Badb

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It was a far off place, in the middle of nowhere. Now there may have been signs of those legendary Ley lines you read about which would take you somewhere with no end to the day or place you on endless, dangerous winding roads that would finally lead you to your slow but sure demise. Somewhere secluded and devoid of any other living human being. However, you decided to ignore these invisible yet present lines and walked past, your sculling heart the reminder of imminent danger. You decided to ignore that too. The grass underneath your shoes were green and abundant, your footfalls soft and comfortable. Meadow Thistle; Catsear; Autumn Hawkbit adorned the contours of the earth between lush Sweet Vernal and Perennial Rye grasses with large rock formations like continual landmarks, it’s significance evident. The expanse a sweet surrender. Your human needs kicked in. The inventory in your backpack consisted of nothing but one powerful flashlight, a gun, snacks and a few bottles of water, which constantly nagged your attention. You finally rummaged through the backpack when you stopped to catch your breath, the hills alive with the wind rummaging through its grassy crops. The skies were somber but thick and bulbous, filled with pregnant expectation. You opened a packet of crinkled cuts and started to eat, one crisp by the next, devouring the whole pack in a matter of seconds. You reached for another packet without you knowing, being as absorbed within the magical aura that surrounded you. An aura that flowed off the hills and gathered in the vale. An aura that completely riddled your thinking with thoughts of death. You suddenly realized this only when you saw a strange, dark shape from across the distance; a flowing entity enshrouded with nothing but black. Silent. Waiting. Overhead, hundreds of small, dark shapes took to the skies and formed a great, churning circle, the flapping of dense wings evident under heavy silence. You ignored this and unscrewed a bottle of cold, refreshing water. Of course, the liquid never touched your lips when you tilted it to pour it down your throat. Nothing escaped except a dry, stale puff of air, as if the bottle had been empty for years. You opened another bottle, but the same result ensued. Yet, you ignored this as easily as accepting the fact that the lack of water might mean your end. You opened the last bottle with unfounded hope, but from this a pungent odor infiltrated the cavities of your nostrils followed by the dry hush of something like soil scraping down from within, filling your throat in such a way as to prevent ordinary inhalation. You threw the bottle aside just as one of your hands clamped down around your neck, an instinctive reaction consequent to suffocation. From teary eyes, you perceived the world around you once more, different from when you first entered the lowland meadows as fresh and excited as is expected from a plain, indifferent tourist. Everything around you went dark. The grasslands transformed into a shiny, silvery blanket sheathed by lunar brilliance. The clouds turned into something reminiscent of steel wool with dark shadows underlying more brilliant shades. Before your teary eyes, a beautiful girl appeared as if out of nowhere, her head tilted to the side, watching you choke on whatever it is you swallowed. Fear found pathways across your face; ran down your cheeks and lingered on your chin, which threatened to drop to the ground. Your throat tightened on that regard, constricting your airways even more, which inspired panic as you jumped to your feet only to fall back down again. You tried to yell but nothing came from it. The beautiful maiden suddenly began to change while crows leaped into the air from within her shroud, shrieking hysterically as they went. Shrieking as if with pleasure. The girl’s once dark shade of hair slowly turned white as the rest of her features began to pucker and change. Her skin sagged and stretched, bubbled and coalesced. Her red, juicy lips cracked and peeled away to make way for but a thin slit. Her arms became more elongated as her fingers grew thin and stippled with apparent age. Her length doubled visibly as the black shroud she wore engulfed her entire bony body. The once beautiful visage now looked haggard and old, as if there was no restriction to the aging process when time laid claim. She smiled at you, trying sweetly but resulted horrifically. She reached for you with fingers that ended in long, sharp claws while she muttered under her breath, as if her new appearance transitioned into something without the need of vocal cords. You tried to get away from her, instantly recognizing her mythological origin, recognized her instantly what with her company of black crows now dangling above your head, their shrieking amalgamated with the beating thrush of their wings. You knew what she wanted. You knew what she was going to do. You tried to get up once more, already lightheaded with no air present within your deflated lungs, even though you were still miraculously alive and conscious. You succeeded. You felt the weight of the backpack dangling from the crook of your arm, dangling with its contents probably spilled. Yet, you reached in and felt the cold steel of the gun you packed with this precise situation in mind. You ignored the gun, knowing the futile impact it would have even though its presence made you feel somewhat safer. You tossed around towards the bottom of the backpack and finally got hold of the flashlight, the most powerful one you could find back when everything made sense but still . . . did not. You pulled it out of the bag, fumbling for the switch that would instantly shed some light on your dire circumstance and aid to the benefit of your survival. The stuff lodged in your throat seemed to multiply, crushing your windpipe. However, your will to live overcame its murderous density and you held on. You found the switch just as the crows attacked, just as the hag opened her mouth to expose rows of sharp, yellowed teeth, just as your world blackened considerably. Light exploded from the flashlight’s round orifice, burned a hole through the darkness and swept across the hag’s withered shroud. A piercing shriek exploded within your ears, the pain almost unbearable, blood seeping out, and followed by the bellowing throb of your raging heart. You closed your eyes as the pain of claws sliced at your chest, your face. You let go as razor sharp teeth enclosed the arm in which you held the flashlight. You let go of your reality into the vast, profound ways of truth as feathered ligaments thrashed against your body, and sharp beaks pierced your scalp. By the light of the flashlight, everything disappeared. The shriek disappeared. The stuff in your throat vanished and sweet air filled your lungs. The pain that followed as result to contact with the Badb, the Morrigan, the Shee, vanished as well. The crinkle of foil replaced the hollows that silence could not reach, and the taste of crisps filled your senses. You opened your eyes to that beautiful nowhere you entered, knowing the danger you invited, knowing that seeing would inspire believing. You had won this time. She will be back, though. She has no end. Her need and hunger overpowers all. You had better leave and release your current justice to the powerful rule of light.

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