The taker of the last breath (922 words)

She runs through the night, heavy footsteps are following her. Eating up the space between her and her predator. Her lungs are burning and her legs are slowing down; her muscles are tired and shaking from the unusual exertion. Her breath puffs out between her lips in visible clouds. Panic is all she can feel. And cold.  It is an icy cold, fueled by the terror that spreads inside her bones and infests her entire body. The footsteps behind her come closer. She keeps running. At least she tries to keep running. Panting. Gasping. Fighting for air. She is trying to fill her lungs with oxygen, but she doesn’t succeed. Her breathing is too shallow. Her heart races too fast. It is quiet in the dark. Lonely in this winter’s night. She can only hear his steps. Her own steps. The blood in her ears. Please, please. Please!  she whispers into the gloaming nothingness. She sends silent prayers to every divinity she remembers, asking that someone will stop the demon behind her. But the cold in her heart lets her know that she will not be saved. Her soul is lost. Rotting. Decaying. Turning to dust. She will be forgotten. Erased from this earth. And no one will know that she ever existed. She never left a notable trace. The woman rounds a corner, losing foot on the slippery pavement. She struggles to get her feet under her body again, partly because her limbs are exhausted,  partly because in her haste, she stepped on her scarf that came loose. She turns around, feeling the wet pavement underneath her palms. She tries to crawl away from the creature that has been following her, looking at him. Eyes wide, she finally sees him up close as he takes long strides in her direction. He isn’t running anymore. Like the predator he is, he comes closer. And closer. She makes one last attempt to get up and run away, but her body doesn’t belong to her anymore. It doesn’t follow her orders, and when he kneels in front of her, with his long cold fingers enclosing her throat she looks in his dark eyes for the first and last time. Black like obsidian. A dark abyss. Beautiful. Beguiling. Pleading? As if they were asking for forgiveness and permission, all at the same moment. But then he blinks and the gentleness she thinks she has seen is gone. It made room for something cruel and soulless. The hand around her throat closes and her breathing air becomes less. And less. She tries to gulp in some oxygen, but the hand on her throat prevents it from reaching its destination. Her body spasms. Her hands touch his wrist and her legs are flailing, trying to find enough grip to push away from her murderer.  “Please, don’t let me die like this” are her final thoughts before she feels a strange and uninvited sense of lust. Her eyes keep staring at him but her soul is on its way out of her body. The horror and confusion she felt will be forever painted on her face. In rivulets, blood runs down her throat from where his sharp claws held on to her. The demon lets go of her empty vessel, and pushes angry tears off his face with the back of his blood-stained hand.
I have to do it. I will die if I don’t. He bares his fangs and with gusto, he buries them where his claws left a bloody wound on the woman’s throat.
The heat leaves her body as one last breath, one last puff of air is pushed past her lips. He stills his hunger. His thirst. His need. Until he feels the energy of his young victim setting in his veins. He sighs satisfied, but he wants more. He needs more. He can never get enough. It is the nature of things. He lets go of the limp, pale body and gets up. He looks at her. Grief is painted all over his face. He is desperate for a companion, a mate. But who could ever love what he is? Who he is? She was his first for this night. A good start. Invigorating. Growling, he pulls his fangs in. A tortured sigh escapes his lips as he turns to leave. One last look at his prey and the peaceful way she looks. All dead people have this look. At least the ones who died because of him. If he could only feel some serenity. Not much, just a glimmer of it. If his tormented soul could only find peace. He is not asking for eternal bliss, just a moment of calmness in his mind. His hands turn to fists in his pockets as he pushes the string of weak and romantic thoughts aside. This is his life. There is no choice. No other option. His hunt continues. It has to. It will never stop. Because if it does, he will cease to exist. And with him, the tiny fragments of the souls of the people he has had the privilege to empty of their blood would be gone too. He can’t let that happen. They all are part of him now. Memories of them are in his bloodstream and nurturing his body. Squaring his shoulders, he walks into the dark moonless night. He was always a man of honour and principles. At least he has been before he turned into this… A demon… A walking nightmare… The taker of the last breath.

(Originally written in August 2017, edited today.)

2 Replies to “The taker of the last breath (922 words)”

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