TITLE: CROATOAN 21
GENRE: YA sci-fi
Laura has gone underground in a desperate attempt to find the girl responsible for the disappearance of her half-brother. To gain the answers she seeks, she must fight one of the mutants who live below the surface.
I glanced down. At the flurry of activity down below, hands reaching into pockets and purses, tossing bills at Dora’s feet. She licked her lips and used one of her deformed hands to sweep the cash into a pile, eyes darting this way and that as if to make sure no one cheated her out of her due. I felt the tail tighten around me and struggled to pull in some air.
“I know that many of you…perhaps all…dreamed of something like this. Yes? A pretty young fighter against my hideous, deformed Kling…why, it’s Beauty and the Beast all over, a show for the ages! Only in this show…” A laugh, high and trilling. “Beauty may not survive.”
The tail suddenly twitched to the right. I gasped as I saw the high ceiling racing towards me. At this velocity, any contact would crush me like an eggshell. I flinched just as he stopped, a mere inch from the vaulted cement. Before I could catch my breath, the tail whipped downward, again at the same nausea-inducing speed, before stopping an inch from Kling’s mouth. From his bared, serrated teeth. Looking at them more closely, I saw that he had more in common with a crocodile than a shark—he even had the same overlong set of jaws that looked like they could turn bone and flesh into mincemeat.
“Be gentle to her, Kling. At least…for now.”
I wasn’t sure if Kling had “gentle” in his vocabulary.