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For the third time that week, I dreamed of blood.
I trudged along an uneven path, and on every inch of my skin, I could feel the blood that seeped from the cuts in my flesh. Every time during these dreams, I could not remember what had caused the wounds, only that they would prove fatal, long before I could reach the beacon of a tall building in the distance. I knew in my gut that the building meant salvation, if I could only reach it, if I could only hold on to consciousness. But each step was pain. I looked down at the ground and saw that my path was echoed by a trail of blood, so vivid and so fresh.
And in the reflection of each drop, each tiny pool, I saw the moon.
Part One: Madness
The sound of shattering glass woke me from dreams, and I jerked to an upright position in my narrow bed, throwing off the covers. I was on my feet before I even registered the fullness of the situation, moving on pure instinct. My heart pounded and my breath came fast from my sore throat as if I had been screaming or running or both at once. I paused -- there was silence all around -- it was truly the dead of night.
Perhaps it had been in my mind, the disturbance and not in reality. Had it been part of my dream, a part I could not remember?
But then, then, there came a groan, an all-too familiar sound and unmistakably human.
I had just enough presence of mind to slip on a robe over my T-shirt and track pants, padding barefoot down the darkened stairs to the lower level. I heard further groans, sounds of anguish, punctuated. There was the crunch of glass and the feel of movement. I felt, rather than heard, someone shuffling along the carpet, making low grunts.
As I reached the bottom of the stairs and faced the living room and beyond it, the kitchen, I saw that the floor-to-ceiling windows on the north side of the flat had been destroyed, chips of glass littered over the carpet. By the dimness of the street lamps below, the ambient light rose and was trapped by the heavy clouds obscuring the sky. I was just able to make out a vague shape in the middle of the room, a shape that somewhat resembled a human being in form. I saw a hand with elongated fingers clutch at the arm of a chair, and then, it raised itself to its feet.
I was caught, my eyes fixated, as great wings spread out from the creature, a span of at least twelve feet, beautiful and frightening at once. It impressed upon me the image of an ancient being, carved from pure myth. The head swiveled towards me, and the weight of eyes pressed hard into me, as if it could see through into the core of my very self.
I stared and unable to break that contact. After a minute or two of stillness, its mouth opened and it gave a great cry, a cry that pierced my ears. I staggered and fell to my knees, and my hands shivered as I tried to lift them to cover my ears and block out the sound, but I was unable to do so. Instead, my lips parted and my voice spilled forth in an echo, a thin wail. I had no will in that moment, helplessly trapped in that keening, made by something deep within myself, something dark and unexplored, to sympathize with my own call.
Just as suddenly, it stopped, and my voice trickled to nothing in my throat, and the moment slipped away, and there was only me and the winged intruder.