Have you ever seen a peace so quiet, a night so tranquil, a person so unsuspecting that you knew they were begging for disaster? Like a fly following sweet aromas into a hungry flytrap, a busy little ant strolling along a spider web, a thirsty wildebeest drinking tiredly in a crock-infested watering hole, some people become prey only by living their lives with simply too much comfort. So whose fault is it when a powerful, overconfident general finds a body within his own stronghold? Is it his own?
“Christopher,” one of the commanders whispered. Four commanders accompanied General Borfan as they examine the body.
“Face down,” Borfan said, rolling the body onto its back with his foot. A massive gash through the front of his throat stretched even down to his collarbones as Borfan and the four followers shuttered. “Had the killer attacked from the front, he probably would have fallen backward. Poor Christopher most likely didn’t even see who cut him because they must have come from behind.”
“Look at the cut, General,” another commander said, bending low and tracing the slice in the air with his finger.
“What’s your point?” Borfan asked.
“It is nothing like ours. That this weapon was created to be used for this sort of thing,” the soldier answered, standing again. “This is no traitor, simple burglar, or even hired no-name after your head. This is a professional outsider.”
“Come,” Borfan told them immediately. “We start with-” he stopped. The two guards that had stood in the doorway lay in puddles of their own blood, cut along their throats just as Christopher had been. Their eyes, however, were different, large and gaping in fear of whatever they had seen as they bled to death beneath their enemy.
“How…?” Borfan whispered.
“He must have been in there with us!” one of the commanders stated.
“Close and lock all the security doors to the main hallways, and double the guard to the main gates. Whatever room or hallway they are in, they will be locked in until we find them. Not one soul leaves this building!” Borfan shouted, leaving the table and drawing his sword. “We’ll find him.”
The order went out and all hallways on the eight floors were closed, bookended by massive, iron doors with locks so complex that two soldiers were needed to unlock them. Loud clangs could be heard as they slammed powerfully and cut off all exits. Then appeared a messenger.
“Another death on the third floor!” he said, gasping for breath. “A sentry there spotted the intruder.”
“Lead us there!” Borfan commanded.
Racing to the staircase, they descended at a velocity almost impossible, and Borfan stumbled towards the end, nearly spraining his ankle. Arriving on the third floor, the messenger guided them through the maze of hallways until they met two guards protecting a sealed door. But a third female soldier sat against the wall, moaning quietly to herself. The General strode over to her, grabbing her by the forearm and lifting her to her feet.
“HE’S FOUND ME!” she shrieked in a desperate terror. “HE’S RETURNED AND FOUND ME! HELP ME PLEASE! SAVE ME!”
“Silence you fool, it’s me,” Borfan growled, turning her face so she would look him in the eye. Yet as he did, her eyes bounced around the room spastically, as if she had lost their control. “Look at me,” he told her. She whimpered, holding her face still, but her brown, desperate eyes continued to race about, resting in no place. “Janen, look at me!” But she could not.
“I…I can’t see you,” she whispered.
“What in Hisman’s name…I’m right here, you stupid-”
“Sir,” one of the door guards interrupted. Borfan glanced over at him with no response. “She…she has been blinded, General.”
A sickening feeling swarmed about Borfan’s body as he released her, and she clung to the wall as if she would lose herself in the hallways.
“I can’t see anything,” she sobbed, her eyes still lashing about uncontrollably.
“What happened to you?” Borfan asked her, stepping backward. “What manner of man could do such a thing?”
“It was no man,” she stammered. “It was a devil, drifting through the hallways in a cloud of shadows…unseen unless it desires. Its finger is slender and sharp, like a sword itself. I didn’t even realize it was there until Jaxol’s throat was opened beneath its finger…and it will be the same for you! Even the death among your men has gone unnoticed!” Borfan glanced around, horrorstruck as he found that now, only three of his commanders were with him.
“Where’s Daun?” he snarled at his soldiers.
“I don’t know!” one of them answered. “He was just with us!”
