Winter Forever

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The world had never been the same since the Evil Knight had taken over. We were all trapped in a snowstorm of winter, waiting to be freed. I didn’t believe the stories that a princess would come and melt his heart, this was beyond fairy tales now. No, I was going to do it; the village blacksmith with muscles described like ships’ anchors and a mighty warhammer made of long lost dwarf metals which I had perfected for years. There was no failure in my mind, only the hope that I was going to change the world.

(Inspired by; https://bikurgurl.com/2017/12/06/100-word-wednesday-week-48 with thanks).

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Witchy

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When the witch left her house she only had one thing on her mind. Taking her broom up as high as she could, she flew by the full moon and the dark stormy clouds. Below her, everything looked tiny and unreal as if the trees and village were only models. However, she knew the people asleep in those houses and she hurried to land in the middle of the village square.

There beside the well, she cast the village under a curse for all time. Hating them for their cruelness against her and their unwelcome nature. She wove the spell into the water of the well, so that it would spread farther. Then taking to her broom once more, she dragged the spell through the midnight sky so that everything would be covered.

Dear Diary #21

Dear Diary, why am I so fascinated by the Suicide Forest in Japan?

I watched another online video today of four young men exploring the place. It was raining and you could hear the rain dripping off the trees. There seemed to be no birds or any other animals in the background, just the men walking and talking to the camera. The forest was mega wild and they said the ground was made of fallen trees, roots and undergrown plants. It looked almost like an evil fantasy forest.

They found three broken umbrellas then a camping spot where two light green single person tents were still intact. Off to the side, were the remains of a small camping fire, badly damped by the heavy rain. An empty rucksack lay beside the first tent, the zips all undone. A white baseball cap was behind the second tent and there was a scattering of Japanese sweet packets.

They looked into the tents and I held my breath believing they were about to discover someone, but there was only litter and water. They even searched the area, though they claimed the video wasn’t about them looking for bodies…but I guess if you came across an abandoned tent in the middle of a forest will known for suicides then you’d want to know what happened to the person.

I sort of want to know too, but I think it’s clear what happened…

I want to go, more desperately then before. I want to know why people are driven there and why they decide they don’t want to live. Plus, there are all these claims about it being haunted and not just by the souls of those poor people, but by evil spirits that lure people in. Okay, maybe I’ve seen too many movies, but there must have been something that started the stories, there always is. Maybe, it would be a good thing for my PhD? And it’d give me a reason to go…Though this would be the third ‘haunted’ place I’ve submitted in my applications. But from a psychologic point of view, it’s just super interesting.

Hopefully, my fascination will die down soon enough, but right now I’m going to start a new application and see what the universities think about it. Maybe, there’s a reason why I’m so attracted to these creepy place? Perhaps, I need to do some mind testing on myself!

The Devil is Watching You (Part 4)

Ray scrambled from the van with Shane’s gruff ‘bye’ slapping him in the face. He grabbed his things before trailing mud like slug slime all the way into his apartment. Ray dropped the box of beer and the plastic bag on the floor. Then kicking his door shut, stormed into the bathroom. The sounds of rushing water and clothes being ripped off followed.

He stepped into the shower and let the hot water pour down over him as if he was receiving a blessing from God. Sighs and moans escaped him, mingling with the rushing water. Ray washed quickly, scrubbing at his skin as if the mud would never come off. He half drowned himself, before deciding to get out.

Wrapping himself in towels, he stepped out in a bank of mist and went into his bedroom. Turning on the light, he looked at the bed and saw that it was badly sunken in one side. Wondering what to do, he stripped the bed and inspected the mattress. He pressed down, but the springs seemed locked into place.

Swatting grains of stone off the surface, Ray pressed up and down on the mattress a few times. Destressing squeals signalled around him, but the springs wouldn’t ping up. Sighing, he flipped it over and spun it around on the metal framed bed. The other side didn’t look any better. He tried again and this time the springs give away a little bit. Gritting his teeth, he tried harder and got the mattress into something of a normal, if not more bump shape.

‘That thing ruined my bed,’ Ray muttered.

He dressed then threw his clothes into the washer/dryer and made himself a large cup of tea. He put the TV on and watched a car show, noticing all the aches his body was now curling around. During the ad break, he got up and brought the plastic bag over to the sofa. Inside was a mix of bottled water, soft drink cans and snacks. He had snatched it without even thinking as he had gotten out of the van.

Shane had been less eager to hand over the beers and actually, as Ray sat there thinking about, Shane had been really edgy and wanting to leave fast. Probably all that mud and hard work, Ray thought before opening a packet of pork pies and dipping in. He stuffed his face for another few minutes then found an old James Bond movie to watch.

Sprawling out on the sofa, he tried hard not to fall asleep, but it tugged at him too much and soon he was dreaming of falling down a fire filled tunnel. He could feel white hot flames sizzling against his skin and his screams were so deafening they could no longer be heard. He plummeted into a lava pit, burning red and orange oozing around him and swallowing him. He scrambled to get out and to call for help, but the lava filled his mouth and throat and he felt himself burning from the instead out.

Ray awoke in a sweaty heap, almost falling off the sofa. He struggled up and got to his feet. Looking around nothing seemed out of place. He went to the sink, filled a mug with water and drank it down. Feeling better, he saw that his clothes were ready. He opened the door and spent the rest of the day cleaning and tidying. Yet, his mind still spun like a spider making a web and he couldn’t get the devil gargoyle away from him.

As night began fully settling in, Ray turned on all the lights and put the volume of the TV up. His skin was crawling with a creepy feeling and he felt like someone was hanging over his shoulder watching him. He shot a few quick glances around, but he was completely alone. He called for Chinese takeout, hoping the food would settle him. When it arrived, he didn’t feel as hungry and left half of it in the fridge for later.

He went to bed, relaxing across nice clean sheets and telling himself he was being silly. The day had been a strange one, but tomorrow would be fine and normal. Sleep refused to come and he tossed and turned so much that the bed looked as unmade as ever. He gave in at last and spent an hour looking at random crap on the internet via his phone.

Trying to settle again, he rested back on the pillows and thought about the statue. It was out there, resting in the abandoned graveyard with rain dripping off its crudely craved muscles. He imaged it half sinking into the muddy ground and joining the collection of old bones tangled in gnarled tree roots and black earth. Shaking his head and trying to get rid of those thoughts, sleep silent crept up. However, it didn’t give him any rest bite.

The nightmares grew worse and circled around the same things; Hell and the Devil. He couldn’t pull himself away, even though he begged to awake up and towards the end he started to believe that it was real. He was trapped in the fiery inferno forever to be tortured by daemons.

