Danse des Morts

(Dance of Death)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by:

Todd S. Jones

 

Copyright 2012

 (Last Updated: 03/18/2012)

(Word count: 93,793)

 

 

 

 

 

 


Acknowledgements

 

Danse des Morts is my first novel.  It has grown as I have grown over the years; disjointed and unbridled at first, then maturing into a more a coherent, decisive piece.  I am grateful for the insightful input my friends have given me throughout this creative process.  Without their urging over the years I would never have completed this monumental task.  A special thank you goes out to Carolyn Jones, “the wife”, along with my mother LaWanda Syroid for spending countless hours reading, editing, and rereading my drafts.

I am dedicating this novel to my late uncle, Edward Bohanon who braved life as a severe diabetic.  He lost his sight at an early age, survived multiple bypass surgeries, yet never let his hardships slow him down.  He was the example of what one determined soul can accomplish when they put their mind to it.  He encouraged me to set goals and his life examples inspired me to achieve them. 

I remember sitting at my uncle’s kitchen table typing out a short story on one of the first electric typewriter I had ever used.  I must have been ten years-old.  When I went to put that behemoth of a machine away, I dropped it on the floor breaking it.  My uncle did not yell, although I could tell he was disappointed.  He made me work it off picking up apples from his yard.  The work I did could not have come close to paying for that typewriter.  It was expensive, they all were back then, and he did not have much money.  He said it was never too early to form an appreciation for hard work and paying off your debts.  His father, my grandfather, used to say that if you wanted something, you should work hard, save your money, and pay cash for it.  My Uncle lived by it and I live by.  I remember the lesson and I remember him in my heart.  I miss him and will always cherish the time we spent together.  I hope I have grown into a man he would be proud to call his nephew.

I extend a similar hope that Danse des Morts has grown into a story that you will be proud to have read.     

 


 

Danse des mort

 

I am Death, born to serve you,

Now shed your tears, like morning dew.

Life and death I hold within my hands,

Together they form nature's bands.

 

Vanity and wealth you will leave behind,

For tranquility comes to all in due time.

Natural balance I bring to view,

Easing the transition and guiding you through.

 

Equality I spread across the land,

Smoothing life’s hardships that still stand.

As your portal to life fades away,

Cast off your sheath and welcome its decay.

 

Your body’s nutrients will be consumed,

Enriching the soil so flowers may bloom.

Your soul I set free to meander about,

But know you’ve been judged, so hear me out.

 

I am DEATH and I have come for you,

Striving to set all things true.

My hands bestow mercy if given the chance,

Take hold of me now, so we may dance…

 


Chapter 1 - Angus the Butcher (2000)

 

 

Melek Ammar steered his sport utility vehicle along side the curb and shoved the gear selector into ‘P’.  He flipped down the sun visor and a Polaroid image of a fair skinned woman in her early thirties with burnished red hair stared back at him.  He took a deep breath, his eyes tracing the well-known depiction of his late wife, Fiona.  Her long eyelashes protected brown eyes and her slender nose divided naturally pink hued cheeks that were raised by a smile that burdened his heart.  He reached out to touch the picture and seeing his fingers shaking, pulled them back.

“You weren't supposed to die Fi.” The scent of her skin was still fresh in his mind and his lips remembered the softness of her mouth.  Melek let his hand rest on the silver band that he wore on his ring finger; his thumb and forefinger rubbing with a rhythmic motion as if they would help him hold on to the memory of Fiona.  

“I will make them pay.”  His tone harsh, yet laced with the fondness of her memory. 

There was a thousand-and-one reasons Melek did not want to be here.  He had only desired a peaceful life, a wife, some kids and maybe a dog.  He never wanted to believe in demons, fallen angels, Shedim or any of the hundred other names he had heard them called.  Morticia’s birth had changed that, and now he had little choice whether to believe or not.  They were real.  And the madman controlling them would stop at nothing to get his infant girl, Morticia.  There was so much potential building inside her little body.  He needed to keep her safe, and from that need something awakened inside of him.  He could sense the demons when they were near, like a thick, clammy fog sticking to his every thought.

