Raphael stalked towards the door, searching for a way to stall the crowd. All he needed was enough time for Issie to drop out of the upstairs window. For her to drop without making too much of a sound when she eventually landed on the ground. It had rained the previous day before, so it wouldn’t be too much of a hard landing for her. The constant hammering on the door was becoming more and more violent, and Raphael feared that the door would have reached its limit by the time he made it to the door.
The door was barely hanging on to its hinges. The closer he got to the door, the more intelligible the words sounded. What were they chanting?
“Bring out the beast! We want the beast!”
The words never made it into a rhythm and the chant was slightly disjointed. Some people started later than others, others said the wrong sentence at the wrong time, but it was clear what they were saying.
Beast? Raphael’s heart halted for a few seconds. Were they actually looking for him? How had word of his involvement spread around? Was it his fault that Issie’s home had practically exploded in front of his eyes? Was it his fault that her mother was now missing?
Raphael quickly peeked through the keyhole to see the caveman-esque torches. The glowing flames caught his eye first, then he looked at the faces surrounding the cabin. Men. If women were present, Raphael couldn’t tell because of the black hoods that hid most of their faces.
Raphael looked back to make sure that the hallway behind him was clear. He had no choice. He was going to have to stall. He wrenched open the door.
“Hello?” Raphael’s voice was uneven, mostly because the smoke from the flames had started to reach his nostrils. “How can I help?”
A man – a very burly man – with a black ponytail similar to Issie’s father’s, stepped to the front of the crowd. The crowd’s chant halted to a complete stop. Raphael noticed the skull-and-crossbones tattoo visible under his transparent shirt, which seemed like it was going to rip open at any moment.
“Bring out the beast. That’s all we ask for.” He said simply. The aura of pride radiated off him, forcing Raphael to be on the defensive.
“What beast? Nobody except me lives here?”
The man looked confused. His thick, very manicured, perfect eyebrows scrunched together as he looked away from Raphael. He looked back into the crowd, and started to whisper something into the ear of the person beside him. Raphael craned his neck forward to focus on what he was saying.
“Didn’t you say that the beast was a female? Surely, it cannot be him.”
The only beast he knew was him. The only monster in the cabin was him.
A woman made her way to the front of the crowd, letting the crowd create a miniature pathway for her. She was familiar. Similar to Issie, especially in the way that she carried herself. Her face was stone-cold, the aura emitting from her was of elegance.
This was Issie’s mother. Raphael could tell, not only from her facial features, but from the ring that sat loosely on her left finger. The ring was rarely seen on Issie’s father’s hand, but Raphael noticed that he only wore it in private.
“Don’t be deceived by my daughter’s charms. She may not be like her sisters, but her charms are still there.” Her voice was silky. So smooth.
Issie often read of the syrens, that sang men lullabies to their deaths, to him. The knot in his stomach as this woman spoke him, gave him the same feeling. Death emitted from her, and Raphael was sure that this was her intention.
“I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Before Raphael knew it, or he could even blink, he found himself on the floor, pinned down by the muscular man.
“If you don’t tell us where the beast is, we’ll kill you.”
Raphael eyed the knife in the man’s hand. If it wasn’t for the knife, he knew that he could easily flip this around but a weapon was a different question. He couldn’t switch to his other form either, he was certain that he’d die. The longer that he could stall them, the more time Issie had to get away from this place. It just sucked that he wouldn’t be there to continue their new journey.
“Kill me. Still means that the house is empty.” He smirked, watching proudly as a purple vein popped up on the man’s forehead.
Raphael felt warm blood trickle down from his neck and onto his chest as the knife was pressed into his throat. A tiny bit deeper, and Raphael would have been sent to the worlds beneath.
The soft patter of feet caught his attention, and Raphael fought the urge to roll his eyes. Why did he think that she’d follow his instructions? Why couldn’t she just doing what he said, for once in her life. The soft patter caught other attention too – just as Raphael had hoped against, as he watched a member of the crowd whisper into his ear.
“Gaston, go after the girl.”
Shit. Raphael thought as he watched the man suddenly get up to investigate. He reached out to grab at the man’s feet but his hand was stomped on by boots. He was soon swarmed by the crowd’s punches to the face, stomach, legs and any other place that they could get their hands on.
