Pyke and Pyre
Written with YA audience in mind for a contest on Scribophile.com this was meant to be dark but light-hearted.
“Your soul looks delicious.”
Pike shut his eyes tightly.
His week had been long but today felt longer. He had been chased from home, two hours late for school, by his older sister and a seven year old wicker broom. In his first class, his girlfriend dumped him. During the lunch break, Pike took the blame for dragging the boys into a hurdle over a racy men’s magazine. After serving an hour long detention under the harsh gaze of the callous, butch Principal Josephine, he hoped for a moment of peace and a sugar infused snack from the local convenience store. When a small, unruly child ran under his feet, it was Pike who paid for the broken jar of peanut butter along with his eighty-nine cent caramel candy bar and a two dollar soda.
Several apologies and a monstrous headache later, Pike managed to leave the store without incident and make his way to the park. It was dark, the sun had set and the moon was half-risen, just past the tree line. There was no one in the park, spare the young couple making out on a bench. Pike scoffed at their lack of humility and gruffly turned away, walking further into the park to hang off the swings. Always hanging too low, he threw them over their bar and wrapped the chain until the swing was waist high from the ground.
Dirt and gravel kicked up into the air as his faded blue sneakers dragged back and forth while he swung. Pike set his soda on the ground near a metal bar and broke a piece from the candy bar, wrapping the rest in its foil tucked into his pocket. Leaning back and he watched the stars vanish and reappear past the hanging canopy of trees; he rocked himself with his knees. It was cool but not cold. The air was quiet and peaceful. The silence was comforting to Pike – at home it was never quiet.
For several minutes, he rocked back and forth. Pike curled his fingers tighter around the chains, letting his body hang farther and farther back until he felt his thin hair brush the dirt floor. A strong breeze blew past him, throwing dirt into his eyes. Grabbing at his face, he fell from the swing and his eyes watered from the irritation.
“Are you alright?” a young girl’s voice asked.
Pike nodded as he wiped his eyes a final time. “I’m fine-“
There was no one around. It was suddenly colder and the breeze had died, barely flicking the hair over his ears. The light in the area was dim, a cloud covered the moon. It had become darker. There was a cold chill running up Pike’s spine and unconsciously he glanced above him.
She was sitting with her legs crossed and her elbows resting on her knees. A red-headed, lily skinned teen in a plaid violet skirt and a white button up tee, she tugged on her loose tie and smiled down at Pike. As the cloud moved through the sky, the moonlight shimmered off the tips of small curled horns on her forehead. A long, leathery, black tail wrapped tightly around the steel bar of the swing set.
Pike couldn’t believe his eyes. He shook his head and rubbed the dirt from his face, staring at her with a gaping mouth. She was gorgeous and unnatural.
The red-headed demon giggled at him then looked around her. “Alone?” she asked. “I thought so.” She dropped backwards off the pole and took a step closer.
“What are you?” Pike asked as he shuffled his body backwards, trying to climb to his feet.
“Hungry,” the girl replied bluntly. “And you look to be satisfying.”
Pike’s stomach rolled on itself as he scrambled to his knees. “You aren’t real. Damn, I must have hit my head when I fell.”
“I’m real,” she retorted, giving him a dirty look.
Pike laughed. “I really need to be more careful.” He finally rose to his feet and started to gather his things. “Seriously,” he muttered as he bent over grabbing the strap of his book bag.
“I’m real,” she replied again, stepping in front of Pike. He stood to say something and found his face buried into her chest. “See?”
Pike jumped backwards, spilling his school bag on the ground and falling back onto his rear. An almost foreign sound escaped his lips in the form of a scream. The skin on his face was warm and he felt his cheeks becoming flush. His body had touched hers. There was no room for denial, she was real.
“D-d-demon!” Pike shouted, pointing up at her.
A leathery tail snapped like a whip at her hip as the girl leaned forward. “I am not a demon! I am a succubus,” she stated, proud of herself.
“Demon!” he shouted again.
The red-headed girl furrowed her brow and leaned closer. Pike backed into a bush, unable to escape. His legs felt like jelly and his heart was racing out of his chest. Eyes wide, he stared as she came closer to him, licking her ruby lips and pointed fangs. His head was spinning, dizzy from the numerous thoughts being flung around in his panic.
