Chapter 21:

Last Stand (Puck versus Pigskin Part 2)


Puck hit the football field with her bladed hockey stick. Ice rapidly spread from out of it until the whole football stadium was frozen. Everyone except Puck was turned into a popsicle, including the up until now unstoppable Pigskin.Bookmark here

Puck grinned, waltzed over to him, and leant on her bladed hockey stick. ‘Feelin’ a lil’ stiff there, buddy? That’s my Zone Special for ya’. For one minute, everything around me becomes my winter wonderland.’Bookmark here

Fenrir burst out of the ice beside her. ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING, RUNT!? KILL THE BOAR QUICKLY!’Bookmark here

‘Relaaax, it’s not like he’s going anywhere.’Bookmark here

Puck scanned Pigskin’s body for injuries. He just had little scars all over. This guy’s defensive Zone was insane. Did he even have an offensive Zone? No, wait, his neck had a nasty gash full of metal shards, bullet holes, shrapnel, pieces of obsidian, and shark teeth; it was going foul and bleeding ceaselessly. The Lonely Hearts hadn’t died in vain; they had worn him down for her. Bookmark here

Puck raised her bladed hockey stick. ‘Rest in pieces, Pigskin! No, wait, I have to think of a cooler line than that….’Bookmark here

Fenrir gnashed at her. ‘RUNT!’Bookmark here

‘It’s cool! I’ve got it, I’ve got it…! No, I forgot.’Bookmark here

The ice around Pigskin’s face crumbled. His eyes flashed orange. The stadium shook around them. A volcano burst out of the centre of the football field and oozed lava. Puck’s winter wonderland cracked, shattered, and melted. The heat was overwhelming! It melted her ice skin, her defensive Zone! It burned her real skin, dried her eyes, and parched her throat. Puck swung at Pigskin’s neck, but he smashed her bladed hockey stick with his wrist and balled his hand into a fist. Bookmark here

Puck’s life flashed before her eyes: it was one long sporting competition. Bookmark here

She put all of her Zone energy into regrowing her ice skin. She had to survive this strike! Bookmark here

Pigskin punched her. The impact shook her bones. The world became a spinning blur. Bookmark here

Dizzy, pain, heat, burning, impact, chairs.Bookmark here

When she recovered, she found she was lying in the spectator seats. Her shoulder was torture. She screamed. Pigskin’s strike had turned it into burning, melting mulch.Bookmark here

‘Damn! Zone Technique: Christmas Miracle!’ Her shoulder tingled and healed itself. She panted.Bookmark here

Ahead, Jack, Mezu, and Sam were rushing Pigskin.Bookmark here

‘Zone Technique: Slash-and-burn!’ said Jack.Bookmark here

‘Zone Technique: Breaking Wave!’ said Mezu.Bookmark here

‘Zone Technique: Cyclone!’ said Sam.Bookmark here

Fire, waves, and wind formed about their slashing weapons. They slashed at Pigskin’s neck together.Bookmark here

He ducked. Bookmark here

Pigskin hit Jack and sent him flying. He hit Mezu and sent him flying too. He hit Sam, but her power armour absorbed the blow. Bookmark here

Sam smiled. Her eyes were hard but tears were streaming out of them. Was this badass Sam or coward Sam? A mix of both? Bookmark here

A skull helmet with the flag of Texas painted on it formed over Sam’s head. ‘Someone help meee!’Bookmark here

A mix of both.Bookmark here

Sam and Pigskin exchanged a salvo of hatchet strikes and magma punches. The damn fool Mountie was actually going toe to toe with him! Her power armour was getting punched to pieces! Sam slashed at Pigskin’s eyes, forcing him to shut them to keep from getting blinded. Bookmark here

Clever girl! Bookmark here

Sam quickly hacked at his neck gash. The hatchet hit home, but the blade was too small to cut his head off! Pigskin opened his eyes. He used his warthog tusks to rip open the chest of her power armour. Sam stumbled back.Bookmark here

Pigskin slowly walked backwards.Bookmark here

That scumbag! He’s going to take a run up and kick her over the field goal! I’ve got to stop him, but what can I do?!Bookmark here


