Identities

Over the millennia, human beings have created their own world in a sense. They have found ways in which to heat and cool their environments at will, make foods last longer, and keep order in their complex societies. Most intriguing of all are their belief systems. They became so shattered and divided over thousands of years, by creating different ways of thinking, afterlives, and hundreds of deities. Religion, is what they call it. It made people righteous or humble. It justified malice and greed. Humble beginnings twisted to a self-serving end, but for all the corruption that it was, there were a few followers who were still pure. For all it was worth, these few followers were usually silent, and not bothersome like most of the loud, boisterous population who would scream their creed from the rooftops condemning all those who refused to follow them.

Of the many loud caterwauling fanatics, there was one elderly woman who stood out, particularly for the aggressive way she informed the masses of their impending trip to the fiery gullet of the netherworld. Neither young nor old were safe from her breathless screaming and fanaticism. Many wished and some prayed for her disappearance or punishment from her own God. She sparked so much malice from the world around her and yet she seemed so oblivious to it.

After another of her many crusades she returned to her home on a particularly gloomy evening. The clouds were swollen and heavy looking as they rolled in quickly looking ready to expel their cargo of life-giving rain. The old woman shuffled about her home checking one of her many portraits of her savior and adjusting it ever so slightly. She smiled to herself, face wrinkling harshly, before she checked the window. It was dark, even for dusk. The clouds had darkened significantly since she had come inside. She frowned and shuffled her way into her kitchen to boil some water for tea. It had been a long day trying to save the souls of the damned on earth. Could they not see that they were all sinners and would burn in hell's horrible inferno for eternity? Why did some of them mock her? Why did they ignore her or curse her? Why were so many turning pagan and selling their souls to demons? She fixed her mental questions at a wooden cross with a man nailed to it. Her pale, grey eyes seemed to fixate on the light with a riotous fire of determination. She decided that she would have to double her efforts. The foretold end was nigh and, to ensure her place in her Lord's favor, she would save as many souls as she could. The screaming kettle pulled her from her reverie suddenly and she shuffled to her counter, picked up a mug sitting on a small shelf, and poured out the heated water. She delicately dunked a teabag into it before shuffling back to her sparse living room to watch the damned world around her go by out the window. It had already begun to rain quite heavily. She sat on an old stiff chair and sipped at her tea. The sky had begun to rumble and flash as dusk turned to night. Cars rushed by on the street and people ran through the deluge for shelter.

"It is unfortunate", She began to herself, "that the Lord's rain does not clean the filth in peoples hearts and minds".

She stared silently for another long twenty minutes reflecting on her day. One memory that moved to the forefront of her mind, was a haunted young woman that had refused her prayers. She was nothing truly special, just an average person, but the worry and sadness in her face implied that she could benefit from the Lord's grace. As she spoke to this woman something nagged in the back of her mind, something wasn't right. She almost began to feel fearful of this woman. At this, the elderly woman gave her personal silver cross and a small bible to the young lady, before hastily saying goodbye and moving on. She couldn't get the woman's eyes out of her mind. They were a vivid green, yet hallow looking. It was frightening just thinking about it. The elderly woman shook the memory from her mind and went back to sipping her tea.

At about 9 p.m. she decided to turn in for the night. She stood to return her now empty mug to the kitchen when she saw a shadow appear down the street. It was human shaped but seeing it made the old woman's skin prickle with nervousness. She looked away to check the clock again and looked back to the window. The figure was much closer than it had any right to be. It had to have moved very quickly to cover that sort of distance so rapidly. She gasped and moved closer to the window. It appeared that the figure wasn't even moving its legs when she squinted to see how quickly it was advancing. It just stood still in the middle of the street, getting soaked by the evening rain. Lightning tore its way across the sky and ripped its way to the earth below. The street lights flickered and went out for a moment. When they flicked back to life the figure was in the old woman's driveway. She made a small worried sound as she pulled away from her window.

"What demon is this?!", She gasped.

