The Dark Flyer

Michael C. Pennington

Published By

Chris Bartholomew

Static Movement


Caution to the unwary that travel without the second attention of the unordinary world around us. I’m not speaking of normal humans. There are other beings, with a more malevolent intent, who wouldn’t hesitate to take a life. Then there are humans with gifts of power, like myself, who staked out their own territories.

With practice I’ve learned to sense the bad ones, their minds reek of evil. There are creatures I avoid at all costs, for I’m not ready to fight them. Then there are those more accomplished at deception. More than once, owing to my youthful arrogance, these near humans or dark beasts have almost caused my death. Most I’ve escaped, some I was forced to kill.

The more dangerous ones will have to wait until I’m older. Granted, I’m not as physically strong as a human adult, but I always find a way to even the odds when evil assaults me. That’s the way my life has been since my parents were murdered when I was seven.

A damsel in distress or an occasional glistening bobble, I soon learned were usually the bait to an elaborate trap. I’ve grown stronger over the years, more devious and hardened. However, owing to my solitary existence, I’ve become jaded and lonely too.

I miss my parents. I can still remember our time together. My mom making sure I bathed and dressed properly. She taught me to read, let me help in the kitchen, and talked to me about getting along with people. My dad let me work on cars with him, showed me how to survive outdoors and cautioned me of strangers. They shared life with me and at the same time hid me from the real world.

I sometimes wonder what they thought the first time I lifted from my crib. Slyly levitated breakables they put up to keep from my reach or my bottle from the top of the dresser. Playing catch me if you can, while I darted about the upper portions of the room. From my earliest childhood I remember being cautioned not to fly, but to walk and only pick things up with my hands.

Rarely did I get to play with other children. We always seemed to be moving from one town to the next. I know now that I must have been a hand full. Every time I used my gift in public, my parents panicked, hastily packing the car and a long drive followed.

One night a few men broke down our front door. My dad fought them, but they outnumbered him and beat him to the floor. Mom tried to hide me upstairs and went out of the room to meet them. I didn’t do as I was told; standing at the door, I saw them throw her over the banister.

Afraid, I flew to the ceiling and down over the rail to my mom, she didn’t move when I shook her. Dad looked horrible, all bloody and broken. The men were soon after me, so I fled out the door and took to the night sky.

From up high, I watched the flames rise from above the house before they left. I tried to follow them, but I wasn’t strong enough to keep up. They soon lost me amongst the other vehicles on the road.

For a while, I plagued the town where my parents were murdered, looking for the men who broke into our house. I’ve never seen a single one and have concluded they were from somewhere else. I suspect they came to steal me from my parents. For what purpose I can only speculate. Since that time, I’ve never trusted normal humans and have survived these years on my own by taking what I needed.

I soared free and unassisted just above the treetops searching to the south of Denali National Park. I levitated for another reason than one of my own, not far from a deserted road that twisted up the forested hillside. An unselfish one for a change, for I don’t often help the mundane humans that crowd the world. I scanned the ground, slowly looking about, weaving from one clear view of the ground to the next.

Two young children had gone missing having wandered from their parents’ campsite. The authorities asked for volunteers to help in the search and any information leading to their safe return on the news channels. The picture of the six-year old girl and four-year old boy that the newscaster broadcasted captivated me.

I never had any brothers or sisters. But I do have a soft spot for other kids younger than I. Especially, ones in trouble with no one to help them.

A bear. That’s what people wanted to believe, even if the evidence was inconsistent. I didn’t believe a single bear could carry them both off undetected. Two bears, maybe, but that scenario didn’t feel right. No blood found. The family’s campsite and surrounding area was searched, overturned, and no den or bear sign were discovered.

The State Troopers hadn’t ruled out kidnapping. Various rescue groups and volunteers were currently spreading out from the camp area, widening the search pattern to several miles. Not even the rescue dogs turned up a scent. I wasn’t surprised when the troopers announced that the parents were under suspicion of foul play. An easy way out when no apparent solutions were revealed.

I speculated on other fears, a hunch concerning a more sinister scheme. A Hans and Gretel conspiracy, after all children disappear every day. Pedophiles, slavers, or just plain psychos that liked to hurt the helpless. Innocent souls were their lifeblood, their envy, enhanced by their unnatural hatred of the pure of heart.

I may be wrong, but a small glimmer of hope for the children’s rescue drifted in and out of my thoughts. This same area of their disappearance triggered memories, from years back, when I myself set off a trap as a child.

Orphaned, and on the run, I had drifted into the wilderness one summer. While I ate from a blueberry bush, ignorant of the perils of the world, two man-like beasts sprung up from pits camouflaged with trapdoors. Terrified, I escaped by my quick reaction, leaping for the sky, too young and inexperienced to fight back. Now I wasn’t so innocent or pure of heart. And I didn’t mind returning.