“His fate is the same as the others,” Janen whispered. Her body trembled as she clung to the wall as if it was her only protection. “He’s coming for you, Borfan! Run! Flee! Escape if you can! DEATH ITSELF HAS ENTERED THIS KEEP AND WILL NOT LEAVE WITHOUT YOU IN ITS CLUTCHES! RESIST IF YOU WILL, BUT YOUR END WILL BE FOUND SOON ENOUGH! BEWARE THE CREATURE WHO’S EYES HAUNT THESE HALLWAYS LIKE BLOOD-RED SPECTERS! LIKE DOORWAYS TO HELL ITSELF! RUN! RUN! RUN!” she began to scream, and Borfan’s resolve failed him and he left them in a dash down the corridors, nearly leaping down the stair case, but awaiting him on the second floor was a great iron door, closed tightly.
“RUN! RUUUN! RUN! HAHAHAHAH! RUN BORFAN!”
“Open!” he screamed, pounding his fist, but there was no answer.
“RUN! RUN!” Janen could be heard through the hallways above. “RUUUUUUUN!”
He screamed for the guards on the opposite side to open the door, but no response came, so he descended again to the first floor, but that was also closed off, leaving him boxed in the staircase. Like the door before, the first-floor hallway was locked tight, with no one to open it up to him. Refusing to be caught and killed on the stairs, he bounded upwards again, moving to the third floor, where he knew that on the opposite side of the keep, there was another staircase. Flying upwards, he quickly reached that floor as his calves seared but he paid them no heed.
Leaving the stairs and freezing in place, he found that the door before him was left gaping open. Undeniable, inescapable terror caused heat to blanket his body and then to vanish, leaving him shivering in the dark.
All was quiet.
The door was open.
Why was it open?
Where were the guards that were to assigned to close it and allow none to pass through?
He was alone. His options were to turn back or to move forward and turning left only blocked halls in his way. He had to move forward. Every ounce of common sense within him bellowed to not enter the dark corridor. But where else could he go? Step by step, he entered through the open doorway until all torchlight vanished and the world was black. His only hope was the light an eternity away from where the door at the other end awaiting, open and inviting.
The iron door to the corridor slammed closed behind him, while who had shut it, he did not wait to see. He was soon streaking through the opened hallway at a grueling speed, putting as much distance between himself and the slammed door as he could.
The second door, this one at his destination, slammed shut and enclosed him in darkness. Almost immediately he tripped, slamming his head on the cold, solid wall as he fell. His sword rattled across the ground as it slid, falling from his sheathe. He scrambled blindly, crawling along the floor trying to find his only source of defense, but his sword was gone. Desperate frustration welled in him and he screamed in the darkness, punching the wall and sending shooting strips of pain up his fist and wrist. His shout echoed up and down the corridor and he found himself alone. He had rolled as he fell and now in utter night was unable to tell from where he came and to where he had run. As he sat, the cool air and silence seemed to sooth him slightly and he rested, beginning to think through the ways of escape. His own breathing was the only noise as he panted, alone in the dark.
Yet suddenly, a light crept back into the hall behind him and he turned and saw that the hallway door had been opened. A tall, shapeless figure stood in the doorway, only a silhouette against the dim torchlight from outside of the hall. Still and silent, the figure stared into the hall as the light behind it seemed to bend around its form. Borfan gasped and struggled to stand and run forward, but all was dark again.
The hall door slammed shut, and only seconds after it slowly creaked open, lighting the hall again. This time, the figure was twice as close, yet it stood still as if it hadn’t moved. Borfan took the moment to find his sword and bolt away before-
The darkness returned and the door shut again, but immediately began to creak open another time. Even closer, seemingly traveling at speeds much higher than Borfan, yet when he turned to see, the intruder was still, standing motionless in the hallway and watching him.
