triggerwarning: injury, cruelty, predatory behavior
“Is this really necessary?” I’d be nervous too. “I doubt you need me tied down.” It was a bad position, yes. Frank scuttled and tried to keep his balance. But it was important to leave no doubts. I bowed down and tied his ankles and knees together. The Sin-eater was an old being, almost as old as I was, which meant it had time to perfect some nasty tricks. If it suspected a trap, it would do a lot more than just kill the child.
“I do. You wouldn’t like the alternatives. Trust me. This is the easiest way to lure it out, without hurting you. By now, it must know that we are here. You smell like a juicy all-you-can-eat-buffet for the starving, and I’m memorable.” Frank held onto my arm, as I pressed him down into a tuck position. He looked so miserable.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Still, he held his lower arms up and together. I looped the rope around them. Elbows and knees met. I tied him into a nice little bundle, hoping to protect vital organs. I tied my satchel onto his belly and chest. The content would keep the sin-eater at bay. Even if my plans were delayed or a failure, he had all to protect him. He’d be able to go back, even alone.
“You will survive this. I promise.” I picked him up, and held him safely, testing the ropes. “That’s not helping!” He had barely room to squirm and wiggle, he tried it nevertheless. The knots were positioned that he could reach them with his teeth. I showed him where to undo them.
“I don’t feel so good…” Frank was wary. I smiled at him. I understood. Being immobilized like a fly caught in a spider’s web – with me, being the monstrous spider, a horned abomination, who approached him with the intent to injure.
I wasn’t going to hurt him badly, just enough to draw a steady trickle of blood. What I didn’t tell him was what the fog was going to do. It would mess with his mind, push the right buttons to terrorize and daze him into unconsciousness ever so slowly, that he’d feel despair, horror, hate and a bit death. I felt bad for him, but there was no easy way to doing this.
Lucky Frank, he’d barely remember a thing. Memories formed here fought off the bright areas of consciousness. They stayed in the dark, where they belonged, and made perfect nightmare fuel.
“Breathe in deeply. Forgive me for the pain I’m about to cause.” I sank the tip of my index nail into his left upper arm. A sharp bark of pain escaped him. Good. I felt a rush of goosebumps running up my neck. What a wonderful sound. I almost pressed a claw into the wound to make him shriek. Almost.
Ennoia and Meme reared their heads. I cooed and chirped to them. They knew what was next and positioned themselves above and to the side of the boulders forming the mouth of the cave. They became invisible as soon as they had settled in.
The second set of eyes, I had kept closed, opened, and locked onto Frank. The scent of fear and blood bloomed. He trembled. My imagination went wild with the snack I could have. That pulsing lump of hot muscle between my fangs. I haven’t tasted human flesh for eons. Nobody would find him. His death rattle under my fingertips, sweet and succulent. I missed the rich taste, the warmth, the ripping and tearing, the blood, and marrow. The twitching. The repletion. I inhaled deeply. STOP! There was something else. His blood smelled different.
“Don’t hold back. Let your fear win,”I blinked at him with all my eyes and bared my fangs close to his face. He gasped.”I will help,” I put Frank onto a small boulder, the size of a table.
“Mark? No! I changed my mind.” The cave opening was to the right a bit off. “What are going to do to me? Mark?” It needed a bit more coaxing. Frank’s voice trembled. He barely kept it together. I squeezed the injured arm hard. “FUCK you!” I laid him on his left side, head towards the cave, hanging a bit lower than the rest of him. If he saw the sin-eater, he should be able to scream his head off. That was natural. “Let me go! Untie me!” His blood had soaked the sleeve of his shirt and ran as little glowing string of green on the stone under him, forming a small puddle. I swallowed. “Mark?” The fog reached up, with little wisps of smoke, they found the pooling life force I made Frank bleed. They were famished. They wanted more. “What’s happening? Hey! Untie me, NOW!” I didn’t look at him, just stretched a hand to cover his eyes. The fog sucked up greedily what couldn’t be taken back. Maybe not seeing what was coming next, was better for him. Maybe not. I took my hand away and stepped back, to let the fog envelop him completely.
