Zeb’s eyes darted to all the dripping dark corners. Rotten eggs and meat welcomed him as he stepped out of the comforting street lights. Warm wind whipped old newspaper and food wrappers across acrid puddles waiting in between the massive brick edifices of fallen businesses and tenement halls. Was it worth the risk? Ten minutes of time and the possibility to avoid the dealer on the corner always interested in getting Zeb to run his goods.
He knew it was worth it, the trouble and the time, one needed avoiding, and the other needed saving. His mom would be home in fifteen minutes and her rules, they were already broken. Zeb had to beat her home. He sighed at the problem pickup basketball had him in. Looking at his arms, the bruise had formed where the bleeding stopped on his forearm. Longsleeves for a few days, he thought and walked into the alleyway that cut his walk home in half.
These places could be treacherous. Zeb knew to be alert and observant. Junkies passed out with needles in arms didn’t offer a threat, but the discharged mental patients who now roamed the streets because of cutbacks tended to present issues. Plus, on occasion, he had stumbled on sleazy business transactions, and those folks never responded with indifference to your presence. His Nike’s padded against cracked asphalt, that noise bounced left and right off the buildings and down the alley in front of him.
He eyeballed the rusty blue trash receptacle, half the lid resting on the dingy brick to his left. Scratches came from inside as rats and other vermin rummaged for sustenance. The darker space next to it was piled with torn plastic trash bags. On the right, paper plastered and sucked, damp against the other building. Careful to not step in the puddles, he leaped from one point to another. Nimbly, he kept the noise to the minimum, in case. He was holding his breath, unaware he was doing it until his lungs burned. He exhaled heavily, as his eyes moved left to right, and up the fire escape.
The empty alley seemed especially dark today. Zeb knew he was close enough he should be seeing lights from his street around the corner by now. He slowed his pace, eyeing the edge of the building to his right, tried to see around it. Straining to peer around the red brick, he crept toward the corner. Eyes affixed to that point as his perspective scrolled revealing more and more of the alley path to his street.
Something substantial was blocking the light. Something quite large, indeed. The odd form bathed in black offered no detail as the street lamp light poured around its mass. Zeb stopped in his tracks, his heart skipped a beat, a jolt of shock made him want to run back. His feet were disobedient jerks. They didn’t move as he stood facing the hulking mass.
“Huh, who be that?” the mass said in a mumbled bass brogue. It stepped toward Zeb. His eyes began to decipher the inky figure’s enigmatic semblance. Zeb didn’t know what to think. What was this before his eyes? “Little one, little one, little one.”
The gush of hot breath smelled fouler than the open trash bins in the alley. Zeb covered his mouth, fighting to keep his dinner in his stomach as the smell of hot rot pushed around him. The creature bounded closer. Zeb stepped back. This creature was enormous, at least twelve feet tall. But it felt incomplete, perverse.
Zeb could make out features that seemed wrong, but as much as he fought to reconcile what his eyes saw with his mind, the features did not change. This thing, this form, was half. Its rounded head had a tuft of hair at its otherwise bald top, one eye in the middle of its face, bulbous nose and overly cavernous mouth, from its trunk a single, excessively muscled arm with a hand full of short stubby fingers with jagged nails, standing on a singular limb.
“What the eff are you?” Zeb asked the beast. He now was more curious than anything.
“Little one, tremble, quiver, I be eating your liver.” The beast’s response didn’t answer Zeb’s question, but it made Zeb laugh.
“Spitting bars?” Zeb stood before this giant oddity, and he just couldn’t figure out what was happening. “So what are you?”
The creature bent its knee, kneeling down it eyed Zeb from inches away. Zeb could see his face in the pupil of the monster’s green eye. He felt the hot air peel from its nostrils. “Little one, I am demise, Little one, you be wise. Little one, fear you may. Little one, rue the day.”
“Bruh, what the heck are you, though? I just want to know what you are.”
“Little one, I be Dìreach Eitidh MhicCalain, son of Colin.”
“I’m Zeb, big one,” Zeb smirked and shot the creature a look of incredulity. “So your big and bad, but I got your name, Big D, but I’m still trying to figure out what the hell you are. You a giant, or like the devil or something?”
The creature, Big D, popped up with an uproar of laughter, laughter that sound like a thousand giggling schoolgirls. Then furrowed his brow over his eye and got back into Zeb’s face, “Lucifer I am not, large I be but giant am not, of the Glen Etive, a fachan and Mac I be.”
“Cool. Fachanandmac. Never heard of it. But that’s cool. Nice to meet you, but I gotta go. My mom will tan my hide if I’m not home before her.” Zeb tried to walk around Big D. Big D hopped backward, blocking Zeb from leaving.
“No Fachanandmac, I be Fachan. I be Mac.” The fachan’s arm grabbed at Zeb, who dodged the clumsy attack. “Little one, be still, I hunger.”
“No way, eat some more of the trash you been eating. I need to go. So step aside.”
“Little one, be afeared of me. Men have perished at just me sight!” The fachan now agitated roared at Zeb.
“Dude, first, not letting you eat me. Second, not sure how long you’ve been here, but there are scarier things than you out here in the streets. So sorry if I’m not scared of you, but real life is scary all the time here. You want to scare someone, head out to the suburbs. Third, my mom is probably home already, and the longer I’m not home, the more trouble I’m in. So, Big D, I’m going now.”
Zeb just walked out of the alley, leaving the fachan confused and considering how to get to the suburbs.