This focuses on Amata, a nightmare demon character of mine represented as a humongous six-eyed crow anthro. In this instance she is haunting the dreams of three twenty-somethings who stumbled upon her lair.
Blood dripped from the feline's icy blue eyes as she stared transfixed at the swirling form before her, the smoke taking on the shape of the creature that had been stalking her dreams for months. Six sideways eyes burned with red malice as the being's face split into a razor-edged grin. With an almost loving caress the tabby cat's face was slashed open, her mangled flesh blowing limply in the light breeze as she screamed in pain. Her tormentor spread her black wings and descended upon the helpless feline, snapping and tearing with her cruel beak. The scent of copper was sickening, almost oppressive, weighing the air with the stench of death and rot as the creature feasted upon her victim. A shuddering cackle echoed throughout the black hall.
Jonathan woke with a scream, his fur drenched in sweat as visions of the horrible dream lingered fresh on his mind. It had been weeks since they had visited the strange house, since the dreams had began, but they were getting more violent as time progressed. He needed to call the others, to talk about this, but he was afraid. What if they thought he was losing it? With a sigh he crawled out of bed and headed for the shower. As the warm water rinsed away the previous night's terror the feeling was replaced with one of numb realization- he could not hide this anymore, it must be shared with the others.
Anthony's phone rang for a good four minutes before Samantha gave up altogether, deciding instead upon dropping by his home down near 42; it was a good forty-minute ride, but she had to be sure he was safe. As she rode through the crisp winter air she prayed to whatever god was listening that he was alright. The white house loomed into view before her, covered in a frozen blanket of glimmering snow. Nothing moved- no trees swayed, no birds took wing, nothing made a sound. Steeling herself, Samantha dumped her bike to the ground and entered through the kitchen door. It had been left unlocked.
She clutched her bag to her chest with fear as she made her way through Anthony's cluttered house. The bear wasn't known for organization and normally she didn't mind, but the towering boxes provided the perfect hiding spot for anything that wanted to pass unnoticed.
"An...Anthony? Are you here?" she whispered as she poked her head into the empty living room. No reply, nobody there. She tried the bedroom next, followed by a quick whisper into the dank basement. She seemed to be alone, with just one room left to check- the attic, which induced more white-faced terror for her than even the cellar. With a gulp, she pulled the door open and began to climb the stairs.
A male stallion fell to his knees screaming before the swirling, black, smoke-like figure before him, clutching his hands to his head as cacophonous laughter shook the stone cellar around him. The strange black mist enveloped him, searing his flesh to the muscle as hands devoid of meat burst from the hard dirt ground and clutched at his raw ankles and wrists.
"GET AWAY FROM ME!" he cried, kicking weakly at the dead limbs with his powerful hooves, fighting through the agony with all the strength he could muster.
Tears and rips began to form in his red musculature, rending his tissue from his bone in mere minutes. His struggles ceased as he slumped to the floor, unable to control his body any longer as his organs fell through to the soil beneath him. The brown eyes locked in his sockets began to boil and leak down his long skull, his vision fading with his dying shrieks. The smoke coalesced into a black-feathered crow, her beak sneering at the dying man while her six red eyes burned with malice.
"Everything succumbs to me in the end, Jason. None of you are safe."
Anthony awoke screaming, his paws clutching the sheet to him with white-knuckle terror. Samantha screamed too, startled out of her fearful creeping as her boyfriend's cries reached her ears. Upon seeing that he was alright, she began to shake with nervous chuckles at her heart rate slowed to normal.
"Jesus, Tony, you scared the shit out of me." Samantha said, frowning slightly. A smile cracked Anthony's Ursine face as he looked at her, the gray light gleaming off her tabby fur.
"Sorry, Sammy, I just... I had a nightmare, a pretty violent one," he replied, "I think I'll be alright."
"Care to elaborate?" she asked, arching an eyebrow.
The bear relayed his dream, goose-bumps breaking out beneath his thick fur at the mere memory. Samantha's fur paled as she listened, her tail twitching anxiously as she waited for a spot to interject. She seized her moment when he finished his story.
"Let's call Jason, we need to go back to the house."
"God dammit, Samantha, I don't want to talk about it. My dreams are a private affair. Look, I'll meet you up at the Camby house, but I really don't feel comfortable discussing the intimate details with anyone right now. It's still too fresh... I'm glad I'm not the only one, but I just can't right now. Alright?"Jason asked through the mobile.
