Frank fucked me well. He didn’t fumble around or feel me up. He knew just how to press my buttons to get me where I needed to go. He fucked me good. I was writhing beneath him, gasping for air. When he finished inside me, for a brief moment, I felt alive. He was good at what he did. A real pro.
“See you next week,” he said, as I lay there, spent, trying not to move. He zipped up his pants, and took the folded up hundreds from off the night stand, next to the Kleenex. I grunted in agreement as he left. What’s that phrase? You pay them to leave?
I lay there, still in my cheerleader uniform, panties around my ankles, and reached for the other thing on the night stand: A pack of menthols. I tried not to move too much, just letting the seed of my “prince” simmer between my legs as I inhaled a ragged breath of nicotine and tar and slow death.
“Those things’ll kill you.”
I lifted my head slightly and glared at the ratty stuffed tiger sitting on the unused dresser. A long puff of smoke was my only reply.
I was reaching for the tissues to clean myself up and go wander the midnight nation looking for trouble when I felt an all too familiar nausea come over me. A twisting, wretched sickness that never impaired my abilities, but nonetheless told me that nothing was right in the world. And then the wall of the no-tell motel exploded inwards, pieces of wood and glass following a dark blur.
In an instant, I threw myself to the other side of the bed. With the supernatural strength granted to me by the night’s ‘lovemaking’, currently running down my thigh, I flipped it. Rivets popped out and metal bent as the bed went sideways. Barely in time to block the youkai barreling at me.
It snapped the bed the rest of the way out of the floor and pinned me up against the wall, the legs keeping me from getting crushed. I put my knees against it, and pushing outwards with my shoulders against the cheap wallpaper. The rusted metal underwire bit into my legs like little more than stiff grass.
The living wrecking ball warbled in a weirdly modulated voice, sounding like a robotic chicken. A claw came up from over the bed, nearly cutting into my face. I dodged, and grabbed it by the wrist, squeezing and twisting. It was disgusting, and made my uterus quiver painfully. But even monsters feel pain, and the thing squawked, then shoulder checked the bed. One of the legs of the bent upward, and the frame smacked me in the forehead.
I ducked down, but lost my grip as the stars flooded in. The hand was replaced by a beak. A red, razorlined thing, like some freakish cockatiel, with dripping waddles on either side. It snapped at me, but couldn’t reach. I held out my hand to the side and with a flash of pink light and rose petals I was holding a Chinese straight sword.
The demon let out an angry warble and scratched at the floor, trying to shove the bed into me. It wasn’t going to be folded like an accordion though, and shoved back with my knees. Unfortunately the cheap wall wasn’t as strong as I was, and I could hear it cracking under my back. With a grunt of effort, I pushed the bed away. Only, the wall gave, and I ended up with my shoulders going through the drywall. Either way, I had enough room to move.
The jian went through the bed like butter, and the youkai wasn’t any more of a problem than the cheap steel wires, the box spring, and the disgusting mattress. When the sword plunged into flesh, the pressure went away, the monster shrieking in freakish agony. The blade burned the damned thing and singed flesh and the disturbingly inappropriate scent of cherry blossoms filled the room.
With the leeway from the recoil, I lifted both legs up and double kicked the bed and bird away from me. They didn’t go dramatically sailing out the hole in the wall, but they did drag across the floor into the center of the room in a tangle. I got to my feet first, and was finally able to get a good look at the monster that attacked me.
It had a short, blunt beak with a wicked curve, but the body of a dinosaur, and it was covered in a shaggy, matted fur. It smelled like blood, and now women’s shampoo. As it warbled and clawed at the floor trying to right itself, I got into a defensive stance, black-bloodstained blade between me and the beast. It was flailing wildly, lashing out with claws like the ones I’d seen in some science class ages ago on a giant sloth.
A pillow came flying at me, batted to the side with the sword, and the thing righted itself, crouched over in the motel room, with the neon lights of the vacancy sign streaming in and backlighting it. It was hideous. And it let out a warbling, shrieking cry that physically hurt down at the base of my belly. Not that I wanted to let it show, so I just grit my teeth and growled back. We stood off for a long stretch of moment, the thing’s miasma now distorting the room. Colours faded and bent, lengthening oddly.
