The child looked confused. He looked around. Slowly he climbed back up the tree as high as he could, and then jumped. He landed on his feet next to Tony and laughed. His arms were spread out as if he was proving a point. Tony walked past the child and out to the edge of the city. The jungle was fully grown there. A large mass of people stood close to the outskirts of the city. Tony walked up to them.
“What’s going on?” he heard one of them say.
“Stop saying that. We don’t know,” another answered.
Tony stood, close to the crowd, and thought for a while. He decided that there wasn’t anything he could do. If he let Jimmy become overrun then his family would be safe. Maybe he would even return to his own body. He doubted the later part but he couldn’t kill the hope. Tony smiled to himself and turned to go back into town.
“Your son. The injured one.” There he stood, leaning against a tree, Jimmy. “I will go after him. He isn’t safe anymore. No one would question his death, and he is good blood. Who would miss one little kid.” Tony wanted to shout. He wanted to strike Jimmy. But he couldn’t. “You help me and I will let him grow old and feeble before I take him.”
Tony was allowed to move. He jumped forward and punched at Jimmy. The second before his fist touched him Jimmy disappeared. Tony looked up and saw Jimmy sitting on a branch.
“Get down here! You coward.”
“You couldn’t hurt me even if I was down there. In here you are nothing.”
“Then why do you need me to stop the higher forces? Why can’t you.”
“I need to harvest.” Jimmy leaped from the tree, making Tony jump. “They couldn’t care less about what happens to me or any of you. The only reason I have this curse is because on of my ancestors upset one of theirs. I need to harvest as soon as possible. That’s where you come in. You can stop the higher forces while I feed. I could feed on your son. I know where he is. I know how vulnerable he is. It would be easy. And then I would be back here quick enough to deal with anyone else. But that’s too easy. And we both know we would prefer this to be harder. You stop the higher forces and your son gets another thirty or forty years. A long time.”
“We’ve already been through this. I can’t take you. This is bad blood. I need fresh harvest.”
“My body. There has to be something left. The doctors wouldn’t keep it alive it there wasn’t.”
“Your doctors know nothing of this world. They no nothing of their own. They don’t understand when a body is dead. And there is nothing in there for me today. I’ve already been filled by that body once before. I’m beginning to think that you have no grasp of the simplest of things.”
“I’ll do it. But leave my family.”
“I will. For now.” Jimmy said and then disappeared.
Tony blinked a couple of times and then accepted that Jimmy had gone. He turned and walked back to the crowd. Even though he had only been a few steps away from them the whole time not one of them had noticed. One of them was crying. No one was comforting here. They all just stood, staring at the jungle before them. That was when Tony noticed it. A slight movement in the leaves above them. There was no wind. Tony witnessed something push a branch to one side. He stared at the spot, but could see nothing. And then two small green balls lit up. Tony didn’t have time to react. The green balls fell and light hit the creature they belonged to. Large pointed ears, a sharp grin. Beige fur. It landed on the crying woman. The people around spread themselves out, allowing Tony to watch as the four legged creature suck the soul out of the poor woman. The creature’s tail wagged as it clung to the woman, holding her to the floor. She struggled at first but that didn’t last long. Tony moved forward. He wanted to see more. He got close enough so that he could see the woman’s eyes.
At first they looked normal, but a bit panicked. The colour faded and the pupil contracted. In the end her eyes were just pure white. The skin grew pale, and shrivelled. And then every part of her began to melt. The small creature, about the size of her stomach, waited for her to form into a puddle and then jumped up. It spun in mid air and looked at Tony, as he was the closest. Large globs of saliva hung from the sharp grin. Tony punched at it. He didn’t know what else to do. It squealed in pain and moved backwards. Tony jumped forward and hit at it again. The creature jumped to one side and dodged the fist. Tony was quicker. He turned and punched again, that time hitting the creature. It staggered slightly backwards. Tony jumped onto it and hit it enough times to make sure it wasn’t going to cause any more problems.
The crowd stood stunned, as Tony stood above his conquered foe.
“What is that?” Someone said.
Tony drowned out the mumbling of the crowd to focus on the dead creature, trying to answer the question himself. He had expected the higher forces to be stronger, and bigger than that.
To Be Continued…