Chapter 5:

Stick With Me Babe

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.Bookmark here

 “Struuuppp!!!” The call came from a short way off. Bookmark here

  He heard him mutter something about a prince then Strup charged for the voice. Alex was elated. Bookmark here

  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.Bookmark here

  Rox and Strup ran head on into each other.Bookmark here

  Alex pulled himself away from the spectacle and dragged his friend to where Sensei Tainaka hid. Bookmark here

  Despair poured over him. Bookmark here

  Sensei Tainaka recognized this. “Alex, focus on your breathing. Terra’s alright, she was just knocked out.”Bookmark here

  Alex took a knee and closed his eyes. He tuned everything out and steadied his breathing, listening only to his heartbeat. Warmth overcame him.Bookmark here

  Sensei Tainaka could feel his student calming. “Good. Now I think we should stay quiet and wait for Terra to come to.”Bookmark here

  Alex stood up. “What do we do if those things get tired of fighting each other?”Bookmark here

  “We’re stuck here Alex, you can’t carry us both.”Bookmark here

  “Great, we’re just sitting ducks then.”Bookmark here

  “When are you going to mature? Everything is a learning opportunity, stay silent and observe.”Bookmark here

  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.Bookmark here

  He stayed quiet and followed his sensei’s instruction to observe the battle happening in the street. It was brutal.Bookmark here

  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.Bookmark here

  Rox couldn’t believe he was strong enough to break through his skin.Bookmark here

  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.”Bookmark here

  “Enjoy it, you won’t get any more.”Bookmark here

  Strup cackled. “I’m going to eat you Prince.”Bookmark here

  “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.Bookmark here

  They hit the pavement.Bookmark here

  Strup howled in pain as Rox chewed at his flesh.Bookmark here

  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.Bookmark here

  “Damn you Prince.”Bookmark here

  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.Bookmark here

  He flicked a long, forked tongue back and forth in the air.Bookmark here

  “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.Bookmark here

  “Arghh!!!” Blood poured from his eye. Strup wrapped his tail around Rox, flung him up then batted him across the street.Bookmark here

  Alex’s eyes widened. “Sensei look out!”Bookmark here

  Rox crashed and rolled just a few feet from their alley.Bookmark here

  “Too close!”Bookmark here

  “It’s like a snake now.” This was like a nature documentary to Sensei Tainaka.Bookmark here

  “Who cares Sensei?!?” I don’t think this is the best time to learn our enemy.”Bookmark here

  “Don’t be ignorant Alex.”Bookmark here

  Strup was crawling across the road.Bookmark here

  Rox got to his feet and ran back at him.Bookmark here

  “Sensei, we have to wake Terra up and get out of here. These things are going to kill us.”Bookmark here

  “Don’t be so sure.”Bookmark here

  “What makes you say that?” He asked incredulously.Bookmark here

  “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.”Bookmark here

  “What?”Bookmark here

  “You were on the ground so you couldn’t see but they walked up together.”Bookmark here

  “That’s unbelievable.”Bookmark here

  “Alex, shut up and get those kids over here.”Bookmark here

  “Yes Sensei.” This hero business was the pits.Bookmark here

  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.Bookmark here

  “Kids!” Alex yelled. “Kids come here!”Bookmark here

  “Nick, I think he wants us to go out there.”Bookmark here

  “Yeah well he can forget it! That snake thing’s going to crush us.”Bookmark here

  Alex made it to the mailbox. “Hey kids, come over there with us.”Bookmark here

  They didn’t move. Bookmark here

  “Why?”Bookmark here

  Alex looked at Nick, he was flummoxed. “Because there’s monsters everywhere trying to kill us... come on there’s three more of us.”Bookmark here

  “Not that one.” Timothy said.Bookmark here

  “That’s right, he protects us.”Bookmark here

  “Really?Bookmark here

  “Sure does.” There was a smug tone there.Bookmark here

  “Huh, we’ve only been attacked by them.”Bookmark here

  Nick became excited. “The others did attack us, but the rock one saved us and told us he was from another world.”Bookmark here

