“But look at that thing. It may skewer you just by accident.” Simi said.
“I’m not going to let it hurt Trevon.”
Simi’s eyes shone with fear, and she grabbed at his shoulder, but Oscar shook he hand off. He didn’t realize that he had it in him, but he’d never been faced with this kind of a situation, so how could he know? He hunched over, and crept into the room, taking care to stay as far from the creature as he could manage. It was only five steps from the door to the crib, and Oscar reached it just in time to shield his baby from a falling wooden wall-hanging of a grey elephant. He leaned over the crib, and took the elephant on his right shoulder. It careened down off him, and hung up on the crib’s railing. It didn’t hurt Oscar much, but it could have done some real damage if it had been allowed to fall on Trevon’s upturned face.
Oscar reached in and snatched the baby out of the crib, and cradled him to his chest. Simi screamed, and Oscar spun to find the hulking orange monster now standing between him and the door. It seemed to be heading toward Simi, but Oscar couldn’t tell for certain, given its erratic patterns of movement. It looked like it might head into the closet, but then it veered suddenly right, and crashed into the doorway behind which Simi was standing. She screamed again and backed away.
“Oscar!” she yelled to him. He’d be damned if he was going to leave his wife’s side to save his child only to have his wife hurt because he wasn’t at her side. He figured he could get in front of the creature if he nutmegged it, after all it was really big, with a lot of space between its legs, but could he slide through there while holding the baby?
He was willing to give it a shot. For Simi, he was willing to do just about anything. He backed up a few steps, then ran forward, sliding feet first like a baseball player stealing second base. The silk pajamas that he had changed into earlier really made it possible. He slipped along the carpet right between the creature’s legs. He held Trevon to his chest on his right side, and barely jostled him in the maneuver. It was almost perfect, but the creature shuffled its feet as Oscar passed beneath it just enough to bring one of its spines within reach of Oscar’s left side. It jabbed into his arm, and dug a gash as his slide dragged his body across the spine.
He cried out in pain, but didn’t let it disturb his trajectory. His slide came to a stop when his feet collided with the wall on the other side of the hall. He quickly struggled to his feet, and handed the now complaining baby to Simi, putting himself between them and the creature. He turned to face it only to discover that it was gone. While his back was to it, it had disappeared.
“What the hell, where did it go?” He choked, breathing heavy despite the minimal exertion. His heart was racing, but mostly from fright and adrenaline.
“It just vanished right after you slid under it.” Simi replied, “Oh my God, Oscar, your arm.”
Oscar looked down, and his eyes bulged. The back side of his arm was laid open to his eyes. Blood was dripping heavily onto the carpet, and he could see his muscle sliced cleanly, the flesh white and disturbing to his stomach. He’d been a rambunctious child growing up, and had sustained dozens of serious injuries, but never had he seen anything like this. Simi dashed away from him into the bathroom, grabbed a towel, and returned, wrapping it around his wounded arm tightly.
“Come on, get in the car. We’ve got to get you to the hospital. We can talk about this crazy shit on the way.”
Oscar squeezed his arm under the towel, trying to press the two halves of his muscle back together. Luckily, it seemed as though no important arteries had been severed. It was bleeding, but not profusely. He followed Simi and Trevon out to the car, shuffling dazedly as he went. She had the baby in the car seat and the engine running before he even opened the passenger door.
“I’m sorry, Simi,” he said as he sat down, “I’m ruining the interior of your Audi. I know it’s like your second baby.”
“It doesn’t matter,” she replied, “You’re okay, right? Are you feeling like you’re going to faint or anything? Light-headed?”
“No, not yet. Drive fast, I guess, so that I don’t get there.”
The tires squealed and the engine roared as they tore out of the driveway and onto the blacktop. It was five minutes to get to 280, then another ten minutes or so before they would make it to Seton Medical Center, but Simi drove the whole way like an IndyCar racer, seemingly determined to cut the trip in half.
“What do we tell them when we get there, Niña? How did I get this cut? Because we surely can’t tell them that it was a ten foot orange cactus monster that slashed me. They’d put us both in the psych ward, and stick Trevon in foster care.”
“You don’t want to tell them that it was Muno who cut you?”
“Who is Muno?” Oscar asked, confused.
END OF DAY NINE