Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6.5

Posted by harmony0stars on May 5, 2010

Tom stumbled to his hands and knees and scoured the floor for his dropped stone. “Where is it!” he moaned, and answered himself. “I don’t know!” He glanced across the room where he’d thrown Fiona and let out a growl. “She’s taken it! Find her!” He staggered to his feet just as the sound of running feet could be heard coming closer.

Glory cursed her luck as Tom snarled and bolted out the room’s other entrance. She hadn’t really expected Fiona to find help so quickly, though maybe she’d found the guards already trying to find out what had fallen. Maybe whatever Tom had done to the camera had finally made the idiot in the TV room suspicious. She quickly followed Tom but spared a quick glance at the shattered urn for the cat. There was no sign of it among the shards, not even a bit of blood to show where it might have gone though it must have dragged itself away while she wasn’t looking. Wherever it was, she hoped it was alright.

She forced herself to follow the injured guard despite her fatigue and saw him punch through an exit door at the end of the hall. They were on the second floor, so hopefully she could catch up with him on the stairs. The door clanked open on darkness, and Glory groaned inwardly as it shut behind her. Everyone was invisible in the dark; her cloak was useless.

Taking the steps as fast as she could, she hoped Tom hadn’t gotten too far ahead, but she couldn’t even hear him in the darkness. As she reached the landing and turned the corner to take the second flight to the ground floor, Tom hit her in the chest just below her throat. Knocking her into the far wall, he landed on top of her, hitting her several times in the face. She gritted her teeth as she heard fabric tear. Not my cloak!

The weakness in her limbs made it nearly impossible to fight back, but she did finally manage to get one of her arms free of his weight. No! she cried, as Phoenix said Yes! taking advantage of her weakness and confusion to restore their flagging energies. With a cry of surprise, Tom stumbled away from a fiery burst, and backing away, he tumbled down the second flight of stairs.

Phoenix hadn’t gotten much, but it was enough to get them on their feet. Unfortunately for Tom, the fall down the stairs would be the last thing he’d ever do. Panting, Glory stumbled into the livid red glow of the exit sign, glancing down at herself to see what damage the cloak had sustained. She couldn’t see anything, but she couldn’t chance it either. Grabbing Tom’s body, she dragged him to the exit and pushed it open with her shoulder. She tossed him into the slightly sheltered alcove outside the door, but already she could hear the police siren and see the flashing red and blue lights in the distance.

“Ugh! What is that?” she cried aloud, staring at a thick gray sludge that was spilling from the man’s jaws. Burns had joined the blood and claw marks, but it was a broken neck that had killed him.

As she watched, a massive white worm forced its way out his mouth, his throat expanding more than seemed humanly possible to accommodate the thing’s girth. It seemed beyond the realm of possibility that the parasite hadn’t killed him in the course of its habitation, but he’d been sweating and breathing up until a few moments ago. With the nervous system compromised by his broken neck, perhaps the worm had no longer been able to operate its carriage and was now exiting the ‘crashed vehicle.’ Glory shivered at the analogy.

It’s nothing that will answer any questions, Phoenix assured her almost smugly. It resembled nothing so much as a huge bleached fluke or tapeworm, from its eyeless head to a ring of suckers under its leech-like mouth. There seemed to be no end in sight as the pallid thing elongated and condensed its glistening body, working to free itself from the corpse‘s mouth.

Some kind of pendant around Tom’s neck was dislodged by the thing’s gyrations. Careful to avoid contact with the worm or the greasy gray slime it exuded, Glory ripped the necklace from the man’s neck and jumped back. The effect on the worm was… startling; though perhaps it shouldn’t have been. It had been foolish to think that attempting to jerk the pendant away from the body wouldn’t alert the creature to her presence. The grotesque thing froze in its maneuvering, elongating the portion of its body that it had managed to free and questing for her with it like an antenna. It seemed to be able to tell where she was by some weird sense, its head homing in on her like the questing trunk of an elephant even as she took another step back. Kill it! Kill it now, Phoenix hissed. It’s of no use to you.

What is it? she demanded, uncertain.

A yugg, he replied with absolute disgust. If it touches you, it will bond with you, and I refuse to share this body with yet another being.

Glory hesitated only a moment before raising her hand and allowing Phoenix’s fire to spill into her palm. The thing, the yugg… by its actions, it had already shown itself to be a monster and indifferent to taking life. Even if Tom had allowed it to occupy his body, which given his weird conversation with himself, she couldn‘t be sure of, it had almost killed Fiona and had been trying to steal some kind of artifact from the museum. The thing shied away from her fire, but it had nowhere to go. Half of it was still trapped in Tom’s corpse. It screamed as it turned to ash, a keening sound that made her brain hurt. Though she half incinerated Tom‘s corpse, she didn’t let up until the screaming stopped.

to Book 6, page 6

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