Urgent questions snipped at my thoughts, for I feared that I didn’t have the time to find them before they were killed. Would they have killed them quickly? Or lingered out their deaths, to devour and relish in their callous wickedness?

A splash of red caught my eye below. I drew in my limbs and whirled about, dipped lower, eyes darting here and there below the spruce branches. Lifting my goggles, seeking a closer view for the hint of color I glimpsed. I found a scrap of red cloth lying upon the lichen.

I silently eased down, spinning slowly, seeking the danger I sensed. The scent was there, just barely a whiff of something decayed and musty. An odor I once hoped that I would never smell again from my old nemeses.

I observed a scuff of overturned lichen further on. Forming a line, I looked back to the piece of cloth, and sighted forward to spot a broken branch on a low bush and soon after a crushed sprig of berries. I followed the weaving way beneath the trees, parallel to the slope of the hillside.

I lifted higher amongst the branches listening for any abnormal sound. A slight breeze whispered down from above, the hammering of a woodpecker in the distance, and the chirp of red-poles somewhere ahead. The birds’ unconcern showed that we were alone.

Drifting forward, I dipped and wove above the trail. Another gust brought that vile scent to my attention. Sniffing, I zeroed in, and spied a stain upon the soil and spruce needles. They were the enemy of man. I hated the beasts’ smell, but I was thankful they were too lazy to cover their urine.

An out-of-place horizontal line cut through the forest. Rising higher, I darted from one treetop to the next getting closer. To discover their encampment and a small cabin hidden beneath the foliage. The roof overgrown with moss and the aged logs hard to spy from the air.

My attention gravitated to blackened rib bones and shreds of charred meat hung on a spit. The coals still glowing red in the fire pit. Anger seethed from my heart and fear for the children consumed me.

I circled around behind the cabin, drifting upside down from above to peek in the window. The two male creatures from my past sat at a table inside, troglodytes. Near human in resemblance, but so different with their Neolithic brows and protruding jaw lines hidden beneath matted hair. They gnawed on long bones, their powerful, long arms flexing, and short legs braced beneath the table. Grease oozed down their scraggly beards and gobs of meat fell upon heavy chests barely clothed in the skins of animals.

I saw no sign of the children. I floated back up and looked all about the encampment. A square patch of spruce-bows woven together stuck out. Were they imprisoned below in a pit? I dared to plunge down and take a peek. Fearful of what might happen, I took one last look at the cabin.

Lifting the edge of the covering, I whispered, “Are you there? Hello?” I leaned down further to look inside the hole.

From out of the dark, a female troglodyte lunged up and grabbed me. Her dirty fingers gripped my shoulders. With her heavier weight and strength, she attempted to pull me down into the pit as I struggled to free myself.

“I got it, I got it!” She cackled in glee tightening her grip, nails digging into my skin. Her trap sprung, she yelled louder, “Help me, I got it!”

I fought her grasp, trying to pull free. I concentrated with all my energy and ripped the trog from the earth. I returned her grip, levitated higher, her hold now a panicked clutch. I clawed for the sky with my mind.

“Help me. Help me it won’t let go.” The beast’s confused, screeching cries for assistance grew more frantic.

The cannibal’s unbearable stench overwhelmed my sense of smell. The filth of her unwashed body disgusted me. Worst of all, the carrion breathe that passed by her pointed teeth finally made me retch upon her.

Approximately one hundred and fifty feet up, I flipped upside down; my shirt stretched, ripped and her hold tore from my shoulders. I loosened my grip to let her go. Stupid inbred creature, she fell to the earth, eyes locked on mine as she clawed at the air. The sharp snap of her leg bones preceded the rest of her shattering impact. A cloud of dust thrown into the air hid her form from view.

I momentarily rejoiced in the killing of a creature that needed to die. I wanted to wait for the air to clear to see my work, but I slipped into the trees before the others burst from the cabin. Adrenaline still rushed with my accelerated pulse. I cast about looking for a weapon I could throw, for I had to be touching the heavier things I levitated.

The lust of the fight temporarily overrode my sanity. My eyes settled on the spit, and I mentally reached out with my gift to grasp the filthy iron. Turning the point, I lifted and pushed with all my strength sending the improvised spear toward the first out on the porch. I aimed the sharp tip toward his distended belly. Piercing the cannibal all the way through hoping he would die slowly.

“Aiee! My tummy. Get it! Get it!” The depraved troglodyte screamed at his companion. Instead, the last creature disappeared back into the cabin.

Flying back amongst the trees, I circled around to look in the pit again. The need to find the children cleared my mind. Empty, I assumed the children to be dead, remembering the bones. My fears were for the worst.

The skewered trog writhed on the porch, trying to work the spit free from his gut. The beast’s hands, covered in his slick blood, failed him. He moaned in his agony, never taking his eyes from me, as his life bled out. “I’ll eat you for this.”

I went back to the window to sneak a look inside. I hoped to cause a little mayhem if I could. The back of a trap door near the entrance slammed down, causing the pane of glass before me to vibrate.

