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Ambivalence

By Hussain Fayaz All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Fantasy

Influx

“Get everyone out of here right now! The monster has gone berserk!”

The villager’s shout, however, was drowned out by the panicked screams of people trying their best to evacuate the burning village.

At a barn, the survivors among a few brave villagers raised their weapons in preparation, as they watched the inhuman beast walk across the front doors while dragging along a fallen villager by his head.

While the monster was shadowed by the flames, the moonlight was able to reveal its glistening silver fur – but that was it. The only things that the villagers were able to discern was that the monster walked on two legs, had fearsome claws and sharp fangs, and that its light blue eyes showed nothing but uncontrollable rage with lust for blood.

The monster turned to the terrified villagers and uttered a low growl, baring its fangs as it tightened its grip around the head of the deceased.

“Do what Arius said,” one of the villagers ordered. “Get all the women and children as far as we can and stall the monster.”

Another one muttered, “Samuel had already helped one half of the village to evacuate to the lakeside retreat all by himself. What are we doing here?”

“That’s enough! Samuel had already done a lot for us. Our job now is to protect him. We can't let him fall here. He’s our chief!”

The villagers took a hesitating step forward.

“That thing may be strong but we’ve got numbers,” the leading villager – who was holding an axe – said. “We’ll jump the monster and take it down. Let’s attack on my signal.”

But before he could even think of giving the signal, the monster let out a powerful roar, one so loud that it echoed through the entire village. Everyone who was running to the exits froze in fear as they heard the roar, as if it was a clear sign of death.

They all looked back to the direction of the barn as the roar died down. Aside from the crackling of the fire surrounding them, they heard nothing else.


A few minutes later, the monster dropped the corpse it was carrying beside the pile of victims that were mauled in a matter of seconds. Still growling, unable to control its gluttonous drooling of thick saliva dripping from the corner of it bloodstained jaws, it walked towards the center of the villager. It looked back at the barn to stare at the distance, at the body of a young boy, lying on his back with a massive pool of blood around his neck while his dirt-ridden face was hidden from view.

Detecting a sudden noise, the monster twitched both its pointed ears towards its right. It turned around to see three humans: two adults and a child. It saw that one of the adult humans was hiding the other two behind him.

“Stay behind me,” he said while cautiously gazing at the monster, who noticed that he had an open wound on his left shoulder.

The woman behind him whispered in sobs, “Please, Samuel. Don’t throw away your life for us.” She coughed weakly as the child – a little girl – helped the woman by rubbing her back as she crouched down in pain.

Samuel gritted his teeth and glared at the monster’s light-blue eyes.

“Do whatever you want with me, Demon Cat,” he announced bravely. “But spare my wife and daughter. They are of no threat to you.”

The monster – known as the Demon Cat – hesitated as it continued its long stare at Samuel and his family. Finally, after a few seconds later, it snarled at him, letting out a short hiss.

And to Samuel’s surprise, it turned around and walked away, its long silvery tail swishing left and right as it decided to head back to the barn.

The Demon Cat looked at its blood-soaked claws, remembering the vivid images of the slaughter it caused. After walking a few steps, it stopped, again staring at the distance.

“S-sto-p,” it struggled to speak in human language, but each time it tried to make the words, the taste of blood in its mouth made it growl instead.

Suddenly, it heard the human mother call out a name, just before it felt someone grab its tail from behind.

“No! Stop! Eri!”

The Demon Cat looked back to see the young girl – almost half its size – holding on to the tip of its tail with a soft grip. Appearing about less than 10 years old, the first thing that the Demon noticed was the green ribbon which was somewhat clipped to the top of her short, black hair. She was wearing a small shirt which was covered by a maroon-colored village robe with sleeves longer than her short arms. The right-arm sleeve had been rolled up so that she could grab the Demon’s tail.

As both her father and mother cried out in horror over the incapability to stop her from approaching the Demon, the girl looked up at it and simply smiled.

“Eri,” Samuel begged. “Please. Come back to us.”

Behind him, his wife broke down in tears.

The Demon, however, didn’t even notice the reactions of the little girl’s parents. It was too distracted by the warm smile that she was giving, as well as a slight glimpse of its reflection seen in her eyes – with irises as green as the ribbon she was wearing.

“E... E-ri?”

Samuel’s eyes widened in shock, in response to hearing the Demon utter the girl’s name.

And then, Eri gently tugged its tail and asked, “Who are you?”

But the Demon couldn't answer; it simply kept glaring at her in an uncertain expression.

“Do you know where big sister is?”

“Eri...”


Hearing an echo of that name, Reo opened his eyes, ending his short nap. The first thing he saw was his reflection on the river that he was near.

At first, he imagined to see the face of the monster that the human villagers had labeled him as.

Instead, he stared at the furry, silvery face of an innocent cat.

He sighed as he peered at his reflection that he had begun to get used to seeing. The monstrous form that he once had been… was replaced with that of a smaller-than-average feline.

He let out a yawn, revealing his sharp fangs. Then, he stretched his body while flexing his front and hind legs to recover from his lazy mood.

Again, he gazed at his reflection before taking a sip from the fresh river water. The cool taste of the water quenching his thirst made him feel invigorated.

But despite his energetic mood, he sat still on all fours, while staring across the lake with a worried expression.

He remembered the events which had happened in the human world, especially the moment where the young girl – known as Eri – grabbed his tail just to ask two questions. But as he tried to remember, the image of him shredding the villagers kept rushing back to him.

Gritting his teeth, he tried to force the image out of his mind. And instead, he tried to bring Eri’s smile into focus.

He blinked once and turned away from the riverside and faced the direction where his resting spot was. Even from the distance, he was able to see the lone tree which was surrounded by a seemingly-infinite carpet of thick grass. The tree, being considerably large, bore strange fruits of a bright mix of orange and yellow, while some of the unripe fruits also had a slight tint of green. There were hardly any leaves growing on a few branches on the lower portion of the tree, while its upper portion had abundant leaves that were useful enough to shelter Reo from the heat, rain and snow.

Aside from the tree, his territory had no houses, no caves and no mountains nearby; it was plainly a large, continuous patch of grass that covered the entire ground and stretched for miles. The only area that the grass didn’t reach was the hillside - a single bump of a land where a frail wooden fence surrounded rows and columns of gravestones inside it.

Reo walked towards his tree, but suddenly stopped as he felt a presence. Being cautious, he slowly moved towards the side of the tree while remotely focusing on the life force of the presence; its aura, to put it simply.

He looked around again, sensing the presence getting stronger. His caution changed to that of preparation against the worst as he detected the aura originating a few feet away from the tree. Someone or something had invaded his premises

Calmly, Reo moved towards the tree, his gaze fixed on one place.

That was when he identified the mysterious presence: a human, sprawled on his back, unconscious. He was surprised to see that his world - which had been devoid of humans - had finally been infiltrated by one. But at the same time, the strange aura emitted by the human worried him.

Reo knew that something was wrong. He felt certain that he was going to be involved in something very dangerous.

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Chapters
1. Influx
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