This story is by Tom Chambless and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Afraid for his life, Poony ran down a street in the University District after dawn. The District filled Wirishiem City between the Royal Palace walls and the river. Two-story homes lined the street and cast shadows from the rising sun. A flying imp creature, under the control of the insane Elven Goddess Maki, chased him.
His bare feet slapped stone, and he pivoted, searching. The creature could vanish and reappear.
Poony ran down the damp, stone street, panting but not stopping. Poony’s pointed, broken right ear flopped as he ran. He checked the sky over his shoulder again. He panicked, unsure of a destination.
“Where are you?” He asked aloud searching clouds and rooftops. A shadow between buildings meant concealment. Dashing in there, he bent putting hands on knees to catch his breath.
In the stillness of the morning calm, the citizens of Wirishiem City slept. They did not yet understand the cruelty of rule under the winged Elve Maki, gone mad since her rebirth. He and others organized a resistance. Since Poony headed the opposition, Maki wanted him dead.
It materialized over him in the shadow. Those terrible bat-like wings came slapping above his head. Poony bolted into the street, out into the light.
It passed, and he ducked. The mad, dark-haired Goddess Queen used its eyes and regulated its every move. The imp’s wings whooshed past his head again, and he swatted.
It turned. The small, horrid face of the part-bat and part-human child bared its long teeth and drooled. It curled up while hovering, beating its batwings fast, and readied to lunge.
Poony shot out a hand and grabbed the child devil’s thin wrist. It twisted in his grip much stouter than he expected. Its wings beat rearward, dragging Poony down the street on his feet. The imp kicked at his hand holding its wrist.
It curled around and bit his arm!
Poony pushed the imp’s forehead back as its hind claws kicked and slashed at his stomach. It’s teeth sunk deeper. He let go of its wrist, and it stopped biting. It hovered. His blood ran down the corners of its lips.
A plump chunk of flesh hung flopping on his arm and blood poured. Slices in his stomach bled.
Its nostrils flared, and it snarled and bared its needle-sharp teeth. And it hissed. Its wings picked up speed. The imp curled, whipping its rat-like tail. It showed its long hind claws for another strike. As he held his bleeding arm, Poony crouched ready to duck.
It shot straight as an arrow for his neck.
He did not outmaneuver it but managed to get his hands on its pale shoulders to push it. The imp’s full-toothed, gaping mouth pressed forward overpowering him. He could not stop its advance. The imp’s teeth found his neck and chewed his neck’s small vein. It mouthed and chewed an oval oozing wound to suck. He gripped a fistful of hair and pulled. It dug the claws on its prehensile feet into his belly.
It sucked and gulped his blood. He spun around in circles trying to pull its head back by its hair. He pushed its forehead trying to get its mouth off his neck.
How can I win her? No. That’s not it. How can I gain her trust? He grew weak, but he understood as he fell to his knees. Love her.
He turned to the child-like horror drinking his blood and kissed its nose. “Drink all you want,” he said and stroked its hair. He fell to the stone street on his side and hit his head. The imp rode him down. “Get your belly full,” he said.
He scraped his forehead on the stone when he fell, and it bled. The imp’s red blood-tinged lips clung to him, and its large red-streaked eyes met his. Its breath blew hot on his neck.
Poony sobbed and stroked her blond hair. His chest hitched. “You are my daughter, and I love you,” he said. He thrashed his head and pounded his fist on the stone. “I hate Maki!” He cried “Look what she did to you! But you can fight her, Lin. Fight her in your head.” His vision wavered.
With the cruelest of strokes, Maki sent his daughter to kill him.
He stroked her hair and sobbed. She pulled her mouth from his neck, and their eyes met. Blood dripped from her little chin. “You are Lin,” he said.
“Lin,” her child’s voice said. Lin’s eyes shifted left and right as if she listened to an internal voice. She scowled. “Maki says kill Poony!” She sunk her teeth into Poony’s neck again.
