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!”

 

 

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The Morelli Bros. (Chapter I, Part VIII)

“Goomba!”

Like many a nameless Bond villain, the creatures announced their presence as one.  A quick count put their numbers at a dozen, a formidable number had they been people, but these beings didn’t seem to be all that intelligent.  While their eyes glared at him with malevolence, they continued to slowly march forward despite what he had done to their brethren.

He noticed, as well, that they didn’t come as a single group, but rather, in small groups of two or three at most.

“Luigi,” he commanded with authority.  “Flip!”

His brother, who was still recovering from their sudden trip to Neverland, rose into a crouch and laced his hands, palms up, before him.  With a final nod to show that he was ready, Mario launched himself into action.  His legs pumped beneath him as he charged toward his brother.  It was a move he had practiced many times with his sibling, one he was normally more comfortable with when using a vertical barrier, and was something he had thought of for just such an occasion.

His brother, who was every bit as strong as he, gave his hands to him as an impromptu spring.  Mario’s right foot found the pocket they had created, and in the next second, his left foot landed on Luigi’s right shoulder.  The younger of the two then redirected his momentum and launched him with all his might.  The effect couldn’t have been more perfect, for the older Morelli now flew up and away from him, spinning in mid-air to face the attacking creatures.

As Mario came down upon the leading trio, Luigi sprung to his feet and ran towards a duo that were now branching off in his direction.  Unlike the other, who leapt with the grace of practice, Luigi jumped into the air with his legs still pumping as wildly as if they had never left the ground.

“Wa-HOO,” Mario yelled to the side of him, where he was using the natural sponginess of the creatures to bounce from one to the next.  Luigi laughed, but his merriment was cut short when he made his first contact with one of the Goomba creatures. He watched in horror as the fungal creature burst beneath him, its intestines jettisoning from a large split in the creature’s side.  Unlike any digestive system he’d ever heard about, this creature’s was every bit the nature of its body. They were dark green, covered in slime, and emitted a smell worse than any sewer he had ever worked around.

He had nearly slipped from the top of the creature’s chitinous dome when it reached its lowest point, and his recovery was even worse.  While Mario continued to bounce from one creature to the next, he had to do everything in his power to just maintain his sense of momentum.  Unlike his brother, after the second of the two splooshed beneath him, he found himself over-compensating the anticipated launch, and instead of leaping gracefully into the air, he flew straight out and face planted, hard, into the dirt.

Luigi felt the air rush out of him as he hit the ground.  Stunned, he looked into the eyes of another of the foul creatures.

The Morelli Bros. (Chapter I, Part VI)

It was his sense of sound that returned first.  Even before he felt it on his skin, the grass and leaves sighed as a warm breeze brushed past them.  Somewhere in the distance, a bird chirruped playfully, calling out to whomever would listen to its song.  What darkness had once surrounded him was gone, chased away by the natural light of the sun.

“How long was I out,” he wondered.

His body ached, bruised from the rubble that had battered him in the alley.  Slowly, he pushed himself into a sitting position, balled his hands into fists, and ground them into his eyes as he attempted to chase away the cobwebs.

When he opened his eyes, the light stabbed into them like red-hot daggers.  His vision was blurry, but what he could see was nothing short of confusing.  A sea of green surrounded him, undulating softly to and fro in the wind.  His head barely poked over the tips of the soft blades of grass, which he could now identify by its fresh smell, something he hadn’t experienced since he was a boy.

“Luigi!”

As his vision swam into focus, he could see that he was indeed in the middle of the richest pasture he had ever laid eyes upon.  The grass was deep emerald, and as he rose to his feet, he discovered that it reached nearly to his waist.  Though the ground around his immediate area was flat, he soon learned that he was between two lines of hills that sharply rose and fell to either side of him.

“Luigi,” he hollered again as a sinking feeling began to grow inside of him.  The last thing he remembered, before being swallowed by the darkness, was the look in his brother’s eyes as he slipped away.  It was the fear of a man who know he was going to die.

He turned, and what he saw next stopped him in his tracks.  Suddenly, the desperation was pushed aside, the need to find his sibling, forgotten.  For, before him was something that in all his years as a plumber, had never existed until this moment.

Mario Morelli, son of Rocco and a master of his trade in his own right, was staring into the five foot diameter opening of a green steel pipe.  There was only a few feet in before it dropped off into the ground, but it was the sign over the opening that gave him more cause for concern.  In bold letters, in a font he didn’t recognize, was a word he could easily read.

EARTH

“…unngh…”

He didn’t have long to ponder the implications, for behind him, something was shambling toward him.