In the darkness, Midia found it hard to see. He could feel, certainly, but seeing was a task he no longer had the means to perform. He wished he could. The heat, the pressure, the heaviness… It was all around him. It swirled, and kept him plastered to the concrete sidewalk running adjacent to chaos.

He fought to maintain consciousness, just as Jesut had told him to. One false slip, and he would sink into the sea of abyss known as death, never to see the light of the other side. It wasn’t hard at first, but the longer he lay there, unable to pull himself to his feet, the more his mind strayed; the less conscious he became. Right now, he had forgotten exactly what he was supposed to be doing, and how.

An evil laugh rang through the air. Deep, empty, and viscious, it set his heart aflutter and turned his veins into icy acid. Now he recalled. The demon on 3rd St. The one that had ripped the earth asunder and led a hundred people to an early grave. He had to destroy it. Kill or be killed.

He opened his eyes. A crimson canvas hung over the island of Manhattan, with pillows of black swimming through it. Shadowy skyscrapers loomed over him like spectators. He would have tried to stand then, except he was already standing. How? he wondered. He glanced down.

He gasped. He held up his hands and examined them. They were covered in dark red scales and tipped with claws. They were longer, too; perhaps twice as long as they were supposed to be. He looked at the rest of him. The slim, average-height, dark-skinned teenager that had been Midia Donnelly was no more. He had become a towering, red-skinned, dragon-like creature, with one brilliant black cape fanning from his shoulders.

The evil laugh rang out again, louder this time. Midia looked turned to look down the street in the direction of 3rd, past a thrashed avenue which might have come out of an apocolyptic movie. He tensed as he saw it: the small, bipedal dinosaur which he had been tasked with killing. It grinned at him as if he had done something humorous. He balled his hands into fists. He had. He had challenged it.

Midia ducked and sprang forward on his powerful new legs. The earth split under him as he sailed down the street into range of the monster. GAAW! He swiped with his terrifying claws. The monster’s skin was rent and wind blasted out from the arc of Midia’s swing, shattering the gravel, concrete, and glass in its trajectory. He hung inexplicably still afterward, hovering before the monster. It pulled out of its recoil to look him in the eye. The grin returned, wider this time.

The monster pulled back its behemoth head, then pummelled Midia in his own. Midia flew back the way he came, crashed into the ground, and drew a long crater from 4th Street to 5th. He lay still, paralyzed from pain eking out of his every crevice. The monster materialized from the sky, sailing toward him, its two steroidal arms raised high. Midia’s eyes widened. He tensed without knowing, bracing himself for impact, and yelled at the top of his lungs in his new, grating voice–

“STOOO–”

Searing flames jettisoned from his open maw. Midia, shocked, kept screaming, unable to hold it back. The fire hit the monster and suspended all its movement; the creature wove its arms in front of its face to protect itself from being incinerated, then hung in the air, getting blasted. The fire liquedated the arms and everything else of the monster’s frontal area. Flesh popped and sizzled to the tune and acrid stench of the roiling inferno.

Midia ran out of breath later than even he had expected. At that, the fire cut off and the nearly-ash monster resumed plummeting. Midia did the rest without thinking. He palmed the ground and pushed himself feet-first toward the monster. He grabbed it by the shoulders with his talons, then drove it back to the ground, stomping upon landing and etching a new crater inside his own with the monster’s body. The monster looked up at him helplessly, and at that moment, Midia felt the power. His cape became wings, and he flapped them. He rose high into the air until he could see the edge of the island on the horizon. He inhaled deeply–deeper than he ever had, deeper than he ever thought possible–then breathed back out all his fury. A beam of fire spewed forth, penetrated the monster and the miles of earth underneath it, then the island blew up into wild chunks, leaving nothing but a wide-open bay in its way.

Darkness wrapped itself back around Midia before the last piece of Manhattan hit the sky. As he faded, he felt his scales return to flesh and his claws return to neatly-trimmed nails. He held onto consciousness again while waiting for he-knew-not what. The voices that woke him this time were friendlier, livelier, though also startled.

He blinked. A blue, sunny tapestry hung over the city. Elegant, gleaming skyscrapers looked down at him as if in awe of his smallness. He sat up off the concrete sidewalk and shook his head clear of confusion. After inspecting himself and finding every part of Midia Donnelly in his possession, he turned in the direction of the voices.

A crowd was gathering up on 3rd St. People had their phones and cameras out and were struggling to record something he could not see. Sirens blared in the distance, and the people nearest him whispered fervently and worriedly. He stood still, watching all of it, trying to understand what was going on. He heard talk of a terrorist; of a sickly man, of an unleashed monster.

Someone tapped his shoulder. He quickly swung around and pinned the end of his gun to their nose.

A scream rang out behind him. Bodies moved quickly, fleeing his vicinity. He didn’t register any of it. He only looked at the gun, wondering how it got there while recognizing it at the same time. That, and the fair young woman at the end of it, clad in a modest blue messenger bag and matching sneakers, who hardly seemed phased by the weapon. He recognized her as much as he did the gun–far too well.

“Come back to me,” said the girl. “Donnelly? We’re on the Upside again. New York City. Human form.”

“Wha…” he started to say, then stopped.

He tasted his gum. It was awful. His whole mouth tasted like iron–like blood. He backed off, keeping the gun on the girl without really thinking, and looking around in confusion, wondering where he was.

The girl sighed. “Not again…”

She reached behind her and drew her own gun to point at him. Midia jolted to his senses. He pulled the trigger, blasting the girl in the neck. At the same time, her bullet entered his mouth and exited through the hole he had recently made.

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