Read The First Three Chapters In The Final Book Of The Venator Series: The Sacrifice

30 Years Ago

Hellfire was notoriously hard to control.

It was a living entity that was only ever meant to obey a single master. But as that master – the King of Hell – used hellfire to create other living beings, his level of control over the substance loosened. Hands other than his own were now able to take the reins.

That was when the mages gained access to it. But only the most skilled could ever hope to wield it without incinerating themselves. With such a risk attached, it was no wonder that only witches and warlocks who worshipped at the altar of Satan ever dared try.

Of course, there were always exceptions. And the exception in this case was a remarkably talented Venator named Allison Luminisa-Halliday.

Allison had been trained by her family – especially noteworthy for its vast, and storied Venator lineage – to master skills that were otherwise utilized by only the most powerful of mages.

The Luminisa bloodline reached back a great many generations and, as far back as anyone could trace, they had always bred Venatores. This was the reason why she had been imparted with wisdom that would be considered terrifyingly dangerous in lesser hands.

Hers may have been the most capable of hands, but even she was never comfortable with spells that involved hellfire, or any other demonic attributes. She only broke those out when there were no other options.

For the case at-hand, their source was a high-level Demonologist who’d reported the sort of harbingers associated with the pending birth of one of Lucifer’s scions. The lead came late, and the reports of a cult in the area followed shortly thereafter. Being short on-time, Allison decided that it was worth the risk involved.

In the spell she’d cast, the ball of hellfire was no bigger than you’d see at the head of a struck match. The light floated out three feet ahead of Allison. It guided her, and her companions, to an old mansion sheltered on all sides by dense woodlands.

Each window had a single candle burning in it, with only darkness surrounding it. But it was the flame hovering directly before her that raised Allison’s concerns.

The small fireball began glowing hotter, and brighter. It was becoming visibly excited as they walked closer to the mansion. It soon began to grow, first to the size of a marble, and then to the size of a tennis ball.

“Extinctus,” said Allison, causing the ball of hellfire to immediately extinguish.

“At least we know this is the right house,” Malcolm Woods said from Allison’s left side.

“Good thing too,” Jack Halliday added from the right side. “It sure would be embarrassing to kick down the door on a bunch of bored rich folks having a Key Party, instead of a Satanic cult birthing the Antichrist.”

“It’d be real freakin’ funny, though,” Malcolm replied, eliciting a laugh from Jack.

“Boys, boys,” Allison said, her eyes never leaving the mansion. “How about we save the laughs for after we deal with whatever we find in there.”

“What are we expecting to find, again?” Malcolm asked.

“Intel says there might be as many as twenty Satanists in there,” Jack answered.

“And one pregnant woman who’s probably hoping this is all a nightmare that she’ll wake up from at any second,” Allison added.

They each pulled out a pistol, unclicked the safety, and chambered a round as they crept closer to the mansion. Once they got close enough, they heard a woman screaming. They then heard a large group of voices chanting.

“Ave Satanus  sublimis patre nostro,” they sang, followed by “Salvator noster veniet!”

The woman’s cries, and the choir’s song, repeated themselves over, and over again.

“I’m sure I’d be super creeped-out right now, if I bothered learning Latin,” Malcolm said, taking his position next to the door leading inside from the backyard.

Hail Satan, our majestic father, our savior is come,” Allison casually translated, moving in behind Jack.

“Yup,” Malcolm said, “super creeped-out.”

Jack picked the lock, slowly pushed the door open, and led the others inside. They stayed low, and close to the walls, as they had on numerous other such raids. The only lights in the long corridor were candles hanging six feet up on the walls.

The screams and chants grew louder as they moved closer to the main dining hall. There was more candlelight coming from within that room, glowing and swaying with the breeze.

By the time Jack got a head count of twenty-one people dressed in red robes, he heard the cries of a newborn. Four cultists held the mother down by her arms and legs, as a fifth wrapped the baby in a red blanket, and held it high for the others to see.

“Hail, our dark savior!” the man holding the child shouted.

“Hail! Hail!” the rest of the congregation shouted in-kind.

“Now, the flesh of the mother of damnation shall be devoured,” the man said. “It will imbue each of us with the divine essence of Lucifer himself!”

Two cultists with meat cleavers rose up from behind the pair holding down the woman’s arms. They lifted the blades, as the new mother stared ahead blankly with exhaustion, too weak to even plead for her life.