For the last six months since Fiona’s murder during Morticia’s birth, he had hidden his daughter from the demons.  “Daughter,” he caught himself turning the word over in his mind hopeful she could one day be just that.  If the prophecy was true, however, his daughter was born into the world to usher in a new era as the next Death incarnate.  How could one such as her be content with being his daughter? 

Melek looked out the vehicle’s window at the parking structure across the street.  He could feel the demon resonating like a migraine that creeps up your neck and pushes against the back of the skull.  This one was stronger than any he had banished before.

Whether he believed the prophecy or not was irrelevant, it was happening all around him.  The demons kept coming, like small foot soldiers acting out the will of their master.  The demon out there, however, was a direct descendent of the “Fallen Ones” who had fought in the great millennium war.  Melek had never faced one of these before and he could feel his gut tighten at the thought of what he knew was to come. 

Legends had named this type of demon a Rakshasa and spoke of their ability to feed off their victim's essence like a vampire; absorbing the essence into their own to make them stronger.

Melek’s mentor, Ye-Wang, had traced the demon’s origin back to the logging community of northern Michigan in the 1800’s.  It was spawned of flesh and evil and sent into the world of men to live through human existence.  Although its time on earth in those early days was brief, its lustful desire did not go unnoticed.  There were snippets in historic text that referred to the man-thing as Angus the Butcher.  The title so earned through deeds of horrific murders that littered the early logging communities.

“Ye-Wang feared you’re coming, but I do not.”  Mel flipped the sun visor up, his elbow brushing against the handle of a Glock 20 10mm pistol holstered under his armpit; its twin resting under his other arm.  He glanced down at the weapons and his mood hardened.

Mel opened the door and stepped from the vehicle into the rain.  The smell of damp, fresh cut grass came from the small park behind him.  He looked up at the menacing clouds that blotted out the moon’s light and rubbed the back of his neck; the muscles tight as he tried to work his thumb under the base of his skull to relieve the pain the demon’s presence caused him.  The rain soaked his short, gray-speckled hair and trickled down his cheeks to drip from his trimmed beard.  He tapped a cigarette out of the soft pack and flipped open his Zippo lighter.  The blue and yellow flame sparked to life, followed by the scent of lighter fluid.  He took a long draw on his cigarette, watching the end light.  He flipped the lighter’s lid shut and stared at the Smith and Henderson Law Building parking structure. 

Mel exhaled through his nose, smoke drifting out in front of him.  The Rakshasa’s presence throbbing in the back of his head made the tobacco taste stale.  He flicked the butt in a puddle.  Pushing his fear aside, he adjusted the flexible body armor he wore over his black t-shirt and walked across the street to the parking structure. 

Rain blanketed the building, shrouding it in a blackness that even the bright city lights could not penetrate.  Mel pulled the two matte-black Glock pistols from his shoulder holsters.  Their familiar weight in his hands gave him a solemn reassurance.  He looked up the stairwell near the main entrance. 

"God, hear me now, for a sinner requests your blessing," he began.  "Keep my aim true and my heart steadfast so I may send back that which should not be."  He was not sure his prayers helped, but if there was evil, he reasoned, there must be an opposing good.  And he could use some greater good right now.

 

* * *

 

The elevator doors shuddered open and Mary Sullener stepped out to a wall of humid air.  Perspiration seeped from her pours with each step.  She glanced out through the parking structure’s cement opening to watch the lightning dance across the night sky.  Mary’s hand reached under her loose fitting blouse and rubbed her swollen belly; the day’s stress flowed away, replaced with hopeful thoughts of her unborn child.

Last night’s sleep was riddled with nightmares and this morning she procrastinated getting out of bed, which cost her the opportunity for a close parking spot.  If not for the Trust fund she needed to finalize at the office for Morticia Ammar, she would have started her maternity leave early.

Her nose crinkled up at the sudden pungent smell that blew past her.  It reminded her of the old sulfur wooden matches her grandfather would use, but stronger.  She really wanted to be home already so she could take off her suit, prop her feet up and get some long overdue rest.

