Chapter 18. Race the Flames

<<Chapter 17.    Game Night.   Chapter 19>>

The sky was falling. Burning deposits of stone and metal escaped the shell of the dome and came crashing to the ground. Pillars which held the dome up shook and crashed as their integrity was put to the test.

Perspiration poured off Jessy and the two elves, which all three found as curious as, despite the flames the temperature had dropped several degrees.

Racing for an exit that may or may not exist, Jessy and his two companions drove the horses on, all the while black and green fire fell onto their heads.

Worst date ever.” Jessy said to Venarium.

Venarium gritted her teeth as she kept the horses on, “If you want, I can drop you off here.”

Sorie stared up at the dome’s ceiling.

When the pillar at the centre of the city exploded in a geyser of what appeared to be clawing black flames, she thought that it was the end and it could very well be.

Sorie pulled Jessy towards her, her ink stained fingers digging into her skin, “What’s happening?”

Jessy told her, “This crazy bitch tricked me into doing some last second looting. There are giant man-eating vaginas wondering around, and we are trying to get the fuck out of here before the place really blows up.”

Jessy stopped his ranting to frown at Sorie, “Why are you here? How are you here?”

She looked away like a child who had been caught stealing granny’s blueberry pie, “I used an invisibility spell and while you were busy arguing with Lez…” she allowed the sentence to drift not need to saw more.

Great, now I’m fucking Speed Racer.” Jessy said in exasperation, “How long before we get out? Don’t tell me we have to blow our way out. I left my explosives in my other pants.” Jessy wasn’t joking.

Venarium laughed, the strange elf was having a bit of fun and Jessy suspected that she might have some experiences with escaping burning structures. “Don’t you worry, little chick, I’ll get you home to your ma’ma.”

What did she say?” Sorie shouted, not understanding English.

This was going to get bothersome. Acting translator between two women he was annoyed with was going to waste Jessy’s time and patience, things that were quickly dwindling.

He turned to Sorie, “Are there any spells you know? Teleport? Dimension door? Banish dark scary fire?”

Sorie shook her head, “I used up all my my energy holding the invisibility spell.”

Jessy held out his hands as if to strangle the wood elf and growled. He thought he might actually punch the stupid scholar when Venarium made an sharp turn.

A piece of burning building crashed into the ground close enough that all three of them had felt the shock wave.

There was also something else in that split second. Venarium, Sorie, Jessy; all three of them shook it off as if it were a nightmare. It was nothing, it had to be nothing.

Jessy rubbed his arms. A chill had come over him, as if he had swam in a pool of ice. “S.shit.” Jessy cursed, teeth chattering. He looked back to see the first piece of ceiling laying in the middle of a crater.

It had been close, if Venarium had been any slower they all would have been squashed.

Their eyes still on the rock which had nearly crushed them Jessy and Sorie watched the black fire.
“What kind of fire burns black?” Jessy asked

I doubt its the kind you want to cook with.” Venarium said.

As he continued to stare at the piece of masonry and steel, which was quickly becoming a distant blemish, he noticed something strange. A thick fiery stick seemed to have pulled free of the dark fire like a spider limb.

Then Venarium turned down a street and Jessy lost sight of the oddity.

Jessy hoped that it had been a trick of the fire and the near death experience. He looked up at the crumbling ceiling. Was it his imagination or were the flames moving across the stone, not like the consuming blaze of a forest fire, but like a swarm of rats trying to escape a sinking ship.

That was when Venarium decided to add one more problem to the mix, “Boy, the horses are getting tired.”

Of course.” Jessy said. It was just his luck, wasn’t it? The city was burning, there was possibly going to be an secondary explosion, and there were untold monsters wondering the streets. Why shouldn’t the horses need a union break?

Jessy had a desperate thought. Half the staff from the game department had been here, he had seen centaurs pulling carts, buses filled with Asian circus midgets, starships.

Is there anything nearby? Cars, buses, a pogo-stick?” Jessy asked Venarium.

