“I must have exceeded its pain threshold,” Kaburagi Shisei muttered.
The now-useless queerat went up in a gout of white flame, and dropped back into the hole.
A piercing scream came from somewhere far behind us.
I turned and was confronted by an otherworldly spectacle.
People were swirling through the air like confetti. Some slammed into nearby buildings and left vivid blossoms of blood on the walls.
The street instantly fell into terrified chaos. But there was nowhere to run.
“A fiend? Impossible…that’s impossible.”
He began descending toward us.
The queerats hanging in midair seemed to have outlasted their purpose, and exploded one by one. Their bones were torn out, and the limp corpses disappeared into the sinkhole, trailing long, bloody intestines.
I heard a high-pitched shriek like that of a raging beast.
In the blink of an eye, a dozen people were engulfed in flames. They writhed and screamed, then toppled to the ground. Niimi wrapped his arms around me protectively and pushed me into the gap between two buildings.
An eerie silence followed the screams. All the survivors had, like us, found places to hide and were trembling in fear.
The fiend came down the center of the street.
There was no way to get a good look. I concentrated my entire being listening to his quiet footsteps.
My heart was racing, as if it were trying to pack a lifetime’s worth of work into the next few seconds before everything ended.
I caught a glimpse of the fiend from beneath Niimi’s arm and found myself unable to look away. It was the scariest thing in the world, but I just couldn’t tear my eyes from it.
It was so small. The size of a queerat, or maybe a child.
No. I was right, it was a human child. A boy, about nine years old.