Chuck Wendig: Burn

This week’s Chuck Wendig challenge is Create Your Own Monster.  We had to come up with a monster and write about it for up to 1,500 words.  I remembered I had created a pretty cool monster last year in one of Chuck’s genre mash-ups.  So I decided to do a sequel to this story and see what had happened to my Southern Gothic/kaiju fire-breathing possum.  His name is Possumgeddon, and the story is called “Burn”.  Please to enjoy.


BURN

Possumgeddon had come out of the swamps of South Georgia in a swath of fire and destruction.  He had been born in a dark ritual that had gone horribly wrong.  Those that created him had paid the price for their mistakes.  He was nearly thirty feet tall and more than twice as long.  His eyes glowed orange, heralding the release of a sheet of flame and heat that spread out over nearly an acre at a time.

In the six weeks since he had been emerged he had rampaged across half of Georgia, laying waste to Waycross, Tifton, and Albany before turning south towards Florida.  Thomasville was in his sights as he stormed down Highway 19 and it was only a matter of time before he crossed the state line and moved into Tallahassee.  The football team at Florida State was good, but Clemson wasn’t nearly as strong an opponent as Possumgeddon would be.  The Tomahawk Chop isn’t going to do anybody any good against a thirty feet tall possum that breathes fire.

He had been pursued by both hunters and paparazzi.  The hunters, military and civilian alike, had been unable to bring him to a stop.  His skin repelled bullets, shells, even small rockets.  The paparazzi pursued him on foot or in cars as they were able, and from the air at all times.  His exploits featured on several live YouTube channels, Facebook pages, and Snapchat feeds.  He had more followers than the President, the Pope, and April the Giraffe combined.  It seemed destruction trumped childbirth.  @possumgeddon was the fastest growing account on Twitter and regaled the world with boasts and predictions of what he would do next.

He found himself in a pine wood.  He liked pine woods.  They burned much more readily than the cypress and oak back east.  He swung his tail, as big around as a railroad tie and twenty feet long, in an arc that swept several jagged pines off the ground like bowling pins.  His eyes glowed, his mouth opened, and flame sprayed.  Above him, three helicopters and an armada of drones recorded everything and sent images out into the world on his various accounts.

As long as they kept their distance, he tolerated their presence.  He knew they were there.  Every so often he would look up at them and roar.  He occasionally tried burning them down, but his flame was not as effective when the target was above him.  Yesterday he had tried again and the fire he breathed had rained back down onto him and had seemed to hurt him, or at least make him uncomfortable enough to wince.

That possible weakness had been noticed and soon Possumgeddon was accosted by a herd of tanks mounted with massive flame-throwers as their primary weapon.  They spewed flame of their own but he didn’t bat an eye.  Instead he had waded in among them and smashed them to pieces.  Apparently it was only his own flame that could hurt him.

He was a few miles north of Thomasville.  He had just emerged from the pine wood into a clearing, leaving the trees fired and burning behind him, when they surrounded him again.  There were tanks on the ground, and military drones in the air.  They harried him, the drones darting in and out, trying to draw breath from him, the tanks pounding away at his legs and flanks.  His reacting to one set of attackers prompted a redoubled effort from the other.

Finally, they got the response they wanted.  The drones were low enough that he was able to spray them and several of them caught fire.  They immediately turned and dove towards him, crashing into him.  The flames caught in his fur.  They smoldered, then a gust of wind blew them alight, and Possumgeddon began to burn, fired by his own breath.

He stopped, shocked, feeling pain like he had never felt before.  He bucked and kicked like a bronco and his tail whiplashed, sweeping tanks from around him in a widening arc.  Sparks and embers flew from him, and random discharges of flame went in all directions.  One of them caught a news chopper that had gotten too close and it exploded, the wash of flame being the last thing the pilot, the camera operator, and their viewers, saw.  Around the world, people tuned in, driving traffic to his feeds and views on his channels to all-time highs.

As he burned, another wave of drones flew in and deliberately crashed into him, plunging into the flames that were burning him then rolling across his body, drawing new streaks of torment all along his back and sides.

He stumbled through the clearing, roaring and burning, leaving trails of fire on the ground to mark his passage.  He crested a small hill, then lost his balance and fell, tumbling down the back side of the slope in a tangle of burning fur and paws and tail and noise.

There was a wide pond at the bottom of the hill.

His roll took him straight into the pond.  It was deep enough that as he rolled, he was completely submerged.  The water boiled and hissed and steam rose in sheets as the flames consuming Possumgeddon met the surface of the water.

The world held its breath.  The two remaining choppers and another fleet of drones hovered, cameras and microphones pointed at the pond.

Nothing happened.  Smoke continued to rise, drifting away in a gentle breeze.  Away to the north, the pine woods and grass in the clearing continued to burn.  After a few minutes, a few drones were directed down to the surface of the pond.  When there was no reaction from Possumgeddon, they collected a load of water, which they carried up and dumped on the fire on the other side of the hill.

Nothing stirred in the water.

After an hour of waiting, the county fire department responded.  Their efforts, combined with the drones continuing to take water from the pond, got the burning woodlands under control.  The land was scarred, but it was whole.  Thomasville breathed a sigh of relief and Tallahassee prepared for the Miami game on Saturday night like nothing had happened.

Still, nothing stirred in the water.

Eventually, after several days of no activity, the last of the drones turned their cameras off and left the little pond.  One by one the Possumgeddon Facebook pages and Snapchat feeds were discontinued, the YouTube channels shut down, and @possumgeddon became a spoof account showing purported Loch Ness Monster videos and trading Bigfoot and Chupacabra theories.

Three months later, in the dead of night, unseen by any human or machine, there was an orange glow from the bottom of the pond.  A rush of bubbles rose to the surface and burst in a cloudy curtain of steam.  Slowly, Possumgeddon emerged from the pond.  His fur was almost completely gone, but was growing back at different rates in a crazy patchwork on his heavily scarred back.  His breath was coming in ragged spurts.  His eyes narrowed then glowed again, his tail twitching fitfully.

He began to grow.

 

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