Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Twenty-Four: The Long Night (continued)
Previously: Gina’s Questing Beast turned out to be unlike anything she’d anticipated.(WARNING: Graphic imagery)
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Just then, a squirrel, attempting to leap from one tree to another, panicked and fell to the ground. The monster hobbled over to it. The squirrel should have been able to make it back up into the tree—the Beast was surprisingly slow—yet for some reason, the moment it saw the creature, it stopped running. It just sat there, staring, as the Beast’s tentacles shot out, snagged it, and began pulling it toward its snout. But then the monster stopped, and started to drag its prey toward the river’s edge. Why?
It wants me to watch! Gina realized with a shiver of revulsion. As it drew the squirrel in, half a dozen dripping fleshy flaps peeled back, much further than necessary. It wants to show that it will have no trouble consuming me! It pushed its squirming prey into its mouth—tail first so that the hapless animal would die more slowly. The squirrel was stripped to the bone within seconds, and then its bloody skeleton was swallowed whole.
It was the most terrifying thing Gina had ever seen. Yet she dared to hope. Maybe it won’t be able to cross the river. But if it did… Well, as disgusting as it is, it doesn’t seem very strong, and the broadsword is positively itching to kill it. It kept jerking Gina’s arms forward as if to say, “Now!” The Beast is weak. If I can just get in one good blow…
Then she made direct visual contact. Her gaze was immediately drawn to the violet patch between its eyes. It didn’t look like the rest of the creature. It was a diamond-shaped diaphragm that continually dilated and contracted as if it had a life of its own. Gina had no time to wonder what it might be, however, because her thoughts turned suddenly and forcefully to the topic of her imminent death. It’s possible, she thought. Maybe even probable. She began to think of all the people she’d never see again: Mom, Dad, Zack, Aunt Aloysia, Birdy… And then, for some reason she thought of her little dragon Puff. She longed more than anything to see him one last time, to stroke his silken scales and look at his sweet, guileless face.
She’d been entirely focused on the spot between the Beast’s eyes, so she was surprised when the creature’s screaming wheeze was replaced by a familiar low purring. She broadened her field of vision: the monster had changed. The pus and tentacles were gone; it now had beautiful scarabaeid bronze scales. In addition, its legs were larger and stronger, and it forelegs had wings attached to them. It looked up, and let out a throaty bleat. Gina’s heart leaped.
As if in answer, the little dragon began to sing! His song was even more heart-rendingly beautiful than Gina had remembered.
It’s him! It really is him!
Thoughts: “Even Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” ~2 Corinthians 11:14
To read The Wishing Map 125 click here!