By cbishop 2 Comments
RANKED 3rd BY VOTERS IN CHARACTER CREATION CONTEST #21!
|04/30/15||CB 1-Shots||The Heroine Revealed||(Blog) (Forum)||Disclaimer|
|T||Snakes, centipedes, and other things that crawl or slither. Physical violence.|
Finding a golden idol in the shape of a modern car wasn't the hardest job I've ever had, but it may very well have been the strangest. That is, it may have been, until I was approached by that little girl. "Clarissa!" she called. No one had called me that in years.
"Do I know you?" I asked the girl as she ran up to me.
"I'm Ana!" she said brightly. She leaned in and whispered, "I've got a message for you." A little amused, I smiled and she said, "Open the boot."
"I beg your pardon?" I was genuinely confused.
"Oh, right, Clarissa's an American. The 'trunk.' Open the trunk," insisted the girl.
I was a bit stupefied, and it must have showed, because she gave me a look that said, "Snap out of it, dummy," and with a jerk of her hand indicated the BMV parked on the street behind me. Not quite shaking my befuddlement, I looked toward the car for a moment, before I heard the girl turn to run away.
"Wait!" I called after her. She stopped only a few steps from me, and turned to look at me curiously. "How do you know me as 'Clarissa?'"
Just then, two dozen boa constrictors slithered across the street, passing around Clarissa and between her feet. Her pupils elongated horizontally, then turned like keyholes until they were vertical and she blinked sideways. "You delivered me and my clutch," she answered, and with that, her form melted into that of another boa constrictor, and she slithered away with her siblings.
I remembered that day with some disdain, as it's one of the few jobs I have been fired from. I scowled at the receding tangle of snakes for just a moment, before remembering the girl's message. I fished the keys from the pocket of my combat trousers, and felt their heft in my hand. Jangling them for a moment, I tossed them lightly, caught them, and hit the keyfob button for the trunk. It popped lightly.
I walked over, opened it gingerly, and all I found inside was a pure white cat with a really ugly black and orange collar. It looked at me and said, "Meow." It didn't meow at me. It actually said the word, "Meow." While I was processing that, it jumped in my arms, rubbed it's head against my shoulder, then promptly clawed me and jumped, hightailing it for the alley across the street. I thought it's collar pulled off as it jumped, but it turns out it wasn't a collar at all.
It was a centipede. A really big centipede. I hate centipedes. "A centipede," I gasped. "Why does it have to be a centipede?"
It was rolling sideways down my arm while I was having this moment of phobic hysteria, until it reached my wrist and curled around it like a charm bracelet, stopping its momentum. Something I was sure it shouldn't be able to do, but nor should it have been able to say, "I wasn't really given much of a choice in the matter. My wife was a bit unhappy with me at the time."
I screamed and smacked at it instinctively, only succeeding in causing its venomous spurs to dig deeper into my wrist, which only freaked me out more. So I did the sensible thing and slammed my wrist on the trunk lid a bunch of times, trying to kill Jiminy Cricket's ugly cousin, but only succeeding in slamming the trunk shut in my fervor. I probably would've kept going until the pain caused me to pass out, but inbetween poundings against the car, the centipede finally said, "Do <oof> you <oof>MIND!" He had a rather manly voice for such a small creature...I might have even called it debonair, if it wasn't coming from a freaking centipede! With a wild look on my face, I stared for several seconds at the thing clinging to my wrist like a bad memory. "You're quite lovely when you're manic, you know."
My chest heaved a couple of times, trying to keep down a scream, and I forced out, "What. do. you. WANT?!"
It looked up at me and said, "I need your help, luv."
My wrist still extended out as far in front of me as I could get it, I looked at the thing incredulously and said, "You have got to be kidding."
Several of the legs nearest the head seemed to shrug as he asked, "Why do you hate me so? You don't even know me."
I didn't really feel the need to explain myself to a bug - especially a bug I didn't even know - but my mouth opened unbidden, "It was my gap-year in Indonesia- I was envenomed by a giant centipede. I woke up in my tent to find a massive centipede crawling on my arm that looked exactly like you. That freaked me out, but what was worse was when the guide told us that each of its forty feet has a venomous spur on it. I was feverish and in constant pain for the next three days."
"Hm," the centipede fretted. "It hurt, then?"
"'Hurt?' Screw that. It felt as if someone had lathered up my skin with acid. It was that painful." Then I blinked hard and shook my head. "Why am I telling you this?" I felt a little woozy, and put my centipede free hand to my forehead.
"Yes, well, that would be me," he confessed. "My venom is a bit special. It compels you do whatever I want, including answering my questions."
I became a little unsteady. "That's reedorkylus," I slurred.
"Oh? Tell me, luv..."
"Stop cowlin' me dat," I interrupted. I wrinkled my nose at the words that wouldn't come out right.
"...Tell me," it repeated, "What's your favorite pants?"
"Combat troos...truss...the kind I'm warrin', ob'v'usly." I swayed a bit.
"Um-hm," it continued, "and you're afraid of me. Are you afraid of snakes?"