A flash of lightning sent shadows skittering across the cement floor and walls.  Mary held her breath in anticipation of the thunder that would follow.  Her body shivered as her overactive imagination mingled with years of horror movie scenes.  Her swollen feet throbbing with each hastened step.

The thunder cracked and Mary let out a yelp as the building plunged into darkness.  She stopped, not daring to move.  Her eyes searched for her car, struggling to focus.  There was a curious scraping sound, like metal being dragged across metal, and then the poignant sulfur smell was back. 

The baby kicked. 

Mary’s hair at the nape of her neck bristled.  She gripped the small container of pepper spray that dangled at the end of her key chain and waited.  After what seemed like forever, the soft orange glow of the emergency lighting flickered on.

She shrugged off a shiver that hovered just under her skin and continued to her car.   

“Okay Ms. Fraidy Cat.  Get a grip, get in your car, and get home.”

The baby kicked, again. 

"What in the world's gotten into you, little one?"  The sound of her own voice comforted her as her free hand reached down to steady her belly. 

The smell of sweat mixed with sex surrounded her causing her stomach to churn.  Her arms began to tingle with an uneasy sensation of being watched.  Then the metal scraping sound came again, just outside her line of sight.  Mary thumbed the pepper spray, straining to pinpoint the sound, but all she could hear was the short, rapid bursts of her breathing.

"Beep…Beep," came the familiar sound from the cellular phone that hung on her belt.

"Holy shit!”  Mary’s nerves jumped and she skip-stepped before regaining her balance.    

"Beep…Beep"

She snatched the cellular from its cradle and flicked open the lid with her thumb.

"What!" 

"Excuuuse meee."  The familiar voice of her husband, Jim, sounded distant and tinny through the small speaker.

Mary took a deep breath and exhaled as she loosened her grip on the phone.  "Sorry, honey."

"Something wrong?"

"No, the storm has me a bit jumpy that’s all." 

"You still at work?"

"Just left.  I had to finalize a complicated trust fund before I going on leave."

"Let it go, Mar." 

That had become Jim's catch-phrase whenever she worked late.

"Don't start."  She rolled her eyes, knowing Jim couldn’t see her.

"How's the baby?"

"He's kicking like a soccer pl-”  The baby kicked hard, causing Mary to suck in a lung full of putrid air.  She held the cellular away from her mouth and breathed through her suit’s lapel.  Bile rushed up her throat.  She coughed it back down while peering through watering eyes into the darkness.   

“Mar, you okay?”  Jim’s voice sounded shrill coming through the tiny speaker.

“Yeah.”  She moved the phone back to her mouth.  “Somebody must have run over a raccoon or something.  It reeks.”

"Well, get home."

"I'll be there within the hour."

"Sounds good.  I'll have dinner waiting for you."

"You made dinner?"

"I can cook a mean Chinese take-out."

"That you can."  She laughed, despite the fact that the thought of food amongst this horrid smell was making her nauseous.

"Drive safe.  Love you."

“Love you too.”  Mary slapped the phone back on her belt clip and pushed the car’s lock release button on the key chain with her thumb.  The headlamp's familiar blinking signaled that the car was unlocked and the dome light went on. 

The baby continued to squirm.

"Calm down, little one.”  Mary inhaled, held her breath, and then exhaled in a slow controlled manner.  Not working.”  She tried again.  “Inhale, hold 1, 2, 3, exhale.”  

The feeling of being watched overwhelmed her and she reached for the car door’s handle.

"What th-?"  The poignant smell hit her, overwhelming her senses, and causing her to lean over and wretch.

Lightning flashed again, illuminating the area.  Mary swore the shadows moved, her mind racing to process the snapshot of her surroundings.  Something was in the shadows, watching her.  Her eyes searched the darkness.  Nothing.

"All right, Mar.  Take a deep breath.  You’re tired and your nerves are shot."  It was her best reassuring voice.

The baby lurched inside her as she turned back to the car.  She grimaced and clutched the door handle for support.  Her eyes caught a sudden movement within the shadows.  She yanked on the car’s handle, her eyes never leaving the shadows.

