Something Wicked

Chapter One

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES

(Ray Bradbury)

Crystal water turns to dark

Where ere its presence leaves it mark

And boiling currents pound like drums

When something wicked this way comes

A presence dark invades the fair

And gives the horses ample scare

Chaos rains and panic fills the air

When something wicked this way comes...

Ill winds mark its fearsome flight,

And autumn branches creak with fright.

The landscape turns to ashen crumbs,

When something wicked this way comes...

Flowers bloom as black as night

Removing color from your sight

Nightmarish vines block your way

Thorns reach out to catch their prey

And by the pricking of your thumbs

Realize that their poison numbs

From frightful blooms, rank odors seep

Bats and beasties fly and creep

'Cross this evil land, ill winds blow

Despite the darkness, mushrooms glow

All will rot and decompose

For something wicked this way grows...

Mark stepped into the dank, up to his knees in the murky water. Young and unaccustomed to the dangers, going on a dare. What friends he had, to send him down there. And for what? The chance to join a club, a chance to belong...

I should have thought this through...

He stepped forward, trudging through the water, shining his flashlight back and forth at the shadows. The goal was a simple one - just pick up a box. Then he'd be in. It was that easy, that simple. He didn't ask what was in it, he didn't want to know. He just wanted to get the box and get out of the sewer. He stopped at a junction in the tunnel and looked left, then right. Which way had they said to go? He couldn't remember.

He heard a noise up the left side and jumped back, pressing himself to the concrete wall and holding his breath. Then he smiled. So, that was it... they were there. They were going to try and scare him. That was the initiation, not getting the box. There probably wasn't a box at all, they were probably crouching, hiding... waiting for him to step down the tunnel so they could jump out and scare him.

If that's what it takes, he thought, at least now I won't be scared when they do it.

He pushed himself off the wall, turning left and walking slowly, expecting them to jump out at any moment. He clenched his fists and gritted his teeth. He'd be ready for it, and he would see to it that they wouldn't have the satisfaction of frightening him. He was already scared... he just wouldn't let them see it. He heard the water slosh behind him and drew his eyebrows together, continuing on his path. Was it Neal? Probably - Ronnie wouldn't have been able to keep himself from laughing at that point. Mark smiled as he heard the sloshing grow nearer. He felt something touch his shoulder...

Mark spun around and shined his flashlight into a white face - pure white with eyes ringed in black. He jumped back, slipping and falling in the water. His flashlight flew out of his hand, sinking beside him. Waterproof, its light shone on.

"Jesus!" Mark yelled, putting a hand on his chest. He looked up at the white face, which was now contorted into a wide grin. "Neal! You ass!"

Neal laughed out loud and leaned against he sewer wall, bending over and slapping his knees. "You are such a wimp!" he yelled, his words echoing down the long tunnels.

Mark grimaced and stood, reaching down to pick up his flashlight. He was soaking wet up to the waist, his jeans heavy and dirty with sewer grime. So much for not giving them the satisfaction...

"There's probably no damn box, either," he growled, angry at himself for getting scared by something he knew was coming.

"Heh! You should have seen the look on your face!" Neal said, wrapping an arm over his dripping-wet friend. "That was precious! Bet you wet your pants! Eh... not that you could tell now!"

"Shut up."

"Awe... poor sport," he said between fits of laughter. "C'mon... if it makes you feel better, you're in."

"It doesn't."

"Fine... whatever," he started walking back down the tunnel. "But you're still in. C'mon, let's go find Ronnie."

Mark walked beside Neal, his light shone out before them. "Is Ron down here?"

"Are you kidding? He's scared of the dark."

"He is? I didn't know that."

"Big, tough, six-foot-five, hockey-playing Ron? Yup. Turns into a bowl of Jell-o if he has to sleep without a nightlight."

Mark smiled. Now, at least, he had something on Ronnie. Perhaps he'd be able to get something to scare Neal with, too. Not that it would be an easy task, at times it seemed as if nothing scared him. They turned the corner and trudged to the ladder that led up to the manhole that Mark had climbed down. Neal looked at him and grinned before putting a foot on the first rung.

"Man, I got you good!"

"Shut up."

Neal stopped and looked down the tunnel, squinting to see something there in the darkness. He climbed down the ladder and took Mark's flashlight without a word, shining it down the way. Something darker than the shadows slipped into the water, making no waves. Neal looked at Mark and struck a crooked smile.

"Let's check this out."

"No. Come on, lets just get out of here."