“Your soul looks delicious,” she stated as she reached a hand towards him.
“Stop!” Pike screamed, throwing his hands in the air and shutting his eyes tightly. He hardly expected the girl to heed his plea and waited for the pain of death to come.
He waited, eyes clenched together, but nothing happened. Her weight still rested against the inside of his knees, but nothing was happening. Though it felt like the wrong thing to do, Pike slowly opened his eyes. He was dumbfounded.
The girl was sitting on her knees, her hands lightly holding her own now-rosy-red cheeks. Her attention was on him, but it wasn’t. She was looking around him, as if inspecting him and yet she seemed confused.
“Eh, are. . . you alright?” Pike cautiously asked, tilting his head to the side.
“That smell,” the girl finally answered. “It was so sweet, what was it?”
Pike didn’t know how to answer. Her voice was higher than before and she was almost whispering still acting as if she was scanning his body. “Smell,” he repeated.
“That! Your breath, that smell, what is it?”
“My breath?” Pike asked. He found himself in a rather strange situation. A pretty, dangerous girl-like creature was hovering over him and after declaring him food. He thought about running, but quickly forgot about it when he remembered the candy in his pocket. Digging into his jacket, he found the half-wrapped caramel covered cream candy and pulled it out. “This?” he questioned.
She jolted forward, startling Pike. Much like his dog, the girl sniffed the candy and became wide-eyed. She got a huge smile and nodded.
“What is this?” she asked him, acting as if she wanted to snatch it from his hand.
“Caramel,” Pike responded and handed it to her. Better she eat the candy than him, he thought. “You can eat it . . . instead.” No sooner did he turn his head, the weight on his knees lifted and the wind blew a strong gust of dirt filled air at his face. He coughed and waved a hand before his eyes as the dust cleared.
She was gone.
Pike checked his pulse. He slapped his own cheeks and kicked the toes of his shoes into the concrete, shoving his fists into his jean pockets. After taking a few steps, he did it again. He readjusted the strap of his bag hanging over his shoulder and checked the pulse in his wrist again. An arm slung over his shoulder and he practically fell over.
“How long are you going to keep that up?”
“Danny,” Pike grunted, pulling away from his friend’s arm. “What are you talking about?”
Danny laughed, walking backwards as he chattered. “You’ve been checking your watch and slapping yourself since you passed my road. Late night partying with a new girl?”
“No,” Pike replied. He found it hard to swallow. He was up late, and there was a girl, but it was not the same thing.
Danny raised his brow and laughed. “Is she ugly?”
“There is no girl!”
“Right,” Danny said with a grin. He turned around and yelled to a group in front of him. “Hey Jim, Pike’s got a new girlfriend!”
“Oh?” Jim asked as the groups gathered together. “Is she older, too?”
Pike bawled a fist at his side. “I don’t have a new girlfriend!”
The group laughed, patting Pike’s back and cheering him on, blasting him with their imaginative questions. He knew they were picturing him with all sorts of women, but they could never imagine what he had seen. They would never believe him. He wasn’t even sure it was real. The chocolate was gone, his rear hurt and his eyes were dry. There had been no chance for sleep, debating if what he saw was just his imagination. He could still remember the heat of her body against his cheek and that made it more confusing.
“…ike… ike… Hey, Pike!” Danny’s voice snapped Pike from his thoughts. “Dude, you need more sleep.”
Pike shook his head. “I’m good. I –“
“There you are!”
Two slender arms wrapped themselves around Pike’s neck and he felt the form of a girl against his back. The weight knocked him forward.
“I was looking for you, Pike!” The voice was familiar. He felt the body slide off his back, the arms releasing his neck. “It wasn’t easy, you know.”
Pike jumped back. “You again,” he stuttered. His eyes immediately focused on her horns. “H-how did you get my name? How did you find me?”
The girl smiled. “You left this notebook behind the bushes in the park,” she replied, waving his English notes in the air.
“Wow,” Danny commented. “This is the girl you were with last night? Nice.”
“Damn, he was holding out on us,” Jim responded.
“What?” Pike looked at Danny and Jim. They were looking her up and down like any other high school girl and grinning. “She has horns! She’s the devil,” he demanded.
