Fred moved around the room slowly, counting under his breath as he went. The library itself was large with book cases coving the wall. The windows were stained glass blues, reds and yellows all depicting awful, terrifying scenes. One showed a man being burned alive, another showed a woman being ripped limb from limb by demons. Fred stopped counting, then he reached out and pulled a book from the bookshelf, he didn’t bother looking at the title, instead he flicked quickly to page 43. He read the first two lines then put the book back, feeling satisfied. The security measures were still in place here, he was protected. He felt himself relax a little as he put the book back. They had told him that the system would not fail, but he had heard that before. When people were that confident it made him nervous because it seemed likely that they’d simply overlooked something. He left the library, weaving his way between the large plush chairs and tables that dotted the room. He walked along the carpeted hallway to the kitchen. The kitchen was large, with marble counter tops and tiled floors, everything seemed to gleam in the morning light. He hated the kitchen. It was too big, too open and far too cold. Whoever had designed it hadn’t taken into account the rather impossible task of keeping the room warm. He went to the fridge and pulled it open, he examined the contents for a moment, it was too full to see everything clearly. He closed the fridge over, he was too stressed to eat. He’d been in this house a week already and it was starting to grate on his nerves. He wanted to be outside, in the fresh air, feeling the grass under his feet while birds sang as they flitted from tree to tree. He wanted his freedom back, he wanted his life back. He turned from the large, glass doors that opened to the perfectly manicured garden. They had promised he’d only be here for two weeks at most and they’d have the entire problem sorted by then. Not that he fully understood the problem either, but when some lunatic who can teleport and throw fireballs comes after you you stop questioning and just start running. Apparently he had the good fortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and some demon had decided he was a good target and even better, demons didn’t stop until they, or their prey, were dead. The man who’d rescued him, Paul, and his girlfriend, Tessa, had dumped him here while they were out hunting. Fred had yet to see anyone else, but somehow the fridge and cupboards were fully stocked at all times and his dirty plates seemed to clear themselves away if he left the room.
Fred turned off the TV, he could have sworn he just heard a bang from somewhere in the giant house. He stood from the couch and cautiously made his way into the hall. There was a dull thud from the back of the house, towards the kitchen. He started towards it then paused, was that blood on the carpet? The carpet was a pastel green colour and there was a trail of dark drops leading down the hall. His heart thudded heavily in his chest as he followed the trail. Maybe those people were back, maybe it was a trap. He paused outside the kitchen door, he leaned over and peered around the door frame. Tessa was sitting at the large kitchen table, blood streaked down her arms and legs, her head was resting on the table. “Oh my god are you OK?” Fred rushed over to her, she didn’t respond. He moved her red hair from her face and neck, her pale skin was covered in scratches and bruises, he carefully felt along her neck for a pulse, it was there but it was weak. What the hell was he supposed to do? He ran to the sink and quickly filled a bowl with warm water, then he grabbed a cloth. First things first he needed to find out where she was injured. He bathed the blood away from her face and arms, there were numerous cuts but they were all shallow, nothing seemed too deep. When he had finished wiping off most of the blood he carefully picked her up and carried her upstairs towards the master bedroom.
He lay her down gently on the bed, her chest was rising and falling slowly, at least he knew she was breathing. As far as he could see she had no major wounds, but if that was true why was she unconscious? Tessa opened her mouth and started screaming, Fred jumped back, letting out his own startled yell. There were no words, just screaming that echoed through the house. It died slowly, fading away to nothing and then she was completely still. Trembling slightly Fred reached out to her neck again, there was no pulse. Her chest was still. CPR, he needed to perform CPR and ring for an ambulance, he should have done it the moment he saw her. He lay her flat on the bed, what was it? 5 pumps then a breath? No, that was TV, it was more than that. He put his hands on her chest and started pushing up and down, Fred heard a low voice behind him “I wouldn’t bother with that if I were you. Her soul has long since departed her body. There’s no coming back from that. She’s dead.”
Fred whirled around, “Jesus Paul, what the hell happened?”
Paul shook his head, “It was too strong. Stronger than we ever imagined. We were split up, it chased me so I thought it let Tessa go. I barely managed to get away myself.”
Fred rushed over to him, “You shouldn’t be in here, you need to sit down, rest.”
Paul looked at him, “no, I don’t want to leave her.” he shrugged off Feds hand and approached the bed, he sat down beside Tessa’s body. Gently he reached out and stroked her face. There was a sudden, wet ripping sound as Paul’s other hand forced its way through Tessa’s stomach. “She has something of mine. Something valuable.” Paul’s hand groped around blindly for a moment, Fred felt bile rising in the back of his throat. Paul pulled his hand from her stomach, it was coated in blood and gore, he held something small in his fingers, he rubbed it against the sheets, cleaning it. As he held it up again Fred saw it was a small, metal ball. Paul stood from the bed, “Thank you for letting me get on with my work. It makes everything so much easier when people cooperate.”
Fred opened his mouth, then closed it. “I knew eventually they’d come after me if I just killed enough people. They were always so protective of their kind.”
Fred’s heartbeat filled his ears, he felt light-headed, he turned to run.
“There’s no point in running, I’ll always find you. You’ve been marked.” He held his hand out flat, the metal ball resting in the centre of it. It rose from his palm then shot after Fred.
Fred reached out for the door handle, he pulled the door open and ran out into the fresh air, there was no sound of pursuit behind him. Ahead of him he could see his car, he was so close to freedom, he was going to make it. The metal ball hit the back of Fred’s head, it exploded almost instantly his body dropped to the ground with a heavy thud. The ball stopped, hovered for a moment then sped off back to Paul.