  “Wow... okay tell me about that later. For now just come over there with me.”Bookmark here

  The brothers were unsure. Bookmark here

  “I don’t know if we should.”Bookmark here

  “Alex!” Sensei Tainaka called, he was signaling them to hurry.Bookmark here

  “Who’s the old guy?”Bookmark here

  “My Sensei.”Bookmark here

  Timothy perked up. “You mean like kung fu?”Bookmark here

  “More like karate, that’s Sensei Tainaka.”Bookmark here

  Now the brothers were intrigued, they’d never met a real life karate master before. Bookmark here

  “Alright, we’ll go.”Bookmark here

  “That’s what it took?”Bookmark here

  “You said it, there are monsters all over and my brother’s injured, we’re going with whoever can fight.”Bookmark here

  “Well, Sensei is injured too but it’s still safer in numbers.”Bookmark here

  The combatants roared.Bookmark here

  Timothy jumped. “Let’s just go Nick!”Bookmark here

  They joined them in the alley.Bookmark here

  “Good, good, kids get down.”Bookmark here

  Timothy pointed at Terra. “What’s wrong with her?”Bookmark here

  “She’s just knocked out.” Alex told him.Bookmark here

  “So what now genius? Looks like two of us can barely walk and one’s out like a light.”Bookmark here

  Alex couldn’t deal with kids like this. “How old are you, like ten?”Bookmark here

  Nick bristled. “No, I’m twelve, he’s ten.”Bookmark here

  “Children!” Sensei Tainaka snapped.Bookmark here

  “Sorry Sensei. Just hang tight kid, we’re waiting for her to wake up then we’ll hightail it out of here.”Bookmark here

  Strup had his tail wrapped tightly around Rox and was gnashing at him with his teeth.Bookmark here

  Rox was getting angry.Bookmark here

                                   ~~~Bookmark here

  “Let’s stay for a few more minutes Erica, I’m not ready to leave yet.”Bookmark here

  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. Bookmark here

  “Yeah, there’s no point in rushing.”Bookmark here

  Paul was walking around the store as if he were shopping. “We should probably take whatever might be useful.”Bookmark here

  “Good call. I’ll grab a first aid kit and extra bandages.”Bookmark here

  “I’ve got a backpack for everything and some more water.”Bookmark here

  “Hmm, what else? Rope? A hammer?”Bookmark here

  “Okay, check and check.”Bookmark here

  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.”Bookmark here

  “Yeah, hopefully we won’t have to.” Paul held the hammer threateningly.Bookmark here

  “” She teased.Bookmark here

  Paul got serious. “I’m definitely still scared but I’m glad I’m with you.”Bookmark here

  “Paul honey, you gotta stop reading those books.”Bookmark here

  “Yeah well I may no longer even have the choice huh?”Bookmark here

  Erica smirked. “Fair point. Alright, you ready?”Bookmark here

  “As you said, we’re in it now.”Bookmark here

  “There’s my brave man.”Bookmark here

  “Okay that’s not helping. Can we just go?”Bookmark here

  “Stick with me babe.” Bookmark here

  Erica led them out, all was quiet. “Let’s try to keep it down so we don’t draw attention to ourselves.”Bookmark here

  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.Bookmark here

  It turns out that he was very wrong, he would have to grow up fast, fighting for his life.Bookmark here

  They walked eight blocks before they heard anything.Bookmark here

  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.Bookmark here

  Paul froze. “There’s more.”Bookmark here

  Erica looked around for a spot to hide and saw a half open crawl space in the side of the nearest building. Bookmark here

  She tried and failed to force it open. “Paul, help.”Bookmark here

  The hatch swung out and they went in. Erica left it open a crack so she could keep watch.Bookmark here

  Paul held his breath. “I guess now we wait.”Bookmark here

  Erica sighed. “This sucks.”Bookmark here

                                 ~~~Bookmark here

  “Whitaker. Whitaker, do you read me?” The radio finally squawked to life.Bookmark here

