Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Twenty-Four: The Long Night (continued)
Previously: Gina began her final defense against the suddenly-immense Questing Beast.
⇔ ⇔ ⇔
Every few seconds the Beast tried to free itself by jerking its head to the left or to the right. When it did this, all Gina could do was dig her fingers and heels into its bark-like skin and hope not to be hurled away. When it stopped, she used the moment to slide a little further forward on its massive muzzle.
Even from a peripheral view she could tell that the diamond-shaped object was different from the rest of the Beast. It was made of fine-meshed purple-gold wire. Made? Yes, made. And yet it was alive with waves of light that pulsated, vibrated, undulated. Gina succumbed for half a second, and looked directly into it. The moment she did, she saw images of Puff…the golden helmet…her own perfected self, reigning nobly as a queen over—
Splot! Something slimy struck her face. What the…how dare they… Wait, where am I? She wiped a clump of sod from her eye, then looked down to her left.
Zack and B’frona were flinging mud at her.
“Hey! Why did—?”
“Don’t look at it!”
The Beast jerked its muzzle downward. There was a crack like a branch breaking in a storm, and then the creature yanked its head violently upward, hurling Gina into the air. She landed with a face-bruising thud, but when she looked up, she was only a few feet away from the Beast’s eyes.
She pushed herself into a sitting position. Just then, the monster shoved its nose down. Steam spewed from it nostrils. Gina was thrown backward again. She put her hand behind her to stop herself from rolling off. From the corner of her eye, she could just make out B’frona and Zack—and then nothing but flames! “No! Zack! B’frona!”
She pushed herself forward and drove the jeweled dagger into the diaphragm. Amazingly, it ripped like gauze! Red-green pus began gushing out of the opening, hissing like a tangle of vipers, burning her pantlegs. She scrambled back. The Beast’s face began to dissolve: huge platelets of skin floated away, revealing liquefying bones and melting fangs beneath. Its tongue crashed up through its disintegrating skull and smacked against Gina like a rotting whale carcass.
Before she could jump, she was thrown from the Beast’s crumbling jaws.
Her fall was broken by Zack and B’frona. They hit the ground hard. Nevertheless, in a moment the boys had leaped to their feet and were attempting to drag Gina away, but their mucous-covered hands kept slipping off her wrists.
“I was afraid you guys were…I mean…the fire…”
“The moment you pierced the Beast—“ B’frona began.
“—the fire turned to this,” Zack added with disgust. He and B’frona were covered in blood-streaked sputum.
The creature’s neck receded like a reeled-in garden hose, its massive tail disappearing altogether, its legs coalescing into a single lump of rotting tissue. It was once again a tentacled blob the size of a dog, but it was in flux, unable to hold any form for more than a moment. It continued to shrink, briefly taking the shape of the dragon pup Puff, then Divine Gina. Like an untied balloon, it shriveled into a wrinkled pint-sized version of itself…
and finally disappeared with a ludicrous SPLOOT.
Thoughts: In the end, evil’s power always turns out to be illusory–made of papier-mâché.
To read The Wishing Map 132 click here!