Ox Blood | Short Story

This story was originally created for my supporters over on Patreon. If you enjoy it and would like to support my work, please consider becoming a patron.

 

She dipped her fingers in to the pool and pulled them out slick and dripping with life. The darkness around her threatened to swallow the cavern, held back only by a pair of torches at each end of the room, their flames only pinpricks from where she sat. A cloud shifted in the sky and a thin shaft of moonlight tiptoed its way across the dark surface of the pool in front of her, its deep red accented by the silver of the moon. A tingle crossed her skin as the smell of iron made its way to her nose and she wiped her fingers across her bottom lip. The trickle of energy started to spread out across her chin, up her cheeks and down her throat. Looking up she could barely make out the moon, so high and heavy in the sky, and without looking she slipped her fingers in to her mouth. The taste of iron filled life coated her tongue and the electrical sensation spread over her body. The torches flickered as silent, pulsing power filled the cave. The walls were shrouded in darkness except where they caught the slightest reflection off of the expansive pool. No doorways of any kind marred their surface, the portal high above, where her eyes were now fixed, was the only way in or out of the place. When she had sucked down all she could of the ichor from her fingers she dipped them in again up to her second knuckle. Eyes still fixed to the moon, she carved crimson lines across her cheeks, down her throat and across her chest. She could hear the energy in the air, could feel the chants spoken miles away, an unseen, unheard drum beating like a heart in her head. A cloud passed over the moon and the energy filling the cavern flickered, then returned. She pulled her eyes from the white crescent and brought them to rest at the other end of the pool. A shimmering white shape no more solid nor bright than the light of the distant moon had begun to gather itself at the other end like an oncoming fog rolling in to a harbor. There were no tides here, no oceanic currents or air flows, but the lunar influence still pushed its will, gathering what it would until it was time for its release. She continued streaking her face and body in slick red, tracing over the lines that had begun to dry to a rusty brown and making them glimmer with wetness again, all while watching the that form slowly coalesced on the opposite bank.

 

Low, rhythmic sliding vowels punctuated with hard guttural stops began to slip past her lips and she barely blinked. The words echoed chants that she never heard but always waited to feel, thirsted for, prepared herself for. The form on the other bank had made itself in to something roughly the size and shape of a person with no distinct features. The torches behind it gave the figure an amber glow around its edges, a color too warm for moonlight and the torches shrank back, not wanting to touch the figure. As the last of the slippery words fell from blood laden lips, the figure that now mimicked her own form — if you ignored the lack of eyes and face — rose as she did. Eyes locked to her shimmering counterpart, she began to walk the stony bank of the pool, slick black stones shifting under her feat, lending the sound of their friction to the silence of the cavern. The wind howled above in a sudden gust and whips of air circled down. She stopped and closed her eyes, breathing deep to catch the scent of the night, her nose leading her on to her toes. Blood stained teeth showed in a smile as rust crusted lips pulled back from them. These were the nights she waited for: the feasting nights, the thirsty, blood drunk nights. The creature made of mist and moonlight met her halfway along the path. She smiled at the old friend. Such fun they had together. How she missed them when they were separate. She reached out her hand, blood deep in the creases and caked under her fingernails, with the palm out towards her companion. It reached a form of light and myst that almost looked like a hand out to match hers. She closed her eyes, lifted her smiling face and opened her arms.

 

There was a rushing sound in her ears and it felt like she had been hit by a wall of wind that sent her stumbling back, falling on to the stones. Her hands reached out to catch her weight, but only slide in to the sharp edges of stones beneath her. She didn’t mind. She lay for a moment relishing the rush of adrenaline, the sudden strength and awareness that her companion brought with them. When she sat up, she found the fingers of her left hand sticky and slick. They had fallen in to the pool when she had tried to catch herself and in her enjoyment of being reunited had forgotten to pull them out. The metallic tang of the bloody pool filled her nose. She could smell it now, could feel how heavy the air hung with the scent of life. The drumbeat was heavier now and if she hadn’t known any better she would think that she actually heard it. She drew her fingers up in front of her, studied them, then stuck then in her mouth. Where before there had been the tang of iron with a bitter after taste, now there was only sweet delight that radiated its life across her skin, raising her flesh in tiny bumps. She knelt at the pool, put her lips to the surface and began to drink. When she was finished she stood, looked to the moon and smiled.

“Tonight, sweet friend, we play.” She whispered before taking a flying leap at the wall, hitting it ten feet above the ground. She dug her fingers in to the stone as if it were made of clay, and remembered the feeling of flight, of stretched muscles, of the chase. With one more jump, she caught the edge of the portal,  high above the surface of the pool and pulled herself through. Throwing herself from its edge, high in to the air with a gleeful, blood filled laugh, she and her companion went to find the heartbeat in their head.

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