Chapter 26. Chewing

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Through the uneasy sensation that accompanied falling from an insane height and into a watery grave.

The thought of screaming his head of did cross Maverick. After all, the threat of imminent pain and death would be considered a very reasonable thing to scream about.

But as he fell to an horrific end, Maverick could only stare down at the beautiful water falls around and at the lake below that would soon be his grave

His mind, broken from the amount of nonsense it had on its plate, took this time to piss off for a cigarette break.

Down in the depths of the pool below the lake monster trembled as it sensed that a light snack was soon imminent.

Maverick watched as the dark water bubbled and frothed as if it was a boiling soup and the walls of the creature’s prison shook and the monster coiled and flexed its tremendous bulk.

Before Maverick managed to fall a good third of the way down to his doom, the surface of the underground lake broke.

A geyser of muscle and scales tore upwards as a monster from a savage world escaped to the sky, its man sized teeth craving the small appetisers which were plummeting into its belly.

The shock-wave twisted Maverick’s body allowing the teenager to see a fairly gruesome sight.

Not far away, the stupid omtwy was still trying to run, its legs waved uselessly in the air. In its gore soaked jaws the Cali lioness was trying to scratch and tear her way free.

Wahhhhh.” Huna’s death roar was taken away by the wind and the gravity.

Then Maverick saw a great wall of flesh go up into the air and Huna’s scream abruptly ended when a great snap sounded as lake monster swallowed both the Cali and the omtwy whole.

To Maverick the thing was too big to take in. He had a sense of teeth and a blockade of scales but that was it. In a daze he thought How can something so big move so fast?

Pain erupted down Maverick’s arm as he slammed against titanic monster’s side. The shock jarred the teenager’s brain back into working order and Maverick felt that this was a good time to scream.

Maverick took in a good lungful of air but before he could let out his best girlish scream he violently hit the water.

Whatever air Maverick had engulfed before his ungraceful dive was gone as there came the bone crunching sound of something important inside breaking from the collision.

Driven by brainless instinct the not-so-proud member of Sydney’s Emporium thrashed and floundered, his hand scraped at the freezing water and his legs kicked out in futility.

His lungs ached for unattainable relief and by some odd miracle Maverick righted himself and began the climb to the lake’s surface.

Then, gravity decided to be a bitch as the lake monster belly-flopped on top of Maverick’s head before he could take one gulp of air.

The full weight of a World War Two battleship collided with the traumatised teen. By all right Maverick should have died, but he was not so fortunate an easy escape.

Mildly conscious of what was happening to him Maverick felt his bones break and his muscles tear.

The young man tried to give one last curse at his luck, Sydney, and fate, but water entered his lungs.

Roars filled the world above as omtwy rained down, their retarded stampede turning them from the stuff of nightmares into suicidal lemmings.

Its meal just starting Castro moved like an eager snake, its rough hide dragging and tearing Maverick much like a gravel road.

Twice Maverick broke the surface but never once could he fathom breathing.

The once pure water became a dirty red but Maverick failed to notice the change as he prayed the roller-coaster would end and for him to just die.

Broken and damned, Maverick’s world became dark.

Within the cold grasp of Death a thought wormed its way into the reptile part of Maverick’s alien brain.

This thought was… indescribable.

The monkeys who called themselves the scholars of Earth would be driven to madness to express a fraction of the thought that now became a thriving maggot within Maverick’s mind.

It devoured all rationality, it became an all consuming cancer that pushed aside easily fractured concepts such as logic and humanity. It was neither instinct nor was it primal fear, it was alien and it was annoyed.

As Maverick’s brain absorbed less and less oxygen, dying cell by cell, this thought feasted upon the dead highways of grey matter.

Eyes closed, his soul ready to leave this mortal coil, the thought escaped by way of the dying adolescent’s tongue.

It was a word.

Not restrained by water the word carved its way through the blood and the sinew.

The lake monster stopped his feeding, its three eyes dilated as the forbidden language of the chaotic gods assaulted his brain.

Brain matter poured from the lake monster’s eyes and nose.

Those omtwy that were still alive were likewise stunned, they sank into the cold waters of the lake, content to die in silence.

Dead and dreaming at the same time, his body a cage for his soul, Maverick climbed upon Castro’s underbelly and with his bear teeth tore through the creature’s hide.

A wild animal driven with purpose, Maverick’s body used its twisted and broken fingers to claw and dig.

His days of hunger became slated as the teen dined on living meat and blood, and as he satisfied his primal needs he continued to eat and eat, eventually gorging himself enough to vomit the fluid in his lungs.

His dead-beat father’s prophecy came to truth as Maverick became a parasite, a mindless and selfish organism whose only thought was to bury himself further under its host’s skin.

As he consumed there was the sound of breaking as Maverick’s strange oddity of a form sought to repair itself.

It started simply as one of the adolescent’s fingers snapped back into place. The newly repaired tool was put to good use as the teenager penetrated further into the lake monster’s meat and brain.

