Akal was nearly frantic with hunger. True he could go a full generation between the smallest meals, but human after worthless human wandered aimlessly without the slightest tinge of Magik. The taste of it coated his Lar’aang. His prey was somewhere in the gutters between the towers of metal.
Suddenly he sensed the Imar’taal summon the Magik. It wasn’t far away. His banquet awaited him near the moving metal boxes. He could sense Magik more strongly when the Imar’taal connected with it. Even this small connection was a pillar of light in the darkness to Akal. Somewhere nearby, he would find something to tide him over. A small meal to prepare him for a feast.
He began to move effortlessly through the metal and wood boxes the mortals slept in. No object of man had any substance in the Magikal plane. He could see it all, but the things of man were little more than strands of fog. They wouldn’t gain form until Akal reached a target, just one solitary human that he would find and devour.
* * *
Jamal turned into an alley a block away from the I-5. He was afraid to cross the boundaries that Master Chief had pointed out, and he hated himself for being afraid. He couldn’t even understand where the fear came from, except…
How’d he do that to my gun?
“I’ll kill you!” he shouted to the air as he kicked a dumpster. The move left a satisfying dent in the metal. He wasn’t weak. Jamal wasn’t helpless. He’d become someone in Click’s eyes, and he’d be even more important when he killed that fucker.
A tiny voice echoed in the back of his mind. “Do you really think you’ll even get near him again?”
He couldn’t understand his own fear. He was startled when the old bastard took the gun, but a moment later he felt like a helpless kid. The East Side 5s took all that away. He would not be afraid ever again.
A strange breath of air brushed the back of his neck, and Jamal felt fear.
* * *
With the fresh taste of Magik in the air Akal charged for it like an arrow leaving the bow. He could ignore the moving metal boxes and noisy masses of pointless bags of meat. At least he could as long as he had a fresh trail to hunt.
The taste of Magik grew so intense he had to swallow to keep his saliva from dripping out of his maw. His prey was near. A sudden loud noise drew his attention to one of the human gutters. It was a vacant stone pathway most humans avoided, but one hadn’t. The human glowed. Finally, something worth devouring.
“I’ll kill you,” it shouted. It was tall, as far as mortals went. It would be a filling meal.
Akal could feel his form enter mortal world. It was a slight tingle, like rising from a pool of warm water. He passed through the barrier between his Magikal world and the mortal one and prowled silently behind the meat. He could see the human’s form grow ridged as his breath touched the back of its neck.
The mortal turned slowly. The look in a human’s eye when it saw him was second only to the meal its self. They looked at him in terror, and they had reason.
Akal’s Lar’aang flew from his maw. The mortal gasped as the Lar’aang probed through his umbilical remnant. It wound through the intestine and continued upward until his Spa’ku, the pointed, hallowed ivory tip of his Lar’aang drove into the back of the mortal’s brain.
He could have run his Lar’aang through the nose, an ear or the mouth, but he would be neglecting the savory flavor of his meal. The magikally cleansed chemical in the primitive’s brain was what sustained Akal, but when time permitted, it was nice to allow himself the chance to taste every blood filled inch of a human.
This human had been kind enough to hide itself away in a, what did they call it, alley? Whatever it was, no one would find Akal here and ruin his meal.
“Please,” the primitive begged. “Please God, help me.” They were so noisy. A living meal was best. Alive, a meal tasted sweet. The meat still dripped with blood, plasma and all the things that made them so tasty, but when they started praying Akal sometimes ruined the meal just to shut it up.
They were small, soft skinned, noisy, weak, insignificant and worthless compared to the days before. Those were days before the primitives knew he existed. Days when Magik was everywhere.
It used to be Magik passed through anything, and Akal could eat the Magikal remnant. Now Magik could only pass through mortals. He drove his Spa’ku a little deeper into the mortal’s brain. Mortals tasted better than rocks anyway. Since he woke up, Akal realized that mortals were so much more plentiful in this age. They were everywhere!
“Help!” The mortal screamed. Frustrated, Akal extended his Lar’aang a bit more and used it to squeeze the annoying primitive’s heart. He felt a pleasant burst of blood spread around his Lar’aang, but after that, the taste faded into dead meat. The quiet was mostly worth the sour taste of rotting flesh. The bigger the bags of meat were the louder they could get. Sure the small ones could squeal, but they never lasted long enough to annoy Akal.
Akal looked at the thing. This one was dark, with dark hair and eyes. He was greatly disappointed that different colors didn’t indicate different flavors. What was the point of looking different if they all tasted the same? This one was cleansed with fear. It wasn’t as pleasant as other Magikal cleansings, but Akal needed to eat.
He retracted his Lar’aang slowly. The meat hadn’t soured all that much, and he wanted to let his Lar’aang rub along every organ on the way back to his maw. Cleansed fear always tasted sour. It made for a tangy treat when combined with muscles and blood. Hope, on the other hand. Hope tasted almost as good as love. Imar’taals were the same no matter the age. They spread hope and love, and Akal ate the Magikal traces of those efforts.
Soon, Akal would eat like he was back in the days before. He just had to let his productive little Imar’taal marinate the stew a bit longer.