Saturday, March 5, 2016

Laqunah: Part IV

“Not much farther. Don’t quit now.”

It had been a rough couple of city blocks. Feeling as if he’d run through a war zone, Jobe couldn’t help but barely drag himself along. His energy had long since left him. Sheer will alone now pushed Jobe to keep moving. Without it, he’d already be dead.

“How did this place get the name Garfield? There’s nothing cartoonish about this hellhole.”

One of the more notorious communities within Chicago, West Garfield Park served as the home of the roughest the Windy City had to offer. Only the strong survived here. So far, Jobe was failing miserably. While cupping an exposed rib protruding from his left side, he’d managed to tread the filthy sidewalks without getting mugged or shot. Stumbling against a nearby brick wall, he rested for a moment. Swallowed by the dank alleyway, he caught his breath. The smell of mildew-covered bricks and rotten fish rushed his nose. As it invaded his head, Jobe ever-slightly gagged and tasted the bile in the back of his throat.

“Damn, that burns.”

Whispering into the dark alleyway, Jobe spoke to himself with candor. The taste of stomach acid doesn’t sit well with anyone. It didn’t help matters that the bile was also mixed with a little blood. Jobe knew better than to linger too long. Pulling himself off the wall, he stepped forward again and started moving once more. Crushing a few chirping, unsuspecting cave crickets beneath his shoes, the snapping of their exoskeletons seemed to echo into the aether.

The crickets wouldn’t be the only things that died tonight.

From the darkness itself, translucent hands tore through the atmosphere and gripped the back of Jobe’s head. Making no sound, the hands squeezed tighter and tighter. Jobe wasn’t able to let out a whelp, even if he’d wanted to. The dark hands fully engulfed his head, locking his jaw closed. Pain ripped through Jobe’s face as he felt one of his teeth begin to shatter. Both hands increased their pressure, making Jobe’s pain pulsate deeper and harder. Instead of flashes of his life, Jobe saw only his next move. Jumping purely on adrenaline and willpower, Jobe left the ground a few feet. Now given the freedom to dangle his legs, he swung backwards and donkey-kicked his attacker. An unforgiving shrill erupted from the unknown foe, letting Jobe know he’d landed his blow. The hands released half of their pressure, giving Jobe the chance he needed. Falling on his knees as the silent aggressor dropped him to the ground, Jobe absorbed the shock. Not giving the mystery threat a moment to spare, Jobe swept his legs around and turned to face the villain.

Emptiness. All he found was emptiness.

Not one to waste time, he took cover against the nearest wall. With a solid surface against his back, he could at least protect his rear position. Still wincing from his broken rib, Jobe pressed the cold bricks against his skin and braced for another attack. Usually prepared, Jobe uncharacteristically did not have one of his trusty knives on his person. If he was going to use a weapon, it would have to be one that was improvised. Looking around quickly, Jobe tried to find something that would efficiently dispatch his attacker.

“Trash can lids, old hubcaps... nothing but junk. I need something with some weight.”

Looking again, Jobe scanned for anything with enough bulk to actually do some damage. It seemed the luck was not on his side. Slamming his back against the wall in disgust, Jobe let out a sigh of anger as he gazed towards the stars. What a shame some old, rusty fire escape blocked portions of the heavens above. Then a brilliant thought struck him. The fire escape’s ladder was dilapidated and in poor shape. Some of the rungs were hanging loosely. Surely, Jobe could twist one of the bars off and use it as a baton. Jobe set to work before his aggressor returned.

“If only this thing will snap loose. Ughhhh... got it!”

Finally breaking the rod free, Jobe gripped the rusted piece of metal and again took a defensive position. It was surprising that his assailant hadn’t already tried to take him down. It wasn’t just surprising. Strange was perhaps a better word to describe the situation.

“Come on you bastard. Show yourself!”

Growing slightly agitated, Jobe blinked as the sweat on his eyebrow ran into his eye. The salt burned ever faintly, but enough to irritate Jobe. He wiped his forehead with his dirt-covered arm, leaving a smear of filth across his face. As he did, Jobe began to notice a soft burning smell. Darting his eyes around the alleyway, Jobe knew where the smell was emanating from.

“The gigs up. I know you’re out there. I can smell you!”

All but the dank breeze fell silent for a moment, letting the ghetto’s putrid odor whip against Jobe’s face. Without any rumbling or forewarning, a truly demonic figure burst forth from the wall against Jobe’s back. Bricks, mortar, mold and grime dissipated into the night. Bits of various pieces of matter flew in Jobe’s eyes, blinding him momentarily. Swinging wildly with his makeshift baton, Jobe could feel his despair begin to set in.

He knew he was about to die.

Not one to simply give up without fighting back, Jobe tried feverishly to strike his unearthly attacker. With bricks from the broken wall beneath his feet, he was having a hard time maintaining his balance. Finally stumbling, he prepared for the sharp impact of the rubble. Shockingly, he did not fall. Something halted his descent.

“I couldn’t have you die from wounds I didn’t inflict. Your demise will be my pleasure and mine alone.”

With his large, scaly palm wrapped tightly around Jobe’s right shoulder, the fiend raised his prey to eye level and sneered gleefully. Not being gentle, the beast grinned as he made a sudden jerking motion. Jobe’s arm popped out of socket. Making another quick snapping motion, Jobe’s arm crackled like a crushed can. Jobe yelped with horrendous pain as his arm became clearly dislodged from his skeleton. Dangling by pure flesh, he was at the whim of his captor. Like a kite in a windstorm, the demonic apparition whipped Jobe back and forth with no effort at all. As the beast let Jobe dangle, he shoved his free claw into his victim’s stomach. Cutting deep, the grotesque and malformed nails of the creature’s claw entered Jobe’s abdomen. Writhing through the intestines and organs, the fiend staunchly took hold of the crimson bowels and yanked them forward. All Jobe could do was whimper as his entrails shot forth with massive force like a cannon blast. Blood and organ meat exploded into the night, leaving chunks scattered all about the ground. With little life left in him at all, Jobe stared at what would be his last sight. Jobe could see the fiend begin to savagely shove his innards into its massive mouth. Had he still possessed a stomach to vomit from, Jobe would surely have done so. Feeling his heart slow, Jobe could no longer hold out. Fading away, his life force extinguished.

The wind slowed. Crickets began to chirp once more. Yet, they could hardly be heard over the aberrant slurping and licking of the bestial chops.

No comments:

Post a Comment