Sho Hashi Shrine district
May 6th, 1993
10 Miles from the city center….
Aiden Cooper’s feet hurt. For the last two miles, he had trekked through the ancient city of Naha in Okinawa on a tour of the city’s most ancient sites. The whole damn city was ancient, he thought acidly. Naha’s modern city streets winded and twisted over layers of Japanese and Chinese history, eras bleed together, colors on a yellowed and now very crowded human canvas. The tour guide, a stunningly beautiful milky-skinned, raven-haired Japanese woman of twenty-four years wearing the red short yet very sharply professional dress of the tour company Asia Earth Tours, had been prattling on and on about the history of Naha for the last several hours. She probably was a college student, and genuinely knew her stuff, Aiden admitted to himself, blinking a sweat drop out of his eyes, but at the moment he didn’t care.
She continued to speak, indicating the various areas as she did around the tour group, a motley collection of fifteen people of all nationalities all armed with and fumbling with bulky cameras. The Americans were the easiest to spot. They were the loudest dressed, bright floral prints and khakis. Aiden, a businessman, was dressed in a light charcoal colored suit made of thin yet resilient silk with perfectly shined black shoes and dark colored sunglasses. He was probably the best dressed among this lot, he thought. He half heartedly listened to her.
“…The Kyuuyou is, as far as we know, the oldest known factual history of the chronology of Okinawa. It was written and put together by Tei Heitetsu between 1743 and 1745, a Ryukyu government official in the Chinese community in Kumemura. It continued to be updated up until 1876, the 29th year of King Shou Tai. The Irosetsuden, was an additional chapter of the Kyuuyou which presented old stories and legends from and around the Ryukyu prefecture.”
The woman, who’s name Aiden had already forgotten (who could remember these things, after all?) stopped before a huge building that seemed to be set apart from the modern buildings that had grown up around it. Aiden had jumped on this walking tour at the last moment. He was here on a business trip, a seminar (he hated those things, so boring). As CEO of GlobalTech, one of New York’s top technology firms, specializing in applied military technology using mobile computing, he had little choice.
His assistant had been scheduled to go, but the damned woman had called in sick the day before and he didn’t want to forfeit the non-refundable attendance fees so he had went instead. Why waste money?
The seminar had finished a day early and so bored out of his wits, Aiden had taken one of the many walking tours around Naha, and thus had ended up in this horrid tour group, surrounded by human sheep, dressed in Armani, listening to a grad student lecture about Japanese history, in front of whatever the hell this giant building was. The building itself was surrounded by a crumbling wall that rose up fifteen feet, capped in red-orange clay tile. A gate rose up to twenty feet, made of painted red wood with tiered layers, bordered in gold and scarlet, a torii. There were no doors but a single bronze bell, inscribed with kanji prayers hung from the middle.
Beyond the gate were small ponds, intricately lined with gorgeous white flowers and lilies, all meticulously maintained as the small waterfalls fell from level to level to splash and trickle among the rocks. There, just beyond the waterfalls and mini ponds was a stair case made of white stone that rose into an open temple. The temple itself was a multi-story building made of the same white stone as the stairs topped with a red-clay tiled roof. It was silent as monks dressed in orange sarongs moved in contemplative study among the dim halls lit by flaming biers. Aiden had to admit, he was impressed. Normally the thing that impressed him the most was the bottom line at the end of each quarter but he was in his own way a collector of antiques from around the world.
So at this point his interest was perked a bit more than before. There had to be antiques in the temple. He wondered exactly how much it would take to buy some of them for his collection. The tour guide called for attention. It took her two tries but once she had it, she continued.
“We know from the Irosetsuden, that the name of Naha comes for its original name, Naba, which was the name of a large, mushroom-shaped stone in the city. Gradually, the stone wore away and was buried. Over the years, the name and its kanji changed as well into its modern form.” She looked from one eager face to the other. Aiden wasn’t paying full attention but was instead surveying the gold inlays of the torii gate.
“…The Ryukyu Kingdom was an independent kingdom which ruled most of the Ryukyu Islands from the 15th century to the 19th century. The Kings of Ryukyu unified Okinawa Island and extended the kingdom to the Amami Islands in modern-day Kagoshima Prefecture, and the Sakishima Islands near Taiwan. Despite its small size, the kingdom played a central role in the maritime trade networks of medieval East and Southeast Asia.”
The tour guide then turned her attention to the gate and Aiden’s heart stopped. For a moment, he had to blink twice to make sure he wasn’t seeing things. Then he realized of course he was.
