“No,” Kiera covers puts her hands over her mouth to muffle a sob. Her eyes are locked on the two mangled corpses lying on the floor until tears blur them from sight.
Their assailant turns the weapon over in his hand, the blood giving off a glint like rubies. In the red glimmer, the blade creates a mirror image of its next target. Kiera looks up from the bodies to that the knife has been turned to her. As if standing before a vicious beast, she locks eyes on the man before taking a step back. Each step slow and methodical as to not arouse him. The heel of her shoe hits the wall with a soft thud. Through the front door comes a gentle breeze that kisses the nape of her neck. Another step causes a familiar creak in the floorboard.
I have to run. I have to run now!
Turning around, Kiera tries to make a sprint for the outside, but ends up slamming into something. For a moment she thinks it I the door. Deep, haggard breaths rain hot air down on her head as she reels away from the chest of another person. Another masked man blocks her exit with shoulders so broad that he has to step sideways to enter the house. While his chest and arms appear thick with muscle, signs of a potbelly poke through his sweater, unveiling a hairy stomach.
Kiera turns to run away, but two large hands clamp around her. The portly man picks her up off the ground as if she were nothing more than a doll. He brings her in and grapples her in a bear hug. Oozing from his pours is the pungent smell of garlic that makes her choke. She flails in his arms like a fish, but he manages to keep a firm grip on her.
“Let go of me, you creep,” she shouts as she continues to squirm.
“Hold still you little—”
“Horus,” the knife wielding man barks, causing both his associate and Kiera to stop moving. “Quit fooling around and bring the girl closer.”
“Y-Yeah, sure thing, Cain,” the large man carefully waddles over.
The masked murderer steps over the bodies of his victims as he lifts the knife up to their daughter’s throat. Kiera whimpers as the warm, blood-covered blade touches her flesh. A sudden sting makes her wince as fresh blood trickles down onto the steel.
“Wait, Cain,” Horus shouts, stopping his companion from opening up Kiera. “We better make sure that this is the one we’re after. Check to see if she has the medallion.”
“Fine,” Cain scoffs, lowering his knife.
Using the other hand, he reaches into her shirt. A flush of color rises to Kiera’s cheeks when she feels his fingers brush against her chest. She begins thrashing around wildly in Horus’ arms, making the big man struggle to hold her. One of her legs makes a crazed kick between the legs. Cain lets out a shrill groan as the blade slips from his hands. Legs turn to jelly, unable to support him after such a devastating hit. He collapses to the ground. Curling into the fetal position, he cries softly and holds himself.
“Hey, you okay?” Horus asks as he tries to hold back a laugh.
“S-Shut up,” Cain answers at a higher octave.
Another swing of her legs lands a blow to Horus, catching him between the thighs. Like his partner, he gives a high-pitched squeak as his legs go out from underneath him. The strength in his arms disappear, giving Kiera the chance to slip free. She darts out of the path of the falling man as he collapses on top of his compatriot. Pinned underneath several hundred pounds, Cain gasps for air as their target scurries away. With the front door still blocked by the mound of flesh, she heads for the back.
“Get off of me, fat bastard,” she hears Cain scream as she rushes into the kitchen.
Under her feet, her shoes have left crimson marks on the tile, marked with the blood of her parents. Seeing it makes her tear up, but the sounds of the two men getting up snaps Kiera back to her senses. Beside the refrigerator is a door. Throwing it open, Kiera sees stairs leading down to darkness. Above her head is a metal chain, which she pulls. Lights flood the cellar, revealing the remaining steps that lead underneath the house. Making sure that the door is closed behind her, she hurries down the steps. The old wooden steps let out loud moans even under her miniscule weight. She winces from the groans, but does not hesitate to hurry down to the bottom. The cement floor amplifies every sound her sneakers make, turning their rubbery squeaks into lion-like roars.
