“What if I helped?” asked Victoria, “All we need is a distraction, right?”
“You’re not trained yet,” argued Whartleburg.
“Perhaps I can help,” said Whevelbor, “I happen to know the instructor for Maantisazian school of Enzectozoid marshal arts. I cannot use his instruction myself, but let me pass on what I know.”
* * *
Meanwhile, back on earth, at June’s house, in her utility room, something was stirring.
The investigators who had tracked Victoria’s signature to the dimensional portal machine, located inside June’s house, forgot to turn off the device. It was left on Channel 3, a general, unprotected, public portal. Anything could freely go and come through that device. And it did. And it was hungry.
Ray, the lead investigator, and his two men were in the kitchen with June. He wanted to know where to find Victoria and was getting no where, when they heard the noise in the utility room.
June stayed in the kitchen. Ray and his men went to investigate. June quietly followed.
She saw Ray and company go into the room. They cringed and shot their weapons but it was not phased. June heard loud screaming, then silence.
After a few moments of silence, a white mist started to travel across the ground. June was compelled to enter the room.
It wasn’t fully out of the portal yet. Light was absorbed into its surface as it slowly crawled out of the portal.
It went by many names, as many as the number of cultures it had destroyed. Yet among all the names, there was one that had stuck. Survivors who reported it to authorities simply called it Black Swamp.
It didn’t have a face but June already knew it saw her. Solid black, humanoid, on the ground, more liquid than solid, it used its arms to thrash this way and that to get out of the portal.
Long since had it left its home far away. Constant travel to other dimensions wore its body down to the point where all that was left was sentient black sludge.
It didn’t care what it ate, so long as its prey came in contact, producing exhaust to move it along to its next meal. As it ate, so it grew. Now it was the size of a large house.
June didn’t know it yet, but she had half an hour to get to safety. Rather than try to fight it, should she try to run? Maybe she could contain it. The authorities would never believe her.
Excerpt from “Enzectozoid Chronicles: The Legacy of Whartleburg the Whalloper” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?