There, on the left and right sides of the gate were two enormous statues, each easily five to six feet high. Each stone was carved into a terrifying visage of what looked like a lion or maybe a dog. Its eyes, round, bulging, staring, pierced him with their beady and knife-like intensity. The monsters were identical, except the one of the left had its mouth closed; the one on the right bared its lethal looking fangs for all to see, daring you to come closer. Their blunt snouts were wrinkled in frozen snarls, their gray bodies powerful and eternally still as sat upon terracotta plinths. To enter the shrine, Aiden noticed, you had to pass between the lion statues. There was no other way. Now that she had his attention as well, the guide went on dramatically, her Japanese accent lilting in the warm air.
“These statues are known as the shisa. They are a traditional Ryukyuan decoration. When seen in pairs like this, they were most often placed on the roof or entrance to houses, places of worship or sacred sites. They are considered to be guardians, wards of their protected sites. Some Okinawans believe the male has his mouth closed to keep the bad out of the home, while the female has her mouth open to share goodness. Others more often believe the female has her mouth closed to “keep in the good”, while the male has his mouth open to “scare away the bad”.”
“Like the komainu, the lion dogs, the shisa are variations of the Chinese concept of the fu-dog, vigilant guardians against evil and any who may harm the site they protect.”
Aiden felt a chill run down his spine as he looked into the eyes of the male shisa, its open mouth seeming to snarl at him. He wasn’t a religious man but something was raising goose bumps on his arms. He didn’t know why.
“It is with honor and reverence that the monks will allow us into their temple which they have maintained for over five hundred years. Once inside, do not speak to the monks. Do not touch anything. Do not pick up anything. This is a holy place. Show respect as you would with any church at home. This way, please.”
The guide turned on her heels and gracefully led the group onto the temple grounds. When it came his turn to pass between the gargoyle guardians, Aiden paused, only for half a second. He felt something cold seep into his skin and he actually shivered, despite the heat. Shaking his head, he moved forward through the gate and walked fast, past the koi filled ponds up the stairs to catch up with the rest of the group. Once inside, thankfully, the temperature dropped considerably. The air smelled of clean water, cool stone and incense. The only sound was the quiet shuffling of sandled feet as the monks went about their daily rituals.
Fifty feet inside the temple itself, the tour guide stopped again, this time next to a set of three shelves, each tiered above the other, lined with hundreds of candles, gleaming, shimmering bright. On each shelf, Aiden noticed, were several much smaller statues, icons of the shisa, replicas of the ones outside, painted in different colors, usually shades of red and green, some with mouths open, some with mouths closed.
There was even a yellow one.
“Ladies and gentleman, as you can see, the shisa are revered by those who keep up the old ways and are very much believed in. Centuries ago, a legend tells the story of how the shisa came to be in such a position in Okinawan tradition.”
Walking closer to the candles and tiny statues, Aiden looked at each one, fascinated and the wheels of his mind already turning to other things. Like his collection of artifacts at his penthouse apartment in Manhattan.
Like how one of these shisa would perfectly add to his Asian artifact section. It always impressed the women he brought back to his place when he would make up some bullshit about the history of each piece. Of course, those women would always be gone the next day with a decent pay off to make them keep their mouths shut, but still. The guide was talking again.
“When a Chinese emissary returned from a voyage to the court at Shuri Castle, he brought a gift for the king, a necklace decorated with a figurine of a shisa-dog. The king found it charming and wore it underneath his clothes. At the Naha Port bay, the village of Madanbashi was often terrorized by a sea dragon who ate the villagers and destroyed their property….”
“…One day, the king was visiting the village, and one of these attacks happened; all the people ran and hid. The local noro had been told in a dream to instruct the king when he visited to stand on the beach and lift up his figurine towards the dragon; she sent the boy, Chiga, to tell him the message”
“The king faced the monster with the figurine held high, and immediately a giant roar sounded all through the village, a roar so deep and powerful that it even shook the dragon. A massive boulder then fell from heaven and crushed the dragon’s tail. He couldn’t move, and eventually died.”
“…This boulder and the dragon’s body became covered with plants and surrounded by trees, and can still be seen today. It is the Gana-mui Woods near Naha Ohashi bridge. The townspeople built a large stone shisa to protect it from the dragon’s spirit and other threats and it is still visible there, to this day.” She concluded, turning once more to lead the group further into the temple.
