Captain Christopher W. Mitts Jr. slammed into the jagged, unforgiving rock surface, and scudded back a few feet before his progress was impeded at the base of a large mass of twisted iron. His breath had been temporarily knocked out of his lungs from the impact, and the corners of his vision were blurred with a haze that matched the loud ringing in his ears.
The slobbering creature towered over him; content with the damage it had wrought. The muscle-bound arms that had flung Christopher to the ground were poised…waiting for any sign of life to immediately crush. It’s claws clicked against each other, and the sound echoed through the silent landscape.
“Not again,” thought Christopher. “Here it comes…”
“NIKT ACHT, YOONAARRG!”
As the creature howled, the rancid air from its breath washed over Christopher, nauseating him and at the same time dousing him in a putrid, fog-like moisture that was next to unbearable.
“AARWAGHTNIGGNT EEROOTNEEK!” The creature began to circle as it continued in its demented ranting. Christopher remained on his back, poised and tense, waiting for the inevitable deathblow to come. It never came. The circles of the raging beast became larger as its howls became longer and more self-absorbed. Christopher began moving small parts of his body, then legs, then arms, crawling toward the dark sanctuary of a nearby ravine.
As he ran down the dark corridor of rock, he could still hear the maddening howls trailing off behind him. A quick pace and a few minutes brought him into familiar surroundings, as he rounded a corner and his ship came into view.
The ship rested in the corner of a canyon, the floor of which was covered in debris. Fragments of metal and rock, as well as much that was of unidentifiable composition. It looked as though the ship had landed in the middle of a lunar junkyard—and Christopher had a vague notion that somehow he had been responsible for the mess. But that was unimportant.
The martillator,” he mumbled to himself. “It has to be somewhere.”
He began overturning piles of rubbish, half-throwing, half-digging, in a frantic search the needle in his haystack. Every so often he would pause, in recognition of some familiar object or refuse.
“Hey! My magna-grav boots. How’d they get here?” And then, he froze. A creaking sound twenty feet west of his ship had caught and held his attention. He frowned, and focused his thought on the direction from which the noise had come. “Possible?” he thought to himself. “I didn’t expect him to follow me for another twenty minutes or so.” A flash caught his eye, and a shadow passed across the back wall of the canyon, close to the ship.
So he wants to play games…that doesn’t seem like him.” Christopher slowly began to inch around the nearest pile of debris. “Still…He’s after the martillator. And he wants me to lead him right to it.” With that thought in his mind, Christopher slipped down to the base of the pile, and crawled his way quietly back toward the canyon entrance, pausing every few minutes to listen for his enemy.
Past the first pile of debris. Pause. Listen. Nothing. Crawling again, past another pile. The shadow of the canyon entrance was now in sight. Pause. Listen. Still nothing: It was almost too quiet. What kind of game is he playing now? Forward again, like a fungus clinging tightly to the rock surface, ever inching his way slowly onward. Almost there…just a few more feet…and…Made it! Concealed now by the shadow of the canyon wall, Christopher sprang to his feet and dashed through the narrow entrance. He rounded the corner into the dark corridor of rock—and stopped dead in his tracks.
Staring back at him from the darkness ahead were two piercing eyes. And two rows of long, white, razor-sharp teeth, slightly parted. A low snarl emanated from the jaws, as the rest of the creature crept gradually into view, all the while holding Christopher in a steady gaze. This was not the raging monster from the outer canyon, though of similar appearance, if only slightly smaller build.
“I forgot about her.” Christopher drew his breath in, as he found himself backed into the canyon again, the creature stalking him ever backwards, inch by inch, bearing down upon her prey. She was focused, intent, with a patience that seemed almost playful. Almost. But Christopher understood this to be a more deadly match than the loud, violent, confrontation he had narrowly escaped with her mate. She wanted him—not the martillator.
She angled her slow pursuit so as to cut him off from his ship—Christopher’s only other avenue of escape. Then she quickened her approach, still guarding him, primarily with her eyes, watching for the slightest excuse to spring into a swift fury of teeth, claws, and death. The canyon wall rose up from behind. Abruptly he backed into it, and stopped. This was the end of the line. The creature closed the few remaining feet between them, and he could feel her cold breath upon his face. Slowly, she drew herself up to her full height, towering above him, still pinning him down with a menacing stare. Her jaws opened.
“Christopher Walter Mitts!” The shrill voice pierced through the air. “This room is a MESS! You’d better start picking up your things, before I come in here with a garbage bag and do it for you.”
still needs his hammer back, so don’t give him the slip this time.”Captain Christopher W. Mitts, Jr. stood in place for a few minutes after she had left. He looked around, then kicked over a pile of junk, and climbed wearily up into his ship. Gazing out the window into the void beyond the canyon, he let out a frustrated sigh.
Stupid aliens,” he muttered. “What do they want with a martillator anyway?”