(A/N: I felt bad for the long delay on my other Adventure Time fic, so I decided to write a short little chapter here.)
Part Three: The Monsters Within Us
Somewhere along the city streets at the world's end, a large raccoon dug through an overturned trashcan for scraps of food. This particular raccoon had been through the Apocalypse and back, surviving with a scarred eye and singed fur. Considering the fact that he was the only living raccoon within a fifty mile radius, this was quite the feat.
A noise beside a nearby trashcan caught his attention, and he quickly lifted his head in alert. Only silence greeted him, but he hadn't survived this long without being extremely careful. Cautiously, he took one step toward the sound, then two…
And was suddenly met by a small, sharp toothed demon, who growled at him with horrifically exaggerated features. The raccoon's fur bushing out, it scurried away in terror, determined to survive for at least another day.
The demon just laughed, his black eyes alight with mischief. Somewhere nearby, an older woman called out: "Marshall, stop terrorizing the local wildlife. We're on a mission, aren't we?"
"Coming, Simone!" The young boy hurried to his feet and darted toward the blue skinned woman. A stuffed toy had its arms tied around his neck, and it flopped against his back like a cape.
An ice witch and a demon child were an unlikely duo, but for the past month and a half, the two had become a close team. They looked out for each other, and that was irreplaceable at such a dark time.
It was late that day, past nine at night, and the New Moon didn't help with visibility. They had decided to migrate a bit further west in the hopes of finding a civilization, and this was a new city in their travels. With each passing day, Simone's dreams were dashed a bit further, but Marshall's were forever hopeful. He saw the world through the joy and naiveté of a child, which was impressive, considering what he'd been through. Just make it to the next town, he thought, and there would be cities and county fairs and fields of strawberries.
Simone peered in through the shattered glass doors of a once-supermarket. The flickering lights near the back provided little light, but added to the ambience with an eerie hum. "Is there anyone inside?" she asked.
Marshall tilted one pointed ear toward the store, listening with his sensitive hearing for any living creature. "I don't hear anyone."
"Good. Follow me and stay close, okay?" And with those words, she darted inside with Marshall close on her heels.
They could never be too careful. Gangs had been setting up base inside stores and supermarkets in the hopes of luring fellow survivors to them. They could simultaneously rob the unsuspecting visitors and eliminate competition, all while being surrounded by rows upon rows of supplies.
Simone pushed a buggy down the aisles, dodging overturned bent soup cans and empty boxes in the floor. When it became obvious that they were the only ones inside, Marshall climbed in the cart and pointed enthusiastically at everything he wanted. "Cereal!" he exclaimed. "Lots of cereal."
"There's no milk."
"What am I going to do with a sugar-high demon boy?" But she ruffled his unruly black hair and handed him the cereal anyway.
He stared at the cartoon caricature of a bird on the box. "If we found a cow, we could have milk."
Simone laughed. "If you see a cow, you just let me know, Marshall Lee."
A sound near the entrance caused both of them to freeze. They listened closely for any other sound, both wondering if it was just their overactive imaginations or the wind. Then voices came, male, distant, with words indistinguishable.
Soundlessly, Marshal leapt from the buggy, landing on the reflective tile floors like he was made of air. With a waving hand motion, Simone led the way around the back of the aisle, head ducked low. "How many?" she whispered.
"Three, I think."
Her jaw gritted together, and she absentmindedly tapped her nails against the crown tied around her waist.
Seeing her worry, Marshall said, "I can take them, Simone."
As unlikely as it seemed, it could possibly be true. He was strong- she'd experienced that when he once grabbed her hand in fear or when he decided to playfully cause damage to local structures. His demon blood gave him quite an advantage in the physical department, but how much of an advantage? How much destruction could a demon child cause if provoked?
Either way, Simon wasn't about to let him fight anyone to find out… Especially when the other team had weapons.
"We're going to avoid any and all violence when possible," she said lowly, crouching down to his height. "We need to get out of here. Unnoticed, preferably."
"It'll be hard cause they're at the entrance."