His thoughts racing, a crazy idea struck him and Aiden made a move. Why should he have to pay religious nuts who believed in old tales anything. He ran one of the most powerful Fortune 500 companies in America. He wasn’t about to haggle with a monk. Reaching up towards one of the red shisa statues, his fingers had just touched the stone of the six-inch figure when the guide’s voice snapped out. Aiden flinched but froze where he was as she turned to pin him with an icy warning glare, her almond dark eyes flashing.
“Sir, please do not touch the artifacts. Be respectful.” Aiden felt his face flush.
“Uh, sure. Sorry. Was just curious.” He made to pull his hand back as she turned away and began lecturing about the classes of warrior monk in feudal Japan as well as how the trade between China and Japan began to influence both cultures. The moment her back was turned, Aiden’s hand snaked out, snatched the tiny figure and vanished with it into his pocket.
Aiden felt a burning at the back of his skull and whirled around as the rest of the group moved forward, pointing at things and gawking like a bunch of stupid birds at a worm fest.
There, behind him, was a single monk dressed in a dark robe with a round straw hat on. He carried a knarled wooden staff in one wrinkled hand. His face was a maze of lines and shadows but he never said anything. The monk just stared at Aiden as a hot wind blew through the temple gates and ruffled his robe turning them into billowing wings.
Aiden stared back and saw the man’s eyes were strange, almost entirely black. He couldn’t make out an iris or pupil…no sclera. Just blackness, an inky void in each socket…
Aiden raised his hands, the statue in his pocket, and glared at the monk, feeling stupid at the sudden creepy rush that was coming off of the old fart, and then angry because he felt stupid.
“What? Can I help you?” he snapped. The monk said nothing but shook his head.
Somewhere a bell tolled. A single deep mournful note.
Aiden turned away and walked quickly to catch up with the tour group, eager to be away from the eerie old man. The tour guide noted his late arrival during her lecture and didn’t look pleased.
“Mr. Cooper, please keep up with the group. The temples are very large and we do not want you getting lost.” She said sharply.
“I’m sorry I was just talking to a monk.” He stammered lamely.
“What monk? The monks here do not speak.” She replied curtly.
Not wanting to waste time with this woman and possibly get caught and yet oddly determined to prove his innocence, Aiden whirled and pointed.
“That….monk.” The words caught in his throat. The monk was gone. There were no doors to either side of where he had been standing and no other way out of or into the temple that Aiden could see. The old man was just gone, as if he had never existed. Another rush of cool fear trickled down his spine.
“Never mind.” he said.
The guide nodded and continued her lecture. For the next hour, they toured the temple and finally, at last the tour was over. The shrine was the last stop and Aiden was glad to be going back to his hotel and catching a flight back to New York.
On the way back out of the temple as he passed out through the torii gate, he felt something was wrong but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Ever since he had entered the temple, he had felt strange. As he waited with the other tourists on the bus that would take them back to their hotel in central Naha, he fingered the stolen statue in his pocket. No one had noticed. He was free and clear. Why was he worried? Finally the bus, an orange and white monstrosity labeled with so many advertisements and sponsors it was hard to see the manufacturer of the vehicle pulled up. With a hiss of dragon’s breath, the doors opened and Aiden boarded, planting himself in a seat in the rear of the bus.
The doors closed and with a jump and a halt, the bus pulled away and slowly entered traffic, the cars and people becoming more dense as they neared the city center. Aiden paid no mind to anything else as he drifted into a dreamless sleep, the bumping and car horns making him feel more at home than he had felt in the last three days.
Soon, he would be home and back in the real world, civilization. No more blasted tours, no more lectures, no more seminars, just a dry martini, satin sheets, air conditioned rooms and a beautiful woman hooked on his right arm.
As the bus pulled farther away, the reflection in the back bus windows caught a glimpse of the temple, its bright torii gate and the statues of the shisa out front, guarding the sacred sanctuary inside.
The left shisa sat, still as the stone it was made of, unmoving, its mouth closed, eyes unblinking.
The right shisa with its snarling fangs, gaping mouth, flaming eyes and mane of stone-fire….
May 7, 1993, Cooper Tower
Penthouse Apartment, Floor Sixty,
Manhattan, New York.
