Shadow is creeping across the ruins. The remains of a castle stand around me. I’m standing in what was once the courtyard. The crumbling bricks left a rough map of what the castle would have looked like. The sun is slowly setting. They’re coming. I can feel the temperature rising, the air is becoming sticky and humid. The crumbling wall behind me is now blocking the sun, creating shade across what used to be a courtyard. The air starts to crackle, as if a lightning storm was coming, but the sky is clear. The sun has almost set, instead of cooling the air gets hotter.
I turn my head, looking for cover, but dismiss that quickly. Even if there is somewhere to hide they would find me wherever I was. The cut on my side made sure of that. It is deep enough that I could bleed out but not deep enough for a quick death. It’s bleeding steadily, soaking my shirt and seeming into my trousers. My eyes land on a plant at the base of the ruined fountain. I can’t make out what it is, my vision is blackening and I don’t have the energy to walk over and take a look. Jamie would know. She’d take one look, tell me exactly what plant it was, the history of it and any other random facts she’d know. My eyes grow heavy and I let them close. A smile creeps across my face as I let my mind drift
I’ve only Jamie for a few weeks and already have feelings for her. She’s adorable. She would get a faint blush whenever she spoke passionately about something. I never remember what it was she says, I’m always distracted by that blush. I’d found her one day outside, gardening. She loves plants, would talk anyone’s ear off about them. The sun was hot and beating down on her back as she kneels. She straightens up and uses the back of her hand to wipe the sweat from across her forehead. As she did she caught sight of me. That beautiful smile that I’d spent so long memorizing spread across her face. A strand of her red hair escaped her bun falling in front of her eyes, curling across her cheek. She brushed it back. She was kneeling, still looking at me.
My eyes snap open at the sound of growling. They’re here. My eyes scan the ruins but I can’t see them yet. The air is becoming unbearable, so humid I’m struggling to breath. I try to roll my shoulders back, readying myself. If I’m going to die, I’m going with a fight. The growling increases in volume, more of them have come. I grip the handle of my sword tighter. Although calling it a sword was generous, the blade was no longer than my forearm. I catch a flash of something inky and black out the corner of my right eye. They’re closing in. My eyes fix on the shape emerging in front of me. The red eyes glowing in contrast to the inky black body. It’s bigger than a wolf, almost reaching my shoulder. Fear gripped my heart. I have been numb up until now, too busy trying to stay upright, fighting to stay conscious. But now face to face with death, there’s nothing in my head except fear. The creature growls low in its chest, its lip curling back to reveal the teeth that would soon be ripping me apart. It steps forward, its front paws coming closer. I know the stories and legends about hellhounds. The tales you tell to children to get them to behave. The sightings that adults tell each other when they drink too much. But I never believed I’d be face to face with one, yet alone surround by them.
“Come on” I snarl. It’s barely audible above the growling. I start to pant. The air was too thin. I will fight them.
“Come. On.” I snarl louder. The growling stops. They don’t move any closer.
“COME ON” I yell. I want this over with. Fear was gripping me. My breath was coming quicker.
“COME ON!” I shouted at the closest hound. They didn’t seem phased by my shout. Their eyes still glowing in the increasing darkness. They start to move. Coming closer and closer. Circling me. My eyes dart around trying to keep track of the closest one. But I can’t, there are too many. Each one blending into the darkness. My eyes catch on that plant again. Surrounded by the hounds and the night turning darker, I can hardly make it out. But that flash of green in the black. It was like a spark. I could feel it starting in my heart and running around my body, chasing away the fear. I would get back to her. To Jamie. I will fight with everything I have left.
I can hear their footsteps. The step of each paw on the stone ground. They are close now. The air almost unbreathable. But it doesn’t matter. A calm passes over me. I’m with Jamie. I’m watching her garden. Watching her tend to the plants she loves. Hoping maybe someday she could love me like that. That I would be worthy of it.
I spit what I suspect is blood out of my mouth and grin at the hellhounds.
“Come and get me."