Written by Andy Mascola
The newly wingless queen screamed in agony. Jennifer dropped the bloody appendages and tackled her royal counterpart to the snowy earth. The two were now locked in a fight for their lives.
Marcus, the Cycloptic doppelganger of Cyrus, attempted to assist the queen, but before he could intercede, John spun around and kicked him as hard as he could in the chest, dropping him. John opened the cabin door and ran inside.
“What the hell’s going on out there?” Kimberly shouted.
“Where’s the gun you took from Cyrus?” he demanded.
Kimberly ran to the back of the cabin, retrieved the pistol from the countertop, and handed it over. John looked down at Cyrus, still passed out drunk on the floor.
“Useless,” he whispered to himself.
John held the pistol in his tail and ran out of the cabin. Looking to his right he saw Jennifer on top of the queen with her hands around her throat. Jennifer’s beautiful wings were fully extended and shaking angrily as she squeezed. The snow beneath the two women was crimson.
“Merlin!” Jennifer yelled.
“What?” John said.
“The bald guy with the tail!” Jennifer growled through clenched teeth, never taking her eyes off the woman she was viscously choking the life out of.
“Right!” John said.
He turned to see where Merlin was. The back of a pink bald head with a tail swishing from side to side behind it could be seen making its way deeper into the forest.
Marcus was now on his feet. John quickly shifted the pistol from his tail to his right hand, took aim, and shot him in the knee. The Cyclops cried out in pain, buckled, and then collapsed immediately into the snow.
John ran into the woods after Merlin. Wherever the bald man was going could mean only more trouble for John and his friends.
Merlin was fast and had a good lead. As he jogged through the woods it was difficult at times for John to see him. Merlin paused, looked back for a moment, and saw John behind him. He jumped, grabbed a thick tree branch and swung himself up. Using his tail as if it was a third hand, Merlin began to effortlessly climb the tall tree.
By the time he’d reached the base of the tree, John was out of breath. He pointed the pistol upward, but there were too many branches in the way to get a clear shot.
John unzipped his jumpsuit and tucked the gun into an inside pocket. He zipped the suit back up, spit on his hands, rubbed them together, grabbed a fat branch, and hoisted himself up. He couldn’t ascend as fast as his bald counterpart, but he knew that if he was going to catch up to Merlin, it meant he was going to have to use his entire body to assist in the climb.
John concentrated on scaling the tree, using his tail to help stay steady as he went. Hearing no new movement from above, he looked up to try and see where Merlin was. At the very top of the tall tree, the monkey man sat on a branch, looking into the distance. Merlin appeared to be talking on a handheld device.
John now understood the reason Merlin had climbed the tree was not to escape or hide, but to get to open air so he could contact his people. John looked down. He’d never climbed this high in his life and he didn’t want to go any higher.
“Hey!” John shouted at Merlin.
Merlin continued to talk into the handheld device, ignoring the man in pursuit.
“Hey!” John shouted again.
Merlin tucked the communicator into his jumpsuit and looked down at John.
After wrapping his arm around a branch and making sure he was stable, John unzipped his jumpsuit, reached in, and pulled out the pistol. Again John attempted to get a clear shot at Merlin.
Merlin saw the gun pointed at him and smiled. He rolled himself off his perch as if falling, and quickly began climbing down the tree toward John.
John panicked and shot once at Merlin, but missed. Before he could squeeze off another round, Merlin was upon him. He gripped John’s wrist with one hand and his neck with the other. John held tight to the pistol.
Merlin swung his legs around John’s waist. John’s one arm still wrapped around the tree wasn’t strong enough to hold both himself and Merlin. As the two men fell, their tails instinctively grabbed at branches in order to slow their descent.
John’s tail was the first to successfully wrap itself around a strong branch, stopping his fall, and holding him suspended upside down. Merlin tried to maintain his hold on John, but was unable to and continued to fall.
Again John unzipped his jumpsuit, withdrew the gun, and pointed it at the rapidly descending man. He shot once and saw a fine mist spray from Merlin’s right side.
The bald man cried out in pain and grabbed his shoulder. He fell onto his back in the snow below. John watched as Merlin rolled over and struggled to get up.
John tucked the gun back into the inside pocket of his jumpsuit, zipped up, grabbed a branch, and began making his way down the tree toward Merlin. As he descended, John watched the bald man stand and run further into the woods holding his wounded shoulder.
“Son of a bitch!” John shouted.
He let the branches he’d been holding go. He dropped to the ground, landing miraculously on his feet, and ran after Merlin.
A thundering sound could be heard from above. John looked to the sky through the trees just ahead and saw a helicopter descending.
Merlin ran out of the forest into a clearing. The helicopter landed less than fifty yards away from him. A man wearing a black jumpsuit and hat, holding a machine gun, hopped out of the copter and began firing into the woods behind Merlin.
John dropped to his stomach as the bullets whizzed over his head. The snow was freezing on his face and neck. He looked up in time to see Merlin and the man with the machine gun jump into the helicopter as it left the ground.