Phantom War Part 1: The Creatures

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Featured Indie Horror Creation Indie horror writers Short Horror Stories

For Bethany. You were worth the fight.

The cool, autumn night brought with it the presence of uneasiness and uncertainty. The full moon hung high in the air like a stationary spotlight–a beacon guiding the two lovers with its gravitational force. It pulled the two together in ebb and flow; in high and low, just as it did the tides of the seas and oceans.

The Girl with Sunlit Hair and Black Wings stood atop the mountain. Her shadow draped across the valley under the gleam of the moon like a black sheet. She breathed in the crisp, night air then exhaled.

“Dear God,” she prayed. “Please bring him safely to me. Let not my lover stumble nor let fear be found in his valiant heart.”

Her thoughts were on The Man with Hazel Eyes and Broken White Wings. She knew it would take him longer to find her since he could no longer fly. He was now down in the valley, obscured by the curtain of her stretching shadow. He heart pounded deep in her chest and perspiration formed on her forehead. She knew what things were awakened in the valley when the full moon stepped onto the stage of the night sky.

The Girl had seen the Creatures in her dreams and heard their whaling. She had visions of the Demons and had seen their teeth. She had premonitions of the Monsters and trembled at the energy they gave off.

“Dear God,” she prayed again. “I hope he remembered the protective amulet. And may he be strapped with his steel and prepared for battle.”

She had given The Man a protective amulet when they first met. It was a black cross crafted from jet stone. She knew deep within her heart and soul the Man would need it one day. She never thought today would be the day.

She also knew The Man was wise and would not enter the Valley without its protection nor the comfort of his steel. Nevertheless, her heart feared his journey. So, under the glow of the night’s sun, she awaited her lover.

The Man with Hazel Eyes and Broken White Wings traveled through the Valley under the shadow of the Girl. His thoughts jumped from her to his Guardian Creator. His ears were attentive to every sound. His nose picked up on a rancid scent.

In the Realms of the Phantoms both good and evil had a smell. The Good gave off a clean fragrance of fresh linen and sunflowers. The Evil stunk of rotting flesh and sulfur.

The Man knew if he could smell the entities of the night, then they could smell him as well. It would only be a matter of moments before they would pick up on his scent. When they did, they would awaken and seek to spill his blood.

He looked up from the Valley and saw the trees. He peered through the twisted fingers of the leafless branches at the moon and thought of her again–The Girl with Sunlit Hair and Black Wings. He had to get to her. Their very lives depended on it.

A shuffling in the rocky sand of the Valley drew his mind away from her. His hand moved with a swift motion and gripped the hilt of his steel, which rested in his waistband. The noise ascended. It grew closer and louder.

And then he saw them in the moonlight.

These weren’t the foes he expected to see first. From the tales of the few survivors to make it through the Valley, the Creatures were the last to face.

The Man drew his steel then gripped his cross amulet. “Dear God,” he prayed. “Let my feet be swift and my blows deadly.” He let go of the cross and held his sword with both hands.

A massive, churning clod of serpent-like creatures raced towards him. In the light of the moon, the reflection of their scales resembled all the colors of the rainbow. Their tales were as scorpions and they had no face.

These were the Mind Serpents. They were beasts of such negative, psychic power, they were able to enter the mind of a man and make him go insane. Doubt, depression, and self-loathing would take over. Once the Creatures had a man paralyzed by his own self pity and sunken into the hatred of his own soul, they would strike with their tails.

The venom would work as a mind toxin and make a man take their thoughts as his own. Once this happened, a man would, in a fit of insanity, run his blade through his own heart.

Legend had it that the number of the serpents represented the threat the warrior posed. A man of normal courage would face one. A brave man, two, and a courageous man, three. Never had there been tales of more than this.

The Man counted the faceless heads as they approached.

There were five.

The Man swallowed hard and felt the finger of fear tickle at his heart. He swiped it away and prepared himself for war.

The Creatures were within twenty yards when they launched their psychic attack. The mind fuck was the most insidious sensation The Man had ever experienced.

He always thought he was mentally strong, but now he felt himself in a tornado of negative thoughts and emotions. He dropped his blade and fell to his knees. He placed his hands over his bleeding ears and screamed.

“Jesus! God! Make them stop!” Spittle flew from his lips and the tendons in his neck stretched as a flesh covered harp.

The Girl with Sunlit Hair and Black Wings gasped as she heard the screams of her lover echo through the Valley. She ran towards The Willow Tree at the edge of the cliff. She parted the curtain of its hanging branches and placed one hand on her bosom and one hand on the trunk of the tree. Her eyes searched in desperation for The Man but he could not see through the shield of darkness in the Valley.

“Please, my angel. Please be all right,” she said between heavy breaths.

The Man continued his screams and the serpents encircled him. They churned and twisted, running their bodies over his stomach and shoulders.

In his mind, The Man saw visions of great sorrow, pain, and loss. He saw all Abaddon had taken from him and his heart grew faint.

“I am no warrior,” The Man thought. “I am no fighter. I am only a failed savior with broken wings. I am a coward frozen by terror and self pity.”

Further and further his mind spiraled down into an abyss of nothingness.

But there was something different about The Man the serpents were not prepared for; something no man in the Valley ever had…

As The Man reached the bottom of the pit of his mind, he found a Phoenix waiting for him.

“Who are you,” The Man asked.

“I am you,” the Phoenix said.

“I am no Phoenix,” he said. “I am but a wasted angel with useless wings and a coward’s heart.”

The Phoenix flapped its wings and engulfed The Man in waves of fire. “No,” it said. “You are thunder and lightening. You are a burning ember and a flash of fire!”

The Phoenix took flight and extended its talons. The bird gripped The Man by the shoulders and began to fly him out of the abyss. The grip of the Phoenix burned and brought a sense of mental sobriety to The Man. The two ascended higher and higher, causing all the dark thoughts to dissipate.

The Man now saw who he really was. Though he had broken wings, he was a warrior. He was more courageous than all his peers and the most noble knight to ever step foot into the Valley. He was a man of abounding love. A man of resilience and perseverance. A man loved by God and The Girl with Sunlit Hair and Black Wings.

The Man was jolted back into consciousness. A stinger from one of the serpents was whizzing through the air at him. He ducked and rolled away, then knelt and fetched his steel.

The serpents lashed and coiled in anger and confusion. The Man saw their hesitation and struck. With the rage of a wild beast, his sword followed the lead of his hands as a bridled horse. He chopped off one head, followed by another. Sprays of rainbow colored blood misted from the serpents as their bodies flopped on the road of the Valley.

He finished off the rest of the serpents in the same manner. Their bodies seized and their rainbow life seed drained from their bodies. The Man was soaked in the multicolored blood and pools of it puddled around his feet.

“Oh God, the smell,” The Man said and his his nose in the gape of his arm. He gagged a few times then dry heaved.

After he composed himself, The Man gathered the faceless serpent heads and ran them through with his blade. His piercing left holes at both ends of the heads. He wiped his sword on one of their lifeless bodies, then returned it to its sheath. He removed his backpack and retrieved his rope. He then slid the rope through the heads and tied it off at each end into a giant necklace.

The Man clenched his trophy and raised it towards the night sky.

“Abaddon,” he yelled. “Heaven knows no fury like a warrior’s blade!”

He lowered his prize and continued his journey. The necklace of heads crackled as he dragged them through the rocky soil of the Valley.

“Girl with Sunlit Hair and Black Wings,” he called out. “I am coming for you. As I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, it shall fear my evil!”