Levitating a large rock from the ground, I smashed the window and scraped the stone around the edges. When the last of the glass fell away, I dove through. Landing on my feet, in front of the opening for the best leverage, I cautiously pulled up the heavy lid to the way below.

The front door burst open behind me. I whipped my head around to look over my shoulder in fear. I couldn’t believe the beast could still stand, and I regretted not finishing the creature earlier.

The troglodyte lunged for me, with the spit still protruding out through his back. Arms extended forward as if to grab and pull me onto the blunt end of the spit with him. His eyes glared hatred.

I sprung for the ceiling as he rushed to where I stood. With the gaping trap door waiting, I moved to drop behind him and kicked out with both feet. He fell into the darkness, his scream of absolute agony echoing off the walls.

Afraid of what lurked below, I heaved up a wooden chair above my head and slammed the rickety piece of furniture down on the table. Scrounging about the cabin for rags, I tied them around the broken legs. Searching further, I found some matches and a can of rancid cooking grease on the wood stove to dip the torches in.

Lighting the torches over the opening and seeing no danger or likelihood of catching the cabin on fire, I dropped one into the hole. I floated down and planted my feet, avoiding the skewered troglodyte. The beast dead from a broken neck, head twisted to one side.

I held the other torch out ahead of me hoping to see the remaining cannibal. A narrow tunnel stretched into the darkness, so I picked up the torch from the floor with my gift to levitate. Floating the flaming brand several yards ahead of me, I hurried to catch the last one.

Seeing the opening ahead, I burst into a dingy cave. There standing before me, the last troglodyte grasped a bound child in each hand by the back of the neck. I sent the floating torch up to hover above us hoping to divide my advisory’s attention. But the carrion eater’s eyes never left me as I moved forward with my torch thrust out.

“I’ll kill’em if you come closer.” The cannibal’s teeth flashed in the torch light. He lifted the squealing children off the floor.

“Let them go and I’ll leave.” I moved the torch in my hand back and forth before me, again hoping to distract him. While I slowly moved the flame, I levitated above, behind him.

“You leave first!”

“Now that’s not going to happen, until you let them go.” I eased the brand of fire down behind him. Hoping he wouldn’t notice the change in shadows.

“No!” He leered at me, perhaps sensing his physical advantage. “I kill you now.”

And I drew the floating torch up into his greasy hair, and shouted back, “Then you’ll burn!”

“Ahee!” Shrieking as his hair flared up in flame, he dropped the children to the earthen floor and slapped at his head.

I jumped forward to beat him down with my improvised torch, but he met me in mid leap. Hair still on fire, he screamed his rage and his hands closed over my shoulders. Stronger than I, he head butted me and used the leverage of his long arms to bear me down. Struggling beneath his weight to the dirt, I fought to escape before he killed me.

In sheer terror, I attempted to use my gift to lift and push him away. Instead, I sensed his pounding heart so close. Desperate, I mentally grasped at the throbbing lump, squeezing tight. I had no idea that I could reach into a person. Until, I viciously ripped the organ from the supporting membrane. He jerked in agony, mouth gaping in final silence and stiffened before he collapsed to the dirt beside me.

I stared at him, lying broken, and couldn’t believe what I had just done. This effortless way to rend and maim felt wrong to me. The power to rip a life apart scared me and I suddenly feared myself.

With primal fury from my ordeal still coursing through my soul. I dragged myself to my knees and looked down at the abused children. The two gazed back at me with tears and hope in their eyes. I sensed their needs, and I bent over to gently untie them.

“It’s going to be okay,” I reassured the two as they were freed. “Are you all right?”

The little girl looked at me, her eyes wide. “We’re okay, but we’re hungry,” she replied.

“I’ll find you something to eat soon.”

“He’s a bad man,” said the little boy, kicking at the corpse.

“Not anymore, he’s gone to sleep forever.”

“We want our Mom and Dad,” the girl said.

“I want my Mommy and Daddy.” The boy crowded in close as if he wanted a hug.

“We’ll go right now; can you walk very far?”

“Yes,” they both chorused.

They furiously hugged me, showing their gratitude. My own eyes burned as I tried to hold the tears back. A long time had passed since anyone wanted to return my own withered compassion. With the two children holding me, my dark and deadly manner turned to that of a softer older brother.

Climbing to my feet, a child to either side of me, taking a hand in each of mine we walked from the troglodytes’ lair. On the way back they promised not to speak of me. I assumed no one would believe them if they did, saved by a hero that no one else had seen.

I vowed not to seclude myself from normal humans so much. Our conversation on the way back to the road system stirred my inner loneliness. I wanted to have friends who cared about me. Looking back at the past few years, I didn’t want to be alone anymore. I needed companionship to stay human.

At the same time, I looked back at my parents’ death. And wondered how I could set my own trap. I suspected that I would be very busy in the near future.