Darting through the woods, left and right in countless numbers and with breathtaking ease, races Abram. Dusk is approaching almost faster than he can run. Yet, as always, he makes it to the city gates just before the final latch is closed.
Once inside he walks to the center of town panting heavily. He doubles over and drinks from the public spigot. Dripping with fresh water and salty sweat he walks into the smoldering blacksmith’s hut.
“Hey, Hades, mind turning down that hell that you call a furnace?” Abram boldly asks.
“Shut yer trap. Yer late boy. Again. If I gotta tell yer lazy bum one more time to get these arrows to the watchmen your gunna be wishin’ that I was so nice as to give yer stomach some food. And quit callin’ me Hades.”
Abram mockingly salutes and says, “Sir, yes sir!”
On the way out of the hut he puts down his load of arrows and pours some water onto the fire of the now furious blacksmith.
“There ya go, now you can breathe”
“Get outta here before I decide to feed you to the demons!”
Abram picks up the arrows solemnly and heads for the watchtower. Upon his arrival two oversized German Sheppards, joyously licking his face, greeted him.
“C’mon guys I just took a bath last week.”
A watchmen walks out of the hut and calls, “Here boys, come here Fang, come here Thor. *Whistle*”
Abram continues in silence to the hut and hands over the arrows. He turns around and on his way out the door the watchmen looks back and stops him.
“Boy, hey boy what’s yer name?”
“Abram, eh? Well, Abram how would you like to work with the dogs this evening?”
Stammering with excitement, “Definitely sir, that would be great, when can I start? Tonight, can I start tonight, or tomorrow? Either one would be fine.”
“Well, son, there are a couple of catches…” he trails off.
“I don’t care I’ll do it no matter what.”
“Well, there wouldn’t be any pay.”
“That’s fine I don’t need money.”
“And, well, uhm you would have to work at nighttime…outside of the gate”
The color drains from Abram’s face. He stands by the door staring blankly into the watchmen’s face.
Stuttering, “Ou-out-outside of the g-g-gate?!?! Are, you crazy I could get killed!”
“No, you would be fine. You would have the dogs and I can lend you a bow.”
“And what would I get out of this, what do you need me to do, how do I do it?
“Well, you would be considered a village hero for eternity. All you need to do is go to the stone in the middle of the woods and make a sacrifice to the demons so we may have a lifetime of peace from the wretched beasts.”
Abram looks at the guard with suspicion and asks, “Why me? Why not someone else?”
“You are the only one that can handle the dogs well enough to get them to stone, and you are the fastest person in the village.”
Abram sighs, “I don’t know, I don’t think that I could bring myself to kill one of the dogs.”
The watchman nervously clears his throat, “You wouldn’t have to kill a dog. Just…you would have to make the ultimate sacrifice.”
“I WOULD HAVE TO KILL MYSELF! Nu-huh, no way, not gunna happen.”
“I didn’t wanna do this but it’s the only way. Without you the whole village will die. The demons will come and kill everyone, the chickens, the dogs, the people, everyone and everything.”
A cold sweat forms on his brow, “I-I-I guess I have no choice. I’ll do it…When do I need to be ready?”
“Sunset tonight you will venture forth into the darkness. The only thing you must know is that the demons will be stronger at night and will be on the prowl. Be careful, and run strong.”
Solemnly he replies, “I’ll be at the front gate at sunset.”
The watchmen nods at him and Abram walks out of the hut on his lonely walk back to empty hut he calls home.
Abram used to have a family, that is, until the demons took them away from him. They came to the village and kidnapped half of the people and among them were his mother and father. He was raised by the village and lived alone. From the time he was 6 until now on his 18th birthday.
He used to loathe the demons for what they had done to him. Yet, now he understands that it isn’t their fault that is how they are raised. Born and raised to kill and wreak havoc upon everyone in their way.
Then, 5 years ago the town leader met with the demon king on good terms and made a deal. The demons would not attack as long as once in a millennia a sacrifice of pure blood would be made. The agreed that the first one would be in 5 years to insure that the village would follow through on their part of the deal.
As the sun begins to set along the horizon, Abram slowly creeps to the gate protecting the village. As he arrives, the dogs yet again jump and leap on him devouring his face. He doesn’t take as much joy in it this time and just calms them down.
The whole town is gathered on either side of the exit. As he walks down the isle the villagers mumble softly. He hears a few tiding of luck and a lot of apologies. Then he sees the blacksmith and he is weeping. Abram stops briefly.
“Boy, I wasn’t bein serious when I said that I’d feed you to the demons. It was juss a mindless threat. I was hot and mad and juss not thinking straight. I'm sorry lad, please forgive me.”
Abram chuckles, “It’s alright, I hadn’t even thought of that. It was my fault for makin’ you mad in the first place. But, hey, it was fun while it lasted.”
“Thank you lad.”
“See you in the next life, Hades.”
“The name is Isaiah, you dirty urchin.”
