Tom stood behind the bar washing glasses. He loved the quiet time at 10:00 AM before the bar opened. It gave him time to prepare himself for the flood of politicians and financial big whigs coming for lunch. Once, he’d imagined such wealthy patrons would behave better than the blue-collar folks across town. The notion was nothing more than a pipe dream. Tom felt each work day was like sticking his naked arm into a barrel-full of slimy leeches.
The meditative process of washing glasses was broken when she pounded through the door. She was tall and athletic. Her tight-fitting jogging clothes matched the garb of financial-district movers and shakers, but that’s where the similarity ended. Her clothes were stained with various colors of mud. Blood still oozed between rips in the fabric. She wore a bandage on her left hand and another above her right knee. The mud streaking diagonally across her face appeared self-applied. She looked like she just returned from war. A huge white wolf dashed in the door behind her. Without a word both sat on stools before Tom’s bar.
Tom stared at the wolf with trepidation. It didn’t look hostile, but still, it was a frickin’ wolf. “Lady,” quavered Tom. “There’s no dogs in the bar.”
“It’s okay. He’s a guide dog.”
“You don’t look blind. He’s a guide dog to who?”
The intensity of her stare shook Tom to his bones. She said, “All Humanity.”
She pulled a purse from her battered backpack and slammed three-hundred dollars in large bills on the bar. “Whiskey,” she said, in a voice sore from screaming. “Before it comes.” She nodded to the wolf. “And all the raw steak Anhiriniti will eat.”
A few minutes later Anhiriniti gobbled a large ribeye while Susan downed shots like they were koolaid. “I feel like there’s a story here,” said Tom.
“You want to hear a story?” said Susan.
“I’m a bartender.”
Susan tossed down another shot and gathered herself. “I was out hiking in Pawnee Park, just trying to get away from it all. It found me instead. The thing is huge. A hundred yards long at least. It looks like fish with forelegs, dragging an enormous body along. It’s covered in spines like some nightmarish blowfish. The thing is evil, pure evil. I watched hundreds of people sprinting towards it and leaping onto it, impaling themselves.” She paused for another shot. “Crazy thing is, they don’t die. They just dangle there, screaming. There must be thousands on the monster, all screaming death cries that never end.”
Tom stared at her. He knew she went on a bad acid trip, but he’d never heard anything like this. “How come this isn’t on the news? Where’s the National Guard?”
“I don’t know,” husked Susan. “It’s like an evil force of nature. Why would people willingly impale themselves? Why don’t they die? Whatever makes that happen is the same reason why the Air Force hasn’t blasted it to bits. All I can guess for now, is it’s something from Hell, here to punish sinners even before they die.”
“Those who profit from others for their own gain. The creature is covered in bankers, lawyers, and politicians. It’s been chasing me for a week. It hates me for some reason. It moves real slow and it’s easy to outrun, but it never sleeps. It just keeps coming, booming in that foghorn howl. You can tell it’s coming when you hear a lighthouse horn and the screams of the damned.”
Tom remembered to close his mouth. He resisted pouring himself a shot. He pointed to the wolf. “How does Anhiriniti figure into this?”
“There’s an old Native-American legend that says when The People are threatened by evil, a white wolf will lead them to victory over it. Anhiriniti found me after four days of running. He’s been guiding me ever since.”
A fog horn sounded suddenly, and Tom realized he could hear screaming. He ran out the door and into the street. A moment later, he returned, knees wobbling. He turned and vomited on the floor. Susan had a shot ready for him when he returned to the bar. “Why don’t they die?” he whispered. He said to Susan. “It’s close. You’d better go.”
As Susan collected her things and the bottle, Tom said, “Please. If the wolf is leading all of us to victory, where are you going?”
Susan stared. “The Capitol Building, where Congress meets.”
Written for Grammar Ghoul Press’ Mutant 750 writing challenge. The pic above is the media prompt. The word prompt that must be used is “bandage.” Once again, I’m sticking with a Halloween them and offering up horror and monsters. I hope you enjoyed the story. Look here to see how other folks answered this week’s challenge: http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-56/