This story is by jack and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
“…seeking whom he may devour.”
1 Peter 5:8
Hatred dominated his every step as he moved slowly down the center of the quiet street. Closely spaced houses, with their doors all locked for the night, lay mostly silent beyond the edges of street light. Fervently, he searched.
A nearby window flickered with the light from a TV left on.
With sight unique to his kind, his eyes pierced through the walls of the house and he gazed into the room.
An exhausted viewer slept peacefully on the couch.
He pulled back with a snarl. The light from this soul was far too strong for him to pursue. He needed a soul that was sick and wounded; a soul poisoned by darkness.
The familiar heat of denial smoldered deep within him causing his fists to clench as he forced himself to turn away.
House after house went by, the anger writhing inside as it desperately tried to consume him. He damned these wretched creations with every step and wrestled bitterly with the honor that they had been given — an honor he had lost when he was cast down. How were they so different from the rest of the beasts that walked this world? There were other animals with intelligence, other creations that displayed respect and love to one another. There were even beasts capable of displaying the greatest trait of all, self-sacrifice. Why should mankind be so special?
The smell of something sweet stopped him, his bitter musing interrupted by this scent he knew so well. Sorrow hung in the air. Slowly and methodically he searched, looking upon the hearts of those who slept around him.
Three houses up and to the right, a Lower lay in bed, their sleep troubled by the pain of loss.
A ravenous evil sang with delight. This soul was ripe for the taking.
Instantly he stood on the front steps of the home, his hand resting on the door handle.
He laughed. Locked doors were of no consequence to him as he was not of this realm and thusly, not bound by its rules. Stepping forward and through, he relished the ease in which he had penetrated this supposed haven of safety.
A plethora of pictures were scattered about the room. He scanned them quickly, searching for the face of the one he would devour.
Moving to a bookshelf, he noted an over-abundance of trinkets. While neatly arranged, there was a small spot of thick dust hidden behind one of the larger items.
A wicked smile came in recognition. The hands caring for these trinkets were very diligent, but the eyes that guided them were old.
An experienced glance about the room caused his excitement to grow. This abode had a feminine touch.
The villain tilted his head back, his open mouth pointing toward the ceiling as he exhaled with heated understanding. This house belonged to one of his favorite types of victims. This house belonged to a widow.
Anticipation grew as he slowly made his way down the hall toward the bedroom. The ravenous beast within him howled for haste, but he would not be hurried. This was the purpose of his current existence, to enter the dreams of the graced and use their pain against them. Normally, the dreams of those blessed were protected, but the sickness of wounded spirit offered opportunity; an opportunity that he would skillfully exploit. He would torment this soul before he turned it from redemption. And he would relish every single moment of her fall.
The hallway ended with the door to the bedroom closed, but not latched. With deliberate patience, he reached towards it, his excitement empowered by the knowledge of her vulnerability.
A noise came from within the room giving his unholy fingers pause.
He knew this sound and anticipation slowly gave way to dismay. Though he had made no noise, his presence had not gone unnoticed.
Slowly, he pushed the door open.
The low light of a night lamp illuminated his enemy.
Lips curled up over white fangs that glistened menacingly against the soft aura of the room. Tufts of fur stood upwards on its neck and upper back as it stood, rising from its haunches to face him. Another long low growl was issued, the audible threat being interrupted only for a moment as it rolled its tongue across its front teeth.
Man’s best friend indeed!
The intruder looked upon the creature that stood between him and the lineage of Adam and noted its unyielding determination. Though obviously outmatched, this one would protect its charge, even to the point of death.
“Self-sacrifice,” he recognized.
The beast reaffirmed this with a stomp of its front paw and muffled bark, elevating the situation and warning the intruder of what was to come.
The widow stirred at the sound.
For a moment, the abomination thought to reveal himself to her. The fear in her eyes would be most rewarding. But the Guardians were sure to respond if he did. And no being, even one as hellish as he, could stand against them.
Instantly, he willed himself upwards, through the ceiling, beyond the roof and high into the night sky. From there, he looked down and cursed the ones blessed by the Creator. “What makes them so special?”
* * *
A wrinkled hand spotted by age, reached out and groped about in the dark.
A wet nose found it and indulged itself in a nuzzle.
Loving fingers massaged the fury head. “Now you be good and let Mommy sleep, OK?”
A wagging tail thumped audibly.
The frail hand stroked the dog’s head a moment longer and then pulled back into the warmth of the covers.
The canine stared lovingly at the figure, its ears perked forward, listening to the woman’s breathing as she slipped back into sleep. Confident in her comfort, it circled in place three times and lay down, its nose facing the door, its eyes and ears alert…and ever watchful.