They both gave him a confused look. Ignoring his words, they returned to focusing on her. “So, what’s your name?”
“Hey,” Pike tried to interject. He was the only one that could see her horns, he thought, observing the dumbfounded grins on his friends’ faces.
“Pyre,” the girl replied with a smile, wrapping her arms around Pike’s and pulling her body close to him. “I’m Pike’s girlfriend.”
Pike tried to pull away. “What, wait, no-“ he argued.
“Ha, I knew it,” Danny said.
Jim slapped Pike on the back. “Where did you meet?”
“The park. Pike shared his caramel with me.” Pyre looked up at Pike and pulled on his arm with a devilishly happy grin. He could feel her other hand digging through his jacket pockets. “It was so sweet; I decided to be his girlfriend.”
“What? No,” Pike retorted, still trying to pull away.
Pyre released his arm and turned a hurt face to him. Her eyes glistened at him, big and soft. Her lower lip quivered and she fiddled her fingers in front of her chest. Pike thought she would cry. For some reason, he felt sorry for her.
“I mean, well. . .” he stammered, running his fingers through his auburn hair.
Danny and Jim took Pyre’s hands and led her towards the school.
“I’ll be your boyfriend,” Danny said.
“Or I will,” Jim added.
Pyre looked at them both and smiled. “But I really love Pike’s caramel!”
“We will get you caramel,” Danny replied.
There was a moment of relief. It was short lived. Danny and Jim were clueless to who she was, to what she was. This strange creature, in a beautiful girl’s body who said she wanted to eat his soul was being carted off by two blind fools. If one of their souls looked tasty, Pike couldn’t imagine what would happen. Yet, she was talking about caramel. After he gave her the candy, she left him untouched in the park. It was almost cute.
A mix of confusion and uncertainty – perhaps a small sense of adventure – filled his head. A caramel loving, soul desiring, gorgeous horned demon was calling herself his girlfriend. If he should be happy or scared was anybody’s guess, but for the time being, Pike felt most uneasy watching her march off hand in hand with his friends.
“P-Pyre!” he called out, running to catch up with the three. He peeled her hands from his friends’ clutches and took hold. “Stop grabbing on my girlfriend,” Pike commanded with a shaky voice. “She said, she likes my caramel.”
Pyre jumped up and down, holding onto his arm and cheered. She smiled. Her grin was so bright that it was infectious and Pike couldn’t resist smiling in return. Somewhere in the pit of his stomach, hidden among the butterflies and adrenaline of the moment, an uneasy feeling began to grow.
After fighting all day with his sisters, getting caught with a dirty magazine at school that wasn’t even his and being chased from a convenience store because he looked ready to steal a chocolate bar, he had finally snapped. He knew the mid-terms, lack of sleep and extra sixty-four ounces of caffeine would get to him but he didn’t expect this; a girl on the rafters of the park picnic shelter, licking her lips at him.
“Aren’t you going to run,” the girl asked. “You should really run, scream even. Perhaps, beg me to spare you and plead for your life.”
Pike covered his ears and shook his head. “She’s not real.” He repeated his words again and again.
“I am real,” the girl stated. “And you are to be my dinner.”
Again Pike shook his head. “She’s not real, Pike. Get ahold of yourself.” He opened one eye to be certain.
“I am real,” the girl repeated slowly.
Pike fell backwards onto his backpack. Something broke. He let out a sharp yelp, startled that she had suddenly gotten so close. Her nose had practically brushed against his and he unconsciously touched it. Tight black jeans, high platform shoes and a grunge band t-shirt; she looked like any typical teenage girl from his school – if it were not for her thick horns and cow-like tail whipping in the air behind her. Her sharp teeth and red eyes sent a shiver up the boy’s spine.
“D-d-d-de-demo-“ Pike stuttered.
“Demon?” The girl laughed. “If that makes this easier for you, sure, I’m a demon.” She leaned into him. “Can I eat now?”
“Hey,” she called out, waving a hand in front of his face. “Are you going to feed me or not?”
“F-feed you? I h-haven’t even . . . eat . . . yet . . .” His mind drew a blank. There was a buzzing somewhere. Pike only saw darkness after that.