No moon hung in the sky as the crickets chirped in the darkness of night. A warm summer breeze whispered through the trees, rustling the many green leaves of their branches. Another warm breeze blew through the dark forest, but this time stronger. It howled, almost ripping the piece of paper out of a young man’s hands.
The seventeen-year-old grumbled, gripping the now crinkled paper in his hands tighter, not wanting to lose it. He turned his brown gaze to the moonless sky, glaring up at the stars before continuing his long, lonely walk through the dark forest. He looked back to the paper in his left hand, the other hand having been stuffed back into his coat pocket after the wind had died down. Within the pocket, he ran his thumb over a smooth, yellow gemstone. It seemed to give him comfort whenever he did this, washing away his anxiety when walking through the eerie forest at night.
As his brown eyes looked over the paper once more, he finally folded it in half before stuffing it into his left pocket. With a loud sigh, the young man raked his hands through his short, yet messy brown hair. He looked up at the starry sky once more, only to narrow his eyes at the dark clouds that had drifted in, blocking the twinkling lights in the sky. Now how was he supposed to find that man? How was he supposed to give this stone back?
“Zane?” asked a deep, gravelly voice from the shadows of the trees.
The seventeen-year-old’s head instantly snapped to the left, where the voice had emanated from. His dark eyes searched the darkness, looking for the speaker. Finding no one, he took a step back, hand slipping into his right coat pocket to the yellow gemstone.
The owner of the voice gave a low chuckle, stepping out from the shadows of the trees. The man was only three years older than Zane, but his features spoke otherwise. He appeared to be a homeless man with his ghastly pale skin, sunken eyes, hallow cheek bones and ratty, long blonde hair. Those large, dark blue orbs stared at Zane expectantly as the man held out a wicked, claw-like hand. “I was waiting for you, Zane, but you took too long. I went looking for you. I found you. Now give it to me.”
Zane shook his head, taking another step back as he clutched the yellow gemstone within his coat pocket. That was what the man wanted. At first, the seventeen-year-old had planned to give the stone to its rightful owner, but now, meeting this man, Zane could not give it back. The brown haired teen gave a more forceful shake of his head, taking yet another step away from the sickly pale man with large, dark blue sunken eyes.
The man frowned, dark blue eyes narrowing at the younger male’s actions. With a small sigh, he let his hand fall to his side, running the other one through his shoulder length blonde hair. “I didn’t really want to do this, but…” the man trailed off, letting the hand he had tangled in his blonde hair fall to his side. “I guess I have to since you won’t give my stone back.” With that, the blonde haired man lunged for Zane.
The brown haired boy instinctively spirited off into the opposite direction, just missing the man’s unnaturally sharp fingernails. He continued to look over his shoulder at the blonde man only to notice that he was not chasing him. Stopping, Zane squinted to where the older male stood like a statue, not moving. Confused, the seventeen-year-old called out. “Why aren’t you chasing after me? Don’t you want this stone?”
At this question, the pale-skinned man titled his head to one side in a questioning manner. Leisurely, he began his way towards Zane, his face showing no emotion what so ever. When he was within earshot, he began to speak in his low, gravelly voice as he continued to walk towards the younger male. “I know where you always are Zane. I do not need to hurry to get that wonderful stone. No, I think I will actually take joy in killing you. You seem like a very tasty meal, Zane.”
The boy’s brown eyes widened in fear as he began to back away once more. “W-what? You can’t eat me! Why would you-” Zane just stopped speaking, shaking his head in disbelief.
“Ah,” the man breathed, a sickly smile playing on his lips. “You don’t know who, or what I am, do you, Zane.” He gave a small sadistic chuckle. “There is a reason people say never to walk in this forest in the dark.”
Zane just shook his head once more, brown eyes wide with fear. At this action, the blonde haired man let out a hellish cackle. “I am Lazarus. A Ghoul.”
“A Ghoul?” Zane repeated. “As in the ghosts that eat dead bodies. Like a zombie?”
“Mm…somewhat,” Lazarus pondered, dark blue eyes gazing up at the night sky. “It doesn’t really matter now.” The blonde haired man held out his hand. “I would like that stone back please.”
Zane shook his head. “No. If you’re what you say you are, then I’m not giving this back. You’ll probably use it for evil or something.”
Lazarus gave a loud, disappointed sigh. “I thought I got through you, Zane. Oh, well. I guess I’ll have a meal tonight.” With those words, the blonde haired man lunged for Zane, claw-like hands out-stretched for the seventeen-year-old’s throat.
His claws made contact with the soft flesh of Zane’s neck, the razor sharp edges creating small cuts in the boy’s skin. The brown haired boy jumped back, hand instantly clutching at his neck. Taking it away, Zane stared at the bright red blood that now stained his hand. It was not much, only glinting red smudges, but it still told him that this man was truly superhuman. No normal man’s fingernails would be able to cut like knives.
Before Zane could turn around and run, Lazarus lunged forward once more, gripping the younger male’s wrist. The blonde haired man’s claws dug deep into Zane’s wrist as the boy struggled to get away. Seeing as he could not escape, the young man twisted around, aiming a closed fist at the older man’s face. It made contact, the satisfying sound of a cracking nose filled the warm night air.
Lazarus instantly let go of Zane, holding his now broken nose as blood gushed out of it. His dark blue eyes glared up at the young man still standing in front of him, burning with hated. “You have given yourself a death sentence, Zane.”
Dropping his hands from his bloodied face, Lazarus gave a loud snarl, but he did not make a move towards the young man still standing in front of him. He only slowly raised his left hand, pointing his index finger at Zane. “You shall be infested with the worms that you are! Now rot from the inside out.”
Zane only blinked at Lazarus’s statement, confused as to what the man was talking about. But before he could speak, the brown haired boy was overcome with an immense pain in his gut. Zane collapsed to the ground, clutching his stomach. A scream of agony ripped from his throat as the pain raced through his body.
At the sounds of the young man’s screams, Lazarus let out a loud, hellish, hysterical laugh. “You have messed with the wrong person, Zane. Now, you will pay with your life.” Leaning down, the blonde haired man slipped his hand into Zane’s right coat pocket, pulling out the yellow gemstone. Smiling, the man turned away, but not before glancing over his shoulder at Zane still withering on the ground with pain. “I’ll come back for you later.”