Imp Forsaken Online - Debra Dunbar

1

What is that?”

The elf’s incredulous voice was punctuated by a stab with an especially long branch. He jumped back after poking me, as if he thought I’d leap up through the stick and attack him. It’s not that I didn’t want to, but, rather, the form I’d managed to create seemed to lack the ability to move about of its own volition. It was a significant design flaw that I’d been unable to correct for the three days I’d lain here in the forest. Luckily, I didn’t seem to need food or water. I guess whatever I was at the moment was capable of either absorbing nutrients from the ground or photosynthesis. I couldn’t tell.

“I don’t know.” The other elven scout peered at me, leaning close. He was taller than his friend, his brown hair closer to blond in its tight braid. I had no eyes, but still managed to register a vision of my surroundings and the two scouts cautiously circling my form.

“Is it some kind of pond scum?” I received another jab from the branch. This was beginning to piss me off.

“There’s no pond for five miles. I honestly don’t know what this thing is; I’ve never seen anything like it.”

I had no idea where the nearest pond was. Since I had no head to raise, and no ability to move, I’d been staring at a canopy of tree leaves, a mossy covered ground, and the red-orange lichen on the trees closest to my… whatever. Three days I’d been here. The longest three days of my life.

The second, taller elf moved even closer, his face distorted by whatever lens I was viewing him through. I wondered what I could do to him if he touched me. Might be fun to find out. Come here, mister elf.

“Is it a demon?”

The one with the stick poked me again, arm outstretched to its full length, just in case I was, in fact, a demon. I was, but I couldn’t seem to do anything demonic right now. Anything beyond oozing all over the ground and soaking up the sunshine.

“Ugh, they are so disgusting! I’ll bet it is a demon. It would be just like one of them to draw us in close, then leap on top of us.”

The one with the stick nodded, not daring to stab me again now that my potential species was in debate. “Remember the rat one last year? I nearly peed my pants.”

The taller one snorted. “You did pee your pants. Fairy.”

I was pretty sure he was slandering his partner’s fae race and not his masculinity, although, with elves I think the insult had the same meaning. Clearly affronted, the first elf stabbed me again with his branch. “Let’s take it in. We’ll net it, just in case.”

The other seemed doubtful. “We’ll look like idiots if it’s some kind of rare fungus and we’ve netted it.”

The pair looked at me for a few moments, considering their course of action and weighing any potential ridicule. I continued to lie there, a gelatinous ooze on the ground.

“I’m not taking any chances,” the one with the stick finally said. “Get a bucket and a shovel, and let’s take this thing in.”

I was scooped unceremoniously into a bucket, netted, and hauled through the woods. My mind raced, going through the potential places in Hel where Gregory might have banished me. I wasn’t sure how the whole thing worked. Did I go back to a designated spot? Near one of the gates? My childhood home? I couldn’t believe the angel picked the spot himself, since he’d never been to Hel.

More worrisome was that I couldn’t feel him at all. When we were near, I’d been able to sense his emotions, read some of his thoughts. Now that our bond was broken, I realized I’d had so much more. There had always been a sense of connection, no matter how far apart we were. It was gone now. I still had the red-purple of his spirit self networked throughout me, but it was no longer tied to him. None of me was tied to him. If I’d had an arm, I would have checked to see if the tattoo was still there. I’m sure it would not have been. Once again, a sense of loss crashed through me. I missed him. I missed my angel. And I missed Wyatt and the girls. I missed Candy and Michelle. I felt so terribly alone.

Once the elven scouts had shown up, my heart sank even further. Not