I could have made it, you know. 

I would have made it to the safety of my family, if I could have kept running. I was only a hundred yards away from the bright flames and the immortals who would have protected us – only one hundred yards away from my intended. 

I was so very close to finally realizing my heart’s desire, but the damned mortal had to be a hero, and now my plans had come entirely unraveled. So there we were, five or six feet apart, with a death machine between us.

It seemed like an eternity passed while Spiros and I stood frozen, looking at each other with the beast growling lowly, crouched and ready to spring. I didn’t even breathe, knowing that any movement would set destruction in motion. We both knew it. Even the nightgoyle knew it.

My mind went in a hundred directions, playing out probable scenarios. If I moved Calantha, the nightgoyle would come for her and Spiros could run, but would he? The witless fool already demonstrated that he needed to be a hero more than he needed to be alive. I considered the possibility that I could reach into his mind and plant the idea for him to run. But from a dead stop, and at such close proximity, I doubted that I could outrun the creature wearing Calantha’s mortal form. So, she would likely be sacrificed.

What would it take for both of them to survive this?

I considered manipulating the nightgoyle. They seemed like simple-minded creatures. Could I control its mind enough to put it to sleep, or make it turn away, while I still embodied Calantha? Would that buy us enough time to run before the rest of the pack descended upon us? It was doubtful, but so far, it was also the best plan.

What other weapons did I have? The vines and foliage. Perhaps I could ensnare the beast allowing us time to escape. Still, the other night creatures would be there quickly. How many were still lurking in the shadows? Could I ensnare them all? My vines were already slithering towards us, but were there enough of them to hold back these powerful monsters? Was there enough time?

If only I wasn’t limited by this mortal body.

Then I hit upon the best possible scenario. I would leave Calantha’s body and distract the creature and its brethren. The fiends would give chase to my deified form and that would allow Spiros and Calantha enough time to escape. Surely, I could distract the creatures long enough for the two to run the one hundred yards to safety.

I made the decision and prepared to leave Calantha’s body as I sent a simple thought to Spiros, “Run!”

In the same moment, I heard the whisper of Spiros’ voice in my head, “Se agapó.” I love you.

But, he didn’t run. Instead, he lurched forward, waving the torch at the nightgoyle and yelled out, “Run, my love. Run!”

I watched in horror as the beast lept from its crouching position and slammed full force into Spiros. In the blink of an eye, the creature had him pinned to the ground, growling hungrily. 

“Dammit, no!” I screamed as I took a step towards them. The beast turned back to look at me, its mouth pulled back into a heinous grin, exposing multiple rows of dagger-sharp teeth designed to rip flesh from bone. 

Now, what?” my mind screamed as I gazed into the inky black eyes of the demon. “Don’t move,” I thought to myself and Spiros simultaneously. “Stay perfectly still.”

If I dropped Calantha’s body, would it give chase? That was highly doubtful. Why would it when it had one of us already in its clutches? I needed the vines. I could hear rustling coming from the woods. Was it the vines creeping their way to us or was it the other nightgoyles?

The beast snarled at me then began to chitter and laugh. It was a garbled, guttural, hissing noise that sent chills into my soul. It was the sound of pure evil. But, why was it laughing? I didn’t have to wait long to find out.

“To the woods, my love, go now!” Spiros yelled out as he struck the beast on the head with his torch. The creature screeched in pain and anger as the flame lit its flesh.

I glanced to the woods and had taken a single step towards them when I heard Spiros’ agonizing scream. It was the last sound I would ever hear from him. I looked back to see the beast sit back on its haunches, triumphant, with a mangled, bloody mass clenched in its teeth. Spiros’ body lay beneath it, twitching as blood pumped through the gaping hole in his neck. 

The creature jerked its head, tossing the flesh into the air, then caught it, chomping and chewing noisily, growling in satisfaction. I closed my eyes as it leaned forward to take another bite. I couldn’t watch, and there was nothing I could do to save Spiros now.

That was when I heard the sound behind me. A deep rumbling growl. I knew then why the other creature was laughing. The same reason Spiros suddenly lashed out and told me to run to the woods. But, it was too late to run. I’d have to fight, and her mortal flesh was no match for these murderous fiends. 

Everything moved so quickly and so painfully slow at the same time. Even now, I can remember every movement in exquisite, horrifying detail, as if it played out on a movie reel. Frame by frame, I can relive the nightmare. I can even fast forward through those last moments and stop to zoom in on the smallest detail; the deep crimson that flowed from Spiros’ neck as his body twitched in its death throes, his words of love in my head only seconds before that, the stomach turning sound of the beast as he ravenously devoured the man who tried to save my life – her life, and the stench of the creature that crept up behind me.

I called forth the vines that had been snaking their way to me and I turned to face certain death, but not without a fight.

Moxie (Moxie Malone)
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