"No way... this is cool," Neal walked away from the ladder, taking short strides to where the darkness had gone under.

Mark tightened his grip on the side of the ladder and then sighed. This was a part of the initiation... just another scare. Fine, he thought, running to cach up to his friend. He fell into step along side and stopped when the other did.

Neal shone the light down into the water, but mud and sludge ran along with the slow current and they couldn't see beyond the surface. He aimed the flashlight into the shadows and backed up a step, uncertain.

"Uh, yeah. Let's go," he said.

"You aren't scared, are you?" Mark asked, smiling. I am...

"No, I'm not scared," Neal turned back towards the ladder and began walking quickly. "It was probably a rat or something..."

The light swung into the darkness, falling upon a looming hulk in the shadows. The form bounded forward, reaching for Neal's throat. The teen screamed out and dropped the flashlight, running for the ladder. Left alone, Mark backed up to the wall and gasped. Then he heard something... something like the sound of laughter...

"Ronnie, you jerk!" Mark yelled. He looked over at Neal, who was chuckling again.

"Hah! Strike two!"

Ron pulled the black t-shirt off his head and threw it onto a pipe. "We wouldn't do this to you if we didn't like ya, kid..." he said, giggling.

"Oh, by the way," Neal said. "Ron's not afraid of the dark."

"No kidding."

Ronnie chucked his young friend in the arm and mussed his hair. "Hey, man, you're all wet. Let's get up to the street before you catch your death down here."

"Right... I owe you guys big."

They started walking towards Neal, who was already climbing the ladder.

"Wait," Ron said, turning around and grabbing his shirt off the pipe.

Mark bit his lip, looking at the dry fabric. "I thought you went under the water," he said.

"In the sewer? Are you high?"

They heard a splash and turned back towards the ladder, looking at Neal where he sat in the water, having slipped off the wet rungs. He smiled sheepishly and shrugged. His eyes widened and he jumped to his feet, scrambling for the ladder again.

"What?" Mark asked.

He heard the sound of a breath being suddenly drawn and turned to look at Ronnie. The big man was standing perfectly still, his eyes wide and mouth open. A trickle of blood fell from the crease of his lips and he let out a choking sound, a deep fluid gurgle. He reached out a hand towards the younger man and fell forward, splashing face-first in the murky water. Mark gasped and stepped back, looking at the deep hole in Ron's back.

"Jesus!" He yelled, kneeling down.

Something came out of the darkness and hit him, sending him flying into the sewer wall. Mark shook his head and watched in horror as a pair of white eyes glared at him through the pitch. They moved closer, unblinking, nearly luminescent in the shadows. He cowered back, but could not draw himself to look away. It stepped into the light and he let out a scream.

The thing walked intently towards him, a bloody length of jagged metal in its right hand and something small and dark in its left. Mark looked closer and saw that the object was a dead rat, he shook and leaned forward, throwing up into the water. The thing lifted the rat to his mouth and sank its teeth into it, tearing away a chunk of fur and flesh and spitting it towards the frightened teen, then it brought the rat back up to its face and lapped away the flowing blood.

Mark covered his face and pressed his back against the wall of the sewer. He couldn't hear anything, but he knew it was there, growing closer. He pressed his palms harder to his eyes.

Jesus... Jesus, no...

The thing grabbed hold of the boys hair and lifted him up. Mark cried out in pain and terror as it shook him and tossed him into the water two meters away. He struggled to turn and look at it again; it was stepping forward, shaking the rat and bearing its teeth. Blood flew from the dead rodent, spattering on the young man's face, he wiped it away and slid backwards through the sludge.

"Mine!" it yelled in a rough voice. "People..! People not take mine!"

"No!" Mark yelled, tears rolling down his cheeks. "No! I won't take it! I promise!"

The creature tilted it's mud-covered face down towards the teen and spit blood into his eye. "People... go! Go, people!"

Mark sat shaking in the cold water, the thing lifted him up by the arm and pushed him into the wall. The boy finally understood that it was letting him leave, he looked up towards the manhole that Neal had escaped by, but the creature was standing between him and that way. It didn't want him to go up, it just wanted him to go. He backed away, into the darkness, watching as the thing tore away another chunk of the rat's skin and began to chew. He covered his mouth and turned, running as fast as he could.

His heart was pounding in his chest and his side was beginning to hurt, but he refused to stop, he refused to let the thing catch up to him. For all he knew it was following him right now, gaining on him, waiting for him to tumble. Prey in a game of cat and mouse. Or maybe it had turned its attentions to Ronnie... maybe that evil spawn was at that moment sinking it's sharpened, blood-stained teeth into the body of his friend.

