Robert Kolson looked into the demon’s eyes and felt nothing. The Irises still glowed orange with the remnants of hellfire, and the musk of sulfur still hung in the air. The Demon snarled at the middle-aged man baring large yellow fangs, a decidedly frightening contrast to its charcoal black skin. Kolson dunked the last remains of his already soggy chocolate donut into his still steaming black coffee and took a bite.
The middle-aged Robert, still groggy from sleep, took a long sip of his coffee and let out a sigh. The creature made a lunge for him but was held in place by the thick chains wrapped around its limbs. They were connected to long Erthiduine tracks running along the floor keeping him from escaping. Taking his time to set his coffee down Robert grabbed his baton, and flipped the switch causing a surge of green electricity to surge through the weapon and ended in a small globe at its tip.
“You gonna calm down or am I gonna have to use this?” Robert asked the creature, unimpressed. The demon bared his teeth once more, yanking the mystical chains keeping him in place. It barely had time to let out another scream before Robert stabbed at the beast’s ribs. A surge of emerald lightning webbed its way across the creature’s massive frame, searing its demonic flesh. The icy black frame was now covered with an intricate thin pattern of cauterized swollen flesh oozing molten blood. From that point on, the demon was more cooperative.
Kolson looked out at the long line of creatures marching through processing. It seemed like every day there were more monsters, demons, mad gods and would-be galactic destroyers trudging their way between the Erthiduine tracks.
“Robbie, you lookin’ kinda sleepy there bud! You look like you almost didn’t enjoy that!”
Robert turned to see a man towering head and shoulders above him, a wild bushy auburn beard erupting from his face. If it wasn’t for the black uniform complete with the golden shield and spear badge of the Cataclysmic Prevention Agency he might’ve belonged on the tracks himself. Kolson tried to let out an amused grunt but it was lost in last night’s cold pizza and warm beer.
“So who was that?”
“Does it matter Bill? You saw him. Some demon or something.”
The bearded man laughed and shook his head, before bringing his own steaming cup of coffee to his lips. The two men stood in silence for a few moments, appreciating a relatively slow day at the Agency. Creatures of every different shade, and mold from every reaches of the cosmos trudged along the long narrows pathways of Erthiduine tracks, their footsteps jangling with every step.
A tall slender blue skinned creature marched towards them though he somehow managed to walk more upright than the others. The march stopped for a moment, giving Robert and Bill ample time to study the prisoner. While the creature was indeed a deep dark blue, its skin slick with a shiny mucous-like substance, the creature was also a solid white underneath his chin, and down his neck. The top part of his chest gradually faded to navy blue.
Compared to the other prisoners, the creature’s shape wasn’t particularly unusual. As a bipedal, four limbed, one-headed creature it didn’t exactly turn heads sandwiched between the sludge-like plasma creatures made of comets and the thousand limbed monstrosities of the Havalik sector.
The creature turned towards Robert and blinked, tilting its head in curiosity. Robert instinctively went for his baton, never taking his eyes off the creature’s giant, dinner plate sized obsidian eyes. As he looked into the creature’s shining onyx eyes he noticed a series of faint white glowing orbs illuminating the nightly landscape. The longer he looked, the more of the lights appeared in the creature’s eyes. They danced, swirled and enticed. The lights shifted colors from blue to red to green, fading from one shade to the next in a slow waltz.
“Why do they want to hurt me?”
Robert heard a voice, a child’s. The soft innocent tone penetrated through the deep black expanse illuminated only by the soft glow of multi-colored stars. Long brown grasses swaying with the soft eastern winds replaced the pounding, barbaric stomps of prisoners. The officer reached for his baton only to realize that it was missing. He felt naked without it.
“Why do you want to hurt me?”
The child’s voice echoed through his head once more. Robert whipped his head around searching for the source of the heartbreaking question.