The Girl with Sunlit Hair and Black Wings heard the voice of her lover ascend from the Valley to her ears. She stepped away from the cliff and rested her back against The Willow Tree. She slid down and sat, relieved.

“I know you are coming, angel,” she said. She breathed deep and exhaled as she awaited him to face his next challenge.

Phantom War Part 2: The Monsters

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Featured Indie Horror Indie Horror Creation Indie horror writers Short Horror Stories

For Bethany. You were worth the fight

The deeper into the Valley The Man journeyed the darker it grew. The wind hummed like a locomotive as it pressed against his body. The gust was so powerful it blew and dust into his eyes, further decaying his already obscured vision. He draped his arm over his face and walked with slow, calculated steps. 

The Man wondered what abominations awaited him next. Things were already going against the normal routine of the Valley, and a sense of uneasiness suffocated his heart. He reflected on this so-called “order of the Valley” and came to a startling revelation: order was only an attribute and function of Creator God. The Valley was pure evil, and pure evil was always chaotic. There was no order in the Valley, nor was there an order to which satanic brood would attack next. The Valley was pure and adulterated chaos. In the Valley, chaos was king. 

The wind slowed its breathing and The Man was able to see again. The moon no longer resembled a lantern in the fog but hung in the sky as the ruler of the night. He stared up at the trees atop the Valley. He swore by God he saw them move.

“But there is no more wind,” he mumbled to himself. He assumed he still had dust in his eyes, so he fetched the water pouch at his side and rinsed them. He blinked numerous times until his vision was clear. He set his sight on the other side of the Valley and saw several branches ripple then disappear.

“It must be them,” The Man whispered and recalled the tales of The Monsters. 

These entities were covered in tentacles and there were two types. One species had a spiral body with a black hole in the center. They had no sense of sight but the hole operated as a center for heightened hearing. Their bodies were laced with branch-like tentacles.

The second species had no sight either and the same type of black hole in the center, equipped with the same hyper-sensative hearing. The core of these monsters was shaped like a lily. Their tentacles were more soft and fluid, as string blowing in the wind. 

The goal of The Monsters was to wrap their tentacles around each person’s body parts and rip them off with one, powerful yank. A normal man would be lucky to be maimed by only one. A brave man might make it past them with only missing toes, fingers, and an arm. But this man would soon pass out and die from lack of blood or shock. The Man with Hazel Eyes and Broken White Wings was positive there were two hunting him down. One from the east side of the Valley and one from the west. 

The Girl with Sunlit Hair and Black wings had heard the roaring of the wind when it rushed through the Valley and wondered how The Man was fairing against the elements. She had heard no screams so she was confident her beloved was still alive and making his way to her. The Girl’s nerves still danced and spun like ballerinas on stage despite her confidence. She knew there was nothing she could do but be patient, so she prayed for The Man to survive and find his way to her. 

The Girl wished her angel still had his wings, then he would not have to journey through the treacherous Valley. Rather, he could have flown, like her, to their Willow Tree. They could now be making love under it as in the days before his wings were destroyed. 

She reflected on the times when his wings were whole. 

“Oh, my angel,” she said. “I remember when you would fly and meet me here and wrap those wings around me. You made me feel so safe.” She reached for a branch on the tree and caressed it with her hand. She slid the leaves between her fingers and felt them tickle her skin. 

“Those were enchanting days, my angel,” she said, staring out over the Valley. “The days of ease. The days before Abaddon came.” 

It was only one week ago before the satanic beast wreaked havoc on their village. She remembered the day with the utmost clarity. She was kissing her beloved in the field outside the city walls when something blacked out the sun.

The two broke their kiss and  gazed upwards. A beast of ungodly size hovered in the sky above them. The thing was as black as total darkness and its wingspan was so wide, it seemed to touch the clouds. Its body was covered in hair and primate-like. It had the head of a goat and the mouth of a dragon. Its horns were long and prominent. 

The Man and The Girl stared in awe at the dragon. Its wings flapped and its mouth let out a deafening, apish roar. The two recoiled at the sound as trepidation found its way into the marrow of their bones. 

The Girl broke their trance and said, “Dear God, it is heading…”

“Towards the village,” The Man finished for her. 

The Man looked at The Girl with wide eyes and grabbed her arm with a firm grip. 

His hazel eyes were the most intense and fearful they had ever been.

“Fly with haste to the village,” he had said. “I will go after the beast.” 

The Girl stood frozen, as if her feet were cemented to the ground and as if her wings were weighted down by bricks. She didn’t think she could find the courage to move. However, she found herself nodding in agreement to his command. By the grace of Creator God, her wings flapped and she took flight. 

The Man watched to make sure the dragon did not turn his attention to The Girl. When he saw she was in the clear, his feet left the ground and he went in pursuit of the beast. 

The speed at which the dragon had flown was like none The Man had ever encountered. Each flap of its wings seemed to thrust it ahead one hundred yards. He clenched his fist, gnashed his teeth, and flew faster. Perspiration soaked his body and his muscles locked in knotted balls. The Man had flown so hard, for the first time in his life, some feathers dislodged from his wings. They swirled around him then made a slow descent to the ground. 

The dragon neared the village.

The Man looked on. His face contorted and his brow furrowed. “Damn these fucking wings,” he had shouted. “Go faster!” He dug down deep into his being to find more power to exert towards his wings but he could not fly any faster. “God damn these useless wings!”

The Man glanced down to see if he could locate The Girl. He didn’t see her anywhere near the village. He tucked his head to look behind him. She trailed The Man by several hundred yards. The Man knew if he did not gain on the beast, there would be no village left to spare. His children were there and so were The Girl’s. 

The dragon picked up seed. The village loomed closer. The Man watched on helpless.

The dragon was now in range of the village. It opened its mouth and flashes of fire exploded forth. The humble stick and hay houses evaporated into flames. Screams from the burning victims ascended into the sky and reached The Man’s ears. 

“Cormac! Doriann!” The Man screamed his children’s names as he drew closer to the village. 

Everything was engulfed in flames. The dragon was gone just as fast as he came, leaving behind him a path of smoke and fire. 

The Man ascended into the chaos. The heat from the fire pressed against his skin like hot irons. The smoke clouded his vision and filled his lungs. He stumbled around in the inferno, calling his children’s names as well as The Girl’s between coughs and gasps of air.

“Cormac! Doriann! Ewing! Duncan!” The Man could not get his bearings and had no idea where in the city he was. He was about to pass out when he felt arms grasp around him. He watched as he ascended from the firestorm and the burning village grew smaller in his sight. 

The Girl had rescued him before he passed out and was consumed by the flames. 

The Girl with Sunlit Hair and Black Wings tried to push the remaining thoughts out of her mind but found herself powerless against their deluge. The next memories broke her heart and brought tears to her eyes.  

She remembered sitting with The Man outside the village as the burning embers still smoked. She watched him rise to his feet and enter the village. She had followed him at a distance, not wanting to see what she knew awaited her–the dead and charcoaled bodies of their children. 

The next image in her mind? It was The Man rummaging through his home which was nothing more than a pile of ashes. He found Cormac and Doriann, his seven year old boy-girl twins. He scooped their bodies from the ash heap and held them in his arm, one against each shoulder. Their skin was black and flakey and their hair was burned off. He staggered a few yards then fell to his knees in anguish. He plopped their dead bodies to the ground, then lifted his head to the heavens.

“God! Why! They were my babies! They were innocent!” He gazed at the girl. His face was littered with disappointment and confusion. “I..I..couldn’t save them.” He ran his finger through his long brown hair and gripped it tight. Through tears he cried, “Damn these wings! I couldn’t get here in time. If only I was…” His voice faded to a whisper. “…faster…If only…faster.” He locked eyes with The Girl again. “I failed us. I failed them. I failed you.” 