Mark stopped and fell to his knees, throwing up again. He spun around, searching the tunnel for the creature. A hand flew out of the darkness and hauled the boy against a wall. He screamed and looked at the thing before him. It was different, but his mind could not discern how. It was the same creature, it had to be... it had changed itself somehow, transformed. It was green, it's face half hidden by an orange mask, its eyes graced with blue irises - no longer the red-tinged white orbs he had just been staring into.

"Hey, take it easy!" it yelled, its voice different... more human. "Calm down!

He punched at it, but it easily dodged the blow and caught both of the teen's hands in one of its own. Mark began to shake and threw his head back, striking it against the concrete. For a second his eyes darted around him and then his lids closed, he fell deep into unconsciousness. Just before the moment that his mind turned to black, he wondered if the thing was just going to kill him - or if it was still hungry...

"Where did he come from?"

"I dunno... I just found him. Poor kid was scared half to death. Knocked himself out."

"Where?"

"Just outside. He damn near made it to our front door."

"I wonder what happened to him."

"Is he bleeding bad, Don?"

"Doesn't look to me like he's bleeding at all."

"Okay... then what's all that red stuff on his face and in his hair?"

"Blood. But it isn't his."

"Betch'a he's got an interesting story to tell."

"Hang on, guys... it looks like he's waking up..."

Mark rolled his head to the side and listened, half aware. There were voices - four of them. Someone found him, he understood that much. Thank God the creature hadn't decided to kill him. He blinked and opened his eyes, squinting in the new glare. Through his clouded vision and sleep-invaded mind he saw four figures standing not a meter away, staring down at him. He managed to focus his eyes and immediately wished that he hadn't.

He screamed, sitting up and pushing himself back. His hand beneath him met with the air and he tumbled off the bed and landed with a thud on the floor. He didn't stop to worry about whether or not he had injured himself, he was more concerned about what might be done to him if he didn't get away. There wasn't just one monster, there were four now... maybe all hungry... and they were all walking towards him. He curled himself into a ball and started rocking back and forth, reciting to himself The Lord's Prayer and desperately hoping that this was all a dream. He slapped himself in the forehead, trying to wake himself from his nightmare.

"Hey... cut it out," one of the things said. "You're gonna hurt yourself, kid."

He felt a hand touch his arm and jumped to his feet, running around the room in aimless circles, watching the four as he searched for a way out. He ran into something and fell, head over feet, and looked up again at the four monstrous green faces that looked almost... amused? Confused, maybe. One of them folded its arms and stepped forward, tilting its head to the side. It had on a blue mask and something strapped to its back. Back? Shell... a monster turtle. Mark shuffled back and held his hands up, slapping at the air, trying to frighten the thing away.

"Are you okay?" it asked, sounding almost concerned.

Mark put his hands down and leaned his head against the wall, crying. "Please..." he said weakly. "Please... I'm sorry... I don't want your food! Don't eat me..."

The blue-masked turtle-monster glanced at its companions and shrugged, then looked back at the shaking human. "Don't worry, I'm a vegetarian."

The boy looked up and hugged his knees to his chest. "What the hell is going on here? What are you things!?"

The creature kneeled beside him and put a hand on his shoulder. Mark jumped and pulled away, but managed a look into the things eyes. Real eyes... almost human eyes. He let the thing rest its hand on him again without pulling back. Its touch was gentle, calming. This wasn't the same thing that had killed his friend - it couldn't be.

"My name's Leonardo," it said, moving aside so the boy could see the other three. "We aren't going to hurt you. What's your name?"

The human's mouth dropped open and he slammed it shut, frowning. "I... uh, Mark..."

"Mark? Your name is Mark?"

He nodded and struggled to his feet, pressing his back to the wall. "What are you things? What happened to Ronnie?"

Three of the turtles looked at the one with the orange mask. "Don't look at me, he's all I found," it told them, shrugging.

The one called Leonardo turned back to the teen. "We don't know what happened to your friend," it said. "But maybe we can help you find out. Now, what happened to you?"

"First tell me what you are..."

Leonardo nodded and motioned for the human to sit back down on the bed he had so hastily vacated. Mark side-stepped to it and sat down, never once drawing his eyes from the things in the room.

"Its a long story," the creature said. It seemed to be the leader of the four. "I can't get into it right now, but I will tell you that we aren't going to hurt you and that we just want to help." It motioned towards the others, who stepped forward. "These are my brothers, Donatello, Raphael, and Michaelangelo."

