“Bring him back?” Zlodeyskiy repeated as if he didn’t understand the words, as if they were just random sounds.
“Yes. Bring him back,” I told him again. “You can do that. You can just return this world to the way it was. That’s within your power. You can do it. Make everything the way it used to be.”
“Return things to the way they were?” He looked at me as if I were crazy. “You mean give up my power? My conquests? You want me to surrender?”
“I want you to undo all the harm you caused. I want you to get rid of all the destruction and death, all the pain and suffering. I want you to bring back your son.”
But I had lost him. His grief had been replaced by anger. “You want my son back? I’ll bring my son back. I’ll bring back the son I should have always had. The son who isn’t a disappointment. The son who didn’t complain and whine. I’ll bring back a son who could truly live up to the Zlodeyskiy name. A son who is strong and tough. A son who will make his father proud!”
And then he reappeared. But it was not the Mayhew I knew and loved. No, it was not the kind child. It was someone else completely. This new Mayhew was a good foot taller and muscle-bound. His hair was cut exactly like his father’s and he wore a stylized Ramstovian military uniform that seemed a bit tight on him. But worse than that, he had yellow reptilian eyes and when he smiled I saw jagged, pointy teeth.
“Now that is the son I wanted. The son I can love and be proud of,” Zlodeyskiy said. “This son will never disappoint me. He will not whine or complain. He will not cry all the time. He will not run to hide beneath his mother’s skirts. He is everything the other Mayhew was not. This new Mayhew is strong! Show him how strong you are, Mayhew! Show him that you are my true son! Show him that you are a Zlodeyskiy!”
“Yes,” the new Mayhew said. “I’ll show him what I am.” The boy swung around and grabbed Zlodeyskiy’s face.
“What are you…?” Zlodeyskiy began, but the new Mayhew wasn’t listening. He grabbed Zlodeyskiy’s horn and pushed him down. Zlodeyskiy fell backwards onto the ground, his four spider-like legs splayed out. His new son stood over him, horn in hand.
“I am Zlodeyskiy! The True Zlodeyskiy!” the boy pronounced. “You are nothing! A freak! I rule this country! I rule the world!”
“What?” Zlodeyskiy sputtered. “B-b-but I’m your father.”
“You are the old. I am the new. You are the past. I am the now! You are decrepit and weak! I am strong! There is no room for you anymore.” The new Mayhew reached down toward his ‘father’. He was going to hurt him, maybe even kill him, but I couldn’t let that happen.
“Hey!” I yelled.
Mayhew turned to me, showing his teeth. “And what do you want? You think I won’t crush your head?”
“This isn’t you, Mayhew.”
He laughed. “I am not that weak boy. I never was. I am a better Mayhew, a stronger Mayhew. One born without fear, without weakness. I am conquest personified!”
“You think you’re strong. You’re letting yourself by molded into his ideals. You think you’re a better Mayhew? You’re not Mayhew at all. All you are is Imrie Zlodeyskiy’s wet dream.”
“I am nothing of his! I am myself! I am everything he is not. Everything he could never be! He is beneath me!”
“No. You’re exactly him. Everything he wished he could be. Everything he wanted you to be. You’re his dream and you’re letting yourself be that. You’re letting yourself become what he wants you to be.”
“I am what I want to be! I am strong! I am powerful! He has nothing to do with me! Nothing!”
But in his tirade, Mayhew didn’t see his father scramble up to his feet. And he didn’t see his father pounce on his back. But he did see the horn fly from his hands.
Mayhew grabbed his father by the legs and threw him off of him. He, then, quickly went to retrieve the horn, but Zlodeyskiy already was on him again. He would not let his son win. Mayhew tried to push Zlodeyskiy off, but the old man wouldn’t stop fighting. The only thing Mayhew could do was to fight back head on. He turned his full attention to his father and began to viciously punch him the face. But Zlodeyskiy would not surrender. He had his legs wrapped around his and was doing his best to squeeze the life out of him.
My first instincts were to stop them. I had to. They would kill each other. But then I saw the horn lying on the ground. Neither of them were paying it any attention. That was the only way to stop this. I ran toward the horn.
to be continued…