It could be no-one else. The gigantic cranium, the nose like a vulture’s beak, the red eyes now bathing her dungeon in a hellish glow. Dropping Mark, Denise stood in silence, her claws twitching. The fire that once begged for release had now been extinguished, and her urge to fight had evaporated completely. Slowly Aosoth levitated out of the cauldron, the tentacles at the end of her dress moving hypnotically.
‘Yes!’ Aosoth screamed, lightning striking outside as it usually did when she spoke, ‘I am alive again! Who has resurrected me?’
‘Oh! Me! Me!’ Mark leapt off of the floor, leaping about excitedly. ‘I did it.’
Aosoth peered down to look at Mark. ‘Your cloak looks stupid,’ she replied. A blue bolt emitted from her finger, disintegrating Mark in seconds. Seeing this suddenly ignited a burst of energy within Denise, and she leapt at Aosoth instinctively, only to be grabbed by the neck. ‘Well, well, don’t you have spunk? I think you’ll make a fine minion.’ Using her free arm, Denise punched Aosoth in the stomach. With an ‘oof’, Aosoth dropped Denise, the latter rolling about on the floor before positioning to attack. Denise leapt into the air, but suddenly, a cage made of lightning surrounded her, giving her a brief shock when she tried to touch the bars.
‘Get me out of here!’
‘Why do you heroes keep saying that?’ said Aosoth. ‘I’ve never let someone out when they’ve asked me to.’ Floating to the cage, Aosoth surveyed her prey. ‘Silly little dragon. Your kind isn’t meant to stop me. You’re supposed to serve me.’
‘Daniel wouldn’t have served you and neither will I!’
‘Daniel? That blowhard? He’s dead, and so will you be if you don’t shut your yap.’ Aosoth reached into the cage and stroked Denise’s chin, with Denise biting her hand right off her arm. ‘A killer instinct. That’ll be useful.’ Looking at her arm, Aosoth watched as a new hand appeared in a wisp of black smoke. ‘Of course, there is another dragon with a killer instinct too. I think I’ll find him first, then deal with you.’
So the office job was going well.
Daryl was so certain he’d get fired after the stapler incident, but everybody seemed to overlook that now. And no monsters had come out of his head in days. A clear head. A clear conscience.
Into his flat he walked, humming a tune he had heard on the radio. Now that another day was complete, it was time to watch the television. It would likely be something he had already seen, but he thought watching those shows again and again would help his understanding of the world they intended to portray.
Entering his flat and throwing himself onto the most prominent chair had become instinct to him, so when his daily routine was interrupted by the television refusing to turn on, Daryl twitched. He slammed his claws on the buttons but there was still nothing but a blank screen.
It was broken down again. Oh, the last time there was something wrong with the television, a box-shaped monster had run rampant around the flat. Being a bit more used to stuff like this, Daryl didn’t have a repeat of that episode, but rather he went away to look for a good book to read. He still hadn’t read all of that Whizzer and Chips book yet, so off he went to find it.
The television exploded.
Turning around, Daryl saw that the screen had shattered, and an inky substance had begun to leak out. Before Daryl could take a closer look, a tentacle shot out from the television, wrapping around his leg. It lifted him upwards, and slammed him on the floor, right on the head. Then it slammed him again. And again. And again.
Sure enough, a monster emerged from his head, another black tentacle. One that looked exactly like what came out of the TV, one that looked exactly like those of Aosoth.
As much as he shook his head, Daryl could not stop the tentacle from pulling him into the television, into the darkness. It wasn’t just any darkness though, it was Aosoth’s darkness. It was the darkness in her castle so that must mean I must be back in her castle it’s not a dream it’s real it’s real it’s time to be punished Daryl yes it is Aosoth’s back
OH GOD AOSOTH’S BACK.
Yes, it was indeed her. Aosoth stood above Daryl’s shuddering form, kicking him as he lay on the ground. Daryl attempted to say something, but all that came from his mouth was random gibberish and saliva. Once again, Aosoth kicked him, and after he rolled, she placed her invisible foot in Daryl’s face, crushing it.
Out from the cavity in Daryl’s head came a whole host of monsters, little blobs with piranha teeth, leaping about biting the air. Seeing those creatures perform their discordant dance, Aosoth created another cage of electricity to trap them in. ‘Well, well, well,’ said Aosoth, ‘You thought you could kill me and abandon me for a more boring lifestyle in that gloomy other world, did you?’
‘I know you are. Now, off to your cell until I can think about what to do with you. Oh, and I’ve got a nice little friend there for you to play with.’
Daryl did not need to be pulled by the claw to his cell, but he was anyway, Aosoth making sure her grip was tight. As they neared the cell, Daryl saw none other than Bob and Gary standing before him.
‘You know what,’ said Gary. ‘I’m actually kinda glad we’re back.’
‘Yeah,’ replied Bob. ‘Nothing beats guard work.’
The two took a hold of Daryl and tossed him into the cell. After that, Aosoth conjured up two cups of coffee, and force fed the coffee down Bob and Gary’s throats. As Daryl looked at the coffee dribbling down their necks, he was hit in the back of his head.
‘You!’ Ignoring the laughter of Aosoth as she left the room, Daryl looked up to see his cellmate. A dragon just like him. It had been years since he had seen another of his species, yet he could tell this one was female. Daryl took off his hat for her and said ‘H-hello’, but that led to a kick in the face.
‘Why did you work for Aosoth?’ growled the female dragon.
‘I d-didn’t want to…I-I…’
‘You sullied the name of our species, and all to spread her evil! I have been trying hard to bring honour to the dragons, but…’ Another punch to the face. ‘You’ve ruined it all! The humans still won’t trust us! We still have to hide from them! All because of you!’ To emphasise that last word, she grabbed Daryl by his tie and held his face to hers. ‘What is your name, anyway?’
The female raised an eyebrow. ‘Daryl what?’
Daryl gulped. ‘B-Blitherblot.’
The female’s claws began to shudder. ‘N-no,’ she said, losing her balance, ‘No, y-you’re joking!’
‘No, no I’m not. That really is my surname.’
All at once, the female wrapped her claws around Daryl’s neck, and tightened them, right before slamming Daryl’s head against the bars of their cell. Daryl closed his eyes as if that would lessen the pain, and heard incoherent grunts and snarls come from the female’s mouth. After another slam against the bars, he fell. Opening his eyes, he saw the female lifting her fist, her face twisted into a furious grimace. She looked like Aosoth.
Daryl cowered and awaited the blow. Just then, the female fell to her knees, burying her face in her hands. She was silent for a moment as Daryl backed away into a wall.
‘It’s all been a lie, hasn’t it?’
Still on his knees, Daryl edged towards her, extending his arm. He wanted to place his hand on her shoulder, but she grabbed it before he could. ‘Get away from me.’
‘I was just trying…’
‘I don’t want you anywhere near me.’ To emphasise this, she stood up and walked to the furthest corner of the cell. ‘If you know what’s good for you, you won’t bother me.’
At that moment, another monster burst from Daryl’s head, a screeching black snake. It slithered towards the bars, but in a second, the female grabbed it and snapped its neck.
‘Don’t. Bother me.’