tagNonHumanHome for Horny Monsters Ch. 20

Home for Horny Monsters Ch. 20

bywriterannabelle©

Hey all!

Annabelle here with the next installment of Home for Horny Monsters! If this is your first time here, know that this story is essentially a novel in progress. Book One started in chapter 1, and Book Two started in Chapter 13.

My posts will be coming a bit more frequently now that I am able to work part-time! *trumpets blaring* Life threw me quite a few curves since 2018 started, but I worked really hard to not only deal with my day-to-day, but to keep writing this story that has taken on a life of its own. And I couldn't have done it without the support of the Lit community. You have all been extremely supportive and super appreciative, and I wouldn't have had the drive to keep going without you! Please keep those reviews, ratings, and emails coming. Even if I don't respond (I get a lot!), they are what has gotten me through the tough times and allowed Mike's adventures to continue!

That being said, where last we left off, Mike and Beth had been separated in the Labyrinth. So for those of you who have wondered whatever happened to the world's best estate agent, we join her now!


*****

Memories and Minotaurs

The sudden shift in time and position was immediately disorienting. One second, she was on the first floor of the Radley house, the world spinning around her. The next, she was running along a busted bridge, her legs not quite right beneath her. She tripped, colliding with someone else on the bridge, and they tumbled off together. Once she hit the cold water, her synapses fired all at once, restarting her brain and giving her full control.

"Beth!" A hand swung out, grabbing her wrist, but the water swept them apart. She felt the pull of the swirling water beneath and took a deep breath. She was yanked underneath, tumbling wildly along the river bottom, bouncing off the smooth stones beneath. She curled her feet up and cover her head with her arms.

When she was younger, her father had told her that if she could hold her breath underwater for more than two minutes in the ocean, Poseidon would turn her into a mermaid. Obsessed, she spent hours practicing in her tub, joined the junior swim team, and learned how to snorkel with her cousins on the coast. By the time she was able to hold her breath that long, she had long ago learned that her father had been lying. That still hadn't stopped her from diving down thirty feet and waiting for two minutes, hoping to see Poseidon emerge from the depths to grant her her wish.

She couldn't hold her breath for two minutes anymore, but it was longer than a minute before she was able to break free to the surface again, gasping for air. She took a deep breath, holding it in despite the fire in her lungs, allowing her body to bob to the surface. Floating on her back, she used her hands to push herself off the stone walls. The river split, and she kicked herself toward the route that widened out, the water's flow ebbing. Lying on her back, she stared at the rocky sky above, marveling at the giant stalactites above.

"Where am I?" She asked the ceiling, but it was too far away to answer her. She floated this way for some time, a watchful eye on the shore. She was missing a period of time again, but this time, something was different. She hadn't just woken up in her bed, an entire day gone. No, she had been running from something, which suggested that she had been in control of her body.

Or had she? Either she had a split personality, or something else was going on. Her eyes on the river, she spotted a small outlet, and kicked her way toward it. Crawling onto the rocky shore, she rolled on her back only to feel something pushing into her hips. Shifting her weight, she realized that she had a bag strapped to her body.

"What the fuck?" Sitting up on the rocks, she slid the bag around to her front. It looked like a miniature messenger bag, strapped securely to her torso. Unzipping it, she reached inside.

"Gah!" Her fingers had touched something hairy and wet. Standing up, she tossed the bag on the rocks, waiting for something like a giant rat to crawl out. Nearly a minute passed, and she was about to try again when the bag moved on its own, shifting about. Holding in a scream, the last thing she expected to push its head out was a creepy doll.

No, not just any doll. It was the one that Mike had given her, standing up on the rocks. The doll hopped out, pushing its rumpled red dress down in an attempt to flatten it out.

"I... don't suppose you know what's going on?" She asked. When the doll nodded, she didn't know whether to be surprised or not. "How... how did I get here?"

The doll walked toward her, and Beth took a step back. The doll stopped, holding one arm up, like it wanted to shake hands. Reluctantly, Beth knelt down, tentatively touching a finger to the cold, wet fabric.

The entire world popped, and Beth was standing inside of a house. On closer inspection, she realized that most of the windows and doors were painted on, a chill immediately traveling up her spine.