They buried their children outside of the village then flew to the mountain where the Willow Tree sat. The Girl sat next to The Man under the tree. They didn’t speak. She rubbed his back as he breathed heavy breaths. She understood. Her heart broke and she weeped with him over the death of their children and the death of the life they had dreamed about. 

Then the unthinkable happened. The Man jumped to his feet.

“What? Where are you going,” The Girl had asked.

The Man answered her not. He took off running full speed to the rocky side of the mountain. The Girl cringed as The Man slammed his back to the mountain. She heard the bones in one of his wings crunch as he let out a laugh filled with pain and anger. The Girl leaped to her feet.

“Stop! What are you doing,” she had said. 

“Damn!”

Smash.

“These!”

Crunch.

“Mother!”

Snap.

“Fucking!”

Crunch.

“Wings!”

Shatter.

The Man’s wings hung broken and mangled from his back. He reached around in a fit of rage and ripped feathers from his wings.

The Girl sprinted over to him. “Stop this madness,” she had yelled. “What are you doing!”

The Man paused and glared at her. “Step away from me, woman. Do not interfere.” 

The Girl backed away. Her eyes were heavy and her face, fallen. She watched in agony and heartbreak as The Man slammed his back into the side of the mountain until his wings were a featherless mush. 

A shriek jolted her from her memories. “My beloved,” she gasped and eased over closer to the cliff. 

The Man with Hazel Eyes and Broken White Wings saw The Monsters rushing down the side of the mountain towards him. They let out an awful sound as they prepared to attack. Their tentacles stuck like lightning and wrapped around The Man’s legs. They pulled hard and The Man fell on his backside. Sword in hand, he rolled onto his stomach and tried to scurry away. The Monsters yanked with more force each in the opposite direction. They spread his legs and The Man could feel the muscles in his legs and groin being stretched to oblivion.

The Monsters whipped their tentacles and flipped The Man over. Survival instincts took over and The Man hacked away at the tentacles with his steel. Orange blood spewed from the wounds and he axed away at them as if he were chopping down a tree. The tentacles severed and The Monsters withdrew them with howls of pain. 

The Man unwrapped himself from the severed limbs and flung them aside. He leaped to his feet and gripped his sword with both hands. The Monsters circled him and waved their tentacles in the air with wild motions. The Man’s eyes darted back and forth, trying to gauge the motion of each movement. 

Another appendage struck. This one wrapped around his waist. He then felt a tightness around his neck as one began to choke the life from him. There was a snap as one of his ribs broke. His brain was being depleted from oxygen and his vision became blurry. His consciousness was fading and his legs were weak. His strength was being dried out like a potsherd in the desert sun. 

In his mind he saw The Girl. They were standing in a field. Her blonde hair glistened under the summer sun. She wore a white dress and had a crown of flowers in her hair. She was smiling up at him and laughing. He could feel his arms around him, pulling him in for a kiss. As their faces met, hers evaporated. He now stared into the black hole of one of the Monsters. With the last bit of consciousness in his grip, The Man raised his arms and made a thrusting motion with his sword. The blade sank deep into the hole of The Monster.

The relief was immediate. The tentacled loosened from his neck and the bleating screams of the Monster brought him back to reality. He withdrew his blade and was then covered in a shower of orange blood. The Monster’s tentacles went limp and it fell to the ground dead. 

Pain surged through The Man’s middle as the other Monster squeezed tighter. Another rib snapped.

“Shit,” The Man yelled. An appendage was now wrapped around his free hand. He hacked away in fury at both of them. 

The two tentacles bled and pulled back. The Monster paused and The Man took his opportunity. He drew his sword back and sprinted forward. He extended his arms and struck the Monster in its black hole. He twisted the blade back and forth and made a circling motion. Blood seeped from the wound and the Monster twitched. The Man withdrew his steel and the Monster hit the ground. The Man raised his sword over his head to strike but the pain in his ribs stopped him. He decided to let the thing suffer as its life ebbed away. 

As the Monster died, the man sliced away on one of the tentacles. He took a piece about two feet long and pierced it through. He grabbed his necklace of heads from the ground and untied it. He placed his sword in its sheath and slipped the tentacle on to add to his trophy. With one hand he held his ribs and with the other dragged the necklace behind him.

“My darling,” The Man called. “I am hurt but I am victorious!” A sharp pain dug into his side as he yelled. He winced and hoped his beloved heard him.

The Girl heard the cry of The Man and her eyes filled with tears of joy. “Oh angel, please take care of yourself. God, please strengthen him in his pain.”

“Abaddon,” The Man whispered. “Your head will be the pendant on my necklace of retribution.”

Phantom War Part 3: The Demons

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Featured Indie Horror Indie Horror Creation Indie horror writers Short Horror Stories

For Bethany. You were worth the fight.

Part Three: The Demons

The Man took deep, heavy breaths and held his ribs. His side screamed with agony and every breath felt as if he was being stabbed with a dagger. His face grimaced in pain yet his heart soared with determination. Each aching step brought him close to Abaddon; closer to vengeance, and closer to The Girl with Sunlit Hair and Black Wings.

The road in the Valley narrowed. Before The Man stood the entrance to a forest. He eased his hand away from his throbbing side and stood erect. He narrowed his eyes and the determination in his heart was expressed on his face.

“The Forest of Lost Hope,” The Man whispered and stared at the trees. The leaves on the branches were no leaves at all. Rather, they were shards of human flesh. A crisp breeze blew through the forest and made the skin dance. Patches of the anthropomorphic coverings dropped to the ground. The Man picked one up and examined it. He recalled a passage from The Book of Abaddon: 

“If a warrior is of skill to have made it to The Forest of Lost Hope, it would bid him well to take heed before entering. It is required that a man make deep examination of his heart and soul before he enters. A pure heart and unwavering faith are required to conquer the dark spirits who lie deep within the forest. The Demons are unmerciful mercenaries of Abaddon who will strike at any weakness. The man of sincere heart who enters this realm should also remember that it would do him well to cover himself with the flesh which hangs on the trees. If his heart is pure, he will absorb the strength of the flesh of those who went before him and none of their weaknesses. However, if he is a double souled man, he will absorb none of their strength and all of their weaknesses, thus assuring himself both defeat and death.” 

The Man knelt at the edge of the forest and fixed his mind on Creator God. “My Lord,” he prayed. “By thine Spirit, search my heart and see if there is any wicked way in me. Cleanse me by Thy blood from my sins. Make me whole in Thine eyes. Let my faith in you soar as on the wings of an eagle and let my doubts be annihilated by the power of Thine right hand. Let not fear enter into my heart but guard it as Thine own.” 

The Man sat in silence as he drew in strength from his God. With assurance in his soul, he rose to his feet. Though she could not hear him, he spoke to The Girl. “My darling, our God has brought us thus far, and He will not fail us now. Into the forest I will go, and victorious I will emerge.” 

The Man reached up and removed a patch of skin from a branch at the edge of the forest. He placed it on his face. Within moments he felt the blood bond to his skin. He proceeded to cover the rest of his face and the exposed portions of his arms and legs. He imagined what he must look like–a patchwork of skin hanging on skin. A brutish amalgamation of human flesh which would give nightmares to young children. But the only nightmares he planned on giving were the ones he would gift to Abaddon. 

