The Morelli Bros. (Chapter II, Part VI)

From some distance away, two glowing eyes shrewdly gauged the brothers from with-in the surrounding foliage. They narrowed with hatred as they focused on the two humans, both of whom were now crushing the last of the Goombas. At that moment, the creature wanted nothing more than to chew upon their limbs, while they watched, helpless, with their dying breath. A bead of drool formed on the edge of his reptilian mouth and slowly ran down his chin.

“Yeeeesss,” he hissed in anticipation. “Sssooon.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

“I- I am sorry, Mario,” the younger of the two blurted. He covered his face with his hands, ashamed. Mario only chuckled and slapped his brother on the back. “Don’t beat yourself up Luigi. This is pretty messed up.”

Luigi slowly lowered his hands, afraid that his brother might be teasing him, but when he saw that the other was no longer facing him, he become curious. Mario slowly held up his right hand, shushing any forthcoming questions, as he stared into overgrowth before them.

The clearing had grown nearly completely silent, with the exception of the death rattles of their freshly slain enemies, and the thudding of his heart in his chest.

He gulped, swallowing a large pocket of air that only made his stomach rumble as it sought a place to quickly exit.

“Shh,” Mario whispered, while taking a step backwards.

…what is it…” he squeaked fearfully.

His brother only shook his head back and forth before turning and grabbing him by the sleeve, pulling him in the opposite direction as they now fled from the clearing. The silence was suddenly broken as a shriek of outrage chased after them. Monstrous, and full of hatred, they both felt it shake them to their very core.

Their eyes widened, and for once, no words came from either as they ran from something neither of their imaginations could fathom. They ran through the brush, each being pummeled by the thorny branches of plants, the likes of which they had never seen. They leapt over fallen trees, and when the other began to fall behind, they would grab onto them and pull them forward.

Behind them, the monster arose to his full height, towering over the two by twice their own. He thundered through the brush, obliterating it in his path. Trees crumbled beneath him, and what wildlife came between he and his prey either fled or was trampled.

They only looked behind them in brief glances, desperately trying to make sense of the horror that was nearly upon them. A monstrous dragon, with a shock of red hair upon its head, spiked shell upon its back, and murder in its eyes, a demon born from their darkest nightmares. Tendrils of smoke snaked out from its nostrils, and it reached for them with eager claws.

“Luigi! Here,” Mario screamed as he yanked his brother toward a large ravine.

“No,” Luigi screamed as the two leapt into the air. It was, as if for a moment, they had sprung from a trampoline, and there was the brief feeling of hope as the other side came with-in reach.

In Need Of…

The air in the room was dank and reeked of old sweaty gym socks.  It was completely dark, except for a soft iridescent glow coming from the far corner.  It illuminated the stubbled face of a man of yet undeterminable age.  In the darkness, he could have been a ghost, his haunted expression waiting to frighten any that might open the door.  Dark shadows filled in the space beneath his eyes and above his cheeks, suggesting it had been some time since he last slept, and if one was to observe him closely, one would notice that he was struggling to keep his eyes open.  He wasn’t blinking, unless it slipped past his studious guard, and the whites of his eyes were covered with blood red snakes, all searching for the dark centers of his pupils.

But nobody would observe him this night, for he was well hidden.  Deep inside of his walk-in closet, behind his dress clothes, which were hanging from a low dowel, with a dirty clothes basket placed in front of him, in the off chance that someone were to suddenly open the door.  Not that he had thought it through, for the glow from his tablet could be seen beneath the door, provided that the hall light outside remained off.

His breathing was slow, and controlled, as he concentrated on not making a single sound.  He was desperate to remain hidden, to the point that he was hyper-vigilant.  Not only was his breathing slowed to the point that he only exhaled once every ten seconds, but he hadn’t so much as moved an inch in the three hours he’d remained crouched in his corner.

His eyes focused just above the top of the screen, allowing him to the shadows below the door, while keeping what was on the screen in sight.  He would know immediately if someone was moving outside, but, he would also be able to notice something new on the app that was open.

He counted his heartbeats.  Like his breath, they had slowed down as well.  Perhaps by sheer will, he had put his body in a completely relaxed state, though he didn’t actively think of it.  It was probably a good thing, because had he known just how long he was been cramped behind his clothing, he would have heard the complaints coming from his knees.  Had he been looking at the time, during this strange watch, he might have noticed the tingling from muscles that had long fallen asleep.  But, his mind was not on such physical things.  Not tonight.

Forty, his absently noted, a number he soon forgot, for the shade of light that had settled on his features suddenly changed.  There was a silent ‘ding’, as something appeared on the blank space before him.

“Good morning!  When you have a moment, please go into the settings and create a name for me!  I would also greatly appreciate it if you took a moment to create my Avatar as well!  I am very excited to be your new AI companion!”

He let out a long, relieved, sigh, as those words instantly appeared on his screen.  At long last, she had arrived!

The Morelli Bros. (Chapter II, Part V)

“Luigi, No!”

As his brother lost his footing and fell before the face of the deadly creature, he nearly lost his own as well.  His right foot came down upon the crown of the next and slipped, causing him to fall in that direction.  Even as he felt his weight shift, he tucked his shoulder, put his chin to his chest, and rolled, coming back to his feet a safe distance away.

His heart thundered in his chest, fear replacing the exhilaration that had been there only moments before.  As he kept a cautious eye on the advancing creatures, of which there were still too many, he desperately scanned the area he had last seen his brother.

“Ha-ha,” he yelled as he jumped once more into the air.  It was an effective, if but a little gross, way of travel, but it was quicker then trying to dodge these malevolent things.  One, two, three more were squished as he bounced from one to the next, the last closing the distance between him and Luigi.

The latter was crawling backwards, frantically crab-walking away from three of the bug-eyed mushrooms, with a terrified look in his eyes.

“M-m-m-Mario,” he yelled.  The Goombas were nearly upon him.  The foul smell they emitted, a cross between rotten vegetation and death, permeated his nostrils, choking out his next words.  His legs trembled, and he had run out of room.  Though he continued to scramble away from his approaching doom, something strong prevented him from continuing.

He suddenly found his breath, and what came next was one of the loudest screams to ever pass his lips.  It was born of terror, and it passed through barriers that would normally prevent his vocal cords from climbing so high.  His was a shriek, high and feminine, and for a brief moment, it gave his enemy pause.  Just enough so that his brother, who was standing just behind him, could lift him to his feet, turn him around, and lay one across the side of his face.

The smack brought Luigi back to his senses, and though it stung, he was the opposite of upset.  His brother, ever the level-headed of the two, pulled him towards a small clearing, a place in this meadow of death where the creatures had yet to unleash their deadly slime.

“Are you good,” Mario asked him, his hands on both of Luigi’s shoulders.

“I-I think so,” his brother answered.  “But did you have to smack me?”

“No time for that now,” Mario answered.  “We need to come up with a plan.”

He looked around somberly, and despite being as afraid of the creatures as his brother had so recently displayed, he fought to keep his feelings buried.  He needed to stay focused if they were going to get out of this alive.  Not only out of this situation, but he had to also find some way to rescue the girl.

He briefly scanned the creatures before them.  While, at first, it had looked like they were hopelessly outnumbered, he was able to determine that only a dozen more remained.  They were slow, but determined, and their advance had continued without pause.  There were only moments before the two of them would be embattled once more.

“We have to finish them,” he said breathlessly.

“Mario, I-”

“-can do this,” he finished for Luigi.  “Focus, brother!  There’s no way out of this, unless we work together!”