Hellhound (12 - Never Again)
This one was rather difficult to start writing, probably because it’s a direct continuation. Hopefully, though, it works out just fine for the rest of you I’m actually rather proud of how this chapter ends:D Enjoy
<- Chapter 11
I spent what felt like days in near awe of the Grappler’s appearance before realizing for the first time that it was breathing…heavily. I might have passed out from the stench alone had my mind not been so fixated on finding a way to release myself from its grasp. As the thought flowed through my mind, however, I quickly found myself hindered by another.
“…Whose it going to try to eat first? …If I can’t find something out before it makes its way to me, then I’ll…no. No, I won’t. I’m not going back. …Never…”
“JUSTIN, WATCH OUT!!!”
It seemed that I would be the first to perish, after all. Reemerging from my short-lived trance, I found myself moving through the air once again, stopping directly above the gaping mouth that was the Grappler in its entirety, …exactly the incentive that my mind was searching for.
“Damn it! Not now! …Come on, there’s gotta be something I can do. …I didn’t go through all of this just to let this monster eat me in the first…wait…”
Without a moment’s hesitation, I sank my teeth into the giant tentacle enwrapping my upper body, enticing what seemed to be a growl from the demon to which it belonged, and praying to God that my two comrades took notice of my actions. Uncoiling the appendages that held me aloft, I was now trapped twenty feet above its lingering jaws, …literally holding on by my teeth for dear life, …in a sense. And no matter how unbearable the taste, I was determined to keep my grip, just as it was determined to loosen it. Living up to this, the Grappler squandered no time before it began its inept attempts to shake me loose, but I absolutely refused to give in, …though the strain on my jaw quickly began taking its toll.
“Rrrgh, son of a…damn it, that hurts so bad! It feels like my teeth could break off at any moment! …Come on, you stupid bastard, just give it up already.”
I waited patiently as I could for the beast to shift the direction of its swings, intending to fall back to the ground in that moment, now that it no longer had a hold on me. …I wouldn’t dare make the attempt while the odds of falling into its mouth were so high. To my own disappointment, though, this demon was either smart enough to realize what my intentions were...or too dense to understand that its current strategy was proving fruitless…for the time being. As time continued passing and my mouth grew numb from the pain, I had nearly lost the resolve to keep going, …but fortunately, the Grappler did so before me. Having apparently become fed up with my refusal to come loose, it held me off to the side once again and I wasted no time in letting go. Though the fall was long and the impact was hard, the pain coursing through my jaw at the time had all but completely numbed the feeling. This moment of relief would prove short-lived, however, as I was faced with the fact that my friends were now subject to the some fate that I had barely escaped, …the first being Violet.
“AAAAAAAAAHHH!!! JUSTIN, HELP ME, PLEEEAASSE!!!”
This creature was several times larger than our entire group combined…and the only advantage that I had over it was my speed. …How could I possibly help her now?
“Damn it. …I’m sorry, Violet. …I swear, though, I’ll try to set you free…however I can.”
As I motioned to stand up, determined to help them to as great an extent as I could muster, I suddenly realized something that I hadn’t noticed before, …something that almost brought me to tears of joy.
“…Something…there’s something in my back pocket. …But, when the hell did-?”
Quickly pulling it out, it proved to be a ten-inch switchblade, …a weapon to use against the Grappler! I initially anticipated that it wouldn’t open or the blade would be dull, …but when I flipped it open and found neither to be true, I was left completely incapable of word or movement, …brought back to reality only when Violet’s continued screams reached my ears.
“JUSTIN, QUIT JUST STANDING THERE AND HEELP MEEEEE!!!”
My hopes renewed, I answered her call without question…and just in time, thank God. While certainly not human, the exterior of this demon was still composed of flesh, giving me no troubles whatsoever when I drove the six-inch blade into the side of what was now clearly a semi-spherical body, which seemingly kept balance through the aid of four small stubs. Letting loose a shriek much louder than that which it made when I bit into its tentacle, it was still not enough to prompt the Grappler to release its prisoners, though it did postpone Violet’s impending consumption…for however long. Intent on inflicting as much pain on this creature as possible, I began circling around it shortly after the initial blow, though I kept the blade in to produce a giant gash across the bulk of its body, which would hopefully maximize the effect I was aiming for. As the cut grew deeper and wider, I noticed that it had begun to leak a strange black fluid that was neither ink nor oil.
“…The blood of a demon. …Hmhm, how fitting. …It probably matches the color of its heart.”
It wasn’t long before I was forced to retreat back to avoid its impending tentacles, but the wound had successfully fulfilled its task…and Sean and Violet were now back at ground level, much to both of their reliefs.
“Oh, God! Justin, thank you-”
“You can do that later! Just get the hell outta here NOW!!”
Not about to argue against this, they quickly began sprinting after the remainder of our team, …who were likely long gone by this time. Keeping my back turned as we ran to ensure that demon was not pursuing us, …I suddenly spotted a small glint near its underbelly.
“…What the hell is…wait…”
I stopped dead in my tracks, causing Sean and Violet to do the same, the latter of whom was the first to question me.
“Justin, what the heck are you doing!? Let’s go!”
I spent several moments considering my options and eventually made up my mind.
“Hurry and go find the others, both of you. …I’ll join you shortly.”
Of course, neither of them were about to leave me behind on these terms, …as I expected.