‘It’s my eternal punishment,’ he muttered over and over again through bleeding lips.

The night broke late and the morning light had to struggle through murky blackness. Ray’s alarm went off, the noise cutting through everything and jerking him awake. Scrambling up, he sat in the damp bed and drew deep shaky breaths. He touched himself, gingerly then got up and let his fingers trail across a few other things.

‘I’m still here. It was all nightmares…’

He grabbed his phone and called up Shane, who answered on the fourth ring.

‘Mate, we’ve got to put it back,’ Ray rambled into the phone, ‘we’ve got to find out where it came from and put it back. We’re cursed!’

‘What are you…?’

‘The statue! We need to return it or else….’

‘Who is that?’ a sleepy, female voice echoed down the line.

‘Ray. It’s nothing, Love. I’ll sort it,’ Shane’s voice crackled.

‘Look, we need to…’

‘Calm down, pal. Give me a sec.’

Ray hopped up and down as he listened to the muffled movements of bedding and doors. Shane came back on the phone with ‘now, what do you want?’

‘We need to return the statue. It won’t leave me alone! I had the worst nightmares last night and before that I felt something was here with me. Don’t you feel it?’

‘Well, I didn’t sleep, but that doesn’t…

‘Stop!’ Ray shouted, ‘we need to do this. Get over here!’

‘And if I don’t?’ Shane’s cold voice answered back.

‘Then you are damned to Hell.’

Ray hung up, tossed his phone away and got dressed. He grabbed something to eat and drink, then picking up the rest of his things, put on his boots. He went to the door and put on a rain mac before hurrying out. He paced the carpark as he waited for Shane to arrive, muttering to himself like a mad man.

A squeal of tires and brakes announced his friend’s arrival and Ray swung open the door and hopped in, before Shane could do anything else.

‘We need to get it and return it. It’s the only way,’ Ray explained.

‘I don’t believe in Hell,’ Shane countered back, ‘I’m doing this for you and you are going to owe me big time, pal.’

Ray nodded, ‘drive then.’

The van screamed as it turned around and shot away. Shane pushed the speed limit all the way to the layby and once there braked suddenly to a stop. They got out and tracked through the woodland, hunched shoulders and shifty eyed. They entered the graveyard and saw the gargoyle lying on its side where they had left it.

‘Should’ve brought something to lift it with,’ Shane muttered.

Ray shook his head and went up to inspect the statue. It had sunk a few inches into the mud, which had only added to its grotesqueness. He rubbed his hands together, the urge not to touch the stone filling him like a balloon.

‘We’ve got to…Got to…Come on,’ he spoke.

He bent down and slid his hands under the statue. The surface was cold, damp and rough, but he tried not to think about it. Ray heard Shane growling then moving to the bottom corners. They counted to three then lifted. There was a loud mud sucking smacking noise and for a few moments they teetered on not being able to move. However, their strength paid off once more and the wet soil let them raise the devil.

Slowly and painfully, they crawled back to the van. Thin tree branches cracking around them and the mud ruts threating to trip them up. They put the statue down close to the van doors and as Shane opened them, Ray took in lungful’s of chilly autumn air. The second lifting was the worse, but once again they got the thing into the van and slammed the doors.

‘Now what?’ Shane asked as they lent against the doors, doubled over.

‘Now, we drive around till we find out where it came from.’

‘I want petrol money,’ Shane stated.

‘Okay, whatever.’

They got back into the van, scrapping and brushing off as much mud as possible. Then for the next two hours they drove around in an icy silence with only the radio to break up the rumbles of the engine. Shane turned down a dead end street, meaning to U-turn but was forced due to a number of parked cars to drive further down.

Ray wiggling in his seat, shooting looks at the houses on both sides. None of them looked different from the other semi-detached ones in this richer, better built area. However, their front gardens were different and as they passed one with a large very red brick wall something popped in Ray’s memory.

‘That house…turn around, I need to see it,’ he called out.

Shane did just that and pulled the van up on the curb. Ray climbed out of the van. He walked up to the wall and saw that it ran up a short front pathway before ending with pillars close to the front door. On each pillar sat a small gargoyle facing off with each other. Ray noticed that the one of the right had a shield and the left one had a sword. He looked to the right, across a neatly flag stoned driveway and saw another pillar ending the wall there.

The pillar was empty.

‘This is it!’ he yelled.

He rushed back to the van and flew open the door, ‘this is it. Come on.’

‘Are you sure?’ Shane shouted back.

‘Yes,’ Ray responded and hit the side of the van as he hurried around back.

Shane got out and joined him to open the van doors.

‘I don’t like this,’ he added, glancing around the street, ‘anyone could see us. What do we say?’

Ray shrugged, ‘we are delivering it. We found it and are returning it. It doesn’t matter.’

‘Still…’

‘It doesn’t matter. Just help me put it back.’

After a few seconds of planning, they heaved the statue up again and carried it over to the pillar. Sliding it on there with their muscles pumping and throbbing, they replaced the statue. Letting go, Shane lent over, grapping his knees and squeezing his eyes shut. Ray sink down to the driveway and looked at his hands. He had slight cuts in his palms and his skin was red-grey. He caught his breath then stood up again.

‘Let’s get out of here,’ Shane said in a low voice.

They ambled back to the van and got in.

‘You still sure?’

Ray nodded, ‘yeah. It looks like it fits.’

‘I’ll take your word on it.’

Shane started the engine and made to pull away. As he did so, Ray’s eyes lingered on the gargoyle. Mud was still coating the bottom parts and one side with the wall underneath smeared too. It didn’t seem any worse for wear though. Ray let out the breath he had been holding and prayed it was over with.

They drove off, leaving the devil grinning a mud caked smile.

The Devil is Watching You (Part 3)

It was a miracle that they made out of the building and into the car park. As they slide the devil gargoyle along the corrugated iron flooring of the van, Ray thought his body was going to burst. They slammed the doors shut and lent against the cold metal, breathing raggedly whilst sweat pooled off them.

‘We did it,’ Shane gasped; he bent over and grabbed his knees.

‘Yeah, just,’ Ray breathed back.

‘I need a shower.’

‘Not before we get rid of this thing.’

‘A drink then, water,’ Shane suggested.

Ray nodded and eyed the sightless windows of the apartment block. He thought he saw a net curtain fluttering back into place. Shaking his head, he patted Shane on the back and said he’d go back up and get them some water.

‘Let’s just go to the shop,’ Shane cut in, ‘we can get some beer too. I think we’re going to need it later.’

