Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Last Fight (Part II)

by Greg Mitchell


Dressler opened one eye. The other felt tight. Swollen shut. Crazy’s dead. Would he be next?

Boots clanked on metal and he drew his head up, feeling it pound—full of thoughts, but not his own. He saw Trebs circling him, wiping Crazy’s blood off his knife. The killer bore no satisfaction on his face, in fact very little recognition that he’d murdered a good man at all.

{Welcome, believer}

“Trebs,” he muttered. “I’m gonna kill you…”

When Dressler wavered to weak feet, he realized Trebs had not addressed him. Beyond the killer, through the front viewport, Dressler beheld a crimson-colored fleshy mass, adorned in writhing tentacles. Large suckers from one giant appendage were fixed to a corner of the glass. A single baleful eye held him in place. Dressler’s mind pulsed and swelled. He gripped at his temples, gnashing his teeth.

{Welcome, believer}

“Why…do you call me that?”

{It is what you are} the Beast thought to him.

You’re the angel?”

{Your kind must name everything}

Woozy, Dressler got out through grit teeth, his heart burning from betrayal. “Why did you bring me here? My daughter’s cure—”

“Don’t let the fish look fool you,” Trebs spoke up, and Dressler wondered if he were somehow hearing what the “angel” was speaking to his mind. “This thing is the real fisherman.”

He would kill Trebs. He’d settled that in his mind now. He’d killed a man before, out of anger and booze. He’d never killed clear-headed, but for Trebs, Dressler knew it was worth a try.

“You got me down here,” Dressler spat. “Why? What now?”

{Your faith feeds me}

Dressler massaged his forehead, the throbbing blood vessels there, and thought he might pass out. “Faith…what? I don’t…I don’t have faith.”

{No? Wasn’t it faith that led you down here?}

“You lied to me.”

{Faith is faith}

A deep chuckle rumbled from Dressler’s throat, passing his clenched teeth. “You went to all of this…why? For a snack?”

It was Trebs who answered, “Do you realize how many people it’s lured down here? The angels up top, they try and keep this place sealed up, to keep guys like this from getting out. The angels, they can influence your mind—project thoughts, Dress. But that’s not the only tricks they got. They can siphon thoughts, too. Emotions. Memories. Good ones, or bad.”

Dressler leveled his good eye at the monster outside the viewport, seething in contempt for the creature that had toyed with him, dangling Edilyn’s life before him as bait.

Trebs continued, “All that anxiety you got for Lyn, it was like a beacon to him!”

{Your misery called to me}

“So, I’m the delivery,” Dressler snapped, cutting hard eyes at Trebs. “And what were you, the delivery boy?”

Trebs smiled, opening his mouth to answer, but the Beast cut through.

{He is the entree}

Trebs quickly closed his mouth, swiveling to face the monster. “What?”

{You have pain, too, human. Fear of your father. It drives everything you do. It always has}

“Wait, wait!” Trebs waved his hands, stepping closer to the glass. “We had a deal! I was supposed to bring you Dressler and more!”

{I healed your body by stimulating your mind. Stopped your bleeding. Sped up your body’s natural restorative properties. Your life belongs to me, to do with as I see fit. Your faith has fed me, human, but I find it lacking. I am done with you now}

“Wait!” Trebs commanded once more, his voice shrill. At once, the seam in his leg that the bug had inflicted days before—the wound that would have, should have, cost him his life—opened up as though someone had pulled a zipper on it. Blood cascaded down the grievous rip and Trebs collapsed, gasping in pain and fear. “No! No, no, no!”

Dressler closed his fists, finding that, when once he held nothing but hatred for the bug hunter, now he felt pity. Undone, Trebs passed out from shock, and died in silence.

{He was but a tasting. Your faith is much stronger. I will gorge myself on it. Or…}

Infuriated, and feeling increasingly helpless to do anything about it, Dressler ventured, “Or what?”

