Mike the Beast and his human rested in the shadow of a titanic, titanium bridge. Above them streamed a rainbow of metal beasts, swift and brilliant.
“Stop moving,” said the young man, who was sprawled atop Mike’s only smooth flank, breathing slow and deep. “You’re uncomfortable.”
Stupid soft human, thought Mike, shifting his charcoal bulk carefully, tempted to toss the boy off.
“I could grind you up in my teeth, you know,” he rumbled threateningly.
“Sure,” said the young man, without opening his eyes.
“Ugh,” said Mike and caved in to the inevitable. “Fine,” he grumped. “I’ll go.”
“Yes!” cheered the young man, popping off of Mike excitedly. “I’ve been reading about this place forever,” he exaggerated.
Mike the Beast watched his young man limber up for the long climb ahead, feeling rusty. He knew he had once been beautiful and whole and cobalt blue but the memory seemed as far-off and faded as his purgatorial realm. He had learned lessons that the beasts above would never know. Besides, he reflected, bolstering his confidence, he was sure that none of his cousins had a man to walk by their side.
“No dilly-dallying,” he reminded the young man, who was bending his arm behind his head, and took the lead.