‘My wallet’s…’ Ray started and patted himself down.

‘I’ll cover it, but you own me, mate.’

‘Yeah, sure thing. Let’s go.’

Shane walked around and opening the driver’s door got his things. He locked the van behind him and they set off on the few minutes’ walk to a row of six tried looking shops. The small attached buildings sat in a semi-circle of pavement that at one time the council had tried to dress up with benches and flower pots. Now, though the area looked too run down to bother with and it was made even more so by the abandoned bedsits that hung like dead cows above the shop fronts.

Ray and Shane walked past the empty chippy with the closed sign on the door then what had once been a farmer’s market shop but was now white washed and for sale. Passed, Home Helpers, with its’ collection of brightly coloured house and garden cleaning supplies littering the space just outside, to Booze Bonanza. Shane led the way in and a small bell tinkled above his head.

They headed straight for the beer shelves then, arms wrapped two large cardboard boxes, went to the till. Shane paid without a word and they left as quickly as they had entered. After putting the beer into the van, they went to the next shop along which was a small convince shop. As they stepped in, Ray glanced at the next and last shop along; Fat Chu’s Chinese Takeaway.

‘Hey, let’s get a Chinese later. Go nice with the beer,’ Ray called over.

‘Maybe,’ Shane muttered, ‘not sure what time my missus gets off work. Have to see.’

‘All right. What we getting?’

‘More food and water, I’m starving. Those noodles didn’t even touch the sides.’

Ray shook his head and followed Shane around the narrow aisle as he picked up a few snacks, bottled water and soft drinks. Ray grabbed somethings too, thinking it would be useful if they didn’t get food later and he had to return to his place alone.

At the till, a dusty blonde, spotty teenage girl gave them a wary eye then started to scan their things. She sighed deeply and smacked chewing gum against her lip gloss lips. She packed their things in a carry bag and with a monotone voice mumbled the total.

Shane shoved a note at her, fisted his change as she handed that over and with a huffed ‘bye, grabbed the bag and left. Ray tried to shot her grin, but the girl had already turned back to the crappy gossip mag tucked down the counter’s side.

‘What was that about?’ Ray asked as they climbed back into the van.

Shane dumped the bag on the seat between them then dug out a bottle of water. He cracked the lid and took huge gulps. Twisting the top, he handed it to Ray and started up the engine. ‘Nothing. Let’s get this shit taken care of.’

Ray pulled a face, but settled back into the faded, rough chair. He opened the bottle, wiped the top and took a few sips. Afterwards, he looked out of the window and watched the council estate flowing by. Most of the houses were boarded up and those that weren’t looked like they should be. A handful of autumn trees, looking like they’d rather give up and die added nothing to the scene. They sped pass the flat wasteland reminds of an old war airport base, which the council had tried hard to turn into a nature reserve, but then had given up after losing too much money.

The van bounced along, onto the estate edges and around into a patch of woodland. Rain drops pattered the window and letting out a long winded breath, Shane put the wipers on.

‘It’s around here, I think,’ Ray mumbled.

‘Yeah. That layby,’ Shane pointed out then pulled in off the single track road.

Ray looked and saw spiny wind swept trees kept back by a broken wooden fence.

Shane turned off the engine and looked around too. ‘Do you know whereabouts?’

Keeping his face to the window, Ray answered, ‘yep. Its right through there then up a bit. Not far. Not far at all. We’ll be fine.’ He opened the door and got out.

Ray heard Shane do the same and they meet around the back of the van. Shane opened the doors and together they looked in on the statue. Dread filled them both.

‘We’ll just do what we did before and everything will be okay,’ Ray stated, ‘do you want to walk backwards or shall I?’

‘I’ll do it. Grab that end.’

Ray nodded and quickly they got into the same position as before and lifted the gargoyle out. Straining and sweating once more, they carried the monstrous stone into the trees. Ray felt his feet slipping on the soft mud and his back pain spiralling out of control. Shane, holding out a little bit better, tried to rush through the cluster of pointy branches and felt long wicked scraps across his skin. Swearing loudly and muttering a torrent of other things, they hauled the devil into a patch of abandoned headstones.

Dropping the thing down, they fall on other side of it, struggling to breath and hearts racing. Ray submerged in the wet soil, feeling as if it could fix all of his problems. He lay face down then when the pressure on his chest became too much, flopped over and stayed on his back. He shut his eyes against a darkening; tree topped edge sky and let the rain wash over him. He listened to his breathing and was dimly aware that he wasn’t alone.

Exhaustion dragged him into sleep and felt himself spinning down into eternal blackness. He was plagued by nightmares. The devil gargoyle danced around him, fire spurted up and unimaginable pain gripped his beaten body. Ray tried to call out, to run away, but he seemed unable to escape. Finally, he felt strong hands grabbing his shoulders and yanking him up. He tried to fight the hands, but he was shaken too much.

Ray snapped his eyes open and looked up at Shane. His friend was covered in mud and was shouting at him to pull himself together. Ray pressed his hands on top of Shane’s and drew in a ragged couple of breaths.

‘I’m fine. Thanks,’ he slurred.

‘You were screaming like a mad man,’ Shane explained.

‘I was having a nightmare…the devil…’

They both looked over at the toppled statue.

‘I had one too,’ Shane muttered, ‘Let’s get out of here. I’ve had enough of this!’

‘Me too. Me too,’ Ray added as he patted Shane’s hand.

They helped each other up and tried to wipe some of the mud off. It clung to them thickly and in the end they give up and walked back to the van. Behind them, the rain fell heavily on the forgotten gravestones and their new companion.

Safely back in the van, Shane started the engine and turned on the heating. He drove back to Ray’s apartment and both men were silent all the way. However, they couldn’t turn their thoughts away from the nightmares or the task they had just undertaken. Ray shut his eyes and lent against the cold damp window, but he quickly opened them again as he saw the devil looming over him. He shot a look at Shane and saw he was concerning on the road so hard that his knuckles were turning white under all the mud.

To Be Continued…

The Devil is Watching You (Part 2)

Ray let Shane through the second he heard the intercom buzz. Letting his finger drop from the button, he paced the space in front of the door and waited for his best friend to come up to the twelfth floor in the old lift. Ray rubbed his hands together and tried not to let his thoughts gush out of his mouth. His stomach withered and he felt like he had swallowed a live snake.

A tap, tap, tap, came from the door and Ray hurriedly unlocked it and threw it open. Shane’s massive bulk stood before him and Ray felt some relief at seeing the former heavier weight boxer before him.

