing with a bunch of drunk football fans and a goddamn alien invasion. He was at full attention.
They snuck into the stadium unseen and crept along.
“No, no, no, no, please don’t eat me!”
A panicked scream came from around the bend in the hall.
Whitaker’s ears perked up. “I recognize that voice.”
“It’s Nora, you know Nora. She’s the new usher that won’t leave Wills alone.” Chief poked his head around the corner.
Nora was backed against a wall with her hands up. Pieces of another usher were scattered about the ground at her feet, Chief couldn’t make out who it was.
The Palken raised its fist to strike.
“No way,” Chief stepped out and fired, its head exploded.
Whitaker shook his head disapprovingly. “Good thing these are slugs idiot.”
“No, no, no, no, please don’t eat me!” Nora screamed at the giant lumpy monster in front of her.
It raised its fist, it was definitely going to eat her.
BOOM! The gunshot was like a cannon blast in the hall.
The thing’s head exploded all over her. Nora fell to her knees and began to sob. “What is this? What is this?”
Chief bent over next to her. “You’re okay now.”
Nora smeared gunk across her glasses.
“Nora?” Chief waved his hand in front of her.
She didn’t seem to notice.
“I think she’s in shock Chief.”
“Yeah Whit, I can see that. Alright listen, until she can get it together, Nora is your charge. Make sure she sticks with us.”
Whitaker looked at Nora who was staring at the ground, she was clutching her head and muttering “What is this?” over and over.
“Damn Chief, I think this is going to be hard.”
“We’re not at a picnic Whit, ain’t nothing gonna be easy today.”
“Chief, you know this isn’t a video game right?”
“Let’s move!” He was already in motion.
“Oh, come on man...” Whitaker tried to get Nora on her feet, she refused. “Nora come on, we gotta help Wills.”
“What is thiii...” Nora stopped speaking and looked at Whitaker. “Wills?”
“Wow you snapped right out of it huh?”
Nora gasped and looked around as if her head was on a swivel. “What the hell is going on? Umm, I’m sorry I forgot your name.”
This was an odd girl. “That’s okay, I’m John but they call me by my last name, Whitaker.”
Nora took the hand extended to her and they chased after Chief.
He waited for them at the end of the hall, peering into the concession area.
“Alright, there’s still only two creatures here, we got this.”
“Nora, duck behind that big plant until it’s safe.”
Nora ran behind the plant.
“Let’s do it Whit!”
“Chief wait, shouldn’t we make a plan?”
Chief jumped out with a scream.