The darkness took form and Mary’s fingers slipped from the handle.

She wanted the hulking figure that emerged from the shadows to be a figment of her imagination, even begged her mind to make it so.  But the massive creature that stood in front of her was real.  Its reddish-brown skin was drawn taut over a broad chest that was covered with thick black hair.  Grotesque muscles bulged from elongated arms and its legs were like trees.  Each footfall sent thunderous sounds across the cement floor.

Mary felt her grip on reality slip into surrealism as panic swept over her.  She tried to turn, but could not tear her eyes away from the demonic man-shaped face.  Its protruding brow, sunken eyes, and gnarled nose were covered with a mix of scarred flesh and knobby growths.  Saliva frothed at the edges of its mouth and squat nostrils flared as it breathed.  Hanging from its weathered chin was a tangled web of charcoal gray hair, giving it an ancient demonic air about it.

Mary’s finger somehow found their way to the pepper spray as the demon’s mouth yawned open.  A thick, scarlet, tongue extended from the cavity toward Mary.

Mary clamped down hard on the plastic button on the top of the pepper spray.  The stream splashed against the demon’s chest and arm.  A large, claw-like hand shot out and tore the container from her grasp.  Her legs, burdened by the extra weight of her unborn child, buckled.

The dark figure leaned in closer.

“Move!”  Mary’s inner voice shouted.

The monstrous head, inches from her face, breathed in her scent.

Mary’s vision blurred and a dizzying blackness engulfed her mind as the creature’s putrid breath oozed over her.  She mentally screamed at her limbs to move, but could do nothing but stare at the penetrating black orbs that leered down at her, digging into her soul.

“Don’t!”  She heard herself cry out. 

Monstrous hands clamped down on Mary’s shoulders and squeezed. 

Mary winced under their astonishing grip, her arms going numb.

"My baby."  Tears flowed down Mary’s cheeks.  She watched as the edge of the demon’s mouth curled in sickening grin.

”Run, run, I have to-” With every once of strength she could muster, Mary brought her knee up hard into demon’s groin.  A satisfying ”thud” told her she had hit home. 

It’s grip lightened and a moan escaped those terrifying lips.

“Run, now!”  Mary’s mind commanded, but her swollen body failed to respond fast enough.

Powerful fingers drove sharp nails into her flesh.  A deep growl-like laugh spewed forth from a mouth full of elongated, yellow-stained teeth.  Mary heard herself scream as the demon forced her to the ground, its massive weight dropping down on her arm. 

She heard the bone snap, then felt an unbearable pain exploding in her elbow.  Her body was no longer hers to command.

The demon’s tongue moved over gnarled lips and saliva dripping from its tip, falling into Mary’s gaping mouth. 

Bile lodged in her throat.  The demon’s face moved toward her neck. 

Summoning what little strength she could, Mary pounded, scratched and ripped at any part of the man-thing she could with her good arm.  Nothing she did slowed it from what it was going to do.  

A forceful hand clamped around her neck, pinning her while the other hand tore at her clothing.  Pain shot up her hip.  Tears blurred her vision.

She screamed again and again.

The hideous face closed over her exposed chest and ran its slimy tongue over her nipples.  A trail of pasty spittle mixed with her fear-laden sweat.  Mary felt its member rubbing against her inner thigh.  She pleaded through uncontrollable sobs for this abomination to stop. 

When the demon entered her, Mary clamped her eyes, grimacing yet another level of terror and pain assaulted her.  Her body resisted, tight and dry, but could not hold back the demon’s fury.  She felt the its member stab her remaining sense of reality with long, forceful strokes.  Her flesh tore and her body convulsed under the intensity. 

"Where's the girl?"  Her demonic attacker said, between thrusts.

"What…?" Her mind begged her to tell it anything it wanted to know.

"Mooorticcciaaa!” Its voice was as forceful as its grip around her neck.

She sucked air in short, quick bursts.

"The girrrlll?"

Her frantic mind worked, thoughts came and went without her prodding.  She heard the name, "Ammar" escape her lips.

"Wheeerrre?"  It growled, thrusting harder as it dug its nails into her throat. 