He drifted in and out of consciousness but stayed awake long enough to see the man return with half of his arm intact. The man was about to say something but then his eyes suddenly turned to its whites. Before anyone could catch him, he dropped to the ground, smashing to the ground. Issie’s mother shrieked loudly and rushed to his side, wiping the growing pool of blood on her skirt.
“Gaston, baby. Wake up.” She begged, as she hugged his limp, lifeless body.
Raphael tried to focus. He tried to get up. He tried to fight off the hands that were attacking him so violently. But he swore he saw four grey paws on the ground before he drifted off.
* ~ * ~ *
Issie was pissed off. She didn’t know why she was so pissed off, only that she was. She was filled with an insatiable rage that wouldn’t stop until everyone in the room had left her alone. Her sight was clearer now and she noticed the boy on the floor, drifting in and out of consciousness before his head finally lolled to the left.
Her heart hurt, a pain so intense that she almost needed to take a step back and howl. She watched as the men surrounding her scattered, realising the result of their transgressions. A harsh, low growl escaped her lips. The men looked at her with fear as they headed towards different parts of the house.
Chasing after two at once, they both ran foolishly in the same direction. She, for some reason, enjoyed the horrific screams as she pounced on both of them. One of them tried to feed the other one to her, when a chance of escape from Issie’s claws came obvious. How foolish.
His scream cut short when she bit at his neck. Her jagged teeth sinking into his flesh. The other man watched as she dragged out the man’s oesophagus onto the floor, launching it out at the corner of the room. He started to beg for his life, asked God to help him but Issie knew that nobody would save him now. She stalked towards him but her attention was caught elsewhere.
She smirked, as much as she could anyway, and turned around to see a man coming at her with a longsword. Foolish humans. Petty revenge is never done right. She rolled to the side and watched the man trip over his own two legs and plunge the sword into his own friend. She wanted to laugh, she really did. But she had other matters to attend to.
The woman started to stalk towards the boy, with a knife hidden in her belt. It glistened in the light, and she let out a deep snarl. Her snarl awakened the boy from his slumber, but also caught the attention of the woman.
“You bitch.” She spat out, as she whipped the blade out and pointed it at her.
Issie didn’t care. She just needed her away from the boy, away from her and away from this place.
“All you ever did was cause me more problems. You destroyed my chance at happiness before, and you did it again.” She screamed at her, her tears mixing with the blood on her dress. “I’d rather be dead than be your mother.”
Issie pounced on her, taking the woman completely off-guard. The woman smashed her head on the wall, causing a slight crack in the wall behind her. The woman dragged the weapon across Issie’s fur, but Issie was too blinded by rage to notice. She knew she was bleeding but wasting the blood of the woman in front of her was far too important to miss. She tore at the woman’s side, ignoring her pitiful screams of agony and the whacking of her hand. The woman, if she could even be called that anymore, finally dropped the knife, and what was left of her heard stopped beating.
Turning, she looked to the source of the broken voice. She could see the bruises all over his face, and knew that he was bleeding from places that she couldn’t make out. All she knew was that she needed to comfort him. To make him better.
“You need to go.” His sentence was broken, and he coughed violently.
He spat out blood. He pushed her bloodied mouth away from his body, stopping her from licking his wounds. She ignored his actions and carried on, but he nudged her away gently with the little strength he still held.
“They’ll come back for you. Please, Is.” He coughed again, seeming like he was about cough out his entire being this time. “You need to go. Don’t worry about me, I’ve been through worse.”
She knew he was lying but his insistence made her step away from his body. She was clumsy on her feet, like it was her first time walking on all fours. The sounds of other footsteps from outside of the door caught her attention. Howling helplessly, she looked from the door to the battered boy on the floor. Once again, she looked to the door. He gave her a half-smile, meaning to reassure her. She nudged him with her head again, as he ran his hand through her fur.
“Go.” He said this time, his strength slowly returning to him. “You’ll find me. Promise.”
With that, Issie made her way to the opened backdoor. She turned around to see the mob increasing in size from all directions, approaching the cabin. The boy was slowly dragging himself from the entrance to where she was but he left a trail.
She couldn’t leave him. Not like this. The boy looked up and mouthed the word ‘run’ at her, before giving her one last smile. She forced herself and her legs to run. Run. That’s what he said. Run.
She felt the wind in her fur, slowly healing the knife wounds as she ran away from the cabin. She knew she was coming back for him, she knew that she would find him again. Not matter how long it took, she would always find him.
In perpetuum et unum diem.
F I N