She nervously bit her bottom lip, then winced when her sharpening teeth cut through flesh. "I know. But we're going to try."
"And you can't use your ice powers."
Her fingers loosened against the crown's gold surface. When did she take hold of that? If she did the opposite, if she placed that precious artifact atop her head, she would be stronger than any of them. The ice would be hers to form into daggers or curve around thoughts as she built her own kingdom. And this world would be hers forevermore.
Her hands fell limply at her sides.
"We know you're in here!" a voice shouted from near the front of the store. "We saw you come in. All exits are blocked, so you may as well come forward before we find you and blow your brains out."
Simone took a deep breath as she calculated her decision. Placing her hands on Marshall's shoulders, she said as calmly as she could, "Stay here, and I'll take care of this."
Her grip on his arm tightened slightly. "Yeah. You're backup, and it's your role to stay here till I give the signal, okay? It's a very important role."
At his nod, Simone stood, straightened her skirt, and balled her hands into fists. With a steadying breath, she marched to the front of the store.
There were two of them standing guard at the entrance, and given Marshall's prediction, one more near the back exit. Each of them had gas masks covering half their face and guns aimed at her chest. She held up her hands to prove she meant no harm.
The one on the right, who carried a shotgun, narrowed his eyes at her. "It's one of those mutants," he informed his partner.
"Not a problem. They still die all the same."
Despite her life-threatening position, Simone couldn't help but to blink in surprise. "I'm sorry, did you say mutant?"
"You haven't been keeping track of the news on the streets lately, have you?"
Her isolation was calculated and intentional. "I suppose not," she replied.
"People are mutating, lady. Some group a few miles north made camp in the woods. Next thing they knew, they're growing antlers like a damn deer."
The other man added, "Not to mention the group that holed themselves up in a candy factory."
"People are changing. We're going to make sure the human race survives."
Radiation, Simone thought to herself. Then aloud: "I can understand your fear, but I can assure you: I'm not a mutant." It was more than likely a lie. Although her change had been because of magic rather than nuclear bombs, she still wasn't sure what her condition could be called.
"Have you checked the mirror lately, sweetheart?" He lifted the gun to eye level. "It doesn't matter now either way. We can't save you, so you may as well step forward all night and slow and hand over what you have. Then, if we're feeling like it, you'll walk out of this alive."
"I don't have anyth-"
"That's a beautiful crown you have," he interrupted.
A thrill of panic rushed through her. They could take anything else, but they would never ever take her crown. The world of snow was hers alone. She licked her lips and said, "It's not worth anything." Each syllable was steadily punctuated. It's worth everything. It's my life. It keeps me immortal.
"Then it won't bother you if we take it."
If her eyes were more crystal blue than before, neither of the men noticed it. "You don't want to do that." I'll kill you all.
"Yeah?" The man with the machine gun, who Simone guessed was the leader, marched forward. "Well, what if we do." Standing face to face with a future Ice Queen, he glared into her frigid eyes, and something about them made him hesitate. Then, ignoring that feeling, his hand darted out with every intention to grab the crown. It never made it that far.
A palm with the temperature of a corpse in the winter wrapped around his wrist. The man had just enough time to gasp in surprise before frost covered his upper arm. Screaming in pain, he tried to pull his hand back, but her grip never let up. "Shoot her, you idiot!"
His partner fired, but Simone had already predicted it and was a move ahead. She jerked to the left, pulling her hostage with her. Her hand still clutching onto his wrist, she spun him around and wrapped her upper arm around his neck.
Then off to the side, a child's voice shouted, "Leave Simone alone!"
Marshall Lee Abadeer, five year old son of a Demon Queen, had powers he'd never tapped into nor was aware of. At that moment, he was standing at the end of an aisle with clenched fists and glowing red eyes. His hair floated as though moved by a nonexistent wind, or perhaps he was just tapping into a power source somewhere in a nearby plane, and his hair was moved by its force. His lips were pulled over sharp white teeth, and tendrils like smoke or ink emerged from his body.
