Characters: Ianto, Jack, OCs.
Word Count: 2300
Summary: The woods look a whole lot different now that it’s getting dark and misty. Things are about to get nasty as Jack is proved very wrong.
Written For: spook_me 2017, Tentacle Monster, and this pic.
Disclaimer: Sadly, I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. Think of the fun I could have with them…
The shadows grew and Jack flicked his torch onto a higher setting in an effort to combat the encroaching darkness. The mist was getting thicker too and Ianto was about to trade his scanner for his own torch when the instrument started to go crazy. Turning slowly, he waved it around, keeping his eyes glued to the readouts, then catching a flicker of movement from the corner of his eye, he looked up.
Jack spun, just in time to prevent what looked very much like a sickly green tentacle from wrapping around his neck. “What the hell…?”
A few yards away from them, barely visible through the thickening mist, they could just make out a shimmering patch in the air; it bore a vague resemblance to a Rift portal but without the golden glow that was their most distinctive feature. As if that wasn’t disturbing enough, a mass of writhing tentacles emanated from it, and even as they watched, something began to force its way through into their world from somewhere else.
Jack and Ianto backed off; whatever they’d thought they might find out here, it wasn’t this! Twisted and warped, like a nightmare version of a skeleton fashioned from a dead tree, or an effigy made of roots, it was easily three times their height. It walked more or less upright on two legs that bent strangely due to having too many joints, and its arms ended in clawed hands that grasped convulsively at the air. Right at the top, a demonic head tilted back, its lower jaw splitting in two, and it was from the creature’s gaping maw that the sinuous tentacles issued, flailing blindly.
“I thought you said there was no such thing as a tentacle monster,” Ianto hissed at Jack, backing up again as the thing took a ponderous step forward, emerging fully from the portal.
“There aren’t,” Jack insisted. “Not in our dimension. However, at this point I’m willing to entertain the possibility that different rules might apply in other dimensions, because unless I’m missing my guess, I’d say that’s definitely an interdimensional portal.”
“Great, I’m so glad that’s settled,” Ianto muttered sarcastically. “Any ideas what to do about the thing that just came through it?”
“Not offhand, no.” Jack stumbled back a few more steps, narrowly avoiding a lashing tentacle. “Looks like the people who reported a monster weren’t just seeing things after all.”
“Hey, don’t blame me! I’m not exactly an expert on creatures from other dimensions. This is the first one I’ve ever seen!”
“I hope it’s the only one I ever see. It doesn’t seen especially friendly; don’t know about you, but I think now might be a good time to run like hell and come back some other time, preferably with reinforcements and a bazooka.”
“You could be right. Go; I’ll be right behind you.”
Ianto didn’t need telling twice. Spinning quickly, he took off as fast as his legs could carry him over uneven ground made invisible by the mist swirling around their legs. He could hear Jack hot on his heels, but he hadn’t gone more than a couple of dozen strides when a yell and a loud thud made him look back. Jack had fallen, one foot caught in some unseen hazard, and even as he struggled to free himself and regain his feet, the monster was on him, snatching him up with one huge clawed hand.
Part of Ianto knew he should keep going, but no way was he letting this nightmare creature have his lover. Planting his feet, he brought up the gun he still had gripped in his right hand and took aim, emptying the full clip into the thing, nicking several tentacles, but as far as he could tell, all that did was make it mad. Its tentacles thrashed even more wildly than before, barely missing Ianto, as the monstrous entity raised Jack high in the air.
Jack had dropped his torch when he’d fallen, and it was now somewhere on the ground near the monster’s feet, illuminating the mist and making the scene appear even more unreal. Beyond the creature, through the portal, Ianto could make out more trees and shadowy shapes that might have been buildings. Something was on fire but the mist was obscuring the view enough that he couldn’t tell what it was; he thought he could see a body too. He took everything in with one quick look; no help was likely to come from that direction. If he couldn’t kill the creature he’d have to drive it back through to where it had come from, and yet from what little he could see, whoever lived there didn’t appear to know what to do with it either.
‘Not my problem,’ he told himself, trying to stifle a surge of guilt. The creature might have opened the portal itself, but it was also possible that whoever was on the other side had opened it in order to get rid of the monster. However, even if that was the case, it didn’t give them the right to foist their nightmare onto the unsuspecting citizens of another dimension. They had his sympathy but that was all he could afford to give them; right now his priority was to rescue Jack, stay alive, and find some way to defend his home from something that really didn’t belong here.
At least Jack was still alive. Ianto could see the immortal tearing at the monster’s fingers, trying to break free from its crushing grip. No, not tearing, he was slashing and stabbing at the corded sinews with the small pocketknife he always carried, and it seemed to be working; one finger already dangled uselessly and as there were only four to start with, all Jack needed to do was disable one more. Even a monster like that wouldn’t be able to grip too well with only two working fingers.
Ianto slammed a fresh clip into his Torchwood special; it was the only weapon he had so he really had no option but to use it. Aiming more carefully this time, he put two bullets through the base of one tentacle, severing it so it fell to the ground, leaking a putrid-smelling ichor. It was nothing compared to some of the stenches he’d grown accustomed to through working for Torchwood so he ignored it, taking several steps backwards to remain out of range and taking aim again.
A flailing tentacle found the one Ianto had shot off, snatching it up and shoving it in its own mouth. Ianto stared in disgust; was that thing actually eating itself? That was even worse than cannibalism, and yet he couldn’t quite manage to pull his horrified gaze away from the sight. That was almost his undoing.
