By on Sep 4, 2023 in Featured, Fiction

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Stained glass window on dark brick wall

It was at that moment that I noticed that the room had grown brighter in a stealthy way, and I turned slowly and beheld the window, now lit with a fierce circle of light that changed the mood of the entire depiction of the window, turning it malevolent somehow. The moon had risen, come into full view, and had altered the very scene, so that now the glass displayed an armed hunter facing a fierce animal poised to attack rather than an angel bemoaning the fate of an innocent human. With my gaze still turned away, I heard a soft snicker laced with sinister confidence, and when I turned back around the burning eyes bobbed in the darkness, leaving pink tracers. First they were above me, staring down, then at eyes level, then hovering just above the floor, but still at a distance. This was followed by huffing and scratching of paws. That was when I saw the chain, held fast to the large chair which my friend had occupied; the other side of the chain secured to both rear limbs of the beast. The sound of struggle was the beast trying to free itself from the imprisonment imposed upon it by my friend in anticipation of this moment and hopeful of the decision I might make. His intention had been this trial, not just of his condition but of my own will to concede to his obvious wish. But still I hesitated.

Might I wait then, let the beast tire itself out and pass the night in this fashion, so that in the morning my friend would reappear, and we could then discuss a new outcome? But no sooner had I proposed this course of action to myself when I heard a sharp snap of breaking wood, and then the screech of that damaged chair being dragged across the floor. For a second, the burning eyes disappeared, and with it the disappearance of all visual input, and my mind instantly sought refuge in the theory that all the previous events of the evening, presumably memory, were merely the discordant remnants of some fevered, sinister dream. But this relief was instantly swept aside with the reappearance of the lanterns hovering over me, drawing quickly closer. The beast was in mid-leap, and its jaws were wide open and directed at my throat. I pondered a course of complete inaction, of surrender—what hope had I against such a large and powerful force? But at the same moment that the teeth glinted in the silvery light of the moon, the light also sparked the dagger in my hand, and I quickly altered my outstretched arm by a few degrees, and at the same time thrust my entire body forward, every effort assisting the attack, meeting the animal at the arc of its leap, but its momentum was much greater, and I was pushed back into my chair, the wolf on top of me and clawing frantically at my chest.

I knew instantly that the dagger had struck home as if guided by some grand benevolence—and I could feel the frantic attacks weakening quickly as warm blood ran over my chest and face, and then the attempted retreat of the animal, but for the barbs that refused to dislodge and my refusal to loosen my grip on the weapon; and the greater the struggle, the more the small spears ripped apart the flesh.

Finally, the animal grew still except for the labored rise and fall of its chest, and the expulsion of putrid air grew fainter until it was just a snort, and then complete stillness and silence. I pushed the great weight off me and retreated to a corner of the room. I was secure that the danger had gone, but I passed the long dark hours of the night in a defensive posture, the trident gripped firmly before me, fighting off sleep and alert for any movement. When light finally twinkled in the room, I slept a brief, fitful sleep, and awoke to mid-morning light filling the room. I first examined my own condition, still slightly numb from the experience; and first thing I noticed was the thick cloth of my blazer, ripped to shreds but retaining enough integrity to spare me any injury. My host had provided armor for me, as well. How much effort had gone into the preparation to provide me safety during the course of events? How much greater must my friend have considered the outcome of these events, knowing they must end in his death?

And then I looked at my friend, once again in human form, curled on the floor in a position that hid his pierced heart. I mourned the loss, but at the same time I celebrated the triumph over the evil that had dominated my friend, and might still inhabit this house. There were no longer any sounds from outside, the night had passed very quietly, not a challenge from the pack that had crept up on us.

Now would be the time to escape, I should be able to make safe passage to my home. But what then? If there is no human system of justice to force retribution on me for my vicious act, what about the eternal judgement I had pondered? There had been no way to destroy one entity and save the innocent life, for the two occupied the same frame. But I sought peace in the pleas of my friend, though never expressed verbally, they were certainly implicit in his staging that forced but a single conclusion. And if it were truly Patrick’s desire, and I had satisfied his wish, then from where might judgement come?

Before leaving the house, I carefully adjusted my appearance so as not to appear as the perpetrator of some vast crime. As I rolled over the road at a leisurely pace, I considered the harsh, despair-laden sounds I had heard during the night. Inhuman howls and cries of pain or aggression. What—or WHO else might be out there? Had last night’s events been an ending, or just a beginning to some horrid quest? What responsibility had Patrick set upon me?

I still held the trident, wrapped carefully in my blazer, and feared I might need it still.

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Kevin Lenihan is currently a technology teacher in North Brunswick, NJ. He has always been interested in horror and science-fiction movies, as long as he can remember. He got interested in writing when he was 17, when he read "Firestarter" by Stephen King. He read everything he wrote for a long time. Now he writes books faster than Kevin can read them. Another author He became obsessed with was Robert R. McCammon. The first book he read by him was "Mystery Walk," and he was hooked. Then he read "They Thirst" and was blown away, as it took the vampire story to a whole new level, such a grand, epic scale. And, of course, Kevin loves Edgar Allan Poe. "Ligeia" was the first story he read by him, and it set the standard for all short stories after that. He loves his poems, as well, and he has memorized several of them, including “The Raven”, “The Conqueror Worm” and “Lenore."