"Hello?" She asked. Wandering from room to room, she realized she was in a replica of the Radley house. Making a beeline for the stairs, she was headed for the front door when she saw the woman standing over by the hearth.

"Oh, please, no..." Beth whimpered, staring at the bedraggled figure. Her long hair covered her face, and her red gown was soaking wet. She was the epitome of every evil thing waiting to crawl out of a well, or television, or whatever, eager to drag Beth back to hell.

"Don't run," the figure said, remaining still. "I need to tell you what is happening."

"I'm dreaming?" Beth asked hopefully.

"No. This place is a figment, but it is my figment. It is real." She lifted her head, the hairs on her face never parting. "My name is Jenny. You've been here before."

Yeah, I doubt that, Beth thought to herself. "Okay Jenny, fill me in."

Jenny sagged, leaning against the wall. "No time for everything. I am exhausted, and cannot speak long. You are in a Labyrinth, a maze, a skip, a hop, a jump away!" Jenny shook her head, placing her hands against her temples. "No, wait. That's not what I meant. You are here with Mike. You need to find the others."

"What others?" Beth asked.

"Others like Lily."

Lily. The morning was coming back to her. The car crash, the story Lily had told her, the demon in the mirror. "Will the others hurt me?"

Jenny shook her head. "The minotaur might if he catches you. Avoid him at all costs. He will charge you what you cannot afford, put it on my tab!" Jenny tightened her hands into fists, pressing them even tighter to her head. "Dangerous. He's dangerous."

"Minotaur?" Beth asked. "Head of a bull, body of a man?"

"Don't leave my body..." Jenny sagged against the wall, sinking to the floor. "I'm... tired." The house shook and crumbled into darkness. Beth was standing on the shore, kneeling over the little doll that had collapsed.

"Well...fuck." Beth stared at the river, a sudden desire to toss the doll in surfacing in her mind. Jenny freaked her out. Grabbing onto the doll, it occurred to her that she had gone to the trouble of bringing it to this place. Whatever reason she had had for bringing the doll, she could figure it out later. Adjusting the straps on the messenger bag, she tucked Jenny back inside. Shivering, she examined the shore around her.

"I could really go for a fucking fire," she muttered to herself, climbing the slope. At the top was the entrance to a tunnel. Crouching to go inside, she walked for several feet, marveling at the bioluminescent moss on the walls. Touching it with her hands, she realized that it was slight warm to the touch.

"I'll take it where I can get it." She let her open hands hover over the brighter patches, fighting the chill that threatened to chatter her teeth. The tunnel opened up, and she found herself staring at a four way juncture.

"Hey, Jenny, which way?" she asked. The doll remained silent. Placing her left hand on the wall, she took the turn closest to her. Since she had no idea where she was going, the least she could do was try her best to avoid getting lost.

A thought occurred to her. Backing up to the opening she had come from, she found a bright patch of moss and used a rock to scrape the letter R for river. Heading back down her chosen path, she scratched an arrow into the wall. At least if she was lost, she would have some way to tell where she had been. Walking briskly, she paused long enough to strip off some of her clothes and wring the water out of them, hoping it would help her warm up faster.

The Labyrinth itself was a fascinating place. Sometimes the paths were long with no breaks, and other times, she found herself backtracking. A couple of paths had caved in on themselves, and these ones she marked with an X over the arrow. Other times, she spotted simple traps. Walking down one particularly long corridor, she spotted a break ahead. Eager to get to it, she almost overlooked the fact that someone had scattered leaves across the path ahead of her. It was only when she was about to step on one that she realized there were no trees to be seen. Finding a large rock, she tossed it onto the patch of dead leaves only to watch the whole area collapse inward into a spiked pit below. The pit itself was easy to crawl into and out of, which allowed Beth to pass without issue, but the old bones in the pit informed her that someone was here to reset the traps.

In the distance, something let out a howl. Beth assumed it was the minotaur, but was grateful that it sounded distant. Her stomach growled, and she wondered how long it had been since she last ate.

"I hate this place," she muttered, scraping a PT into the wall. She turned left at the next juncture, scraping in the appropriate arrows, and then promptly stumbled over a wire. Not knowing what to do, she threw herself onto the floor, eyes closed and praying. Spears crisscrossed above her, the trap maker assuming that the victim would simply continue forward. Her heart pounding, Beth crawled backward to inspect the trap. The spears were made of wood which, when Beth pulled hard enough, snapped off at the wall.

