Contest (162) - Theme: "Escape" courtesy of @BookLover Congratulations @Fan7asticMrFox for "Spirit" The writing was excellent, the story intriguing. Send me a PM with your theme for the next contest. And we'll use it in three weeks. @Wreybies will get your bronze medal to you soon. Competition was tough again and I remain impressed by the quality of entries we are getting in this contest. I haven't seen a bad story in a long time. "Finger of God" by a newer forum member, @Drue Bernardi , came in second, with an exciting story. And I want to give an honorable mention to both third place entries, "Trolling for Tuna" by @BeckyJean for excellent writing and to "Crawling on my Skin" by @CastleEra for endearing originality. Thanks again to the other authors that entered and all the forum members who voted. I thought I had put this story in the post: Spirit (1,776 words) I will escape. Yes, of that I am sure. And when I do I will return and bring about the end. I will crush their miserable little existence and tear their world asunder, pulling them down into a pit of darkness, this pit of darkness, to complete my revenge. Their screams will be drowned out by the wails of my banshees and my minions will drink their blood and feast on their souls. I will cackle as they all beg for mercy and grind every single bone into dust and then, and only then, will my rage be sated. They have done this to themselves. They have done this to me. He has done this to me. A boy – a mere child. Trapped in this abhorrent abyss by a feeble being, skinner than a pitchfork and no taller than one of my own imps. Pah! If he were here now I would squeeze the life right out of him, my shadows would tear him to pieces and, and, and… How was it even possible? Their greatest champions had armed themselves into dazzling silver, with swords as sharp as vipers’ teeth and shields that were one man fortresses. They would march gallantly up the great mountain, struggling in hard fought combat with my minions and braving the treacherous upper heights. I decimated them. Slaughtered every single last one. When these so called champions reached the top and saw me, and looked upon the greatest evil they had ever known, their fear enveloped them; their teeth chattered together and their eyes grew wide and I purged them of their souls. It was so very… easy. Once I had finished with them I cast shadows down upon their village, blackening the sky in thunderous storms, and I watched the mortals with feverish glee knowing that soon they would be mine – my next victims. This was where I made my mistake, a mistake I will not make again. On my return to their realm I will vanquish every last pathetic soul and I will do so with haste. But in that moment I toyed with the mortals and engulfed their homes in wild flames and laughed as they fled in fear. But not the boy. He stood there in the cobbled street, the thatched houses a wall of flame all around and he looked up through the blackened sky with tears welling in his eyes, and stared right at me on my great mountain. The audacity and fearlessness angered me, but I smirked with arrogant pride and decided to retreat my darkness back to the summit. It was my little invitation, to show him what fear really was. Of course he accepted. There was a light inside the child like no mortal I had ever encountered, but I merely played it off as foolishness and ignorance. The boy placed a helmet on that was twice his size, and dragged a warrior’s sword in his two tiny palms before marching through his own burning village, past dead friends and family, towards the base of my mountain. My corruption had already spread through the forest at the bottom of the mountain, a thick darkness inside with trees twisting and scratching at the boy while he pushed on through. The skittering of my pets along the dying branches did not deter him and he delved deeper within, where the forest became pale and white. It was hauntingly quiet too, no wildlife to squeak or howl, only the fiendish skittering of my pretties circling around their next victim. And suddenly the boy stopped in a small clearing where a single slanted rock rose out from the middle and here is where I knew I had him. With a devious grin I sent my eight legged pets to spin the boy, catch him alive and bring him to me. They danced along the overhanging trees and through the clawing grass, ready to spin their web when unexpectedly the boy cut across the slanted rock with his sword – not once, not twice but thrice. He struggled greatly under the weight of the sword, yet his strikes were swift and true, and sparks burst out from the blade and into the trees. Much to my dismay the branches caught ablaze, bringing light to the shadowy grove. The spiders displeased me greatly when they skittered away like cowards, all the while the boy walked out of the forest completely unharmed. This only added to my growing anger and so my evil closed in, the hungering black surrounding the boy as he braved the mountain face. I could taste the anxiety deep in the pit of his stomach, the sweet fear that rattled in his bones and yet, he clawed hand after hand up the jagged rocks and even when his palms cut and bled he kept