Lost in a million year old fog, I climbed up the mountain, trying to catch sight of my prey.
I believe it lingered by a crevasse after one of my arrows penetrated one of its front legs, but I stood too far to have a good aim at its heart. The white fur blended with the snow. I had to get closer. I didn’t quite feel the similar fear my peers experienced before they all perished at the bottom of the giant pit a few hours earlier while I miraculously survived. Yet, I could sense my courage slowly abandoning me as I continued to move forward. Who wanted me to be here today, alive, strong and determined to destroy the creature haunting the dreams of all? The light of truth had shown itself to me while a crescent moon designed a smile in the dark night, and I listened to the words of the fairy who delicately landed on my shoulder in my sleep.
She assured me everything would ultimately be alright if I kept faith. She whispered a song in my ear and forced me to keep my eyes shut. I pictured her sitting by my side, slowly humming the lyrics of an ancient tune I had never heard before, and in a language I didn’t recognize. Yet, I understood her.
She asked me to gather the courage to leave the village and find the beast before it was too late. It had to be killed before the full moon, or the unthinkable would occur. An army of devilish beings would wake up from the underground and colonize earth, leaving no room for the living, and turning the world into an ocean of sickness and death.
“How?” I asked. “What can I do to defeat it?” More words poured into my mouth, but my throat felt too parched to utter a sound.
She told me to hunt the beast, by day and night, and she insisted to never lose sight of it. Once I got near, I’d simply target the animal’s heart and pierce it with a golden arrow that she quickly placed in the palm of my hand. Manufactured by the Council of a Thousand Souls, the small weapon held magical properties, she added.
“Why me?” I ventured, but she’d disappeared.
She briefly reappeared and quickly smiled before putting a finger on her lips. I’d know why when the time was right.
I didn’t know whether that moment had come… Pressing the golden arrow against the tight muscles of my stomach, I marched forward, searching for the beast. The wind started to rise and snow obscured my field of vision, making it extremely difficult to locate the eight foot long shape precisely. I could see my breath vanishing in front of me, the last sign I had not frozen to death in these hostile conditions.
I covered my face with the scarf Amanda had given me on the day of my departure. Kissing me on the forehead, she prayed for my safe and sound return. Many men had accepted to join me during this dangerous journey. Unbeknownst to me they would all die a few days later and leave me on my own to complete the mission.
My legs gave way, but I maintained a steady balance, my eyes locked on the white mass ahead. Following the sparse drops of blood staining the snow, I geared my bow and prepared to aim.
Suddenly, I heard a loud growl. I looked to my left and to my right, piercing the fog to find the origin of the sound. Nothing. I kept moving.
“I’m going to kill you…” I thought. “Show yourself!”
I held my breath, convinced that I heard something again. Was it only the wind playing with my mind? I hadn’t slept in so long but the adrenaline kept me in alert. I could see the dusk in the sky, and soon the moon lit up, showing me an almost perfectly round disc. Tomorrow, it would be full.
I lost track of time, and the night fell on me like a heavy cloak of sadness. I stared at the stars, thinking of Amanda and the men I lost. Tears rolled down my face, and I wiped them away. I had to stay awake. I came so close to winning the battle; I couldn’t give up now.
I woke up to the growl of a hurting and bloodthirsty monster exhaling its putrefied air directly into my nostrils, and I screamed. I must have accidentally fallen asleep.
The arrow. Where was the arrow? I grabbed my side, but couldn’t feel it. Had I lost it? The creature growled again, and I saw its enormous teeth quickly snapping at me. I pulled back, rolled to my side, and ran away.
The leg injury had worsened, and had caused a clear handicap dramatically slowing the animal down. But that monster could still move. I could see the spot where the white fur had turned a brownish color because of the oozing wound. I also observed the threatening claws digging in the ground, as if the creature was sharpening them before attacking me.
Facing a dangerous stare from a few feet away, I glanced at my surroundings in search of the golden arrow. The snow covered everything. It would take me a lot of luck to find the precious weapon; the sunlight reflection created a mirror-like surface on the ground.
The bloody eyes swiftly locked with mine, and I read death in them. Not knowing what to do, I panicked. The beast could sense my fear and advanced in my direction.
I needed a miracle. I thought of Amanda and the children waiting for me at home. Daddy wouldn’t come back a hero. In fact, daddy would never come back.
Tears I couldn’t control welled in my eyes, and I prayed for forgiveness. As I lost myself in the silence of my despair, I heard a high-pitched female voice call my name.
“Michael…. Sing that melody and the arrow will appear… Come on… Sing along with me…”
The little fairy of my dreams grabbed my hand and guided me out of the darkness. The words resonated with so much strength I felt my mind explode inside my skull. My voice was shy, but she helped me and together we sang gloriously until I noticed a strange glow in the snow.
“Here it is!” she said. “Now, go get it and kill the monster before it’s too late!”
Without losing sight of the animal staring at me, I moved as fast as possible. As I reached the glowing spot, I dipped my hand in the snow and looked away for half a second, long enough for the beast to lunge at me with all its weight and knock me over. I hadn’t realized how close I stood. I violently bit my tongue and choked on my own blood, pushing against the oversized body with all the strength I had left, but it was too heavy to move. It growled, probably wanting to bite my head.
I slowly stopped breathing, my body surrendering to the exhaustion I had imposed upon myself, the last bit of stamina gone.
I drifted and traveled to a far away land. Amanda was smiling, waiting for me with open arms. I had come so close. How could I disappoint her now?
I felt the arrow clutched in my hand. My face pressed directly against the monster’s heart. I couldn’t miss.
I let out all my pain by stabbing as hard as I could, blood pouring over me like a leaking conduit of dark slime, covering my eyes, burning my ears, and my nose. I felt the hot liquid running down on me, and I coughed until I passed out.
I smelled her scent right next to me, and as I touched her hair, I smiled. Amanda lied there with me, her fingers intertwined with mine, our love stronger than ever. I felt like I had reached the gates of heaven, and didn’t want to let go. Had I finally succeeded and vanquished the evil beast endangering the sake of our world?
“Shhhh…” I heard her say to me. “You had a bad dream. It’s ok now…. It’s ok…”
She gently kissed my forehead and I looked into her eyes, confused.
“So…” I asked. “I never defeated a terrifying beast at the top of a mountain with a golden arrow manufactured by the Council of a Thousand Souls?”
Amanda laughed and titled her head back, her hair gracefully dripping down her back.
“What are you talking about, hon? You’re a horror writer. Not a fantasy writer. What have you been drinking lately?”
I didn’t know. This was the first time such a dream had ever happened to me… Maybe I should stop exchanging ideas with other writers who didn’t fancy horror as much as I did. Or maybe horror and fantasy weren’t that far apart after all.
“I think I got an idea for a story…” I said and I got out of bed, the little fairy perched on my shoulder whispering an ancient lullaby in my ear.