While he was distracted, several of the other tentacles had reached towards him and he was snapped back to attention by a clammy sensation against the back of his hand as one of them tried to coil around his wrist. He slapped at it with the barrel of his gun, pulling his arm away sharply as the tentacle recoiled, and backed up, only to feel a tug at his left arm. He glanced quickly in that direction, expecting to see other tentacles clutching at him, but instead saw only the handles of the carrier bag hooked over his arm stretching taut around his sleeve. The tentacles must have snagged on it when he jerked his arm back. He tugged harder, but so did the tentacles in a bizarre tug of war, Ianto digging in his heels and wishing he had a pocketknife while the monster’s flexible tentacles tried to drag him towards it.
He was going to lose this one, Ianto knew. The bag handles had twisted around his arm so tightly that he couldn’t pull himself free, and shooting at the tentacles was out because he couldn’t steady his right hand enough to aim accurately and couldn’t afford to waste the few rounds he had left. Instead, he snapped on the safety and shoved the gun in his pocket in order to tear at the bag handles with the fingernails of his right hand. His left was all but numb now, circulation cut off by the constricting plastic. Dimly he heard Jack’s voice calling his name, but he had no attention to spare for his lover, not while he was fighting for his own life. He felt a stab of guilt; if he’d been more careful he wouldn’t be in this mess and could have been doing something to help Jack free himself.
The handles snapped so suddenly that Ianto was pitched onto his back in the mud churned up by his struggle, and his head vanished below the heavy layer of mist that obscured the ground, effectively blinding him. He scrabbled backwards and struggled into a sitting position, pushing his head above the mist just in time to see the triumphant tentacles cram his bag of rubbish down the monster’s throat. Almost simultaneously, with a victorious yell, Jack broke the second of the creature’s fingers and tumbled free of its grasp, hitting the ground even harder than Ianto had and briefly disappearing in the mist, only to reappear a minute later, scrambling away on all fours, favouring his right leg. As he passed his torch, he snatched it up from where it had fallen and continued towards Ianto.
“Move!” Jack urged, grabbing Ianto under his armpit and trying to get him up on his feet. Ianto floundered, getting his feet under him, preparing to run for his life again, but there was no need. The monster appeared to have lost interest in them; it had other things on its mind. It clawed at its mouth and throat with both hands and with its tentacles, its movements growing ever more frantic as the seconds passed, then abruptly it stiffened, froze for a moment, and began to convulse. It staggered sideways a couple of steps before toppling ponderously forwards like a tree being felled, crashing in slow motion to the ground just yards away from where Jack and Ianto stood, poised and ready to run. The convulsions continued for a few more minutes, gradually weakening, until at last the thing lay still. A tremor went through its tentacles; they twitched feebly, stiffened, and then went limp, their bright green colour turning dull before they dissolved into foul smelling slime. The rest of the creature began to crack and splinter, finally crumbling into a pile of rotting fragments amid the tentacle slime.
“What just happened?” Jack asked, staring at the creature’s remains.
“I guess nobody ever told it that plastic bags are choking hazards,” Ianto replied, equally bemused. “Never thought I’d see the day when a bag of rubbish would save my life.” He rubbed his arm, which was tingling uncomfortably with pins and needles as the feeling returned, and looked at Jack. “Are you okay?”
Jack smiled wryly. “I’ll live.” He fingered the rips in his jacket, pulling out a clump of insulating polyester fibre. “Suddenly I’m very glad I wasn’t wearing my coat; the extra padding around my ribs was more than welcome. I think this jacket’s had it though.”
“I’ll buy you a new one next time we go shopping. What do we do about the portal?” Ianto pointed towards the opening.
“Don’t know.” Jack led the way towards it and as they approached, they saw two nervous looking men, axes and burning torches gripped in their hands, peering through from the other side, eyes wide with amazement. “Hi there!” Jack called, waving.
“The Beast, it is dead?” one man asked uncertainly
“Yep!” Jack replied, grinning widely. “Dead as a dodo.”
“It is a miracle!” the other man exclaimed. “Thank you. Our village is saved!”
Ianto looked beyond the two men to the burning buildings. “Doesn’t look like there’s a lot of village left.”
The first man shrugged. “No matter; we will rebuild. Now the Beast is destroyed our village will prosper once more, as it did before the curse was laid on us. Our gratitude is a poor reward, but it is all we have to give.”
“You’re welcome,” Jack told them cheerfully. “Always happy to help. Defeating monsters is what we’re known for.”
“Then you are great and fearless warriors. Songs in your honour will be sung of this day.” The two men bowed low before pulling their heads back to their side of the portal, which shimmered for a moment and then collapsed in upon itself with a quiet ‘pop’.
“There, problem solved,” Jack said casually, waving at where the portal had been.
“Might be a good idea to set up some sensors and motion-activated cameras around here just to keep an eye on things and make sure it doesn’t reopen,” Ianto suggested, making his way through the dwindling mist to retrieve the bag of rubbish from what was left of the monster.
Jack nodded. “I suppose you’re right. I’ll have a word with Tosh about that in the morning. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough fun for one day. What say we go home, have a nice, hot shower to get the mud off, and get an early night?”
Ianto smiled. “I was just about to suggest the exact same thing. Lead the way.”
“You have to admit I was right though,” Jack said, taking Ianto’s hand and twining their fingers together. “Tentacled monsters don’t exist in this universe; they’re nothing more than myths.”
Ianto rolled his eyes. “That only applies to our dimension, Jack; they’re real enough elsewhere.” He looked back over his shoulder as they set off between the trees. “Still, I think it’s safe to say that’s one monster that won’t be mythed by anyone.”