Two shots rang out from the doorway, and blood sprayed out from the heads of the robed figures wielding the cleavers as they fell dead.

Allison, her gun still smoking, emerged from the doorway, and fired four more shots into the heads of the cultists holding down the mother. Jack ran out from behind her, and unloaded rounds into the next nearest figures to the captive woman.

“You got her?” Jack asked Allison.

“I got her,” Allison replied, swinging out from behind her husband.

Several people tried to impede her, but Allison easily dispatched them with swift blows to their heads or knees. The ones that reached for her from the ground caught bullets fired at close range. She leapt onto the table, and knelt down close the mother’s ear.

“You’re going to be okay,” she told the woman in a comforting tone, even as she gunned down anyone who approached their position.

But most of the cultists rushed away towards the exit at the other end of the room. They were met by Malcolm, firing rounds, and swinging a pearl-handled hatchet that he’d made for himself recently.  Those who didn’t catch a bullet had their throats slashed by the hatchet blade.

The man holding the baby called for three more people to lead him out through the doorway that Jack was guarding. The three bodyguards rammed themselves into Jack with no concern for their own welfare, driving him into the floor.

They were zealous, but untrained. Jack managed to slip out from underneath them, while holding one  in a headlock. He kicked out the knee of the first cultist who rose from the ground, and shot her through the back of the head before she even hit the ground a second time.

The second cultist managed to get to his feet, and reached for Jack’s neck. But Jack swung the man in his grasp around, sweeping the legs out from the other man who was reaching for him. He fired one round into the falling man’s head, and the other into the top of the headlocked man’s head.

He spotted the red-robed figure with the baby running out the front door, and gave chase. The man was halfway across the yard when Jack took aim, and shouted: “Stop!”

The man did as he was commanded, and slowly turned back toward Jack, who likewise stopped running. He was holding the baby in both arms, but one of his hands was now up around the child’s neck.

“I’ll snap its neck,” the man said, as Jack walked closer to him with his weapon still leveled.

“I don’t think you will,” Jack replied calmly. “How long have you been searching for this? For a bonafide child of Satan born into this world? Half your life? Your entire life?”

“The child has a destiny,” the man said. “This world will kneel before its new Messiah! The armies of Hell will be at the Antichrist’s beck and call!”

“Sure,” Jack said, still moving closer. “Which means that child’s life will not end tonight.”

Jack lowered his gun, and moved within arm’s reach of the man.

“You need to understand something,” Jack began. “You are not leaving this place tonight with that baby. I simply will not allow that to happen. You say it has a destiny, then I’m sure that will come to pass no matter what happens here. And, what’s going to  happen here is very simple: You’re going to hand me that child. Right. Now.”

“Then what will become of me?” the man asked.

“You’re going to jail for kidnapping this child’s mother,” Jack stated. “Consider yourself lucky.”

The man contemplated Jack’s words, and then his eyes took on a hardened gleam. His grip around the child’s neck tightened again, and this time Jack didn’t hesitate to put a bullet in the man’s head.

The man’s hands went limp, and Jack wrapped his free arm around the baby as the dead man fell backward.

The baby was still crying, but became silent as Jack rocked it lightly, cradled in his arm.

“Sorry about all the noise, kiddo,” Jack said to the baby, who looked up at him with curiosity. “Helluva way to come into the world. So to speak.”

Allison emerged from the house, with Malcolm behind her helping the mother to stand.

“Jack!” she called out, drawing Jack’s attention away from the child.

“What’s it look like in there?” Jack asked, as the trio approached him.

“About as expected,” Malcolm said.

“My baby,” the woman moaned. “Please. Please, let me hold my baby.”

Jack handed her the child, and the mother fell to her knees on the grass. She clutched her baby to her chest, and pressed her cheek against the top of its head.

“Oh, my baby. My little one,” she whispered. “I’m so sorry this happened. I love you so, so much.”

Malcolm and Allison moved in on either side of Jack. They spoke softly enough so that the woman wouldn’t hear them.

“We’re pretty sure that baby is the real deal, right?” Malcolm asked.

“All the signs were there,” Allison said. “We’ve got our source’s reports. And I don’t think the hellfire compass spell would have worked if that wasn’t the case.”

“You ever run into this before?” Malcolm inquired.

“Every other time we’ve done this, it was just a bunch of delusional nuts,” Jack replied.

