Reaper of Souls: A fantasy short story

Reaper of Souls

 

 

Holly
Copella

 

Copyright © 2007 Holly Copella

All rights reserved.

ISBN:

ISBN-13:

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

Copella
Books:  First Edition 2015

Cover
Artist: 
ktarrier

SelfPubBookCovers.com/
ktarrier

Printed
by CreateSpace, An Amazon.com Company

 

 

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

 

This
is a work of fiction.  Names, character, places, and incidents either are the
product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events
or locales is entirely coincidental.  The publisher does not have any control
over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites
or their content.

 

Chapter One

 

T
he charming country tavern
was alive with cheerful, drunken locals, who were line-dancing, playing pool,
and socializing.  A lanky man in his late twenties, Dylan Rampert, played pool
with another man, Oscar.  Dylan was cheerful as he was about to win another
game.  His young, attractive sister in her early twenties, Regina, watched the
game from the sidelines.  Dylan won the game, gloated some, and collected his
money.

“One more
game,” Oscar insisted.

“Just one
more,” Dylan replied.  He approached Reggie, picked up his bottle of beer from
the table, and studied her.  “Are you sure you don’t want to go someplace
else?  I mean, this is your college graduation night.  I’m feeling guilty about
getting off so cheap.”

“You don’t have
to go overboard, Dylan,” she informed him.

“Mom and dad
would have.  They’d be proud of you,” he informed her then hesitated.  “I’m
proud of you.”

Reggie smiled
warmly and placed her hand on his lower arm.  “Thanks, Dylan.”

“You’re the
only sister I’ve got,” he replied then teased, “Thank God.  And if Brady
doesn’t stop checking you out every time I turn around, I’m going to knock him
on his ass.”

“He’s a
harmless pervert.”

“Not from what
I’ve heard,” Dylan muttered.

“Come on,
Dylan,” Oscar called.  “Winner breaks.”

“Let me beat
this guy one more time, then we’ll go home.”

She smiled and
nodded.  As Dylan returned to the pool table, she finished her drink then
headed toward the restroom.  A man in his late twenties, Brady, approached her
as she passed.

“Heard you’re
officially a college graduate tonight,” Brady announced.  “Congratulations.”

Reggie offered
a smile but didn’t stop to talk.  “Thanks, Brady.”

Brady cut off
her path, forcing her to stop.  “Since you won’t be tied up with your studies
anymore, maybe we could pick up where we’d left off,” he said cheerfully.

“As I recall,
we’d left off with me telling you if you ever touched me again, I’d cut your
childbearing years in half,” Reggie replied.

Brady
chuckled.  “I know you weren’t serious.”

“You tackled me
to the ground--”

“I was just
playing with you,” he teased.

“You stuck your
hand up the back of my skirt,” she scoffed.

“So I grabbed
your ass,” Brady said with a shrug.  “It was all in good fun.”

“Yeah, so was
my punching you in the mouth,” she replied.

“Actually, that
stung.”

“Let’s get
something straight,” Reggie growled.  “I have no intentions on going out with
you again.  And you’re damned lucky I fight my own battles and didn’t tell
Dylan what happened.”  She attempted to walk around him. 

Brady caught
her around the waist and playfully pulled her against him.  “Okay, you can stop
playing hard to get now.”

She attempted
to push him away.  Her look was unpredictable.  “Get your hands off me or we
will
pick up where we’d left off.”

Brady laughed
as if it was a joke.

“Hey!” Dylan
cried out.

Brady and
Reggie looked toward the pool area.  Dylan was already standing before them
with a look of mayhem on his face.  Without warning, he punched Brady in the
face.  Brady released Reggie and fell onto a nearby table.  Several glasses fell
to the floor and shattered.  The entire tavern fell silent and stared.

“Keep your
hands off my sister, prick!”

Brady held his
mouth and slowly straightened with hostility.  “What’s your problem?  We were
just talking!”

Reggie grabbed
Dylan’s arm.  “Time to go.”


T
he beautifully restored
Victorian home was located on a secluded back road far from anyone.  Several
lights were still on within the house.  Dylan sat on the sofa while flexing his
sore hand.  Reggie entered with an ice pack and tossed it to him.  He caught it
and held it to his fist.

“Thanks,” Dylan
muttered.

“My overly
protective, big brother,” she said with a sigh.  “I
can
take care of
myself.  You don’t have to beat the crap out of every guy who talks to me.”