Puck nodded, tripped through the chairs to the football field, landed and rolled on the grass, and skated towards Pigskin. Her ice skin was mostly intact, but she had no slashing weapon to go with her offensive Zone! What should she do?! Bite the neck gash?! Claw at the neck gash with her fingernails?! No, this was rational thinking. She had to use instinct now. She took a deep breath.Bookmark here

Time slowed. Bookmark here

Puck could taste the hot rage of the volcano, smell the sour ambition of the reporters and camera operators, hear the wailing despair of the grass. Bookmark here

She could feel the Earth turning beneath her feet: a hungry world in universe of prey. Bookmark here

An image of a caveman punching a boar in the snout flashed through her mind.Bookmark here

I need to hit him in the face!Bookmark here

Pigskin took a run up and kicked Sam. She went screaming over the field goal.Bookmark here

Damn it!Bookmark here

Puck skated up to Pigskin and punched him with everything he had. Bookmark here

He fell. Bookmark here

His soul spasmed out of his body and shrieked. Puck punched him again and again and again. His soul spasmed faster and shrieked louder. Soon, Jack and Mezu were with her smashing their fists into his head.Bookmark here

Memories of what the Houston Hogs Coach had said flashed through Puck’s mind.Bookmark here

He collapsed and died while trying to score what would have been the winning touchdown.Bookmark here

The cause was internal bleeding he’d received over the course of the championships.Bookmark here

Pigskin started acting screwy one day, so we took him to the doc for a head scan. Brain damage.Bookmark here

Brain damage.Bookmark here

Brain damage.Bookmark here

Brain damage.Bookmark here

Puck gave a wolfish grin. Pigskin was a revenant, a man who had come back from the dead to exact revenge on the people who had let him die. He was powerful because his rage was great, but all he used was his defensive Zone, so his fear was undoubtably great too. The injuries that had killed him had traumatised his soul. They’d all been slashing and shooting him this whole time, but his physical, mental, and spiritual weakness was his cause of death: blunt trauma.Bookmark here

Puck moved all of the ice on her skin to her hand. She buried her fist into Pigskin’s face. Bookmark here

The soul went still and bled from the head. Bookmark here

Pigskin’s body returned to that of a third-degree burn victim. Bookmark here

The volcano crumbled, the lava hardened into rock, and the heat dissipated. Bookmark here

Everyone stopped punching.Bookmark here

‘Did we’—Jack panted—‘did we get him?’Bookmark here

A fiery pit opened up ahead of them. A giant creature emerged. It had a ram’s skull for a head, bat wings, a snake for a tail, and the body of a flayed man. Bookmark here

Puck couldn’t believe her eyes. A demon from the depths of Hell had appeared. Bookmark here

The demon stomped towards Pigskin’s body with outstretched claws. Puck, Jack, and Mezu backed off.Bookmark here

From darkness of the night, a hooded yellow robe descended. Bookmark here

The King in Yellow.Bookmark here

The demon gave a lion’s roar and clawed viciously at him. Bookmark here

It did nothing. Bookmark here

The King in Yellow brought out the Dagger of Life and Death and cut the demon lightly across the chest. Bookmark here

The demon fell into the fiery pit, which closed after it. Bookmark here

The King in Yellow turned to Pigskin’s body and stretched out his hand. He made the body levitate, stripped it of its football uniform, its skin, its muscle, and its skeleton until only the soul remained. Bookmark here

Then he sucked the soul into the mouth of his Venetian carnival mask. Bookmark here

The King in Yellow turned and bowed to Puck, Jack, and Mezu before ascending into the night’s sky.Bookmark here

A long silence. Bookmark here

Everyone just stared at the night's sky.Bookmark here

‘Wow,’ said Puck.Bookmark here

‘Hey…’ said Jack, ‘I just thought of something…. If all Pigskin wanted to do was kill the Houston Hogs Coach…why didn’t we just let him and see if he went away?’Bookmark here

Silence.Bookmark here

Puck shrugged. ‘Because we’re dumb.’ She flashed a grin at Jack. ‘And where’s the fun in that?’Bookmark here

Sam burst out of the spectator seats and raised her fists. ‘I’M ALIIIVE!’Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.