Once he reached Abaddon, he planned on making him suffer. He wasn’t going to kill the demigod, oh no. He was going to torture to the point of death; to amputate and dismember, then leave him as an invalid who could do no more harm. Instead, Abaddon would be left  in torment in his body and mind, as he would forever have to live with how he was bested by God’s knight. 

“Abaddon,” The Man said with a snarl. “You picked the wrong man of God to fuck with.” He grabbed his necklace of vengeance in one hand then took his first step into the forest. 

“Abaddon,” he thought. “Your time is coming. But for now, I will slay your henchmen.” 

Once in the forest, the man felt a tingling sensation on his skin. His body was absorbing the strength of the deceased’s warriors’ flesh. The pain in his side subsided and the bones made popping sounds as the ribs were forged back together. His muscles grew stronger and his heart braver. He felt as if he could take down an army of thousands. And indeed he could. 

The Man journey further into The Forest of Lost Hope. The moon’s rays were cut by the tree branches, leaving slices of light to guide his way. The woods smelled of depression and despair. It was the scent of loneliness. A smell only one who has breathed it in could identify. And The Man could. It was what he felt when his children were taken from him. The forest tried to bring these disparaging memories up, but the power of the Spirit of God and the power of the warrior’s flesh kept The Man’s mind sound. 

The Man paused. He gripped the hilt of his steel and attuned his ears to the forest. 

A howl bellowed forth in the distance followed by deep, maniacal laughter. The sounds came north of The Man. He drew his blade and journeyed towards the noise. The forest became more dense and the darkness grew as the light of the moon was no more. The Man was now practically blind. He was not going to be able to rely on his physical sight to defeat The Demons. Rather, he was going to have to rely on his psychic ability to emerge victorious. 

The Girl had taught him how to enhance the abilities of his mind. He had the gift since childhood, but never knew how to develop it. The Girl had trained the sight of her third eye into near perfection. The townspeople had considered her a witch because of her uncanny ability and at one point, had tried to set her on fire. The Man intervened and rescued her. He scorned the villagers for their ignorance and saved The Girl from certain death. 

The people had listened to The Man because they considered him a prophet sent from Creator God. Well, almost all the people. The Man’s former wife grew jealous of his stature in the city and of his friendship with The Girl. She conspired with the husband of The Girl to put The Man to death. One night, the two of them attacked The Man in his sleep. They had gathered rocks to stone him. The Man awoke to a throbbing pain in his face after his wife clobbered him with a stone. He was able to fend them off. The commotion awoke the villagers. They saw what was happening, and because they considered The Man a prophet, they took his wife and The Girl’s husband out into the streets and stoned them with the very rocks they tried to use on The Man. Because of their heresy, their bodies were dragged outside the city gates and left for the birds. They would be a reminder of what happens to the ones who attack the anointed of God. 

Since then, the relationship of The Man and The Girl flourished into love. She taught him how to use his third eye and he taught her the ways of Creator God more clearly. Now, in The Forest of Lost Hope, The Man was going to have to rely on his gifting and his God.

“Creator God,” The Man prayed. “Please enrich the sight of my third eye. Let me see my foes in my mind. Let me know their moves before they do. Give me foresight and precognition.”

The Lord answered The Man’s prayer.

In his mind he saw the entire forest, down to the last details. He saw the grooves in every tree, the high and low spots of the ground, and the location of every Demon. It was as if the woods were now illuminated by the sun. 

The Demons were a nasty sight. They had the body of a humans. Their skin was red and their faces and arms were covered in black markings. They had no jaw. Instead their mouth connected with their neck, leaving an open cavity revealing their tongue and rows of sharp teeth. 

The Man drew his sword and his precognition guided him. The first Demon would make a zig zag motion through the trees and then attack to his left. The second Demon would be close behind the first and leap at him. The third would sneak him from behind. 

The Man dropped his Necklace of Vengeance, held his sword with both hands, and waited on The Demons to make their move.

It happened just as The Man predicted. He timed his counter attack with perfection. He turned to his left and swung his sword. The blade connected in the space between The Demon’s mouth and neck. The blow severed his head and a blue geyser of blood spewed from the wound. 

The Man was ready for the next Demon coming to his front. He thrust his sword into The Demon’s chest, ran it through, then tossed it over his head. The Man pinned The Demon down to the ground. The Demon convulsed then melted around his blade and onto the forest floor where it evaporated. 

The Man stood to his feet and turned with a thrust. His sword entered the gaping chest cavity of the third Demon. The Demon hissed then placed its hands around the blade and tried to free itself. The Man twisted the blade and The Demon released it then melted just like the other. 

“What the hell,” The Man said as he watched The Demon squander away. He caught his breath then prepared for the next onslaught.

The Demons were a crafty lot and not unaware of The Man’s ability. But they knew something The Man hadn’t discovered yet. His precognitive ability only reached as far as being able to predict up to three attacks. This time, The Forest would send five Demons after him. 

The Man saw his next three assailants in his mind. One would travel to the tree tops then drop on him. The second would appear from behind the same tree and the third would flank him on his right.

The Man raised his sword above his head and the first Demon lunged to its death. He met the second Demon with a swing and the blade sliced open its midsection, disemboweling it. Blood and guts sloshed to the ground. The Man turned and brought his blade down on the shoulder of the third Demon. It howled, staggered backwards, and fell to the forest floor. The Man drove his steel through the heart of The Demon and it died like the others. 

The Man was not prepared for the fourth and fifth attack. He heard a snarl behind him but it was too late. The Demon grabbed him by his long hair and tried to drag him deeper into the forest. The Man sensed an odd sensation in his back, as if his skin was stretching and being pulled off.

The Man dropped his sword and latched on to The Demon’s wrist. He was able to look over his shoulder. He stood bewildered at what he saw. An arm was extended from his scapula. 

What The Man couldn’t see was the full profile of another warrior protruding from his back. The warrior gripped The Demon’s tongue with both hands and yanked, hard. The Demon’s tongue separated from its mouth and a river of blue blood poured out. The tongue flapped in the warrior’s hand then he proceeded to beat The Demon with it. 

The fifth attack came from The Man’s right. A Demon leaped from the foliage and brought the Man to the ground. He planted face first. His head spun and he tried to regain his wits. He felt the odd sensation in his back again. 

Warrior after warrior expanded from The Man’s back, covered in his skin like a flesh cloak. HIs skin continued to stretch and the warriors stayed attached by strands which stayed connected like ropes. 

The warriors now encircled him. The Forest let loose the Demon horde. The Man closed his eyes and buried his face on the ground, letting his army of encased warriors fight for him. Demon after met their demise at the hands of The Man’s protectors. He could hear the squealing of The Demons as their bodies were dismembered and annihilated by the warriors. 

The floor of the forest ran blue with the blood of the Demons. When the last one evaporated, The Man’s body absorbed the warriors and he was left alone on the ground. He pushed himself up and sat. “Thank you God,” The Man prayed. “Thank you.” He stood to his feet and returned his steel to its sheath. He picked up his necklace of vengeance and held it in his hand. He then heard a crackling and popping sound. 

The forest erupted into flames. A sense of haste and alarm filled The Man. He was worried he would be burned alive in the inferno. He then heard the voice of his God.

“When you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Now travel ahead.” 

The Man believed the promise of God and stepped forward. The blazing trees surrounded him yet he could not feel their heat. He reached out his hand and stuck it into one of the flames. Nothing. He left it there for several seconds then removed it. His skin was unmarked by the fire. The Man smirked, then traveled through the fire unharmed and said, “The same God who protected Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the furnace of Nebuchadnezzer now protects me.” 

