We were only minutes away from certain death (a mantra Maxwell had become overly fond of and purred stressfully under his breath). We had splashed and struggled across half the island chain, a bloody and broken trail of destruction behind us. I could hardly believe that we had made it as far as Petit Dansons; sanctuary, or at least the chance of it was less than a mile away – the mainland glittered with promise, seeming far nicer than when we left it only half a day ago.
On the other side of the island was a pool and beach resort which would distract the Colossal Death Newt for a while. The terrifying beast had taken a malicious delight in chasing us across the archipelago. Never assume that nature is merely predatory; we are not the only creatures capable of spite.
Harvey crashed to the sand, exhausted from carrying us while Maxwell took to a tense pacing of the sands. I tore the radio out of the pack and tried not to shout into it. In the loudest of whispers I called up our pilot and breathlessly explained that we had reached the rendezvous, barely. Wonderfully true to his word, we saw Bob’s plane rise from the mainland only moments later. My elation at the sight of his aquaplane competed with the raw fear swelling in my gut.
The next few minutes were an incomprehensible blur of nightmare. First came a familiar crashing behind us, and then Harvey vanished – ripped backwards into the tree line – all fifteen feet of tough chitin and mandibles disappeared scarcely leaving a groove in the sand. Maxwell and I backed into the surf, (he in my arms, his claws dug firmly into my shoulder after climbing up me) as the sound of Bob’s plane grew louder. We twisted and turned in the shallows, trying to keep both our saviour and nemesis in view.
The plane slowed, making ready to glide onto the sea before us. We were ready to dive into the water but he reared up and away. I feared Bob had lost his nerve, catching sight of the fearsome monster lurking in the trees with our dear friend Harvey. We could even see the expression of alarm on his face and then the whole plane was whipped out of the sky by a monstrous tentacle that jerked suddenly out of the sea.
We stepped wetly back onto the beach as the plane cart-wheeled over our heads and into the trees. A deep roar of pain and outrage shook the ground beneath our feet from which we inferred that it had struck our pursuer. I fell to my knees wondering what arrangement of organs enabled such an outburst, doubtless a consideration for another time. The Colossal Death Newt showed itself. That vast flat head rose up above the foliage, the jaws gaping to reveal the rows of devil teeth and the tongue tasting at the evening air. It lunged forwards and we saw the yellow aeroplane wing embedded in its neck. It looked furious.
I fully anticipated our deaths but a foaming and crashing of water tore our attention seawards once more. An even more appalling creature of tentacles and snapping beak was thrashing its way to land. It resembled a purpling heap of paella grown insane and to titanic proportions. Our attacker snarled from deep inside, and bunching its sinuous length, uncoiled in a sprint directly for the marine assailant. The creature’s feet slammed straight past us, so close that I could have reached out to touch it (had I felt any such desire to do so). The leviathans embraced in a deadly whirl of teeth and tentacles.
Maxwell and I were shocked, to say the least, by this turn of events. So much so that we felt compelled to watch as they smashed into each other. We were even more shocked when the trees rustled again and we quivered in anticipation of some new threat. Our relief was profound when we realised it was Harvey. That relief faded immediately that we saw it was only a part of him. Just his head and first three segments staggered between the trunks and drunkenly weaved towards us. He took a few paces and fell to the sand, ichor gushing horribly from his abdomen. He died in my arms, his mandibles clacking feebly.
The two monsters thrashed away behind us, foaming the water and tearing great chunks from each other that arced over sea and spattered onto the beach like a rain of gore. This was a fantastic opportunity for zoologists such as ourselves to witness a miracle of nature, a contest of kings. Reluctantly I also acknowledged that this might be our best opportunity to cross the sea. I had little doubt that whichever giant survived the battle, its next meal would be us.
With this in mind I cracked open Harvey’s helmet-like head by jamming my knife into the crease by his left eye socket. The armour split smoothly and I parted sacs of insectile fluids until I found what I was looking for. The soul-grub whimpered faintly as I cut it out of the gristly nest it lodged within. I patted it gently and folded it into a wax paper envelope. I bundled Maxwell (who did not entirely agree with my plan) into his case and tucked Harvey’s next incarnation in beside him. I unlaced my boots and placed them on the beach facing the sea. With a last fearful look at the raging titans I dove into the warm waters. Pushing my friends before me, I swam into the coming night.