"I hander ven'm'us snakes on a reg'ar basis." I was trying to sound superior, but just then I was finding it really hard to do that and still stand up straight. "Perfess'r Jones really loves me f'r that." I smiled awkwardly and wobbled, stumbling back a couple of paces.
"I see. And what's your name?" he asked.
"Impurr...Emp'ror' Chess...no. No." Forgetting about the thing wrapped around my wrist, I stretched my arms closer to my sides, not quite touching, forcing myself to stand steady. I concentrated hard, and managed to say, "Impurest. Cheese."
"Your real name?"
"Eloise. Clayton," I answered, still forcing correct pronunciations from my mouth.
Sounding unnervingly charming, he asked, "Don't you mean 'Joanne,' luv?"
With that, a leotard and helmet of pink crystal formed around me, popping the centipede free of my wrist and bringing me to instant sobriety...and anger. "Only one person got to call me that, and you. are not. her! And I told you to stop calling me 'luv.' State your business bug, or I'm putting you in a coffee can until I figure out how to be rid of you for good."
"I don't think there's a coffee can big enough for me," he said, growing until he had become an eel.
I raised an eyebrow and smiled a cruel smile as the former centipede found it hard to breathe. It flopped back and forth on the pavement. "Having problems?" I mocked.
It grew again as it struggled, and became something larger and more mobile. He said, "Nothing Lugh the Wanderer can't overcome," and then he struck at me.
I flipped backwards, gracefully avoiding the strike and landing in a crouch, my tail whipping aggressively side to side. I hadn't been Katya in awhile. "Again, serpent: what do you want?" I growled.
He curled back on himself a bit, surprised to see my Princess Katya form. He tilted his head to one side and considered for a moment, then shifted his form again into the massive Dragon Eel of Macau. In response, I shifted from Katya to Jena Johansson, otherwise known as...
"Black Boxxxx!" the Dragon Eel hissed. "Then you do have what I am after!"
I gritted my teeth and asked, "And what would that be?"
"The golden mask of Ai Apaec! I must have it!" said the Dragon Eel.
I narrowed my eyes and asked, "Why?"
The Dragon coiled from side to side a bit, its head always staying centered towards me. He must have finally seen the futility in deception, as he gave in and answered, "My wife, Fea, gave me this ability to shapeshift long ago, when I was still a Viking named Ragnar. Over time, I have been all these things you've seen today, and more. She too has had many forms. She's currently in a temple in Peru, in her true form of Ai Apaec. She needs the mask to summon the Sea God, in order to save the Earth."
Still suspicious, I asked, "Save Earth from what?"
"Not what," he answered, "but who. The Orumcek are coming."
On hearing that name, I shifted from Black Box to a Valkyrie dressed in Middle Ages armor with a steampunk flair. "Get in the car," I said.
"Turn into that Viking you mentioned," I said, and hit the keyfob to unlock the doors.
The Dragon Eel seemed to coil upon itself as its form compressed and shifted into the form of a Viking warrior. "Ragnar, at your service," he said, his voice finally matching his visage. Swifter than I'd have thought, he closed the distance between us, grabbed me by the throat and lifted me off of the ground. "I think I'll just take that mask though, if you don't mind."
Both of my hands on his wrist, I leveraged myself enough to be able to say, "I'll...tell you...for...a kiss."
"HA! A kiss?" he roared. "I'm a Viking, wench! Do you think I don't know the power of a Valkyrie's kiss?" He slammed me against the car, and through gritted teeth said, "Tell me where the mask is!"
As he loosened his grip enough for me to talk, I took a few deep breaths and answered, "It's in the trunk."
"Do you think me a fool, woman? That's where you found me, remember? There was nothing in that trunk but me and that cat!"
"Yes, and some other time, you must tell me how you came to be there, but the mask is there also. It's in the spare tire compartment, under the floor." I held up one hand and jangled the keys before popping the trunk again.
Ragnar dragged me by the neck to the rear of the car, and with his free hand he started pawing at the floor of the trunk. Needing his other hand, he set me down and shoved me backwards before continuing to rip at the flooring.
I regained my composure, enjoying the free flow of air again, and looked down the street to see a couple of dozen kids and their sister running from the alley. Ana stopped in the middle of the street and waved at me before continuing after her brothers and sisters. As I waved back, Ragnar, his head half in the trunk, bellowed, "I see your many forms have taught you to be sneaky, luv!"
My steampunk armor shifted to bone, and a scythe appeared in my hand. "You know what else my many forms taught me?" I asked as I swept his feet with the scythe, tumbling him into the trunk. I pinned him down with the scythe, and as he looked at me in surprise, I recited, "'Meta, Dermis, Auricus.'" He turned to gold, and I slammed the lid down.
Shifting once more into combat trousers and a tank top, my scythe became a hand bow, which I tossed into the passenger seat as I got in. I pulled a cell phone from the console and made a call. "This is Siwang. Make some room in storage for a life sized golden statue, and find me that mask with the golden tentacles. It's somewhere near the Book of Secrets. I'm going to Peru. Right, Peru. Be there shortly." I hit the end button and tossed the phone next to the hand bow. I started the BMV, it lifted off the ground, and I was off to save the world. Again.
|Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cb||Originally Presented In: CCC #21.|