The Girl with Sunlit Hair and Black Wings saw the blazing forest. Her heart sanke and her mouth went dry. There was a churning in her stomach and she grew ill. All the strength left her body and she sat on the ground and wept. She knew there was no way her beloved could survive such a fire. 

“My love,” she cried. “My precious angel, how will I go on without you.” She wept until the point of despair. She lied down under neath their tree and waited to die.

The Man felt the anguish of The Girl. He had been so focused on using his energy to fight the entities of the Valley he had not yet used The Reach to contact his beloved. The Reach was a psychic bond the couple discovered in the early days of their relationship. It was a type of astral projection each could use to project their energy to the other and communicate thoughts and feelings. 

The Man paused amidst the fire and reached for The Girl. 

Underneath the tree, The Girl felt the presence of her beloved. She sat up and exclaimed, “It’s you!” She could sense The Man as if he were around her and inside her. She heard his voice in her head.

“It is me,” The Man said. “I am very much alive. The power of Creator God is with me and He is protecting me from the heat of the flames.” 

The Girl reached back and said, “Oh, my angel. I was so worried.”

The Man felt her and heard her voice in his soul. “I know, my darling. But rest assured I am alive and well.”

“Where will my angel go next?”

“I do not know….” The Man’s voice was cut off.

“Wait,” The Girl said. “Where did you go?”

The Man was now focused on what was before him. The forest had burned away and in front of him was a cave. The Man now knew where he stood. It was the lair of Abaddon. A cage of iron bars was over the entrance and a demonic guard stood watch. It was tall and muscular and human bones as armor adorned it from head to toe. The guard held a giant ax in its hands. It’s face was full of eyes and its mouth was a long, pointed beak. 

The Man sensed The Girl reaching. 

“My love,” he said.

The Girl was relieved. “Yes?”

“I’m here.”

“Where is ‘here’?”

“The lair of Abaddon,” The Man said. 

“Please be careful,” The Girl warned. “I have a bad feeling.”

“Sit at ease, my darling,” The Man said. “I will add the fingers of Abaddon’s right hand to my necklace.”

Phantom War Part 4: Abaddon

Categories
Indie Horror Creation Indie horror writers Short Horror Stories

For Bethany. You were worth the fight. Come with me, my love, our Willow Tree beckons.

The Man drew his sword from its sheath and approached the cave of Abaddon. The light of the full moon shimmered in the blade and shone down on The Man as a celestial spotlight; as if heaven and hell were watching the events play out on a divine stage. All The Man’s senses were acute. His nose smelled the stench of evil arising from the cave. He could hear the breaths of the demonic guard as it inhaled and exhaled, anticipating The Man’s approach. He felt the grooves of the leather wrapped hilt tight against his palm. He lifted his steel, stared into the blade, and prayed. 

“Creator God, grant your servant strength to slay the wretched beast and avenge our families.” He then lowered his sword and walked. 

The voice of Creator God echoed in his soul. “My Son, do you trust me?”

The Man paused, and with a bewildered look, gazed up into the heavens. “Yes,Lord,” he said. “I trust you. Why?” 

“Then go,” God said. “The end of a thing will birth forth a new beginning.” 

The Man raised an eyebrow and said, “What do you mean?”

“You will see,” God said. “Now, go.” 

The Man nodded and continued his pace. He drew near to the cave and the demon guardian stepped out to meet him. The guardian thrust its ax and stuck the blade against The Man’s neck. The Man stopped, narrowed his brow, and stared at the demon with righteous anger. 

“What business do you have here,” the demon said. 

“I’ve come to kill the dragon,” The Man said. 

“What gives you the right to challenge Abaddon,” the demon said. 

The Man held up his necklace of vengeance and showed it to the demon. “I have come to add to my collection.” 

“Abaddon will take your head,” the demon said. “He will shit in your skull then ejaculate down your neck. There’s nothing better than to give a dead, righteous man a desecrating body fuck.”

“If you’re not careful,” The Man said. “I will shove that beak of yours where you do most of your talking.” 

“Very well, fool. It’s your death,” the demon said. It lowered the ax, turned around, and walked towards the cave. “Follow me,” it said over its shoulder.

“With pleasure,” The Man said. He thought about decapitating the guard just for the hell of it–just as a “fuck you” to Abaddon. He weighed the thought and before he could push it out of his mind, his arms were already in motion.

The blade of the sword cut deep into the demon’s neck and orange blood spewed into the air. The demon dropped its ax with a howl and clasped its hands against the wound. It turned around and faced The Man. 

The Man lifted his sword in the air and brought it down in a slicing motion, cutting off the demon’s beak. The beak fell to the ground and chattered. The Man stared at the gaping cavity with satisfaction before the demon fell to its knees. 

The demon held its hands out in a pleading gesture. This angered The Man. “How dare you, a viscous, heartless, servant of Abaddon beg for mercy!” The Man snarled, quivered his lips, and swung his sword. The blade connected with the demon’s wrist and its hands took flight. The demon flailed its arms and more orange blood filled the air as a mist. The Man cocked his arms back again and swung at the demon’s neck. There was a sharp, ripping and gutting sound as the blade sliced through muscle and bone. 

The Man picked up the beakless head and added it to his necklace. He snatched the keys to the iron gate off the carcass and marched towards the cave. The entrance to the cave was around fifty feet in diameter and the bars to the gate were several inches thick. The lock was eye level to The Man. 

He tried the keys until he found one that worked. The bow of the key was a circular, dragon tail. The stem resembled the bone of a human finger and the bit looked like a tooth. It fit with perfection into the lock. The Man turned the key and heard the latch click. He put the keys in his waistband and pushed the iron gate open.  

The hinges roared as if in agony. The bars were laced with human flesh. The Man felt the dried and rotting texture in his hand as he gripped the iron. He eased the gate against the rocky wall and glanced around. The cave was illuminated by strange looking skulls with a fire burning on their insides. They hung from the ceiling by ropes and the light of the flames flowed out of the eye sockets, casting strips of light onto the walls and floor. 

The Man titled his head and walked in a circle, examining the skulls. They were massive, with four faces on each side–human, lion, eagle, and ox.  

“God in heaven,” he whispered. He recognized the bone structure. These were not skulls of the earthly realm. They were angel skulls, but not just any angels. They were cherubim skulls–the living creatures who guarded the throne of God. They were Abaddon’s trophies; a monument of mockery and a reminder of the ones he slayed when Lucifer declared war on God. 

God had Michael the Archangel and Lucifer had Abaddon. The Man recalled another passage from the Book of Abaddon:

“The First War of Heaven was one of violence. More violent than any war of man, both now and in the ages to come. Lucifer was cunning and his deception, powerful. This is where correction is needed about the original account of The First War, which was penned by Kenan, the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, who was the son of Adam.

In his account, Kenan said Lucifer gathered a third of the host of heaven in his cause. But I, Methusalah, the son of Enoch, was gifted in visions of God just as my father. After God took my father to be with Him, fifty years later, the heavens were open to me and I saw my father before the throne of God. He said, ‘My son, come up here and I will show you visions of The First War.’

The army of Lucifer was more numerous than the sands on the seashore. Their number was three-fourths of the heavenly creatures. The leaders of his army were Abaddon, Leviathan, and Lilith. Their advances were almost successful, but the Son of God and his warrior, Micheal the archangel, were able to prevail. But not before most of the angelic beings on both sides were killed. 

God was able to create more angels but Lucifer had to result to more menial means to reproduce. Abaddon and Leviathan took Lilith as their consort, and she replenished the armies of Lucifer.” 

The Man stared at the walls. They sweated a red liquid. He eased over and dipped his finger in the substance. It was warm and smelled metallic.