The sight cut through the growing haze of Simone's mind like a spotlight through a snowstorm. Dread filling her chest, she yelled, "Get back, Marshall!"
"There's another one?!" Mr. Shotgun said, swinging his weapon around to the kid.
"Not him, asshole!" the hostage screamed. "The woman!"
"Are you seeing this kid?"
In an instant, Marshall's skin darkened, his bones softening and melting into something utterly alien to the earth at the time. His features contorted into a creature resembling a tentacle-covered monster from the depths of hell (or the Nightosphere. Whichever was most inconvenient.) Faster than the shotgun-wielding gunner could register, Marshall shot forward. Tentacles wrapped around the man's arm with a steel grip, and shark like teeth dug into his flesh.
A scream tore through the air, followed by the distinct sound of bones breaking. The gun clattered to the floor. With gritted teeth, the man attempted to pry the demon off by what would have been his hair, if he'd had hair in that form. In the process his free wrist was merely entangled in more tentacles.
By this point, the third thief had shown up on the scene and was staring in horror at the sight before him. Nervously, he lifted his gun and aimed it at the wiggling mass of blackness that held his partner captive. The first shot missed entirely, but the second hit its target, and Marshall Lee went sliding across the floor, shifting back to normal as he went. Clutching his wounded arm, he looked up through his thick bangs at the gun that was being aimed at him yet again.
This time, Simone was the rescuer. She grabbed the man's arms before he could shoot and wrestled the gun from him. Behind her, the body of her hostage was frozen in a block of ice. The crown that was suddenly atop her head gleamed as she spun around. From her outstretched hand, a spear of ice materialized and flew at the broken-armed gunner. It connected with his chest, and deep red splattered against the white tiles before his body hit the ground.
Simone cackled, her lips curved into a manic smile and her eyes aglitter with power-mad joy. The strength of the crown pumped through her veins and crystallized on her breath.
The man whose arm she held captive took in the fate of his two partners: One frozen and the other with a hole through his chest. He said, his voice pleading, "My God, what are you people?"
Simone hovered over the ground, her white hair flowing around her. "This world will be covered in frost in the start of a new Ice Age, and I am the cause and the ruler. I am the Queen of Ice, and you are nothing but an insignificant speck in my way." And with those words, the blood in his veins turned solid and shot like spears through his skin. His eyes were forever frozen in terror.
She grinned, revealing all of her sharp teeth as she took in the three bodies around her. What a lovely start, she thought. And now for everyone else…
A tiny gray hand reached up and tugged at her sleeve. Her reflex reaction was to smack the offending and insolent creature across the face.
But when Marshall Lee's wounded arm hit the floor and he shouted in pain, she was snapped back to her senses. "Oh my God, Marshall." She jerked the crown from her head and allowed it to land on the floor beside her.
"I'm so sorry. Are you okay?" She fell on one knee next to him and gingerly examined his wound. Luckily, the bullet had grazed his upper arm, but hadn't been embedded within his flesh. Simone hastily tied a white handkerchief around the wound to halt the bleeding. Then, with trembling hands and a second white cloth, she wiped away the blood from around his mouth. "We don't bite people, Marshall." Her voice leapt an octave and cracked.
The young demon boy stared back at her with hollow black eyes. "You used your crown," he stated.
Her breath hitched. "I know."
"Your skin is cold."
She closed her eyes. "I know."
"It's okay. We just have to stick together, and we'll be fine."
She stood, dragged her fingers through her hair, and looked out over the aftermath of their battle. "When did everything go so wrong?"
And as she spoke, she didn't know if she was referring that specific incident with the thieves, the nuclear war, or the downward spiral of her life.
The next day, they left town in the hopes of escaping the sins of their past. There had to be a silver lining somewhere… They just had to find it.
But the clouds hiding the sunlight were made of ashes from war. As it fell, it resembled snow that blocked out the horizon in the distance.
(A/N: This was originally supposed to be only three chapters, but I may write one more about an encounter between Marshall's mom and Simone. Lemme know what you think!)