“This is a great place,” the attractive blonde named Donna Schimdt said as she stood near the floor to ceiling window that opened with a view that took in most of lower down-town Manhattan, the city lights twinkling like stars. Below, traffic went on in a steady stream, bright head lights winking and the red flash of stop lights. A car horn blew somewhere. The stars themselves in the night sky were close to invisible at this level with man’s constructed galaxy of the world’s greatest city overshadowing nature itself. In her graceful tapered well manicured hands she held a wine glass, filled with an amber liquid. Her body, firm and curvaceous, was slinky beneath a short black dress with a plunging neckline. Her blue eyes sparkled and her full lips were astounding. Aiden couldn’t help but stare at her. It was a pity she had the brains of a rock. Well, most women did anyway, he thought.
“How’s the Chardonnay?” he asked, making small talk, walking up behind her. She was right of course, he mused as he did, the suite he called home was large, sporting fifteen foot vaulted ceilings, glass fixtures and sculptures with white leather furniture and a rug made of red Persian silk. The light white-gray carpet was spotless and the walls were holding up Aiden’s various awards and pictures of himself with dignitaries and at demonstrations from around the world. She snapped back from her reverie and turned seductively towards him, fingering the stem of her glass. “It’s great, really. It’s a fine age.”
He stepped closer and moved in for the kill. He had spent over a grand tonight on her alone, dinner, a theater show, a private after hours tour of the museum and now, he would pull the final plug, the one that had gotten him more women into his bed than his pocket book ever would. He would take her into the back room, the one just off of the bedroom (brilliantly placed, if I may add, he thought to himself).
“Did you enjoy the museum tonight?” he asked lowly, looking into her eyes, giving her the best smolder he could come up with, feeling that familiar tingle in his loins as he did. She nodded expressively, brushing a strand of her golden locks out of her face and tucking it behind her ear, sipping her wine.
“Absolutely. I love history and stuff like that. Its so….” She searched for the word.
“Educational? Enlightened? Expansive?” he offered suppressing the urge to scream idiot at her.
“Yeah, that!” she replied, not even noticing. He reached up and traced a finger around her shoulder strap of her dress, her skin warm and soft beneath his touch. Her face flushed red a bit, and he wasn’t sure if it was from the wine or something else. Not that it mattered.
“Would you like to see my personal collection?” he asked, opening his arms, directing her with an open palm towards the back room. Her face brightened. “Absolutely!” She eagerly made off out of the living room, her heels silent n the carpeted floor before they started clacking on the oak wood floors in the hallway. He followed quickly, moving ahead of her. She laughed as he passed her and finally, they stopped outside of a heavy wooden door with a keypad on the right, just above the door knob. It glowed with a tiny red light, steady and strong.
Most people would have never guessed the wood was just an external shell. The door itself was actually three inch thick steel with triple steel dead bolts, perfectly balanced to swing like wood. The entire room itself was actually reinforced. One could never be to sure about thieves, he thought. Ironically, that made him grin. He liked irony when it was in his favor.
“Oh…impressive.. security….” She teased and looked away, only partly in jest as he keyed in the entry code, the little light flashing green. With a beep and a sliding of metal on metal, the door handle flicked up and Aiden reached out and took it in his right hand, his left going to his lips in mock seriousness.
“Few women ever get to see this and I really like you and wanted to share it just with you. So you can’t tell about what you see here. Promise?”
“Promise!” she replied, sipping the last of her wine.
“And open sesame…” he swung the door open.
The door swung open, stopping smoothly, the balance perfect. The room beyond was a black cavern full of tiny red winking lights at different intervals. Aiden knew she couldn’t see any detail and reached into the room with his left hand and depressed a single recessed switch. With a click, wonderfully and artfully placed spot lights lit up, one by one, flooding the room with even cool light, just like a museum. The hardwood polished floors reflected the light. Cases upon cases, all glass and gleaming steel lined the walls, going back thirty to forty feet or more. Shelves, also glassed in, stood fastened to the higher parts of the wall. A fossil of a small flying reptile hung from the ceiling, suspended by nearly invisible clear cables. In the center of the massive room was a large container, a glass display case approximately five feet high, sealed in bullet proof shining glass and steel. The winking red lights in each case were individual motion sensors and alarms. Aiden took no chances like the foolish monks who had so generously donated his latest piece.
“Wow!” Donna said, stepping into the room before Aiden, her eyes agape, roving from one case to the other. Each case was filled with neatly arranged artifacts from every era in time, each labeled and dated with a blurb about the history of each one below it on white card stock. She moved further into the room.
“Wow…” she said again and rubbed her hands over her upper arms. Aiden noticed her tone had changed. It was less of a tone of amazement and closer to one of discomfort.
