(Pheeew! After 2 weeks and some of no posts, here is an extremely hectic new chapter for you guys to read. Once again, no user questions, mainly because it has to blend into the next chapter before I can start getting feedback on different directions the story can go.
If you dare.
Max twitched sporadically, split between moving and not.
He wanted nothing more than to go hug Lynn.
Hug her close. Kiss her with all the love that he could muster. Apologize until he lost his voice.
Never was there someone who could counter his impulses and temper his behavior. She was everything to him, and he hated hurting her feelings.
And the fact that Sera had witnessed everything…
That was what hurt him the worst. His baby girl, flesh and blood. Now scared of him. Max, the one who should protect her from the twistedness of the world.
The pain he felt was almost unbearable. Despite wanting to go after Lynn and Sera, he needed to rest.
Luckily for him, many of the people had begun to leave the area. The events of the day, with the rogue Handyman and the minor Vox annoyance ending in a brutal end had robbed the crowds of stamina.
So, with the sun starting to set into the distant lands below in a sea of orange and red, Max moved to a cleared bench off to the side. In the Pleasure Island carnival-esque area, there was a section set aside specifically for exhausted patrons to relax in the shade.
It was a cute little grassy park with several evergreens stretching upwards towards the bright sun, generously shading a series of iron benches set in the green below. Max half-dragged himself to an open bench, one next to a small bunch of lily pads and roses. With a comical plop, he set himself onto the metal chair, wincing slightly as the metal dug into his muscle.
Max took a glance at the bench before shutting his eyes to relax a bit. At least until he was calmed down enough to find Lynn at the ride.
The bench was extremely intricate, with the arms twisted and curled into elaborate forms. But Max was never a huge fan of metalwork. To him it looked garish and ugly, like if a super baby had decided to bend steel rods just for fun and this was the end result.
But at least it served its purpose well, and for that he was thankful. Suddenly, he felt a small tug on his pants leg. Warily, he opened one eye and looked down.
It was a little girl. Dressed in a small flowering dress and bonnet, she couldn’t have been older than 5. She looked cheery, but nervous at the same time; her tiny hand gripping his clothes in a tight vice.
“Mister, can I borrows a dime? My Mommy told me to call help if she’s gone.”
This wasn’t the first time a little kid had asked for dimes before. The part of the city he taught at was a notorious poverty zone, and almost every day the children in his class would swarm him.
Either for pocket change or the occasional bubblegum that hadn’t slipped out of his pocket during the SkyLine trip. But this little girl was beyond frightened.
Instinctively he knew that she had never been away from her parents before. How she was keeping from exploding into wails baffled him.
With a slight chuckle, he rubbed the little girl’s hair, messing up her bonnet in the process. The girl giggled, calming down significantly and loosening her grip on his pants. He pulled out a dime from his coat pocket, twirling the piece of metal in his fingers.
“Tell you what. If I give you the dime, can you get me a flower? I don’t know a thing about flowers, but you seem to be an expert on the bestest best flowers in the whole world.”
The girl giggled harder, letting go of his clothes. Max gently tossed the coin to her and the girl gave him a wobbly curtsey before running off. In the corner of his eye, he saw the girl clamor to one of the big telephone booths surrounding the area, comically trying to insert the coin into the slot while balancing the heavy phone in her hands.
Suddenly Max began to get light headed.
He felt like his head was filled with hydrogen. Almost like if he had drunk too much brandy all at once.
It wasn’t a bad feeling, actually being quite pleasant by itself.
But there was a sense of urgency. Of malaise.
Blinking several times, he could see gray patched start to shimmer in the setting in front of him. Parts of the sky and carnival had begun to jump and jitter, like the horrible snow that plagued the antique televisions scattered all over the floating fortress.
A popcorn stand flickered in the gray snow, the vendor selling the snack blissfully unaware of the effect. Max could see shapes and forms in the gray that overlaid the stand. The shapes underneath twisted and reformed, as if in continuous motion.
Finally the shapes settled for a second, and he could now see glimpses of what looked like a rip in a curtain. It was a dark area, dark even for the gray snow. He could hear faint screaming, but he wasn’t sure if it was in his mind….or if the hole was more than just a hole. He saw a small figure squirming under the grip of what looked like a hooked, whip-like monster.
A beak-like face chattering in insane laughter as its victim tried to pull away. Suddenly a shrill shriek sounded as a massive beast charged at the spidery figure. With an arm trapped in a wasp’s stinger, he could only catch as it swung the weapon at the figure terrorizing the small form.
The gray scene shut off immediately, with only the faded echo of a gargled cry, followed by the twisted gnarl of steel on flesh and bone. The noise alone was enough to jar him.
Max was torn at the sight he had just witnessed. The rational side of him was split between either shrugging it off or panicking worse than a spooked horse.
However, the dominating drugged up feeling he had made him not care in the least bit. It was just images.
He was daydreaming. Nothing less, and nothing more.