CLANG CLANG CLANG CLANG CLANG CLANG CLANG CLANG CLANG CLANG
The door began to slam open and closed again and again on its own as the figure was now sprinting toward Borfan like a ghost, who finally reached the end of the hallway, ripping open the already unlocked security door, stepping out and slamming it shut, twisting the great wheel to lock it as best as he could. Closed inside, the intruder would surely be slowed. He swept across to the stairs, but upon descending, found that the ground level doors were also locked, just as the other side. He was caught in his own trap. Unless he could make it to the roof and escape by repelling to the ground, he would die. To the roof then. To the highest level, number eight from the ground. As he ascended from the third, he could hear faintly that Janen continued to scream “RUN, BORFAN, BUT IF YOU RUN, YOU WILL ONLY BRING YOURSELF CLOSER TO HIM!”
The eighth floor was reached, and greeting him in the hallway was his messenger, standing wide eyed in a frozen state of surprise.
“Ready my horse!” Borfan commanded him, and when no response came, he grabbed his shoulder and shouted: “Do as I say!” The messenger fell limply onto Borfan’s shoulders, and as the General yelped in shock and stepped aside, the messenger’s body lifelessly rolled down the stairs.
“Dead…” Borfan shuttered, now in a terrorized panic. “Dead where he stood.” Raising his eyes from the lifeless heap, he clutched his sword tightly in his hand as he ran towards the door that led upwards to the roof of the keep, but as he reached it, he found that it too was sealed shut. The guards that had stood there lay in heaps on the ground, filling the hallway with their blood. As he stopped his running, deep wheezing took over and he began inhaling as profoundly as he could. He reached for the door, his last exit to safety, hands trembling and body shivering. Yet as he reached forward, the great wheel budged, and the sound of iron on iron slid from its wheel as it began to turn, unlocking itself with a mind of its own. What ever man, spirit, or beast that haunted his steps awaited the door’s opening patiently, itching to greet him. His cry of distress was high-pitched and wailing, and he left the door to hide in the eighth-floor meeting room. Escape was impossible. Hiding was his only option. Down two hallways and on the left, he found two of his commanders standing beside the door.
“General! The keys, quickly!” one of them cried. He stood with his fellow soldier’s arm thrown around his shoulders as if the man could not stand on his own. The second, supported by his comrade, had been babbling words over and over, staring at Borfan as if confused at why Borfan could not understand.
“Gael saw him,” the stronger of the two said. “He saw him, and now his mind is rubble.” The General whipped out the keys from his belt, fumbling with them madly, unable to still his hands from shaking.
“And Aaron stretched forth his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt,” the second man whispered. “…Aaron stretched forth his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man, and in beast; all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.”
“Will you shut him up?!” Finally, the correct key was found and shoved into the lock, turned as the simple door clicked quietly and they entered.
“It’s the plagues, sir,” the saner of the two told him. “The plagues of Moses.”
“I don’t care what it is, just get him in here,” Borfan said, yanking the babbler by the shirt and tossing him into the opened door, who immediately fell onto his stomach. The first followed him in and Borfan stepped inside, slamming the door and locking it.
“And he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.”
The commander bent low and lifted his friend from the ground, again putting his arm over his shoulder and walking him into the room and sitting him in a chair. Like the meeting room they had been in only a few minutes before the nightmare had begun, the room was simple and dark, with a table and chairs for convenience. The only difference was two windows in the far walls, opening with a glimpse of the black and empty night outside.
“And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.”
Borfan strode over to the window, glancing out at the wall beneath him, hoping and pleading that there might be some way to climb to the ground to run. The commander ran to the other window, doing the same.
“I don’t see any way out!” his voice shouted.
“…and the cattle of Egypt died: but the cattle of the children of Israel died not one.”
“Are there any curtains that perhaps we could use as a rope?” Borfan grumbled, bringing his head in from the window and glancing throughout the room.
“NO!” the commander shouted. “NO, PLEASE DON’T!”
“Issachar!” Borfan shouted, watching him cling with his hands to the window’s sides as if something were pulling his head outward.
“GENERAL, HELP ME!”
Borfan sprinted to his side but was far too late. Issachar was yanked outwards, screaming as he waved his arms and legs in the air, dropping like a rock until he found the ground with a disgusting “thud” eight stories below.
“And they took the ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast. And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians.”
Borfan leaned out Issachar’s window, bearing his sword with him, but there was no one…or nothing, that would have pulled the poor fallen soldier out. Above, a small sound of movement was heard, but by the time Borfan’s gaze rose, the sky was empty.
