The house creaked.
In retrospect, it had probably always creaked, but there was something ominous in this creaking. Something that whispered its malice and provoked a special kind of slithering fear that crawled down your spine and made its home in your gut. As if the house knew what was about to occur. It was both concrete and a figment of the mind; it was an emotion applied to an ordinary sound and yet it wasn’t.
It was terror.
The kind of base terror born only of night; of the slippery unknown darkness that lurked just outside mortal awareness. The suggestion that you should be petrified of what hid just beyond your field of vision that only came with being born prey. The instinctual knowledge that something was off without being able to tell what.
It was premonition.
The kind that was only claimed by the ostracised and discarded. The people who knew that history always repeated itself, if you looked hard enough. Those who saw all the faults- past, present, future- of a terrible world that had torn their very will to shreds and kept quiet out of spite.
It was vengeance.
The kind only taken by those truly wronged. The ones who had been hurt so much that they had learned to savour the hurt of others. The ones who would lick the blood clean off their hands and hunt rabidly for more.
It was the pain that came with terror, with premonition, with vengeance.
And it was hungry.
The sound of its diamond tipped claws scraped on the walls and ricocheted through the pitch-dark halls. It wanted its presence known. It wanted to see with its eyes of black mirror the look that came with waking from a nightmare to the realisation that it had never been in your head. It wanted to curl its pointed deep red tongue through the screams that came with knowing you were about to die. It wanted to grasp in its talons the very essence of death and leash it to its will.
It wanted terror…
So, the hunt began.
It fed on death. It had always fed on death. Except now it had grown tired of feasting on the freshly dead corpses of those that age took, and the festering bodies claimed by diseases unavoidable in the darker parts of town. Now it was ready to claim the deaths it ate- to breathe in the scent of fresh death, the kind that clung to murderers and assassins like a stubborn fragrance.
It could smell the human. The one it had come for. The one who held what it had searched for. The artefact that would finally make it a ruler. It would take this measly world and make it bleed. It had not forgotten how much it had bled. The crimson could have turned the seas pink.
They would bleed.
But first this mortal. It could smell death pacing nearby and cocked its pointed, animalistic ears with an elegance that could only be achieved by honing it carefully over many decades.
This would not take long.
It followed the deafening beat of the human’s palpitating heart through the narrow winding corridors, tucking its shredded, obsidian gossamer wings behind its back. At last it would be its own master; at last it had found the object it searched for.
The human was merely collateral damage; they always were in the end. But it was so enjoyable.
This was the first of many, and it was going to be so very enjoyable…