Samantha rolled her eyes and answered yes before snapping her phone shut. "Tony, can we take your car?"
The bear nodded at her, throwing on his jeans and grabbing a jacket as they exited his silent farmhouse. Both took the ride sitting in silence, mulling over their own thoughts. What exactly HAD they seen that October night? What was following them through the world of slumber, torturing them for transgressions unknown? The three of them had just gone exploring for fun. They had come across something in the basement, that was a given, but Samantha could not recall just what it had been. She remembered screaming, and then being back in her own bed sobbing. Whatever had been down there was the missing piece, and hopefully a return trip would solve the mystery.
Jason sat atop the hood of his compact, a cigarette clamped between two shaking fingers as he waited for the other two to show up. Their headlamps illuminated the towering red-brick monstrosity behind him as they rounded the corner, parking in front of the sign denoting the property as The Horace Reeves House. The large metal fence surrounding the old building gleamed dangerously, its barbed tips seeming to grin at the group as Samantha and Anthony exited the vehicle.
"I had an idea on the way- c'mon. Grab as many as you can carry, and when we get inside I'll pop a hole in the bottom of each. Cover as much ground as you can before your tank goes empty. We need to burn the bitch." Jason opened his trunk to reveal five red gallon containers filled to the brim with gasoline. He took two and nodded for the others to follow suit. They obliged- Anthony's large paws wrapped around the handle of two of the remainders, leaving one for Samantha. She paired it with her lucky flashlight and the group was prepared. As they walked toward the main gate the latch shattered at their feet, allowing the metal to swing forward of its own accord.
It could feel them.
Inside the blackness was absolute, almost oppressive as they crossed the threshold into the ancient house. Samantha flicked her flashlight on, her ears pressed flat against her skull, fur bristling with fright as she crept behind her larger male companions. Jason knelt down and dug a small pen knife out of his pocket. Moving quickly he poked three small holes in each of the plastic containers, creating a small trail of flammable fuel behind them.
"I'll cover upstairs, Sammy needs to take the first floor, and I need you to get the attic, Tony," he said. They nodded, each accepting their mission and starting off in their own directions. The men mounted the stairs, Jason's hooves echoing through the house as they grew further away from the poor feline beginning her circuit. If they had waited a few moments longer, they would have seen the black mass growing near the rear window dart forward and latch onto her slender body. Gleaming talons dug themselves into the tender flesh of her snout as she was dragged toward the open door to the cellar. There was no chance to scream.
Jason rounded the corner into the last room on the second story, a large bedroom littered with condoms and broken glass and half-conjugated drunken graffiti. He emptied the last on his canister into the moth-eaten red sheets and began to exit when he heard a blood-chilling scream from above him. He threw his gas can to the ground and bolted for the attic stairs. Anthony raced down them before the stallion could arrive and collided with him, eyes wide with fear, blood dripping from his brown fur.
"Anthony, what the hell?!"
"Ja...Jason... There's... There's a god damned body up there. I fell right into it; tripped over its fucking leg. I screamed... I couldn't help it, I just..." He began to sob quietly, his broad shoulders shaking as the terror was replaced with despair.
Jason placed his hand on his friends shoulder and began to steer him toward the exit. "Go downstairs and check on Sammy; I'll go take a look in the attic. Alright?"
The bear nodded at his friend and began his descent. Jason gripped his knife and climbed the rickety stair leading to the darkness above.
He tried to quiet his hooves, but the floor was incomplete- the beams sounded as though they were hollow. Jason balanced carefully, crossing as lightly as he could in case the rotted wood decided to give way. He smelled the corpse before he saw it; the coppery scent of blood and gasoline assaulting his sensitive nostrils as though he had been slapped. He reeled, gagging as he fought to keep his footing. The corpse lay splayed in a puddle of dark blood, its chest cavity ripped apart violently. Gut and organs lay out in tatters, deep gouges showing the bone. The skull was smashed open, the species nearly unrecognizable, brain pooling on the decaying wood beneath it. The eyes were missing. Jason turned his head away and vomited painfully, tears welling in his eyes. They had to get this finished, had to end this before they would up ripped apart like the poor shmuck before him. He turned and ran, tripping and falling as he hurried out of the attic.
"She's gone." Anthony said, his wide brown eyes staring up at Jason from the base of the stairs.
"What do you mean she's gone?"
"Her can was here, but I looked EVERYWHERE for Sammy; every room, and she's not here. She's not out at the cars either. I think she might have gone to the basement, but after the attic I just... I can't go alone. Please come with me, man, if there's... if something's down there I don't think I can handle it by myself," he finished lamely.