“Then what do we do about…” Malcolm stopped talking, and nodded toward the mother and child.

“There’s not exactly a hard and fast rule about newborn devil-babies,” Jack said.

“Then we give them a chance,” Allison stated with conviction. “God knows they deserve it after all this.”

“I’m good with that,” Malcolm said.

He looked at the woman starting to shiver under the blanket he’d draped over her. Malcolm took off his coat, and placed it over the mother’s shoulders.

Allison took Jack by the arm, and led him a little further away from the others as Malcolm knelt beside the mother and child.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Allison said.

“I know,” Jack agreed. “I just hope we don’t end up…” he stopped himself, and shook his head. “The right thing is the right thing.”

“That woman was kidnapped, and terrorized by a living nightmare these past few days, because of that baby,” Allison said. “And still, all she wants to do is love it.”

“I guess that’s what being a parent means,” Jack said. “Loving that child with all your heart, all your soul, all your everything.”

Allison smiled tenderly at her husband, and said: “I’m so glad to hear you say that.”

“Ah, it’s just some cheesy…” he stopped when he noticed that his wife’s smile seemed brighter than ever before. “Wait a second. Is there something I ought to know?”

ONE

Everything happened much faster than they’d anticipated. The beast was on the car before they even turned off the engine. The screech of scraping claws on metal set their already-frayed nerves alight. They both froze in panic.

It wasn’t until the hairy fist smashed through the driver’s side window that they finally got out of the car, and ran. They didn’t look behind them, but the rapid crunching of loose gravel told them that the beast was not far behind.

They knew they had to find shelter quickly, but there weren’t many places to hide in the park. Their hearts pounded in their chests, and their lungs burned with oxygen, as they came upon the high brick archway of the public pool.

It was after midnight, so the pool had long-since closed for the day. They managed to squeeze through the wrought iron gates that were chained together.

No sooner did they get inside than they heard the chains rattling heavily against the gate.

This time, Patrick chanced a look over his shoulder to see the wolf-man dropping nimbly from the top of the gates to the ground below. Patrick grabbed Alexis by the shoulder, and pulled her toward him, just before he rammed his shoulder into the locked door of the ladies’ locker room.

Patrick braced the door with his back, only to have it slammed into him over, and over again. It was made of heavy wood, so he wasn’t worried about the beast breaking through it. But, having broken the lock himself, he also knew that he was the only thing holding the door closed.

“The bench!” he called to Alexis. “Is it bolted down?”

“No,” she replied, “Will it hold?”

“We’ve got to try,” Patrick said.

Alexis dumped the bench onto its side, and pushed it to the door. Patrick hopped over it so they could both slam it into place against the door. They both sat on the ground with their backs against the bench, and pushed until the muscles in their legs ached.

The door banged against the bench ceaselessly for another full minute before there was a sudden silence. Patrick looked at Alexis, and they both exhaled with cautious relief.

When they inhaled again, the lingering smell of chlorine calmed them with memories of more peaceful days. Of summers spent as children, running in the sun, and diving into the pool when the sign very clearly advised against doing so. It was these thoughts that finally gave Patrick the strength to speak again.

“You got the box out of the car, right?” Patrick asked.

Alexis took a small lockbox out of her handbag, entered the four-digit combination into the latch, and opened it the reveal a revolver with six silver bullets resting alongside it.

“Thank god,” Patrick said, as he took the gun and loaded the rounds.

“I think we made a mistake,” Alexis said.

“Starting to look that way, huh?” he said, with a nervous laugh. “But we’re ready now.”

He held up the pistol, which glinted from the moonlight coming in from the two windows above the door. The barrel had been polished to a mirror-like sheen and, when moved to a certain angle, showed a direct reflection of the full moon.

His insides coiled tightly when he thought about the windows again.

“Oh, shit,” he exclaimed, just as one of the windows exploded inward.

Glass showered down on them, causing them both to cover their faces with their arms. Patrick fired blindly, when he heard a heavy thud directly next to him. But his grip on the gun was loosened by the sudden shielding of his face and, with the recoil, the gun jumped out of his hand, skidding across the cement floor.

He instinctively reached for it, but a clawed hand swiped at his arm. Patrick got lucky again, and yanked his hand back just as the claws sent sparks up from the cement floor.

He fell back into Alexis, who tried to catch him. But his velocity knocked them both onto the ground.