"Hi," Michaelangelo said with a little wave. "Remember me?"

Mark wrinkled his brow and looked closer. The orange mask, the voice... the creature that he'd encountered in the tunnel. The one with the blue eyes.

"Uh... hi... Michaelangelo?"

"Call me Mike."

"You things... uh... you guys are..."

"...Turtles?" the one in purple said.

"...Ninjas?" the red-masked one added.

Mark tilted his head. "...Smart."

"He's talking about me, you know," Mike said, sitting beside the boy. "Hey, don't let Leo's formality throw you. That's Raph and Don."

Mark hung his head and held it in his hands. "I don't know what the hell is going on here..."

"Try to tell us what happened to you," Leo said. "Can you remember it all?"

"...Yes," Mark looked up into Mike's eyes and bit down. "It... it was..." he started to shake and Mike put a hand on his shoulder, calming him. He took a breath and continued. "It killed Ronnie."

"What killed him?" Raph asked.

"I don't know. Something... something bad."

Don steepled his fingers. "Do you remember what it looked like? Anything at all?"

"Not much... it was dark. The thing, I mean... it... it had white eyes. Its face was all muddy. Its whole body was muddy. It had these teeth..."

"How big was it?" Raph pressed.

"Not too big... but I was looking up at it. I don't know, I'm not sure."

Leo nodded. "Anything else?"

Mark rubbed his eyes. "It was eating. It told me not to take its food... I think that's what it meant."

"What food?"

"...A rat... it was eating a rat."

Don felt his stomach churn. "So, it spoke to you?" he asked, fighting back the nausea.

"Kind of... it sounded, I dunno', like a kid or something. Its voice was deep, but it didn't seem like it knew how to talk. Like it was just learning."

"Like a kid, eh?" Raph asked, drawing something out of his belt.

Mark looked at the blade and gasped, jumping full onto the bed and cowering behind Mike. Raph looked at his sai and then into the admonishing faces of his brothers.

"What?"

"Put that away," Leo said. "You're scaring him."

Raph rolled his eyes and pushed the weapon back into his belt. He stepped up to Mike and glanced behind at the human hiding there. "Hey, c'mon out. Sorry I scared you."

Mark slid back to where he had just been sitting, but kept a hand on Mike's arm. "I'm... I'm sorry. I remembered the thing... it had a knife or something. It stabbed Ronnie with it."

Leonardo motioned with his head and his three brothers joined him standing before Mark.

"We'll check this out," Leo said.

Mark shook his head. "Thank you... thank you..."

"What about the kid?" Raphael inquired.

"I will care for him."

The turtles and human all looked towards the door and Mark screamed again, leaping off the bed and running behind Mike. He peeked past the ninja's green shoulder at the large rat that stood there.

"Now what?" he yelled. "What the hell is that thing?"

"Hey, take it easy," Mike said, stepping aside and guiding Mark into the open. "This is Master Splinter."

"...Master?" the teen asked, stepping forward stiff-legged as Mike urged him on. "He... he's your master? Like, your boss..?"

"You could say that."

"Thank you, Sensei," Leo said, bowing.

"Mark?" Mike said.

The kid turned. "Yes..?"

"You're going to have to tell us where this happened."

Mark's directions had been confused and uncertain, but the turtles managed to figure out most of the path with little effort. They stepped through the water quietly, watching the shadows for any sign of movement, listening for any breaths other than their own. At long last they came to the place that the human had told them about, an open manhole by a junction - and a flashlight in the water. But that was all they found there.

"Split up," Leo commanded. "Search the area. Stay on your toes, Brothers - we don't know what we're gonna' find here."

"We probably won't find anything," Raph growled. "Anybody stop to consider that this kid might be stone crazy?"

"I don't think so," Mike said, feeling around the bottom of his water with his foot. "You should have seen the look on his face when I caught him in the tunnel."

"I'd be scared if I saw you, too," Raphael said, smiling. "Yer' ugly mug..."

"You ain't no Chippendale yourself."

"You guys be quiet," Don said in a whisper. "This is serious."

Leonardo shook his head, sometimes his brothers could be quite a handful. They all walked around the area quietly, looking for something that they didn't want to see and weren't even certain existed. Even so, Mark's story had been an eerie one, short though it might have been, and it hung in all their minds. The thought that there was possibly a rat-eating, human-killing, dark and evil something so close to their homes...