“What is it?” he asked, moving towards her. He felt it the moment he stepped over the threshold. The cold air hit him in the face, a brutal biting cold that chilled him to his bones. He gasped audibly. Looking over at Donna, he saw her skin had broken out in to gooseflesh. “I’m sorry,” he stammered. It shouldn’t be this cold in here…its supposed to be temperature controlled. Let me check the thermostat…”
Over to the left side of the room next to the door was a control panel, where Aiden stopped and flipped open the cover. Inside was a keypad for the alarm and temperature controls. The green digital display read the alarm status, the temperature, last time of room access, humidity, and number of artifacts in the room itself. It would alert him instantly if any were missing. Everything looked fine. The temperature read-out however caused him some consternation. His eyebrows furled downward as he read it.
The temperature which was never supposed to fall below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, was displaying at a frigid 48. The humidity was normal at fifty-five percent. What the hell?!
“I have no idea what’s wrong with this damned thing. Artifacts like this shouldn’t be stored in an area this cold. I have it set to not fall below sixty-eight.” He pushed the diagnostic reset button and after a moment, the cold air began to dissipate and the temperature began to rise, slowly. Grunting to himself, he stepped back over to find Donna standing over the center case which was filled with Asian artifacts. Aiden kept Japanese and Chinese separate from his Khemer artifacts and pieces, each clearly labeled by period and location.
He walked over to her and was glad to see her goose bumps from the unexpected cold had vanished. The room was gradually warming back up. He’d call the maintenance people in the morning. He wasn’t about to loose his collection to faulty equipment. “What is that?” she said, apparently not really bothered by the cold much now that things were warming up.
She was pointing to what looked like a female figure, dressed in a long gown with an intricate head-dress on that formed into a multi-spired disc behind her, like sun rays, which of course they were. It was discolored from age, a deep shade of bronze flecked with green.
“That, is an image of the legendary Sun Queen of the lost island nation of Yamatai, Queen Himiko. She ruled in a period far lost to Japan’s history, but it’s recorded in several sources that she was a feared and respected figure, enough for both Japan and China to pay her tribute. She was supposed to have had shamanistic powers and controlled the wind and sun.”
“She’s beautiful.” Donna said in admiration. The tiny face of the icon was indeed quite shapely, with strong almond eyes.
“And powerful. She ruled for fifty years, from 189 to 248 A.D. Then she vanished. No one knows why.”
“So neat!” Donna moved around the glass, her fingers gliding over it. He would have to clean the glass later, and Aiden scowled but quickly hid it under a smile as she stopped and focused on another artifact inside the case. He smiled when he saw it.
“What is this little thing?” she asked.
“That, is a recent acquisition from Okinawa, Japan. It came from a temple maintained just outside the modern city.”
He smiled. Indeed it had. The little lion-dog figure sat there, behind its white business card, labeled and dated, just like everything else in the room, similarly acquired. Its red paint flared, a scarlet wooden fire in the lights of the room. Surrounded by much bigger artifacts, it looked small, unimportant. Not nearly as powerful and terrifying as it big brothers had been outside the temple gates.
“It’s a shisha,” he said, remembering the lecture from the tour. Piecing together the words of the guide had been nothing. He did have a stunningly good memory after all. He just found most people and things so banal as to not be worth paying any mind to. “Supposedly, they are ancient guardian spirits who slayed dragons and protected sacred sites in ancient Japan. These icons are carved to keep out evil spirits…like gargoyles.”
“Its kinda creepy. It looks evil.” She said, backing away from the case, her eyes locked onto the tiny figure’s snarling open mouth and tiny fangs, its glaring eyes pinning her like a fly. She straightened, her eyes drifting up and she let out a blood curdling scream, her wine glass dropping to the floor, hitting and exploding into millions of razor sharp shards, tinkling and winking in the lights, the sound painful in the quiet.
Whirling, Aiden followed her gaze to the door of the room and saw nothing. Just the hallway. Not even so much as a spider.
“What? What’s wrong?!” he asked, moving toward her, careful not to step on the glass, even though he was still wearing his patent leather dress shoes.
“I saw…I saw something…in the door way…I..” she stammered. He looked at her hands. They were trembling, as though she were a rabbit cornered by a wolf. Her ample chest was heaving, her pupils wide with terror.