Alexis looked up into her boyfriend’s terrified eyes and said: “I’m so sorry.”

Patrick covered as much of her body with his own that he was able to. He buried his face into Alexis’ neck, and hoped the beast would be satisfied with only taking him. He heard an abbreviated howl, and knew that this was how his life was going to end.

It must have been quick, since he did not feel any pain at all.

He wondered if he’d see a light, and hear the voices of his departed loved ones welcoming him to the afterlife.

He wondered if he’d be seeing Alexis again shortly, having failed her in the realm of the living.

“Patrick,” Alexis’ voice said, and he knew that the beast must have gotten her too. “Baby, look at me.”

He opened his eyes, expecting to see pearly gates. Instead he saw only bricks, and metal lockers.

Patrick turned his eyes down, and saw Alexis still lying beneath him. There was shattered glass all around them, and the coating of chlorine in his nostrils was now making him want to sneeze. If this was Heaven, it was a more-than-a-little disappointing.

 “I think you might need to tell your man that he’s not dead,” a voice calmly spoke from behind him.

He rolled over onto his back, and saw the silhouettes of two women. One wore a hooded cloak, and stood straight as an arrow in the doorway. The other leaned against the side of the doorway with her arms crossed.

He then allowed his eyes to drift to the prone figure of a man lying dead on the floor, not two feet from him. There was some sort of spear sticking out from his chest.

Patrick had never seen a dead body outside of a funeral parlor before, and he’d certainly never seen one impaled. He swung his face back at Alexis, who let out a short scream before rolling out from under him. She’d managed to just barely escape the deluge of vomit.

“Oh yeah,” the leaning woman said, as the other woman walked toward the dead body, “that’s the kinda guy you want to go hunting werewolves with.”

The other woman bent over the human body that was, prior to Patrick’s out-of-body experience, a ferocious wolf-man.

She placed one foot against the corpse, and pulled her staff out from it with both her hands. As the blade slid out, more blood spurted from the gaping hole in his chest cavity. Similarly, another spurt of vomit escaped from Patrick’s mouth.

“Seriously, though,” the leaning woman said, as the other one walked past her out the door. “If this is your idea of a fun date night, you should both seek therapy immediately.”

The leaning woman followed the other woman out of view.

Alexis got to her knees, and knelt beside Patrick. “Are you okay, baby” she asked.

“Holy crap,” Patrick replied, scrambling to his feet. “I think that was actually them!”

“Who?” asked Alexis.

Them!” repeated Patrick, as he rushed out the door after them.

The pair of Venatores were just through the main gate when Patrick shouted at them:

“The She-Wolf and the Cloaked Woman!”

“Goddammit,” Natalie Brubaker muttered, as she stopped, and sighed.

This situation had presented itself many times since Leia Ellis’ video exposed the world at-large to the truth that lurks in the shadows five years prior. By this point, the conversation exhausted Natalie before she even said the first word of her usual spiel.

Gitanna Luminisa stopped walking a few feet ahead of her. She pulled her hood back from her head, revealing a buzzed scalp that left little more than stubble. She turned back just as Natalie slowly walked back toward Patrick and Alexis.

Natalie pointed to the gun that Patrick now held in his hand.

“Is that all you brought?” she asked.

“We thought it’d be enough,” Patrick replied with some embarrassment.

“You thought one pistol, with six silver bullets would be enough to hunt a werewolf with?” Natalie said, incredulously. “I’m not even gonna bother asking if you’ve done this before. It’s very clear that you have not.”

“We just wanted to help,” Alexis said, joining Patrick.

“Getting turned into wolf chow isn’t gonna help anyone but the wolf,” Natalie replied. “Do either of you have any sort of training at all? Taekwondo? Ju-jitsu? Ballet?”

Patrick and Alexis just looked at each other, and slowly shook their heads.

“We’ve gone over everything on Leia Ellis’ website at least ten times,” Alexis offered. “And then, we heard stories about a wild creature attacking people here. Everything led us to believe it was a werewolf. So, we thought we could put our knowledge into practice, and maybe save some lives.”

Natalie had heard this before as well. She’d supplied Ellis with a good portion of the information on her website, so she knew it was legit. But she also knew that information alone wouldn’t be enough to turn an ordinary person into a Venator.

Natalie looked up at Gitanna, who simply pulled her hood back over her buzzed head, and walked to the car. She sat in the passenger seat, and waited patiently for her partner to wrap things up.

