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Badlands II: God of Wrath
(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)

Page 2

Now, there was nothing left, nothing at all, except broken plaster and cracked stone.

He would have called her name, if he could remember it. But he opened his mouth, and nothing came.

"She isnít here." The voice was at his shoulder. "She hasnít been here in a very long time."

He didnít turn round. "How long?"

"A long time. Itís been longer than you think since you were last here, Man. Much, much longer."

"I thought youíd left me and gone away," he said then.

There was no reply to this. He still didnít want to turn around.

"Where is she?" he asked at last.

"Do you really want to know?"

"Yes." He could see the demon out of the corner of his eye now, a red glowing shadow. "Is she dead?"

The demon laughed, a low chuckle. "Why donít you look at me, Man? What makes you so shy?"

"Where is she?" he repeated. "Is she dead?"

The demon laughed again. "No, she is not so lucky. Do you want to find her? Really?"

"Is that why you brought me here?"

"Why should I bring you here, Man? You brought yourself." The demon touched him lightly on the shoulder, a touch like mist, but one he felt right through his chain mail. "Werenít you thinking Iíd left you and gone away?"

He turned his head to look at her. She formed out of the darkness, her eyes glowing amber in the shadow, her hair dancing like flames. She grinned, her teeth sharp and white.

"What do you want me to do?" he asked.

The demon crossed her arms under her bulging breasts and pretended to think. "Well," she said judiciously, "if you want to find her, you might follow this river bed along till the night turns over towards dawn. Then, perhaps, you might find an entrance carved in the rock." She paused, her eyes glinting mockingly. "And once you go through the gate, then..."


"Then, Man," she said, her eyes staring into his, her smile disappearing, "you are going to wish you had left well enough alone."

"But if I want to go," he said, after a pause, "you wonít stop me?"

"I wonít, Man." She sighed, her breasts rising and falling. "I could, and perhaps I should, but I wonít."

"Then," he said, "Iíll go."

The sky was pinkening with dawn over the bare hills when he saw the entrance.

It was a doorway carved in the rock, with pillars on either side, and stairs leading up from the dry bed of the river. He was sure heíd come this far along before, all those years ago, but heíd never seen it then. It must have been completely submerged under the water.

"Who made this?" he asked the demon. The intensely grim look was still on her face, and she made no attempt to answer. Instead, she motioned at him to dismount.

"Leave the beast here," she said. "It canít go inside there."

Reluctantly, because he had come to think of the beast almost as a home, he complied. The creature showed no reaction, its eyes merely turning once towards him for a moment. He did not, of course, need to hobble it in any way; it would wait for him to return.

Forever, if need be.

The stairs and pillars were very old, so polished by time that the stone had become polished enough to gleam in the dawn light. There had been carvings, once, but they had been almost completely effaced. What little was left of them made him obscurely glad he could not see them any more clearly.

The dawn light faded rapidly as he walked up the stairs and through the doorway. Inside there was a long, low tunnel, which sloped rapidly down into darkness. He could see the stumps of brackets on the walls which might once have been holders for torches, but there was nothing there now.

[ Continue to page 3 ]

Genre:General Horror
Type:Short story
Rating:7.45 / 10
Rated By:15 users
Comments: 1 user
Total Hits:14548

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