‘You have to see this,’ Ray blurted and let him in.

Shane inched through the doorway, keeping his meaty hands by his side whilst his dark blue eyes flickered around the hallway. He was wearing black steel capped boots, dirty jeans and a scruffy t-shirt which his body bulged out of. Faded tattoos ran up both his arms and his heavy beaten up face looked concerned.

‘The bedroom,’ Ray added.

Shane cocked an eyebrow, ‘some whore you found?’

‘No, no,’ Ray shook his head quickly, ‘just look.’

He guided Shane to the bedroom door and swung it open. They both looked in and saw the devil gargoyle still on the bed. Shane walked in slowly, the floorboards creaking a little under him. Ray wringing his hands followed him like a guilty old dog until they were both stood by the edge of the bed.

‘What is it?’ Shane whispered having taken in the massive curved shape of the gargoyle’s naked buttocks.

‘A stone statue…I woke up next to it. I’ve no idea how it got here…what happened last night?’ Ray replied in a hushed voice.

‘You got pissed. That’s what happened. And somehow you must a taken this….’

‘How? It’s pure stone. It’s heavy.’

Shane shrugged his enormous shoulders and ran his fingers down his hairless chin.

‘Look, forget it,’ Ray snapped, ‘just help me to get rid of it.’

‘All right,’ Shane responded and moved around the bed.

‘We’ll lift it between us and get it outside. Find a place to dump it…maybe take it to that old graveyard. Did you bring your van?’ Ray added.

‘Yeah, o’ course. But look, this has to be worth something…’

Shane reached out a hand and touched the cold stone. It felt smooth under his fingers though he could feel flecks brushing off it. He looked at the deep set forever watching eyes and the mighty curling horns placed either side oblong ears. He felt himself oddly drawn to the statue. He wrapped his fingers around one of the legs and found that he couldn’t get his hand all the way around.

‘What?’ Ray mumbled back.

‘I mean, you’d have to find the right person…but I’ve seen these things. They can sell for hundreds o’ pounds. And this one…we could do it…I’d just need to find someone.’

‘Are you serious? No way, no way! We are dumping that shit right now. Come on, help me lift it,’ Ray yelled and went to grab the gargoyle.

Shane slapped as hands away and lent over the bed like a lion with a fresh kill.

‘Stay away!’ he roared.

Ray recoiled, his back hitting the wall as he clutched both his hands together, ‘what the fuck mate?’ he spit. ‘Are you crazy? Please, Shane, please!’

‘It’s all right. I’m good,’ Shane said and got backwards off the bed. The springs creaked loudly, the only other sound in the room beside from their laboured breathing.

Shane, hands out walked around to Ray and joined him against the wall.

‘I need a drink,’ he said.

‘Me too, but something stronger then coffee,’ Ray pointed out.

He walked out of the bedroom and into the kitchen, aware that Shane had followed him and closed the doors between them and the statue. Ray searched the fridge then the cupboards and came up with some cheap Russian vodka and Morgan’s rum. He placed them on the counter and found some tumbler glasses.

‘That all you got?’ Shane asked.

‘Yeah. Sorry,’ Ray answered.

‘No beer?’

‘No. I’ve not been shopping in a while. Pay cut ‘n’ all.’

‘Even more reason to sell that thing.’

Ray shook his head and poured some vodka into the glasses, ‘no. We need to dump it. I won’t be locked away because of stolen goods again.’

Shane rolled his eyes and grabbed a glass. The vodka sloshed around then was gone into his large mouth. He swallowed loudly and pulled a disgusted face.

Ray took a large gulp of his own, tasted fire and had to take another mouthful to try and chase it away. The heat flared through him. He finished off the vodka and went to pour himself another. He felt Shane’s hand pressing against his own as he reached for the bottle.

‘We can get drunk later,’ Shane rumbled. ‘Let’s move that thing.’

Ray nodded and they headed back to the bedroom, stomachs hot with vodka and fear.

Shane opened the door with his boot and strolled in like he owned the place.

‘You go around and push him off,’ Shane suggested, ‘I’ll take most of the weight.’

‘Sure, sure,’ Ray rushed and ran around the bed.

He knelt down and waited till Shane had got in a lowered position, before he tried to shove the statue off the bed. He felt cold, gritty stone bite into his skin and the weight of the thing was unmoveable. Ray gasped and really threw his back into it. He heard Shane grunting and felt a small tremble of movement.

‘How’d you lift this thing yourself?’ Shane growled.

‘No idea,’ Ray puffed back, ‘are you ready? I’m really going for it this time!’ Move you fucking piece of-’

The gargoyle slide off the bed and Shane barely caught it. Ray saw his friend’s face and arm muscles straining and sweat breaking on his forehead. Quickly, he swung off of the bed and took the other side, his hands almost laying on top of Shane’s. Together and speechlessly, they heaved the statue up and crab like walked to the bedroom door.

‘Fucking Hell,’ Shane gasped.

‘Go backwards, like a sofa,’ Ray suggested.

He tried to peer over the bulky stone body, but could only see Shane’s red folded wrinkle brow and more beads of sweat. Ray heard Shane’s feet rasping across the carpet and the tug of weight in his hands. He followed slowly behind, trying to get his hands to keep their grip. They made it out of the bedroom door and along the hallway.

‘I got to… I needed too…’ Shane’s voice came out of the heavy breathing.

‘We can’t…’ Ray responded then his eyes flicked to the door, ‘Oh, shit the door. Okay, Okay. Let’s put it down.’

‘Where?’

‘The floor?’

‘We’ll never get it up again.’

‘I’ll think of something!’ Ray shouted.

‘Lower it then,’ Shane countered back,

Slowly, they lowered the gargoyle to the floor then collapsed along with it. Ray sprawled out, loving the coldness against his hot sweaty back. He put his arms up, stretching them and feeling achy pains running like rats under his skin. He shut his eyes and drew in the deepest breaths he had ever taken in. He could hear Shane doing the same on the other side of the statue and guessed they were having the same thoughts worming into their minds.

After a good few minutes, Ray pulled himself up and moved across the floor to check on Shane. The man looked asleep, but his eyes crept open as Ray hung over him.

‘I think we’re going to need more help,’ Shane’s dry voice muttered.

‘No one else can know,’ Ray replied in a low voice, ‘We can’t trust anyone. Look, let’s have some more vodka and get something to eat.’

Shane nodded and eased himself up.

Ray got to his feet and walked painfully into the kitchen, ‘I got some pot noodles, soup, left over curry,’ he called over his shoulder. ‘I’ll make us some coffee too.’

