Chapter 15:

A Chase and Fight

A Tour of the World Between Worlds

The thing ran through the woods with more ease than I would have expected from something that just got legs. It seemed to glide over the ground with its fleshy form without tripping or stumbling. Still, it was slow, and I was able to close the distance as I charged forward. My knives were firm in my hands as I got close to striking distance.

Perhaps sensing my movements, the creature spun around to face me. It made a hissing sound as it swiped at my face with its smooth palms. I ducked to my knees and slid behind the form. With precision skill, I sliced the creature's legs right above the heels. It struggled to stay standing and took a couple of steps back.

No blood, or any substance for that matter, oozed from its cuts. There were simply gashes in the flesh. Unfortunately, the tears quickly closed up after a moment. The creature didn’t waste any more time with me and took off running again.

I gritted my teeth and jumped back to my feet. Did they fight things like this all the time? I thought as I ran. It didn’t seem likely; they had also struggled so much with this creature. Was this the first time something with these particularities came out of the myst? I shuddered to think of what else could come crawling out.

I shook my head and pushed down the thoughts. I was still gaining on the creature as I chased.

“Kiko!” a voice rang out from the side. Out of the thick, grey woods burst the bright green Orrin. He carried what looked like a wooden stick, thinner at the bottom and fatter at the top. It took a moment, but I recalled Pythagoras’ explanation of a so-called baseball bat matched it.

Orrin charged in from the creature’s side and swung his weapon. It made contact with the back of its head, and the skin deformed like clay. The creature stopped as its head wrapped around Orrin’s bat.

“Well, that doesn’t seem to have worked….” Orrin muttered before letting go of the weapon and ducking back. The creature tried to smash the green man in the head much like it had done to Lerato and Casey, but Orrin stumbled some as he retreated. The smooth hands sailed next to Orrin’s head with only a hair's width of space between them.

I didn’t wait for the creature to recover from its strike. In a flash, I appeared between it and Orrin. I slashed its neck and chest, then gracefully found my way behind it. I stabbed both blades into the creature's flesh back. Some part of me could tell I was striking vital and crippling points, but I couldn’t dwell too much on how I knew.

It seemed to stand still, but that moment did not last long. What came next was disturbing. The arms, legs, and head—baseball bat still lodged in—began to twist backward. Soon what was once a back became a chest.

I tried to pull my blades out, but the creature seemed to hold them within its ugly body. I was not able to escape as it grabbed my neck. The grip was firm, but the creature lacked either the strength or expertise to fully asphyxiate. That didn’t stop it from being unpleasant, and I tried to pull the gross arms away.

The creature seemed to stare at me momentarily, then two slits opened on its head where its eyes ought to be. Soon after, a slit for a mouth appeared, and it smiled an evil grin. Teeth grew in, and a ball began to form in the slit for its right eye. It was made all the more disturbing as every new feature was made from the smooth flesh that constituted the rest of its body.

“Hey!” Orrin shouted. He had picked up a grey stick from the ground and drove it into the back of the creature. The grip was released on me, and I fell to my knees. The creature turned to Orrin, who ran around and pulled me away instead of trying for another strike. We got a few steps between us and the creature, and I weakly stood back to my feet.

My daggers were still lodged into the chest that had once been a back, and the grey stick pierced in on the other side. The bat Orrin had come with remained encased in the fleshy head. I wasn’t sure how we would kill this thing, but every second it seemed to get more dangerous.

Some loud stomping caught the attention of us and the monster. The leaves on the grey trees seemed to shiver, and with each successive step, the shaking grew harder. A sizeable mechanical monster burst from the trees.

It was maybe best to compare it to a suit of armor. Though, it was bulky looking. The metal suit stood at least as tall as the giant Casey and was far broader than any other residents of this world. The arms and legs were rectangular, and the body was a massive box. Instead of a head, a chair seemed to recess in the torso. Some bars formed the edges of a cube around it. In the seat sat the yellow-orange Pythagoras. Behind the goblin was a series of metal pipes. They belted out white steam with a tune that sounded like someone banging on an organ.

The metal suit stepped forward, and the whole thing groaned.

“Hang in there, baby, we just have to kill that ugly thing,” Pythagoras seemed to say to the monster as he moved levers back and forth.

The goblin pulled something large on his right side, and on the right side of the metal suit, a long blade protruded out of its arm. It was covered with jagged teeth and soon made a loud hum as they spun around the edge.

The fleshy creature stepped back as Pythagoras slowly swung his metal arm at it. The goblin grunted and began to turn what looked like a can opener. Then he pushed in the floppy disk, which had been for a weapon. Was this that weapon?

The metal suit made a click and a pop and swung its deadly blade. Its speed increased, and the blade tore into the creature's side.

Unfortunately, the creature's body seemed to deform around the blade, and the spinning portion soon became jammed.

Steam poured out of the suit’s pipes more intensely, and new smoke poured out of its arm. Pythagoras frantically tried pulling and turning things as the suit began to groan. More smoke began to pour out from different joints.

“Blast!” he shouted before leaping off the suit in our direction. The goblin’s creation groaned as he landed on the ground and ran our way. “Move back!” he shouted.

What was going to happen?

Orrin quickly grabbed my arm and pulled me back. We found our way behind a nearby tree. The others had positioned us, so Orrin stood behind the tree with me next and Pythagoras last. Each covered their ears. I followed suit, but I wasn’t sure what they were doing.

An explosion boomed through the woods and shook everything around us.

Shrapnel flew on both sides between us. If anything pierced the tree, Orrin would be surely impaled. Luckily, and strangely, everything seemed to pass on either side or impale above his head harmlessly. The green-clad man’s face remained calm during the whole exchange.

When the shrapnel stopped, we uncovered our ears and peered out from behind the tree.

“Hypatia 6,” Pythagoras whimpered as we laid eyes on the smoldering remains of his suit of armor. Orrin patted the goblin’s shoulder gently as he surveyed the wreckage. The metal frame was in pieces, and the monster was no longer with it.

Instead, the fleshy form laid on the ground several paces away. A gash in its side seemed to indicate it tore off the portion that got jammed into Pythagoras’ spinning blade to escape. Even with the effort, the explosions still had an effect.

The outside was black charcoal, and I could still see my daggers sticking out; who knows how damaged they were. I took a cautious step forward. Was it safe to assume it was dead?

The creature began to squirm and writhe as if it read my thoughts. The charcoal flesh seemed to crack, and the unscathed fleshy portion emerged like an unholy butterfly from a corrupt chrysalis.

It was smaller now but retained some human form. As it turned to look at us with its creepy eye, it picked up my daggers and held them firmly in its smooth hands. I don’t know why, but I was filled with rage seeing it hold my weapons.

The creature charged off into the woods, and I recklessly charged after.

“Wait, Kiko! We should get the others!” Orrin shouted back to me. I didn’t listen as I sprinted ahead. I had to reclaim my weapons.