She had a vague sense of where she was and how she’d gotten there. She’d been on her morning run. She’d known better than to go off the trail, but the park had been so busy.
She could hear James in her head telling her that was no excuse; she had been stupid- stupid and reckless. It wasn’t a sentiment she disagreed with.
The beast had seemed to come out of nowhere. Its matted fur was a rich, muddy brown. There was a slight rust tint over several patches of fur. Miriah recognized it for what it was: dried blood. Beneath the tangled mess of short, thick fur was the shape of a man. Though she knew he’d never been part of the human race, the similarity unnerved her.
In the slouched position that was normal for his kind, the beast towered over her small frame. If he were to stand straight she knew he’d reach well over eight feet in height.
He’d lifted her as easily as she might have picked a stone from the river bed… All 120 pounds of her. She must have hit her head on something as he ran with her over his shoulder because she was in his lair and at his mercy.
She could feel the wounds where his talon-like claws had dug into the flesh of her back as he’d held her in place. She could feel the dampness on her t-shirt that told her she’d bled, but the wounds had begun to clot on their own.
She was weak, slightly disoriented. The Baskil had to have gotten some venom in her. She could feel it coursing through her system. That meant her source must have been wrong. There were no bites on her; no wounds except the place the beast’s claws had punctured her skin.
A tremor raced down her spine as she racked her brain for any other information pertaining to the demon-beast. They had strength and poison, but they lacked speed and intelligence. They took pleasure in their kills, but they didn’t waste time about it. They were hunters by nature, as well as necessity.
Fire, she thought as she stared at his vast, hairy back. She visualized the flame sparking and her will was done.
The Baskil swatted it out, like one might swat at a mosquito trying to get a drink. The beast turned. Its crimson eyes bored into her as he growled. It was a low, throaty sound meant to invoke fear. It succeeded.
She tried visualizing the flame again, trying to make it larger this time. The flame started, but sputtered out on its own accord. She was too weak to expend the necessary energy.
The beast’s black lips curled into a sinister grin. “Do you like to play, my little firefly?”
She blinked fast, twice. The creature had the capability to speak? She was still a novice in this world. James tried to keep as much of his work to himself as he could manage. For her safety, he always said. She huffed at the thought. What good did that safety do her now?
“Sure, do you have Candy Land?” Her voice came out stronger than she thought it would.
The beast looked at her, obviously not understanding the reference.
As he stared, he continued to take slow steps toward the young woman slouched against the wall of the cave. “Are you frightened, pet?”
She shook her head, not trusting her voice to speak. Her auburn locks were coming out of the pony-tail she’d tied them in before leaving her small home. She could feel the bramble from the forest tangling deeper into the wild mess of hair. The twigs were poking into her scalp.
She tried to move her hands to remove the unwanted decorations, but realized her hands were bound. She sighed. She must really have been out of it. Where are you, James? She wondered.
No response came. She hadn’t truly expected one. Wherever he was, he would find her. He wouldn’t let her down.
The beast had used some sort of vine to tie her up. She pulled against the bindings around her wrists. As she groaned, the beast chuckled.
He knelt down to get closer to his victim. She smelled delicious… Just one little bite, he thought. But, no, he couldn’t do that. Anger welled up inside of him at the restriction that had been placed on him. He slashed at her arm and trembled with excitement as the fresh blood trickled down her toned arm.
Her legs jerked as she tried to kick the beast away. He was too big; she was too weak. The creature laughed in her face; his scarlet eyes dancing with mirth.
His claws slashed across her thigh, ripping her pants, and forcing a cry from her throat. The scent of blood was heavy in the air, teasing his hunger. He couldn’t take it anymore. He lifted his other hand to strike her.
Something dripped from his nails. Poison, she thought as he ran the index finger of the venom-laced hand over injured arm. The contact tickled causing her stomach to turn. He grabbed her wrist hard. She could feel his nails pressing into her flesh, into her vein. She shuddered.
“Sleep now, my little firefly.”
And she did. Nightmares drifted though her sleeping mind. When she finally awoke, she didn’t know how much time had passed. Her arm had ceased its bleeding. A dirty cloth was tied just above the wound on her thigh. She looked around the room, trying to pinpoint the beast’s location.
