When I wake up Pete was slapping me in the face, screaming. “He’s here. He’s here.” I know I shouldn’t have fallen asleep on the couch like that, but I was so tired. The cabin smell overwhelmed me. I can even smell some remnant of the Green Pine Forgetting Forest on my skin and up my nostrils. Another slap brought me all the way out. Somehow despite still being tied, I’m able to jump up and Pete went flying across the room.
“He’s here!” Pete screamed, as he scrambled up the bench, holding the wall.
He tied me up with his ceremonial robe. My arms were locked against my side. I struggled to get out but he had latched it around my wrists and I could barely move my arms at all. “Let me out now,” I screamed.
“No goddammit man, listen,” Pete yelled. “The beast approaches.”
I kicked at him but he scrambled out of the way. “Let me go now!” I tried to get him again but he easily dove out of the way. That’s when I saw my small hammer from home laying on the ground. It wasn’t much of a weapon, but it was something. I jumped for hit and got it in my right hand. I started awkwardly trying to whack at him with this.
“Stop it,” Pete yelled. “Stop it. It’s over. The beast approaches. He will have you. My debt will be paid; it’s over–” I caught him right there with the hook part of the hammer, on the fleshy part of the back of his arm. He screamed and turned on me and dove right at me like a football player.
He was right up in my face. I could smell his hot, sick breath. “I’m sorry Sir. I am. I hate that it has to be you, but there is no choice now.”
“Get off me!” I screamed.
Pete’s tiny hands cupped my mouth. “Shhhh, listen!” I listened for a second and it sounded like the wind coming on in a storm, but out of that, broke a clear wolf howl that made my blood curdle.
“It’s here,” Pete whispered, “I’m so sorry.” He got off me and moved to the wall. The years seemed to melt off of him, until he was the small boy who I had first meet.
His restraints had slipped off some in the struggle. I tried to wiggle and squirm out, but I couldn’t. “Fine Pete, that’s fine” I yelled. “I will be this thing’s fucking dinner, but at least let me fight and die as a man, not all tied up like a goddamn sausage like this.”
“There will be no fight,” he said. “The restraints aren’t for him. They were to protect me from you.” He look at me with watery kid’s eyes as he rubbed the back of his arm.
“You were going to serve me to the wolf!” I screamed.
“I know,” Pete said. “Still you shouldn’t have hit me though.” He grew younger than I had ever seen him now, maybe four or five.
“Okay Pete,” I said, “I got you, but I promise now, no more hitting. Please let me go and give me a chance, okay? We can work together we can defeat this thing!” I didn’t believe that for a second, but what could I do?
He turned away from me and looked at the wall, and began to cry. “Please Pete,” I pleaded. “I know you’re scared. I got that now.” A loud howl came from right outside the door. “Dammit please son, just untie me, please.”
He turned and looked at me and looked back at the wall. A loud pounding came from the wooden door. The thing knocked so hard the door began to crackle and pop. It would take nothing for it too bring it down. He was playing games. With a final whack and howl the sound stopped and there was silence.
“Please Pete,” I begged, “I got a family, a wife, kids. I don’t want to die. Don’t let me die like this Pete, please?” Again nothing, can you believe that?
I was bawling tears by this point, really freaking out. This thing must have been huge you know, to blast a thick door like that. I had no clue what I thought I could do in way of defense. It was all hopeless. I began to try to pinch myself to wake up. Even slammed the small hammer against the ground, hoping that maybe this might have some sympathetic effect over there. Still nothing.
Out of nowhere we began to hear a chopping sound and then a cracking sound, and then the sound of a large treeing coming down. “What in the hell was that?” I asked.
“He’s starting a pit fire,” Pete mumbled into the wall.
“Oh my god!” I I had to wake up. I started banging my head against the floor.
“Stop it,” Pete yelled. “Stop it. Don’t do that. You can’t go again. You have to be here when he’s done, or he might take me. Stop! Stop!”
The world was getting all hazy, but then I felt his light body jump on me and the cabin came back clear. “Fine,” he said, “don’t go and I’ll untie you. Just don’t hurt yourself anymore.”
I was groggy now, but one hand was free. I went back to the pinching and slapping, but it still didn’t work. I ripped the robe off of me. I thought about kicking Pete’s ass some more, but it didn’t seem right now that he was a kid again. I looked at the pedestal and the tablet was gone.
“Where’d it go Pete?” I asked, free from the straps. I paced the room trying to come up with a plan.
“Where’d what go?”
“The computer Pete, the computer.”
“The Sacred Fire, well that is on my person; it is my duty”
“I want it,” I ordered, “now!”
“No impossible,” he said. “Let me remind you, you swore an oath as Assistant to the Fire Tender, an oath which included the most restrictive promise not to harm The Sacred Fire in any way–” I snatched him by his coat collar and pulled the tablet from behind him. “What’s the code?” He ignored me. “Tell me now!” I gave him another little shake. Still nothing.
“If you don’t tell me it, I will throw it against the wall!”
“They’ll kill you if you do,”
“It’s going to kill me now!” I screamed.
All frowns he turned the tablet towards himself and punched in the code…