Leo stepped on something and stopped, lifting up his foot. He reached down under the murky water and felt around, he found the object and brought it up out of the sludge. His eyes grew wide and he threw it onto a nearby ledge, staring at it and trying to keep his stomach from revolting.

"Guys! Here! Now!" he bellowed, his voice echoing off the tunnel walls.

He heard the sound of two sets of feet running through the water and looked up to see as Mike and Don came near.

"Where's Raph?"

"He went down that long tunnel on the right of the junction," Don said.

Leo took a breath. "We're going to have to find him. We all need to stick together."

"Why? What happened?" Mike asked, stepping closer to his nervous brother.

Leo drew his swords and pointed one of them towards the concrete ledge. A human arm lay there, its end snapped and the muscle macerated. Mike put his hand on his mouth and turned towards Leo.

"That's all you found?"

"Maybe that's all that's left..." Don added, his own face registering disgust.

Leo kept his eyes on the remains for a long moment before turning back towards his brothers. "Let's go find Raph."

Raphael crouched in the darkness and gripped his sai tightly to his chest, listening for evidence of the creature that the human teen had been so frightened of. So far the turtle could see and hear nothing, but he sensed a presence. A something there, in the pitch, in the quiet. It was there...

He jumped at a sound, the echoed voice of Leonardo calling him and the others back. He let out a long-held breath and stood in the water. He couldn't quite feel the thing anymore - just the slightest, as if it were farther away now. He turned down the tunnel and took a step back, twirling his sai to a striking position. White eyes glared at him from out of the darkness, rhythmically moving up and down with each of the creatures breaths. But what breath? Raphael still couldn't hear any breath...

He took the offensive and dove forward, thrusting his weapon towards where the hidden creature's stomach would be. His momentum sent him sprawling to the tunnel floor and he spun around, launching himself back to his feet and looking towards the creature. It was gone. He twisted himself around, tensing his muscles and listening through the darkness. It wasn't the hearing that told him it was behind, it was the sensing. He didn't turn, but took a step forward - trying to confuse the thing with the action. With each step it remained behind, just there - less than a meter from his shell. But he didn't hear it, he couldn't smell it... he knew it was there.

"Raph?"

The turtle spun around, hearing Donatello's voice from far down the tunnel. The creature wasn't behind him, where he had sensed it. It was gone - or perhaps it had never been. I know it wasn't just my damn imagination, he thought, stepping towards where his brother's voice had come from. He took another step, then another, glancing left and right at the shadows as he went along. He picked up his pace and began to run, taking long strides through the knee-deep water in an effort to get to Donatello and the others. He stopped and pressed himself to the wall. He felt it again.

"Hey, Raph?" Mike stepped out of the shadows. "You okay, man?"

Raphael grabbed Mike by the arm and pulled him along as he began to run again. "Where's Leo and Don?"

"Right here," Leonardo said as he and the other turtle came into view. "What's going on? Did you see something?"

"Let's get the hell out of here."

"What is it?" Don asked as they all began to run. "What did you see?"

"I didn't see anything. I saw eyes, that's all."

"Wait," Leo said as they rounded a corner. "Did you or didn't you..?"

"It wasn't there. It was there, but it wasn't..."

Mike stopped and took hold of Raph's arm, pulling him to a halt. The others took a couple more steps before bringing themselves back around.

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Listen," Raph said, crouching. "It was there. I felt it, I sensed it. I couldn't see anything more than a pair of damned white eyes. I didn't hear anything, I didn't smell anything..."

Leo and the others joined Raph near the ground. "Are you sure?"

"Don't ask stupid questions, lets just get the hell back to the den." He looked into their faces. "What has you guys so scared?"

Don stood and gripped his bo tightly. "We found what was left of lunch."

Raph dove into the darkness behind Don, slashing out with his sai.

"What?" Mike asked, watching as Raph stepped back beside them. "What now?"

Raph shrugged. "This has me spooked," he admitted. "I just attacked a freakin rat."

"I hope you won," Mike joked.

Raphael crossed his arms and rolled his eyes. His stance suddenly changed back to defensive and he signaled his brothers with his eyes. It was there. Looks from the others showed that they could not feel it, could not sense it. Maybe they thought he was crazy. Only he was aware of its presence - and only he knew just where it was. But it wasn't behind him, wasn't stalking him as it had been before - it was after one of the others, silently seeking an opening for attack.

"Everybody," Raph said in a low voice. "Shells in."