“Blood,” The Man said. “Human blood.” He wiped his fingers on his chest, leaving behind red streaks. “The blood of my brothers. The blood of my fathers. The blood of my children and the blood of the prophets.” The Man lifted his eyes and stared at the hanging cherubim skulls. “I’ll avenge you all. Every last one of you.” The Man dipped his fingers in the crimson flow again and spread some on his face. He did this over and over again until all his exposed skin burned red. 

“I am the wrath of God,” he said. “The sword of His vengeance and the one who will make hell weep.” 

The Man traveled deeper into the abyss. The walls were now decorated with the body parts of humans and angels. Sounds of great lamenting and sorrow echoed through the corridor. Further ahead, The Man heard footsteps. He paused, dropped his necklace, and gripped his sword. 

“Who approaches,” The Man yelled. 

There was no answer. Just the sound of footsteps.

“I said, who approaches!” This time his voice was more forceful.

The footsteps stopped. 

“Daddy.” a voice called. “Daddy, is that you?” 

The Man froze. Chills slithered up his spine like an arctic serpent then sank its fangs into the back of his neck. His head reeled and his eyes fluttered. “No,” he whispered. “It can’t be. Dorian?” 

“Hi, Daddy. It is me,” Dorian said.

The Man stared at his seven year old daughter with mouth agape. Tears welled in his eyes. He sheathed his sword and reached out a hand towards her. “Why are you here? You’re…you’re supposed to be…”

“Daddy, what is that all over you,” Dorian asked, interrupting him. 

The Man glanced down at his arms. “It’s uh…” He looked back at her. “Nothing.” 

Dorian drew closer to him. She was so close now he could touch her. He ran his fingers through her caramel colored hair and stared deep into her brown eyes. “I’ve missed you.” 

“I’ve missed you too, Daddy.” She reached up and held his hand. “Come with me. We have lots of games to play.” Dorian let out a giggle then tugged at her father’s arm.

The Man swiped his necklace off the ground and followed her lead. “What games are we going to play?”

“Oh, some really fun ones,” Dorian said as she glanced over her shoulder. 

“Well, what about your brother,” The Man asked. “Is he here? Does he want to play?” 

Dorain shook her head. “No, he is resting.” 

“Why is he resting? Is he ill?” 

“No, Daddy,” Dorain said. “Just tired.”

“Very well,” The Man said. “I guess it will just be me and you. Now, tell me what game we shall play first?” 

“Oh, it is a fun one, Daddy!” 

“Is that so?” He was now walking by her side, still holding her hand. 

“Yes, Daddy,” she said and looked up at him with a smile. “It’s called Save the Children from the Fire. Do you remember how to play that game?” 

The Man froze. His face fell and his eyes took on a serious glow. “What?”

Dorian nodded. “Yes, Daddy. You were not very good at it the first time, so let’s see if you can win now.” 

He let go of Dorian’s hand, grabbed her by the shoulder, and spun her towards him. “Stop, child. This isn’t humorous.” 

“I’m not laughing, Daddy,” she said. Then her voice turned into a shrill. “I am BURNING! BURNING! BURNING DADDY! OH GOD HELP! DADDY WHERE ARE YOU!” 

The Man jerked his hand away. Dorian’s skin started to char then peel off. Her eyeballs burst and fluid poured from the sockets. Flames filled the empty holes. She opened her mouth to scream, revealing more fire. 

The Man dropped his necklace and grabbed both her arms. “Dorian! No! Daddy is here! I’m right here!” Her skin melted into his hands. He drew them back and held them to his face. The flesh dripped from his fingers like wax. His eyes bulged, his nostrils flared, and his lips trembled. The Man was terrified. 

Dorian exploded and her melted skin covered The Man. He screamed and wiped himself with frantic motions. “No, no, no no!” He fell to his knees, buried his face in his hands, and wept. He rocked back and forth, crying, “Dorain, sweet Dorian…my baby…I tried…God knows I did.” 

A thundering voice shook the cave. “Try as you did, warrior. You still failed and your children are dead. Not only yours, but The Girl’s offspring as well.” 

“Noooo,” The Man screamed. He closed his eyes and raked his fingers down his cheeks. “Shut up, Abaddon!” 

“You’re weak,” the voice rumbled. “Just like your so-called Savior.” 

The Man heard a whooshing sound, like someone lighting a large fire. He could feel a bright light shining on his eyelids, so he opened his eyes. 

Before him was a burning cross. Nailed to it was a man, but the man didn’t burn. The Man draped his arm across his forehead, trying to see through the blinding inferno. The figure was held to the cross by snakes. They were wrapped around his arms, legs, and mid-section. The figure resembled a crude representation of the Son of God. He had been castrated and his manhood shoved in his mouth. 

The Man was repulsed by the image. 

“See your weak Savior,” Abaddon said. “See what I have done to him? Now, imagine what fate awaits you!” 

The Man jumped to his feet with a growl. “I rebuke your lies,” The Man screamed. “My Savior is exalted in heaven and is by the right hand of His Father!”

The flames on the cross flickered out and the image dissolved into an ash heap. 

The Girl with Sunlit Hair and Black Wings stood under the Willow Tree. A finger was pressed against her lips and her stomach was in knots. Something was wrong. Dead wrong. She could feel the angst of The Man surging through her body like the waves of the sea. She reached for The Man with her mind.

“My God,” she whispered. She had felt The Man many times since they met, but never had she sensed such anger and fear in him. “My angel,” she said and placed her other hand on the trunk of the Tree. “You have to let it go, please.” 

The Man picked up on The Girl’s presence. “Dammit, not now,” he mumbled. He didn’t have the time nor energy to deal with her distraction. He put up his psychic block. 

The Girl felt it. The block was like a punch to her gut and a knife in her heart. “Why,” she asked with quivering lips. “Why are you pushing me out?” She dropped her hands and darted to the edge of the cliff. “Why,” she screamed. She then stood in silence, listening as her voice echoed across the Valley. 

The Man drew his sword and picked up his necklace. “Show yourself, Abaddon,” he demanded. “Stop hiding in the shadows like a coward and come face me!” 

The walls of the cave contracted and expanded over and again, as if the cave itself was breathing. With each breath, everything around The Man closed in on him. Then there was the sound of a mighty wind but no gust. The Man looked straight ahead. After the sound of the wind ceased, he turned his head and his ears picked up on another noise. It was a rushing sound.

“Like water,” The Man said. “…Oh shit!” 

In the dim light of the cave, The Man saw a great flood or raging liquid pummeling through the cave. He turned around and sprinted towards the exit but he could not outrun the deluge. He was wiped off his feet in the flood and flailed his limbs as the liquid engulfed him. His instincts told him not to let go of his sword and necklace, so he held them fast. 

The liquid was warm and thick, but translucent. In his state of panic, The Man discovered he could still breathe. But this new found fact did not quench the terror within. He could still see the walls of the cave moving in on him. He tried to maneuver through the gel-like substance but the resistance was great. 

He felt a tug on his leg. 

The Man looked down to see something resembling intestines snaking around his ankle. It slithered its way up his knee and then wrapped around his midsection. 

The Man was helpless. He couldn’t move his arms to try and slice it with his blade. By this time, the walls of the cave were inches from him. His heart pounded and severe claustrophobia constricted his airway. He then heard a thumping.

Thump, thump.

Thump, thump.

Thump, thump. 

The rhythm was like a heartbeat, slow and steady. 