The strange elf answered the question with another question, “You think I would be marching out of here with nothing if you thought I had a ship?”

She had him there, if there were any working cars they would have used them. This was a total evacuation of thousands, maybe tens of thousands.

Jessy, I can’t understand what you are saying.” Sorie said sounding worried and desperate.

The horses are getting tired if we don’t get out of here, we are dead.”

He didn’t want to say what he saw back there. Today was weird enough.

Jessy decided to use this time to check his equipment.

  1. Wooden cart

  2. A useless wizard

  3. A steampunk pirate

  4. A handheld welding torch

  5. A large first-aid-kit

  6. Two tired horses

Not counting what Sorie was packing or Venarium’s gun, or whatever the pirate had stolen from the garage, Jessy did not like his chances.

He looked at the thing that he had pinched from the garage but seeing the object did not fill him with hope. Out of all the things he could have grabbed; pipping, the metal tools, even the chains, he had picked up an rusted piece of scrap that probably came from a wreak of a car.

It had some weight, but it was so corroded that Jessy could only hope that his opponent would die of tetanus.

So, who’s she?” Venarium asked meaning Sorie.

A stowaway.” Jessy grumbled.

Sorie didn’t notice Jessy’s disproving glare, she was too busy staring at the buildings and fire. She was trying to soak up the architecture before it was destroyed by the fire or what ever was coming.

Jessy didn’t need to ask why she jumped onto the cart. She either intended to spy on him or learn more about the destruction. The stupid fool. She didn’t need to waste her power, she only needed to ask. A useful spy was better than an dead weight.

Jessy turned to Venarium, “What were you looking for?”

Venarium gave Jessy an evil eye, “Nothing.” she said coolly.

Jessy rolled his eyes. So this was it? He was going to get killed for somebody else’s secrets. It was possible that Venarium would kill him and Sorie to silence them. Just something to worry about later.

As they drew closer to what Jessy suspected was gate 6 or 11, the area began to change. It was starting to look less like a scene of blood runner and started to look like Detroit.

A battle had taken place here. Jessy had played enough games and had seen enough movies to know what he was looking at. The smell of blood and sulphur, the smoking holes. Then Jessy saw them.

Jessy didn’t know what to make of them. They came in all manner of sizes and shapes. Some were as small as rats while some looked as large as mammoths. Some could be confused as humanoid, while others were so grossly unrecognisable that it hurt to look at them.

What happened here?” Sorie asked and Jessy played translator for the silth’s convenience.

Venarium started, her eyes going this way and that, looking for any movement. “Before we came here we got marooned in a place of nightmares. Arcade went out to find fuel. The hour he left we got attacked by these things.”

She nodded to a horrible looking creature that looked like an prying mantis and a gecko had an unholy one night stand.

For days we held them off.”

Days?” Jessy said, incredulous. “It hasn’t been two hours since the team went missing.”

Venarium smiled, “Yeah. Hurts your head doesn’t it. I don’t pretend to explain it. The gamers said it was a Doctor Who thing.” she laughed when she saw the dumbfounded expression on Jessy’s face.

Jessy couldn’t believe it. Arcade had travelled through time, possibly space. And he had missed out on all of it. “How long have they been gone?” Jessy asked.

The elf had a thoughtful look, “They said… Two. Maybe three years.”

Jessy tried to hold in his shock and terror. Three years? There were so many years questions Jessy wanted to ask but a scream like a thousand nails being slowly dragged across a kilometre of chalk board brought his attention back to reality.

A pink missile crashed into the pair of horses. One wheel broke under the sudden strain and the cart tipped dangerously.

Something grabbed Sorie and Jessy at the last moment and they were thrown off the cart and onto the blood and monster soaked street.

Back on the cart Venarium cursed as much as screamed as she instinctively pulled on the reigns to gain some sanity, but it was all in vain.

A bloody and fleshy thing that was almost all mouth was sinking its tombstone teeth into one of the screaming and terrified horses.

The cart with the broken wheel was moving erratically. It was a lost cause much like the horse. Even if they could shake off the creature it wasn’t going anywhere.

