Iurii Dynys
Author of Middle Grade Space Fiction

Phantoms Of Callisto

Previous Moment
Kru and Birike explore a unknown starship
Kru and Birike run away from the crocodile
Kru and Birike meet The Dark Lord

Although it was in terrible shape, the alien ship was still impressive. Whatever it had crashed into hadn't turned it into a metal accordion; no, it was long and thin, with holes all over its surface, various pipes and fragments sticking out, and something strange blinking inside…

"Well, it was…" Birike started to explain and, all of a sudden, screamed, "A monster!" Kru pulled a face, rolling his eyes. "Yeah, yeah, I know it's supposed to be a monster. Not scary. Stop yelling right in my face! What sort of a —" Kru looked over his shoulder, and his eyes widened. "Monster!"

Instead of a hangar crammed with debris, the Raccoon stood in a cheerful, clean hall, surrounded by giant six-armed robots. "Goodness me! Those are my warriors," a raspy voice sounded. The boys looked behind them. On the ladder there stood a very old man in grey robes instead of the cucumber. "It's the Emperor…" whispered Birike. "The Dark Lord!"

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Next Moment

“Cool! It’s like we’re in the movie.” Birike felt the wall. “It’s metal…”
“Ha! Did you think an alien spacecraft would have corridors made of stone?” Kru gave a loud laugh. “Or wood? Oh, no, you thought…”
“Stop it! I’m thinking of something else, boogerhead!”
“What, exactly? Oh! Maybe…” Kru lowered his voice and said ominously, “…monsters? You know, I saw a movie that featured these round, hairy creatures that lived in corridors, just like this one, on a space station. And their teeth were … that long! They rolled along the floor, crunching everyone with those teeth.”
“Are you serious?” Birike seemed to be getting anxious. “Crunching?”
“Yes, everyone down to the last man,” Kru nodded. “Came, saw, ate and rolled on — swish-swish, swish-swish. Ha, why are you looking behind us? Scared?”
Swish-swish, swish-swish.
Birike glanced at Kru, but didn’t answer. Suddenly, he grasped Kru by the sleeve and said, “Dude, quit making that swish-swish sound. It’s not funny.”
“I’m not swishing,” said Kru with surprise.
“Yeah? Well, then, what’s that? Listen.” Birike went silent.
Kru also grew still and listened carefully. He really could hear the sound behind them, as if someone was running a sweater over a wall. “Sounds similar… No, that’s dumb!” Kru frowned. “It was just a movie! Monsters like that don’t exist…”
Huge hairy beasts that didn’t exist rolled around the corner, baring their extremely long teeth. Birike gave a shrill scream, turned, and dashed down the corridor, his tail stuck straight out behind him. Kru, flabbergasted, moved backwards, casting glances at the toothed creatures, and then he turned around and ran after the simiano, soon catching up.
“H-how did p-people rescue themselves from the t-toothed monsters in that m-movie?” cried out Birike, still running.
“No rescue! The beasts ate them all! I wish they’d just fall into an abyss… Look out!”
A wide crack zigzagged across the corridor, and Kru was barely able to stop in time. Birike was already on the other side of it; he must have leapt over it without even noticing. “C’mon, this way!” Birike called, gesturing with one hand as he ran.

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Kru glanced over his shoulder. The monsters were getting very close, very quickly. Heart in his throat, he pushed hard off the edge of the pit and jumped just as one of the beasts sank its teeth into the heel of his left shoe. Kru fell flat on his face on the opposite edge of the hole, but his legs slid into the abyss, and his whole body began to slip further down. He scrambled vainly to hold onto the slick metal surface while the beast wrenched wildly at his foot.
Kru was hanging with his hands on the edge of the hole when all of a sudden, a strong, thin arm grabbed the boy by the collar of his jacket. “C’mon, co-ome o-on!” grunted Birike. His ears grew red with effort. “Argh! Come! On!” Gasping for breath, he pulled Kru out of the hole and leaped back right away. The toothy monster, which came up with Kru, spat out his shoe and rolled towards the simiano.
“Biri, run!” cried Kru. But Birike jumped toward the ugly creature and delivered the hairball a punch with all his might. The toothy monster yelped, flew over the pit, and rolled into its fellows like a bowling ball striking… well, other bowling balls.
“Get outta here, got it?” Birike shook his fist at the monsters, adding, “You slackers are big but light! Callistan simianos are obviously too tough for you! Ha! Ha-ha! Krude, did you see me punch it?”
“I did,” said Kru. He was examining the shoe heel bitten by the monster. Somehow, his foot was untouched.
“Nice punch, right?” Birike stuck his tongue out at the monsters. He began bouncing around like a boxer, holding up his fists in the classic style. “Ha! What a blow! Who’s next up to fight Hurricane Birike? C’mon! Huh? Huh?”
The monsters rolled to and fro, hissing and blinking their many eyes. The one that Birike had punched was especially furious.
“Look,” said Kru, and showed the simiano his shoe.
“What?” Birike looked up and fell silent as Kru stuck a finger through the hole in his heel. “What’s that?”
“That’s how hard they bite.”
Birike jumped up and began running around Kru.
“Enough of this chilling out, Krude! C’mon! We gotta go! Are you certain they can’t jump?”
“Dunno, Monkey-Boy,” said Kru. He put his damaged shoe back on his foot and stood up. “And I don’t want to know. Let’s walk away from here.”