The tension on The Man’s midsection eased. He glanced down and saw the intestine-like serpent uncoil. It made its way through the liquid and began to expand like a balloon. It then folded on top of itself numerous times. The Man turned his eyes upward again. Above him, a shape took form. It was large, black, and had several chambers. Tubes formed around the chambers and the black mass pulsated to the sounds of the thumps. 

The walls of the cave thinned out and became pliable with the gel encasing The Man. He tried to move his arms. This time there was no resistance. Then, he heard Abaddon’s voice.

“How does it feel, oh warrior, to be in the belly of the beast!”

“You bastard,” The Man thought. He snarled and raised his sword above his head.

He hacked away at the intestines, giving him enough room to travel to the other side. He then stabbed the lining of Abaddon’s bosom. The blade traveled through and pierced it. The Man twisted his steel and sawed. The liquid gushed out the puncture until it was all drained. The Man climbed through the opening and then toppled out. 

He fell on something hard. He took a moment to gather himself and saw he still had possession of his sword and necklace. He glanced around and was now sitting in the middle of the road in the Valley. 

“You deserved to be passed from me like a piece of excrement,” Abaddon said. “I should have shat you out!” 

The Man fixed his gaze forward. Abaddon stood before him and the wound in his stomach was healing. 

“Well,” The Man said and stood to his feet. “That was your mistake!” 

Abaddon loomed over him. The dragon was of an ungodly size. His primate body stood erect and his wings were expanded. The goat horns on his head seemed to tickle the clouds above and his dragon mouth could swallow a man whole. 

“Oh,” Abaddon said. “But this next time I will. I will rip your head off and deliver it to The Girl. I will swallow your body then shit you out. I will gather your remains in a pile and spread you all over the Valley so that any who come after you might smell the smell of defeat.”

 “Those words? They shall be your last!” The man charged at the dragon.

The Girl with Sunlit Hair and Black Wings scurried to the other side of the Willow Tree and hid behind it. The tip of Abaddon’s horns almost reached the edge of the cliff. She had to work up the courage to peek over the side. She had to know if her lover was alive. 

The Man didn’t know what hit him. Abaddon’s tail swiped him and knocked him against the Valley wall. Everything went black for several moments for The Man. Something warm and gritty filled his mouth. He gathered himself then spit out his shattered teeth and a mouthful of blood. The jarring of his head against the Valley wall imploded most of his teeth. 

The Man wobbled to his feet and gripped his sword with shaking hands. He had no idea what happened to his necklace, but it was the least of his concerns. His eyes were glazed over and his vision blurred. He saw a form coming near him then felt immense pressure around his entire body. 

Abaddon squeezed The Man in his hand and lifted him to his snout. 

“You made this too easy, warrior,” Abbadon said. 

The Girl was now watching from the edge of the cliff. Her eyes were wide with fight and tears streaked her face. “No, God. Please, no.” 

The Man gave rapid blinks then turned his head. He saw The Girl lying on the edge of the cliff with their tree behind her. He reached out his hand towards her and his sword dropped. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. The Girl watched as the sword twirled and descended to the bottom of the Valley. The blade clanked to the ground and she flinched. 

“I…,” The Man had trouble speaking. “I…I tried…darling…I…love…y–”

The Girl screamed. It was a scream the Valley had never heard in all its eon’s of existence. It was a scream of horror, loss, sadness, and unfulfilled dreams. It was the only sound ever to make the Valley walls leak tears. It seemed as if even evil could appreciate the loss of love unfulfilled. 

The mouth of Abaddon came clamping down on The Man’s head, cutting his words short. Abbadon separated the cranium from the body with a ripping sound and a fountain of blood geysered from The Man’s neck. The Man’s body jerked. His arms lifted above his head for a moment, shook, then went limp. 

Abaddon turned his head towards The Girl with a slow motion. “Here,” he said. “For keepsake,” and spat the head of The Man at her. 

The severed head soared through the air then landed by The Girl. It rolled with force and slammed up against the Willow Tree. The Girl pushed herself up on all fours and scurried over to the Tree. She did not want to see what Abaddon would do to the rest of her lover. 

She noticed The Man’s eyes. They were not filled with terror. The same love and intensity she remembered with such fondness still started back at her. His mouth was open, revealing his jagged, missing teeth. 

The Girl heard a thundering noise behind her. She glanced over her shoulder to see Abaddon walking off into the Valley. She turned her attention back to her lover. She hung her head and wept, the tears of her sorrow watering the grass underneath their Tree. She clasped his head in her arms then sat against the trunk. Her body shook with sobbing and she held him to her bosom. She tried to pray, but only unintelligible groanings bellowed forth. 

Memories flooded her mind. The good ones. It was always the good ones. She wanted to remember her lover for the man he was and not the body part resting lifeless in her arms like a still born child. All her dreams were shattered. In one, heartbreaking moment her world had come to an end. There was nothing left of the future she dreamed of. Nothing left of The Man. There would be no more nights of passion. No more of him tucking her blonde hair behind her ear and smiling down at her. There would be no more love poems and no more laughs. All was now a memory. 

How do you live on with memories? You cannot hold them. They cannot wrap their arms around you and give you warmth. They cannot whisper into your ear or satisfy the longing of your heart. 

Memories. These were all she had left of The Man with Hazel Eyes and Broken White Wings. 

She looked down upon him again and between sobs she said, “My angel…we…never…even…got to…fix…your wings!” She dropped his head and it rolled into her lap. She buried her face in her hands and mourned. “You were supposed to fly again! You were supposed to soar, my angel!” 

The Girl wept for hours then sat speechless for the rest of the night. Morning dawned, and she wanted to make a memorial for The Man. She took his head and put his long, brown hair in a ponytail. She grabbed several dangling branches of their Tree and tied it around The Man’s hair. 

The head now hung in the Tree. A slight breeze blew and the head and branches swayed. The Girl sat back down under the Tree to mourn. She would wait three days then fly back to the village. She lied down and rested her head on her arms. She stared at The Man then drifted into a sleep only the sorrowful could know. 

The Girl felt a hand caress her cheek. 

“Wake up, my darling. You need to get up.” 

She drifted between the state of sleepfulness and wakefulness. She fluttered her eyes and a being of light stood over her. “Come on, my beloved. Wake up.” 

It was the voice of The Man. 

The Girl awoke. “My angel?” 

But there was no one there. She furrowed her brow and sat up. She looked around and ran her hands through the grass. She saw The Man’s head still tied to the branches and reality came soaring back to her. The nightmare was real and The Man was dead. Her heart sank again and she moaned. 

“I thought you were here,” she said. “I really thought you were back from the dead.” She stood up and walked over to The Man’s head. She didn’t know how long she had been asleep, but it was almost evening time. The sun would be setting soon and she didn’t want to spend another night anywhere close to the Valley.  

She placed her hands on The Man’s cheeks. “I’ll leave you here, my love. I’ll come every day to visit you, until your flesh decays and all that is left is your skull. Even then, I will not cease to come visit you.” 

The Girl closed her eyes as she rubbed his cheeks with her thumbs. She was going to try it one last time. One last reach in the hopes of maybe, just maybe she could sense him. She opened her mind to him as she had done countless times before and let her soul search for him. 

She searched…

And searched…

And searched. But she could not find The Man. 

She opened her eyes and shed more tears. She gazed deep into his lifeless, hazel eyes. “You’re gone,” she said. “You’re really gone.” She released The Man then wiped her tears. 

Then she had a thought and said, “My love, we can be together. Where you go I will go.” 

She took branches from the Willow Tree and began to braid them together, making them thick, like a rope. She worked with them more until she was satisfied the noose and branches would hold her. She slipped it around her neck then tightened. 

