You find yourself sitting in a chair, around you the interior of a cozy shepherd’s house. A gentle fire sits snaps and pops in the stove, bouncing small sounds around the small space. A small kettle sits atop the black metal case. High-hung shelves hold an array of mugs, jars, and a pair of shears. In front of you is a chess board mid-game, a thinning web of black and white pieces, captured pieces lining the perimeter of the board in eerie lock-step. You note that while black has far fewer pieces remaining, there remains no path for white to take the crown. A perfect draw.
You hear a quiet rustling, followed by a masked figure walking into the room and sitting down across from you. They sit down, seeming to examine you briefly, before speaking.
“O Sinner, branded exile. Your presence here marks the end of your short, pitiful existence. If you have words to part with before the embrace of oblivion, let them come now.” Their voice is wry grief, tired and mocking.
You find it impossible to open your mouth. As though something in your throat were holding it shut from the inside. You feel the figure grin behind their mask.
“Or perhaps you wish for some petty struggle against your fate? As have many before you.” A wicked laughter emits from behind their mask, echoing around a seemingly-expanding room.
Except the laughter is yours, coming from your throat. Your eyes widen, tears welling, running down your face. Your body trembles under the weight of your voice, all the while the choking laughter ringing around your hollow chest.
“Yes, yes. I understand. You were meant for so much more. Very well, then.” The figure gets up, sticking an iron poker into the stove fire burning a brilliant blue.
The fire coats the end of the poker, and you watch, helpless, as it’s thrust deep into your chest. The hot iron pierces your broken body, sending flames flashing throughout your body like lightning. You look down at your hands, holding your blood from falling out. Your hands covered in blood. Blood that ceases to cease its flow. Everything outside your body blood. It’s warm. A fire burns in your eyes like memories of fading moonlight.
Your eyes burn as you open them, forcing stuck eyelids apart. All around you, the bodies of the dead, dimly lit by a flickering lantern. Your body refuses to move, at first, broken bones and heavy blood pinning you to the ground. You see others like you as sensation returns to your body, slowly but surely. A towering creature of stringed together flesh given unholy movement lumbers at the edge of your blurring vision, rending bodies to graft onto its own.
Agonizingly, you unstick yourself from the ground, feeling your body lag behind your soul a full second. Your hand reaches for the nearest weapon as you hear the menacing growl of the approaching darkness.
This piece is dedicated to Bluejay, who was gracious enough to support me on Patreon!