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-= Chapter 6 =-
The Fires of Hell?
by Kitnoki
©2005 Kitnoki -- all rights reserved

Compared to the wilderness before, and even Tisi's suburban-type lawn, the environment Scribbler now fond herself in was surprisingly well developed. Steel structures sprouted up around her. held together by a ribbon of dark grey asphalt. She walked this ribbon, occasionally jotting down things in her new notebook, a parting gift from Tisiphone. The city grew denser around her as she walked, and before long she was walking through the heart of what looked like some sort of dystopian metropolis. She eyed her surroundings carefully. Here and there, in otherwise dark streets, eyes glinted from alleyways. This was obviously the wrong part of town; she slowed a bit, ready to defend herself.

One by one, things slowly came out, from an alleyway here, a window there, down a fire escape. The things looked like some horrible misshapen dogs. City dogs, scraping what they could from dumpsters. They were scruffy, emaciated, hobbling towards her. Many of them grinned, showing fanged mouths. She shielded herself as best she could from the creatures.

"Go away! Shoo!" She kicked dust at the closest one, which merely grinned.

The grin grew even wider before it spoke, in a rough guttural bark.

"Fresh meat, boys!" it said, punctuating its words with a maniacal giggle, like some sort of hyena. "Wonder what this one has? A little story, perhaps?" Its eyes glowed orange for a moment before they sparked, and rings of flame formed around them! All through the pack, the flaming eyes caught. There must have been at least twenty of the flamer dogs surrounding her... "Wanna tell us a bedtime story, miss?" It giggled again, licking its chops.

"Go away! I -- I don't taste any good!" She had pulled her notebook out as a shield by this point, anything to ward off the hungry flamers. One of them leaped at her! Scribbler held out the book, cowering behind it as if it were a shield. The flamer grabbed it -- her only defense -- she screamed... and then she blinked. All of the flamers were ignoring her? Instead, the pack had gathered around her notebook, reading over it and cackling.

"What? What's so bloody funny?" One of the creatures looked up and laughed.

"The writing! Jeez, it's so, so terrible it's funny!" Scribbler looked pained, and then angry, and tried to grab her book back from the flamers' clutches. But they just danced away, their eyes glowing brighter, the contours of their bones less visible. They were feeding somehow...

The creatures laughed, the book passing from paw to paw, and each one took a dig at her before passing the book on to the next. "Ha! I've seen grendlers that write better than this slop!" -- "What is this? Writing or lining for a bird cage?" -- "Ha! trash! pure trash!" She growled at them and leaped for the book.

"That's mine! Leave it alone! It's not for --"

"Not for reading? Got that right, missy! I can see why! its stupid!" And now the beasts were looking lean and fit, the flame around their eyes spreading into manes. But how..? How could they have fattened up? What could they possibly have fed on while belittling her words? The mere thought left Scribbler dizzy...

Of course! They were feeding on Scribbler! Her outrage was their meat and drink!

Scribbler pondered. She obviously had to do something, but as long as her actions fed them -- no! Not her actions, her reactions! So long as she didn't respond to their spiteful words...

She grinned. "Well, I guess I'll just have to keep writing." She snatched a blank sheet from the notebook as it flew by... and began to write. The creatures advanced on her again, trying to read her writing, but she turned, keeping them away from it, occasionally batting one away with her pencil. For such a small tool, a pencil was a pretty powerful thing in this realm -- in this case, it hit like a baseball bat.

The flamers weren't about to let her go without a fight: "You -- you couldn't write your way out of a paper bag!" -- "Your characters are flatter than the paper they're written on!" But Scribbler was on to their game now. She didn't rage back at them; instead, she smiled and modeled a villain on them, an antagonist which simply begged to be used in a suitable story.

Now the creatures looked starved again, their flames flickering out. They'd forgetten her notebook; she picked it up and dusted it off. Soon the flamers were simply mangy looking dogs -- and whipped looking ones, too -- slinking away back to their hiding places.

Scribbler didn't even notice when the last of the flames died. She was too busy plotting out that story.

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