“We were never meant to be apart. I can’t live without my twin flame.” 

She climbed the tree. When she was satisfied with the height, she stopped. She glanced down at the ground then at The Man. “Here I come, my angel. Forever to be reunited in death.” 

The Girl jumped.

The branches didn’t cooperate like she hoped. The rope wasn’t thick enough to snap her neck. She hung there, choking. With frantic motions she clawed and pulled at the noose. Why? She didn’t know because she wanted to die. It must have just been her survival instincts kicking in, but she knew it was all pointless. In a matter of seconds she would fade to black. She was determined to keep her eyes fixed on The Man until she crossed over. 

She stared at The Man. Maybe it was real or maybe it was her mind being depleted from oxygen, but she saw flames of fire burst forth from the bottom of The Man’s head. The flames formed into a body. They died out and from the neck down flesh appeared. The flames erupted from its back, forming into wings of fire. The Man’s head bonded with the body and life returned. A flaming sword was now in the hands of The Man. It swung upwards and cut the branches around The Girl. 

Gravity took hold and she fell towards the ground. The Man dropped his flaming blade and caught her. 

The Girl realized she must now be in heaven, reunited with her lover. The Man removed the noose from her neck then examined her to see if she was harmed. The Girl took deep breaths then reached out and touched his cheek. 

He felt so real. So alive. So…reborn.

“Did I make it to heaven,” she asked. 

“No,” The Man said. 

Fear etched itself into The Girl’s face. “Hell?”

“No, my darling,” The Man said. “You never left.” 

The Girl furrowed her brow. “Then, I’m dreaming?”

“No,” The Man said. “Touch my flesh and see that I am real!” 

The Girl gave a wide smile. She gripped his cheeks then ran her hands over his face. “My God,” she gasped. “You’re–”

“Back from the dead,” he said. 

Sensations of joy swept over The Girl. She buried her face in his chest and cried. 

The Man slid his hand under her chin and lifted her head. They gazed deep into each other’s eyes. They reached with their souls and reunited their bond. It was stronger; more intense. 

The Man set her on her feet and they embraced. He pulled away, clutched her face in his hands, then kissed her. The kiss was a kiss of hope. The kiss of dreams thought once dead now brought to life. It was love reborn and morphed into something no language in heaven and earth could describe. It was the expression of two twin flames reunited by the power of their God. 

They broke their kiss and The Girl ran her hands up The Man’s back. She felt his wings of fire. Though they were flames, they did not burn her. 

“Your wings,” she said and smiled. “They’re beautiful. But why don’t they burn me?” 

“Because,” The Man said. “The fire of love does not hurt the lover, only those who resent their love.” 

The Girl stood in awe of The Man.

“Now,” he said. “We have something to partake in before I kill Abaddon.” He gave her a seductive stare. “Get on the ground, woman,” he said with a smirk.

“Oh,” she said and bit her lip. “I see. You want to take me under our Tree like in the days of old?” 

“No,” he said. “As in the days ahead.” 

The Girl lied on the ground underneath the Willow Tree and The Man joined her. They made love and all of heaven sang while all of hell quaked. 

In the Valley, Abaddon awoke to the sound of angel songs. 

The Man with Hazel Eyes and Burning Wings flew with The Girl with Sunlit Hair and Black Wings down into the Valley. Abaddon was there, awaiting them. 

They landed at the foot of the dragon. 

“You are like a fly that won’t go away,” Abaddon said. “But I see this time, you brought your lwhore with you to die. It will be my pleasure to kill you twice!” 

Abaddon lifted his foot to stomp The Man and The Girl. The Man swung his flaming sword through the air and chopped off Abaddon’s toe. The blow startled the dragon and he staggered for a moment then set his foot back on the ground. 

The Man moved with the swiftness of the chariots of Yahweh. He resembled bolts of lightning as he flashed around Abaddon. He struck with his sword and gaping wounds appeared all over the body of the dragon, bleeding orange. 

Abaddon swatted and clapped his hands together, trying to squish The Man, but he was too quick. There was a sound like a tree snapping, and one of the dragon’s horns came crashing to the ground. 

In fury, Abaddon opened his mouth and sprayed fire. He swung his head in every direction, trying to hit The Man with his flames. The Girl retreated from the madness of Abaddon’s attack and hid behind a rock. 

There was another crash as Abaddon’s second horn hit the ground. The dragon panicked, flapped his wings, and took flight. 

The Man pursued the beast. This time, he was not going to be outran by the dragon. He whirled in and out of Abaddon’s body, circling him and slicing his wings to shreds. Abaddon lost control and went into a nosedive. Seconds later he smashed into the side of the Valley and toppled to the ground. 

The Man landed on top of the dragon and stood on his chest. Abaddon was unconscious and took heavy breaths, his chest heaving under The Man. The Man walked forward and paused at the neck. 

“An eye for an eye. A tooth or a tooth. And a head for a head!” The Man raised his flaming sword then jabbed it down into Abaddon’s throat. 

The beast awoke with a howl. The Man leaped down off of Abaddon, and with sword still in hand, sliced downward. The orange blood flowed. Abaddon made gurgling noises, and with each sound more blood spewed. The Man flew to the other side of the dragon’s neck and worked his sword downward, spilling more of the dragon’s life seed. 

Abaddon met his end in the Valley by the sword of The Man. The blood poured from his body for hours and filled the Valley. Until this day, the Abaddon River still flows through it. Legend has it, the decapitated body of the beast and his severed head still lie submerged at the bottom of the river. The Man and The Girl thought this was the proper burial for him. 

What happened to The Man and The Girl afterwards? 

Well that, my friends, is a tale still taking place. One day, I might tell you the rest of their story. 

The End

Original Short Horror Story by Ezekiel Kinkaid

Puzzle Box Horror Presents – Atlas of Lore #1 Oregon.

Categories
Featured Horror Mystery and Lore Indie Horror Indie Horror Creation Lifestyle Short Horror Stories
Atlas of Lore #1 Oregon cover
Atlas of Lore #1 Oregon

We’re happy to announce we are done with our first publication “Atlas of Lore – Oregon.” In this issue, we have 5 original short horror stories based on Oregon’s haunted lore. We are also including the legends behind the stories in the issue along with original art, photography, articles, and a re-release of an H.P Lovecraft classic short story. If you love ghost stories, lore, and great horror art this is for you. See the trailer below to get an idea of what you are in for.

5 Original Stories From Horror Authors World Wide

Slice – A haunted pizza joint gets terrifying.
When The Bandage Man Finds You – A haunted coastal highway horror story
Anna Byrne Chronicles Chapters 1 and 2 – Anna learns a bit about her father’s paranormal discoveries and encounters her first haunting.
The Haunting of The White Eagle – A tale of paranormal investigators finding what they thought they were looking for.
Rose (graphic short) – Origin story of a famous ghost in a downtown Portland hotel.

Oregon’s Supernatural Lore

The White Eagle Hotel, Heceta Head Lighthouse, Maulers Butte, The Bandage Man of Cannon Beach, UFO’s and many other haunted locations and folklore tales related to Oregon’s supernatural lore.

Re-release of H.P. Lovecraft’s “Nameless City”

Join our email list to get updates on the release and other haunted articles. Order now from Horror Hub Marketplace.

Stories by:

Mary Farnstrom
Tritone

Jon Richter
Tyson Strong
Felipe Kroll

Art and photography by:

Mary Farnstrom
Felipe Kroll
Tritone
MJD

Trailer for the magazine.

Trailer for upcoming publication “Atlas of Lore”

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