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The Curse by Gerald Esposito
SUMMARY: a night in the life of a cursed creature.
Darkness. Slowly his eyes opened. Even this small feat required considerable effort. His entire body ached. The weight of his many lifetimes pressed heavily upon him, like the stone lid of a sarcophagus. His ancient eyes scanned the darkness of the tomb. As was the same every night, there was naught but bones, webs, and the occasional scurrying vermin. A dull throb rang through his decaying bones like the tolling of a requiem bell. The pain was a constant reminder of the curse. He was tainted. He existed beyond grace. An ever present stench of decay and rot infested his nostrils, and his vision was as colorless as his skin. Air grew cold and musty in his presence. With great force of will he bent at the waist and sat up. His body was a batch of snapping kindling. The pain suddenly exploded into a sharp, stabbing sensation shooting like lightning through his limbs. An audible gasp escaped the fiend's lips. This ritual was getting more and more difficult with each passing evening. How many times had it been repeated? Tens of thousands? He could not remember. Over the centuries his memory had faded into the mists of time.
The creature knew that he would have to stand eventually, but that could wait a while longer. The shooting pain had just begun to subside, only to be replaced by the more monotonous agony of slowly feeling his arms and legs stiffen and his flesh rotting on the bone. Only one thing could prevent the natural progression of the nightly rigor mortis. The curse had to be satiated. It commanded that he be thrust into the hellish limbo that existed between the living and the dead. He would never live again, and one day he would truly die, but now he merely existed. If he did not rise and assuage the curse, he would simply continue to rot like any other dead body. Only he would be privy this torment until he finally passed out of existence.
Inhaling deeply (even though he had no need of air) the ancient being stood. Immediately his legs felt as though they had caught fire. Another audible groan. He wished he could remember how he came to such a dreadful state, but this knowledge was now lost to him. He hated this, but had no outlet for his rage. He often wondered what he had done to deserve this. What great sin had he committed? Now he was a walking sin. He had read about the seven deadly sins, and now he embodied the entire septet at once. He hated the living, and sometimes envied the dead. He slept all day and only rose when spurred on by the bodily need to numb the pain of his curse. He also wished that there were others like him, but he was utterly alone. If there were others, how would those of his kind procreate? He doubted if they could.
Feeling as if his legs were encased in cement, the fiend took a heavy, agonizing step. The grinding of his joints made a sickening crunching sound that echoed through the crypt. He could see the rats scurrying away from his approaching steps. He knew that his kind existed outside the normal sphere of nature. As a result, he had no affinity with any of the other creatures in the world.