Catching the beast is easy. But then? Winner of Weekly SCREAMS!!! 11.19.21.
|The End of the Game
Fair Warning: If you do not wish to have your imagination infected with horrible visions, do not look up the definitions of the two relevant words in this story.
Well, I have the thing trapped now. The problem of what to do with it remains but at least it can’t escape while I consider my next move. I only wish it hadn’t said that about it being the last of its species. It would be a terrible burden to be the cause of the extinction of a creature on this earth.
But can I believe it? After all, there’s no reason to suppose such a thing would be truthful. From what little we know of them, it would be entirely of their nature to be practised liars. It would be reasonable to assume the entire genus as having absolutely no acquaintance with the truth. The problem is that we know so little of such things. For all I know, I’m the first to actually capture one of them and have the chance to study it.
Perhaps that’s what I should do, keep it until I know enough about it to make a reasoned judgement on its ultimate fate. That would surely be better than having a knee jerk reaction to its appearance and reputation by killing it.
And how am I to keep it alive? I have no idea what it eats. Well, that’s not entirely true - I know the old stories of what it feeds on. Maybe that is how it receives sustenance - through the terror and revulsion of its victims. Feeding off fear, that would fit perfectly with its reputation.
Or is that just a tale invented as a response to the ugliness of the thing? It does, after all, look like it turned itself inside out and walks around with internal organs hanging off it. I nearly puked when I first saw it. It would be no surprise to learn that something that ugly would have to live by…
No, I don’t want to think about that. If that’s what it needs to survive, then it either makes do with what I can offer it or it dies of starvation. There’s no way I’m acting as that repulsive thing’s pimp.
It can have the leftovers from whatever I happen to be eating on the day. And water. Presuming it needs to drink. I’ll leave it a while though. Don’t think I can stand looking at the revolting thing just yet. Need to have a rest and a bite to eat first.
Okay, got all those leftovers packed away in the covered tray with a sealed carafe of water on the side. Ready to face the thing again. Unlock the door to the basement, open it and slide through quickly, locking it behind me. And down the stairs to the cage.
Rather proud of that cage. Looks like it’s made of the usual iron bars but there’s much more to it than that. Electrified for a start. And held in the grip of my own invention, the Beaumont Field Generator that does the real work of containing the beast. Nothing can get through that.
And there it is, crouching in the middle of the cage and watching me. Staying that far from the bars, it must have found out about their extra properties already. Must admit, I get some form of satisfaction, thinking of the umm, surprise, it must have had when it first touched the bars. I can’t help it, the thought is spreading a grin across my features.
“Enjoy it now. When I get out, you won’t find that so funny.”
The creature’s voice was filled with loathing, low, growling with a hatred so intense that the very air dripped with it. I stopped smiling.
“I have decided to feed you,” I said. “Don’t know what you eat but there’s some of my own food on the tray and some water too.”
It said nothing so I placed the tray carefully on the turntable and stepped back to the control panel. I pressed the appropriate button and the table swung through the narrow slot that opened up so that the food was now inside the cage.
The beast regarded the tray and my delivery contraption with total disgust and disdain. “I’ll not eat that shit,” it said, still in the same quiet but menacing tone.
I shrugged. “Then starve,” I replied.
It shifted its cold gaze to me. “I’m going to enjoy eating you. Not that you’re my usual fare but I’ll make an exception on this occasion, just to show you my appreciation of your hospitality. You have a real treat awaiting you in the future.”
“Have to get out of the cage first. And that’s not going to happen.”
The beast regarded me in silent hatred for a while, then began to rise until it stood at its full height and disgusting glory. The head had fairly recognisable features, two eyes where they should be and a lipless mouth, dripping with pus, but there was no nose and the skin hung in folds that drooped down to its neck. It was hairless and the body covered in dangling objects that swayed and shivered with the creature’s every movement. The legs were powerful but seemed skinless, appearing like those drawings of the muscles of the human anatomy, and between them hung some disgusting appendages that may have been genitals. The arms were similar to the legs, both in having no outer covering and being very obviously immensely strong. In total, the beast was easily eight feet tall, the top of its skull mere millimetres from the bars that completed the cage.
I wondered whether I’d made a mistake in deciding to keep the creature for study. If the Beaumont Field wasn’t as secure as I’d thought, I might be in deep trouble.
As if it had read my thought, the beast moved forward until it was close to the bars. Then it raised its hands (I suppose I must call them that although they had only a passing resemblance to ours) and seemed about to grasp the bars. The hands hovered, almost touching the cage. I held my breath and the creature’s mouth curled into a ghastly grin.
“Not yet,” it said. “Let’s play with the idiot first.”
It turned and walked back to the centre of the cage. Now with its back to me, it sat and became immobile.
Feeling slightly humiliated as though I’d been dismissed, I left the basement without further interaction.
The next day, I was the one to open discussion with the creature. I swapped food trays, noting that the weight of the previous day’s indicated that it had not been touched, and embarked upon my planned interrogation.
“Is it true that you’re the last of your species?”
