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With Prey

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“Why do you keep coming back here?”

“I enjoy it here.”

“You mean you enjoy me.”

“No.” It turns to sneer at you before turning back to the television. “Brat.”

The sound of a woman’s blood-curdling scream spills out through the speakers, and Pennywise leans forward to watch intently as a creature rips open her belly. It’s not bad for a rainy midday horror-flick but you’ve seen it before. You give it a moment, chewing on the skin at the beds of your nails, before boredom finally gets the best of you again.

“Hey.”

It grunts.

“You know what I just realized? Your name isn’t actually Pennywise. Pennywise is just the name of this shape... The clown.”

It keeps its eyes fixed forwards, but you know you’ve distracted it. The lines carved into its browbones twitch so faintly you almost miss it.

“You are a very stupid little thing.” It murmurs back.

Biting down on a laugh, you swing your legs over the arm of the recliner. You can’t see the movie this way, but you can watch its reactions whenever the monster kills another actor. Its irises flash yellow each time, glowing like the eyes of an animal when you shine a light into the darkness. You love when it gets that look, that undeniable hunger. Sometimes, when you're about to drift off to sleep at night, you find yourself wishing it would look that way at you.

“So if you don’t have a name, I guess I could call you anything I want.”

That seems to strike a nerve within it. You watch as its body goes rigid; as though it knows you won’t stop until you’ve gotten a rise out of it, as though it knows whatever is about to come out of your mouth next will be both idiotic and pointless. It hates being annoyed. And you? You simply love to annoy it.

You can feel your cheeks burning, trying hard to keep your voice steady as you whisper, “I could even call you ‘Kevin.’”

“Does testing my patience bring you pleasure?” It asks gruffly, saliva spewing from the corners of its mouth.

“Not always. I’m just so fucking bored.”

“I will not be your entertainment.” It yawns, jaw coming unhinged before settling back in place. “Leave me be. Go do things that humans like to do.”

You let out a tiny snort of air. Leave me be, it says. You want to riposte that this is your home, but a part of you knows that’s not entirely true anymore. This house belongs as much to it as it does to you, and despite your never-ending bravado you’re not about to lecture the most dangerous predator in the macroverse on what it does and does not own. You let out a defeated sigh, and try to peel your socks off using only your toes instead.

“You know… I think you’re just in a bad mood because you’re tired.”

“I am never tired.”

“Yes you are. You’re tired all the time lately. I know how it works; you wake up, you eat a few dozen people, and you go to sleep for like thirty years. Gotta be really fuckin’ tired to go to sleep for thirty whole years.” You pause, reaching down to scoop a handful of popcorn from the bowl at the edge of the carpet. “When you wake back up again,” you begin, chewing loudly enough to hopefully make it look at you, “I’ll be old.”

“For a human.” It retorts, leaning back in its seat.

Warmth tugs at the edge of your lips, a small smirk gracing your face. You study the sharp edges of its jaw and the crackling skin around its forehead. God, it’s so beautiful. You’d always been afraid of clowns as a child until you laid eyes upon this one. You wonder if it knows, and if that’s why it likes to stay in this form.

At last you get up from your seat in the chair adjacent to it, moving to plop down right beside it on the couch. It recoils, scooting away to the other end.

“If I truly annoy you… If you really hate me so much… You could always… You know… Just eat me.”

“You have no hope. You have no fear. Your flesh would taste as bitter as ash.”

“What the- wait- you mean you’ve thought about it?”

“Of course. Each time you open your mouth.”

You stare at it with wide eyes, jaw hanging open. After a moment you can see the changes in its face, brightened so subtly by its own dark amusement. You let it finish watching a particularly gruesome scene, and then you shift yourself closer to it.

“But you do like me,”  you begin, trying to reach out and feel the fabric of its suit without it noticing. “I can tell. This thing… It’s kind of like a relationship. We’re like uh… We’re like mates.”

It turns to you, face twisted up in disgust before looking right back at the screen. “We are not mates. I do not take mates.”

“Yeah, I dunno. I mean, can we even be mates if we’ve never mated before? I mean… Isn’t that how… It works…?” You trail off, hoping it’ll interject. It doesn’t. It simply pretends not to hear you. “Do you… Do you even know what sex is?”

Pennywise flicks its eyes back over to you and holds them there, annoyance plastered across its face.

“You know, you give me that look… But sometimes I really don’t think you know what it is.” You narrow your eyes, turning beside it to face it completely. “I mean, surely you’ve seen it. You’ve been here this long, watching humans. I’d find it hard to believe if you told me you’d never accidentally seen someone get it on before.”