His demeanor changed as soon as I wasn’t visible to him. “Mark? Mark?” Each breath edged closer to sharp shallow inhales of stress. “Where are you? Mark!” I could almost feel the vibrations in his muscles. “Don’t leave me here!” A slick viscous layer formed on his skin. I didn’t need to see it, the smell of stinging sweat filled the space. It settled above the layer of the warm softness of the coppery scent. “NO!” The fog moved in on him and started to consume him. Darkness pressed into his mouth, his eyes and nostrils. Frank started coughing. “Mark?” His voice shook, barely masking the clacking of his chattering teeth. That was the siren song for the sin-eater. “Where are you?”
“Fight it!” I growled at him.
More coughing. His breathing got loud and ragged, as if he choked on the fog. “Please, Mark?” He sobbed. “I can’t breathe.” His shoes scraped the stone he laid on. His voice fought with something moving down his throat. “Please.” The ropes stretched, moved over his clothes. He struggled and gasped for air. There it was. My feet felt the movement before I heard it. “Why did you do this to me?” Frank tried to fight the fog’s hunger and was losing. The sin-eater moved. “Help. Somebody.” The words were whispers against the erratical muscle spasm. Wet coughing distorted every word he tried to pronounce. There were a lot of “no” and “help” that pressed themselves into the dark fog. With each labored inhale, he sounded weaker. “I don’t want to die.”
The Sin-eater listened to the melody of fading. It stopped in the cave mouth, before leaving the safety of its lair. I could see its talons grasping the rocks. Between wheezes and coughs, I heard Frank gag. His plea for help chocked into heaving and vomiting. It listened to the struggle of survival, I could tell. I listened too. I felt its lust and hunger through mine. Frank’s noises muffled, as well as the scent mix from his tears, blood and terror. The fog had condensed around his body to a black shimmering cocoon. Just a little bit more. He went completely silent and something liquid ran down the stone. The sin-eater stretched its head and tongues towards the new vibrant scents of despair.
I waited for it to move, to pounce on the black cocoon, but it didn’t. It must be my presence that kept it at bay. I chuckled and made a step towards the cave mouth. “A present. What are you waiting for?” I stretched out a hand towards Frank. It wasn’t moving. “Not hungry?” I turned back. “I claim him then.” With that I stretched over Frank’s still body. I inhaled the scents that riled my hunting instincts. I could have it all. The cocoon was melting from him, and the fog gave him free. He was alive. I could see the white of his eyes under the half closed lids, shallow and fast breathing. It reminded me of mice fleeing a bush fire. It made me hungry. I licked Frank’s forehead. Blessed unconsciousness.
My fingers touched the green blood and licked it off, like frosting. His blood didn’t only smell, but taste differently too. I instantly knew why. His family must have mixed with the half-breeds. His blood reminded me of something old, something flowing beneath the fabric of what humans were. No wonder they had a run in with the sin-eater. I smiled at the memory of the ancient miracles and treasures that Frank’s blood hinted at. I could cherish that.
Then it hit me. This wasn’t a coincidence. Frank and me arriving to a rescue mission in the In-Between? Maybe the sin-eater had planned this, and maybe the child was different too. I lifted Frank’s upper body and licked the arm I had injured. That stopped the bleeding.
With a shriek, the sin-eater rushed over, mouth agape, tongues flailing. Apparently that was all it could take. “Want,” it rumbled. I shook my head and stared it down. Frank was mine, I had claimed him. I let him fall back onto the boulder. The sin-eater winced at the way Frank flopped onto his side, a victim in his vulnerable glory. It crept closer, low and defiant. It wasn’t going to give up that easily.
Its skeletal silhouette seemed to be the size of an adult human, but that didn’t mean a thing. It was hunched and rolled onto itself. Six limbs, attached themselves in weird angles to its thin body. Where its head should have been, there was a stump with a bulbous end. Its jaw folded to the back of its neck, and the sides of its throat had loose striped skin. It sure had a big bite and at least five orange and green glowing tongues. The saliva that dripped onto the rocks sizzled. It smelled putrid, like a bloated carcass left on a creek bank. This one was venomous.
I took a step towards the sin-eater and let the fog close in on Frank. A pillow of black shimmering fumes covered his head and breast. He was safe for now.
Part 5b Tainted Blood Part 6 Golden Thread Part 7 Shadow God