Angel of Death

Dreams of fangs and claws haunt my mind every hour of every night. Two monsters hunting me down repeatedly, always ending in exactly the same way. My gruesome death, before I return to a sweaty and shivering body in the real world. All I can do is wonder, “why”? Why does my mind keep showing me these horrifying images every time I fall asleep? Why can’t it just let me rest like I have done every other night before all this? I just want one peaceful night of sleep. I need one peaceful night of sleep. Yet still I must go to work in my local library, my mind once again too shattered for rational thoughts. It’s a day like any other. I stack the books, I serve the customers, I try to hide as much as I can so that I don’t have to interact too much in my overwhelming state of fatigue. Then I see her. This innocent little girl who looks as harmful as a baby rabbit, walking straight towards me from the other side of the room. I can’t understand why every fibre of my being is screaming at me to get as far away from her as I can, or to kill her while I still have the chance. What is it about this tiny girl that is making my senses go so crazy like this? Her gaze, her smile, her walk, every tiny detail about her radiates pure serenity. Even the way she speaks is so oddly enchanting. She asks me if I know anything about monsters, and where she could find the best books to help her with her university studies. I try my hardest to ignore the never-ending pleas of my burning nerves and offer to help her. This is my job after all. I guide her around, we chat, we are actually getting along really well. I’m genuinely sad as she walks out of the door. I doubt I’ll ever get to see her again. Despite all of my instincts telling me something is wrong, I feel in my heart that she is a good person who I’d like to know more about. I try to get to sleep earlier this time. My mind is in a state of blissful peace thinking about her and the conversations we had. And then I returned to my realm of self-concocted horror.
Weeks are passing me by, with each nightmare becoming ever more vivid, making it harder for me to distinguish between what is real and what is delusion. The monsters have become more detailed; the gore seems ever more realistic than before. Every death feels more like my true end than the last. But that’s not what bothers me. No, it’s the face of one of the monsters. I know that face. I’ve seen that face somewhere before, yet I can’t tell where. It looks exactly like someone I know, only its skin is now as white as paper and its eyes yellow like daffodils. Countless more nightmares give me ample time to think, though I still can’t figure it out. That is, until my nightmare realm decided to collide with my reality. I see her again; the girl my senses told me to fear. And she is looking for me. She runs towards me, hope filling her bright yellow eyes and fear etched into her ashen white face, and she passes out at my feet. I’m in no way qualified to deal with something like this, so I tell someone to watch over her while I run to find the library’s nurse. I run up the stairs, through the corridors, I bang on the door as hard as I can. I get no response. I hear shouts and screams behind me, growing louder and louder, yet all overshadowed by a blood-curdling roar of fury. A roar I’ve heard far too many times before. I dash into the closest open room, I lock the door, and I pray for the first time in my life. I pray that this isn’t one of the monsters from my nightmares coming to hunt me down, I pray that I can make it through whatever is happening alive. The noise stops. I cautiously step out of the room with a chair in my hand to give me a smidgeon of confidence. I edge my way back down to the main reading room, trying as hard as I can to remain completely silent. I freeze in horror as I witness what I had left behind. Limbs torn far away from their bodies, organs ripped out and strewn across the tables, a dark red substance dripping off every surface. And at the centre of it all, a girl, sleeping in a pool of blood that I suspect is not her own. I don’t know what to do. I don’t think anybody would be prepared for a sight like this. So I do the first thing that comes to mind. I pick the girl up and I run out of the library as fast as my legs will carry me. I drive back home, I lay her on my couch, and I panic. My phone starts screaming at me as people stumble upon the horror I fled from. Yet, I don’t answer. It’s easier to simply remain silent than it is to figure out how I would even begin explaining this. Besides, the girl is waking up. I need to get as much information out of her as I can before I deal with anything else.
