Sleep. I vaguely remember the sensation of breathing deeply, eyes closed, as my mind traveled through time. My body, relaxed within itself, would rest as the clock ticked away the hours til dawn.
Sleep. It is a distant memory. It is an activity that I have not taken part in for months. My mind does not separate reality from madness. Night has taken over my world. The moon, crimson red, spilling out bat-like creatures, hangs close. It watches as I lead my small band of soldiers down the blood soaked street.
Sleep. Even when I was caught in the grip of a horrible nightmare, I never witnessed carnage such as what is laid out before me. Bodies, slashed by the wind's force, are strewn about. Blood seeps into pools that we march through without hesitation. I scan the area, taking in the view of my neighbors burning from the fire that continues to rain down around us. The scent of burnt flesh reaches me. Instead of being repulsed by the smell of scarred tissue, I am drawn to it. Death, with its pungent odor, beckons me to follow it into the cemetery. I pay heed to the call and continue to lead my army down the hellish road.
Houses burn all around us. Cars, caught in a never ending inferno, emit black smoke that reaches the dead heavens. Screams of agony sing out. I thrive on them. They cause my blood to race. I'm excited. Thrilled at the pain that is all around.
I make my way through the fire and destruction. Flames, fierce and unforgiving, chill me to the bone. I wrap my arms around myself. I do not burn. Fire can not touch me, for it is now my home. I traded in my heavenly rewards when I embraced Insomnia and pledged my love to him.
Ah, Insomnia. My old friend. My nightly visitor marches to my left. I can hear his thoughts as he scans the surroundings. He is wistful. Insomnia fears that this blood bath will be over too quickly. He wants them to suffer. He yearns for Hell to be unleashed on Earth. As it stands now, I believe he will get his wish.
Insomnia. Lucifer. Devil. My friend. My confidant. The only friend that I have known for months. He has taken my hand and stayed with me during the night hours when all the world slept. He lovingly spoke with me. Confronted my fears. Challenged my beliefs, my dreams, my existence. I take in his profile, clean, generic. He is tall, a little over 6 feet. Lean with a runner's build. His long arms are muscular. His stance is slight. His skin is tan, like my own. We are of the same tribe. The same species. His light brown hair is cut short. His eyes, brown as well, twinkle with a hint of mischief. There is nothing threatening about my companion. My fellow comrade. He is no more than a faint memory in time.
Sensing my gaze, Insomnia looks over and winks.
"Help me!" I hear screams from all around. "Oh dear God, help me!"
God is not here. Once, He roamed the neighborhoods, watching over us. Enjoying the laughter, the smiles, that He created. Once, when the sun was bright and the breeze was warm, He sang to us through the birds that flew overhead. His whisper floated down on the lips of children. God was everywhere. Always there to guide us. To lift us. To let us know, though our faith may be shallow, like the shores on a placid lake, He was still there.
Now, God is no more. His presence is nowhere to be felt. Mankind, in our need to get more out of life than what we put into it, brushed The Creator to the side. We have no use for His rituals. For the thankfulness that a child should feel towards their parent. We took it all for granted. We felt we deserved all that was handed to us. And when we were no longer handed our riches, the bright shiny life that we had grown accustomed to, we destroyed what we had.
Humans are foolish in the most dangerous of ways.
The street that I live on is longer than I remember. Or maybe it is just the destruction that has caught my attention. It feels that we have been walking for days. My companions and I. Insomnia continues to gaze about. He walks on my left. He remains close by. I could reach out and touch him if I so desired.
To my right is a hellish beast. I can not recall when he joined our march, but he is here now. He carries on on hooves. The bottom half of his torso is lined with black fur. He walks on the hind legs of a bull. His gait is steady. Strong. His upper torso is one of a man. His bulging muscles are lined with veins. They are a road map of his body. Showing hills and valleys where there should be none. His face is hard. Lean. Smooth like granite. His jet black hair cascades down his back. It is straight and made of twine. He is focused on the street ahead. He does not seem to notice as my eyes cover his body. The beast is frightening and beautiful. He is a massive creature. His broad shoulders rock back and forth as he keeps pace to some unheard beat. His height far exceeds mine. I can only estimate him to be close to seven feet tall.
Dizzy from gazing on him too long, I look away.
Behind us, marching in unison, are the shadows that once lived in my room. Their cadance echos across the neighborhood. These shadows are no longer shadows. Once they left the safety of the corners of my bedroom, they began to morph into beasts of solid matter. And when, one by one, they ventured out into the night, their eyes began to glow bright yellow. The wind, clawing at its victims and slowing ripping them to shreds, seems to solidify these creatures. They hunch over, ready to leap on all fours and run into the night. Their bodies are glowing red with hot ash. Their jaws lay open, saliva dripping from their blazing tongues, ready to eat.
