The windows implode and shower a storm of glass into the room.
Eyes seek. Nostrils flare. Searching for a scent.
Screams greet them. They are not alone. They turn to the sounds and see a woman and a girl, their intended target. Though the woman’s scent is familiar, she is not the one they seek. Still, she smells like the Abomination and must be destroyed.
From the scabbards set between their wings, they unsheathe mighty swords. Blades emblazoned with blue Enochian script alight, the sigil of the archangel, Michael, etched upon the pommels and on the Hunter’s helms. The air crackles with energy.
Suddenly, the scene shifts, and the Shadowy Man is before her.
“Wake up, Avalyn! You have to run! They have found you. Wake up! Run!”
Avalyn’s eyes shot open, wide and alert, sweat streaming from her forehead, the Shadowy Man’s shouts still ringing in her ears.
Avalyn! You have to run! They have found you!
She looked about the room, shedding the sleep from her mind, and glanced towards the window, where she’d seen the hunters amidst showering glass, crashing through in the vision the Shadowy Man had just shown her.
No hunters. The window was still intact. The only sound was Sarah snoring beside her, arms protectively wrapped around her.
She still had time. How much if it, she didn’t know. Not much, she guessed. Her heart was racing.
“Wake up, Sarah! Wake up!” Avalyn shook Sarah awake.
Groggily, Sarah opened eyes slitted with sleep. “What?” she mumbled. “What’s wrong?”
“We have to get out of here! We have to leave! They’re coming!”
Avalyn shot a fearful glance over her shoulder, back at the windows. But the only thing coming through it was the moon’s lunar light, silver-bright and full.
Sarah sat up. “Who’s coming? Vampires?”
“No, Sarah. Something worse. Something more powerful.”
Without questioning the girl further, Sarah got up off the bed, glad that she and Avalyn were still dressed. “How much time do we have?”
The exploding windows answered Sarah’s question.
Glass showered them. Cold night air blasted into the room. They whipped their heads toward the window, their hearts pounding hard in their chests, screams leaving their throats.
Two crouching figures. Rising from bended knees. Great-feathered wings trailed behind them. Like a bird’s. Like an eagle’s. Drawn swords in their hands. They wore silver formfitting armor, with blue symbols engraving it. The helms on their heads also had symbols. From the open visors of their helms, Avalyn saw their enormous eyes. Whirling spheres that were a kaleidoscope of colors. What skin she could see was luminescent. Seemed like every particle of skin was made from the sun.
They raised their swords over their heads, poised to strike Avalyn. Sarah reached for the girl as the swords descended, grasping her and tearing her from the bed. Both of them tumbled to the floor. The swords sliced through the space where Avalyn had just been, and met the mattress, cleaving the entire bed in half, demolishing it.
Sarah and Avalyn jumped to their feet. They ran out the open door and into the hallway. Sarah grasped Avalyn’s hand as they raced toward the stairs leading below, hoping to make it out the house. But the wall to their left exploded, and both of them were thrown backwards down the hall in the opposite direction, amidst plaster and sheet rock rubble.
The Hunters came through the gap in the wall and blocked their way to the stairs. Sarah leapt to her feet, still grasping Avalyn’s hand, and dragged the girl with her as she charged down the hall to a locked door at its end, away from the hunters. The door led to another set of stairs that led to the roof. Sarah had no plan. All she knew was that she had to save Avalyn. Had to keep her safe. Had to get away from the things chasing them. Whatever they were. She was in a wild panic, feeling like a trapped animal, hunted prey.
Sarah fumbled her fingers over the locks but managed to get the door open. She pushed Avalyn ahead of her up the stairs. The Hunters were coming. A loud screeching sound blasted Avalyn’s and Sarah’s backs, sounded like a million shrieking voices merging into one, so loud it made them stumble, made the entire house quake, almost made them fall down on their faces. They unlinked hands to maintain balance, hands whipping the air, and kept running upward, now cupping their ears with their hands, though it didn’t help much. The shrieks hurt. It felt like their eardrums were being shredded. The sound clawed at their eyes and made tears well in them, blurring their vision. Then the air became thick and oppressive.
Sarah’s chest was hurting. It felt tight, forcing her to gasp for air as if she were having an asthma attack. Looking over at Avalyn now beside her, she saw that the girl’s hand was over her chest, and knew that she felt it too. Sarah’s limbs felt heavy, as if she was running through mud, or a dream, where you never could run as fast as you’d like, especially when trying to outrun a nightmare’s monster.
Behind them, the screams grew louder, bolder.
The door leading to the roof was no more than three feet away.
Suddenly, the stairway elongated, made the distance to their destination look like it was twenty yards away now. Avalyn and Sarah pumped their legs harder. But the faster they ran, the more stairs they seemed to be climbing.
Avalyn looked down at her feet. Though her legs were moving, she wasn’t gaining any ground. She was running in place. Beside her, Sarah fared no better. Avalyn knew it had something to do with the Hunter’s screams.
Sarah felt as though she were being pulled from behind, like a fish on a hook. She gazed down at her legs. She was moving backwards, towards the Hunters. So was Avalyn. Sarah looked back, saw them in the doorway climbing, ascending towards them. One of the Hunters had his arm outstretched, palm open, the symbols on its gauntlet blazing blue, and knew that whatever it was doing had something to do with her and Avalyn’s rearward march. She tore her eyes away and focused on the stairs.
In their screams, Avalyn discerned a word. And in that word, she felt their menace. Abomination!
Was this what the Shadowy Man was always afraid of? Was this who they were hiding from?
The screeching suddenly stopped. The pulling sensation ebbed. Avalyn and Sarah fell forward, stumbled and landed on their faces at the foot of the door. Lurching to her feet, Avalyn grabbed the doors knob and pulled herself up. Behind her, Sarah had gained her feet as well and was shoving Avalyn though the doorway making her way in as well.
Sarah looked back again, even though she knew she shouldn’t waste a single second. They were four feet away, raising their swords, the symbols along them radiating.
As Sarah was closing the door, she saw their swords descend, heard the air sizzle and crackle, felt the hum of their vibrating swords prickle past her ear, before they cut through her blouse and sliced into her arm.