The man got down on one knee, but nothing ever went as planned. Instead of a simple answer, the woman poured a river of sharp revelations. His naivety and her whim wrecked a future that they both knew would have been perfect.
Across the hotel room floor laid smithereens of a shattered vase and a broken chair. Blood coated the edges of glass fragments and wood splinters. None of it was his. He looked around at the foolish mess he had made. He looked at his girlfriend, her lip cut and her cheek bruised.
This was damage enough. It was no accident, but hell, he was not going to make it murder either. His fists unclenched. He had been brash, he admitted now. He detested her act behind his back, but she was still the woman he had once been planning to spend the rest of his life with.
He didn’t hate her. Not enough to kill, anyway.
The third, who had been watching the couple all this time, was thinking quite differently. Of course, neither the man nor the woman was aware of the creature’s presence. All they feared were the invisible monsters they saw in their partners, distracted from noticing anything else.
It would have been offended, if not for the happier thoughts in its mind. It was steadying itself with giddy excitement as it ran through scrambled thoughts of what it could do.
Seduced by emotions of anger and betrayal, it had found the whole affair too tantalising to stay away. It slithered with discomfort in its tight, dark nook. Once the man took his leave, it would slide right in place of his cowardice. It was to finish his sloppy job, oh yes it will. It will bestow what is deserved on the deserving. That had been its designation for centuries past. Not an inch of thrill had faded since then.
Be gone, it thought the only human words that it knew, be gone quick.
The man thought the same, for himself. He stole a last look at his personal extent of Hell and muttered an apology. The woman sobbed, averting her eyes. The door clicked shut. He walked away, unaware of the actual Hell he had set loose.
It stepped past its hiding place, relieved from neither darkness nor discomfort. Anticipation had all but dissipated. Its slender fingers sneaked up the closet door and down to its knob. The door creaked open slightly. It watched the woman, staring into the mirror.
There she sat at the dressing table, observing the penalty for her betrayal. Her foolish spur of the moment was tagged with a heavy cost – a relationship built over six loving years and the coming weeks to heal. She dabbed a cloth against her tears, her bleeding lip and abrasions on her pale skin.
Close behind her now, it waited as its sight adjusted to the light in the room. The woman half-gasped when she finally noticed the little creature in the mirror. Her cloth fell to the floor as she turned around to see it for herself. The reflection told the truth. There it was near her feet, drooling from a lipless mouth.
But it could not be possible. Perhaps her dazed mind was playing tricks. She closed her eyes, counted to five, then breathed in and out. She prayed as she opened her eyes. There it remained, unmoving.
“Don’t… hurt me,” she said.
It was an insensible response that was of little help. But that was the best she could manage.
Well, well. It had almost forgotten its purpose. Thankfully, that very purpose was now voluntarily calling out to it. It did not understand at all the odd inventions of the human mind. Not their fancy languages, or their intricate anatomy. From whence it came, camaraderie was simply an impractical rite. And communication? An encumbrance.
So it did not answer her. She prayed for it to fade as illusions often do, but after blinking a few times, it was clearly not going away.
“Let me go,” her voice shook.
Her shivering frame struggled to stand and will herself to get past it to the door. Yet her feet were frozen, as though they had plunged in ice.
It heard what she said, and did not understand the spoken words. It was capable of guesses, though. The three words must have meant a desire to present herself to it. Well, it did not need her compromise. It least of all needed her permission. It was the best at its job, and it knew. Even its Overlord seemed to fear its capabilities. It had personally heard of those rumours floating down the deep South. The Ruler of Hell, the Supreme Leader himself, had been planning on banishing it with spells of the dark sort.
How could he not, when it was the only one competent enough to push him off his throne. It? The New Overlord? It giggled an unearthly noise that was impossible to describe in human terms, the woman thought.
That thought was cut short. Its printless fingers had reached for a shard of glass, while its other fingerless hand grasped at her throat. The time was now, and forever. With what the man left behind, it finished the woman with such swiftness, overpowering the screams from the specimen. She sobbed for the last night in her life. Its laughter, if one could call it that, took over her cries.
Not even the man nervous footsteps could outrun the demon’s speed. Then again, he was not trying to run away at all. He had not a single clue. Not yet. It wondered how much faster his heart could beat when he eventually found out about her death.
It was now following closely behind him, now that half of its job was done. The other half was what it enjoyed the most, watching its real victim left uncertain of his sanity. Some of them struck with troubled minds, sleepless for nights, wondering if they had gone too far. Mostly, the insanity and paranoia only surfaced when the law came after them. That was when they wondered if they had really done it, after all.
Humans, always keen on a never-ending game of justice that would keep it busy with amusement for years. It was all right with that. That was what it does.
That was its purpose.