Bradley felt a presence. Someone stared at him. Slowly his eyes flickered open. He didn’t take much time to notice where he was as the first thing that caught his attention was the dog from the Old City. It sat on the hospital bed he was in, its dark eyes focused on him.
“You—” he said hoarsely.
“My name is Ankah, I am a daughter of Simourv, the benevolent, friend to mankind,” the dog said softly, her voice barely above a whisper.
“Oh,” Bradley muttered.
“I am here to help you.”
He looked around the hospital room, his sister slept on a chair with a blanket over her. There was a lot of equipment surrounding him and he noticed the IV catheter in his arm.
“Nothing here can help you,” Ankah said.
“What is wrong with me?”
“You feel strange, don’t you? Like there is another being that exists within you. You cannot tell the difference from when you are sleeping to when you are awake? You’ve lost control over yourself and what truly is.”
Conversing with a dog wasn’t reinforcing his sanity at all but he still nodded because she was right.
“Some would call it a demon, others a jinni but it is an ancient curse, a powerful dybbuk that has tortured many. It has your soul in its grips and wills you to do its bidding. It will not leave you until it has completed its task and the task is most sinister. The dybbuk will destroy you, it will destroy many.”
“You can help me though?”
“I will take you to the desert. I will take you to a place where Bahamut can hear me and bring Kujata to rid the dybbuk from your soul. Kujata can send it to the void. If you are strong enough to survive this then you are strong enough to reclaim your existence.”
“This is the only way?” Bradley asked, glancing at his sister, not wanting to leave her.
“Yes,” Ankah answered. “You must come with me now. We must travel quickly before the dybbuk wakes. If you do not come with me willingly then I cannot help you and if the dybbuk wakes then you will not come willingly.”
“Can I say goodbye?”
“There is no time and even if you wanted to, you wouldn’t be able to wake her.”
“What about all this?” Bradley asked, holding up his arms, one with the catheter, the other with electrodes. “Won’t I be caught trying to leave? And how did you get in here anyway?”
“None of it matters. All you have to do is follow me.”
Ankah leapt off the bed and trotted to the door. She looked over her shoulder and waited for him. Bradley took a deep breath then stood. Everything fell away from him, the catheter, the electrodes and he stood barefoot in his hospital gown. The heart rate monitor continued to beep, no alarms sounded, nothing disturbed Heather in her slumber. Worried he would bleed from the catheter site, he looked to his arm. There was nothing even there to indicate a catheter had ever been placed.
“Goodbye, Heather,” he whispered as he passed by his sister.
Bradley followed Ankah as she trotted elegantly in front of him, the flowing, silky strands of fur from her tail and legs rustled gently from her movement. The hallways and lobbies were mostly dark, only some lights were on. There were hardly any people, a few nurses at their stations, but they were going over charts and didn’t even look up as he went by. Bradley stopped being afraid after they passed the third nurses’ station and tried not to think about how this was happening…
He and the dog exited the hospital. It was windy but he didn’t feel cold, he simply felt it pass through him. Suddenly all the lights went out, bulbs exploded into shards of glass the size of grains of sand. He crouched down and threw his arms over his face as the shards sprinkled over him.
“Come,” he heard in Ankah’s voice. “Step forward.”
He did as told, rising and stepping into the blackness. She stood before him, transformed. The face and front legs of the creature he marveled at were hers and so was part of the body but the sandy colored fur became golden and then all shades of green and blue. Her tail had become long feathers of equal beauty and sprouting from her shoulders were large wings, all shades of green and blue with golden edges. Her hindquarters were now adorned with feathers and back legs featured scales and talons instead of fur and claws. She stood as tall as a large horse and possessed a magnificence he could have never known without staring directly at it.
“Climb onto my back and hold onto my fur,” she said.
Bradley stepped forward and she bowed down to allow him onto her back. He did as she said. With one tremendous leap and downbeat of her great wings, they were ascending the night sky. He gripped the fur of her neck and held tightly. Wind rushed over him but he still felt no cold as they glided across the starry night, passing in front of the full moon. Bradley watched the landscape change beneath them, from forested hills to long stretches of crops and finally to desert.
Where Ankah landed the sand was white and powdery. The winds had grown tumultuous, swirling in columns, carrying sand high into the air. Bradley slid off her back and landed on his feet but immediately fell to his knees, unable to withstand the force of the winds. He could hardly keep his eyes open and watched as Ankah threw out her wings and let the winds grab her, carrying her far and fast, leaving him on his own. Then the winds died down and he was able to stand.
It was just him and the long stretches of white sand and the stars. Not even the moon was present here. He began to feel dizzy but soon realized it wasn’t him. The stars had begun to move. They moved away from an area and in the darkness there was movement. It moved like a wave, rising and falling and was difficult to follow. Then something began to emerge from that darkness and the winds roared into existence again pushing Bradley back and obscuring his vision. Something was approaching from the emptiness in the night sky and it looked like a charging bull.
The white sand rose up in sandstorms and met Kujata as he stepped out of the sky. The ground quaked with each step he took, his legs concealed by the swirling winds. When he inhaled the winds moved in one direction and when he exhaled they moved in another. His eyes were the color of starlight and his body the color of nebulae. Kujata advanced swiftly upon Bradley from the horizon, not because he moved fast but because he was a colossus and with each step he covered a distance Bradley couldn’t fathom.
In front of Bradley the sand fell away and a black, swirling hole remained in its place. He stood on the edge but at least he could stand as the hole seemed to consume the winds. He knew the colossal bull was over him though he couldn’t make out any features because of Kujata’s vast size. But when the bull lowered its head and focused its gaze on him, his knees became weak. His entire body began to shake. The bull exhaled first, sending Bradley rolling across the desert. Then the bull inhaled.
Bradley tried to focus on his surroundings but everything was moving too fast, he tried to reach out and grab something to stop his tumbling but there was only sand and it slipped through his fingers. He could feel something being pulled from him, out from underneath his skin. It felt like his bones were peeling. The sensation was cold at first but soon every part of his body erupted in fiery pain. All he could do was grimace and cry out in agony. The bull exhaled and inhaled again, sending him back and forth across the desert, faster than he could comprehend. The pain was growing in intensity and he began to not care what happened to him, he just wanted the pain to end.
He was pulled to the edge of the black hole and was able to grab onto something hard to keep from falling into its gaping maw. A primeval fear of the void prevented him from letting go, a fear that was greater than the pain. Just as he managed to climb over the ledge, the bull exhaled then inhaled.
Again he caught himself and again he climbed over the ledge. Kujata breathed and he was tormented. His strength faded and eventually he could only hang from the ledge above the void, no longer able to pull himself over. One arm gave out, now entirely numb. One hand supported his entire weight as he dangled over the voracious black winds. He looked up with a grimace and found Kujata staring at him from afar. Bradley’s fingers began to slip and he knew he was going to fall. Before his last ounce of strength gave way, he felt a release of all the pain. The swirling black winds of the void illuminated briefly in a blue hue and he saw bones turn to dust. Then he let go.
by Deathrimental http://deathrimental.deviantart.com/