‘Sounds good to me,’ Shane answered back.

Ray made two pot noodles and two large mugs of coffee. They sat together on the sofa, watching mid-afternoon TV shows and staying silent. When they were done, Ray dumped everything in the kitchen then came back with the tumblers of vodka. This time he had filled them to the top. They tapped glasses and drink the acid like liquid in large gulps.

‘Okay,’ Ray said into his glass, ‘Here’s the plan. I’ll open the door and call the lift. Then we get the statue out of here and into there and then take it down and out of here.’

Shane nodded.

Ray placed his glass down, opened his door and walked out into the empty short corridor. He pressed the lift’s cracked plastic button and hurried back again. He took his place by the statue, thankful to see Shane standing on the other side.

‘On three, lift?’ Shane asked.

‘Yep.’

They bent down, keeping their backs straight and locked their hands against the gargoyle once more. They lifted, both feeling the weight like they hadn’t before and believing the stone had become glued to the floor. Somehow, they were able to balance it between them and carry the devil into the lift.

‘Oh God, there’s no space to put it down!’ Shane exclaimed.

‘It’s crushing my ribs,’ Ray almost screamed back. ‘Hit the button.’

With a swift movement, Shane hit the large ‘G’ labelled disc and the doors shut.

‘Can’t you just move it?’

‘Where too? There’s no space,’ Shane snapped back.

Ray shuffled his feet and tried to get the corner away from him, but he was wedged against the lift wall and the side of the statue. He shut his eyes and tried to stay calm. At last, he heard a warning ping and the doors sliding open.

To Be Continued…

The Devil is Watching You (Part 1)

The devil gargoyle was ugly. Though his version was boarding on double, Ray could clearly see it.

‘You is ug-ly, my friend,’ he said with the words stretching and slurring.

He lumbered over, almost falling into the wall.

The devil grinned down at him.

‘What’s so funny?’

Reaching the statue, Ray stumbled and his hand fell across cold, damp stone. A wave of shock echoed at the back of his head. Looking, he saw there was a red graze across his palm.

‘You’re in trouble now, you freak!’

Ray threw a wobbly punch, only hitting the air.

Glaring angrily, Ray wrapped his massive arms around the gargoyle. With a groan, he tried to pull the statue off the wall. It came away, but with great difficulty. Ray staggered backwards, his muscles screaming. A stone corner poking him in the chest, made him feel like he was drowning. The devil’s face leered into him and he thought a curling horn brushed the top of his head.

A small voice called to him to put the thing down. For some reason though, he seemed not to be able too. He took a small step forward then another. Slowly, he shuffled down the street.

*

 Ghoulish light stroked the thin curtains as Ray shifted in his bed. Dimly, he was aware that someone was occupying the space to his right. He moaned loudly, fighting conciseness away and failing as his bladder went off. Struggling through the treacle of the bed and his head, he stumbled out from his room and into the apartment’s bathroom.

Having sorted himself out, Ray wobbled back to his nest. Laying down again, hot and sweaty, he felt something hard poke his knee. Frowning, still in his foggy state, he flipped the duvet over. A cockeyed grin and hard staring eyes jolted him awake, making him scream and scramble to get purchase on the bed. He fell off and landed heavily against the wall and bed stand table.

‘Fucking hell! What the fuck?’ he roared.

Dazed, he detangled himself from the sheet and climbed up the wall. His chest was heaving with breaths he wasn’t sure he was even taking and his heart was heavy drum beating in his ears. He dug his fingernails into the wall and looked across the bed.

The stone devil gargoyle looked at him like an expecting and eager hooker. Its’ head was resting on a very flat pillow whilst it’s mighty curling horns touched the headboard. His body was huge, far too muscular and an off grey colour in this light. The four long thick legs ran down and ended mighty paws with sharp talons digging into a square block.

Ray fought for breath, but still felt like someone was holding him under sticky water. He fled the room, almost tripping on the disregarded bedding and falling into the door frame. He locked the door of the bathroom behind him and ran the shower. He stepped into the tub and sink down, tears crowding his eyes and blubbering sounds coming from his lips.

He brought his knees to his chest, arms wrapped tightly around them and started rocking. A wave of questions and his own voice called out in the sludge of his mind. He tried to hold it together, but he felt too sick. An acid burb caught in his throat and without thinking, he cupped the hot shower water and drank it down.

The burn didn’t go away. He threw up the water then the rest of his stomach contents. He watched everything swirling around his feet and tickling his toes before gargling down the plug hole. He felt better. He washed and felt better still. Finally, he got out and cocooned himself in towels.

Ray wiped the small mirror down and peered into it. The red face staring back at him wasn’t his. He scrubbed the glass again and looked harder. Dark brown eyes looked dopey at him from hollowed sockets and the matching eyebrows were slack. His forehead was rolling with creases, but at least his nose still had to small bends in it. Thick black stubble covered the lower half of his face and he rubbed a hand gingerly over it.

‘I shaved last night,’ he mumbled, ‘It looks like I’ve aged forty years…’

He switched his hand to his black spiky hair and felt thankful it was still all there. Putting the mirror back, he looked at his hands and saw they were covered in small scratches. Flipping them over, he saw deep red lines across his palms as if he had slashed his skin with a knife. Ray shook his hands and tightened his towels.

He went into the kitchen and made himself a strong coffee. He turned the TV on, more for comforting noise than anything else. He sat on the sofa, holding his steaming mug and the control in the other hand. He channelled flicked, but there was nothing interesting in the boring Saturday lunchtime programs. He settled on the news and drank his coffee whilst trying to put his mind back together.

Resting against the sofa arm, Ray thought about taking some painkillers. Shaking his head instead, he made a bed out of the towels and cushions, finished his coffee and took a nap. The dull drones of the TV voices sing him to sleep and he couldn’t keep his heavy eyes open any longer. A painful headache whacked across his brow and caused his cyclone of thoughts to be dark with agony.

A brilliant ringing shot him out of sleep and Ray fumbled around for the source of the noise. His head throbbed and his limbs flung around, unsure where to locate the intruder. The ringing stopped and breathlessly, he did too. Wild eyed he looked around, but couldn’t hear or see anything. He slumped back on the sofa and held a hand to his head as if that would stop the piercing pain.

My phone! That’s all it was!

Scrambling up, he tore through his apartment, before creeping into his bedroom. With down cast eyes, he crept in and searched for his clothes. Luckily, he located his jeans at the end of the bed and was able to sneak out again. Closing the door with his foot, he dug through his pockets and pulled out his phone.

