The December dawn ingratiated itself slowly in the east, ploughing runnels of crimson and ochre in its wake like a giant taloned hand gouging fresh wounds over old scars. Or maybe that was just how I was feeling at eight am on a Monday morning having kept myself awake with a mix of Red Bull and whisky for the second night in a row.
The reason for my devoted vigil was snarling from the dark depths of the living room and the only thing keeping me alive was the circle of protection I had cast as an afterthought, never dreaming I’d actually be in need of it. While that was a big bully for me, I had no idea how long it would hold and what to do when it broke.
Although that was my most pressing problem, there was another darker behemoth lurking behind it which disturbed me more. This creature defiling my house and every waking moment for two interminable days had in fact been stalking me between worlds for as long as I could remember. So long in fact I’d begun to forget about it, sheltered as I was by the strong wards that guarded my flat. But someone had broken those wards and if I survived, I needed to find out who that particular ill-wisher was.
The beast, a deformed, wretched thing, glared at me with red, slanted eyes, howling like a banshee until the ringing in my ears was almost as bad as the sight of its triple rows of mismatched, tusk-like teeth.
The protective circle chose that moment to break and the creature was on me in one loping bound, jaws snapping.
But there are worse fates than being eaten alive and I was about to find out the hard way what they were….