Pelle was weak. His lungs burned when they squeezed out what little breath they could inhale, and his eyes were beginning to cross with exhaustion. His legs buckled at every step, and his entire body wailed in protest to every movement.
Still, he pressed on.
He wasn’t sure how long he had been walking for, only that his stomach was caving in from hunger, and that he was not sure his body could withstand another step. One more, he thought, I’ll take another step, and then be done. One more.
But as it happened, Pelle could not take another step. Instead of walking, Pelle fell forward, his body crumpling to the floor.
He lay there for close to two hours.
When he came to, he realized there were sounds in the distance: Car horns, some angry screaming, raindrops falling. He sat up excitedly, that’s it! Beyond this layer of fog must be the E4 where the rain was falling and the car crashed, that’s why the horn honked and why the people are screaming.
He had no answers as to why he was in a world with brown fog, but he ran forward anyway, screaming at the top of his lungs, “Mamma! Mamma! It’s me!”
Pelle broke through the fog and his face fell immediately. There was no E4, there was no family, no people, only an alley showing an old, run down town with wooden buildings and dirt streets with cars that looked like those old ones his dad liked to take pictures of. Tin Lizzies he called them.
Then cold sweat appeared on the nape of his neck, and Pelle’s breath caught in his throat. He desperately wanted to scream, but his body didn’t dare make a sound.
The entire city was populated by monsters.
Disgusting, hideously disfigured things drove the old cars and walked aggressively down the streets.
Things with blue scales dripping yellow-green pus, fat monsters with red horns and beady black eyes, a giant dinosaur looking monster with more teeth than Pelle could count, a nasty stick-like monster with a film of grease on its translucent wings, and giant red bug eyes; all of these creatures walking, driving, or flying around the city.
I don’t belong here. I don’t belong here. I don’t belong here. I don’t-
“Hey Magage! There’s a child over there! A human!” A tall monster with black fur and red eyes peeked his head down the alley where Pelle hid.
The stick-like monster followed, “Aah! A human child!” They both began to walk toward Pelle.
Pelle stood frozen to the spot.
“It doesn’t seem like he’s reacting, Bithlo,” The stick-like monster said, “Guess we’ll just have to do this the hard way.”
They launched themselves at Pelle in the blink of an eye. He struggled, trying with all his might to free his arms from the monsters. He screamed, each scream tearing his throat from the inside with emotion and pain and disgust. “That’s good! That’s real good.” The red-eyed monster said, his eyes becoming glassy.
The stick monster shoved Pelle to the ground, causing tears to spring up in the poor boy’s eyes. “Ah fear…” he said, “It’s been so long since I’ve had such raw, unfiltered fear.” He leaned in to bite Pelle’s cheek, but before he could, Pelle heard rapid steps pounding the dirt ground, and the unmistakable huffing and puffing of someone who is on a chase and absolutely determined to catch his quarry.
The footsteps stopped in front of the alley, and an authoritative voice commanded,”STOP THIEVES!”
The monsters immediately released Pelle. “Oh… Oh… Bismax… Oh hey…”
“We… it was nothing…” They turned and bolted into the fog, dropping a previously unseen blue bag.
Bismax walked up to Pelle and helped the crying boy up. “Hey now, stop with the tears,” He said gently, but firmly, “It’ll just draw more shady types your way.” Pelle pinched his nose and tried to hold his hiccups. “Now, stealing from me I can pass, but messing with a young boy, a child, that’s unforgivable. What’s your name?”
Pelle looked into the monsters eyes, and despite them being a horrible glowing yellow, Pelle thought they were the most beautiful eyes he had ever seen. “My name is Pelle Marcus Ingvar Lindgren.”
“Ay, that’s a mouthful,” said Bismax. “Mind if I just call you Pelle?”
“Pelle is fine.”
Bismax nodded and sighed, “Well, I can’t leave a crying boy alone in this city, especially not someone with the last name Lindgren. I had a very close friend with that name you know. Come with me, I’ll take you to my home, and we’ll figure out what to do there.”
Pelle’s breath caught in his throat as he looked up at Bismax. He was basically a huge purple cobra. A fat one with no hood and two strong arms underneath a surprisingly muscular chest.He could crush him, or eat him, or poison him, or poison him and then eat him. Or just… Pelle’s eyes began to well again.
“What’s the matter kid? Are you afraid? There’s no need to be afraid of me, I have children of my own, something not everyone can boast about here.”
Pelle didn’t say anything but he stepped forward and took Bismax’s large purple hand. If Bismax wanted to hurt him, he wouldn’t have saved him from the two horrible monsters, so… maybe not all monsters were bad.
“That’s better. Come with me. And ignore everyone else on the street, they’re a bunch of gawking idiots.”
Pelle and Bismax walked through the dirt streets of the town. First right, then left, then right again, through rows and rows of dilapidated wooden buildings with rotting planks and chewed signs.
Finally, they stopped in front of a wooden building that looked somewhat stable. “This is it kid, this is where I live and work. Come inside, we can talk more after you’ve eaten. You look like someone’s starved you.”
The post office.