{I could dine on your mind all at once, or feed off your pain a little at a time, allowing you to continue in your pitiful existence. Better yet, perhaps…you could fulfill the other human’s role…bring other faithful to me. Offer their minds to me in your stead and sate my thirst}

Images of Edilyn flashed before his eyes. When she was born, crying and naked and vulnerable, needing him to cradle her in his arms. Protect her from the terrible world she’d been born into. That’s all he’d wanted to do—save her life to bring some purpose to his own.

{Return to the surface, human. I will fulfill my promise and heal your daughter. You can live out the rest of your days with her…only do not forget our arrangement. Bring me others with strong faith like yours. Feed my hunger}

Edilyn would be safe, while Dressler would be damned. A monster, dragging jelly rollers into the ocean, to the consumptions of their minds—their very souls.

But Edilyn would be safe.

“No,” Dressler said, praying his daughter would understand. He wouldn’t be there to explain it to her. He would be long dead by then, unable to tell her that there were things worth fighting for. Worth dying for.

Edilyn was worth dying for.

But the destruction of this leviathan was worth more.

I’m sorry, Lyn. Don’t forget your old man.

{What are you doing?}

Dressler hopped over the back of Crazy’s empty chair at the deck, his hands hovering over the strange consoles. He’d never piloted before, but he only needed to know enough to charge. Following the instructions the best he could, flipping a number of toggles, Dressler finally powered the sub to life.

{You can’t run from me}

“Not trying to.”

In the process of rummaging through controls, music blasted through speakers. More of Crazy’s “hip hop”. Something called “Power” by K-West. He didn’t know if K-West was a great composer of ancient days or not. Dressler didn’t know much about culture. Didn’t know much about a lot of things.

He’d done the best he could.

Dressler pulled back on the yoke, arcing in the water. He felt the monster roaring furiously in his mind, but he pushed it aside. His brain hurt, swelling with rage, blood running out of his nose. The Thing was ever-present in his thoughts, drowning out his own, but he focused on Edilyn. Her laugh, her smile, her hand in his, her arms around him.

Tentacles snapped, slapping the sub. Glass cracked, alarms screamed, and sparks and hissing steam shot out of paneling. Dressler ascended higher and higher, then slammed against the yoke as one of the alien arms snatched his propeller. The sub lurched hard to the right and he was thrown from the seat, crashing to the floor next to Trebs’ lifeless body. Poor Trebs. All talk, and too dumb to know when to shut up.

Dressler picked himself off the floor and slid back into the seat, juking the sub, breaking loose of the tendril.

{You will not escape}

“You don’t seem to get it,” Dressler huffed, wheeling the sub around, aiming his viewport at that single glaring eye. “I’m not going anywhere.”

Reaching across the console, Dressler cranked the music up, its thumping beat moving in time to his heart. He grinned, eyes squinting back tears—

—and flooded the throttle.

The beast grew larger in the viewport as Dressler plummeted hard and fast. He screamed, cried, shouted, and laughed all at once. A female automated voice warned him the ship was in danger of exploding, and he was glad for it.

“You wanna feed on my faith? I hope you choke on it!”

The Beast screamed in his mind, as the ship pierced the eye. Dressler heard a pop, a sizzle, and was thrown backwards when the cockpit exploded. Water punched through the glass, carrying him away as the ship tore apart, carrying him into black oblivion.


  1. What a sad, twisted ending...but true to your monster roots. Dressler, I will miss him. :)

  2. Ah, but there's one more installment left. Perhaps there's hope...

    1. So glad to hear it! Looking forward to the last installment!

  3. A great read, and deft handling of an angel.

  4. Oh, wow. This was a fabulous read... even if it was a sad story. I'm looking forward to the last installment!
    I did like Dressler a lot. Good grief, I even liked poor, annoying Trebs!
    Well done.

  5. Ha, ha, thanks, Mary. I hope everyone likes the end :) And, I, too, have a soft spot for Trebs--the spineless traitor that he is.

    1. Even a spineless traitor can be a great character. I should know... I've been writing about one for the last five years.