|Image Courtesy of Morguefile|
The man snarls and charges, fists clenched so tightly that fingernails bite into skin. He doesn't care.
The Beast ahead of him smiles. Three sets of lips on three faces slept open in eerie, gleeful anticipation, baring yellow, decayed teeth. It dares a chuckle before the man's fists find it.
The first strike catches the Beast's center head, sending it rocking back on a snake-like neck. The Beast offers no resistance or defense as the onslaught continues, the man striking his left head with such force that he nearly falls to the ground. He maintains his balance, firing his right leg straight into the air, catching that damned third head cleanly beneath its chin and sending it flopping against its own back.
The Beast staggers but does not fall. It laughs. The man is exhausted. He buckles, his hands resting on his knees. It feels like he takes in fire as he draws in quick, short breaths. His heart pounds with such force it feels as though it will burst free of his chest. His ribs expand and contract with each breath, each inhale feeling like many needles pushing into his flesh. He's suffered no damage from the Beast. The Beast has not fought back.
Instead, it laughs, three crimson heads atop the body of a massive ox roaring in horrible discord. "Yes! Yes!" Its heads chant simultaneously in alternating pitches. On bull-like legs it lumbers over to the man and hisses in his ear, breath like rotten eggs, "Surely you have more to give. Think of wrong I've done you over the years."
He leans in and whispers, "When you were thirteen...you loved her, didn't you?"
The man's breathing stops. The rage obfuscates all.
The Beast whispers; "How did it feel when I took her from you?"
The man roars, overcome by an anger he once thought vanquished. He is now its willing thrall. He again lunges at his tireless foe, firing his right fist squarely into its center head. It stops laughing as teeth give beneath the impact, but the other heads laugh on.
The man remembers his lessons and drives a left into a body like leather and stone. The shock of the blow reverberates back through his arm and he feels as though he's been electrocuted. He doesn't stop, and continues the savagery with a right uppercut meant to penetrate the Beasts solar plexus. Instead it is the man who screams as he feels his knuckles crack and split like wood on impact.
But the Beast laughs. So the man does not stop. He leaps, turns his hip over spins, generating sheer torque through his hip. The instep of his foot catches the Beast's left head and sends that one ricocheting into the others.
The Beast stumbles. The man falls.
His right hand quivers; it's useless. Unclenching sends waves of knives and fire through his skin. He does not scream but he knows the pain is apparent on his face.
His heart is racing too fast, he knows that. Doom-doom-doom-doom as it tries to loose itself from its chest, losing a desperate bid to keep blood pumping through a body that is slowly breaking down.
And still, the Beast laughs. "Oh, how you loved her so!" It taunts in that horrid unison, "She was so young, so sweet, so delicious."
"Shut up..." The man forces, trying to get to his feet, unsure of what to do when he gets there.
"Oh, my boy, I'm just starting with you! If you think what I did to your dear beloved was a treat, wait until you see what I have planned for your darling mother--"
The rage returns. "You will not touch her!" The man barrels to his feet, pain be damned. He'd always envisioned a death such as this. He could feel it, now. His last act in this world would be this thing's destruction.
And if he couldn't beat it to death, he would gladly rip it apart.
The man charges into the Beast, catching his willing opponent at the midsection and wrapping his arms around its waist. At last, the Beast falls, laughing still.
"You will not touch her!" The man cries out to the Beast. He takes hold of its middle neck and begins to pull.
And at last, a head ceases its laughter. "Yes!" The Beast's remaining heads taunt, "Do it! Kill me just as I killed your daughter!"
At those words, the man freezes.
It is not rage that stops him. It is, at long last, a moment of clarity.
He releases the Beast's neck. "What did you say?"
"Your daughter." The Beast snarls, "I took that little whippet from the world before you even had a chance to know her."
The man exhales, suddenly reliving a moment that will stay with him till the end of his days. Then, he shakes his head. "You....didn't kill my daughter. My daughter died. But you didn't kill her. You weren't even there."
At last, the Beast stops laughing. The smiles fade, as does the pain from the man's body. He rises, and begins to back away.
"You're a liar." The man breathes, the reality of the situation dawning upon him, "You're the king of liars. You didn't kill the girl I loved when I was thirteen...and you didn't kill my daughter."
The Beast wretches suddenly, curling into a fetal position as though it's been struck in the gut. "You didn't kill anyone." The man continues, and again the Beast buckles, bending back so far its spine should've snapped. The man continues to back away as the pain is taken from his hand. "You have no power over me." The man declares, "You did once...but I swear to you, you never will again."
The Beast hisses horribly, contorts one last time, and then goes limp and quiet.
The man breathes. The air feels fresh, his body rejuvenated.
He turns and exits the nightmare.