The beast gave vent to a bark that may have been its version of a laugh. “You’ll not offend me with four-letter words,” it spat. “I am offence.”
It was a few seconds before I understood the reference. Apparently the word “true” was profane to this creature. That might prove useful knowledge at some stage. I goaded it.
“Ah, so it was a lie, then.”
I have never seen a look with as much contempt as it favoured me with at this. “I do not waste my time in word games,” it said. “I am the last of my kind and don’t care whether you believe that or not.”
“So why did you tell me that then?” I thought I had it there.
“Because I know your kind,” it replied. “You soft little worms have the effrontery to think you can decide who lives and dies on your stinking planet, as if you were in charge of anything. Powerless turds that you are, you wallow in your own filth, never noticing that you control nothing. I had you on the point of opening the cage when you suddenly ran upstairs.”
It was silent for a moment and then added, “And I can do it again, anytime I want.”
Unreasoning fear clutched my heart at this. What if it were true and it could bend me to its will by appealing to my human sensibilities? I knew only too well that I was wavering in my intent to keep it in the cage and had saved myself only by getting away from the thing. But this was falling into the same trap. I must be more wary, more aware of the evil design in its words.
“By telling me this, you enable me to steel myself against any persuasion you might bring,” I told it.
It sneered. “So? I have many ways of defeating your pathetic plans. Like this, for instance.”
It bent forward and released a hot breath of fetid air in my direction. I reeled backwards in the blast, my consciousness fighting to remain alert and keep me on my feet. A wave of nausea assailed my senses and weakened me even further. I held on grimly and began to recover.
Then he spat at my face, aiming the yellowing pus that his mouth seemed to secrete directly at my eyes. I was just quick enough to protect myself with a hand but the pus began to eat at my skin with a burning sensation. I wiped the vile stuff off with a cloth that lay nearby, noting how wisps of smoke arose as it contacted the material. Acidic saliva was much more than I’d bargained for. It was time to get out while I still could.
I staggered towards the staircase and began to climb. The beast’s barking laughter followed me every step of the way.
It was clear that the thing was well beyond my calculations. I was merely a plaything to it, a way to pass the time before it resumed its terrible and disgusting lifestyle. The very idea of caging and studying it was a folly likely to result in my doom and I should end this idiocy immediately. The thing must die.
But how? Previously, I had imagined that a bullet from a reasonably powerful firearm would do the trick and I had a primed and loaded elephant gun ready in my study. Now it looked as if that would not be anything like enough. I must come up with a better solution. And fast.
I pondered the matter long into the night and much of the next day. Yet it was hopeless. I had no knowledge of creatures with the powers possessed by this creature and neither did Google, despite the wild fantasies concocted by the more gullible of our species. It was pure guesswork as to what would kill such a monster.
In the end, I decided that it was best to do nothing. I would leave the house and take an extended holiday somewhere far away. Let the beast starve to death in its cage and regret in its final moments that it had not been more amenable to me. Let it suffer as I had suffered in the past twenty-four hours.
And I would get some satisfaction from telling it of my decision, allowing it to consider the foolishness of revealing to me its true intentions. Yes, I wanted to shake that brute confidence by detailing how it would die, in desperate hunger and driven mad by its failing strength. I needed to see in its eye the awareness that I had won.
I headed down to the basement.
It was seated in its usual position, the middle of the cage, and watching me as I descended the steps. I stood in front of it and prepared to deliver my speech on its doom. It didn’t wait that long.
“Took your time, didn’t you?” it sneered. Then it rose and pointed a dry, cracked talon at me. “We are both tired of the game, it seems. Now hold still while I deal with this cage of yours.”
A coldness grabbed me and squeezed at my heart. I tried to move away from the cage but found that I was frozen in place. The beast had somehow deprived me of movement. I could do nothing but watch as it approached the bars, gripped them with both hands, the sparks and green glow of the Beaumont Field radiating from its body and lighting up the furthest corners of the basement, and pulled the bars apart effortlessly. The field generator exploded and died and the lights blinked several times before returning to strength. The creature stepped through the destruction and stood before me.
“Before we get to business,” it said, “let’s clear up this thing about extinction. Yes, I’m the last of my breed but I always was. There’s only ever been one of me, you see. Oh, your stupid myths and legends have it that there are many of my kind, I know this. Amazing how tales will grow in the telling over the years. Terribly sorry, but it was all me, all along.”
It bent closer then, its face mere inches from mine so that I could smell the vile stench of its breath. “And you know what I am, don’t you?”
As those eyes bored into mine, I found that I could speak. “Incubus,” I squeaked.
“Yes, yes,” he replied. “Incubus. The male variety of succubus. And we know what the succubus gets up to, don’t we?”
I had just enough motor power in my neck to nod weakly.
The beast barked once, then continued, “So you’ll have a pretty good idea of how an incubus gets his jollies on, won’t you?”
I wished silently for death.
Word count: 2,247
For Weekly SCREAMS!!! Deadline 11.19.21
Prompt: The last of its species