Mina's Heart of Darkness

By Ducks-Go-Aflack

...


Suddenly, the distant torch flickered out.

Thump-thump.

Thump-thump.

The gate behind her slammed down with a crash. Now, all was dark.

Silent shadow slid, slithered; skimmed into the sepulcher.

Thump-thump.

Thump-thump, her hammering heart tolled.


She stood for a minute, commanding her panicking heart to subside. She took a shuddering breath and held it. Her lungs were as still as the silence- and she willed her frantic heart to relax. The slow buzz of her heart and lack of oxygen in her veins made her face tingle. Then, she heard it-

A slow hiss…

A wet wheezing…

And a sort of tic-tick-ticking…

All of which signified one thing. She was not alone.

The sounds grew in proximity, and moved to surround her. Her body was shaking. She couldn't think. She was trapped in a nightmare. She couldn't wake up.

Slowly, slowly, so as not to anger her nightmare, Mina brought her palm up to chest height, as if she were balancing a bowl of water. As quietly as possible, Mina shakily blew into her palm. As she did, a light was born in her hand. She cast it about; revealing her nightmare.

She wished she had never come. Gazing at the manifestation of her fear- Mina suddenly knew this was no nightmare- for a nightmare of her own creation could not be so terrifying.

The monstrosity closest looked like a might have been a person once. Only, he or she had died, been buried for months, and escaped from the grave to haunt her. Also, the thing was thrown in a vat of blood, puss, and slime- the creature's claws, curved and long, looked laced with poison that made its very own entrails appear edible by comparison.

Empty sockets reflected death- her own.

Directing her eyes right, she beheld the next abomination- and balked. She didn't know how something so beautiful- could also somehow be so terrible. Her gaze beheld the most handsome man she had ever encountered. His golden hair rippled like the wind on the water. His beautiful body was sculpted like a god's. And his wet, parted lips…

If only his soulless, red-glowing eyes didn't silently scream for her murder, she might have even been able to ignore the bloodied sword held in his grip.

Above the second one, another moved slowly on the ceiling. She had fought spiders, more ravenous than her. She had vanquished predators, more ferocious than her. She had slew insects, larger than her. If she ever needed to imagine all three in the same demon, she would now know how. If Satan ever desired a pet, clearly this would satisfy. If a large human hand were made of chitinous armor, given a head full of teeth, a long, razor-sharp tongue, and segmented talons that would embarrass a Praying Mantis- surely that is what Mina faced now. Its elongated head dripped saliva; it wanted her. It would not stop- could not stop- until it was satisfied.

Shifting her light to behold the last aspiration, she was thwarted- the being moved into the shadow behind one of the large pillars. Mina could only hope that it was mortally terrified of the light. If she had glimpsed the last creature, she would have abandoned all hope. Just one more attack on her terrified mind would have literally driven her insane. As it was, Mina could pretend like it didn't exists- like the forth creature was only a momentary mirage.

No- it was a trick of the light. There were only three creatures. There are only three creatures.

She ducked the slash of the zombie. Its claws made a squelching noise as they dug into the pillar behind her. Seeing the arcing blade of the blond, Mina buckled to the right and rolled out of the way. Springing up, she thrust her palm into the air, boring the light aloft like a flare gun. Mina was now on a time limit. She knew once the floating light sputtered out in a few minutes- she would quickly become dead.

With the sound of a wet piece of meat leaving a pitchfork, the spider Youma's tongue shot out with the speed of a bullet and snarled Mina's upraised arm. Immediately, the tongue sprung barbs that pieced her skin through her elbow length gloves in multiple places. If she yanked her arm away now, she would likely lose it in the process. Instead, she side-stepped the blonds' follow up slash, dodging by millimeters.

The zombie came next with an overhead slash with its dripping claws. Mina used the tension of the tongue wrapped around her arm to swing herself up and clobber the zombie in the chin with her booted foot. Droplets of blood as well as chuck of flesh splattered up Mina's boot, bare legs, and underneath her skirt. Taking advantage of her upside-down position, Mina called her sword from subspace into her left hand. With a quick swipe, she severed the sinuous tongue.

Ignoring the shrieking demon from somewhere above, Mina parried a third strike from the attractive blond. Mina stomped on the bit of tongue that was still wrapped about her glove, and yanked back with her trapped arm. The ploy worked- she was able to free her arm from the muscle without losing her arm or any of its digits, even in spite of the piecing barbs. The appendage flopped to the floor, still wriggling. It continued to constrict her glove which had been shorn halfway up her forearm by the action.

Mina threw herself into a backwards cartwheel, hammering the blond with the side of her foot. Like lightning, she summoned a light chain in her right hand and whipped it forwards at the man in an arc. It wrapped around his body and the pillar he had been knocked into several times, pinning him there.

Dropping to one knee, Mina evaded a horizontal slash from the zombie. With all her might, she thrust her holy sword of Venus into the creatures' heart.

Seeing movement in the corner of her eye, Mina started to move. But it was too late. Mina was crushed by the weight of the thing. One of the pincers pierced her thigh straight through. Mina screamed. It took a hold of her right shoulder and bit down. Even despite her magical armor, she felt her bone shatter. Her body jerked. One of its teeth had nicked her spine. Mina bit her tongue to stop screaming. She thrust her left palm into the soft underbelly of the demon. Radiance billowed from her palm- the demon exploded as Mina's shaft of light punched through its body and continued on its way into the ceiling. Training and sheer instinct had allowed her to summon the strength for her simplest, but also most effective, offensive attack. Bits of chitin and goo drizzled over her trembling body in a sort of perverted baptism.

Mina flipped over, and pushed herself on to her hands and knees. She got on one foot, and the pushed up with the other. Finally, she wobbled to the air, liquid oozing out the many holes in her body- tall amongst her shattered enemies. Bending once more, she retrieved her sword from the belly of the decomposed corpse. She still had one last job to do.

Focusing on the demonic eyes of the man- no, Youma- she approached with purpose. Accepting in the end, the other being knew the time had come. It closed its eyes and raised its head to give her a clean cut. Shuffling forwards and swinging- Mina stopped at the last second.

Out of the shadows a small girl had jumped up and wrapped her arms around the blonds' neck, shielding him from harm. When Mina looked at the girl covering the man, still with eyes closed, Mina saw… love. Sacrificial love. The child protected him without thinking; they shared physical resemblances in hair and skin color.

"Please," the child said, turning her frightened face to Mina. Human tears rolled down from her demonically red-glowing eyes. "Please, don't kill papa," she said. Looking at the girl's face- Mina gasped. The face Mina saw- was the one she saw every day in the mirror. Looking closely now at the girl dressed in a plain, white dress, with sunshine yellow hair and trademark pointed chin, Mina could see how the girl could be her and the man's child.

But she wasn't.

Mina raised her left arm to point at the girl and man, left pointing finger extended. Mina closed her eyes. Through closed eyes, she sensed the overhead light finally sputter.

"I'm sorry," Mina whispered. Mina called her attack with a flash. After a moment, Mina heard the sound of two bodies falling in the blackness.

"I'm sorry," Mina whispered into the void. And it was there, in the dark, that Mina finally realized what she was truly afraid of.