Pallid and Pale (3 of 4)

My earliest memory was of visiting my father’s factory, on the outskirts of Tianjin, and watching how he used his muscle to move steel sheets into a massive cutting machine. I remember white sparks shooting from the metal as he pushed buttons and the machine went to work, following a computer program to precisely sear through the thick sheet.

‘You will never do this, Zhang Li. If you were a growing boy, you could do this. But not you. This work is for men.’ He said. I was four years old but already feeling worthless.

That’s when it visited me for the first time. That night.

‘ 红色的恶魔. ‘

I was moments away from falling asleep, my head soft on the pillow and thick with the fuzz of dream, when a pulsating hum surfaced my awareness. A construct, hunched over so as not to hit the ceiling with its head, began to materialize – soft at first, but mutating into a grotesque abomination in short time, covering the majority of a fifteen foot wall span. It’s face was a thing of nightmares, but as I was so young I can remember being unafraid, only curious.

‘Why are your eyes missing?’ I said to it. ‘Why are you on fire?’ Small, beautiful hot flames danced around the outside of its body, blue and orange, soft light in the dark room.

‘ 我为那些没有发言权的人发言。我是均衡器。我是红色的恶魔,恶魔,最古老的我是你的保护者,现在和永远.’ it said in a deep gurgle of hiss and spit.

I removed the covers and walked over to stand in front of the creature, staring up with clear eyes and reaching for its hand.

Pallid and Pale (3 of 4)

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