"I…I…don’t know."

“WHERE?"

“The address…is…in my briefcase.”

“Gooood."  The gravel-laden voice crept into her ears.

“This isn’t real.” Mary kept thinking as she tried to push the searing pain from her mind.

The creature bit at her breasts, sucking her blood mixed with sweat into its mouth.  The red liquid slopped from its mouth, collecting in the gnarled batch of hair under its chin as its frenzied thrusts continued.

“Please, God in heaven-“

Mary felt the numb pressure of the demon’s hand move toward her womb.  Razor-like nails leaving a dark red seeping trail along its path as they worked lower. 

“God no,” her mind screamed.

Its hand stopped, hovering over Mary’s abdomen.  Then with practiced accuracy its claw-like fingers pushed through the flesh of her belly.  Her skin gave way and the creature entered her a second time.  She could feel him cutting into her embryonic sack and watched as the demon pulled out her infant child. 

Excruciating, unimaginable, pain wracked Mary’s entire being.  Her belly cramped, stealing the breath from her lungs.

Mary could see a murky glow begin to emanate from the demonic form that held her baby in its blood soaked hand. Cocking back its head, the demon released a guttural howl of satisfaction.

The last memory Mary’s mind would record was that of the demon holding her baby, the little one she and Jim had longed for and planned their lives around, by its little feet with one hand and severing the umbilical cord with a quick swipe of an elongated nail from its other hand.

Mary felt a peaceful warmth envelope her, even as her body continued its futile gasps for air.  Her vision blurred and the parking structure began to fade...

 

* * *

 

A woman's scream echoed against the cement walls from up the stairwell, bringing Melek from his thoughts and sending him into motion.  He bounded up the stairs, two at a time, his rubber-soled hiking boots making little sound. 

His forty year-old lungs aching with each breathe and he took a moment when he reached the landing where the scream came from.  Squaring his shoulders, he pushed open the metal door to the parking level open. 

The door flung open and Melek took pause at the horror that was strewn in front of him.  He recognized the body of Mrs. Sullener, the lawyer he had hired to setup the trust for Morticia.  She on the cement parking structure’s floor with her abdomen ripped open and small pieces of flesh scattered about the surrounding area.  Her head lay tilted toward him; eyes vacant, yet pleading even in death. 

He had just seen her yesterday, he thought.  Talked to her and felt her hand in his as he shook it goodbye.  She was aglow with anticipation of giving birth for the first time.  Now look at her, he thought.  Her right arm was bent back on itself at her side with her left leg twisted under her at the knee.

Mel’s eyes followed the trail of intestines to the shadows.  The smell of blood filled his nostrils and solidified his resolve.  It had fed!

The demon stepped from the shadows, snapping Mel’s thoughts to attention.  His eyes widened as they took in the enormous tree-like thighs that extended downward from the creature’s torso.  Its feet were covered with a thick coat of hair and yellow talon-like nails protruding from its oversized toes.  It stepped forward; its movements smooth and surprisingly agile.  Coagulating blood oozed between its toes and bits of flesh clung to its immense chest and elongated arms.  Drool dripped from the blood-clotted hair that dangled from its chin, adding to the wicked grin that formed on its face.

The creature made a deep sucking sound as it cleared its teeth of flesh.

“Yoooouuuu” The word ground its way out the demon’s mouth like boulders being crushed in a quarry, sending chills down Mel’s arms.

Melek moved his fingers over the triggers of his Glocks and squeezed.  The deafening sound of the ammunition igniting echoed off the cement structure.

Teflon coated bullets tore into the demon's chest in a tight pattern.  The demon’s bulk heaved at the impact.  It stumbled backward, crashing into Mary’s Mustang.  Glass exploded as its body slammed against the driver side window. 

The Glocks clicked empty. 

The demon sprawled against the vehicle’s door, a shaky hand moving to its chest.  Blood spurted through the demon’s fingers.  Its face tightened in a grimace as it looked down upon its massive frame in disbelief.

"H…ho…how." The demon’s voice had lost its gravel tone, trembling in a high pitch as its lungs struggled to fill themselves.