“Brady
wasn’t
talking to you.”

Reggie sat on
the sofa next to him and smiled warmly.  “I know you feel you need to look
after me, but you have to stop beating yourself up over it.”

Dylan studied
his hand and avoided looking at her.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I know you
feel guilty because you weren’t home the night mom and dad died in the fire. 
It wasn’t your fault.  If you’d been home, you may have died too.”

Dylan still
didn’t look at her and frowned.  “By all rights, I should have been home.”

“It wasn’t your
fate, just like it wasn’t mine.  Accept it.”

“It was my
fate,” he insisted.  “Going out at the last minute altered what should have
been.”

“Fate spared
you if for nothing more than to look after me.”

Dylan
uncertainly looked at her.

She smiled
gently.  “I never could have made it on my own back then,” she said.  “I needed
you to keep me sane.”

He stared a
moment longer, appeared to relax, and smiled timidly.  “You’re stronger than I
ever was, Reggie.  It’s me who needs you, not the other way around.”  He
playfully slapped her leg and grinned.  “I have something for you.”

He jumped up
from the sofa, removed a gift-wrapped box from the end table drawer, and
proudly handed it to her.

“What’s this?”
she asked.

“A little
graduation present.”

He sat
alongside her as she opened the box.  It was an opal ring with diamonds on
either side.  Reggie smiled happily and hugged him.

“It’s
absolutely beautiful, Dylan.  But you shouldn’t have.”

“Of course I
should.  It’s symbolic,” he informed her.  “That’s the opal from mom’s
surviving earring that dad gave her on their tenth wedding anniversary.  The
two diamonds are from dad’s watch that stopped when he had to unexpectedly
deliver you on the kitchen floor, and the gold band was melted down from my
class ring that I never wore.”

Reggie stared
at him a long moment with surprise.  “Well, aren’t you the sentimental big
brother.”

“Well, at least
I’m good at something.”

Reggie smiled
and playfully patted his leg. 

Dylan sighed
and stood.  “Do we have any Twinkies?”

“Of course we
have Twinkies,” she said with a groan.  “You’d starve to death if we didn’t.”

“I’m a Twinkie
addict, I know.  But I’m just not ready to quit.”

“You feed your
addiction.  I’m going to bed,” she remarked and stood.  “Don’t leave the
wrappers scattered about again.  It’s like a trail of Twinkie wrappers from the
kitchen to your room.”


T
wo A.M.  Reggie slept
peacefully beneath the covers in her dimly lit, second floor bedroom.  Low,
muffled voices were heard from the bedroom next door.  There was a moment of
silence followed by a loud clunk.  Reggie suddenly woke with disorientation and
looked around.  There was another clunk from Dylan’s bedroom.  Reggie gasped
and jumped from her bed.  Dylan suddenly cried out in terror and possible
agony.  Reggie ran from her room.  She slid before Dylan’s door and attempted
to open it.  It was locked.  Dylan cried out.  The sound was horrifying. 
Reggie pounded on the door.

“Dylan!  Dylan,
open up!” she screamed.  “Are you okay?”

He continued to
cry out.  There were more loud thumps and crashes associated with a struggle. 
Reggie was now terrified.  She rammed her shoulder into the door.  It didn’t
budge.  She stepped back as Dylan’s scream faded and kicked the door inward
with one violent thrust.  As she stood in the doorway, horror swept over her. 
There were broken objects, furniture was overturned, and the bed was covered
with blood.  Reggie was frozen with terror as she stared at the blood on the
floor and surrounding the broken window.  A bloody Twinkie wrapper lie on the
nightstand.


T
wo weeks later.  Reggie sat
on the porch, stared blankly at the woods, and spun the opal ring on her
finger.  She was lost in her own world.  She actually hadn’t been right since
Dylan’s abduction.  She knew calling it an abduction was wishful thinking, but
she didn’t want to give up hope.  A police car pulled up to the house.  Sheriff
Martin got out and walked onto the porch with a tiny, pleasant smile.

“Evening,
Reggie,” Martin said.

Reggie
attempted a smile.  “Hey, Sheriff.”  She shifted in her chair.  “Anymore leads
on my brother’s abduction?”

Martin casually
sat on the railing facing her.  “No, Reggie, I’m sorry.  I know you’re dealing
with this the best that you can,” he said, “but you know he couldn’t have
survived that sort of attack.”

