• TheSkyMachine


It had them backed into a corner.

Parker’s hands were shaking as they pushed the needle through the denim of their jacket, trying to work quickly. It was draped over their knee, dragging in the dirt. They gritted their teeth trying to ignore the cold and swiped a loose dreadlock out of their face. It was dark and they squinted to see the embroidery.

“Oh my god, hurry up!” Noah called back to them. He threw a handful of dirt in the Elgwin’s eyes and it flinched back a step. The small Rathem that fought alongside him spat a wad of sizzling green mucus.

“I’m sewing as fast as I can!” they yelled back. Beside them, James poured through his dusty scrapbook, pages falling to the floor of the cave.

“James?” Noah called back, frustrated, ‘anything?”

“I’m looking, it’s uh…’ he flicked back a few pages, ‘how many legs does it have?”

“Six? Seven?’ Noah called over his shoulder, ‘no wait that’s a tail. Six and a tail!”

Parker finished the upward line and began another running perpendicular. As the symbol crept closer to completion, it softly began to glow, illuminating their dirt-caked hands.

“Parker!” Noah bellowed.

Their hand slipped and they pricked their finger with the needle.

“Ah! Son of a bitch!” They shook their hand to alleviate the pain but resigned to letting blood soak into the fabric. “I’m almost done, just hold on!”

The Elgwin that faced them was immense. Its head scraped the roof of the cave and its club-like hands dragged across the ground. Its skin was rough and scarred, ebbing with a sickly red glow that cast deep shadows along the cave walls.

Noah snatched another handful of dirt from the cave floor and flung it into the creatures many eyes, which stretched from its face down its arms. The small Rathem at his feet gurgled and spewed an oozing wad into its hands, which it moulded into a glistening sphere and flung at the beasts head. The orb shattered sending shards of green glass flying.

James was breathing quickly, hopping from foot to foot, until he paused, ran a hand through his mousy hair and called out.

“It’s a Wraimer! That’s E.R. and M.S. Parker! Use Meelow!”

“I’m almost done’ Parker called back, stitching the messy rune, ‘just let me-”

“We don’t have time!” Noah yelled, and as Parker raised their head to retort, he ripped the jacket from their hands.

“Noah, don’t you dare!”

Noah flipped up the collar of the jacket, found a deep blue embroidered rune and traced it with his finger. In an instant it began to glow and in a rush of navy smoke, Meelow, a small octopus-like Elgwin, rushed forward.

It flung itself through the air and rammed into the head of the Wraimer, engulfing its face in tentacles. As the beast flailed and swayed back, the eye hovering above Meelow’s head blinked and deep blue veins began to creep across the behemoth’s body. It clawed at its face and throat, desperately trying to pull Meelow away. Trying to breathe. As the ink began to take over, its struggling slowed and eventually stopped. It let out a muffled gurgle as it succumbed and fell with a thud to the ground. Still, silent, and unbreathing.

James and Parker fell to silence. Parker sat in the dirt as the small Elqwin detached from the creature’s corpse and limply floated toward them, settling with a deflated whine into their arms. It looked pale, drained of ink. Parker cradled it, its holographic third eye leaking ink onto the floor. James shut his book.

“Noah,’ Parker started, grinding their teeth, ‘what the hell was that!?”

Noah spun around in the dark to look at them, his shoulders tensing and brow furrowing.

“Me? Are you serious?!’ he marched towards them. ‘What about you!? What was taking you so long? Another ten seconds and that thing would’ve killed me!”

The Rathem at Noah’s side began to darken to a sickly green and the nubs on its back began to grow to spikes.

“We had a plan, Noah. I was almost done. And now, thanks to your stupidity this whole thing was pointless!” Parker thrust a hand toward the corpse of the creature they had been trying to catch. In their lap the small navy Elgwin started to glow a faint purple, casting light upon the dark cave.

“And again! I swear to God! Don’t you dare touch my jacket or use my Elgwin! You’ve crossed that line one too many fucking times!” As they rose to stand on their feet the octopus-like creature rose with them, their shadow turning white and their flesh translucent. “I can’t believe after last time you’d pull a stunt like this again! Not only did you kill the one god damn Elgwin we needed, but you almost killed Meelow too!”

As Parker yelled Meelow grew, its tentacles spreading and twisting into a vortex like torso and a ring of eyes that hovered around its head.

“Parker, Jesus Christ, calm down would you.” Noah said.

“Fuck off Noah. I am sick to death of the way you talk to me!” Meelow had grown to match Parker’s height now and cast a light so bright it was like they’d resurfaced.

“Parker,’ James took a tentative step forward,’ I think you should-”

“Arghh James step off would you!” Parker spat the words and spun to see James cower back.

“I –‘Parker started. They huffed. ‘I’m done.”

Parker looked up at Meelow, hovering and humming before them.

Without a word Meelow moved forward and engulfed Parker, and slowly they began to spin, faster and faster and faster, until they plunged into the cold dirt of the cave floor, and were gone.

Noah and James stood in the darkness of the cave, silent. In the faint light from the Rathem’s mucus, James could see Noah’s face contorted in anger. He dug his nails into the palms of his hands and kicked up a cloud of dust.

“Good riddance.”

James held his scrapbook tight to his chest, and looked down into the deep dark hole in the ground before him.

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