I wished with all my heart that the bad dreams would go away.

From within, I pulled and pulled and pulled, begging for a sign, for the strength of will, to help my escape.

Everywhere, there was shrieking, and tenuous cracks of bone; I could feel my heart aching, my very soul tearing in two. So long had I been with the cell – my cell – every one of their emotions, from their deepest fears to their darkest desires, was mine. I could feel Prachett's arm give between the monster's jaws, feel Jerry's throat ache with exhaustion as he screamed from the toxins consuming him. Magdalene wasn't even moving anymore, her eyes staring blankly, every limb and muscle seized up like a dead man's. Somewhere above me, Laurence gurgled, and a surge of hot bile wound up my throat as he vomited dinner and blood.

My legs turned to jelly, my head pounding, my heart stinging. No matter what I did, I could not summon up the strength to keep going. All my conviction, my willpower, gone – I couldn't say if it was my cell being ripped to pieces in front of me, or if I was just too exhausted from the fight. I had gone in swinging, far ahead of the rest of them; the rest of the beasts had been waiting for them to follow me in. I had been too brash, too wild, and too bloodthirsty for common sense to hold me back.

And now, my teammates were dying, crumpled and broken heaps all around me. I was on my knees, voiceless, wracked with pain of my own and that of the others. The monsters advanced, claws and teeth dripping red; they were skulking, humanoid fingers with a mouth of fine, sharp teeth. Their black-nailed fingers were perfect for gouging, the claws broad and sharp, reminding me of small but wide knives. Their eyes were black and beady – not unlike a hungry rat's – and they smelt of the sewage and old, broken pipe systems they had emerged from.

Like animals and demons, they growled in anticipation for me. I thought I heard a groan from Jerry or Prachett, but at that point, I was too far gone to care. I let them sink those claws in deep, using more force than a biting shark as their talons went down to the muscle. I cried out, yes, when I had never cried out before – I was that weak. More claws sunk into me, and then those horrible, needle-like teeth, yellowed with plague and full of neurotoxin to keep me in place. Apparently I tasted better than any of the bodies nearby, for the creatures barely touched them. I let my blood flow freely, going limp as they pinned me, the meat torn from my bones with a single rip.

In the haze of shock and hurt, I heard a voice. Their voices, in fact, and not the smacking and slurping of feeding creatures. They were finally coming to me when I thought I was surely dead; my eyes rolled to glance across the gore-splattered dirt. I caught sight of that one, whitish wisp, a blinding light at the edge of my eyes, and I swallowed back blood. I closed my eyes; loud and clear did their message ring in my quickly-fogging mind.





Yes. I understand.

It was now or never. They let me dig deeper than I had ever before, reaching beyond my soul and into a brilliant, shining mass that lay deep in my mind. I stretched out, I seized that mass, and I let it melt into my fingertips and into a warm, pulsing sensation. I let it become one with my lifeblood, my veins and my circulation, and what was mortal plasma and cells was now a divine ichor. I felt no pain, only the rush, the heat of the light; my eyes did open, and the ghouls screamed in horror and disgust. I let that energy surge past them, into them, reminding of their own lacking humanity, their vices and sins. My flesh in their jaws burned them, and my ragged body stood, despite being torn to near ribbons. I nearly fell, and my mouth ran red, but I stood. I let them suffer under the light only I could see, and I silently apologized to whoever of my cell was still alive. The headaches and terror-ridden fugue would pass, but it was an unfortunate side-effect of the power of the voices.

The creatures before me rotted and withered. They tried to pull back on sloughed flesh and grime, their bodies steaming, the entire clearing reeking. I felt a slight shake through my body as adrenaline threatened to give, but when it did, I simply pulled more of the light from within me. It made me feel like a thousand punches were laid upon my gashes and bite marks, but that was the price I would pay. Someone, after all, had to suffer in the place of the innocent.

I looked around, and saw Laurence's pistol on the floor. As the creatures were keeping well away from me, it didn't take long for me to seize and start firing. My shots were sloppy, as exhaustion was creeping in; my light wouldn't hold up for much longer. I would collapse and bleed to death, most likely, but I wouldn't go down without a fight. One creature went down, twitching wildly before it ceased to move; another moaned and cried in pain, something between a human cry and an indescribable snarl, and I dispatched it with the last of the pistol's round. I took a nearby rock – primitive, but it would do – and ran towards another mother, bringing forth more of my light to wash over it. It screamed a blood-curdling scream as it burned up beneath my might, silenced only when I thrust the rock deep into its eye. The squish that accompanied the attack was more satisfying than anything I had ever experienced; vengeance and I were old friends, but now, as I was dying and fighting at the same time, it was…. Fulfilling. It was like I had finally found what I wanted in life, and that was to see the stiff gawk that the monster's expression was frozen into.

I thought I heard movement behind me, and I turned to see the beasts were scurrying for the dark of the forest. Prachett was moving with a loud groan, shakily trying to stand despite his arm hanging by mere threads. Magdalene let out a choking noise, letting everyone else know she was alive, and I smiled in relief. They would be okay. They would get over this, they always did.

With some reluctance, I let the light go, fizzling out after the great and grand display it had shown. Jerry vomited, trying to fight back crying, before stiffening up as Magdalene had. I closed my eyes, breathing deeply, the smell and taste of bodily fluids and seared, rotting flesh surging into my mouth and lungs.

I gave in, finally, and let the walls of my will crash around me. What I can only describe as being hit by a train consumed me from head to toe.

- Martyrdom -

The World of Darkness copyright White Wolf Publishing

OC characters copyright me