“Come down here and face me, coward!” he shouted. “You crawl in the shadows, but fear to stand before me!” Silence responded as Borfan stared up at the roof, which lay only ten feet above them until he heard it.
“I….come….” a voice said from above, slow and silent, breathing deeply in between words, and Borfan immediately knew he had made a mistake.
“And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.”
“What is wrong with you!?” Borfan screamed, coming in from the window and kicking the commander off of the chair and onto the ground.
“And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such,” was the answer as the commander climbed to his knees, crawling towards Borfan and hugging his legs.
“And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days!” the commander said, in a violent, pleading tone. “They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days!” Borfan struggled to pull the madman off of him, but his grip was as iron. “But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings!”
Then it was quiet, and the commander stopped, staring up at Borfan with wild eyes, horrified that Borfan did not understand what he was saying. He turned slowly to look at the door, and Borfan’s eyes followed his, and in the silence, thumps from behind the door crawled into the air.
“What is it, Gael?” Borfan whispered. “What is there?”
“For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians!” Commander Gael shouted.
“What is it?” Borfan hissed, eyes still locked on the door.
“And when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses and smite you!”
“Is this he?” Borfan asked, backing against the wall, Gael still clutching tightly to his legs. “Is it the destroyer?”
The door’s lock, while it could only be unlocked from the inside, turned slowly on its own with a small click. The wooden door began to open ever so slowly, creaking loudly and filling Borfan’s ears.
“And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle!”
The door finally reached its extent, and the dark hallway gaped before them like the throat of a terrible beast. The darkness and shadows seemed to crawl out from the depths of the keep, and the three lit torches in the meeting room simultaneously were extinguished. All went black, a darkness that nearly pained Borfan’s eyes as he held his sword with such force that his fingers ached deeply while they trembled.
“And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians!” Gael was screaming. Borfan’s heart pounded painfully against his chest and in his head and in his fingers. There was something there. Something dark. Something evil. Something spawned from the very bowls of the fiery inferno. In the blackness that reached out from behind the door, there was a light. Two red, piercing lights that glowed like the belly of Hell, moving silently as they entered the room. Eyes with no pupil, no body, no voice, glared at Borfan as they glided through the air, unblinking and unwavering.
“AND THERE WAS A GREAT CRY IN EGYPT!” Gael roared, releasing Borfan’s legs and vanishing into the room. “FOR THERE WAS NOT A HOUSE WHERE THERE WAS NOT ONE DEAD!”
He started to say something else, but his words withered in his throat as an object struck him. And Gael was gone. Borfan scrambled away from the eyes that drifted toward him, but everywhere he turned, a wall impeded him, and there was no escape. And then the fiery eyes were before his face. He swung his sword for them, but something struck it with enough speed and power to dislodge his weapon from his grip and it fell into the dark and disappeared.
“Who are you?” he asked. The intruder hesitated, staring into his soul.
It gripped his throat with an invisible hand, mechanic power squeezing his neck closed and no air passed through again. It lifted him off the ground and held him out the window with terrific strength. Borfan’s vision dimmed as blood was unable to reach his head. He struggled to breathe, but the being’s fingers were like great walls obstructing the oxygen. The temperature dropped even lower as Borfan entered the windy outdoors, clawing at the arm that held him so many feet in the air.
“I am the Destroyer,” the killer whispered almost silently. “I am Death.”
And Borfan fell.
I am excited to feature Spencer on the Ink Owl this month. He has been writing for quite some time and has recently created his first writing blog. It has been a pleasure to get to know this rising storyteller over the past year and learn more about the world he has created. Follow this link Omegastc to explore his first post and make sure to give him a follow and some thoughts. And follow this link to explore his blog and give him some feedback about it.
1. Where are you from?
I’m from Salt Lake City, [Utah].
2. Your favorite: piece of literature/writing/book.
My favorite book is probably Enders game.
3. In no more than two sentences tell us why you love to write.
I love to write because it lets me become a creator of worlds and a writer of histories!