Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Danger is Not My Middle Name #18

We flew up the stairs, Gerald and I. Sometimes we fell and sometimes we collided. But somehow we neared the doorway.

I could hear the beast breathing now. We had rushed. But it had moved with furious feral speed, as though it could taste our blood already. The doorway was three feet away and I allowed myself to hope.

My mind left me at that second, the same way it had when the music guided me to this place. I saw something…the flash of something happening…somewhere. A man of fire becoming something else…and so very calm about it all. There was lighting…and a planet…and…

The vision slipped away into a fog of pain as something closed on my ankle. I felt the pressure on bone and the pinpoints of claws digging deep into my skin.

My moan and the beast’s howl of triumph came at the same time. Gerald paused, framed in the light of the doorway. I and the creature of the shadows were far behind him. He was frozen.

The creature tugged at me and my fingernails scrabbled frantically for a hold on smooth stone. Gerald looked at me a moment longer, then produced a blade of glistening steel. With one smooth motion, he leapt down and drove the blade forward in a smooth glittering arc.

If you’ve ever cut into a watermelon with a cleaver, you would recognize the sound. It was a meaty thunk, followed immediately by a cry of rage blended with the sharp surprise of pain. Abruptly the pressure on my leg stopped and I kicked hard, eager to be rid of the thing.

I staggered to my feet and Gerald threw one arm around my shoulder and manhandled me through the doorway. He let me go as we moved into the determined peace of the chapel. I fell hard to the ground. He spun and drove the point of his blade hard against a stone and the doorway closed.

Perhaps a second later there came the sound of something powerful slamming into the rock. I listened carefully, thinking that I could hear the howls of blood rage from the other side…but maybe not.

“What was that thing?” I asked.

“Minion,” Gerald said, luxuriating for a moment, leaning against the stone doorway.

“A what?” I asked.

“Minion. One of the Stoker’s guardians.”

“Holy crap,” I said. I inwardly noted I had been saying “holy crap” a lot lately and resolved to say something else in the future like ‘Holy Smokes’ or ‘holy….well…something else.’

The assault on the stone door was getting louder as though the thing expected it could claw through stone to get to us.

“It will stop in a minute,” Gerald said. “It’s job is to guard…and ensure we don’t come back.”

It stopped.

Gerald closed his eyes. He was the picture of an exhausted man. I noticed bags heavy under his eyes and for a moment his entire body seemed to sag.

“We need to go see Jennifer,” he said finally. “We have a lot to tell you.”

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