This is part three of Cocaine, an #iHunt tie-in fiction. You don’t need to know iHunt to get this story, but if you dig this story, I’d love it if you pick up the novel. Anyway, you can read Chapter 2 here if you haven’t already.
CHAPTER THREE: #PLEISTOCENE
Carmen was in the car, parked inside the main gates to the Los Hoyos Tar Pits. I had my machete firm in hand, and I marched through the park, navigating through the walkways between massive pools of pitch. We had to go here in elementary school—this place trapped dinosaurs and mammoths and all sorts of weird shit over tens of thousands of years. If you fall in those pools, you’re as good as dead. Maybe in thirty thousand years, some other culture will dredge out your bones and put them on display for snot-nosed little kids.
I kept hearing little hints of movement. I couldn’t tell if they were random wildlife or our man-eating lizard person. I must have looked like a doofus, poking around in the bushes with a machete. This was before the time of reliable cell towers, so I couldn’t message Carmen and apologize for being more than the fifteen minutes I promised.
Then I heard her scream. “Lana!” She yelled, clearly not from inside the car like I told her.
“I’ll be right there! Get in the car!” I shouted back, and realized I was damned near on the other side of the park. I started a jog back through the park toward the car.
“No! Call for help! This thing…” She snapped back. “No!”
I broke into a full sprint, jumping over shrubs and hopping over tar pits to shortcut.
I saw the monster before I saw Carmen. It wasn’t attacking. It was just standing there in the shadows—I could barely make it out. Human-sized, with human-like arms and a big kind of human head. Is there a word for that? Humanoid maybe? I think that’s humanoid.
“I’ll be right there Carmen! Just stay calm! You’re gonna be okay!” I shouted, even though my lungs wanted to explode from the running.
She didn’t respond.
The monster turned toward me. I wouldn’t have made it if I hadn’t smacked my face into a tree branch just then. While I was stunned, I looked away from its face and to the top of its head. The head writhed with tentacles. Not tentacles—snakes.
Lamia. Not a fucking lizard person. A goddamned Medusa.
I rolled to the side and hid behind a bush. It slithered toward me; its entire bottom half was a giant serpent tail holding the rest of the body upright. The tail whipped around as it dashed in my direction.
Lamia don’t eat victims. They don’t even kill people, at least, they don’t properly kill people. If you catch a Lamia’s gaze, you turn to stone, just like in the old Greek stories.
Also just like in the Greek stories, you can use a reflection, a mirror, to fight. If you’ve ever tried to write backwards, you have an idea how hard it is to fight with a mirror.
I held up my machete. I was so fucking glad I sharpened it and polished it before this job. The shiny surface was good enough to see the Lamia charging for me. As it got near the bush, I jumped out and swung wide, taking off one of its arms. It hissed. Its eyes went bright red—it was trying to catch my gaze, and I wasn’t having it. I rolled along the grass away from her, then wiped off my machete. The thing’s blood was already decaying my machete—I only had a few seconds to end it. So I took a defensive stance, watching her out of the reflection. She dove for me, and I took an upward swing that tore her head clean off.
The head rolled along the ground, so I closed my eyes. They don’t stay deadly forever, but they’ve got a good thirty seconds after they die where if you look at the face, you’re still just as fucked.
Once I heard the snakes stop hissing, I went to collect the head so I could guarantee the bounty. Then I remembered Carmen. I ran, snake-haired decapitated head in hand, back to my car. Carmen was leaning against it, but Carmen wasn’t Carmen. Carmen was solid gray stone. Like an old weathered statue.
I dropped the head and ran over to her. I already knew it was too late. There’s no turning a person back from a Lamia’s gaze. But I tried. Well, I shook her. I cried. I screamed. I begged for everything to be better.
In a fit, I tried to shove her into my car. That wasn’t happening. My car was too small to even fit her, and these kinds of statue remains weigh about five hundred pounds. Besides, what was I going to do with a statue of Carmen?
In the midst of everything, in trying to finagle her into my car, she fell to the ground and broke right in half. Even if there was some kind of unknown magical serum to bring her back, breaking in half meant that wasn’t even a possibility.
I cried it out. I bawled. I told the sky, I told nobody in particular that it wasn’t fair. Of course it wasn’t fair—this shit’s never fair. Then, when I came back to my senses, I took a mallet from my trunk, broke her apart, and tossed her in the tar pits. Maybe elementary school kids would find her in 30,000 years.
I held her head for a while. I considered taking it home. Then I realized it’d just remind me of this. Of what happened. Of how she would be alive if I hadn’t made such a stupid rookie mistake.
I tossed the head right in the middle of the deepest tar pit. It floated a little too long, like she was begging me to jump in after her. To save her.
I cut up the Lamia and got rid of her as well. Then I met the curator, gave him the snake-covered head, and took my bounty. Then I locked myself in my apartment for ten days and I don’t even know how I survived, if I ate, if I slept, or even how much of that story was real.
See? I’m on cocaine, and I’m talking about dead people and I’m not even sure how much of the story is real.
I wipe the tears from my eyes. I snort in a bunch of snot. Then, I peek in the window. I scan the living room where the monster, Eve, sat and watched shitty sitcoms, covered in blood. I scan the room, taking everything in. This won’t be an easy fight—Geena said the thing’s basically a tank. So knowing the environment’s essential.
Where I’m looking in, this huge front window along the frontside, the south end of the property, there’s three exercise machines lining the wall. There’s an exercise bike in the southeast corner. There’s a weight set right in front of me. There’s a treadmill along the southeast corner, near the main entrance to the foyer. Eve’s dead center, in a faux leather sofa pointed north. There’s a matching loveseat on either side, angled inward. They’re all facing toward this huge TV along the north wall. In the northwest corner, there’s a huge wooden thing. Maybe a record player? There’s also a door open to the kitchen along the northeast. The east wall has the door to the foyer, a door to the master bedroom, and a fireplace with two large vases to the sides.
I play over strategies in my head. Eight plans come to mind. I settle on one. I’m ready to go.
Chapter four’s up. You can read it here!