the marked one
As blood dripped down her slender fingers and onto the red oak wooden floors, Maya knew more of them would be after her. She wiped her hands on her baby blue button down blouse.
"Oh great! That's going to stain!"
Maya proceeded to run towards the back of her house, and as she went to turn the knob, she heard a rustling in the basement. Could that be Jean? She thought. Instead of siding with her better nature, Maya grabbed the axe on the kitchen counter, and ran out of that house as fast as she could. She ran right through Old Hickory woods until she hit the main road. While panting, she heard a noise coming from behind her. She slowly looked back, "oh fuck!"
"You saw what I did to the others! I'm not to be messed with buster!"
"Maya! It's just me, Logan!"
He walked closer and into the dim of the night light.
"I need help! I twisted my ankle."
"Logan, what are you doing in the woods? Don't you know what's going on?"
"I was trying to get out before it all started, but I got tripped out before leaving and ending up fucked up in the woods."
"You fucking coward!"
"I didn't want to leave, but what do you expect? Who the fuck just stays here and allows themselves to be killed? I didn't sign up for this. I didn't ask to be born into this town!" He said while trying to hold himself up on his good leg.
"I'm sorry! None of us did, but we're here; so, we have to fight. I'm not going to die. Especially not in this god forsaken town!" She wiped the tears off her face.
"Are you trying to get out of here? Or are you planning on having more blood on your hands?" He said, concerned.
"I want to get out..."
A red convertible with bashed in headlights starts slowly coming towards Logan and Maya. Maya pushes Logan down, "go with it!" Logan collapses into the muddy ground.
The car comes to halt right in front of Maya. The door opens wide.
"Is he your offer?"
"Yes, is that any of your concern?"
"Not at all, miss. Just making sure this all goes as planned. Can't have our town going to shit. I had to gut some kids on this same road. They were trying to escape. Can you believe that?"
"Well, I'll leave you to it. Oh, by the way, what's your name?"
"Maya. Maya Shepard."
"Oh, one of the Shepard girls! The Shepard's never let us down. My name is Bishop. I'll see you at the closing ceremony."
Bishop drove away slowly.
"I guess he didn't get the memo from the others." Maya said to Logan.
"What do you mean?"
"Logan, I'm not going down without a fight and you know that. My parents, well our parents, all seem to be brainwashed. It's been going on for generations, and it stops with us; but when I brought this up to others they came after me. So, I had to kill to stay alive, not because I was trying to be part of this sick game. I don't even know if Jean is alive? So, I'm a fucking coward too! I'm no hero. I'm surviving, because I'm a bloody coward who chose to live at any cost, even at the cost of my sister."
"I thought you were actually collecting the hearts for the ritual. I'm sorry, Maya. These are the times I wish I wasn't always baked. Jean, why don't we go look for her? I mean, I'm not much help with this leg, but I can try."
"You'll just drag me Logan. I'm sorry."
Maya grabbed her axe, and sliced his head right off. She grabbed Logan's head and continued on Hickory Road. As she reached the intersection, she could hear the screaming of nearby offers.
She was right in the middle of Juniper Ave right off Hickory Road. She stood there staring at the old white wooden Gazebo where the Masters stood in a circle. She could hear the screams of a young girl.
"They are probably ripping that moron's heart out. While I stand here not knowing my next fucking step."
As two marked ones started to come in from the left of the open dark outing, she noticed none of them were Jean. Not noticing each other, Sam grabs his rope around Max's neck and snaps it off. Maya just watched from afar in awe of the scenery.
"Of course Sam would be at the end. The fucking prodigy of this town..."
Alarms start blaring loudly. "Any left marked ones without any killings will be killed on sight!"
"Oh, I know that voice, Dad at his finest hour. Might as well go forward since passing by this bloody gazebo is the only way to leave this stupid town. I wish dumb ass Jean would be smart enough to hide."
Maya walked towards the gazebo with smiling faces from Master Paul and Lauren.
"Maya, you made it. We knew you were the champion of our Shepard Clan."
"Clan? Don't you mean family?" Maya said while facing her parents.
"Yes, dear. You must face off with Sam, and then offer the virgin's blood to Balthazar." Said Master Lauren.
"I know what I have to do, assholes." Maya said.
Maya's parents laughed and proceeded to turn their backs to her. They were going to open the battle ground with the other Masters for Sam and Maya to fight. Maya noticed Sam on the other side of the gazebo and proceeded to walk towards him.
"How many?" Sam said to Maya.
"25, oh wait 26. I forgot all about Logan."
Maya noticed Sam's eyes open when she mentioned Logan's name.
"Oh. I guess we have a tie, bitch." Said Sam.
"Really? I don't really think so, Sam."
"Don't you believe me?" Said Sam while he smirked and allowed his pearly whites to gleam off his red smeared face.