Melek flipped the retaining levers on the Glocks with his thumbs and shook the empty clips loose.  He reached into his ammo belt and snatched two full clips, slamming them into place with practiced precision. 

Melek locked eyes with the demon. 

Stillness descended over the garage. 

The demon’s chest heaved, its body continuing to gasp for air, as bewilderment melted away to defeat.  Its leg muscles shook, struggling to hold it’s the hulking weight its body.  And then, with blood soaked hands reaching out, the demon collapsing to its knees and swayed momentarily before toppling onto all fours. 

Melek watched as the strength from the demon’s powerful arms depleted, barely able to hold the demon toppling face first. 

“Not so tough...” Melek began, his tongue sticking to the roof of his mouth in mid-sentence as his mind felt the wrongness of the situation.  This was too easy, and Melek had learned that nothing involving demons was ever easy.  The migraine headache receded, which he expected with the demon’s death, but it was moving down deeper inside rather than dissipating.  Mel could feel the storm itself pulling back as if it too feared what was about to come.

The muscles in the demon’s neck bulged in an attempt to keep its head from lolling down.  Its arms and legs quivered as Mel matched convulsions rack the defeated demon’s body. 

A jab of pain punched through the back of Mel’s head.  He grimaced from the pounding pressure as if someone was using his mind as a drum.  The hair on his arms lifted upward, reacting to the rapid change of static energy in the air. 

Ethereal energy swirled around the bodies of Mary Sullener and her infant child.  Mel knew they were dead; their slaughtered bodies lay still on the cold cement floor.  Yet he felt their presence reaching out for him; their souls screaming out in defiance.

What was left of their bodies began to glow with an inner light that hovered above their corporeal shells.  Brighter and brighter the light intensified, causing Mel to squint as he peered into the core of the light.  It was like looking at the filament of a lite light bulb; if you stared hard enough you could see it and everything else seemed to fade out of focus.  Mary Sullener held her infant child in her arms floating within the light.  Her unblemished, peaceful face pleaded for his help, but the horror was even too much for him.  The loss of his Fiona and now this; what was he supposed to do against such evil.  Her eyes, full of hatred and disgust, fixated on the demon and her mouth opened in a silent, anguished scream as she was drawn closer.

 “But…you’re dead?”  Mel could not hold back the thought that forced itself to the surface.

A gravel-laden growl crept from the demon’s being, the sound filling Melek’s mind as much as his ears.  Mel’s eyes traced the demon’s slumped body, not daring to turn away as a shadowy filled light oozed from its pours; stretching out like a hand toward Mary’s visage.  The woman’s face painted a picture of frantic terror as she clutched her baby against her breast.  She tried to move away, but the gloomy light shot out and wrapped itself around her and the infant.  Then it tightened, squeezing as it pulled their ethereal forms toward the gaping jaws of the demon. 

“A trick of the storm”, Mel thought.  Yet he knew, like a long lost memory coming to surface, it was the Rakshasa.

Mary’s screams could no longer be heard, yet Melek felt their reverberation in his soul; his mind spiraling down into helpless immobility.  He watched as the hapless ethereal forms shrunk into themselves, shriveling with decay as the their light seeped through the Rakshasa’s skin.

The demon lifted its monstrous head and Melek could see the inner fire in the blackened pools as they fixated on him.  Its chest heaved, expanding with each labored breath.  The massive muscles in Angus’ arms tensed and hardened nails dug into the cement floor.  

“Fuck me!”  Mel heard the words escape his own lips.  He had witnessed many things in his life; souls drawn from their bodies, dark rituals powered by human sacrifice, creatures summoned from the afterworld, but this was…was…too much.  This Rakshasa was feeding on its victims’ essence somehow and then using that power to heal itself.

Melek eyes were drawn to the numerous bullet holes as they drew in on themselves.  Blood clotted and torn flesh flowed together to form scar tissue.  The creature’s mass was also growing!

The seed of fear germinated within Melek as he watched bone ridges form along the demon’s spine.  His eyes darted from the Glocks, which seemed suddenly useless against such a creature. 