“Bullshit!! Just come on already! …Justin, what the hell do you think you’re doing!?”
“…I’m reminding myself that I came out here to do something that nobody else has ever done…and I need to do just that.”
“…By killing the demon that guards the second realm.”
“And you really think you can do it alone!? …Justin, Sean and I are here. We can help you-”
“No!! …I can do it. …I can get through the realms of Hell, …but I need to prove that I have the ability to do that…and I have to do it on my own, …please.”
They looked at each other for a while, saying nothing as they did, …but finally, they looked back at me with some new understanding of my resolve.
“Huhhh, …just don’t die on us, Justin.”
“…Hmhm, we owe you now, after all.”
I didn’t say anything in return, but I managed a smile as they turned around to resume their retreat. Once they were out of sight, I turned back to face the Grappler, …intent to ending the life that Shaitan had given it millennia ago. I flipped back the switchblade still resting in my hand.
“…Alright. …Our little quarrel ends here, you piece of shit.”
I can’t recall ever running faster than I did in those first few seconds. Dodging every tentacle sent my way with relative ease, I drove the blade of my new weapon back into its flesh, enticing it to shriek once more, before resuming my encirclement of its body, all the while looking for that spot that I caught sight of earlier. …It didn’t take long, now that I knew what I was looking for.
“…I knew it.”
Just a few feet above its underside, almost completely out of sight and out of notice, …was a small eye, no bigger than that of the average human being’s. As I approached it, a large array of tentacles came down from all sides, forcing me to retract my weapon and pull back out of harm’s way, …much to my fortuity, because this gave me time to analyze exactly what I had just discovered.
“…It’s not even an inch wide. There’s no way in hell that that’s its only method of sensing its surroundings. …And it was so quick to try and defend it. …I got it.”
Whatever reason or purpose that eye held to the Grappler, one thing was for certain: …I needed to gouge it out. Tightening my grip on my switchblade, which was already heavily stained with its blood, I kept my eyes open as I began circling it from a distance, for it had turned itself around after the location of its sole weakspot was exposed. …Unfortunately, this time, it had decided to employ both offensive and defensive strategies, …sending its many feelers after me while I was busy hunting for its eye. …With the gash I made near it still dripping with fresh blood, it was much easier to spot this time…and I quickly made the cut across after locating it. Upon reaching it, I made another small cut near the eye and dug my fingers inside of it, in order to harness myself down in the case that it grabbed ahold of me once again, …and just in the nick of time, because that’s exactly what it did no more than two seconds later. Using great force to try and pry me off, I could have sworn that I felt my left femur pop out of place as it began tugging at my legs, but my grasp remained firm, even in the midst of the pain. I suppose, though, I should have positioned myself better during my approach, …because its eye was just out of my blade’s reach.
“Damn it! …I’ve gotta get closer, …but how? …That’ll work.”
Reaching out as far as I could muster without dropping my switchblade, I made yet another small cut, then proceeded to hold the small knife in my mouth as I buried the fingers of my free hand inside the new wound. Tightening my hold as much as I could, I released my other hand, causing me to be jerked violently as the Grappler tried to pull me loose, but once again, I retained my grip. Almost every ounce of energy drained from my body at this point, I took the blade in my hand and proceeded to lunge it into the eye, …only to be stopped midway as another tentacle came down to wrap itself around my arm. At this point, not only pain was coursing through my mind, but also utter exhaustion. Closing my eyes to try to relieve both sensations, I used what energy I had left to keep both of my hands in their current positions. …If either of them caved in now, …it was over.
“…Come on, …I’ve got this. …I’ve got it, I can…I can do this. Just a few more inches…just a few more…and it’s over. …I can’t give up now, …not now. …If I do, then I…I-”
My eyes suddenly flew open and I bit my bottom lip, …screaming at the top of my lungs just as blood began dripping from it.
“NO!!! …I’M NOT DYING HERE!!!”
“…I’m not dying again…never again.”
Giving up whatever feeling I had left in my legs, I pulled myself forward and thrusted the entire switchblade, handle and all, into the Grappler’s eye, …bringing forth a shriek far louder than any I had heard it make since. Without warning and without hesitation, it released me and I fell hard to the ground. Taking a moment to recollect my strength, I stood back up and reclaimed my switchblade. …Odds were that I would need it later on. As soon as I retracted it from the punctured socket, though, I was overcome by the creature’s tainted blood, which emerged from the wound with such force and I was sent falling back to the ground. Regaining my composure, I wiped the majority of the vile liquid from my face before standing back up, all the while blood continued spilling from the wound at an alarming rate, …the reason for which I quickly deciphered.
“…So, that’s what the eye was for, …additional protection.”
A major blood vessel, if not the heart of the Grappler itself, must have rested behind that eye, which was there to give the demon extra alertness to its surroundings, so it could shield it if something came too close. …What was meant to serve as additional defense ultimately became the cause for its downfall.
“Hmhmhm, how morbidly ironic.”
I was about to turn around and walk away, but after some thought, I turned back to sit and watch…as the fruits of my hard labor came to their fruition. I must have sat there with my legs crossed for another ten minutes, watching the Grappler shriek and wave its tentacles frantically as it was depleted of all its blood, …all the while a smile continued to grow larger and larger upon my face.
“…I wonder if Shaitan will feel something pulling at his shriveled, black heart…when the first of his thirteen Gatekeepers dies…at my hand.”
- The End -