She tells me her name is Lucy, and that she has made a huge mistake. Hidden in one of the books I gave her was an ancient journal that contained incantations and potions that would supposedly turn the user into any kind of mythical creature that they so desired to be. She didn’t believe any of it at first. Why would she? But then she saw a monster she had never heard of before. She grew curious. And her curiosity would consume her and everything she loved. She worked alongside a friend to turn her into this monster, and the results were… Well… Catastrophic doesn’t even begin to cover it. All she remembered was everything turning red, then waking up to find her friend missing and her parents killed in her first bloodlust. She didn’t have to follow the trail of blood for long to see how much damage she had caused to the lives of others too. It was after that when she hunted me down, hoping that I had the other half of the journal she had learned her transformation from. She said that her half ended with antidotes for every spell and potion within, meaning she could potentially be cured and could return to some semblance of normality. I take a while to digest all of the information she is throwing at me. Spells, potions, monsters, demonic transformations. These were just the things of stories and legends when I was growing up. I never imagined I would have to deal with anything this ludicrous in my own life. I struggle to drink a cup of tea with my shaking hands as I talk things through with Lucy. I decide to help her. Her condition is partly my fault after all. Although it isn’t long before we find problems with our plan. We want to remain hidden while we hunt for her cure, yet both of our faces are being constantly shown on the news as people search for us. Additionally, I am going to need access to my colleagues if we are going to have any chance of finding the other half of the journal. I decide that I am going to have to be the one to bite that bullet for the team.
After a few days, I return to the library in purposefully ripped clothes to tell them that I was kidnapped and taken hostage, but barely managed to escape. I tell them that I’m going to need some time off work to get my head together, which of course they understand. It’s not exactly hard for me to act petrified while I’m harbouring somebody who is potentially both a murderer and a monster in my house. I quickly look around the library before I leave to see if I can find the second part of the journal here, though alas, nothing is found. I return home to Lucy and find her studying every inch of her half of the journal, trying to see if there is anything she may have overlooked. The writing is nearly illegible anyway, and the way the writer uses their language makes it even harder to comprehend. She tells me that although she has made no progress in figuring out how to reverse her transformation, she does at least know a little more about what she has become. She is now an aangshin, which is also known as an angel of death. The journal describes it as the ultimate being in all of existence. It is a creature that has strength, speed, and magical capabilities beyond any other being who ever has or will exist. The only downside is that its abilities are remarkably hard to control. The powers derive from rage, so the angrier one becomes, the more attuned they become to their abilities. The problem is that they can become enraged remarkably quickly, and too much rage causes a transformation like the one Lucy had that robbed her of her sanity and turned her into a brutal killing machine. With that in mind, I try to make everything as peaceful as I can for her. I buy her favourite foods, I play her favourite music, and most importantly, I block out all outside interference. No phone calls, no listening to the news, nothing that might accidentally set her off. It takes weeks of nonstop work, but we finally do it. We track down the owner of the other half of the journal, and after thoroughly destroying my bank account, we manage to get her to send it to us. The relief doesn’t last very long though. We find the cure within, but the recipe is incredibly complicated, and the writing of this half is even less comprehensible than the part we already own. To add to that, I have never even heard of many of the ingredients it describes, nor do I have any idea where to even start looking for them. I can tell this isn’t going to be over any time soon.
The weeks turn into months, and we feel no closer to our goal. I feel myself growing more stressed and agitated, though I know I can’t let Lucy see it. I can’t risk passing my feelings on to her while she is still uncured. I can’t exactly hide anything while I’m unconscious though. The nightmares keep coming back every night, now so vividly that even my body believes they are true. Some nights I wake up to see Lucy at the end of my bed, awakened by my screams and watching over my fidgeting body. She looks sad. I think she feels like my pain is entirely her fault, and she hates that there’s nothing she can do about it until we find her a cure. If, we can find her a cure. If…
A little under a year has gone by now, and we are finally nearing the end of our arduous journey. We have everything we need to make the cure now, and we fully understand the procedure. We are waiting on some weaponry that I ordered as a safety measure. A silver sword and a gun with six silver bullets. The journal says that all monsters fear silver, owing to some strange connection it has with the moon. The moon is what gives these monsters their powers, and as luck would have it, it can also take them away. This is why we have to wait until the last full moon of the year before we can attempt to cure Lucy. This is the time in which the moon releases the most of its mysterious energy, and as such, is the best time to either create or destroy a monster. The day finally arrives. With everything set and ready to go, we just have to wait until the moon reaches its peak in the sky. I can see that Lucy is getting nervous. I don’t think she fully believes that this is going to work. She thinks she will be a monster forever, no matter what we do to her tonight. She tells me some words I never expected to hear in my life. She tells me that if anything should go wrong with our experiment, I have to kill her. If she transforms into that monster again, she wants me to end her before she can end anybody else. I take a second to react. I reluctantly agree. I don’t know if I have what it takes to kill her, though perhaps if she believes I will then she can at least be more relaxed. The moon is nearly at its peak. I strap her down to a table beside a window, where its light can cover her body. My weapons are close by, though out of her sight. I assure her that everything is going to be okay. We begin.