"Hiking stick," she declared, examining the pointy end. The wood had been capped with a sharp, steel tip that had a nasty barb in it. Looking down the tunnel at the crisscrossed spears, she could only imagine the poor creature that would get caught on them. She gave the spear a squeeze, hefting it in her hand.

Another roar bounced off the walls, this time slightly closer. Closing her eyes, Beth imagined how sound could carry through this place, wondering if the minotaur was in the next corridor over, or half a mile away. Shuddering, she got on her stomach and crawled beneath the spears, her hair tangling harmlessly in the barbs.

This corridor narrowed, then curved. She imagined herself walking along a giant letter O, her mind immediately going back to Oliver, the mirror demon. Messing with a demon had to be the literal definition of playing with fire, her pelvis still slightly uncomfortable from the fucking she had received. Despite the chill of her damp clothes, she felt a deeper warmth at his memory, wondering if it would be worth it to play with fire again.

Not paying attention, she just happened to look down in time to see an odd shaped stone sink into the floor beneath her feet. She immediately took several steps backward, crouching down and holding up her spear. Eyes on the corridor, she looked at the walls, then the floor, then up. She could hear faint gears creaking.

"Oh fuck." It suddenly occurred to her that the traps in the Labyrinth were likely not directional. They could be built for people coming in or leaving. She ran backward several paces and felt a sudden blast of air pressure across her back as the walls of the corridor slammed together. Turning around, she stared in awe at the trap that had almost gotten her. The thick walls of the Labyrinth now blocked her way forward, but the curve of the path meant that a small opening had appeared before her on one side. There was a path on the other side.

Debating whether she should crawl through the gap, she heard a voice from the other side.

"Hello?" Is someone there?" It sounded like a woman. Immediately suspicious, Beth kept her mouth shut. The mechanism for the wall hadn't begun retracting yet, so Beth made the decision to squeeze through. Just as her foot cleared the gap, the gears activated, the wall shifting back the other way. Beth watched the seams in the wall disappear as it locked back into place. She was in another narrow corridor, but this one had a small opening that led her into a circular shaped room.

The room had several pillars around its perimeter that rose toward the sky but didn't connect to anything. Each pillar looked like multiple rings stacked on top of each other. Moving carefully toward the center, Beth listened to someone grunting, the sound of stone crunching against stone making her teeth hurt. Pressing herself against one of the pillars, she circled around to the front, moving slowly.

One of the pillars had collapsed, giant stone rings lying in a pile. Beneath the rubble, a slender arm was frantically waving about, trying to push one of the bigger rings off. Crouching down, spear in front of her, Beth neared the trapped creature, kneeling down for a better look.

The arm was a grayish-white, the flesh made of stone. A couple of cracks had appeared, and a dark substance like oil leaked from the wound.

"Do you need some help?" Beth asked. The arm withdrew, and a face appeared in the gap. It was the face of a woman, with dark eyes like coal.

"Please," she said. "It's too heavy for me to move!"

"Well, many hands make light work." Beth stood up, appraising the pile of rubble. "I think the easiest way may be to climb up top and move some of the heavier ones down. What do you think?"

"I'm not in a position to offer any advice." The woman blinked. "My name is Abella by the way. I'm a gargoyle, in case you were wondering."

"I'm Beth. Just a human, I'm afraid." Beth stood up, looking at the rocky pile. "Otherwise this would probably be easier."

"How are you going to get the blocks off of me?" Abella asked her.

"The number one weapon of attorneys everywhere," Beth said. "Leverage." Kneeling down, she picked up a stone the size of her fist, then began climbing the pile. Some of the stones shifted drastically beneath her weight, but she needed to be up top. Choosing her footing carefully, she picked one of the stones that had a gap beneath it and stuck in the spear. Satisfied that it would fit, she wedged her stone beneath the spear, trying to push it as close to the gap as possible. Using it as a fulcrum, she pushed down on the stick, and the stone shifted to one side.

"I didn't feel anything," Abella informed her.

"I'm not a miracle worker." Beth removed the stick and changed positions, repeating the process. After a couple of attempts the stone circle slid far enough off the pile that it tumbled down the side. The rock shifted beneath her, and Beth stuck her arms out for balance. Satisfied that the pile had settled, she found another stone to start working on.