Leo didn't question, he could see the uncommon fear in his brother's eyes. He nodded and the others joined the formation, each with his shell towards the others, each weapon drawn, each eye scanning the darkness.

Raphael stuck one of his sai back in his belt and reached to his left, wrapping his hand around Mike's wrist.

"What?" Mike whispered.

Raph leaned over and smelled his brother. "Blood," he said, stepping in front of the other turtle. "You smell like blood. Human and rat..."

Michaelangelo lifted his arm and smelled it, his eyes widening. "Mark touched me."

"...More than the rest of us," Leo added. "Mike, stay between us. Everybody, we have to get back to the den."

They all started walking back towards their home, watching left and right, fore and back for a sign of the creature. They didn't know what it was, they didn't know what it looked like - but they knew it existed, and they knew that it was capable of murder. And they knew that it was near. Raph's face flew up and he spun around, looking at Mike, who was walking just behind him. It was too late - it was ready.

A dark form leaped out of the shadows, landing on Michaelangelo and pounding him into the concrete floor. It jumped off and stepped its foot down on his chest, pushing him harder into the sludge. Mike fought for breath and grabbed hold of the foot, twisting and sending the creature spinning away. It splashed down in the water and the other three turtles were immediately upon it, grabbing furiously for the flailing limbs. It slipped easily away from their assault and broke again for Mike, who was struggling to his feet.

"Mikey, look out!" Don yelled, regaining his own footing.

The warning did little good as Mike was grabbed by the arm and thrown into the wall. The creature did not let go, but swung the ninja around again, using him as a weapon to knock the turtles down as they charged forward to help. They tumbled one over the other, landing in a tangled heap on the sewer floor. Before they were able to stand and come to his aid, Mike was struck against the wall again. His head hit hard and rolled back, his eyes closed.

The shaded creature bounded down the tunnel, dragging Michaelangelo by the arm through the water. It stopped and threw him onto a ledge, growling and sniffing the air. The turtle moaned and rolled his head to the side and the creature jumped up on top of him, squatting on his plastron and sniffing again. It reached down a mud-covered hand and hit him on the side of the head and Mike blinked, looking up into the white-out eyes. He couldn't see its face past the sludge and shadows, though it was just centimeters away, breathing on his face, inhaling the scent...

"...People..." it hissed. "...People smell... where people..."

It was a question, the thing was asking where the smell of human blood had come from - where Mark was. Mike grunted, trying to breathe beneath the creature's pressing weight. It wrapped its hands around his throat and pushed down on his main artery, blocking off the flow of blood. The turtle reached up weakly, brushing the thing's face with the tips of his fingers. His head grew light and he fought for consciousness, trying with all of his diminished strength to push the creature off of him. It squeezed tighter and Mike's vision dimmed; he let his hands fall to the concrete and his fingers twitched, the only movement left within him. A blackness surrounded him and a wave of cold traveled its way up his body - then he felt it release him, the hands let loose of his throat. Weakly, he looked up at the thing as his vision returned; it was looking down the tunnel, its white eyes twitching in the faint light.

The creature shifted its gaze back to the drained turtle and jumped off his chest. Mike drew in a deep breath and rolled to his side, coughing as he stared at the thing. It crouched and hissed, launching itself at him and digging its teeth into the flesh on his arm. He yelled in pain and pulled back, spinning on his shell and kicking the creature in the head. It faltered back and slashed out with a clawed hand, contacting the turtle in the face and slashing through the skin on his cheek.

Michaelangelo pulled himself to his feet and jumped ahead, the creature caught him by the arm and spun around, throwing him up against the ceiling. The ninja splashed down into the water and sat up, shaking his head and watching it as it walked intently towards him, out of the shadows. He slid back, eyeing the creature with a horrible sense of recognition. Mike could hear voices, his brothers growing near; but his mind and thoughts were on the sight ahead. He stood and took a stance, uncertain of every action even as he took it.

The thing moved quickly, grabbing Mike by the throat. This time it didn't squeeze, it lifted him, slamming his head into the corner of the concrete ledge. It did it again, harder, breaking the skin on the turtle's forehead and sending a stream of blood down between his eyes; then again, and Michaelangelo went limp. It threw him to the sewer floor, walking away and leaving him face-down in the water. Mike tried to lift his head, to get himself to stand - but he couldn't move and couldn't stop himself from breathing. Water filled his lungs as he lay motionless, unable to help himself - his mind drifting farther back to darkness with each damning breath. He took another and closed his eyes, feeling the cold sleep descend.

Continued in Chapter Two