Once Bitten, Twice Die
(© Antony Stanton)
This is the end.
The thought was only fleeting, although in reality the end had been and
gone a long time before. Sinna had warned him not to do anything daft, but here
he was, fighting for his life when he really should have just given up and let
Death claim its prize. If he had known what the future held in store for him he
may well have accepted the inevitable and sought a more agreeable means of
dying; something a little less brutal that did not jeopardise the lives of
others, perhaps something that did not involve kitchen implements. Had he been
aware that he himself was soon to become a vicious murderer he might not have
battled quite so hard for his own survival. But Abbott was not gifted with
foresight and at that moment all that consumed him was trying to stay alive
just a little longer. Besides, what kind of death can any one person choose for
their first experience of it?
His aggressor advanced with surprising vigour and he was forced back onto
the table. Abbott was fit, well-trained and considerably larger than the other.
Nevertheless, he found himself unable to contain the onslaught, the triumph of
wrathful incognisance over strength and experience. Only certain kinds of
demise permit the luxury of reviewing your existence as it flashes in front of
your eyes in glorious Technicolor. Some keep you fully engaged and struggling
for salvation until the tragic end so that even a brief perusal in black and
white of your contribution to humanity is asking too much. Abbott’s situation
fell firmly into the latter category.
He frantically grasped the lunatic’s forearms but his assailant possessed
unnatural surges of power dredged up from his inner demons. A trail of phlegm
and a guttural snarl escaped his lips. Hands clawed and teeth snapped. He
lunged repeatedly at Abbott’s face, virtually within reach now. Abbott dodged
his head to the side with a grunt. He tried to get a knee under his attacker’s
body but the man was writhing too much. It was just not possible, yet without
doing so he knew he would not be able to hold him off much longer. His
strength, along with his hope, was fading fast.
Abbott was flecked with spittle and enveloped in warm, rancid breath as
their heads slowly came together. The man’s teeth showed signs of rotting. Some
had fallen out leaving open sores in blackened gums. His face was mottled and
had an unhealthy, purple tinge. It was covered with scabs and flaking skin. Red
lines like those of a habitual sherry-drinker covered his cheeks. His eyes were
bulging and blood-shot, yet the most chilling factor was the absolute lack of
perception. The pupils darted about without focus. They were dilated and blank
like those of a shark, as though he was just lashing out blindly. If the eyes
are a window to the soul, then these particular portals looked out onto a vista
of pure hell. And then there was the rage; unprovoked yet wanton and plentiful,
just an overpowering need to kill.
Abbott’s arms burned but his attacker showed no sign of tiring. If anything
he grew even more frenzied and ironically that may have provided an invaluable
reprieve. Death took a reluctant step back and waited, denied its reward for
now. As the man thrashed about there was a loud crack. The back legs of the
table splintered and they were sent tumbling. Abbott hit the floor hard. Pain
shot through his shoulder and he was winded but he managed to slip a leg
between the two of them. Deftly he launched the man over his head, slamming him
against the wall. This was his moment to save himself. This was his one chance
to live. If the other reacted more quickly then he would surely be dead. He
rolled and scrambled to his feet grabbing at whatever he could reach - a heavy,
pewter candlestick discarded nearby. He swung as his opponent started to rise.
It struck with a thud across the temple, the force jarring right up through
Abbott’s arm. Nevertheless his adversary somehow did not go down. As he leapt
Abbott backed up and swung, again and again.
Each blow solidly found its mark leaving deep, red gashes. The man sagged
to his knees, a trail of blood appearing at his nostril. He flailed forwards
with an enraged gargling as the liquid dripped from his chin. Abbott struggled
to maintain balance and desperately hit out once more. He cracked the skull
right on the top and this time there was a different sound to the previous
thumps, more hollow and decisive.
[ Continue to page 2 ]