by E. M. Gale
The Man truly reveals who and what he is on the inside...
|I open my eyes and focus in on my surroundings. It feels almost confining to be back in my body. I feel completely exhausted from using up so much energy and my stomach growls. I get up from the black leather couch and head into the kitchen. I open the first cupboard I see. Plates.
I look in the fridge and find some vanilla pudding. It surprises me to find that the Man doesn’t have any servants to make his food. Maybe he enjoys cooking. I wrinkle my nose at the thought. He doesn’t seem like that kind of guy that enjoys preparing his own meals.
I settle back down on the couch with my pudding and a spoon. I turn on the TV and flip through the channels. Nothing really sparks my interest. I stretch out horizontally on the couch and drift into an uneasy sleep.
I jerk awake a few hours later to the loud slam of the door. I peek over the edge of the couch to see the Man muttering to himself and pacing in front of the door. Most of the lights are off and his tall silhouette seems almost nonhuman. I curl up closer to myself, watching him.
Suddenly, he stops pacing and looks up towards me. His eyes seem to glow golden in the dim light. “It was you wasn’t it. You opened the cell doors and helped all my prisoners to escape. You caused the black out.”
“Yeah, I did. What are you going to do about it?” I reply smugly. The Man walks towards me. I leap to my feet. “Threatening me isn’t going to work, Eugene. I’m more powerful than you think I am. I could cut off all the electricity in the city if I had to. There is nothing you can do to make me cooperate. If you hook me up to a machine, I’ll just turn it against you. If you hurt someone that I love, I will fight harder against you. Give up, Eugene.”
“Well, maybe I’ve decided that I don’t nee…”
His words are cut off by a series of explosions that shake the building. I fall to the ground, hitting my arm against something hard. The Man grips the couch for support. In his momentary distraction, I zoom into the electrical system of the skyscraper to see what is going on. I race along the wires until I reach the outdoor security cameras.
A small group of people are gathered out front with a huge…canon!? Some of them are holding up a huge sign that reads:
Give Us Aekira
Or We Will Blow You Up!
I smile as I recognize Max, Jemimah, Fiona, Ed, and my father amongst the crowd. I return to my body and turn to the Man. “Well, here we go. I guess my time here is over. I’ll just be heading out. Bye!”
He scowls. “You aren’t going anywhere.”
“Oh, okay then. Let’s just wait here for the rebels to blow us up. I’m completely fine with that. At least I wouldn’t be here anymore. Tell the devil I said ‘hi’, okay?”
Another explosion hits the building. Plaster dust rains down on us. I get up and walk over to the office room. “I’m just going to call Max and let him know that you aren’t going to give in.”
The Man grabs my arm just as I am about to enter the office. “No, you are coming with me.”
His grey eyes flash golden again. I try to pull away from him. I hiss at him. “I’m not going anywhere with you!”
“Oh, yes, you are. You and I are going somewhere very far from here. Very, very far.”
I hesitate for a minute before relaxing. I sink into the wires once again. This time I force my energy out of the wires and into the open as radio and sound waves. I feel even more free and more powerful out here. I can here the calls and texts of a billion different people from all around the city, but I direct myself into Max’s phone in his pocket.
I type out my words to him. “Max, the Man is escaping. He is bringing me with him.”
Max takes out his phone and reads my message in surprise. He replies immediately. “Where is he going?”
“To the ground floor. He is entering a secret hangar in the back of the building. The code is 223576, and the entrance is through the fireplace in the lobby. Press the tile right above the vase of flowers. There is a small helicopter there. Don’t let him get away.”
I watch through the phone camera as Max selects a group of rebels including Ed and my father to go with him to the secret hangar. He types a quick message. “Hang on, we are coming.”
“Hurry, we have almost reached the helicopter.”
I return to my body in desperation. Maybe I can forestall the Man for a little while. “A get-away helicopter? Seriously?”
He ignores me and keeps walking. I wave my hand in front of his face. “Hello, is anyone in there?”
“Shut up and stop trying to distract me,” the Man hisses at me. His voice has gotten lower for some reason and more snake-like. His eyes are definitely glowing golden now. What in the world is happening!?
The Helicopter explodes in front of us, sending both of us flying backwards. I hit the ground hard and my back explodes with pain. What just happened. I hear footsteps and voices as if they are far away. My ears ring and my head pounds.
“Aekira…it’s going to be okay. We didn’t realize that the explosion would be that big,” someone says to my right. I can’t see anything. The explosion must have blinded me. “Hey, can you hear me? Aekira, raise your hand if you can hear me.”
I try to lift my hand, but my back aches in protest. I can’t feel or move anything without it hurting. What just happened? What is going on?
Ed and William carefully lift up Aekira’s limp body. Her father directs them to the wall. “I think she’s just in shock and in pain. I think she hit her back pretty hard when the explosion threw her and…”
A roar cuts him off. The whole group turns to where the Man is standing. Something is happening to him; something abnormal. His arms and legs begin to stretch, and his nail lengthen and sharpen. His skin turns green and scaly like a snake’s. His eyes loose their pupils and turn golden and glowing. An extra set of arms and a whip-like tail sprout from his contorting body.
When he finally finishes transforming, a twenty-foot, long-necked, snake-headed monster towers above them. His extra pair of arms are smaller and are crossed over a huge white crystal in the center of his chest. His two pairs of glowing eyes glitter as they look upon all the terrified faces of the gathered rebels. The monster smiles, showing off yellowed fangs. “Well, well, does the cat have your tongue? Or does my magnificence leave you all speechless?”
The monster’s voice is like a mix between a snake’s hiss, a man’s deep tones, and a cat’s growl. Aekira shivers in Ed and William’s arms. Ed clears his throat boldly. “What the hell are you?”
All four shining eyes on the beast focus in on him. “Ed, right? I like you. You’ve got guts. Now, hand over the android girl. I don’t want to have to dismember you in front of everyone.”
“I don’t care what you do to me. You are not getting Aekira!” Ed retorts. At the sound of her name, the girl stirs.
“Ed…” she mumbles weakly. With a snake-like smirk, the monster lunges for her, shoving her carriers aside like rag-dolls. “No!”
“Well, that was easier than I thought. I should’ve just done that in the first place,” the beast tells them all. One of his smaller arms clutches Aekira to the beast’s crystal almost protectively in its clawed hand. To their horror, a huge pair of dragon-like wings unfolds from his back. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed living amongst you all on this little planet of yours. Enjoy it while you can because it won’t belong to you for much longer.”
With a loud roar, he rips through the hangar’s ceiling as if it were made of aluminum foil. William and Max hold Ed back from chasing after it. Through the opening, they watch more similar monsters join the first and disappear into the sky.
Max looks at William. “What are we going to do now?”
“Wait and see what those things have in store for us,” the old man suggests.
“First, let’s get everyone to somewhere safe.”