“I broke into
the room only seconds after the attack ended,” she insisted.  “Whoever did this
wouldn’t have had time to remove his body--especially from the second story window. 
He has to be alive.”

“I don’t know
what to think, Reggie,” the sheriff said with a defeated sigh.  “We didn’t find
any blood outside the house.  There’s not enough evidence to support any
theory.”

The faint sound
of a creature was heard wailing from somewhere within the woods.  Martin looked
toward the nearby woods.

“What’s that?”
the sheriff asked.

“A wolf, I
think,” she replied and rubbed her chilled arms.  “It started a few nights
ago.”

“Sounds like
it’s sick.  You’d better be careful,” he announced.  “If it comes around the
house, call me, and I’ll put it down.”


T
wo days later.  Reggie sat
at the island counter while eating dinner alone.  She stared at the wineglass
in her hand as Dylan’s screams from that night echoed through her mind.  Her emotionless
expression suddenly hardened.  Reggie threw the glass across the kitchen, and
it shattered against the back, French doors.  Red wine ran down the glass. 
Brady stood on the other side of the door with a look of surprise.  Reggie saw
him, rolled her eyes, and groaned softly.  Brady opened the door without being
invited and offered a tiny, sympathetic smile.

“Did I pick a
bad time?” he asked.

“Yes, a very
bad time,” she replied while standing then indicated the broken glass.  “If you
don’t mind, I have some cleaning to do.”

“I thought I’d
see how you were holding up,” he said, sounding moderately drunk.  “I guess I
was right to be worried about you.”

“Are you drunk
again?”  Her look was harsh as she approached and pushed him back toward the
open doorway with a firm hand to his chest.  “Out, Brady.  I’m not in the mood
to deal with you.”

Reggie pushed
him out the door and onto the patio.  She was about to take a step back inside
when he caught her arm, startling her.  She immediately turned hostile.

“Don’t be this
way, Reggie,” he said firmly.  “We were meant to be together.  Now that Dylan
is gone, you need someone to look after you.”

Reggie pulled
her arm away from him.  “I’m looking after me!”

He caught her
by both arms and forcibly held her.  His look was stern and aggressive.  “No
more games, Reggie.  You need to start acting like my girlfriend.  You’re the
only woman I’ve ever really wanted, and I’m tired of waiting.”

She glared into
his eyes with an unpredictable look.  “You’re right.  No more games.”

Reggie suddenly
kicked for his groin.  He reacted quick enough to take the shot to his thigh
instead.  Brady cried out in pain from the sharp thigh shot and released her. 
She attempted to punch him in the mouth, but he dodged it and shoved her backwards. 
Reggie struck the glass door, cracking the glass with the back of her head. 
She clutched her head and appeared unable to move.

Brady
straightened and again grabbed her by the arms.  “You need to be taught a
lesson--”

A low, gurgled
snarl was heard from nearby.  Brady stared at the dazed woman he held and
appeared bewildered by the sound.  Something slowly rose above him from
behind.  He uncertainly released Reggie and slowly looked behind him.  The
seven-foot tall, black creature towered above him, snarled through exposed
fangs, and stared directly at him.  Its large, long tail thrashed against the
patio like a bullwhip then slashed for Brady.  He leaped out of the tail’s
path.  Its tail struck the second glass door and shattered it.  Brady rolled across
the patio and looked back at the creature with a horrified stare.  Reggie
slowly lowered her hand from her head and also stared at the creature as her
mouth hung open.  She was too frightened to move.  The creature again whipped
its tail at Brady.  He dove from its path and scrambled to his feet.  The tail
struck the patio with a thunderous crack.  The creature’s tail rotated and
whipped sideways, striking Brady across the buttocks.  He was thrown several
feet and knocked into the backyard.  Brady made it to his feet and ran across
the yard.  The creature lowered on all fours and sprang onto the side of the
house.  It ran along the stone siding then jumped into the yard, chasing
Brady.  Reggie turned toward the broken door, felt dizzy, and clutched the
doorframe for support.  The low, painful wail she’d heard earlier from the
woods was now behind her.  Reggie slowly turned with fear.  The large creature
sat in a condensed lump on the porch railing and stared at her.  It appeared
almost pitiful and again wailed softly.  Reggie stared at the creature while
clinging to the doorframe.  Despite her fear, she was curious.

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