"Oh I do, but..." Maya swung and threw her axe right at Sam's chest.
"I'm the best." Maya said smirking.
"Maya! You dumb child. That's not how it goes. You must fight in the arena to summon Balthazar. What now? He will take our riches! " Yelled Master Paul.
"Where's Jean?" Maya yelled
"You guys think I don't know there are cameras rigged all over the place. You’re a bunch of fucking sick dicks. I don’t give a shit about Balthazar. I just want to know where Jean is, so we can leave this god-forsaken town. I was willing to leave her, but I can’t bring myself to do it. So tell me where she is now!” Maya said yelling while tears swelled up her eyes.
“Our dear Jean is dead, Maya.” Said Master Lauren
Maya’s eyes widen while she held a cry in. As she was about to speak, the Masters revealed the virgin that was to be offered to Balthazar.
“Jean?” said Maya.
“No. She is not Jean. She is the virgin, Maya. She is the only one who can save us from Balthazar and allow us to continue to be blessed with riches and youth.” Said Master Henry, Sam’s father.
Jean seemed fine and untouched. She was dressed in white, her brown, wavy hair was tied into a ponytail, and she was seated on a steel pedestal in the middle of the gazebo. Maya was puzzled as to why Jean was chosen. Jean didn’t get around much, but Maya was certain that she wasn't a virgin. Maya knew something was wrong; she began to take a few steps back.
“Jean? Get up from the pedestal, please.” Maya yelled as her voice crackled.
Jean’s eyes opened wide. All the Masters started chanting manically. Maya kept stepping back slowly, until she was next to Max’s dead body. As the Masters kept chanting, Maya noticed Jean began to stand. She stood and stared right into Maya’s green eyes from afar. Maya tried to deter the stare from Jean, but then noticed she couldn’t move. She was haulted by Jean’s stare. Jean began to walk towards Maya.
“Don’t be scared, Maya. You want to leave, right? Leave this town? I can help you escape, Maya. Let me take you away from this all.” Jean said while her skin began to peel off into dark grey ashes. The Masters continued chanting, while Master Paul yelled over at Maya.
“What Master Henry actually meant to say was that Jean used to be the virgin. She was sacrificed at her birth, but her will was strong and kept to embody Balthazar. Now, he needs a new sacrifice to continue to live, in only that way we can possess his riches. You must die for us Maya. Do it for your parents! Do it for Jean!” said Master Paul pleading to Maya.
Jean was gone, and through her ashes emerged Balthazar. Maya kept fighting the stare, until she finally broke the chains of the glare. She started to run back towards Hickory Road.
“What the hell is going on here? All I’ve shared with Jean have been lies. That red scaly beast is not my sister. I just need to get the fuck out of this place.” Maya silently thought as she ran away from Balthazar.
Balthazar was gaining on Maya. His wings carried him slowly, as he preyed on Maya. His huge, red, and scaly body beamed from the Moon. His long snout opened wide and revealed the teeth of a beast. His large yellow teeth, sharp, snaggled, and ready to tear into Maya’s insides. Maya kept running. She could feel him gaining on her when she was stopped by a shadow in the dark. As she ran and kept running towards it, she noticed it was headless. Logan’s body had reanimated, and so did all the other marked ones.
“What the fuck? I must be fucking buggin’ right now!” She yelled.
Maya kept running. To Maya’s dismay, all the marked ones held her down. She kept trying to fight them off, as Balthzar watched his minions from above. They were finally able to sedate Maya. She was beaten and tied by the Marked ones.
“You can’t have me! I won’t let you, asshole!” yelled Maya, defeated.
“I don’t need your permission, Maya. You promised me I can depend on you whenever I wanted, remember? You gave up your soul and body to me then. Remember, sister?” Balthazar yelled in a raspy, maniacal voice.
Maya wept and yelled, as Balthazar began to fly right towards her. His grey wings eloquently arched back, and disappeared, as he began to leap into Maya. A huge beam of light emitted from the collision.
Maya awoke in her bed, as her parents, and Jean stared above her.
“Honey, are you okay?” said her Mother, Lauren.
Maya couldn’t move, as she stared at Jean.
“What is she doing here?” said Maya.
“Honey, what do you mean? Jean has been here with you night and day for these past 3 months.” Said her Father, Paul.
“She won’t get in. I promise you that.” Cried Maya, as she noticed she was chained to the bed.
“Oh honey, don’t worry she will. We can wait forever, but your spirit will die out, as it has been for the last 3 months. You will be our Balthazar. Just give in, Maya.” Said her parents hysterically.
Jean leaned into Maya, and kissed her forehead. Then proceeded to brush her dirty blonde hair. Maya, laid chained, and crying. Her will still strong. She gave into her better nature, and began to smile feverishly.
“If you can’t beat’em, join’em.” Maya said in her last breath.
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