Yet…he still didn’t know what the gray spots where. His vision had begun to clear up slightly, but as the gray orbs began to vanish, a wave of nausea hit him.
A sharp searing noise hit him all at once; extremely loud.
But not painful.
It crackled in his head much like the snow that dominated the gray spots. A thin voice, feminine and young, struggled to make itself heard in the reverberating chaos echoing in his cranium.
The voice was jumbled and the words barely audible. He was vaguely aware that the air around him had shifted.
It had been warm merely minutes before, with the falling sun casting a warm, gentle glow over everything as it descended.
But now it was cold.
Beyond cold though.
It was as if ice was creeping into his very veins. The remaining people where acting normally, laughing and telling stories and jokes to each other as they did every morning in the vast city in the sky.
He could almost sense his breath coming out in a fog. Him blowing smoke in a fireless vision.
The voice then turned to him, and he could now hear it clearly.
The voice spoke now only to him, and it was anything but jovial.
“Get out of there….too late….evil beasts…kill...”
The frozen feeling in his veins intensified, and he could feel shards starting to pull out of his skin. Flashes of red appeared, even though there was nothing actually wrong with him.
The sky was now dark.
Darker than normal night.
Murmurs began to happen around him as the people surrounding Max had begun to notice the changes as well. Several children had begun to whimper, and the stands had begun to light up with artificial light.
The voice garbled in Max’s head grew frantic, nearly screaming.
“TOO LATE! TOO LATE….Rishy...RISHY!”
Suddenly Max was hit with a bolt of pain. His spine jerked, almost breaking in half as his body instinctively reacted to the jolting agony.
It was like a tongue of fire had drilled into his body and stunned him with an electrical shock. It was beyond any level of pain he had ever felt before, and he could feel heat digging into his body as the pain started crawling into his skull.
The euphoric sensation had been stripped away, leaving instead instinctive fear and the overwhelming need to run.
But he couldn’t.
His body wouldn’t respond…and then he looked up at the Ferris wheel.
A loud noise of sheering metal boomed through the sky, causing the people below to scream. Lightning, a very rare occurrence due to the high elevation, ricocheted through the sky, leaving blue and yellow charges of power through it like the inky darkness had been hacked away by uneven blades.
A low chortling laugh echoed clear, and he felt like fingers had begun to stroke and caress the folds of his brain.
It then spoke in a whispering taunt as the sky began to buckle and ripple like waves in the uniform darkness.
“You can’t stop me. Nothing can stop me. You may be big news to her, but I’ll make sure you’ll never get the chance to work her bidding!”
The sky tore apart and a massive beast emerged.
Its entire body rippled, as if it wasn’t exactly there. But the shape was familiar and daunting.
A massive bird.
Darker than even the Devil’s most submerged dungeons.
With eyes deep and red.
Max watched as the beast flew through the air on giant stiff wings, dipping and rising as if made of clouds.
He then watched as it flew to the Ferris wheel, where it grabbed the inner most spokes in an appendage much like a human hand.
Screams arose from the wheel, and Max suddenly froze in place.
With a roar, he snapped his paralysis and stumbled to the wheel. However, crowds of people left over from the day had started to stampede in an effort to get away.
Max could only watch as the creature tore through the metal, and the ride, the proud symbol of joy in Columbia, began to fall.
With inhuman strength, he managed to fling people aside and run the speed of a madman to get to the ride.
The wheel slammed into the ground below, setting off flames in a torrential torrent as wild power lines triggered the energy to build and burst.
Max screamed, desperate to find Sera and Lynn.
He was a fool! A stupid, inconsiderate fool!
He knew he should have been with them!
The bird stood high on the base of the wheel, screeching loudly in triumph. With clawed feet, it then kicked away the metal it stood on, flinging it onto the crowds below.
Max was surrounded by flames of the wreckage.
He could see dozens of people screaming alongside him.
Several where alit, their faces burning and clothes fueling the flames that tore into their bodies.
In the chaos, he saw the little girl in the flowery dress he helped earlier.
She had lost her bonnet, and her face had been burned severely.
In her hand was a small rose…the same rose she had promised to give to Max. He wanted to go to her, to protect her. But before he could, a noise chilled him to the core.
A whistling sound above him alerted him.
And he looked up.
A railing from the wheel was speeding towards him.
Steel as big and wide as one of the elephants at the Fink Zoo.
He could only watch as the metal slammed into him, the metal pinning him in half on the ground below.
Max couldn’t think.
He was only vaguely aware of blood shooting out from his form.
And that he couldn’t feel, let alone move his lower body.
Shadows where dancing, people’s screams fading.
There was darkness threatening to swallow him whole.
He looked up and saw a hand. A dainty hand dripping in blood, tipped with a single ring made of gold and ruby.
The wedding ring he had given Lynn.
Tears pooled down his face as he started convulsing, feeling the life literally leak out.
He was barely aware of a beating noise hovering above him, and of a large, warm object wrapping itself around him, gently lifting him out of the trap.
All he could do, before he blacked out, is cry. And repeat only one, single word.