Miss Patience’s claws quickly became unwelcome tenants within the various rooms of my body, calling forth no small amount of blood. The cavern wall I flew into was particularly uncomfortable, and I could feel a number of my weaker bones crack and snap, as is always expected when bones pick a fight with stone.
I really wasn’t stunned by the blow (as I’m certainly no stranger to the occasional, and outlandishly powerful, impact), but my inaction seemed to please my opponent into thinking I was a bit more injured than really was (as it was my turn in the sequence of attacks, after all). In actuality, I was still processing all that the woman-thing had said to me. Could she even be trusted with the contents of her own story? Did she really know what had actually happened to her? Or, might she be so pure and beautiful a monster that there was nary a fiber of reality woven into the weave of her soul?
For the most part, her beauty lived in her appearance, if not her appetite (at least not the philosophy behind her appetite, as she presented it). Furthermore, I speculated that her strict diet of Darkness-infected meals was the means by which she acquired her most conspicuous and attractive features, as the Darkness must have progressively seasoned her soul (from the inside out) with its protean flavors of nightmare and wonder. If my thesis was correct (and I had no reason to doubt that it was), then Miss Patience would be better classified as a shadow, rather than the exclusive product of the Great Darkness or the Deadworld; effectively rendering her the offspring of both. (Granted, all of us contain shares of death and darkness, but with much less impressive potency.)
I was sure of it—Molly Patience was a hybrid of the Great Darkness and Deadworld.
This fact effectively nullified the cannibal’s previous contention—that the Darkness meant nothing to her, and thus causing her blindness.
Having untied the philosophical knots that Miss Patience had proffered, it was finally time for me to kill her, once and for all.
The giant cannibal lumbered after me, and with far less energy than she had previously demonstrated. (She may have healed quickly, but surely not completely.) It wasn’t terribly difficult for me to evade her clumsy lunge, and leap atop her back. My sisters weren’t long at their task of completely removing the monster’s eyes, and it took them only a few additional seconds to slide into the bleeding pits that remained. However, the size of the monster’s head made it difficult for them to complete their job, as her brain was tucked away quite deeply into her enormous skull.
And then there were those awful claws again, raking across the back of my head and tearing me from her back.
“My eyes were merely baubles. I’m fine without them. I’d rather be rid of the foolish things, honestly. They give the wrong impression, anyway. I can still see you little killer. You’re fires are still burning, and they’re plenty bright enough. And if you’d do me the enormous kindness of holding still, I’d like to eat you, now. It’s a long climb back to the surface, and I’m going need all the protein I can get!”
Her left claw only barely missed my face, and sank, alternatively, into the boulder beside my head (so much for the predictable result of bones picking fights with stone). Her clawed hand quickly returned from its recent failure, and managed to successfully wrap around my neck. Miss Patience lifted me from the ground and held me at arm’s length, hoping to disembowel me with her other hand while she denied me access to the stability of the earth and a good amount of my oxygen. My sisters flashed their metal smiles, and the cannibal’s hand that held me was no longer attached to a wrist, and so finally relaxed its grip around my neck.
“Was your hand merely a bauble, as well?” I asked, after I regained my breath.
“It’ll grow back. That’s not the first hand I’ve lost to a knife,” She returned.
The gigantic cannibal was very fond of charging at me when she was at a loss for a more nuanced battle strategy, and so she came at me, shrieking. Despite her lack of finesse, she succeeded at crushing me into the wall with her enormous bulk, pinning me between herself and the unflinching stone. (I’ll not belabor the obvious expression.) However, my own strength is not an inconsiderable thing, and so I thrust both of my gleeful sisters into the former human’s distended belly, all the while bracing myself against the wall. Finally, and with much force, I shoved myself towards her, simultaneously plunging my sisters even deeper into the folds of the creature’s gut, and sending her flying backwards. A number of the monster’s internal organs lingered upon my sisters’ stained smiles, and the cannibal toppled into fields of burning, fallen debris.
My father’s blackening shadow fell across the prone monstrosity, and seemed to add a substantial measure of weight to the Queen of Cannibal’s efforts to shrug off gravity. I strolled behind Miss Patience as she slowly, and pathetically, crawled through the piles of glowing embers and sizzling bits of metal, until she finally found a wall to lie against. The conflict was drawing to its inevitable conclusion.
“Born of nightmares and fresh apple pies, you are surely a perplexing creature, Black Molly Patience. I must admit that I’ve come to both loathe and admire you, simultaneously and in nearly equal parts. And while you may have once been an artifact of the Deadworld, your hunger has made you into a tar pit, of sorts, filled with the fossils of the bygone Darkness. You are, after all, what you eat.”
“HA Ha ha… I… suppose you might be right, at that. I really hope…you win this thing, little killer. By the way, you’ll find my kill-list in my sleeping chambers…provided you haven’t blown that to…smithereens, too. Although I have a feeling you’ll find it easily enough,” she hissed, pausing a moment to grasp at a second breath. “I really thought I was going to take the prize…I mean, that dream of starving wolves…Who better than me to appreciate all of that?…My poor, poor beasts…I suppose it’s better that you killed them all…I’d rather not have them outlive me…They’d have no hope of surviving without me. I’m truly sorry about the name-calling and whatnot. Just part of the game, you know? I’m actually flattered you held me in such high regard…I just wish that the Darkness had sunk a little more deeply into my old, wretched bones. Almost every time I sat down to a meal of madness and monstrosity, I could feel such wonder filling my jaws…But then I’d swallow, and it was all gone…And after the Darkness fell away, it became ridiculously hard for me to find meals like the ones I’d enjoyed…Eating became so horribly motorized…And I hate to admit it, but I forgot the words to my song…lost them behind the noise of all that chewing, I guess… So, I should probably—“
My Father was quick, and I doubt she even saw him coming. Black Molly Patience was, at long last, dead.
Her corpse was brilliant art, and I would take no credit for it. I left it where it lied, sprawled out and in the middle of a thought.
I made my way through the injured underground, and as I went I spied the furtive movements of ancient things, picking through the ruin for the ripening corpses of cannibals. Apparently, the Rot-eaters beneath the earth held no grudge against me for ruining their supply-line of foul and ruined meat, which was fine with me, as I was eager to be done with cannibals and ghouls and mutants.
A slight breeze had found its way into the cave I traveled through, and then I saw the kill-list blow across my boot, landing with its names clearly displayed. I picked it up, sat down upon a pile of old bones, and transferred the names to my own kill-list. I crossed-off Miss Patience’s less inspired name, and moved my eyes to the next name on my list:
I couldn’t wait to meet him.