Venarium gave up on controlling the cart. She drew her riffle and aimed it at the monster. There was the sound of compressed air being unleashed and there was suddenly a new hole in the monster’s cheek.

The creature let out a growl as it continued to eat the now silent and dead horse.

Venarium cursed and then fired and fired again, filling the monster with holes. Her weapon let out a pathetic whisper, signifying that it was out of ammo.

On the street, Jessy groaned as he spat and cursed. He had skinned his hands and knees in the fall but had not broken anything.

He looked up to see Sorie standing with her stick out stretched. She didn’t speak a world or waved the thing like some Harry Potter larker would. There was a momentary burst of hate and determination on her bookish face before a hot, white arch of energy struck the brute.

The mouth monster grit its teeth in pain, chomping the poor thing in its mouth in half. It dropped, its body smoking.

Venarium and jessy stared at the thing and then at the wizard who sent it back to whatever hell it had been born in.

You said you didn’t have anything.” Jessy yelled.

No, I said I was out of magic.” Sorie corrected.

Jessy pointed at her wand, “Than what’s that?”

Sorie smirked, “Six charger lightning wand. A girl has to be prepared.”

Somebody was definitely prepared as Venarium jumped onto the remaining horse, which was still utterly terrified. She took out a large knife which she had strapped to her leg and with two quick hacks, she freed the beast, with her still on it.

Wait.” Jessy cried.

The horse screamed as it trailed off. “Sorry, love.” Venarium laughed, “If you’re still alive, I’ll treat you to something nice.”

Stop her.” Jessy ordered Sorie. When the scholar raised her wand Jessy abruptly stopped her, “Not with that. Do what you did before.”

Knowing a thing about lightning and electricity, Jessy understood that while a lightning bolt, even one he did not truly understand could kill Venarium it would also kill the horse. Though it would be fun to kill the bitch who got him in this mess, Jessy would have preferred a live horse to a dead one.

Sorie spoke something under her breath and then stomped her foot like a cross child, “Inferno take that whore. The horse is too spooked to listen. Why didn’t you let me take her?” the silth narrowed her eyes on her one time lover, “Did you plan on bedding that bitch?”

I’m fourteen years old. Of course I did. I would fuck a porcupine if it looked at me. That’s not the point. I don’t give a shit if you killed her, I’m more interested in the horse.”

You degenerate bastard.” Sorie shouted appalled.

Not like that!” Jessy cried.

Hissing from the annoying pain from his hands, Jessy moved towards the cart, Making sure to keep a respectable distance from the mouth monster. “We don’t have long. We need to get out of here.

He picked up the first aid kit. The thing weighed a good five kilograms. He made it a bit lighter by opening it and pulling out a small tube of cream. The white paste felt cool as he rubbed it into his broken skin.

He also chose to take out all seven micro epipens. He also took out the scalpel, the small scissors, and a few syringes which he loaded with medicine that your neighbourhood drug dealer and PE coach might suggest.

The blue-haired boy had decided to take advice from his world’s most admired and respected athletes, by injecting himself with enough steroids and performance enhancers that he could expect his heart and biceps to implode.

Sorie pointed to the burning dome, “The explosion happened. We should hide until help arrives or try to put them out.”

Oh, so naïve. Jessy winced as he felt the sting of a steel needle in his vein. He was only half-sure that if his penis dropped off he could get a spare. “Sorie. Did you notice the great big metal thing that tore of roof of a city that travels through time and other planets, and the thousands of people who were running out of said city?”

Yes.” Sorie said not liking being treated like an mentally challenged child.

Did you also notice the monster that just very recently ate a horse, and the amount of dead demons?Did you notice the puddles of blood and gore that we drove through?”

I get your point.” Sorie grumbled, “But where do we run to? I don’t see a map around here, do you?”

The monsters got in some where. Venarium didn’t do a 360 so I am guessing that she was driving us towards another gate. Just follow the bodies and try not to get eaten.”

Sorie crossed her arms, “I’ll try to remember that.”