“Each and every one, I can call. As I told you, you cannot win.”
The certainty of that truth was one I could not deny. And though I felt the frantic fear that all living things must know when death calls, a strange peace settled on me.
“And I spoke no untruth when I said I can read your mind. I know your secrets, your fears…”
I made ready for the final resistance my aching flesh could grant. I was prepared to die. And even if I failed, I would give my life in the try. Surely that was as much as anyone could give.
“I ask you, why are willing to die for nothing? You cannot stop us from claiming his flesh.”
The horde of ghouls pressed in.
“Why suffer for him? Yes, I know you hated him. To you he was a monster even more horrid than I. Spare yourself and step aside.”
I roared in fury into the night. I am not ashamed to say that I sobbed.
“Just step aside. Pay the price for your crimes. Imagine how much it will please you to see that hated man devoured.”
May God forgive me, but I knew that he was right. Such was my hatred for him.
“With my power, I can even bring him to a semblance of life. You can hear him scream and plead. You will hear him beg and you will have the privilege of denying him as he has done to you so many times. You brought your justice to us, why deny it to him?”
As I trembled, one of the fiends swaggered forth.
“Yes…” hissed Kalu, as he closed his eyes and smiled, certain of his triumph.
It was true. I hated my father. To say anything else would be to lie. But what a monster as Kalu could never understand was that this hatred could never extinguish the tiny, but eternal, flame of love. For the burden I bore all my life was no quest for vengeance but for forgiveness.
I love my father and, with that, peace was mine.
“Damn you!” wailed that devil and the battle was joined. Though I am a soldier, I have never fought so hard. Through the poison, through the fever, through the exhaustion and the pain I fought each charge and turned the mob away. But the numbers were too great and I had neither hope nor plan of besting them all.
No, my simple plan took him by surprise.
I quit the grave, but not to flee. Instead I charged Kalu himself and made him know the fury of my blade. For one who feels neither fear nor pain, I found his wails greatly satisfying. And with him fled the night itself.
The hateful mist dissolved in the golden light of the sun. I limped back to the grave where I collapsed. This was where they found me.
Now from my deathbed, the poison and disease run their course. And I know that once again the hungry ones will come, this time for me.
But all I can think of is my father. And I smile.
So be it.
Let them come.
Story by Joe Stanley