“I need go, “ she cut him off. “Yes, I need to leave. Its been a wonderful night and everything but I just don’t feel well right now.” She moved around him, her heels crunching on the glass. Stunned and not sure what to think, Aiden followed her, looking up and down the hall for any sign of what had happened. There was nothing amiss. “Let me call you a cab at least,” he stammered, unsure of what to do or how to handle this. A woman had never not ended up in his bed after a night like this.
“I can manage…please, I just want to go. Now.” Moving back into the living room, she grabbed her coat from off of the sofa and without so much as a look back, she bolted out the door and was gone, leaving Aiden to watch her move quickly down the mirrored hallway and stop at the end, at the elevators, pressing the button repeatedly until the car finally arrived, swallowing her up and with a DING vanished down to the lower floors, leaving Aiden wondering what the hell just happened. Unable to figure anything out, his night ruined, Aiden closed the door and locked it, walking back towards his bedroom, figuring he would have the maid pick up the house tomorrow before he left for his weekend retreat in upstate New York. It was still a Friday after all. A bit depressed, and disgruntled, he went to his bedroom, leaving the door to the artifact room ajar.
His bedroom was done in dark grays with his work desk taking up more half of it, a dark colored wardrobe and Asian décor taking up the rest. A huge sapphire rug was spread under his king-size bed that was draped in a gray silk sheets and smothered in pillows. Another floor to ceiling window was a the foot of his bed on the opposing wall, which was actually a set of double doors that led out onto his private balcony. Through it, he saw the city winking at him, as if it knew a secret that he didn’t and shared his plight.
The city could go to hell as far as he was concerned. His night was ruined.
Ah well, maybe he could find something at the Catskills Resort tomorrow to entertain him until he had to be back in the office by Monday. Sighing, he undressed, flinging his clothes to the floor and killed the lights, the cool satin surrounding him as he drifted quickly into an alcohol assisted sleep.
Out in the hall way, in the artifact room, the glass from the shattered wine glass sparkled in the lights. The lights in the room dimmed and finally went out, throwing the room into pitch blackness. The door itself swung slowly shut and the locks engaged, the keypad light turning scarlet. Inside the room, in the darkness, surrounded by ageless history and twinkling red alarm lights, two more red lights appeared six feet from the floor. These new lights did not wink like the alarm lights but burned steady, twin shimmering hot embers. Twin black spots appeared in the red lights…they seemed to move, left and then right.
In the dark, the only thing that could be heard was the sound of the temperature control system, cycling as the temperature in the room began to drop again, the green digital display reading seventy-two….sixty-eight….fifty-three….forty-two…
A new sound began to fill the room as well. A deep resonant rumble…an organic diesel truck sound, it vibrated the glass of the cases…a throaty lion growl.
After a few minutes, the eyes went out and the growl stopped. Silence once again assumed rule of the room.
In the bedroom, deep in the throws of sleep, Aiden’s dreams turned, changing from women and oceans and spas to one of a stark sun stripped landscape, bleak and lacking any color as the ground splintered beneath him and the dream changed again, fluidly. Suddenly there was nothing and he was consumed by the horrific feeling of falling, plunging. Even as he turned and tossed, casting aside the covers, he could not wake up but he finally he did, screaming as the face of monster loomed at the foot of his bed, placing smoking paws on the footboard, clambering over, its black fangs and horrifying staring eyes, those eyes, ruby red, its mane of fire, came to consume him…
He woke up again in a cold sweat, sitting up, crying out in terror, looking around the room, panicked. Nothing was there with him. He was alone, utterly alone. The room was ice cold and he looked at the clock. It had been just after midnight when he called it quits and now, it was about three in the morning. Good God what a dream, he thought. It had felt so real. He could feel the unholy eyes on him…smell its putrid decaying body…smell the brimstone from its burning mane…the weight pressing him down into the bed, trapping him.
No more wine before bed. That’s all it was. Just wine and the stress from his screwed up date…
The word exploded in his mind. Where in the hell did that come from? It wasn’t part of his thoughts but it was at the same time. A deeply growled word.
Guilty? Him? For what?
Forget it, he told himself. He was going back to bed, nightmares or no nightmares. He turned over and pulled the blankets up higher, wrapping himself in security and safety from the monsters of his mind. In a few moments, he was asleep again. This time, there were no dreams.
In the darkness of the room, as the city that never slept went by outside his balcony windows, under his bed, twin red orbs glowed steadily bright as a low growl issued forth, blending with Aiden’s snores.
By: A. Milhorn
Based on characters created by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis