He hears Jane rustle under the blanket and turns around to look at her. She is all he has, and he was all she had. It is for her he has to do this every day. He stands up and walks over to the bed, sits down next to her and strokes her hair. She moves her head around a bit, as if purring, like a cat being scratched behind the ears.
’Another day of hell my love’ he says in a soft voice not to wake her up. ‘I will see you soon’ he says as he kisses her cheek, gently, breathing in her scent.
He has been talking to himself for a while now, losing track of his own conversations. Most of the time, he is outside scavenging for food, weapons, consumables. Rarely she goes with him outside of their little home, mainly of fear for losing her. He tucks her in gently and stands up, puts on his gear, which consists out of specially made thermal shirt and pants. Over that, he puts on a bulletproof vest, shin guards, gloves.
It won’t help much, but it will give him a second chance if he’s lucky. As last, he straps on dual katanas on his back and a desert eagle in his hip holster. He glances back one last time at his wife, listens to her breathing and shuts the door behind him, walk away from their little home for God knows which time. It can barely be called a home, but it keeps the demons out, most of the time.
He heads out towards the forest, keeping to the shadows and pieces of rubble, tree trunks and other things providing some cover as they see good during the night, but bad during daylight. That is why he goes out come first light in the morning. That way he has some eight to ten hours to roam about and gather things they need. Food is getting scarce and it’s getting harder every day to find something to eat. The stockpile won’t last forever, maybe good for only a few weeks, even the way they are rationing it at the moment.
The bunker is holed out in a cliff so there is only one approach, which makes it a good hiding place as well as an easy place to defend, which has proven so more than once already.
As he walk into the forest , he listens in as the demons don’t bother sneaking about. They stomp around as if they own the place. After some fifty meter sprint, he hears something, as if some branches are cracking underneath feet. He drops to all fours and tries to place the sound to a general direction but as soon as he had dropped down, the sound was gone. Had he just imagined it or had he really heard some crackling of branches? It were probably his ears playing tricks on him. Suddenly, a screeching sound, penetrates his skull, the sound so horrible he thought his head would explode.
He lets out the breath he was holding in and his courage sinks like a rock thrown into a lake. It was a Howler. How did it find him? No, was it waiting for him? Are there more? A dozen questions went through his mind as his mind raced to generate a scenario and he tried to figure out what to do next, as he probably had only a few seconds to live unless he found it first.
The Howler leaped towards him, propelling itself towards him from a nearby tree, its claws tearing out chunks of tree each time it propelled itself forward. In mere moments he was atop of him, claws extended. Just one close up look made his blood run cold. Scarlet red eyes atop a long wide beak filled with long sharp teeth and four vile fangs at the end. Black steely skin covered its short claw-like arms and back, head and long muscled legs, as well as the sharp long tail ending in a pike. The only vulnerable part was a small part on its belly, covered in dense fur instead of the black steel.
He snapped out of it and got into his fighting stance, half kneeling half crouching, the katanas already out in his hands, he was awaiting for the clash. The only bad thing the beak did for the howler was to cover up its field of view directly underneath it, and that’s where he was. The hulking demon was about four meters in height and five in length. Must be an adult Howler, an exquisite sample at that.
In sync it first hit him with its tail and slashed at him with one of its front claws. He barely managed to block it with both of his katanas, one chipping at the brute force, but it sent him flying through the air into a tree trunk. Lucky for him, as it snapped its beak an instant later where his head was before he was sent flying. He managed to stand up as it lunged atop of him, again claws extended, beak open. Two stabs into the empty air was all he managed to get in, slashing it across its belly before he was sent flying again.
The howler showed no signs of weakening though, as if the cut hadn’t done anything to it. Looking at his katanas he noticed the cut must have been pretty deep from all the blood on the blades. His bad luck, he must have missed its heart’ he thought as he took out his gun. As the howler turned around again, he tried to snipe its eyes. He had managed to get a shot in, but the next thing he felt and could see, was his left arm flying to another direction. In horror, he turned his head around, slowly, to see that a smaller Howler had sneaked up on him and cleanly separated his arm at the elbow before he had even noticed the Howler had been there. Pressing hard, the older one was atop of him an instant later, before he could even turn around. He managed a glancing blow as the larger Howler shot past him, again missing any vital area. The shock was setting in slowly, his vision blurring. As he looked around for the smaller howler, the older one was already upon him again and pierced right through him with its long and sharp tail.
The howler swung him in the air, as if enjoying it, pulling its tail up right in front of its face, looking at him with its blood red eyes. This up close, its stench filled his nostrils, a stench of death and decay. This one must have killed quite a few people. Their eyes get redder with each kill they make, and each human they devour. The younger Howler came up next to him and looked at, probably, its parent. They seemed to communicate for what was an eternity and then slowly it let him slide off its tail, causing even more excruciating pain, with each inch cutting him open as he was sliding down its bladed tail, falling to the ground with a thunk. The last thought he had while sliding down was that of his beloved wife, sleeping in their bunker, alone, unprotected. Somehow he managed to get the words out ’Oh, how I wish I could stroke your cheek one more time’
His eyelids felt heavy and they kept shutting down automatically. However they did not close fast enough as in the corner of his eyes, he saw something else move. She looked like a goddess. A white satin gown, showing off all the right curves. She was glowing with a purple-white aura around her persona. Long black hair falling over her left shoulder. Somehow I knew she was not an angel, nor God. The wicked smile on her face was the last thing he saw.
‘’Aaaahhh!’’ Jane shrieked at the sound of a thunderbolt hitting right next to their home. She curled into a fetal position under the blankets. She was always afraid of the thunder, saying one day it will hit them whilst outside. After a few moments she got out of bed and went to the window to look at the thunderstorm, which she rather enjoyed usually. The colors, dancing through the sky, lighting up every inch of the area, it fascinated her.
‘Aiden is outside in this dog weather and I’m inside, doing nothing but being scared’ she mumbled to herself, then went to the sink to wash her face and mouth. Afterwards she walked over towards the stockpile, that’s how they called the room with all the food, water and other consumables. She decided to make spaghetti, Aiden’s favorite food. They did not have to ration every day. She took out the spaghetti and sauce she had usually ready since it went along nicely with most of their different meals. As she lit up the fire on the propane stove, suddenly she heard a shriek and her blood ran cold. She knew what that sound was, there was no mistaking it. A howler was in the vicinity.
All she could do was to freeze up, the pan still in her hand, the spaghetti in the other. She couldn’t even blink nor breathe. Then, a sound of fighting could be heard, metal on metal and gunfire. ‘Oh no, Aiden is in trouble!’ she yelled to herself. ’But what can I do? I’ll just get in his way’ she cried out and fell to the floor.
At the same instant, the roof got torn up by a huge demon. Before she could even yell it grabbed her and flew off with him. She tried to resist but it was futile, it’s claws had too much of a hold over her body. A few long moments later, They arrived as Aiden fell to the ground, sliding down the tail of a huge howler and drew his last breath. The demon threw her towards the dead man, landing a few meters in front of him. Jane crawled towards Aiden with all of her will. At least they would die together, if they had lived their whole lives as a couple. Then she noticed the beautiful woman, no, demon walking towards her. She looked angelic, but inspiring fear at the same time. A few moments later the woman was standing in front of her and spoke.
’Do u want to live?’
Jane was frozen. Does she want to live? Not anymore now that Aiden was dead or did she? All she could do was to open her mouth, but no words were coming out.
’I assume that is a yes, mortal’ the woman said again, this time with a playful voice. ’I will make you an offer, one I have never made anyone else up until this moment. Your man was very brave and fought very valiantly. I admire mortals who fight back, unlike yourself who is sitting in a puddle of her own piss. But still, u are his mate are u not?’
’Y... yes I am’ Jane said, just noticing she pissed herself out of fear, her face becoming red as her embarrassment rose.
’Well then, I will take your soul in return for reviving him. I will bind you both to one soul, namely his. If he dies, you die. Hahaha, how dumb of me. Not if, but when he dies, you die. When you die, he dies. Very simple. Any damage he sustains, u do as well, and the other way around. When both of u are dead, his soul will go wherever it goes, but yours’’ she chuckled ’Well that’s a whole different story. U can choose to die with him or spend as long as possible with him, but be separated after u die. Choose fast and wisely’ she said with a mocking grin.
What should she do? Die and let it end? Give up her soul for an eternity just to spend some more time with Aiden? Would it be worth it? Yes it would. He took care of her since she could remember. Giving up her soul was a price she would gladly pay.
’I will do it. If it buys me more time with my loved one, I will gladly give u my soul, demon’ she said with malice in her voice. The woman didn’t seem to register, or just decided to ignore it.
‘Very well. There is one thing I forgot to mention, u both will serve me while you are alive, as I will have to imbue some of my life force into him. Do u still agree, mortal?’
’Yes I do. Let’s get it over with already’
Merci pour la lecture!