**This is the final story in a six part series (beginning with “The Fool of the World”. I’d recommend checking out how it began. They take 2-4 minutes each to read.**
We stand outside of the dark building. I look at the thing in N’s hands.
“That’s not a fucking gun.”
N looks down at the grenade launcher. He shrugs.
“When was the last time you killed a god?”
I riffle through the bag and pull out a pistol.
“How do I use this thing?”
N gives me a sardonic look.
“Well, you’re American…”
I frown. “So?”
He sighs. Never mind. He takes the gun and does something movie-esque with it. He hands it back.
“That is how you do it, I think.”
“You’re carrying a grenade launcher and you think?”
He shrugs. “Try it.” He motions to the dumpster.
I point and slowly pull the trigger. The sound is deafening. My body goes numb with shock and terror. Yet, I smile.
We walk into the building. We follow the hall to the door with the red knob.
I place my hand on it.
“Are you afraid?” N whispers.
I turn to the dark spot of his voice.
“Of course I’m fucking afraid. Only unimaginative people are fearless. But, screw it.”
With a shaking hand, I grip the knob
“So you’re saying you’re an imaginative person?”
“What?” I say.
“Well you’re saying you’re scared and unimaginative people aren’t scared. So…”
“This is an odd time for a conversation like this,” I whisper.
“Just saying, a bit boastful. I like that word, boastful.”
I frown through the dark at him.
“Are you not afraid, then?” I ask.
I can feel him shrug. “Not really,” he says.
I sigh. “Okay. I’m sorry for calling you unimaginative then.”
“Can we go in now?”
I turn the knob. We burst into the hall.
Except, it is no longer a hall. A dark forest greets us.
“What the hell?” I say.
We move forward, slowly. The air is still. Something comes from the left. It is red and glimmering. A red knight on a horse. I leap out of the way. It dashes off. I squeeze off a few rounds into the trees after him.
“Shh,” N says.
He creeps forward, I follow. A horse’s cry rings out to our left. Just in time, I point. I shoot. A knight, this one in black armor, tumbles down from his black horse. The horse runs off.
I approach it cautiously. There is a large hole through his chest. I can see the ground beneath him. No blood.
We slip onwards through the trees.
A few minutes later we come to a clearing. In the clearing sits a hut on hen’s legs. Its back is to us. N smiles. He steps forward into the clearing.
“Hut, hut!” he says, “stand with your back to the forest, your front to me.”
The hut slowly turns. Skulls with flaming eyes lined a knobby iron fence. N raises the grenade launcher. He shrugs then, pulls the trigger. The whole scene becomes fire.
N is actually laughing. He turns to me. His laughter cuts off. His face goes white. I turn.
The Baba Yaga stands, three meters tall at my best estimate. Her jaw is slack. Her crooked iron teeth shimmer in the light of the flames.
A small white hand slides out of the air next to me. It punches me in the face. I fall. The Baba Yaga leaps through the air at N. N dodges the first but takes the second blow to the chest. The white hand floats in the air beside me. It gives me the finger. I pull out the gun and fire aimlessly at the hand. By sheer luck a bullet strikes it through the palm.
It sags to the ground like a deflated balloon. My whole body is shaking. I turn. The Baba Yaga has N pinned to the ground. She is screeching down at him. The whole forest cowers away from it.
I point the gun at her. I fire until the clip is empty. It’s no use. She rears back and, mouth wide, comes down on N.
Just when I think it’s over the head freezes, inches from N’s nose. The Baba Yaga slowly pushes herself up. N has the entire grenade launcher shoved up her left nostril. He says something softly in Russian.
“Wait!” she cries.
Her head explodes. The blood puts out the fire. It covers the whole clearing, including us.
I scrape it off my face. I see N has done the same. His hand is still holding the grenade launcher. He drops it in the muck.
I throw up. N trudges over and puts his hand on my shoulder. I straighten up.
“Okay. Yeah. Okay,” I manage.
We start walking back through the trees.
When we get to the door I stop.
“Wait, should we save the girl?”
“No,” N says, without stopping.
“Why not?” I say.
He turns and looks me, head to toe in blood. He sighs.
“Because we’re not in a fucking fairy tale.”
And they lived happily ever after.