“Whatever.” He walks away laughing and shakes his head
He reaches the gate and steps out of the safety of his village into the hellish night land. After just a few steps the village gate abruptly shuts and all hope of turning back dies out.
He looks at the dogs. “Well, it looks like it just you and me from here on out.”
He walks back to the gate and sets up his tent. After just a few moments he hears a low growling emanating from the dogs. He looks up and sees a pair of glowing green eyes in the shrubbery. He soothes the dogs into a deep slumber and drifts off himself.
When he awakes he sets off on foot for the middle of the woods. He looks at the dogs and starts talking. He talks about his life, his feeling, and his past… things that he had never shared with anyone before. Before he realizes, it’s dusk yet again and he scrambles to find shelter in a tree.
He finds one and climbs and lifts the dogs into it with him. The dogs very timidly lay down on an unusually broad branch and go to sleep. Abram attempts the same but the constant scraping of claws against the base of the trunk keeps him up. He finally doses into a light slumber.
About an hour before daybreak Abram jolts awake at the sound of thunder. The sky is clear. He hears it again and feels a slight tremor from the tree beneath him. He looks down and comes to realize that the demons have been clawing and biting at the tree all night and are about ready to topple it.
The demons are grotesque creatures of night. They vary in size color and just about everything. Some are human shaped, some look like dogs. There are mixtures of several animals combined into one. Then there are the monstrosities that they create from the humans that they have killed. They piece together bits and pieces of different humans. Then by some force of magic that the demons possess, these monsters awaken from the dead and carry out work for the demons.
As the tree starts to fall over on top of him he gets up and slides down the trunk to lighten the impact of hitting the ground. He starts sliding and realizes that he has to save the dogs that are urgently yelping. He attempts to climb the tree to save the dogs but gravity is too fast for him and they hit the ground. The tree crashes on top of the dogs and the yelping ceases. Abram, torn by this, starts to bawl his eyes out. It was only then that he could hear the snarling of the demons approaching him.
He starts to flee running as fast as his legs will let him. Faster and faster he runs until he is at top speed. He is getting tired and dawn is still half an hour away. He is becoming frantic as the demons edge closer and closer to him.
He is just about to give up when he suddenly is running anymore. He is falling, deeper and deeper until he hits the ground with a sickening crunch. The pain starts in his leg and creeps up his back. He peers down at his leg and sees the bone protruding from the skin. Abram looks around and sees pyres of wood coming from the ground with skeletons of demons and animals skewered on them.
Abram waits for the sun to creep out over the brim of the hole. He Rips the leg off of his trouser and mends his leg. He ties a bone to his calf to hold the bone in place so it could heal for the day before he gets to the stone. Abram studies the wall for a moment and proceeds to climb it. He couldn’t put his weight down on the broken leg so he hobbles on one leg and used both arms twice as much. He pops out of the hole and limps further into the woods.
Around midday his stomach growls and he remembers that he hasn’t eaten in two days. He sits down on a log and draws his bow and waits for an unsuspecting rabbit to appear from under the brush. He makes a hasty fire and cooks the skinned rabbit and devours feverishly.
He gets up and continues to limp towards the stone for the last couple hours before dusk. He reaches the stone and just sits there. There’s about 5 minutes until dusk, and he just sits there and thinks…thinks about the past, his current situation, but most of all his family.
How it’s his fault that his family is dead. It’s his fault that they were kidnapped in the night. About how he secretly made a deal to let the demons kill his family for his own life to be spared. His family was murdered so he would never have to fear the demons.
Dusk arrives and a horde of demons encircles him and the stone. The leader of the group announces himself as the demon king and steps forward. It is the monster with the Glowing green eyes. He has no mouth just a line of stitches. His hands appear to be the claws of a lobster and his flesh isn’t flesh just black gooey substance that oozes off of him in a never-ending trail of slime.
Abram closes his eyes and begins to laugh hysterically. He lays down clutching his side and laughing non-stop. The demon king gives him a look of hatred and turns around and walks off. The other demons start to retreat when the demon king looks back and says with the nastiest voice you could imagine says, “Laugh while you may, Abram, but you have just damned your whole village.”
Abrams sobers instantly. “What do you mean?”
Snickering, “They didn’t send us a sacrifice…just a worthless pest that has sour blood.”
The meaning becomes clear ever so suddenly to Abram. “You can’t kill my whole village because I screwed up!” He’s crying yet again.
He hatefully replies, “Watch me.”
The demons all disappear within seconds. There sat Abram, alone again, as he had been all his life. Nothing for him to look forward to in this dark hole he called his life. No hope, no friends, no family. He sits there crying for several minutes and slowly pulls an arrow out of his quiver. He holds the point to his neck and as he sobs he slices his skin apart from ear to ear.
As his head falls backward off his shoulders the woods emit a terrible laughter coming from the demon king. He had spared the village, he never intended on killing them. It was his fault for letting the humans fool him. He congratulated them, that is until he fooled them back. He settled on a tree laughing at poor Abram until dawn, then his vicious life returned to normal for another millennia.