climbing. So I darkened his world even more. I had had enough of this. The games were over and my contempt for this vile scum had become intolerable. I conjured storms together in my grasp and thrust them down the mountain. The tumultuous skies roared together, over and over, a crescendo of violent noise that never ceased. Savage forks of lightning snapped at the boy, desperately trying to fry that insignificant little worm. But the bolts missed, by a fraction and by a mile, bursting the rocks around him in shrapnel. The splintered fragments exploded and cut and burrowed into the boy’s skin, but still he climbed. Still he defied me! Why was he still going? Why was he not defeated by the ever present doom that lay before him? All the champions before had merely buckled under the weight of their own fear and suffering. Some were conquered before they even made the climb, others died on the side of the mountain at the hands of my terrifying minions, while a select few made it to the top, to see me with their own fearful eyes. Each of them had attempted to confront me for the same selfish desire. Glory. Their names were meant to be in folklore and midwives would sing songs of their gallantry and imperial beauty. Ha! I fed off these sinful thoughts, feasting hungrily on their greed and their vanity. Their souls were fattening and sweet, dripping with hidden darkness. But I did not know the boy’s desires. Even now as I sit here trapped in my prison, I contemplate his sinful thoughts – if there were any, I could not find them within. All there was deep inside the boy’s heart was a glimmer, a golden light that burned bright like an eternal flame. It was a light that had to be eradicated, something I realised all too late. I had to stop him. My minions would make sure of it, or suffer my wrath. With my command the minions descended from the blackened skies and they were ravenous for blood and so very eager to please me: the screams of my banshees tore across the darkness, their hideous forms circling down with claws sharp and menacing; the dead rose from the mountain out of the parched and cracked earth, brought back to serve their new master; and red eyed gargoyles flashed across the sky bearing their teeth in savage delight. I could no longer see the boy, my demons crowded around him in their thousands and I perched up on the summit of my mountain with claws dug in, leaning over intently. My eyes lit up at the sight of the hordes marching on the mountains from all sides, the thunderous storms shattering down from above and eventually my anger subsided and transformed into relief. The boy would surely not survive the night. And so I removed myself, rested at the top of my mountain and slept. I do not dream. In my slumber I see nothing but the cold black that fills my heart. It is a soothing darkness, one that is impenetrable to the light and good of the world. And yet, that night, I saw a spark. It faded and flickered at first, enough that a single breath could cast it out. But it lingered like the foulness of hope and grew in such a way that it reminded me of creation and the despicable offspring of life. It made no sense. I am the nightmare! I am the harbinger of terror, the master of suffering and pain! But the light… it burned! So bright – a golden cave of treasure inside my mind, piercing me, blinding me, burning me – I had to stop it… I had to look away. The light forced me awake. Lifting up from my slumber I saw the mountain summit, my blackened brimstone throne. It looked different somehow, lighter almost, and I glazed my eyes over the horizon at its pinkish hue. The cold dark had reigned for so long in my presence but now colour invaded my control. Before me the horizon shifted and brightened and burned from pink to peach to gold and somehow, the shining orb that was the sun began to rise. And suddenly he was there. Standing there atop of my mountain, in my domain, with a sword of burning light and a shadow as large as a king, was the boy. It was simply impossible. What had possessed him? How could he possibly be standing there, looking upon me, upon my face? There was no fear within his soul and no desires or sinful thoughts. All there was inside him was hope. There was nothing I could do. His spirit could not be broken, his mind could not be made corrupt and I – the nightmare, the evil, the menace – was terrified. The sun rose higher behind the boy and I began to yelp and scream, the golden rays tearing me apart like paper in a flame, burning like my dream. Wisps of darkness shed from my body, flittered away in the sunlight and transformed into the purest white. My strength fell away and my soul slipped downwards into the nether and in my final moments I watched what was left of me shine like diamonds. I will forever remember the face of my fate and those haunting, innocent eyes. I will never forget he who trapped me here for eternity. Yet he is mortal. He will grow old and he will eventually die. There will never be another one like him. There can’t be. It is impossible. And that is when I will have the last laugh. I will wait a thousand years if I have to, plotting my revenge in this darkness. I will escape. Yes… of that I am sure.