[Mt. Martin, World of the Wends]
Amie peeked into the cave.
Walter Wenke perched on a rock slab, and warmed his hands over a campfire.
Amie said, ‘Walter? What are you doing here?’
Joseph looked in and then hung back.
Amie gestured to Joseph. ‘It’s okay, it’s just Walter, my Dad’s friend.’
Joseph grabbed Amie’s elbow and yanked her out of the cave.
‘What are you doing?’ Amie shook him off.
Joseph pushed her away from the cave and muttered, ‘Since when does your friend Walter have wings?’
‘What do you mean?’
Joseph continued to push her. ‘Don’t look back—run!’
They ran, stumbling down the slope. This time no rock hopping over the stream. They swam. Then they galloped down the hill.
To catch their breath, they huddled against a rocky outcrop.
Amie gasped for air and then said, ‘So what you’re saying, that wasn’t Walter—but that Boris you’re always on about.
Joseph gulped and nodded.
‘Yeah, well, here’s the thing, if he is, how come he hasn’t chased us?’
A flutter of wings made them look up. ‘You were saying?’ a voice above them said.
Walter Wenke’s face loomed in the darkness above them. He squatted on the ledge, his wings vibrating in the wind, four arms resting on his ribbed chest, and antennae twitching above his eyebrows.
‘I have a bad feeling about this,’ Joseph murmured.
Amie locked eyes with the beast. ‘Let me just get this straight, so you’re not Walter, you’re Boris. Does that mean my family was travelling with you all the time we’ve been in Central Australia?’
Boris laughed, a hacking cackle, the type that sounds like he was coughing up phlegm.
‘Oh, I have enjoyed getting to know you, Amie, my dear…’
‘Let me just clarify another fact, Boris,’ Amie continued unfazed by Boris’ sleazy comment. ‘When you said at the cave, we’d never get back, does that mean you’ve done something to the portal—I assume it was a portal—that we went through?’
‘How perceptive of you—I do like that in a female.’ Boris glanced at Joseph. ‘Don’t you, my lad? Good breeding material for my foot-soldiers.’
‘Don’t disgust me,’ Joseph said.
Amie slapped Joseph. ‘I disgust you?’
Joseph rubbed his cheek. ‘No, not you—him!’
Amie eyeballed the creature. ‘If you think I’m going to breed cockroaches, like those poor hens in the village, you have another thing coming.’
‘Cockroaches? Who said anything about cockroaches? I breed humans—super humans—for my domination of Earth.’
‘Give me a break, how corny. Then what are the Wends for?’
‘Why, practise, of course,’ Boris touched his chin with one spiny finger. ‘They do make solid breeding stock. The females are so strong—and compliant. And there’s so much meat on the men.’
Amie leaned back and studied Boris. ‘You don’t scare me. You’re just a big fat corny cockroach. What’re you going to do? Infiltrate the Earth with blonde Germans and eat the fat ones? Get a life! Can you believe this guy?’
‘Oh, but, my dear, it’s all true. I’m executing my plan at this very moment. Nothing can stop me. Mwa-ha-ha-ha!’
They watched Boris as he wrung his two pairs of hands and laughed.
Joseph tugged at Amie. ‘Let’s go.’
While Boris mused over his own delusion of grandeur, Amie and Joseph crept away, and slipped into the gully. Amie kept glancing back, certain Boris would haunt them, but the only thing Boris did was make his laughter ring through the hills and valley. He seemed, for the moment, caught in self-absorption, entranced by the glory of his own power.