The demon howled as its face elongated to contain an enlarged jaw line that supported over-sized canines.  The Rakshasa stood, taut muscles on the verge of bulging through its skin, unfolding its body to an impossible height that was a foot taller than it had been just seconds before.

The moisture drained from Mel’s mouth.  The Glocks felt heavy in his hands and a creeping numbness spread to his fingers.  None of the others demons had displayed such awesome power before, Mel thought.  They had flesh that bled, blood that spilled and as such a well-placed bullet would take down.  They healed if left untouched long enough, but not like this.  They were nothing like this.

”There had to be someone behind all these creatures, they couldn’t just get her one their own without being summoned.”

The demon leapt into motion.

Mel heard the Glocks howl their defiance, before he realized he was squeezing the triggers. 

Bullets ripped through the demon as it lumbered across the thirty feet that separated them.  One struck its jaw, nearly shearing off the side of the demon’s face.  Others sent chunks of flesh from its shoulder and several more dug into its throat. 

Mel continued to fire.

With each new bullet hole there followed a soft glow of mending energy that enveloped the wound and sealing it.  Mel had the sinking feeling that nothing could slow the juggernauting demon now that it had fed.

The guns clicked empty, once again. 

The Rakshasa bore down on Melek, its face contorted in a hideous grin of pain mixed with sadistic pleasure.

Melek tried to roll with the impact, but was thrown hard onto his back.  Both Glocks flew from his grip.  He felt his spine twinge from the impact as the Rakshasa’ massive frame pressed down on him.  Then a loud snapping sound followed by intense pain in his left knee.        

"Fuck!"  Melek tried to fight the pain and channel it to his muscles.  He pushed up on the Rakshasa’s chest, bench pressing the demon and trying to hold it at bay.  His hands began to sink into the squishy pulp that served as the demon’s flesh. 

"It’s healing too quickly,” he thought.

The Rakshasa’s flesh continued to glow, solidifying around Mel’s fingers.  He scrambled to keep his fingers from being trapped and tried to shrimp his way out from under the demon. 

Mel’s chest worked to draw in air, but the demon’s weight pressed fully on him now.  He tried to bring his good knee up to buck the demon off, but could not move.  He worked an arm free, but it could do nothing to stop the demon.

One of the Rakshasa’s massive hands clamped down on Mel's shoulder while other hand dug into his body armor. 

His ribs strained on the verge of snapping and his body armor was starting to give way.  Mel’s vision was starting to blur at the edges.  He could no longer breath. 

Melek suddenly remembered something that could be his last hope.  Using his free hand he snatched the two needle packs from his belt.  He was not sure why he had brought them, only that Ye-Wang had told him he would know when to use them.

Blood splashed into Mel’s eyes from a multitude of cuts along his arms where the demon’s nails had sliced through his flesh.  The ferocious power of the Rakshasa's attack overwhelmed him.

Agony mixed with an oppressive dread.  He stared at the thick red liquid inside the pressure injection needles; thankful they were still in his hand.  They had to work.

Melek’s hand squeezed the needle pack and tucking his elbow in he shoved upward toward the demon’s neck.

Angus pulled his head back out of reach and slapped Mel’s arm wide. 

Desperation renewed Mel’s muscles as he refused to stop struggling.  He worked his good leg under the demon, gaining a bit of distance between their bodies.  Then he jammed the needle pack into the demon’s thigh.

Melek did not fear death, but he feared what would happen to Morticia if he were no longer there to protect her.  The pain shot clarity into his mind and just as blackness threatened to envelope him an inner voiced screamed out.  Words filled his mind and he pushed them out with all his being.

“I BANISH THEE."   The voice was his, but the intensity and conviction of the declaration was from something innate and primal.  His throat burned as the words came out.

He felt Angus’ hands clamp on his head and could do nothing to stop the intense pressure as it squeezed his skull.

"WHAT TH-" The demon’s snarling words drifted at the edge of his consciousness.

The pressure wavered, but Melek had not the strength to open his eyes.  He felt the demon’s weight roll off him. 

"Morticia," he thought as blissful darkness wrapped its comforting shroud around him…