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The creature’s five heads stared down at her, ten hungry eyes studying her intently.

Four of its heads were lizard-like, radiating from the center head on long, serpentine necks. The fifth head was almost human, a young woman’s head with a wide mouth filled with pointed teeth.

“Why so scared?” the creature said.

“Because… you’re a monster with five heads?”

“Oh, you speak English?” said the monster. “I heard you babbling away over there and I wasn’t sure. That was what, Spanish? French?”

“It was Italian,” said Angelina.

“Italian, okay,” said the monster. “What’s your name?”


The monster edged closer to her, and she back further away.

“Angelina. That’s a pretty Italian sounding name. I like it.”

“Eh, thanks?”

“You know, Angelina, they say talking to yourself is the first sign of insanity.”

“I was talking to the seagulls,” said Angelina.

One of the lizard heads reached out toward her, and she squeaked, jumping back. She collided with something, and realized with a surge of panic that one of the snakelike necks was behind her, preventing her from backing up any further. Smooth scales slid against her side as the prehensile neck wound around her waist.

“I don’t see a lot of people around here, Angelina. What brings you here?”

The lizard head reached toward her again, stopping inches away from her. Its cold breath felt like ice on her face.

“The company that destroyed the town that used to be here kidnapped my friend, and I’m looking for clues, or evidence, or… you know.”

The head edged closer to her. Its jaws moved as the human-like head spoke.

“Don’t you know it’s not safe here, Angelina? There were kids here not too long ago, about your age.” The lizard mouth warped into a horrible grin. “Something out here tore the flesh from their bones.”

Suddenly, Angelina had a suspicion as to what that something had been.

She removed the scissors from her bag, brandishing them at the creature.

“Don’t hurt me,” said Angelina, “or I’ll… I’ll cut you.”

The creature laughed, a thundering, distorted sound from all five mouths.

“You’ll cut me? I like you. The others didn’t talk to me or even try to put up a fight. They just screamed and screamed.”

Angelina plunged the scissors into the side of the lizard head’s neck. Blood gushed from the wound, but the creature hardly seemed to notice.

“It’s almost a shame to kill you, Angelina. But eating seagulls just isn’t satisfying.”

The lizard head lifted up, the scissors still embedded in it. Angelina had lost her only weapon.

She dropped to the ground, rolling under the creature’s neck, and climbed to her feet. She ran.

She was faster than the creature, she realized. The creature didn’t seem to have legs; instead, she pulled herself forward using her four prehensile necks. All Angelina had to do was get far enough away and find a place to hide until the monster lost interest.

Angelina stumbled over a rock, her hands scraping the dirt as she fell forward. She braced herself for the creature to grab her, but it didn’t happen.

When she turned, the creature was still several meters away, looking around as though she had lost sight of Angelina. This was her chance to hide.

A broken piece of pipe, about a meter and a half tall and wide, caught her eye. She ran to its opening. It was just tall enough for her to walk into if she crouched down. She climbed into the pipe.

A layer of soil had formed in the bottom of the pipe, with patches of plants wherever holes in the pipe wall allowed sun to stream in. The inside of the pipe wall was lumpy, riddled with moss, rust, and stains Angelina preferred not to speculate about.

She really hoped this hadn’t been a sewage pipe.

When she reached the middle of the pipe, she lied face-down on the ground, hoping she’d be able to blend in with the rocks and tufts of plants if the creature looked down the pipe.

She heard the monster approach, crashing through the shrubs and brush, and held very still.

“Angelina?” it said. “I know you’re here. I can hear you breathing.”

Angelina held her breath.

She saw movement in front of her and looked up, taking care to keep her head completely still. One of the creature’s heads was peering into the pipe, its dead, reptilian eyes searching for her.

She suppressed a relieved sigh as the head retreated from the pipe. She had gotten away. She just had to lie still a while longer, and the monster would leave.

Slowly and carefully, she reached for her locket, for the comforting feel of the metal in her palm. Her hand grasped empty air.

No! Her precious locket!

She looked up and saw it–the sunlight catching the silver heart, which was dangling from a bush branch just outside the pipe.

She crawled forward, her knees scraping the uneven metal beneath the dirt, until she reached the end of the pipe. She could see the creature nearby, its lizard heads raised high into the air, searching.

She reached for the locket, fumbling as it slipped from her fingers, then catching it with one hand before it hit the ground.

The creature’s heads whipped around.

She let out a squeak and clutched the pendant to her chest.

Before she could react, one of the heads lashed out toward her. It was near enough that it could have grabbed her, but it didn’t. Instead, it latched its jaws onto the lip of the pipe, pulling it closer. It tilted the pipe upward, holding it at a steep angle. Angelina slid downward against the gritty dirt and metal, grasping for a handhold with her free hand as pebbles and debris rained down into her face.

The creature let go of the pipe, sending it falling to the ground with a resounding clank. Angelina’s cheek thumped against the pipe wall, filling her mouth with the metallic taste of blood. She pulled herself to her feet and prepared to run.

One of the lizard heads snaked down the pipe, snapping and gnashing its teeth as it went. She spun around, ready to run the other way, and found another lizard head edging toward her. The head behind her shoved her, its wet teeth and rough scales against her back as it pushed her toward the head in front of her.

“Looks like you don’t have anywhere to run, Angelina,” said the creature.

Oh, come on. The creature could have just as easily caught her from behind. This was just mean.

The head in front of her slithered toward her, mouth open, revealing long, thick teeth that looked like serrated knives. She shrunk back, and the head behind her let out a quiet growl, brushing her back with its icy breath as if to remind her there was nowhere to shrink away to.

The head was painfully slow as it slid toward her, as though it was giving her time to contemplate her fate. She clutched her locket tighter.

This wasn’t fair. She was going to die, and she had never even gotten to see The Goldfish Technique in concert.

The head paused for a moment as it reached her, parting its jaws and rearing back, ready to strike. She instinctively raised her arms in front of herself, knowing how little it would help.

Then, the head in front of her retreated, backing out of the pipe. For a moment, she relaxed a fraction. Then she remembered the second head.

The jaws clamped sideways around her, long, knife-like teeth digging into her hips and ribs as it jerked her out of the pipe and into the air. She screamed, the kind of raw, instinctive scream that blasted its way through her throat.

The creature lifted her, moving Angelina closer toward her humanoid but wholly inhuman face. The face stretched into a mockery of a smile, and Angelina was close enough to see the creature’s human face had the same knife-like teeth as her other four heads.

Angelina squeezed her eyes shut as the jaws gripping her pulled her closer, until she could feel the creature’s breath. She tensed, waiting for those long, horrible teeth to sink into her.

Then she was falling.

She tried to open her eyes, and found that she didn’t have eyes to open. She was liquid now, all of her blended together and sucked in through some great cosmic straw like a human smoothie.

She perceived the green static and earsplitting tearing sound without seeing or hearing them. She was nauseous though she didn’t have a stomach; it was nausea in the purest sense, as though her very essence was violently ill.

She couldn’t feel the monster’s breath anymore, or its teeth digging into her. She couldn’t feel anything but violent, relentless shuddering, as though her body was trying to rip itself apart atom by atom.

She wondered if this was what it was like to die.

And so, bravely and tragically, our hero, the fearless Princess Angelina, finally meets her untimely end.

So much for angelic choirs and a light at the end of a tunnel.

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