She spotted him, huddled in a corner. His attention fully on the meal before him. He ripped a chunk from the grotesque pile in front of him. His teeth sank into what looked like a human arm. The bile rose into her mouth as she stifled a whimper. She had to get out of here.
She checked to make sure her bindings were in place. They were. Frantically, she darted her eyes around her little corner looking for anything that would allow her to free herself. Nothing. Nada. She was losing faith. Why hadn’t James found her, yet?
The beast was still preoccupied with his meal. He hadn’t yet noticed she was awake. She knew she was still weak, perhaps more so now that she had lost more blood. All she needed was a spark, though; something to weaken the make-shift rope so she could rip it apart.
She closed her eyes and gathered all of her determination. In her mind she saw the spark she was looking for and fed all the magic she could manage into its creation. She focused on the vine wrapped tightly around her wrists. She felt the physical heat she was generating and ripped her wrists away from each other.
She opened her eyes and looked down at her wrists, finally freed. Scooting her knees to her chest caused her thighs to burn. She swallowed back the pain; she refused to die here like this.
Her fingertips fumbled as she tried to untie the knot. It took three tries, but it finally dropped to the ground. She moved her ankles around and braced herself to stand.
Once on her feet, her body shook. She knew she wouldn’t be able to run in her current condition. Pushing herself against the cavern wall, she decided her best bet would be to try and sneak away.
The beast looked up from his meal, noticing the movement from the corner of his eye. He took another bite before tossing the arm down. Flesh stuck out from the side of his mouth as he chewed. “Going somewhere?” He asked as he rose.
Miriah thought she was going to be sick as she watched the meat flop around in his mouth. She didn’t answer, just kept moving.
The beast sauntered over to her. He back-handed her across the face, knocking her into the center of the room. He snarled. “I like to play rough.”
She rolled over, tried to pick herself up onto all fours, so she could pull herself to her feet. He was there before she had completed her task. He kicked at her. His large foot making contact with her midsection.
She flew into the corner where he had been taking his meal. The body that laid there was definitely human. Its hazel eyes were frozen wide in terror. Miriah screamed.
“It’s still alive,” he confessed flashing her a toothy grin. “The venom, you see, paralyzes and keeps our food fresh.”
Oh, God. Was that what was in store for her?
She swallowed hard and tried to get back on her feet. She wasn’t just going to lie on her back and submit.
The beast used his lengthy arm to his advantage, swiping his claws over her chest and down her torso. She stumbled, but forced herself forward. She needed a weapon. He was too big for her puny punches to phase, but she didn’t see anything to grab and hit him with. She had to try, even if that meant striking out blindly.
The beast bellowed his laughter at her attempt to fight back. He picked her up by her upper arms. His claws dug in, then he tossed her aside.
She hit the rock wall hard before crumpling on the stone floor in the fetal position. She couldn’t move. This was it, she thought as the beast approached.
Something behind the giant’s figure caught her eye. A flash of shiny, black hair. James. Her heart broke inside her chest. She’d known he would come.
The Baskil was almost to her, his eyes promising a painful death. A scream started forming inside of her. A flash of metal and the beast’s head flew off its body, rolling across floor. It stopped right in front of her face. Its red eyes seemed to look into the very core of her soul. The scream she’d been holding in was released in that moment.
The next thing she knew, she was in James’ arms and she was safe. She let the blackness take her.
James took her home and tucked her into her bed after cleaning her wounds. In the forty-five minutes it had taken to get her home, he’d come to a single conclusion: this had been his fault.
He leaned over and kissed her forehead, a tightness spreading through his chest. This was best, he told himself as he steeled his emotions. He had invited her into his world- a world she was not ready for. He had brought this on himself. It was his fault she had nearly died. He wouldn’t let himself be responsible for it happening again…
He whispered his confession of love to the beautiful sleeping woman and turned to walk out of her life. She’d be better off without him.
I hope you liked this short glimpse into Miriah’s world. If you’d like to read more, My Traitorous Heart is available on Amazon for 99 cents or FREE with Kindle Unlimited.