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The Monster Inside saw its prey from across the playground and smiled. It began to stalk the sweet, tender morsel.

Donald saw the little angel as she jumped off the swing, the petticoat of her little frock billowing sweetly around her thighs. He licked his lips nervously, glancing around out of habit. A bad one, that, it made him look exactly like the pedophile he was. He would have to break that habbit, he told himself and not for the first time. But the girl was moving, crossing the playground and waving bye-bye to her friends. It was time to hunt.

Donald slowly stood, giving the little blond-haired moppet plenty of time to pick her direction. East, she went, and East he followed. He was careful to keep a good distance, half a block or more. Enough to keep her in sight, but not so close that he actually looked like he was following her. This technique had worked successfully six… no, seven times before. He almost forgot that one in Seattle. She had been so lovely, how could he nearly forget her?

He wondered if they had found her body yet. Not that it mattered, there was nothing to connect him to her. He picked his little playthings at random, and never near his hotel. Just like this little angel.

She turned North and he followed her. His pulse was beginning to quicken, he knew. He tried to keep himself calm. Sweaty, nervous-looking middle aged men in rain coats following little girls tended to stick out in people’s minds. He raked his thinning hair over his pattern bald spot, ordering himself to calm down. As extra insurance, he pulled out his cell phone and pretended to talk into it. Pedophiles never discussed business on phones while hunting, right? Everyone knew that.

The blonde darling skipped a few steps, and then turned and walked down a flight of stairs to the lower level of a tenement. He heard the door shut behind her. No sound of a lock being thrown, and she didn’t call out to anyone. A latch-key kid then. They were the best.

Donald glanced around to see if anyone was looking, and then followed the girl down the stairs. He eased open the door and slipped inside. It took his eyes a moment to adjust to the substantially dimmer light inside. The room had clearly once been a laundry room, long since abandoned to that purpose. Graffiti covered the walls. The paint was faded and peeling. A perfect place for the hunt to end.

His little blonde angel was standing near the far wall, facing him. He smiled his most reassuring smile. “Hello little girl. Can you help me?” he edged closer.

“You can help me,” she replied. The lights dimmed and some… thing… emerged from the girl: smoke and shadow and cold, with long claws and teeth like the Reaper’s Scythe.

Donald screamed.

Angie watched impassively until the Monster Inside was done and back within her. She dipped a finger in Donald’s blood and added vertical line to the twelve already present on the wall behind her.  Her dimples appeared as she smiled.

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At Least It’s A Dry Heat

A second, under-the-wire response to Sonia’s June Writing Challenge about Creatures.

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Consider the desert. An entire world in a palette of browns and yellows. Sand and stone, dead dry chaparral. The dessicated corpse of a lizard as hard as the rock it rests, mummified, upon. The heatwaves off the ground creating the illusion of precious water where none exists. Consider the desert.

Now consider the man. Stumbling, feet dragging in the dust and the sand, he struggles across the desert. The sun beats down upon his brow and turns his fair skin red. Moisture he can not spare to lose forms blisters upon his arms, his shoulders, his face. Soon, they will pop and he will be that much closer to death. Even now, he feels that grim spectre looming over his shoulder, but he refuses to look back as shuffles across the waste. Is he even going the right way? He has no idea. Is there a right way? Does the question even have meaning in this place? Maybe the entire world has gone away and left only this desert, going on for eternity in all direction.

The man crests a small rise and stands, stupefied. Below him, in a shallow valley between this crest and the next, is a boneyard. Hundreds, thousands of bones, bleached white by the merciless sun, gleam like macabre toys discarded the day after Christmas. But the truly fantastical part of it is the sphinx.

Not the Sphinx, the big stone thing in Egypt. This is a living, breathing creature, and it’s man-like head turns to face the man-like man.

“Ah, a visitor,” the creature’s voice is the susurration of sand rolling down the lee-side of a dune. “Welcome Man. I’ve not had one of your kind here in so long. Let us play the Game.”

The man pried his chapped lips apart and licked at the blood that formed there. This whetted his throat enough so he could croak out a word. “Game?”

“Yes, the Game,” the sphinx bared it’s sharp teeth in a wicked grimace of amusement. “I ask you a Riddle. If you guess right, you get to live and I will grant you one wish. If you answer wrong, I eat you and your bones will lie beside those you see here. Are you ready?”

“No,” the man choked out, then “Water.”

“Sorry,” the sphinx shook it’s head. “No prizes until you win. Let us begin. We will use the standard ‘what am I’ format. I will recite some verse, and you have to guess what it refers to. Here we go.”

The sphinx took a breath and then in a louder voice began to speak. “A symbol of eternity, the union of the diverse into the single. Uncorruptible, I have no beginning or end.”

The man glanced down at the wedding ring on his finger, holding it up weakly so the sun glinted off the bright gold. He tried to speak, but his throat was closed again. He coughed several times, and again gasped for water.

Horrible sharp teeth gleamed wickedly as the creature pounced.

Later, as the man’s bones began the long slow process of bleaching for eternity, the sphinx sat back on it’s haunches. “Funny,” it mused to itself aloud, “No matter what I ask, they always guess ‘Water’.”

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Filed under Flash, Words words words - Writing and books