"So how did you get caught in this?" Beth asked.

"Shortly after we walked into the Labyrinth, we got lost. We had maps, but someone has been changing the hallways. The original plan was to set up a trap to ambush the minotaur and demand he return Tink's goggles. Sofia thought that he may have a treasure chamber in one of the dead spaces on the map too. When we couldn't find the minotaur, we tried to find a dead space. It didn't work out, so we wandered until we found this chamber. Sofia decided that this was a good place to set a trap, but nobody counted on the minotaur showing up early. We got into a fight, and when this pillar collapsed, I pushed Tink out of the way to save her." Abella grunted when Beth used her spear to tilt another chunk of stone off of the pile. "Sofia and Tink ran away, and I got stuck here."

Beth chewed impatiently at her lip, trying to move one of the bigger stones. Her fulcrum rock wasn't cutting it for this one, and her spear was bending far enough that she was worried it would break. "This sounds like an awful lot of trouble to go through for a pair of goggles."

"Tink needs them so that she can show Mike how to activate the House's defense mechanism. The mechanism runs on a timer, so it has to be reactivated once a day, but only the Caretaker can do it."

"And Mike is the Caretaker?" Beth shoved a stone out from beneath the larger one. The pile tilted, and Beth scurried off the pile as several hundred pounds of stone rolled free, sliding off to one side. They crashed against the hard stone floor, the sound of breaking rock echoing off the ceiling high above. "I thought he was the owner."

"It's... complicated."

"Sounds like it." Beth knelt down by the hole. "I just moved a ton of rock off of you. Do you think you can move?"

"Let me see." Abella's face disappeared. Gazing into the gap, Beth saw her put both hands on the ground and push. The pile shifted slightly, but the gargoyle wasn't strong enough. Her face reappeared. "No, not yet."

"I've got time." Beth's stomach growled, and she put her hand against it. How long had it been since she ate. "I don't suppose you have food?"

Abella shook her head. "We didn't plan on being in here this long."

"Fuck." Beth rubbed her stomach. Now that she was aware of it, she was ravenous. Scowling, she climbed on the pile of stones again. "I guess I'll just keep on keeping on."

"Beth!" The pile shifted beneath Beth's feet. "Run!"

"Run? From what?" Turning to face in the only direction Abella could see, she saw him standing behind one of the pillars. Clutching a giant axe in his hands, the minotaur snorted, taking a step toward Beth.

"Oh. Fuck." Beth lifted her spear. She had nowhere to run.

-

In the darkness, she could hear the ocean crashing against the sand, gentle pulses that threatened to lull her back to sleep. If not for the sudden sound of the heavy glass door sliding in its track behind her, she would have let the ocean carry her mind away, just another cloud of thought drifting over the horizon.

"Hey there Sparks." She heard the can of beer touch down on the glass end table, followed by the stretching of canvas when Alex sprawled out on the lounge chair next to her. From her seat, she could smell Alex's skin, a combination of sunscreen, seawater, and the grilled burgers they had eaten earlier.

"Mmh." Dana reached over, quickly finding Alex's fingers with her owns.

"Penny for your thoughts?" Alex asked.

"I'm afraid to open my eyes." Dana said. "I'm afraid that if I open my eyes, this will all go away."

"And why would it go away?"

"Because you... you..." Dana felt the oxygen leave her lungs, the sudden inability to speak bringing back a flood of memories of the crash, the memorial service, and everything else. Taking a deep breath, she let her mind drift amongst the waves for a moment. "You're dead."

"I don't feel dead." Dana could hear the smile in Alex's voice. "How did I die?"

"Motorcycle crash. Road was wet, and another car last control, hitting you head on."

"Wow. Sounds awful."

"It was." Dana was waiting for the world to pop, to take her back to reality. When it didn't happen, she opened her eyes, knowing that the dream couldn't progress any longer. She stared off the balcony, watching the water crash onto itself, erasing footprints from the sand. The sun had just set, and the world was vanishing from sight. "This is just a dream, you know? From our trip to the coast. This is the little apartment we rented, overlooking the ocean. Tomorrow morning, you're going to spill waffle mix all over the floor and we're going to go out to breakfast instead."

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