“On a scale of Irrationally Confident to Hell No, Never how likely would you two say you are to try this nonsense again?” she asked.

“We…” Alexis began to answer, before looking at Patrick for moral support.

“We still want to help,” he finished, and Alexis nodded along.

“I was afraid you’d say that,” Natalie said, and walked a few steps closer to them. “First thing: Get some real combat training. Understand this: If you can’t beat a human in a fight, you sure as hell can’t beat a monster.

“Second thing: Never, ever, ever go on a hunt without at least two backup weapons. But you probably don’t need me to tell you that after having a slightly-worse-than-usual experience in the public pool locker room. Third thing: Give me your phone.”

Patrick reached into his pocket, and handed over his cell phone. Natalie punched a number into his contacts list, and then offered him the phone back.

“Next time you get a lead; a real lead, you call or text me at that number,” she stated. “But, I swear to god, if you text me with some bullshit questions, or photos of your goddamn brunch, then you will never hear from me again. You understand these terms?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Patrick and Alexis said, almost in unison.

“How old are you guys, anyway?” Natalie asked.

“Nineteen,” Alexis answered for them both.

“Shouldn’t you be in school?” Natalie followed.

“We’re between semesters,” Patrick added.

“And this is how you decided to spend your summer vacation?” Natalie asked, mockingly.

“We both also work at the mall,” Alexis said, with some embarrassment.

Natalie sighed loudly, before turning, and walking back toward her car.

“Alright, well, try not to die,” she said over her shoulder. “And get far away from here before the cops find that dead guy. Believe me, that’s a conversation you don’t want to have.

“Thank you,” Patrick called after her. “For saving our lives, I mean.”

“It’s what we do,” she said to herself, while absently waving over her shoulder.

“Why do you insist on giving people like that your phone number?” Gitanna asked.

“You know why,” Natalie said, starting the engine. “There aren’t many of us left and, at the very least, we need to rebuild our network of contacts.”

“They are fools,” Gitanna said, matter-of-factly.

“Yup,” Natalie agreed. “Do you expect smart people to venture out into the night, looking to pick a fight with a ghoul or goblin?”

“You could get yourself killed trying to help these people,” Gitanna added, with some concern creeping into her voice.

“You know that I’m notoriously hard to kill, Tanna,” Natalie said, with a slight smile.

“How long until we arrive,” Gitanna asked, considering the previous subject closed.

“We should be there by morning,” Natalie replied, as she pulled onto the highway.

“Do you need me to drive?” Gitanna asked.

“You know that it’s also notoriously hard for me to fall asleep at the wheel,” Natalie said, and they both now smiled.

“I hope we can reach them before things take a turn for the worse,” said Gitanna.

“Me too,” Natalie agreed. “But I’d also prefer to perform an exorcism at dawn rather than in the middle of the night. Those things still freak me out.”

“You just need more practice,” Gitanna said.

“I’ve been getting way too much practice recently,” said Natalie.

“I know,” said Gitanna, leaving the weight of the implication hanging heavily in the air.

TWO

Hollis Caulfield had noticed the people following him for the first time three days ago. Of course, that didn’t mean they hadn’t been following him before then. It just meant he hadn’t noticed them.

It had been quite by chance that Hollis saw the woman during a late-night trip to the bodega down the street from his apartment. The shop was fairly small, as many were in the city, with lights in half the aisles flickering on and off. It was during one such flickering that he’d realized he was standing on someone else’s shadow.

She was at the end of the aisle taking a not-so-subtle look at him. The woman was quite attractive, and looked to be about the same age as Hollis. Sure, he had several apps on his phone where he could reach out for random hook-ups when the desire arose, but it was still nice to do some good old fashioned in-person flirting.

He approached the woman, but she turned and walked away without a word. Hollis did occasionally enjoy a little cat-and-mouse game, so he followed her. But, by the time he reached the spot where he’d seen her standing, she had vanished. This seemed a little weird but, then again, this was Los Angeles.

He’d forgotten all about it by the time he reached his apartment building. But he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was being watched. He looked over his shoulder, but didn’t see anyone nearby. He thought he could make out a shadow moving in the alleyway next to his building, but figured that was probably just some hobo.

After entering his apartment, and locking his door, he walked over to the windows to close the blinds. It was then that he saw the man standing across the street in the dim halo of a street lamp. This was not unusual, in-and-of itself, but the man seemed to be staring directly up at Hollis through his window.