Across the room, there are another set of stairs carved from concrete. The gray steps lead up to a pair of heavy metal doors leading to the outside world. Scrambling across the floor, she climbs up to the door. Through the small gap in the doors, she feels the breeze and the scent of the autumn air. Warmth of the sun touches a sliver of her face. She pushes against the cellar doors, but they do not budge. Taking a brief breather, she tries again, putting her whole body into it. Her sneakers start to slip underneath her, forcing her to stop. Standing there for a moment, she scratches her head before peeking through the crack. The sight of something wooden lying across the doors causes her heart to skip a beat. Kiera realizes that it is the shovel from the shed that barricades her in the house.
They knew, she gasps. They covered all the exits so that none of us could escape. They are going to kill me, just like they killed Mom and Dad. But why? Why are they doing this?
“Hey, did you hear that?” she hears Cain talking as footsteps move to the kitchen.
“Yeah,” Horus says with a hoarse cough. “It sounds like we caught a little bird.”
Kiera holds her breath as she listens to their footfalls thumping from upstairs. The cellar door swings open with a screech of the hinges, and then it bangs against the wall. Shadows stretch on the concrete floor followed by the creaking of the floorboards. Every one of their steps matches the heartbeat pounding in her chest. Frantically, she looks around for something, anything.
Nothing in the basement could prove to be a useful weapon to fend off the masked pair. With no other options, she chooses to hide. Running to the crawl space under the stairs, she squeezes behind the space between the wall and the water heater. Inches away from the heater she can feel the heat emanating from the metal shell.
“Come out little bird,” Cain taunts.
“Come out, come out, wherever you are,” Horus chimes in.
Kiera chews on the bottom of her lip as she watches them from her hiding place. A slight twitch of her arm causes the flesh to touch the water heater. Blistering heat bites into her arm like a vicious snake. She gnashes her teeth to keep herself from screaming. Pulling away from the heater she accidentally smacks her head against a pipe. The copper lets out a vibrating song that makes the masked men turn in the direction of the heater. Kiera shouts from the throbbing in her head and the fact she has been found out.
“Found you!” Horus shouts with a guttural laugh.
An arm reaches for her in the small space between the wall and heater. Kiera presses against the wall, kicking any time Cain’s hand lingers too close to her ankle. Despite her heel smashing into the back of his hand, he endures the pain to grab her foot. He pulls her out from her hiding place and Horus pins her arms over her head as she is thrust onto her back. Cain has her legs underneath him and a sickening grin poking through his ski mask.
“Enough playing around, girl,” he snarls.
Using the tip of his knife, he cuts into her shirt, ripping it down to the navel. She wants to cover herself, but her arms cannot budge under Horus’ weight. A flush of red hits her cheeks as her petite frame is exposed to both men. Unsettling eyes fall upon her chest, but soon she realizes that they are more fixated on the pendant wrapped around her throat.
“Is that the seal?” Horus looks up to his partner.
“Yes, that’s it,” Cain takes a sigh of relief. “This is our girl.”
What? Kiera looks down at the medallion. They are after me, because of the pendant? My parents died all because of this!
“Alright,” Cain draws his knife. “Let’s get this over with. Sorry, girl, but we got to kill you now.”
“No, please,” she begs, her body wriggling to break free. “I won’t tell anyone I saw you. Just take the pendant if you want it so badly. Please, I don’t want to die. Please, please, don’t kill me!”
The tip of the knife hovers over her heart, inches from piercing the skin. Cain takes a deep breath as he lifts it over his head. Kiera continue to thrash. Horus keeps her pinned down for his partner as the weapon is thrusted down. Just before it plunges into her breast, she moves one last time, causing the pendant to jostle. It leaps before the blade. Then, the basement resonates with the metallic clash.
The knife protrudes from the center of the ruby. Several cracks leap from the blow, reaching all the way to the serpent. Blood-red steam hisses from the jewel and the cellar grows colder. Seeing his mistake, Cain pulls the knife away and stumbles from the girl. Horus does the same, sprawling up against the wall with a look of horror plastered on his face.
“W-What have you done?” he screams at Cain.
“No, no, no, she moved! Damn it!”
“You have to hurry,” Horus barks. “Kill her before it is too late!”
Pouncing on the girl, Cain holds the knife with both hands as he slams the weapon down onto her chest. With her hands free, she catches his downward thrust, yet the knife still inches closer.
