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The Perils of Prudence - A Tale for Halloween

The monster was still alive. Drat!

The thought blazed through Prudence Cartwright’s mind, in conjunction with the lightning. The creature was in the back yard, briefly illuminated by the hot flash of sizzling storm-driven static.

And it was coming for her.

She thought she’d killed it two hours ago. But monsters, she knew, were like those really annoying guys down at the Wet Whistle. Just when you’d gotten rid of one, here came another. All tight jeans and faux leather jackets and bad hair, trying to put the moves on you. It was really discouraging. At least the monsters only wanted to kill you and eat your brains or something. The guys…well, ick. Just ick.

Prudence brushed away an aged crust of dried spider web, and peered out the kitchen window. A faint light shone over on Applewood Lane. Good grief, that was nearly four blocks away. Everything closer was in darkness, no doubt the result of a direct lightning strike on an unwary transformer. Or perhaps, she pondered with a shiver, the monster had toppled the pole bearing the electric lines. Monsters had a cunning which could be quite annoying at times. Whatever the cause, her house and all those around it were pitch dark.

Jeremy had taken their last pair of night vision goggles, and she’d used up all the matches in a futile attempt to light a flaming brand. Everything was too blasted wet from the three days of torrential rain. She stared out into the darkness in a vain attempt to see through the rain that slanted down in sheets. Something moved out there, huge and shapeless in the gloom. Prudence clutched the broadsword tightly, in hands that trembled only a little bit.

From behind her came a low, guttural sound. Prudence moved in a blur, wielding the double-edged blade with a frenzied yell. It cut through air, then through flesh. There was the familiar sound of a cut-off scream, and the familiar sight of a cut-off head rolling on the floor. The headless body teetered for a moment; Prudence gave it a nudge with the tip of the sword and it fell over, taking down a chair with it. Good. She’d never really liked that chair anyway. Too Danish modern. Prudence leaned much more towards the Arts and Crafts Movement.

In the next flash of lightning she peered at the head, in an attempt to identify her attacker. Sightless eyes stared lifelessly at her from behind the fading green glow of night vision goggles. Oh, damn! It was Jeremy.

Oops. Perhaps she shouldn’t have been quite so quick with the sword. But she’d been operating purely on instinct. The instincts that had kept her alive for this long. Jeremy knew how impetuous she could be. He should have known better than to sneak up on her like that. His death rested on his own head. Which, unfortunately, rested on the floor next to his body. But Prudence didn’t have time to mourn his loss. That could come later. Right now, she had a monster to deal with. If she lived until morning she could take a few moments to grieve for lost love. And perhaps give Jeremy a nice little grave in the back yard. Yes, he deserved that much. And some flowers.

The lightning flashed once more, revealing the huge shambling figure right outside the kitchen window. Prudence wiped Jeremy’s blood off the sword with a linen napkin which had graced the little kitchen table. The one where they’d shared a quiet breakfast this morning, after last night’s session of earth-shattering, toe-curling screaming passion. The blade gleamed coldly in the storm’s fury. Just like Prudence’s eyes.

A tentative knock sounded at the back door. Prudence wasn’t fooled. She recognized the monster’s knock. Rat tat a tat tat, tat tat. Not “shave and a haircut.” More like “I’m going to eat your, warm brains.” Prudence steadied her grip on the sword and forced herself to breath as she stepped to the right of the door. This way she’d be clear when it burst open.

Which it did a moment later. Monsters are not known for their patience, merely their tenacity. This one wanted to kill her, and it was determined to follow through on that imperative. Under the monster’s caress the door didn’t so much open, as fly across the kitchen and splinter against the stainless steel refrigerator.

Leaving a nice wide opening through which the monster could enter the kitchen. Prudence whirled the sword with practiced abandon, cleaving off the monster’s left arm. Her second stroke took off the other arm, which left the monster in a rather Hemingway-esque position. But this fellow was resourceful. It aimed a kick which, if it had connected with any part of Prudence's anatomy, would have sent her spinning across the room, to end up in a splintered, splattered heap rather akin to the door.

Prudence danced out of the way. She breathed a grateful prayer of thanks that her mother had forced her to take all those ballet lessons as a girl. En-pointe and en-garde, she made another foray with the sword, scoring a slash across the monster’s broad forehead. If the monster survived, it would require a new set of stitches. A complementary set to the ones it had already acquired.

She spun, the sword hissing through the air once more. Prudence put all her weight behind the blow. It should have cleaved the monster’s head from its shoulders, sending it to join Jeremy’s on the floor. Instead, the sword met unrelenting resistance, nearly jarring Prudence off her feet. Damn! She’d forgotten about the neck-bolts. Forged of a titanium-admantium alloy, they were super conductive. And super hard. The sword had a serious nick in the blade. Which didn’t help her mood in the least; that piece had been in her family for over a thousand years.

The monster was coming towards her now, its tread slow but inexorable. Prudence raised the sword again. Maybe she could cut off its legs. She swung the damaged blade with all her strength—and missed completely! The monster was tumbling to the floor in a tangle of legs and unattached arms. It had stepped on Jeremy’s head and lost its footing.

As it lay on the floor, hampered from rising by the decided lack of arms, she cleaved its head from its shoulders (avoiding the pesky neckbolts this time).

Prudence smiled grimly. “Thanks, Jer,” she murmured. Jeremy had saved her life one last time. He’d definitely get a nice grave.

Along with all the others…

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