A quick glance behind me reveals that I have seven of these demons at my disposal. They look to me, their leader, with rapt attention. They march steady and on point; ready for my command. Seeing them, in all their horrific glory, gives me a sense of peace. I know these were the monsters in my mind. I am comforted by the knowledge that they are my creation. These are my children.
As we walk down the street, chaos surrounds us. Men and women run screaming out in pain and terror. The fire continues to rain down all around. It catches its prey, stopping them in their tracks. The wind whips through my hair. Ahead of me, the wind grabs hold of some poor human. Slicing the flesh apart. Blood flies from her body, as if it is erupting from a volcano. She makes an awesome sound. Almost like an animal caught in a painful trap. Unharmed, I continue on as it lays slaughter to the next mortal it meets.
The scene is madness. Beautiful madness.
I create the pace we are marching to. Armed with only the hockey stick, I am intent on reaching my destination. The cemetary. The place where I am to meet the army. And my commander.
The once normal street that I drove down everyday has come to an abrupt end. I stand in a pool of blood as I look at what used to be acres of houses. Gone are the picket fences. The swing sets. Gone are the toys to indicate children once resided here. There are no animals. All that's left are empty shells of homes and burning rubble. Bodies litter the once kept yards. I see a hill up ahead. It slopes downward to something that I can not see. But, there is no need for me to view what lays below us. I can smell it. The putrid smell of decay greets me. It is a boney hand reaching out for me and pulling me towards its origins.
I am giddy with excitement. I can not wait to go.
Insomnia has other ideas. "Wait," he instructs me. "Do you have a plan? Do you know what is needed?"
"No. How am I supposed to have a plan? It was you that called me to arms. You are the one who gave me a weapon and instructed me to fight. I don't know what I'm doing."
The creature to my right gave a low rumbling growl. "You know," it said. "What does your heart say? What does your soul desire?"
"I want blood."
It nods and points the way. We make a path down the hill. It is rocky. Treacherous even. I find myself stumbling here and there over what I think to be boulders and broken tree limbs. A glance down tells me differently. These are the bodies of my neighbors, my friends, that I am walking over.
Ahead I see what I have been unknowingly yearning for. It is the statue. The black angel that has been in my mind since the first night the raven brought me here. I can see the thing breathing slowing. It is a labored breath. The eyes, shut on my previous visit, are now open. They are red with specks of black through out. Hot tears trickle down its smooth face, giving off steam as it touches its stone cheek. The eyes are fixed on me and the demons that have followed me here.
The massive wings, six feet from the tip of one wing to the other, begin to flap in the rhythm of my heart beat. It is in tune with my body. It hears my thoughts. It wants what I want.
The raven, with it bloody body, sits on the statue's shoulder.
It is time.
My heart begins to race. The faster it beats, the harder the statue's wings thump up and down. It is ready to take off. Just as I am ready to start the beginning of the end.
"Where are they," I ask the raven. "Where are the ones that I am to destroy?"
"There is only that you must fight," Insomnia tells me. "It is a young girl. A child. But, she has an army of her own. One that we will protect you from. But, you and only you, must fight this girl. This child. For she is the one that can bind together what we have fought so hard to destroy."
"A girl? A child? I don't understand."
Behind me the demons of my mind begin to get restless. They are ready to fight. To tear the souls out of those that dare oppose us. I can feel the tension coming off of their dark bodies as they begin to break rank. The growls and snorts of these beasts break through to me.
"Silence!" I command them. They all stop and look to me. Even the beast to my right takes heed. "You will stand at attention. You will wait for my command. Do you understand?"
Not a sound comes from the creatures. All remain at attention. All, but one. The beast, with its red eyes and sharp teeth, looks at me. And then he sneers.
It is a challenge. And I have accepted it.
I raising my hockey stick. The only weapon that I have to fight any beast or person that rises against me. I raise it and bring it down against the rebel beast. I feel the heel of the stick slice through the the thick skin of the demon. It is a clean slice. As I break through, it looks at me. Startled. And then falls into two pieces. Black blood mixed with red ash oozes everywhere.
That's one bad ass hockey stick.
I look to the rest of my followers. "Anyone else impatient?"
The demons look down and away. No one dares look me in the eye.
Insomnia begins to chuckle. "Atta girl," he whispers.
I look to the raven for answers. "Where's this child? The girl that you find to be so dangerous? Where is she and what is her army made of?"
You will find her where you are afraid to look. You will find her there, unarmed, waiting. I do not know what follows her. She is pure. Righteous. Powerful. Be ever vigilant. For she will come at you innocent. A creature of love. She will confuse you. She will try to defeat you.
She will die.