The motorcycle sped through the night, throwing its passengers up and down on every bump in the pavement.
Occasionally a hellhound could be seen scrounging for food near trash heaps but the unearthly creatures made no move to attack them.
Maya sat behind Max, clinging to his back, her arms wrapped around his waist. She couldn’t help but notice that his body shivered slightly with every breath he took, something rattling inside his chest as though his lungs could barely take the effort.
Maya let the rumble of the motorcycle drown her worries in its horrendous noise.
She didn’t realize she had fallen asleep – if you could call it sleeping – until the engine shuddered to a halt, the eerie silence of New York, which is where they had arrived, chilling her to the bone.
“How did we get here so fast?” She murmured, glancing back at the tall skyscrapers not too far behind them. They were on the outskirts of the city.
Max looked over his shoulder at her, his blue eyes gleaming in the night.
He was about to speak when Wizard interrupted, chuckling,
“They don’t call me Wizard for nothing sweetheart,”
Maya furrowed her brow. What was this strange world where demon dogs lurked in the shadows led by a giant wolf with wings. Where magic was real and people rose from the dead….
She thought back to Adelvina, who had been swallowed whole by Vatias.
Swallowed whole…we can’t die…. She suppressed a gasp as she realized that the Nazi was most likely still alive, her skin burning away in the acids of the wolf’s stomach.
Nausea crept into her throat.
Wizard hopped off the bike, heading off into the murky darkness.
Max offered Maya his arm and she took it, gladly, using it to steady herself as she stepped off the ancient machine.
A small shack materialized as a blood red moon rose over the post-apocalyptic world. Its windows were smashed; the jagged edges of broken glass still clinging to the frame glinted like rubies in the light of the full moon.
“Welcome to my shack,” Wizard announced proudly, spitting a glob of bloody saliva onto the ground.
Max reached out and took Maya’s hand, squeezing it reassuringly.
She nodded to his silent gesture, and together they followed Wizard into the shack.
The boards of the porch creaked beneath her shoes. Her good Sunday flats. She remembered that she was still wearing her prom dress, now tattered and dirty. There was even some blood on it. Her blood? She didn’t know.
Glancing at Max, she saw he had a suit on.
Maya began to laugh hysterically, leaning against him.
“What?” He smiled bemusedly down at her.
She wiped a tear of joy from her eye, “We look like we should be at prom. Prom zombies!” She giggled, looking up at him.
He laughed, pulling her close, “After all this, you still have a sense of humor,”
“HEY! You two gonna keep flirtin’ out there or are ya gonna get fixed up?”
Maya pulled away, answering for Max, “Yeah, yeah, we’re coming!”
They walked inside. Wizard stood among a circle of candles, their flames casting dancing shadows on the rotting walls of the shack.
“Now don’t question, it gets me in the mood,” He told them, shaking a finger at them.
Max grinned lopsidedly, “Come on, you know I’d never question your methods Wizard,”
The old man laughed, his laughter turning quickly to a rasping cough.
“Yeah well, your purty girl might,”
Maya put her hands on her hips, raising an eyebrow, “Oh yeah?”
Wizard glanced over his shoulder with his one good eye, “Yeah,”
She laughed, shaking her head.
“Alright kiddies, one at a time – who’s first?”
Max raised his hand, “I’ll go. Maya can watch and see what to do before her turn,”
Wizard said nothing, simply smiled and beckoned for Max to step into the ring of candles.
Max did so, carefully lying down on his back.
Maya leaned against a wall, watching curiously as Wizard undressed him to his boxers. On a normal occasion, she would have laughed, but Maya knew that whatever Wizard was doing, he couldn’t be distracted.
Wizard picked up a vial filled with a dark blue liquid, pulling the cork out with his teeth. He poured it over Max’s wounds, the long gash in his arm, and several other nicks and scrapes.
The liquid sizzled and bubbled, the wounded flesh appearing to melt. Maya stared in amazement as his skin bound itself together, the blue liquid evaporating.
Max grinned, sitting up, “Your turn Maya!”
Maya’s mouth fell open, “But how did it-”
Wizard threw up his hands, “I told ya! I knew she’d question!”
Max stood, stepping out of the circle of flickering candles.
She found her gaze trailing over his bare chest.
He caught her looking at him and flexed his arm, laughing. She hid her smile behind her hand, her face flushing hot.
Maya walked past him, her eyes staring at his chest till she couldn’t any longer.
Wizard smiled, his one eye gleaming eerily in the light of the flames.
“Lay down, girly,”
She stepped cautiously over the shortest candle and into the ring.
A curved design was scratched into the floor beneath her, its twisting lines strangely mesmerizing. Maya lay down, her dark hair pooling around her head.
Wizard pulled her dress over her head. She was almost naked save for her underwear.
Maya would have been embarrassed, but it was something about the candles – or perhaps Wizard’s looming form - that made her feel calm and relaxed.
He poured the liquid over the many scratches and wounds on her body from the attack of the hellhounds. It felt warm and cold all at the same time, working its way into her veins so that pouring it on one affected all the rest – Wizard did not have to turn her over for the wounds in her back.
Her exposed spine disappeared beneath new mended flesh.
A contented sigh escaped her lips as the process completed itself.
Wizard smiled, his exposed jaw bone white against the dark, “Better?”
She nodded, fighting to keep her eyes open – she was so tired.
The night closed in around her and Maya Fiasco fell asleep in the light of the flames.