The shark monster wasn’t alone. Frog-things stood all around it, but the closest four of them held poles with hooks on the far end. Shark prods?
Rod muttered something hard to understand, but it ended with “—it.”
“I’ll take the shark,” he said, and put Sam and I down near the wreck of an SUV. Most of its front had been bitten off. I could see the tooth marks in the metal.
The missing chunk of engine and hood lay in front of it, but no mangled people.
I liked to imagine that the driver had escaped—somehow.
I’m an optimist like that.
Sam pulled her staff out of her pocket. “I’m taking out the frogmen. Don’t stand in front of me.”
I pulled my staff out, clicked on the button, and it grew from six inches to six feet. Nick told me how it worked once, but Nick’s told me a lot of things that I don’t care about.
Another push of the button electrified the ends of the staff, and I was prepared. No way were the frog-things going to take any attack from Sam lying down. They’d mob us, and I’d have to keep them off her.
I got into a ready stance, sweeping the roadway with my eyes to watch for attackers. The only light came from the stopped cars, but there were a lot of them, and they had their brights on.
As a few broke off from the larger group, and began to walk toward us, Sam said a few words. Arcs of blue-white energy gathered around the top of the staff.
A small bolt of lightning (I almost didn’t see it) jumped from my staff to hers, and I could feel the hair on my body standing up (not that there was much of it).
A blinding flash of lightning spread out from her staff, spreading into smaller bolts and hitting the crowd. The frog-things’ howls of pain mixed with the loudest thunderclap I’d ever heard.
More than half the group fell to the ground, legs and arms spasming.
Sam didn’t need a bodyguard. I decided to do something useful—going on the offense.
Rod and the shark monster were wrestling like creatures out of that Godzilla marathon Marcus made us watch. One of them would have needed laser eyes for an exact match, but troll breath was close enough to “Atomic Breath” for me.
It wouldn’t have hurt if Rod had some kind of weirdo “space samurai” armor either. The medieval clothes he wore made him look like he’d wandered in from the wrong story.
Rod pushed the creature’s mouth away as it snapped at his head—on its hind legs, it stood taller than he did. He punched it in the stomach with his free hand, and it landed on its back.
Rolling back to its feet, it turned back toward him more quickly than I’d have thought possible.
I wouldn’t have done it normally, but since the electricity was out, I put my staff away, and ripped the streetlamp out of its concrete mounting alongside the highway.
It wasn’t easy. Streetlamps are big. Once I had it on the ground, I grabbed it three-quarters of the way up, where it was a little more comfortable. Still, I felt grateful it was a fake Victorian streetlamp instead of a modern look where the light hung over the road.
I looked up from the lamp pole as Sam shouted, “Troll’s down!”
While I’d been occupied, the shark had knocked Rod down, and bit deeply into his forearm. He hit its head as I watched, but it didn’t let go. He shouted from the pain as it bit harder.
Oh, hell no.
I started running, aiming the lamp at the shark.
It didn’t let go of Rod’s arm even though he had grabbed its upper jaw and tried to pry it away.
The lamp hit just behind the shark’s head. What was left of the glass shattered as the lamp pierced its skin, causing it to jerk and let go. I kept on pushing until I felt the lamp come out the other side.
Rod pushed it off himself, grabbed the pole and threw it, shark monster and all, over the side of the highway. It dropped three stories and hit with thump, ending with the sound of uncontrolled thrashing.
I almost felt sorry for the poor dumb animal—except for the part where it attacked real people. So screw that.
Right then in my ideal world, the frog-things would have been so intimidated by how we dealt with the shark monster, and how Sam could zap them into extra-crispiness (the air smelled of grilled chicken) that they’d leave.
Instead they poured out of the rows of cars, dark figures silhouetted by hi-beams running straight for us.
That’s what optimism gets you.