With that question, Robert turned around and was face to face with the towering azure skinned creature. The creature’s face and neck seemed to flow together seamlessly, as if its head and body were one single mash of blue and white flesh. Its large black eyes shimmered with liquid though whether they did that naturally or the creature was crying Robert couldn’t say for sure.
Dressed in long regal green and black robes, tied together with a red silk sash giving the indication that the creature was royalty, it looked down at Robert with hurt sunken eyes. A quivering lip was all it took to realize that the creature was a child; afraid and confused.
“You don’t need to be afraid. I’m going to protect you,” Robert responded feeling his back straighten. He didn’t believe it even as he said it but for the child’s sake he needed it to be true. He was the hero after all.
“What have we done?”
“I…” Robert’s words were lost.
“Why are you hurting us?”
The question seemed so innocent but it dripped with accusation. The truth was, Robert never considered why. They were all monsters in the eyes of the world; it was beyond his pay grade to question it. They were the good guys after all.
“Are we the bad guys?” the child asked using a pair of long-fingered hands ending in suction cup tips to mash away at his own tears.
Robert struggled to find his voice. Of course they were the bad guys. How could he say that to a child though?
“I’m not a bad guy.”
The voice stated in a defiant way only a child could manage. The voice was stubborn. Silly foolish child, of course you were the bad guy.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about kid.”
“I’m not a bad guy! You can’t prove it!”
Robert’s fists were clenched in a vice, trying to force the tips of his fingers through the palms of his hands. He felt the color drain from his weathered face, seeping from his balding scalp of wispy black hairs to the worn out soles of his calloused feet.
“You don’t understand anything!” Robert spat with unchecked rage.
The screamed allegation was met only by a soft whispering wind. Robert ground his teeth trying to keep the rage from subsiding. He tried to see the monster beyond the child.
“You destroy worlds, enslave the masses and sink our reality into madness. You’re nothing but chaos!” Robert screamed into the empty night air.
He listened to the sound of his raging hollow breathing, his chest rising and falling in drastic waves. Silence gradually eased his breathing back to normalcy as he realized that he was screaming at a confused child. He sank to his knees and stared out at the waves of grasses.
He couldn’t remember ever questioning the creatures that marched along the erithudine tracks. It was such a simple matter after all. The heroes defeated the monsters and saved everyone. That was how it always was. They were the good guys and the beasts that were led shackled in mystic otherworldly chains were the bad guys. Innocence wasn’t even a question. He was doing his part to keep the universe safe. They were the good guys.
It took a moment for Robert to realize that the child was gone.
“Where are you?” Robert found himself asking the night.
Robert swallowed hard, forcing himself to keep from panicking.
“I’m… I’m sorry. Please come back”
He wasn’t sure what he was apologizing for but it seemed like the right thing to do.
“I shouldn’t have yelled… I… I don’t even know your name.”
The statement stung more than he would have hoped. How many creatures had he processed, no… tortured that he didn’t even bother to learn their name or their story. A monster was a monster after all, the names were unimportant. Then why did he feel so guilty?
“Who are you?”
“Please? I… I’m sorry”
Robert felt his eyes began to water. He blinked several times trying to disperse the salty tears that had now dripped from his eyelids. Just as it seemed that he’d never stop crying, he felt a hand on his shoulder.
Suddenly he was back at the agency. The firm hand on his shoulder belonged to Bill who looked down at him with a pair of concerned green eyes looking over his wild, bushy flaming orange beard. Bill yanked him to his feet, he saw his mouth moving but sound didn’t dare penetrate the silence.
Robert looked down to see the creature slumped on the ground, the side of his head caved in, leaking out a neon green liquid. Its obsidian eyes were now dull and lifeless. No one came to move the body. No one shed a tear. The monsters simply stepped over him or through him, dragging a trail of light green blood between Erthiduine tracks.
That night Robert Kolson stared at the .45 on his coffee table.
Tiny Tome is an original weekly short story written by me. Every week I’ll be releasing a brand new story. I hope that you’ll come back to see the next adventure. Thanks!