A Spectre from the Past

He ran out into a field of tall, scarlet grass, panting heavily, and leaned on a white rock that stood out above the stalks. The hour-long chase had worn him down. Every bone creaked against every other and the warm air threatened to erode his lungs as he gasped for oxygen. Acid flowed through his veins and his nerves hissed and frayed from the bolts of lightning he was sure were surging within his panicked body. Turning around, he stared apprehensively into the black trunks of the trees, squinting through the spots in his blurring vision as frigid sweat pooled over his brows.

Have I lost her?

As if to quash his hope, the sharp glow of blue eyes, icy as the cruel irony of fate, cut through the darkness of the black tree-trunks of the forest, lighter than the indigo leaves, and heavier than the lilac evening sky. The hooded figure in white emerged from the shadows, like a specter, resurrected to deliver wisdom of what lay beyond. But he had had enough wisdom for today. He threw himself over the rock to shield him from what he knew was coming.

She showed no signs of exhaustion — she walked calmly towards him, with an almost curious expression, only betrayed by the satisfied smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. She reached behind her back to unclip the massive silver scythe — a foot above her head at least — and twirled it easily about her fingers like it were a stalk of hay. Only the gust of wind created from the movement rippling across the grass indicated how heavy it really was. As she approached the rock, she suddenly leaped forward, swinging the weapon swiftly, and the rock sliced open and rolled off towards the side.

Her field of vision now clear, she looked down across the hillside grass to her fleeing prey, half running, half falling across the grassy slope, past a small hut. In a flash, she shot down the incline and appeared right beside him. Before he could realize, she pivoted sharply, kicking him in the gut. The force sent him flying into the air, crashing through the roof of the hut.

He scrambled to his feet, head racing, and clawed his way through the wreckage up to a nearby window. Two loud crashes rang in his ears, first, of the door being kicked in, and second, of it smashing into the wall beside him as it reduced to splinters.

“WHY? WHY DON’T YOU JUST KILL ME?” he wailed at the form emerging through the dust. Letting her catch him was not an option — she would never give him a painless death. He could only hold out for the abysmal chance of escaping. He did have a few tricks up his sleeve yet.

“I cannot deny, there is something about watching you in pain that gives me great joy.”

“Is it my suffering you want? That makes you no better than I am. You are just as much of a monster,” he laughed nervously.

“And that is supposed to bother me? You created this monster. I am not powerless as I was then.”

As the dark of night crept into the room, he reached into his cloak, his fingers wrapping around the hard edges of the lemon-green stone in his pocket. Suddenly, he felt her hands grab his throat.

“Tell me,” she whispered mockingly, “how does it feel to be so weak?”

He crushed the stone into a powder and flung it up at her. The dust instantly burst into green flames — she swiftly jumped away to dodge and he seized his chance, hoisting himself out of the window.

The flames took the shape of a bird, swooping down to attack her. She ducked quickly, dodging to her left. An arc of silver as the scythe rent the bird in two. Flames seized the thatch and wood around her.

As he stumbled up the hill, he turned his head, dreading what he would see. The wall smashed open outward to reveal the menacing silhouette in the dust, against the burning remains of the outhouse. There was something captivating about how entirely terrifying his pursuer was to him. He had fashioned himself a god, the tyrannical deity of the wretched underbelly of the Citadel. Now he was crawling on all fours up an unnamed hill in a forgotten land.

His blood froze in his veins as her voice dragged him out of his reminiscence. She stood over him, looking down at him, reducing him. “I slew your entire criminal empire for the sin of having laid eyes upon you and not murdering you instantly,” she said. Her face was now solemn, her gaze, harsh and unforgiving. “But I will take my time with you.”

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Aditya Srinivasan

Aditya Srinivasan

Fermenting the overthrow of Capitalism.