“Hello?” Her voice was a bell, tinkling off the dark stone walls. “Is there anybody out there?”
Silence invaded the night and her eyes glowed impishly as she leaned over.
“Wake up Baby, it’s time to go.”
A loud snort accompanied a low growl. Perched atop her dragon’s head, Teena twisted until she was staring at him eye to upside-down eye. “You awake yet?”
The massive black beast yawned and stretched, its blood-red wings fanning away from its body. Teena bounced on his head.
Another growl, louder this time, rumbled from the girl’s perch. His eyes, small slits of fire, flared and he roared to life. Teena slid down his head and clamped her fingers on Baby’s ears. Her knees hugged his neck as they sped down the corridor. Doors and tunnels blurred by, forgotten pathways to different dimensions. Lights flickered in pathways to different realms of thought and others permanently locked and barred. They whipped around a corner and a chunk of white-blonde hair floated to the ground on the other side. They flew faster, zigzagging through the maze.
Several more sections of hair fell to the ground beneath them as they continued toward a glimmer at the end of the long corridor. The girl grinned and her face split. Pieces of flesh flew off behind her. Several of her teeth turned black and fell out. Her small hands began to grow. Claw-like spears of bones jutted from thick wrists and her arms grew longer than her body.
Abruptly, Baby stopped and Teena lurched off toward the lighted tunnel in front of her. Her arms dragged behind her. Baby winced as Teena turned around and grinned at him, brown drool dripping off her chin. She turned back to the tunnel and disappeared.
The carpet was soft under her hands as she crept toward the sleeping child.
“Brandon,” she rasped, rancid breath fanning over his face, “Brandon.”
“Mommy! Mommy! The monster!” he screamed and cowered under the covers.
The light flicked on and Teena was gone, leaving Brandon’s mother to console the hysterical child.
Baby and Teena flew into the night, her laughter following close behind. She nudged Baby into an alley when she saw a crowd of monsters. They were laughing boisterously and pushing each other. Baby landed and Teena walked over to see what the commotion was about. Returning to her usual form, she quietly slipped around the large, hairy legs and bloated bellies.
A scrawny creature cowered in the corner with toothpicks for limbs and a head so large the body was unable to support it. One of the larger monsters walked forward and held out his hand. When the creature reached out and grabbed it, the hand fell and scurried away. The unusual creature fell to the ground again.
“Stop it!” Teena yelled to the jeering crowd.
“Or what little girl? You gonna do sometin ‘bout it?” one particularly large brute stepped forward.
“You think you scare me?” she smirked at the monster, “Bigger and badder than you have lost to me.”
The brute laughed. “Honey, you ain’t seen bigger and badder ‘an me.”
Teena yawned and looked at her cuticles. “Girlie, I’ve tamed worse than you. You wanna be my next bitch?”
“Ooo boys, ya’ hear that? This li’l tart’s got a mouth on ‘er. Maybe we should teach her what we do to naughty li’l girls.”
“Any time, old man.”
He lunged for her. She sidestepped easily and left a footprint on his backside as he ran headlong into the wall. The next opponent grabbed for her but got a handful of air and a fist to the groin. He doubled over and howled in pain. Her quick feet found the rather large toes of another assailant and had him hopping off in tears. One smarter monster picked her up by the scruff of the neck and laughed as he held her out of reach until Baby breathed down his neck. The fight ended abruptly and those not unconscious fled.
“I didn’t need your help, Baby.” She scowled at her pet as he skulked to a corner and looked balefully over his shoulder at Teena.
Ignoring Baby, Teena walked over to the pitiful creature. “You know, Sam, if you’re gonna wear that ridiculous costume, you need to learn to be a little more light-headed or the others are never gonna let you live it down.”
“I know, I know. They just caught me zapping out of a room and cornered me. I didn’t have time to change.” Sam’s head began to shrink to normal and he stood up. “Am I gonna make you late for your next appointment?”
“Nah, I had some time. Did you need a lift anywhere?”
“You know, you really should be nicer to Baby.”
“I know, but he’d wonder what was wrong with me if I was. You gonna be okay now?”
“I think I got it. My ride is around the corner. Thanks.”
“Well, good luck.”
“You too. See you later.”
Teena looked over at Baby and rolled her eyes. “Okay, fine. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. You were very helpful and I appreciate it. Now get over here you big brat.”
Baby looked doubtful for a few moments then his tail began to thump and he trotted over for an affectionate pat.
Scurrying on her eight hairy legs, she crept into her next victim’s room.
“Tommy, I’ve come for you . . .”
Just as she reached the side of Tommy’s bed, a booted foot the size of Baby landed in the middle of her back.
“I...didn’t...expect...that.” She wheezed as she crawled away with as much dignity as she could muster. Tommy smiled in his sleep.
Baby’s head came up when she crawled out of the portal. Mirth crinkled the corners of his eyes.
“Don’t ask, you don’t wanna know,” she growled.
Slowly, she stood and worked the kinks out of her back as her eight legs receded.
“You know, there are some nights this job kind of sucks. Let’s go.”
She hopped on his back and they were off again.