The cure is a frothing red mixture that smells oddly reminiscent of an algae-covered pond. Though it appears unsettling, this is what the journal tells us it should be like. As the moon finally hits the perfect height, I slowly pour the cure into Lucy’s mouth. She drinks it all. Every last drop. She remains still. We look at each other, unsure of whether or not anything is happening. Then my nightmares fuse with reality. Lucy’s eyes turn crimson red as her entire body begins violently spasming. Fur as black as night begins sprouting all over her body, aside from her face, which is somehow becoming even whiter, and her muscles and limbs begin growing to several times their original size, all while her teeth and nails are sharpening into razor-sharp spikes that look like they could easily cut me in half. I run to grab my phone, I pick it up, I dial for the police. My phone drops at the same time as my jaw. Lucy casually rips through her restraints and drops down to all fours, panting heavily. I look at her with more fear than I have ever felt. She is exactly how I remember her from my nightmares. Enormous muscles, a werewolf-like body, two giant wings, a tail, and that ashen white face filled with nothing but rage and fury. She looks at me with those glowing crimson eyes, a terrifying stare that freezes every muscle in my body. And then she roars. She roars so loudly that I feel my blood churning inside my body, so loud that I have to hold my ears as tightly as my waning strength will allow so that I can stop the pain from destroying my brain. This is no longer a girl. This is a monster. A monster that I helped to create. I have to kill it. I have to kill her. I pull the gun out of my back pocket and aim it at her face. But how could I? I just spent months of my life trying to save this girl. My moment of hesitation is all she needs. She casually swipes the gun out of my hand with her giant fist, before taking my legs out with her tail. I narrowly dodge the punch that breaks the wood of my floor, I roll as fast as I can to the other side of the room, I grab my sword. She has already caught up to me. She grabs my throat and pins me against the wall. She smiles devilishly as she sees me struggling vainly to escape her grasp. She easily takes the sword out of my hand and holds it up to my face. She is going to kill me with the weapon I brought to kill her. The dagger in my back pocket that I never told her about has other plans. I slash both of her wrists to make her drop both me and my weapon, I drop to the ground and grab the sword to slash it across her stomach, I roll to the other side of the room. I have the gun back and I have a clear shot. But I still see the face of the girl I failed. And she knows it. She smiles that horrifying smile of hers as she slowly walks towards me. My hand shakes as I try to persuade myself to pull the trigger. I can’t lose this opportunity again! I point the gun towards the centre of her face, I close my eyes, I take the shot. It’s over. I open my eyes. Lucy is looking at me, bloody tears streaming down her ashen face. She asks a simple yet devastating question.
Then she falls face-first to the ground. I just freeze. I am in too much shock to do anything at this point. I slowly walk over to Lucy. I roll her over to make sure she is definitely dead. A mistake. As she turns, I see that every injury I gave to her has already healed. And her foot is heading right for my face. I crash up against the wall again and drop to my knees, completely winded by the attack. She slowly stands up. She is still dazed from the gunshot. I look around for my weapons. My gun is behind her and my sword is on the ground in front of me. I guess I’ll have to do it the hard way. I pick up the sword and charge towards her, just as she regains her senses. We both attack each other at the same time, both roaring with all of our spirits. I duck under her punch and plunge my sword through her stomach, I dodge around her to grab the gun, I take the shot with no hesitation this time, just as her second punch collides with my face.
I wake up cold and aching all over. I don’t know how long it’s been, and I have no idea how I’m still alive. I look around. I see her there on the ground, sword in her chest and a bullet hole slowly healing in her head. Three more shots to keep her regeneration busy, then I make my escape. I grab my phone and I run out of my house, into the cold and snowy night. I try to call the police again. There is no time. He’s standing just across the street, waiting for me to try to run. The other monster that dwelled in my nightmares, even bigger and more terrifying than the one I had just fought. I laugh at myself. I can’t believe I forgot about the other one. My body is already too broken to fight. But what other option do I have? It’s already walking towards me. At least I can go out with some honour. The monster shrieks loudly towards the moon, stirring the fallen snow into a hurricane around it. It leaps towards me with incredible speed, I fire my last shot…

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