And then from the dresser, next to the TV advertised as colour with HBO, the little stuffed tiger let out a sharp whistle. The creature lost concentration, and jerked it’s head to the side, half panicked by the intrusion. Knowing it was coming, I just smiled, and kicked off the ground, driving the sword into the monster’s gut. The thing tore at me as I bit into it with my blade, that nauseating scent of cherry blossom and rancid blood filling the room again. Those scythelike claws managed to tear open my back, so I just dug in deeper, ignoring the blood staining the back of my Cheer uniform.
Instead of trying to pull me off, the freak did the sensible thing and rolled around back and forth, slamming me into the wall and getting away from my sword. It lumbered around in the middle of the room, trying to stay away from me, and kept glancing at the stuffed tiger. One of those big taloned shovel hands was pressed against it’s belly, keeping organs and ichor from falling to the floor. It was on it’s last legs, and was already putting it’s back to the monster sized hole in the back wall. But I was getting woozy as well, despite my recent recharge.
“Jenn?” came a concerned voice from the dresser.
“‘Mokay…” I mumbled, dismissively flicking a hand in that direction.
Birdbrain flicked his eyes back and forth, finally understanding. I needed to end this.
Love was the answer. I closed my eyes and tried to think of love. Instead I thought of getting fucked well by Frank, and the now half-dried semen on my thighs. I snapped my eyes opened just in time to get out of the way of the youkai swiping at me. Love. Fuck love. Nail bounced off steel, parried to the side, and the thing clucked at me, taking a few steps closer, forcing me to take a few steps back. I tried again. Why was it always so hard?
All I could think of were burned bridges. Parents, friends. I was running out of love.
My lack of action was met with a redoubled effort by the freak. It lashed out at me, and I ended up with nowhere to go, my back pressing against the wall. The gashes lit up like fire. I only had one sword, while he—it—had two claws, and a beak. I blocked once, but the other came down and tore through the drywall and ripped the front of my uniform into tatters. My shoulder would have been gone of I was a lesser girl. The stuffed tiger was crying out in worry, but I was ignoring him.
A *foot* came up and pressed against me. The touch was disgusting, and came with that nauseating burning glow within my uterus thanks to my ‘gift’. I swiped at it with my blade, but the thing caught my wrist and trapped it between two giant talons. The pressure increased. I couldn’t help but cry out in agony as another cheerleader shaped hole cracked into the wall. I think I felt a rib break, although it might have been a support beam. More agony. No, it was definitely a rib.
“Jennifer!” the tiger called out, panicking. Panicking and useless.
The freak warbled in victory, and I couldn’t help but wish I was thirteen again. Thirteen and naive. With fresh power restoring seed filling me up, and so much less dead inside. This would have been a minor threat, before three years of bullshit, three years of broken relationships and alcoholism. I reached down inside myself and tried to find love. Tried to find idealism, or hope, or anything. Somewhere, beneath ashes and cigarette butts I found it. A ratty stuffed tiger. A dead man inside. A kiss that meant something. Fuck me, of course it’s the improbable, impossible relationship.
I muttered a cheer with ragged breath, trying to keep cadence and banish the miasma. It’s hard to make cheerleading work when you’re being pushed through a wall. But I did. And the writhing in my ladyparts went away, moving upwards to become a dense knot of warmth in my chest. I let in a breath as best I could through a compressed chest, the definitely broken rib threatening to break my concentration.
And I went limp, my head rolling back. I stopped fighting the freak for a single, desperate second. And then a pulsing pink beam burst out of my chest, burning the youkai off of me. I stumbled to my feet, pressing it back with the light of hope and love, and took another breath, raising the sword above my head.
“Foul demon,” I shouted, tracing a glowing sigil in the air, “I banish you back to Hell from which you came!” with a strike of my outstretch palm—and a warbling shriek of terror—the sigil exploded. The youkai was nothing more than a disgusting, stinking smear of jelly on the carpet. The second it was gone, the sparkling pink light faded from me, and I dropped my sword to the floor. It clattered there for a moment, then faded away. I stumbled over to the upside down bed, grabbed the half empty pack of cigarettes from off the floor, and lit one up.
I looked at my thighs, and my exposed breast, covered in blood and sweat, chips of drywall and paint on my shoulder. Then I looked at the Kleenex. And I sighed. “I need a shower.”
All in a night’s work for a magical girl.