Jason nodded. He walked over to the abandoned red plastic jug and took it in his hand. The pair walked into the kitchen and drew to a halt as their eyes happened upon the open cellar door.
Blackness greeted them, blackness and the heavy scent of time oozing up like a miasma of power from the cellar beneath them. The two friends exchanged scared glances before starting down the cold stone steps. The air down here was thick and chill, almost ancient- as though they had entered a crypt. A strong soil floor added confidence to their shaky steps, though their eyes could not adjust to the supernatural dark. Deep cackles began to sound from somewhere in the darkness, rattling the men to their core and sending their hackles rising. Jason's tail twitched nervously as they moved forward, as though attempting to beat away the unwelcome voice lurking in the depths.
"Like a moth to the flame, my friends... I knew you'd return to me someday. I can smell the oil you've spread... You won't survive the week, you know, even if your plans come to fruition. My fingers are far-reaching. I suppose you came down here looking for your fine feline female, yes?" The voice cooed lovingly, a razor-sharp hint of malice twitching on the edges of its speech.
"She was warm, this one... her fear strong enough to fill me for a month, though I must admit the two of you would give me strength beyond the norm. You smell delicious, the strapping young bear especially. Come join me, gentlemen, down here everything joins me in the end." In an instant the darkness was withdrawn, the two young men crying out in pain as they were momentarily blinded by the shift. As their eyes adjusted they could clearly see the thing hovering in the center of the cellar. They screamed, their eyes bulging from their skulls as they stared transfixed.
Suspended above the soil by pulsating tendrils of ink was the flayed-open body of Samantha, her gold eyes plucked from her skull. She was limp, her snout hung open in a breathless scream that never sounded. Deep puncture wounds covered her nose, gashes ran along the length of her naked thighs, her fur was stained with her life blood from the neck down. Something had torn her ribs from her spine and tore her organs from her chest cavity. They lay in a pile beneath her, save for her heart, which had a cryptic sigil cut into the soft muscle, and her intestines which had been wrapped around her neck and tail. Her legs were broken, jagged lengths of bone protruding from her dead flesh. Her fingers and toes were missing. Anthony fainted dead away, tears dampening the fur beneath his eyes. Jason screamed in rage and began dumping the remnants of Samantha's gasoline over the ground and walls.
He began to notice the oscillating cloud in the corner, shifting and changing shape on the edge of his vision. A massive crow stood amidst the smoke, six slanted red eyes burning with hellish glee above a dangerously sleek black beak. It lunged for him, digging its talons into the soft muscle of his shoulder and tearing at his flesh. He fought hellishly, kicking with his powerful black hooves against her almost incorporeal form to no avail. He dug his fingers into the dirt and began to crawl toward the stairs as the creature pulled and drug him backward. Finally his hands closed around the cold stone and he thrust his legs backwards, his strong hoof colliding with the crow's skull. She shrieked and released her grip, glaring at him and making her way toward the prone form of poor Anthony.
As her beak tore into his friend's flesh their eyes locked, and he felt the hatred radiating from her mind. Jason wasted no chances and scrambled out as quickly as he could, racing over the gas-slicked floor to the exit. He kicked open the black wooden door and dashed outside, panting with fear. He pulled a packet of matches from his pocket and struck the head against the course paper. Tiny flame surrounded the tiny stick of wood and he tossed it through the door, turning and running as flames exploded through the opening. The stallion clambered into his car and sped off, the orange glow behind him lighting up the night sky as the blaze roared out of control, a high-pitched shriek of rage filling his ears.
The police left around three, and Jason felt drained and empty inside. They had asked after his friends, of course, after finding their car outside the charred remains of the Camby House, and he had told them all they needed to know. Anthony had passed out and Samantha had been missing. By his telling it had been their idea, of course, the torching, and he had gone to stop them. He had thought he'd dissuaded them, but apparently they burned it after he left.
He never spoke of the strange Crow-demon who had waited for them like a spider, leading them into her trap.
The horse looked forward to a sleep free of nightmares, having stayed awake the following two days after the incident. He laid his dappled head against the pillow and closed his eyes, letting himself fade into an oblivion of rest. Jason never saw the swirling black miasma gathering in the corner of his bedroom, never saw the pinpoints of red watching him as he slumbered, never heard the deep growl of anger as he sank into unconsciousness.