The display showed he had three miss texts and two miss calls. Dumping his jeans on the sofa, he looked through the messages and calls. It was only his friends wanting to know where he was and what had happened.

Ray called his best friend back and at a blasted, ‘hallo?’ Ray whispered back in a shaky voice, ‘You need to come over here and see this.’

To Be Continued…

Church (Chapter 7, Part 2)

angle wolf

(Continued from Church Chapter 7 Part 1)

I nudged Rain and pointed the lights out to her. We listened and heard a low hum of human voices. Rain waved the light ball out and lay down in the grass. She tugged the sleeve of my robe and trying to be as quiet as possible, I lay down beside her. I felt the ground vibrate under me and blanket of green light appeared above us.

‘They properly can’t see or hear us,’ Rain whispered, ‘just in case though I asked nature to hide us.’

‘I think you are right,’ I agreed.

For a few moments we listened to the sound of grass crushing under heavy footsteps and the hushed voices of the men. I caught a few words, but nothing that made sense. Rain touched me lightly and slowly sat up. Her fingers remind against my hand and I felt grateful for the warmth passing between us. With her other hand she pulled up her hood and mask which made me get the odd sense that she was clocking herself in darkness.

I wanted to tell her we could do that too, only we used light to shield ourselves. I kept it to myself though as the men were coming closer. Slowly, I eased myself up and looked over at them. It was hard to make them out with their sweeping torch light, but it seemed they were security guards. My hand clutched Rain’s as the men walked passed us.

‘It was over here. Maybe,’ a gruff voice muttered.

‘It could have been anything,’ a second raspier voice whispered back, ‘still, even if it’s nothing it gets us out. I’m dying for a smoke. You want one?’

‘Sure. But I’m telling you I saw someone out here flashing lights.’

The second man gave a shake of his head and dug around in his pockets. They both carried on walking then stopped when they reached the edge of the area that Rain had cleansed after killing the mindless soul. There was a flicker of flame from a lighter.

Rain tugged my hand as she stood up. I followed her, my eyes, like her’s fixed on the men before us. Distracted with their smoking, we made a quick escape. The grass seemed to part around us and our footsteps were silent. I could have added in some of my own power, but Rain was proving more than capable.

We reached the edge of the field, still holding hands. Rain paused to have a look back. I glanced over my shoulder too and saw the two torch beams and an orange dot glow still where we had left the men. Rain gave a squeeze of my hand and led me onto the remains of an abandoned road.

‘I’m sure they would not have seen us,’ I stated.

‘I didn’t want to risk it,’ Rain answered, ‘there was something that brought them out there and it was best to stay hidden. You can’t erase human minds can you?’

‘No, but I can slightly change their minds about me. What about you?’ I asked, before realising it was a pointless question.

‘No,’ Rain scoffed, ‘only the dying or all ready dead can see me and that’s only when I want them too. You on the other hand…it was probably your Heavenly Light they saw. That’s the only thing they could’ve been attracted too. I had a shield up, so there was no way they could’ve heard anything.’

I nodded and began rearranging my clothes which felt damp and were covered in grass seeds.

‘Your wolf did that,’ I said and pointed out the crumpled in dint in my chest armour.

Rain giggled before putting a hand over her mouth, ‘come on,’ she spoke with the laughter still in her voice, ‘we should go back to your church.’

‘If you want too. We are quite far away though,’ I pointed out, ‘can you fly?’

‘That’s a stupid question,’ Rain scolded.

I bit back my next words and scrambled for an apology.

‘I don’t have wings, but I can materialise to places. I can also make portals. That’s sort of the same thing,’ she explained with a shrug.

‘The human angels of death have wings though, don’t they?’ I had to ask.

‘You’ve never met one?’

‘No. I’ve seen one from a distance, but it just looked like a dark cloud. I thought I saw a robe and wings though…’

Rain looked at the ground, ‘they are the same as you, just black or grey.’

‘You’re meet one? Well of course you have done! Sorry, another stupid question!’ I snapped at myself.

‘Be grateful you’ve not meet one,’ Rain broke in, ‘they are too silent or angry or not interesting. They won’t help you in a fight and they all ways seem so dumb.’

‘Not like you, then?’ I said softer.

Rain shook her head and gently I brought her chin up. Her eyes met mine and she pressed her hand over mine. I could feel the warmth on her cheek and from her hand. I shut my eyes and rubbed my fingers over her cheek.

‘Hey, hey, Feathers. I’m going to eat your soul next!’ the wicked voice of Haku echoed in my head.

I growled and thought, go away.

‘What you going to do, oh, great warrior angel? You could not even help her tonight. She saved you again,’ Haku hissed.

It’s not true! I helped!

I felt Rain shove her other hand on to my forehead. Straight away an image of her formed in my mind and saw her running through white light corridors. At the end other black wrapped figure was taking form. I knew it was Haku before she reached him. It was him as he had been in life, I guessed.

He was wearing layer upon layer of ripped up grey robes, which covered him from the neck to the ankle. His feet were bare, but bandages were wrapped around his hands, leaving only his fingers visible. He wasn’t wearing a hood, so his mane of midnight black hair ran down his back like a cloak. His face was covered in thick black stubble and he had a sharp chin and jaw. His nose was off bent due to an old break and his eyes…they were mismatched! Just like Rain’s.

Haku’s laugh crackled in my ears then vanished. I came back with a deep intake of breath. I stepped backwards and felt Rain’s arms circling me. She kept me steady and I was able to hug her back.

‘We don’t need that right now,’ Rain mumbled.

‘I saw him,’ I gasped.

‘It’s all right,’ she soothed, ‘let’s go,’

She took my hand and led me a bit further down the road. We could no longer see the torch light of the men and the nature seemed to give us shelter. Rain stopped beside a tree. She let go of my hand and circled it. Ivy and moss were climbing the trunk and there was a canopy of summer leaves above us. Rain bent down and hushed something.

I watched blue lights appear and arrange themselves into a shape. The wolf became more solid and grey. He went to Rain, greeting her with a wag of his tail. She petted him and whispered something to him. Then he turned and eyed me. A low growl came from his throat. Rain tugged his fur lightly and he turned back to her.

‘I’m sorry about before,’ I said a loud, feeling the need to make my peace with the spirit guardian.

‘He won’t have hurt you if he’d know,’ Rain backed me up.

The wolf growled again and stalked around the tree. Rain moved after him, her feet scuffing on a large tree root. She clutched the tree with one arm and lent around it, calling him back.

‘Is there nothing I can do?’ I asked.

‘Not right now, but I wanted him to help me make the portal. It would have been quicker that way. I guess we’re going to have to fly back.’