“AAA! Damn!” Poony gritted his teeth. “That’s it. Fill your belly. I love you.”
She paused again and raised. Blood had matted in her short blond hair. “Love… imp?” A blood drop sprayed from her lips.
Poony wiggled over onto his back and took Lin’s face into his hands. “Daughter,” he said. “Not an imp, daughter.” He had to convince her to fight Maki.
Her face softened and became more like Poony’s daughter, with soft lips and yellow eyes. But the batwings still beat, and her claws remained in his torso. Maki’s voice came to her, and she shook her small head. The imp returned.
“Kill Poony!” Her blond eyebrows glowered, and her lips peeled revealing sharp teeth.
Poony grabbed her, pulled her wild mouth to his, and kissed her hateful bloody lips. She jerked back. The imp shook her shoulders as if fighting internal demons. Poony gripped her hand. She beat her wings pulling against him. She pulled him into a sitting position. He wrapped her in his arms, holding and calming her fluttering wings.
He stroked her back between her wings, “Shhhh. It’s okay. Calm down. I must lay down. Shhh. I’m too weak to sit. Shhh,” Poony said stroking her. Lin let Poony calm her. She let go and squatted beside him.
“Don’t listen to Maki. Maki stole you. You are my Lin, not imp,” Poony said, his voice trailing. She frowned. Poony recognized the look. Lin paid attention to Maki’s voice in her head.
Lin turned Poony’s head to find a fresh place to bite. She bent and opened her mouth. Her needle-like teeth stretched long.
“Our pond,” Poony muttered.
She paused. Dried blood had crusted on Lin’s cheeks and chin. Poony wanted to wet a rag and clean her face.
“Poony’s pond,” she said.
“Yes, Lin, your mother’s words. Our pond beside our home.” Recognition shined in her eyes. He gained a second wind. He sat up. “You remember, don’t you! You, your mother, and me, we all played in the water. You loved it! You laughed and laughed!” Poony coughed.
She stared at the street. During her faraway look, a small smile turned up at the corner of her lips.
“I would put you on my shoulders… launch you off, and into your mother’s arms!” he said gesturing, coughing up some blood. Poony weaved and braced with a hand to stay upright.
Lin’s face changed again, became soft. Her teeth shrank into her head. Her child’s face and lips returned. “Fun!” she said smiling. “It was fun,” she said looking away. Remembering.
“We laughed, and loved,” Poony said.
“Love,” Lin said nodding. She looked up. “Love Pa.”
Her wings disappeared. Her sinewy limbs softened, and the hairy, rat tail vanished. Lin became Lin again. On his knees, Poony eased her to him.
She reached for him.
He enclosed her in his arms and put his cheek on her soft blond head. He cried. His shoulders shook as he sobbed. Lin cuddled closer and laid her little face on his shoulder. Poony kissed her forehead, and she turned up to him. Drops of tears fell from her yellow eyes. Poony wiped her tears and kissed her, and Lin kissed him back.
“Love Pa,” she said.
He held her, and she embraced him throwing her arm around his neck.
Poony put one foot on the street and struggled to stand. “Ship. Doctor. Must get to the ship in the river. Come,” he said. She stepped back, and he reached for her hand.
But then she changed. Her impish red-streaked eyes returned. She smiled a pointy-toothed smile as she gripped Poony’s hand. “No! My way, Pa.”
The imp hadn’t left her, and he stiffened. She clutched his hand and held tight. They stared into each other’s eyes.
He relaxed, realizing Lin controlled the demon, and somehow, Maki. His little girl displayed remarkable inner strength and willpower. As he calmed, a pleased smile came over Lin’s face. She loved him, and Poony had never been prouder. If she could fight this hard for him, then he would accept her, without conditions.
If Maki retaliated? They would defeat her.
“Yes, your way,” he said. Poony covered her small hand with both of his.
“Go to ship,” she said.