Marla
A short science Fiction story

The flapper raced down the pulsating tunnel of the black hole. She pulled her long neck and legs into their body cavities, leaving only her multifaceted eyes protruding from her short, cylindrical body. She looked back, the dustrats was closing in, its' mouth open very, very wide. His jaws hinged back to allow for a 180 degree bite.

Marla knew there was no atmosphere in the spiraling tunnel. She really did wish it were filled with air. While flappers aren't too bright on the cosmic scale, she knew the dustrats can not maintain speed in an atmosphere. But, alas, there was none.

She had thought herself lucky when she detected the black hole seed lying close to her dimension. After that she kept her left eye rotated towards the dustrats, watching him carefully during his headlong pursuit of her. Just as he was really getting into one of his frequent yawns, she linked with a tattered dimensional thread, swung around its axis, mind touched the seed, and dived into the black hole just as it sprouted.

The dustrats was so engrossed in his invigorating yawn he sped well past the spot where she disappeared before noticing the absence of his prey. He contorted his body, quickly doubling over so that his barbed tail preceded him.

After his initial confusion he quickly found her trail and zapped himself into the next dimensional node. A time quirk had almost allowed him to enter ahead of her.

Fortunately Marla had seen the bulging of the tunnel wall and with a frantic burst of speed, she darted beyond it. But would not be able to go much further. The effort of maintaining the black hole and keeping ahead of her pursuer sapped her remaining energies. She needed to abandon the hole. Her alternatives were few and she decided that she would have to stand her ground. Marla didn't like that idea, though she had stood her ground before, obviously surviving. But she couldn't remember how, or why.

Why her? Despite all the dangerous denizens of the cosmos she had ever met, why was it only dustrats who chased her? Nor could Marla remember what happened or how she survived those other encounters. Maybe she would find out this time, soon ... her resolve was weakening and the tunnel started to close in on her. Marla had to get out of there!

She reached through the dimensional wall, hunting for a hiding place where she could rest. She sensed the presence of a planetary system. Marla snapped her link with the black hole, letting it dissolve quickly around her, and reentered the cosmos. Below her a small planetoid loomed, beckoning. She dived towards its lifeless and rocky surface.

She was not fast enough. The dustrats had felt the shift of the black hole and he escaped right behind her. The pursuit ended almost as she reached the surface! Touching ground she began to scurry across the sand and stone, hopelessly looking for shelter.

The dustrats jumped her. Deftly his long tentacles encircled her limbs, strapping her limbs to her body. As she watched his fanged jaws descend towards her throat she knew that this time she would not escape. His body contorted again. She felt the sharp barbs of his stinger as it probed her soft undersides. He forced it into her flesh, lunging. Again, again and Again! Marla shuddered with the anguish and pain, each plunge feeling as though it ripped through her internal organs, tearing them more and more. But she was not dead, yet.

Without warning she was free. It was the dustrats' body that shuddered now, his tentacles loosened as he fell to the rocky surface. She turned to him, her neck extended out to the fullest. Marla focused both eyes on him. The pain ebbed away. Yes, yes, she sensed something. Yes, that was it, she remembered!

Slowly Marla settled onto a large, flat rock next to the dustrats and began tearing small chunks of flesh from his still quivering flank. She daintily stuffed them into her mouth, one piece at a time, savoring each delectable tidbit. The long chase had made her famished but she was thankful. After all, now that she remembered, the wedding feast was the only thing she liked about mating season.

 

Copyrighted by Lawrence Swyfte 2003

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