I nodded my head and unleashed my wings.

To Be Continued…

Church (Chapter 7, Part 1)

angle wolf

Continued from Church Chapter 6

Need to read the other chapters? They can be found at;

 https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/category/church-novella/

Previously;

Blaze, a warrior angel, who is trapped on earth, teams up with Rain, a daemon reaper and element controller, with a past full of dark secrets, to uncover what he must do to get back into Heaven. However, Blaze is troubled by Rain’s past, the evil soul trapped in her sword and his growing feelings towards her. After Rain’s sudden appears and departure at his church, Blaze sets out to look for her and becomes involved in his first fight with an ’empty soul.’

Chapter 7

‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’

1 John 1:9

I couldn’t help but stare whilst the questions in my head rang like clashing bells. The storm cloud grey wolf had wrapped his body protectively around Rain’s legs and had his muzzle flat against her right hip. With his head up against her, his black eyes on her face and his ears slightly twitching as he waited to be commanded. Rain had easily slotted her sword away again and had placed her hand on top of his head.

My sword shook slightly in my trembling hand then I let the tip drop to the floor. I was breathing fast and filled with a rush to kill the wolf again, but also desperate to hear Rain’s voice. An odd silence that I was dimly aware of had settled over us, almost as if we were back in the Paradise Garden.

‘What are you doing here?’ Rain asked.

‘Something called me here. Then I saw you needed help,’ I answered.

‘I didn’t need it,’ Rain cut in, ‘I could’ve handled it.’

The image of me having to throw her up on top of the blob monster popped into my head and I wanted to argue with her. Instead, Rain sighed deeply before I could voice my thoughts.

‘It’s passed now,’ Rain said softly as she stoked the wolf’s head, ‘but in the future don’t interrupt me when I’m fighting. You distracted me and I almost lost it.’

I looked at the wolf, he seemed content and pet dog like. A spike of jealousy flashed in my head and I felt something else taking over my words, ‘and he was supposed to help you how?’

Rain flashed me a look, ‘he did more than you.’

‘And that blob thing? How would he have gotten you on top of it?’ I demanded.

‘What’s got into you, Blaze?’ she snapped loudly. ‘It wasn’t my fault you threatened him and I couldn’t call him off in time. I did try.’

The wolf whined and thumped his tail on the ground. He turned his head away from Rain and looked at me. For the first time I noticed a blue aura like light surrounding him. He wasn’t real, but some kind of spirit.

‘You can go now,’ she said softer.

I snapped my head up, but she wasn’t talking to me. Rain stroked the wolf’s head and he began to fade. In moments he was gone and there was only a slight pulse of blue light on the ground where he had stood. Rain looked at me, the exhaustion written on her face. She walked to the nearest concert slab and sat down. I turned to follow her but changed my mind and stayed standing.

‘He didn’t hurt me,’ I offered as a comfort.

‘He told me,’ she said, ‘he’s my spirit guardian…And my only friend now.’

Her words made me pause, ‘I thought only humans could have spirit guardians?’

‘He channels my element power and helps to keep me grounded. I learned to make him real a long time ago and he always takes that form when I call him. But, I’ve to sacrifice some of my fighting power to do so.’

‘You could have told me,’ I pointed out as I finally sheathed my sword.

Rain shook her head, ‘you should’ve stayed away from me,’ she muttered.

‘Rain,’ I crossed the space between us and took her hands without thinking about it.

‘No,’ she barked, shoving my hands away and scrambling to her feet. She went to push me away then didn’t do it, ‘you don’t understand.’

‘I’m trying to. Let’s go somewhere else, less open,’ I pleaded with her.

Rain shook her head and sat down in the grass. She folded her legs together and put her hands in her lap. A breeze blew the taller strands around her and for a moment she was semi-hidden in the field. I wanted to go to her but I didn’t, instead I rested my hand on my sword and scanned the area. I couldn’t see anything other than the shapes of the trees and the edge buildings of the airport.

‘Why did you really come here?’ Rain broke the silence.

‘I felt a daemon’s presence. I had no idea you were here…they attacked me and I fought them off. The leader, I told you before, he was the same daemon from the night I met you. He told me that Death was here and I thought he meant the Bear or something. Then I saw the wolf and you. I only wanted to help,’ I explained.

Rain looked at me then away into the darkness. I went to her side and knelt down, being careful not to touch her. Her hair was a mess and sticking out from around her hood. She cupped her hands together and produced a faint blue ball of light. She held it up and let it go. The light ball hovered just opposite her and I saw how tried she really was.

‘I can’t feel their auras now, but I don’t think we are safe here,’ I stated.

‘I need a minute,’ Rain said softly.

‘Tell me about the thing you were fighting,’ I asked.

‘It was a mindless soul. The only thing it wanted was to find other souls and eat them.’

‘Where do they come from? Are they daemonic? Is that why the daemons where here too?’

Rain shrugged, ‘They’re not what you call daemonic. They are in-between, like me and the other Reapers. It’s said that they are the souls we miss and forget about.’

I pondered that and let her go on.

‘They go insane and can’t cope being trapped here so they change and become like that. At least the legend goes. I don’t really believe it, but there’s nothing else to go on, so…’

‘The daemons?’ I asked.

‘Sometimes they can sense a mindless soul. It’s rare though, but I don’t know why they were here. To be honest I’d not really noticed them.’

I sat down in the grass next to her, though my armour made it uncomfortable. The cold damp ground began to seep into my robe. A plane roared overhead, but I couldn’t see it, however I did spot something else. There were two beams of torch light coming from the area I had first arrived in.

To Be Continued…

Church (Chapter 6, part 5)

Nestled at the foot of Errigal (the highest mountain(2,464ft) in County Donegal) and overlooking the beautiful Poisoned Glen is the ruins of Dunlewy Church.

My breath caught in my throat. The wolf rumbled and I saw it’s storm cloud grey fur sticking up. It’s deep black eyes and nose fixed on me for a few seconds then turned to the daemon coming above it’s head. The wolf snapped a mighty jaw upwards at the same time as jumping. I saw all four of its paws leave the ground then land heavily back down. The daemon yelled out something and wheeled away into the haze.

The wolf turned back to me and I fastened my bleeding palms onto my sword. A growl came, rolling over me like a thunder clap. The wolf dropped into a change, racing straight for me. I could hear the grass zinging against that smooth grey coat. My stomping boots added to the noise as I took off towards it.