Its head was bowed, cloaking the figures face in shadow. Even this close the elderly woman could not tell if the figure was male or female. Another flash of lightning and the figure disappeared. She blinked a few times to be sure that it was actually gone, cupped her hands and peered around outside her window. She still saw no sign of the figure. Deciding against her better judgment, she went to her door, unlocked it, and slowly opened it. She poked her head out and gazed around. There was still no sign of the person that had been there... or any other people for that matter. The roads were strangely silent as well. Taking this as a bad omen, the old woman grabbed her fall jacket with shaky hands, and dressed herself to go out into the rain. As quickly as she could she strode though the rain soaked streets until no more than three blocks away she came upon a magnificent old church. She sighed with relief and made as hastily as she could for the huge double doors. Once inside she began to relax. The house of her Lord would protect her from whatever demon haunted her tonight.

She placed her soaking jacket on a coat rack before entering the nave to pray. She shuffled through the dimly lit building coming upon rows of pews. Everything was calm, and silent save for the boom of thunder, and the pitter-patter of rain against the stain glass windows. She allowed the dim lighting and the warmth of the building to soothe her frazzled nerves, picked a bench closer to the chancel, and settled herself down to pray. Surely her Lord would hear her and do something to deter her stalker. After a few silent moments she began to feel a little silly for running to the church like a small scared child. Surely there was an explanation for what she saw, probably those nasty high school kids playing tricks on her again. She stood, straightened out her skirt and made her way to the door. She stopped suddenly when she heard a loud booming coming from the same direction, a door had been slammed open, and in the doorway stood the figure from before. Somehow it was different though. It was taller and far more slender than before. All its limbs, even the fingers seemed to be elongated and exaggerated somehow. Its head was tilted at a crazy angle, and its eyes were wide and luminous, they glowed a sickly yellow-green in the dim light of the church. Its hair was long, dark, and thin looking, hanging greasily past it's shoulders. It made a strange hissing sound and moved forward, as it did, its joints cracked and its body shuddered impossibly. It hunched over as it walked and its back bubbled like black tar, before a set of leathery wings erupted in a spray of blackened, foul-smelling liquid. It finally came far enough into the light that its face could be seen. It was the most horrible thing the elderly woman had ever witnessed or could ever have imagined. Its eyes were wide and insane, filled with blood-lust Its mouth was impossible, looking more like someone had made a slit from one of the creatures ears to the other, and filled its insane grin with shards of yellow-green glass. Blood leaked from its lips, where it had obviously sliced itself with its own absurd teeth.

"God help me!", She shrieked, stumbling back from the creature. It cackled dryly as its steps became more fluid.

"There are no Gods here woman, only malice and darknessss", it hissed, as its tongue flicked out briefly between its teeth.

Bloody saliva dripped from its maw and down the deathly grey-white flesh of its chin. Its recently formed wings billowed out to its sides as they stretched, before folding neatly against its back. The old woman crawled up the stairs leading to the alter in hopes that being close to it might save her. Lightning flashed, and yet again it moved faster than it had any right to, the creature was suddenly three feet from her. She shrieked, eyes wide with horror taking in every appalling detail of the monster before her.

"Looks like you were the one who needed to be saved all along", It chortled wetly, as if there was phlegm built up in its throat.

Its demented laughter continued to echo off the stone walls as it rose its elongated fingers, and wrapped them around the elderly woman's throat. She sputtered and clawed at the bony appendages to no avail. The demon's laughter was suddenly silenced for a heart beat or two before its jaws snapped forward and dug into flesh. It ripped and tore through skin, sinew, and bone using a prehensile tongue. Tugging the organs it found to be the most palatable into its razor-sharp maw, the creature pushed its way further into the body's core.

The old woman barely had time to register the agony of the monsters feeding. Before she could understand the blinding pain, her body was dropped and discarded on the cold stone of the floor. Warm blood pooled beneath her, staining her hair and clothing a deep crimson. A familiar silver cross landed on the floor next to her face, the figure on it starring back at her, almost mocking her with its promise of protection that it refused to bestow upon her. She put all of her efforts into reaching for it, only to fail inches before it was under her fingers. The creature chuckled and launched itself out into the world, through a stained glass window, feeling stronger than ever.