The clown closes its eyes, as though it’s trying to calm itself.

“Or hey, maybe it’s not so accidental. Maybe that’s your thing. Maybe you like to watch.” Your voice lowers to just above a whisper. “Have you ever watched me?”

“Yes.”

A rush of excitement courses through you.

“Wait, what? Really?”

“I can see each one of your memories. I know every lie you have ever told, every human you have ever brought into your bed. I can see everything you have ever done, as easily as watching the pictures on this screen.”

“Jesus. So you’ve seen that time I-”

“Yes.” A glimmer of amusement flashes in its eyes. “Unfortunately.”

You press quick a wave of embarrassment down before continuing, not wanting it to smell the stench of it on you. “Okay, so you’ve seen it. You know what it is… How it works… But have you ever… you know… Have you ever tried it?”

“No.”

“Not even once? Why not?”

“I have never wanted to.” It hisses, lips pulled back in disgust.

“Okay but everyone has sex. Well, not everyone, but every species. Basically. I know that most do… I think.”

It turns to you, cocking its head to the side. Its knees brush against your own, and you wonder for a moment whether or not it notices it’s touching you.

“Take a look around and tell me, Child; do you see any others who are like me?” It takes your silence for an answer. “No. You do not. I do not mate with my prey.”

Your shoulders drop, and you take a shallow breath before continuing. “Okay then. Have you ever-”

“Are you still speaking to me?”

“Have you ever… you know… finished?”

Its face twists up just slightly, confused by what you’re asking it.

“Climaxed? Came? Ejaculated? Busted a n-”

“Enough!” It snarls, claws bursting from its gloves and into the seams of the cushions beside it.

You’d be lying if you said its loss of composure didn’t make your stomach drop, but there’s always something so magical about being reminded how dangerous it truly is. Swallowing down that hard lump of fear, you sit and you wait until its eyes have faded back to blue but they don’t. Instead they glow orange, then as red as you’ve ever seen anything before in your life. It sits there for a moment, staring at the floor with a wandering eye. Drool begins to spill from its mouth and that’s when you realize, with horror, that it’s just smelled fear on you for the first time since you've met it.

“Oh shit.” You’re off of the couch before you can even think about it, instinct driving you to get away. “Oh God- Look, I’m sorry, I’ll be good- I’ll- I’ll let you watch the movie and I’ll-”

When it stands from its seat you can feel your body crumpling in on itself. Your knees begin to wobble, and you take a stumbling step away from it before kicking the bowl of popcorn all over the floor. It advances toward you, nearly twice your fucking size and this is it. You’ve done it this time. You and your stupid fucking mouth.

It opens its jaws, words veering on the edge of a growl. “Is that what you want, Little Buddy? Do you want me to mate with you?

It backs you up all the way against the wall. You throw out your hands beside you, trying to flatten yourself.

“Do you want me to fuck you in ways those pathetic men in the backseats of cars could never even fathom? Do you want me to fill you, all those empty places inside of you, and make you scream?”

“I don’t- I-I-”

Its so close now, and for the first time you can smell its breath, hot and acrid like the stench of roadkill. It looks you over like a piece of rotten meat, head tilted up and peering at you down its wine-colored nose. Then it pauses for a moment, as though it’s debating whether or not it would be worth the effort to eat you.

You squeeze your eyes shut, biting your lip until you taste iron on your tongue. When you open them again the scarlet of its irises have faded back to yellow, so you part your lips and you whisper, “Yes. I- Yes.”

“What did you say?” It asks with a hiss, still glaring down at you.

“I said... I said yes... what you s-said- I- That's... That’s what I want. All of those things. I want you to f-fuck me.”

Eons pass with its face frozen in abhorrence.

“I should kill you.” It finally replies.

“But you haven’t.” You scoot towards it, just by an inch, and it feels as if you’re reaching out towards a shark in the water. “I think you’re curious. I think you want me too.”

“I do not mate with prey.” It insists, louder and more stern this time.

“But I’m not prey... Like you said, I would taste like shit- or- whatever it was that you said. So technically… You know… You wouldn’t be playing with your food or anything.” You brush your fingers over the fluffy red ball on its boot.

Amusement glimmers in its eyes, though you can see it trying to stifle it and shape it into disdain. It pulls its foot away, and returns to the couch without a word.

“So is that a maybe?” You call after it, smirking coyly again. “Should I try again tomorrow?”