No, I don’t want to die, tears well in her eyes. Please, someone, anyone, help me!
…As you wish.
The ground begins to violently quake, knocking Cain off of her. He hits the floor as the cement begins to crack under Kiera’s feet. The earth splits apart, the rock jagged like rows of razor sharp teeth. Steam hisses out of the maw, and growling comes from the depths. Flames of a sapphire hue leap from the hole. Their embers dance to a haunting song of agonizing cries while the fire swallows the light. It casts the cellar in a pale blue glow.
Wings of the blackest pitch cut through the sapphire inferno. Reaching outwards the obsidian feathers fall from the leathery frame only to be eaten by the fire. A figure pushes the ghastly embers aside, stepping forth onto the cold cement. It is a young man whose skin is as fare as Kiera’s. Locks of hair as dark as coal hang about his head in a wild mane. Black rags cover only his waist and lower. Turning, he faces Kiera and looks upon her with sharp amber eyes with an inlay of gold that make them flash like fire.
“Did you call me, fair lady?” he says, his voice as fierce as a serpent’s bite.
Kiera struggles to swallow the lump in her throat, “Y-Yes?”
Looking over his shoulder, the winged demon asks, “Have these men attempted harm on you, fair lady?”
“I see,” a smile crawls over his face, make his eyes burn brighter with their golden fire. “And what is your name, fair lady?”
“My, my name,” she pauses, “It’s Kiera.”
“Beautiful,” he says. “Little dark one, my name is Lucifer. I am sure you are familiar with it.”
The flames slither back into the depths as he steps forward. Around him the air ripples, warping the sight of his wings. Cain and Horus both back away, but the latter ends of stumbling backwards. He falls on his backside and screams as the devil stands over him.
“No, please,” he begs. “Spare me! For the love of God, don’t kill me.”
“He will not save you now,” the devil retorts. “Your sins have been weighed and you are damned for your actions. As they say…burn in Hell.”
Lucifer places the palm of his hand on Horus’ forehead. Flames of a sapphire blue sprout from the head and travel across the body, swallowing the masked man whole. He screams in pain as his entire body is on fire, but it soon cuts out. In a matter of seconds, he is reduced to a pile of ashes.
Brushing the soot off his hands, the devil steps over to Cain, who has drawn his knife. Sweat drips from his chin, landing in a growing puddle. As the devil draws closer, it appears to bubble and then turn to steam in a chilling hiss.
“S-Stay back,” Cain threatens, slashing at the air. “Don’t come any closer, you monster.”
“A monster, am I? I did not slaughter two people for my own desires. If I am a monster, what does that make you?”
“Shut the hell up,” Cain charges.
He thrusts the knife directly for the layer of flesh covering the heart. The air ripples around Lucifer as the blade starts to bend before reaching its target. As it touches the skin, it buckles and then melts like butter. Drops of steel fall to the concrete, hardening as they touch the cold floor. All that Cain is left holding is the handle to his murder weapon.
“You, you damn demon,” Cain cries as he drops the useless knife handle.
“I am not just any damn demon,” Lucifer grabs the masked murderer by the throat and lifts him in the air. “I am the demon. The Prince of Darkness, the Fallen One, the Dragon. Lucifer, the Morning Star. Now, join my fiery kingdom.”
No sound escapes from Cain’s lips as he is also swallowed up by the sapphire fire. All that is left are his ashes, which fall into a small pile at Lucifer’s feet. Looking down at the dust with disgust, he stomps upon it, sending the remains scattering into a small cloud. Kiera sits there, unable to think or move. Before it dawns on her, the King of Demons stands over her.
“Th-Thank you?” she looks confused.
“You are welcome, fair lady,” he answers with a smile, “I mean, you are welcome, Kiera.”
Wings fold against his back as he drops to a bended knee, his head tilted to the ground. She looks at him oddly, as he appears to look like knight waiting for the command of His Grace.
“What are you doing?”
“And Hell shall follow you,” he speaks as if reciting something. “That is the duty of all those called to the aid of the Horseman of Death.”