Caradorynee: Kin #4
Post date: Jun 3, 2017 12:56:29 PM
Each second that ticked by was like an eternity.
She’d never liked caves. Wasn’t partial to the cold and damp and was deathly afraid of curtonauts, large, biting insect-like creatures that spewed a disgusting red slug from its multitude of bulging eyes. She’d been infected with the creature’s venom on her first spelunking exercise as a Artemis cadet. Spent five days in the med-vac unit recovering from the poison and still had the scar just over her left ankle where the creature had chewed away a good sized chunk of her flesh before one of her fellow spelunkers had emptied a tiny ball filled with concentrated lime juice over the wriggling body.
Star swallowed and wished she had a vat of lime juice or whatever else you needed to fend off whatever beasts were hot on her trail.
The noise was coming closer but Star didn’t recognize the sound. Definitely not that of a pouriecolt. No, those sounds had mysteriously disappeared. These new sounds were hoarse and gravelly yet had the whine of a squeaky wheel. The hair at Star’s nape bristled and a shiver ran down her arms. She began to perspire heavily. With her knife and the shard of the chipped bowl clutched in her hands Star swallowed the clot of fear that was threatening to strangle her.
The sound ceased but was immediately followed by a thud which Star felt more than heard as the rock shelf beneath her feet vibrated.
Desperately wanting to dim her glow but not knowing how Star cursed the fact that Lark, her newfound relative, had given her the ability to light up like a bloody torch.
Hoping against hope that the advancing beast failed to detect her Star raised the hand that held the knife and prepared to strike out if anything came within striking distance.
The squeaky wheel whine sounded again, bouncing off the cave walls, deafening Star. Then the thud vibrated through the rock shelf once more and this time up into her body.
Star froze. She couldn’t move a muscle. Whether the vibration or her own fear had paralyzed her arms and legs she couldn’t tell.
The creature emerged from the darkness and Star’s stomach dropped to her feet. She’d never seen anything like the beast. For it was a beast. Massive and ferocious looking. Its body expanding and elongating to a degree that baffled Star’s mind.
The creature had multiple appendages but unlike the tooacua, which she’d easily defeated during the Shegata Battles, Star knew that slicing off one or more of this beast’s appendages would do her no good. There were just too many, like the roots of a plant, and from what she could deduce the creature’s body, scaly and leaf-like, would only produce another appendage or possibly more if she did manage to cut one off.
The beast reared its head, or what Star thought was a head, for it looked more like a jumble of sharp angles and a mass of corded leathery tendons. Then amongst the jumble of disorder two eye-like openings appeared.
Star flinched for these were not eyes but in fact mouths. The creature had two mouths with serrated chunks of bone and tissue lining the openings.
Star inhaled sharply when the beast turned toward her. It must have sensed the minuscule flexing of muscle when she recoiled.
Through her fear Star rejoiced. She could move after all. She just had to find a way-
The creature’s wheel squeaked again and surged upward.
Star’s eyes widened as the beast’s two mouths came within inches of her face. They opened further and Star watched in horror as gobs of spawl oozed and dripped from between the serrated bone lining its jaw. The spawl was tinged red as if the beast had devoured other lesser creatures on its way to her.
Star cried out and no longer frozen slashed her knife deep into the base of the creature’s neck hoping to rip a gouge out of the beast’s spauld. She withdrew the blade and quickly slashed again.
In reaction the beast jerked its upper body to the left away from her third thrust and Star’s blade sliced the side of one of the mouths. The gash bleed a green, watery substance that reeked of rotting vegetation and fetid stagnate muck.
Star gagged. She wanted to retch but forced herself not to give into the urge as she thrust the shard of pottery into the fleshy space between the two mouths and pulled sideways with all her might.
Another gash appeared. More reeking muck, only this time the watery substance was of a gooey nature.
Star stabbed her knife into the beast again and again. More gashes, more gooey gore, yet the beast seemed to shrug off the damage she was inflicting as if her weapon was pitiful and unworthy.
Without warning the creature pressed forward pinning her further to the rock wall. There was barely enough space for her to move let alone launch another attack.
Where was Lark? If there was a time when she needed a little help from her…what…ancestor, it was now. Why didn’t he come and swoop her away like he had at the cone climb? Was he even going to return?
Star wet her lips and tried to swallow. She wiggled her left arm and was about to raise her hand to ward off the beast when she noticed that the shard was no longer in her hand and that her hand was bleeding.
She stared mesmerized at the red blood seeping from the thin line that stretched across her left palm. Her blood was flowing freely with no sign of coagulating, which was odd because she usually clotted rather quickly.
Star frowned when she noticed that the blood travelling down to her fingertips seemed to unexplainably hoover slightly off the ends. Her eyes widened when without warning the blood fanned out and spread to cover a section of the beast’s body in a perfect replica of her hand.
The handprint of her blood began to glow a soft orange and then also grew, eroding the beast’s fleshy tendons. Eating away at the beast as if her blood was a vicarious double eager to feast upon the creature with a vigour that was disturbing and yet so satisfying.
Was her blood toxic to the creature’s on Caradorynee? Was the blood in her veins her strongest weapon?
Lark had said that she carried his blood. Was she part of whatever he was, since she now glowed like him, or was it her human blood that, so foreign on this planet, made her unique and powerful?
Before she had the sense to process what was happening to both her and the creature the humungous beast crumbled to a pile of dust at her feet.
Star stood stunned for a moment, then she sheathed her knife and swiftly jumped down from the rock ledge. She bolted down the passageway once more.
©Human in Inhuman Worlds by Janet Merritt