Hollis wanted to believe this was just some weirdo who liked staring into strangers’ windows. But then the man began walking across the street, never taking his eyes off Hollis.

With the hair on his neck now standing on-end, Hollis yanked his curtains closed, and made sure that the deadbolt was fastened on his door. He eventually managed to get to sleep two hours later, but the recurring nightmare he’d been having over the course of the past week ensured that it was not a restful slumber.

Aside from the periodic feeling that he was being watched by unseen persons, Hollis went about his typical work week. He could have sworn he’d seen the bodega woman and the street lamp man at different points during his travels, but faces in crowds always blurred together. Still, he couldn’t shake his case of the heebie-jeebies.

There could be no mistaking the sight of his stalkers the following night, though. They both stood at the entrance to the alleyway, nearly shoulder-to-shoulder, watching him as he got out of his cab. Hollis fumbled through his pockets for his keys, as he didn’t want to risk taking his eyes off the creepy couple.

But neither made a move toward, or away from him. They simply stood and stared, unblinking, as Hollis finally turned the lock, pushed his way into the lobby, and quickly slammed the door shut behind him.

The few seconds he had to take his eyes off the stalkers made his heart thump against his ribcage. But, when he snapped his head back around, the watchers remained where they had been. The only difference was that their heads were now turned so they could still watch Hollis stumble backward through the lobby, to the stairs.

He moved sideways up the three flights of stairs to his floor, as he didn’t want to risk having someone sneak up behind him. Once he got to his apartment, he didn’t even bother looking out the windows before closing the curtains. He knew that he wouldn’t get a wink of sleep if he saw those faces staring up at him. And he knew, sight unseen, that they were still out there. And that they were still watching him.

Hollis had a big presentation in the morning, so he popped a few pills, and succumbed to sleep. The nightmare came again. The dark figures lurking. The color of their irises were twisting barbs of yellow and red.

He felt the elation of the knife in his hand. And he felt the pain as the knife was plunged into his stomach. He was both the killer, and the victim in these dreams. He’d never had any desire to be a killer, or hurt people at all. And he certainly had no interest in being a victim either. Yet every night for the past week, these visions haunted him.

Most nights, the sacrifice happened in a deserted building, or a clearing in some nameless forest. But tonight, it seemed to be happening in his own apartment. In his own bed. He felt like his eyes were open, but his eyelids felt heavy as they often do when one is trying to wake from a dream, but can’t quite make it back to consciousness.

There were two pairs of eyes – a man’s and a woman’s – that each had that unnatural yellow, and red coloration. Hollis thought the faces looked oddly familiar, before realizing that they belonged to the man and woman who had been following him. He was becoming unsure whether this was a nightmare, or reality.

That deadbolt would have kept anyone out, but these two were inhumanly strong. They held down his arms, and it felt as if they’d rested hundred-pound weights on both of his hands.

He started to scream for help, but the woman covered his mouth his one hand. Hollis couldn’t believe that, even with just one hand holding down his arm, he could not get it an inch off the bed.

This must be a dream he thought.

No way this slight woman could be this strong.

For some reason that video from five years ago popped into his head. The one with the werewolves, and the zombies, and the man with the flaming eyes.

He remembered thinking it was pretty awesome when he and his roommate got stoned and watched it in their dorm room. A cool little piece of independent filmmaking that went viral.

Some of the online weirdos still talked about that video, as if they believed it was real. He always thought they were gullible dopes. But these demonic eyes staring through him, and this incredible strength holding him down, making him feel powerless had him doubting his convictions.

There was a third figure standing in the far corner of his bedroom. It moved towards him holding something up near its face. Hollis had not yet been able to identify the item when it was jammed into his stomach. The initial pain was so excruciating that Hollis barely felt it when the knife was drawn upward, opening up his belly.

The figure then inserted its hand into the hole, and pushed it upward towards Hollis’ chest cavity. It was a wholly alien feeling, almost like a small animal burrowing through his torso. There was a tugging feeling in his chest, and then the sense of something popping loose.

Hollis was in-shock as he watched the figure’s hand emerge from inside of him holding onto something large, pink, and wet. That something also moved. Pumping, and squirting blood from disconnected tubes.

The last thing Hollis Caulfield saw before departing this mortal realm, was the dark figure taking a bite out of his still-beating heart.

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