Eventually, after four hours of toil and effort a sluggish Maverick reached the core of the beast.

Deep guttural groans, like a man having eaten twenty rancid microwave burritos came from Maverick’s bloody throat.

In a haze he reached out and grasped something solid and burning hot.

Grr. Arg.” Maverick twisted and jerked but his prize was stubborn.

The strain Maverick placed on his own muscle was intense enough this his already broken arms fractured and dislocated.

A half-roar half-bellow exploded from the living corpse that had once called itself human as its twisted hand caught something hard. With an unnatural strength and impressive will Maverick pulled.

The lake monster went ridged. It wanted to plead and cry but its brain was still in no state to comply.

The lake boiled as beast’s body burned. The energies and alien powers which kept it in this reality were fading fast and reality suffered.

The lake monster’s body glowed red hot like an iron poker left in a brazier. The lake bubbled and boiled, and great breaths of steam rose and mixed with the cool falling waters of the falls till an impenetrable mist saturated the pit.

The water from the underground pool drained rapidly, the unstable heat from the lake monster’s body burned with an otherworldly intensity and the waterfalls were unable to produce enough water to refill the basin fast enough.

The lake monster was gone. The only sign of its existence were a few scales and stories, not even its bones survived the ruthless change.

Upon the boiling mud wallow Maverick’s corpse stood.

If Maverick was able to see the destruction he had caused he did not express it, there was hardly anything to see. Just layers upon layers of boiling steam that had melted his eyeballs and caused his skin to slide of his bones.

There were also only be a number of broiled owtry scatted around the basin, their life extinguished and what remained of their well-cooked flesh sinking below the mud.

Maverick would have fed on their flesh, but his personal needs were cast aside, replaced instead with the mission.

The mud clung to Maverick’s feet and threatened to drag the corpse down into a coffin of earth, but the strange will that kept Maverick standing pushed him on.

There was a sickening slurping sound as Maverick pulled free of the mud, leaving behind the soles of his feet.

Something deep within him compelled the dead young man forward, not the need to feed on human flesh which you would think a member of the walking dead would be interested in, but towards the falls.

Man-sized tunnels which only a handful of minutes ago remained secret became Maverick’s personal access point to a whole new world.

He walked into the unknown, unafraid of what lurked within the places where sunlight never touched.

The map became Maverick’s entire perspective. Out of a hundred dead ends he chose only the one true course.

He stumbled for what felt like hours, each minute the water level rising, the waterfalls reclaiming the basin.

By the second hour the water had reached Maverick’s stomach, but by this time the process had already begun.

The makers of the Greys designed their bodies to adapt to any alien environment.

Maverick’s hunger was not due to any dietary need but his body’s desire to survive and evolve. His body using the raw materials to make itself stronger, and to survive at the cost of the indigenous life.

But though Maverick’s body was durable, strong, and adaptive, it was not particularly smart.

The Grey could not tell that its last meal was not native to this world, that the underground alleyways were not this world’s main environment, or that its host hated the smell of fish, but still the change.

By the time the rushing water reached Maverick’s shoulders the cold chambers became filled with the sound of bone realigning and muscle tearing away.

The lake monster’s meat was put to good use, the dead young man’s body began to heal; not instantly, but a gradual change could be seen as Maverick’s shuffling turned into a stagger, which in turn lead to a clumsy swim.

His malformed head sunk under the water but the change only increased pace.

It was perhaps a good thing that Maverick was for all intents and purposes, was not technically alive at this point.

Spasms ruptured across his body as new organs and old ones began an intense war for dominance.

The shreds of skin that had managed to hold onto Maverick’s meat frittered away as blue silver scales grew like weeds meaning to strangle any semblance of humanity.

Maverick’s jaw extended becoming a viscous maw filled with anglerfish-like teeth.

Spines which oozed yellow ichor ran across his forearms, his toes and fingers stretched out and became webbed, and Maverick’s dented skull shifted to be more fish-like.

A fin like a mohawk sprouted from his head down to his lower back, the design used to not just poison prey but to navigate through water.

A viscous transformation of the flesh and self would have driven Maverick insane.

Deep down in his sub-concious, Maverick felt himself lose to the corruption. A thing of terrifying wonderment, something new.

Maverick performed a few graceful spins, his new fins gaining him a degree of unbelievable control in the water.

His eyes now healed and full of alien intelligence caught something in the dark and suffocating waters. Something that had been in his hand, something he had dropped in his tormenting metamorphosis.

There, laying on the rocky surface, a sapphire jewel the size of a human fist sat.

Curious, Maverick touched the gemstone with his clawed finger and he knew that this was his prize. Tentatively, the strange creature picked up the gemstone.

The thing that was once Maverick held the gemstone to his chest and his body shuddered again as the precious stone turned red as fire and fused to his skin.

Wasting not a second longer than necessary to admire his new accessory Maverick swam towards the next lost item.