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by Daniel Braum

Beneath Highway 5 and the thousands of cars speeding by, the insubstantial hatchling cracked out of its insubstantial egg and floated up. It rose through the cars and the oblivious humans driving them. And if they could see the hatchling they would think it looked like some sort of giant jellyfish.

The hatchling rose higher and at the cloud line rendezvoused with an elder.

“Welcome,” the elder said. “It is time to feed.”

The elder wrapped one of its tentacles around the hatchling and dipped it down into the steam of traffic. When it found a weak human, it grabbed its life force, ripping its energy out of the body which slumped over in the back seat.

The hatchling reveled in its first meal.

“All of this. All for us.”

“You must only take the weak. The dying,” the elder said.

“Why?” said the hatchling. “It is so easy. So potent.”

It dipped its tentacles into the flow of traffic.

“When you die the spirits of those you’ve taken will be waiting for you. Thus we only take the weak.”

“What a foolish notion,” the hatchling said and ripped the lives from a dozen drivers and gorged on them.

Cars screeched and crashed causing a chain reaction and pile up.

The hatchling rose into the air and the elder followed. It wrapped its tentacles around the young one, this time not in instruction.

“My time is almost over. But yours is finished. Soon we shall both know who was right.”

The elder squelched the life from the hatchling and followed it into death.

- END -

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