Grim determination settled on my face and I raised my sword. I battle cry escaped my lips, my sword ploughed into the wolf. The ringing up my arm caused me to realise that my sword had hit the earth and not the flesh. We had shot past each other. I spun on my toes and saw him – for it was definitely male- standing behind me, his body curving as he too turned.

Seeing him up close, I noticed that there was an electric blue outline around him. He was also seemed to be as high as my hip and not as gigantic as I had made him out to be. He flashed ice white fangs at me as his black-pink lips curled back. A snort came out of him then his large paws padded back to me, quickening as he slunk though the grass.

Re-positioning my feet, I darted to meet him. His jaw snapped out as I swung my blade too wide. I twisted it back, sending a spike of pain across my wrists and aiming for his rear. Somehow, he saw or predicted the movement, because he threw his tail and thus his rear away. His tail flicked back and he leapt on a turn.

I threw my arms and sword up in defence. He collided into me, shoving my chest plate down and scrapping his claws against the metal. The force caused me to stumble and as I struggled to stay upright, the wolf kicked off me. I lost my balance and fell. I hit the ground hard with a ringing in my ears. Struggling up, I had no time to assess the damage. The wolf was snarling at me and closing the gap between us.

A woman’s scream of, ‘no!’ made us both pause and look across. A black figure with a curving blade was standing next to a dirty white gelatinous blob shape in the hazy distance.

‘Rain?’ I called back.

The wolf growled and whipped around to me. I glanced at him then forced my eyes to stay down instead of looking back up. The wolf, keeping low to the ground, stalked me. I moved backwards aware of pain in my legs and hands. I gritted my teeth and knew I had to make this quick, Rain needed my help.

‘Come on,’ I muttered.

The wolf snapped at me and lines of saliva dripped from his mouth. He shook his head, clearing himself of it before charging at me. I easily side stepped, snaking out of his reach then brought my sword down on top of him. The blade pierced his spine. The wolf howled, twisted back and jumped me. I was faster. I whacked my sword around and ran him through.

The wolf slide off me and landed in the grass, which instantly flattened underneath him. I dragged in tight breaths and watch him fading. A wave of victory rocked though me and I felt the uncustomary feeling of satisfaction at killing my first evil soul.

Rain’s voice called me back.

I spun around, half trying to work out what she was saying and half assessing the next situation. She was too far away for me to do both. I broke into a run, sword dragging though the top of the grass.

‘You idiot!’ Rain screamed, ‘Stop!’

Her words whipped passed me. I ignored them, some part of my brain claiming they weren’t for me. Why would Rain say that when I was coming to save her? I pressed on and almost ran right into the dirty white gelatinous blob. My boots skidded to a halt, desperate breaths rattled my chest and my arms readied to fight again.

The blob loomed over me, blocking out the skyline. It seemed to be a swirling mass of white and grey shades of paint. It’s aura pulsed deep red across it’s outline. I stalled for a few moments, unsure what this thing was or how to kill it.

I felt, rather than saw, Rain come to my side. Her body knocked hard into me, shoving me out of the way. I almost stumbled to the ground again, but hung on. I shot her a look and opened my mouth, but she beat me to speaking.

‘Get away. Are you crazy?’

‘You need help,’ I stated.

Rain’s head turned to me and I saw her mismatched eyes through the slit in her mask and hood. They were full of anger, determination and power.

‘Not from you, I don’t,’ she snapped back, ‘your power is useless against this monster.’

‘But I killed the other one!’ I counted back.

A flicker of sadness appeared and vanished in her eyes. She turned back to the blob, ‘I don’t need your death on my hands. Go!’

I shook my head slightly, knowing she wouldn’t see it.

The blob shifted, turning tediously to us.

I heard Rain growl. She swung her katana out and it sliced right through the blob. The gash was wide, but in seconds it had healed over. She yelled out and slashed at what seemed to be the head, though there was no visible face. The blob paused to shudder then began moving again.

Rain turned back to me, darting over, ‘throw me,’ she rushed.

I frowned at her. She torn my sword from my hand and threw it away. I heard it whizzing through the air and slicing though the grass as it landed.

‘Hey!’ I yelled.

‘Throw me, God, Damn it!’ she shouted into my face.

‘Okay!’

She turned and I crouched. I grabbed her around the ankles and picked her up. She lent her body into mine as I did so.

‘How is this going to help?’ I asked gruffly.

‘I need to get on top of it,’ Rain called down, ‘the soul is in its’ head. You ready?’

‘Sure.’

‘Then…?’

Pushing all my energy in it, I threw Rain as high as I could. A grunt squeezed itself out of my chest and I watched her flying through the air. She land almost on top of it. Jabbing her katana in, she scrambled up the rest of the way. The blob didn’t seem to notice or if it did, it didn’t care. Rain walked across it then drew her blade into a downward killing stroke.

She dropped the katana down, slicing through the gelatinous blob and straight into something hard. I couldn’t see probably, but I knew she’d hit the soul. The blob began disintegrating. Large jelly chucks bounced across the grass or curved inwards.

Rain yanked her weapon out and half run- half slide down its side. She landed with her legs together, knees bent before coming over to me. She pulled down her mask and hood. Her face was flushed and she was breathing hard. She slotted her katana away and walked past me. I watched her pick up my sword and return with it. She handed it to me, refusing to meet my questioning eyes.

‘Is it died?’ I asked to break the silence between us.

Rain nodded once.

‘Did you see me kill that wolf?’

‘Yeah,’ she grumbled and moved forward.

The blob was all but melted down and fading fast.

‘Did you see that daemon?’ I questioned, ‘he’s the same one from before. You know with the bear?’

‘Sort of, but I wasn’t paying attention,’ she answered as she drew her katana.

‘He’s taunting me,’ I pointed out.

Rain hummed and held her arms out, her weapon in her right hand. She began to mumble some words.

A wind swept the grass and I felt it touching me then rushing off again. The blob parts vanished and the wind came back the other way. Rain dropped her katana to the ground and with the tip trailing behind started walking. She circled the area where the blob had died and when she reached the start point, she struck the katana into the earth. The blade wobbled and I got the sense of a white light running the circle that she had made.

Rain went to her knees and pressed her head to the guard and hilt. Her lips moved softly, though I didn’t catch the words. Following her, I knelt, lay my sword down and put my hands together. I prayed silently, thanking God for protecting us and asking him to help Rain cleanse the area.

A soft almost inaudible whinnying ticked my ears. I opened my eyes and saw the giant wolf standing before Rain.

I snatched up my sword, thoughts racing through my mind. The wolf give a low growl and Rain shot between us.

‘He’s my friend,’ she stated, ‘could you kindly not kill him again?’