Chapter 8 Page 38
Posted September 15, 2023 at 01:52 am

I am having a lot of fun with this scene :^) I love fights. In other news, I put some cool stuff up on Patreon the other day: a bunch of art for Paranatural and my work-in-progress project Animal Star, plus... the first two chapters of a novel I am writing?? If you'd like to support my work—which would be appreciated now more than ever—you can get access to the aforementioned content at the $5+ level! Thanks for reading, and thanks for all of your support, and for spreading and enjoying my work!



        They were minutes deep into the woods before the masked figure first spoke. “...I commend you for your valor,” he said in a deep, deliberate whisper. They’d stopped in a dark clearing, and the giant turned around to face the ghost he’d led thus far.

        Crush popped his thumb-sized pinky from his ear. “Wuzzat?” he asked, flicking away some ectoplasmic wax. He hadn’t once stopped smiling since their hike far from the Guerras’ house first started.

        “Your lying to the boy. It was noble of you. He meant to call for reinforcements, yes?” The figure spread his arms in gentle welcome, like a priest giving a sermon. “But you stopped him.” Slowly, both his huge hands balled, becoming mighty fists. “And so there was no need for me to stop him.” KrrshHKK!! Crackling, ice-blue spectral energy sparked free from his hulking shoulders, surging as though held back until now. “Ergo, you fight alone... and I commend you for your valor.”

        Crush snickered, then broke out in a guffaw. “HA! Oh, that? Nah, I just knew my Master would make reeeal short work of ya.” He looked the figure up and down, unfazed by his display. “But I’m glad to hear we’re gonna fight! I’ve been itchin’ for a chance to REALLY let loose without gettin’ interrupted

        “...I see,” the figure said. “That will make this... easier

        “You lookin’ for reasons to hold back already, big guy? Don’tchya think that’s kinda cocky?” Crush slipped into an easy fighting stance, suddenly outlined by a smooth sheen of purple energy. He grinned a vicious grin. “What if your best ain’t good enough to beat me?”

        “I am sorry,” droned the figure, shadowed now behind raised fists, “but it will be.”

        Blue and purple crashed together as both fighters lunged in one bright instant. FWOOM!! A mammoth punch scattered leaves, among the first of autumn’s fallen, as one huge fist found empty air. Crack crack CRACK!! Three landed in the opening it left.

        The skull-masked figure grunted as he stumbled back, sinking to one knee.

        Crush blew a wisp of violet from the hand that had delivered the last uppercut in his combo, like smoke from off the barrel of a gun. “You got a name, big guy?” he asked, grinning down at his opponent.

        “Not... w-while I wear this mask,” the figure wheezed. With effort, he rose back up to his feet. “I am simply Ape,” said Ape, and raised his fists once more.

        “Nameless dude named Ape. You got it, big guy,” Crush laughed, circling his foe. “Listen, Ape. I got ya read real good now, so help me check my work, m’kay

        The grinning ghost dove in before the sentence finished, ducked a haymaker from Ape, and struck him three more times straight in the stomach. When an elbow fell to punish him, a length of purple chain was waiting for it. With an unbecoming hoot, Crush yanked the tangled giant towards the ground, then kneed him back to full height with a leg that he’d just conjured. Ape swayed, almost losing his balance, as he scrambled to make distance.

        “That’s meat that I’ve been poundin’. You’re a spectral, yeah? Is that right?”

        Ape growled. His fists raised once again.

        Crush smiled. “Yup, you’re just some dude. And what, you boxed in college?”

        Ape’s stance wavered slightly, as did his spectral energy.

        “Bull’s-eye! What was that, a century ago? You’re rusty, Ape!” Crush shadowboxed a one-two punch from ten feet out, scattering purple sparks against Ape’s guard. “Throwin’ elbows in the first round?? Yeesh!” He thumbed his nose. “You been coastin’ on size this whole time, big guy?? Ha! Well, I’m big too, and much, MUCH faster!”

        Ape noticed far too late that one of Crush’s sparks had lingered at his shoulder. A shining purple fist suddenly appeared in its place, and crashed into Ape’s chin, beneath his mask. He threw a wild counter out in front of him, ducking to dodge the next hit in the combo... but none came. Crush hadn’t moved an inch from where he’d been.

        “HA!! Way to sting like a butterfly, big guy! Hard to see behind them bones, huh?” Crush was beaming, both hands planted on his hips. “Well, your eyes can only do so much when facing Spectral Fist... but MY half of the speed date show-and-tell comes later. We’re still learning about you!”

        Ape roared, charging Crush, ready to seize him in a bear hug... but the ghost simply phased through the ground, emerging moments later just behind him.

        “Next GUESS!” Crush cheered, slamming Ape’s spine with both fists

        The hulking boxer stumbled forward, whirling in a weighty arc to snarl at his foe.

        Crush smirked, snorting a defiant stream of spectral energy right back at him. “Next guess.” He wagged his finger disapprovingly. “...You haven’t felt a single dang punch that I’ve landed, have you, big guy?”

        This time, his opponent was eerily still. Silence hung between them for a few tense seconds. Then Ape slowly discarded every sign of feral bluster that had built up since the fight had first begun. His breath grew even, and he rose up to full height, severe and somber.

        “Boooring,” Crush whined in his shadow, though he looked more thrilled with every passing moment.