  “Finally,” Whitaker grabbed it and eagerly mashed the button. “Wills! You’re alive! Oh man I can’t believe it.”Bookmark here

  “Haha you too! Where are you?”Bookmark here

  “Me and the chief are holed up in the parking garage.”Bookmark here

  “What the hell are you doing down there?”Bookmark here

  Chief took the radio from Whitaker. “The guns were in my truck. Where are you?”Bookmark here

  “Concessions,”Bookmark here

  “You aren’t that far, can you make it here?”Bookmark 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.”Bookmark here

  “Shit, what are we going to do Chief?”Bookmark here

  “Grab more ammo out of the truck. Wills, we’re coming to you. We’re getting the hell out of here together boys!”Bookmark here

  “Thanks chief.”Bookmark here

  Chief traded the radio for a box of shells. “You ready Whit?”Bookmark here

  “Let’s get our boy back Chief.”Bookmark here

  They loaded their shotguns and set off to rescue their squad mate.Bookmark here

  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.Bookmark here

  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.Bookmark here

  They snuck into the stadium unseen and crept along.Bookmark here

  “No, no, no, no, please don’t eat me!”Bookmark here

  A panicked scream came from around the bend in the hall.Bookmark here

  Whitaker’s ears perked up. “I recognize that voice.”Bookmark here

  “It’s Nora, you know Nora. She’s the new usher that won’t leave Wills alone.” Chief poked his head around the corner.Bookmark here

  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.Bookmark here

  The Palken raised its fist to strike.Bookmark here

  “No way,” Chief stepped out and fired, its head exploded.Bookmark here

  Whitaker shook his head disapprovingly. “Good thing these are slugs idiot.”Bookmark here

  “No, no, no, no, please don’t eat me!” Nora screamed at the giant lumpy monster in front of her.Bookmark here

  It raised its fist, it was definitely going to eat her.Bookmark here

                                                                          ~~~Bookmark here

  BOOM! The gunshot was like a cannon blast in the hall.Bookmark here

  The thing’s head exploded all over her. Nora fell to her knees and began to sob. “What is this? What is this?”Bookmark here

  Chief bent over next to her. “You’re okay now.”Bookmark here

   Nora smeared gunk across her glasses.Bookmark here

  “Nora?” Chief waved his hand in front of her.Bookmark here

  She didn’t seem to notice.Bookmark here

  “I think she’s in shock Chief.”Bookmark here

  “Yeah Whit, I can see that. Alright listen, until she can get it together, Nora is your charge. Make sure she sticks with us.”Bookmark here

  Whitaker looked at Nora who was staring at the ground, she was clutching her head and muttering “What is this?” over and over.Bookmark here

  “Damn Chief, I think this is going to be hard.”Bookmark here

  “We’re not at a picnic Whit, ain’t nothing gonna be easy today.”Bookmark here

  “Chief, you know this isn’t a video game right?”Bookmark here

  “Let’s move!” He was already in motion.Bookmark here

  “Oh, come on man...” Whitaker tried to get Nora on her feet, she refused. “Nora come on, we gotta help Wills.”Bookmark here

  “What is thiii...” Nora stopped speaking and looked at Whitaker. “Wills?”Bookmark here

  “Wow you snapped right out of it huh?”Bookmark here

  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.”Bookmark here

  This was an odd girl. “That’s okay, I’m John but they call me by my last name, Whitaker.”Bookmark here

  Nora took the hand extended to her and they chased after Chief.Bookmark here

  He waited for them at the end of the hall, peering into the concession area.Bookmark here

  “Alright, there’s still only two creatures here, we got this.”Bookmark here

  “Nora, duck behind that big plant until it’s safe.”Bookmark here

  “Okay John.”Bookmark here

  “I’d prefer...”Bookmark here

  Nora ran behind the plant.Bookmark here

  “Let’s do it Whit!”Bookmark here

  “Chief wait, shouldn’t we make a plan?”Bookmark here

  Chief jumped out with a scream.Bookmark here

Joe Gold
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