The Phil Phorce is a fictional periodical featuring my favorite characters from my own writing. It comes out in episodes, once every three months or so. To find out more and to read previous episodes, please go to these two pages: About the Phils and the Phil Phorce. Please enjoy Phil Phorce, Episode 7.
Quirk ran for the assassin at the other end of the throne room. It glanced up at him briefly, then turned back to the stone at its feet and continued carving its two lines. They were identical to the ones in the king’s room.
Just as Quirk reached the assassin, it disappeared. Quirk stumbled to a stop, looking around. The lines were still there— the assassin wasn’t.
Quirk whirled at a shout from Percival. The queen sat on her throne, frozen in fear, as a dark cloud began to solidify before her at the bottom of the steps.
Quirk and Percival both began running at once. Percival hit the darkness first, but it barely moved— instead of floating or shifting to the side, it squirted away from him at a completely different angle, sliding as though it was on a track. It began to form stumps beneath it— legs, Quirk realized, on a torso. The assassin was forming again.
Quirk slammed into it from behind just as the assassin touched its legs to the ground. They were skinny legs, far different from the ones it had had before it had disappeared, and Quirk easily lifted it off its feet. This time it moved in the direction he pushed it, but it didn’t stumble or fall— it was carried off its feet and slid at the same height constantly. It really did seem as though it was on a track.
Unfortunately, Quirk’s push had sent the assassin toward the queen. The torso formed a fist— it still didn’t have a head, or strong legs— and used its momentum to throw a wild blow. The queen didn’t move.
“Get out of here!” shouted Percival, grabbing the creature’s fist and trying to pull it away from the queen. Again, it didn’t seem to move.
The queen couldn’t say anything, staring forward without seeing. She seemed to be in shock. No, it was different— a puddle of red liquid covered her hand and part of her sleeve. The sphere Percival had given her earlier had burst on the wrong person.
The creature swung wildly with both its arms— it had grown another one, although both were shrimpy— but it still didn’t have a head. If it didn’t have a head, it couldn’t see.
“Grab its arm!” shouted Quirk. Percival grabbed one arm as Quirk grabbed the other, and they both pulled against each other.
The creature screamed, a guttural sound that filled the hall. The arm grew in Quirk’s grasp, thickening and strengthening, fingers clawing for Quirk, making it difficult to hold on.
The head appeared, the legs strengthened, and suddenly a spike jumped out of the left wrist and speared Quirk in the forearm. He let go reflexively, clamping his hand on the wound.
The creature jerked toward Percival, free of its track now that it was fully formed. It swung its spiked fist at Percival’s head. Percival ducked and spun around the creature, still gripping its wrist with one hand as he grabbed for something inside his coat. He pulled out a knife.
The creature didn’t hesitate, knocking the knife out of Percival’s hand. It clattered to the ground, out of reach. Percival stumbled as he dodged and fell, letting go of the creature’s arm.
Ignoring Percival, it picked up his knife and turned toward the motionless queen. Its form rippled and stretched, and suddenly it was a tall man in a long coat— Percival. But Percival was on the floor. Quirk blinked. The Flit had somehow disguised itself. Quirk, still holding his arm, stepped between the Flit-Percival and the queen, but it was a hopeless move. He didn’t know how to stop this thing.
The creature cast aside the knife, immediately changing back into its real shape. It knelt, digging its spike into the stone and beginning the first of its two parallel lines. Before it could finish, Percival grabbed it and pushed it backward, out of the open double doors onto the balcony across the hall.
Quirk ran after them. As long as they could keep the creature from drawing its lines, he thought they could keep it from disappearing again. Before he could reach them, however, Percival and the creature tumbled off the balcony.
Ignoring his bleeding arm, Quirk rushed to the railing. Percival hung by his fingertips from a carved rose protruding from the stone balcony. Hanging from the tails of his greatcoat was the creature.
“Cut it!” shouted Percival. He supported the weight of them both on that rose, smoothed by weather. He wouldn’t last long. He was right— Quirk had to cut it. But with what?
Quirk whirled and ran back into the throne room, searching the floor for the knife Percival had lost. It had skittered into the shadow of a giant pillar near the wall. Quirk grabbed it and ran back to the balcony. The creature was pulling itself up Percival’s coat, hand over hand, as Percival could only hang there.
Quirk leaned over the railing, but couldn’t reach the coat. He dropped the knife, grabbed Percival’s wrists, and heaved with all his strength. Percival’s fingers dug into the wound on his forearm. He almost lost his grip, but Percival grabbed the balcony railing and hung on as Quirk grabbed the knife, his hand slippery with blood. He pulled the coat away from Percival’s body and sliced at it, then again, and again.
On the third slice, the cloth tore away. The creature screamed its guttural scream again and fell, smashing against the cobblestones below. Percival heaved himself over the railing and collapsed on the ground. Both his hands and Quirk’s were covered in blood.
The form below them twitched, then slowly reached out a spiked hand and cut two lines into the cobblestones. It disappeared, taking Percival’s coat.
Quirk looked back toward the throne room, but the lines below pointed toward the side, not toward the queen. The creature was gone.
Quirk heaved a shuddering sigh, pressing his hand against his throbbing wound. The people at the gate below had fallen completely silent. They stared up at Quirk and Percival, then down at the lines where the creature had disappeared. They began whispering to each other again, and then the sound returned in a deafening roar.
Quirk helped Percival up, then staggered back into the throne room, out of sight.
“What in the world was that?” asked Quirk. His head barely formed the words through the pain of his arm.
“That,” said the queen, after Percival cleaned off the soap on her hand, “was a Flit.”