Lariat

Spegg reached the cove before I could. I was well behind, slipping on patches of ice that he simply bounded over with his long, sinewy legs. Gasping for breath, I finally caught up with him at the mouth of the inlet and collapsed at his feet. He had taken cover behind a boulder, and if he was at all winded by the sprint, he didn’t show it.

Spegg turned and shook his head at me. “You could use a few upgrades, human.”

The way he said “human” sounded repulsive and I scowled at the new moniker, true as it was.  “I’m fine with the upgrades God gave me, thank you very much.”

Spegg tweaked an eyebrow, or what would have been an eyebrow if he didn’t have the head of a goddamn carp. “No such thing.”

“Maybe not for you.”

Spegg twisted his fat lips into a petulant smirk and turned away. He pointed to a cluster of rocks on the far side of the cove. “He’s there. Ready the EMD. Unless you think your god will protect you.”

“I’m not having this conversation with a fish.” I stood up and removed the white remote from my jacket pocket. As soon as I gripped the cool metal, the button began to glow a dull amber color and slowly brightened.  “Ready.”

We entered the cove. The creature immediately saw us, loosening a wicked shriek, and broke across the beach in our direction.

“The range on the EMD is only about 5 meters,” Spegg said. “So wait until he’s close.”

“Now you tell me.”

The beast bounded toward us, favoring its legs, but tagging the ground with its forearms every five or six steps. It hooted in sharp bursts as it neared and I extended the EMD with my right arm, my thumb trembling on the button.

“Don’t miss.”

“Shut up, Spegg!” I put my weight on my back leg and dug in as the thing scampered closer, its breath like puffs of smoke from a locomotive, solid in the cold Antarctic air. “Now?”

“Wait!”

It was nearly on top of us. I could hear its breath clearly, and its heavy feet crushing the ice pack. Its eyes were a bright yellow, its flesh brown… thick with muscle. “Now?!”

“Not yet!” Spegg said, taking a step away.

I held my breath, grabbed the remote with my other hand to steady it, and locked eyes with the monster as it lunged into the air.

Spegg screamed, but I had already thumbed the trigger. The remote buzzed. The beast’s eyes whirled. And suddenly it was on top of me, a blanket of thick, heavy skin, a putrid stink of death, and a flash of light as I slammed to the Earth under its weight.