The streetlight ahead flickered as Linda made her way home. She spent the night out at the movies and when her friends headed to the bar, Linda parted ways. She was only a few blocks away from the cinema, albeit a rather cold night with a breeze. Marge was sending her messages as she strolled down the sidewalk, the wind gently cast her hair in her eyes. Linda brushed her bangs back as she got to the flickering light and gasped as she was struck with a wooden bat. It collided with her right cheek, searing pain stretching throughout her face. She shrieked as her hands braced her collapse and crimson stained the floor below her face. Linda saw the boots of the person, then another slam to the back of her skull and her night was over.
Something slammed far in the distance, shaking the ground under Linda. She stirred, head throbbing so profusely she took a moment to open her eyes. She was in the corner of an old attic, dust clinging to the hodgepodge of items left from a previous generation. The room carried a damp odor mixed with rust and was quite chilly. Linda glanced around briefly, noting the lone yellow light and absence of windows. She looked at herself and realized she had been stripped down to her panties, and her left breast had a bruise. Her heart raced, what could she do? Flashbacks to the previous night did nothing but make her regret parting with her friends and tears rolled down her cheek. Her body trembled with cold and fright. She attempted to curl her legs under her, and she noticed a metal clasp around her left ankle. Chained to the wall like a misbehaving dog, water bowl sitting only a few feet to her left. With this she screamed and tugged violently at the chain. It was futile; she had not the strength to change her current predicament, then a door down the attic behind some boxes on the right, swung open.

A man entered the room, his presence sent shivers up Linda’s spine as she twitched and continued to cry. He appeared nearly 6 and a half feet tall and not a small frame. His boots were muddied and tarnished, matching his dark, slightly torn jeans. He had a bowie knife tied to his hip with a leather belt which loosely hung over his hips. A worn-out leather jacket donned his torso, zipped up tight around his large rib cage and shoulders, and his brown eyes pierced through a novelty store Halloween mask, covering his face with that of some made up demonic entity. For a moment, he stared at his captive, as if mulling ideas around. Then, he approached, quickly and with force. His boots shook the whole attic as he bound toward her. Linda flung herself against the wall pleading “NO, stay away!”, but he heeded none of it. She covered as much of her as she could, shaking and staying as small as she could. He smacked her across the face with a big frying-pan sized hand and Linda toppled onto her right side. Linda’s head rang like a church bell inside, that distant ringing almost transporting her to another world, but before she reached that new haven, a muddy boot took her breath away. He had kicked her in the ribs as she lay on the ground, at least one broken. Linda shrieked and convulsed, no hope for action. That demonic mask looked down on her for a minute or 2, watching her agony, almost studying it, then stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind.

A few hours had passed, Linda laid in a ball against the wall. She had gotten water from the bowl, the liquid felt like heaven in such a dark place. She rocked slowly and let out a whimper here and there. Steps approached the attic, and she slammed her back against the wall, trying to hide in the corner as small as she could get. Linda nudged a nearby box by accident, sending a container on top of it tumbling to the ground and spreading moldy clothing across the floor away from her. The door burst open, so hard it bounced off the wall and back at the man, who stopped it with an outstretched hand. Linda noticed it was covered with a black leather glove, same as his other hand which held a rusted hammer. Her eyes widened at the realization and screamed as the man rushed at her. He jumped and smashed her head into the wall, his knee colliding with her open mouth. He jumped away and deeply moaned. Her teeth had gone through a tear in the jeans and one had been embedded just above his kneecap. Linda fell face first to the floor unconscious.

She burst awake to searing pain in her right leg. Linda screamed and looked down her body, her ankle shattered and bloody. The man brought down the hammer one more time, almost severing her foot. As she shrieked, he grabbed the foot and yanked it off. Linda passed out again, only to reawaken to burning and the scent of cooking meat. He was shoving a hot cast iron pan against the nub of her lower leg, cauterizing it. He threw it aside as she flailed her whole body. The man gave a guttural scream as if annoyed by her reactions. Linda had no control, every nerve flared in agony. He got up and grabbed her by the neck. He bellowed “SHUT UP!” and punched her repeatedly with his other fist. By the time he finished, the glove had torn and was a darker shade of black, now covered in blood. Linda’s face was swollen, nose broken, and most of her front teeth lay on the surrounding floor. Finally quiet, he dropped her to the ground, threw an old steak on her and said “Dinner”. He slammed the door and a pile of boxes on the right fell over, covering Linda in an avalanche of papers, books, and trash.

Linda shoved everything off her, rolled into the fetal position and cried. She felt phantom pain in her now gone foot and lost hope by the second. She took a breath and looked around at what had fallen on top of her. A few dusty blankets and some old tattered books. There were 3 books, all leather bound and looking of quite some age. Luckily all were in reach of her chain and she gathered them to her corner. She threw the blankets over the boxes and kept one in her corner, in case the man came back she would hide the books under here. This first was an old Astrology book, covering the movement of every planet and what every star meant at different times of the year. Next was an encyclopedia of land mammals, filled with black and white photos and blurbs on every creature. Last was a brown book with a pentagram on the front. The inside was handwritten and the first page wrote “Fellowship of Eurynomos”. Pages filled with stories of demons and the afterlife, different prayers for immortality and the such, and every so often, a full write up on different rituals. She had now seen behind the mask and the devil had laid his home here and it left her petrified. She was not dealing with a normal human; this man had given his soul to the other side. She could hear him walking around every so often and would hide the book and act asleep or terrified in the opposite end. When nothing came up, she would continue reading. Hours passed, and she read every inch of that book.

All of a sudden, she was awoken by the man who slammed through the door. He now had old military cargo pants, reinforcing the areas left open when he had worn the ripped jeans. Blood had seeped through with little splotches where Linda’s teeth had dug in. His right leather-bound hand clutched a dull all metal axe and his left some cloth. He lurched over to Linda, a noticeable limp from his wounds. Linda scurried against the wall, heavily breathing and whispering “no” over and over. As he bent over her, she flung out her arms in defense, but he effortlessly grabbed at her wrists and caught her right arm with his left hand and the cloth. With no hesitation he swung the axe, and it thudded into her bicep, embedding in the bone. She shrieked, and he pulled on the axe which at first pulled Linda forward with it, then it popped out of her bone and gave, sending Linda flying back into the wall. She collapsed onto her left side, too weak to minimize the fall. He bent over and grabbed her wrist again as the new wound pulled Linda burst into tears and screaming. He whacked the bone two more times before it cracked and the flesh separated from her body, tearing skin and muscle apart. He wrapped her arm up in the cloth as Linda passed out from the pain, hoping to bleed and not awake.

Her right hand flared in excruciating pain and when she reached for the air, she burst into tears. He cauterized her amputated arm and the smell was nauseating. She pulled herself over to the book and flipped through until she got to the page she had in mind. A pentagram on the floor, some symbols in blood, and a sacrifice. She had a way out.

The man came back a few hours later, opening the door and stopping to stare at her for a moment. Linda sat against the wall, now covered in her own blood. She had opened the wound on her arm and her blood was all over now. At the sight he grunted and went out. When he returned he had cloth and a bottle of alcohol, apparently to clean and bandage her up. “Fuck you!! Just let me die! Why do you keep me alive like this?” She knew the reason, she read it in the book. Her limbs were being used for ritual, and fresh meat and blood worked best. The man paid no attention to her screams and moved toward her. About 5 feet from her, the man stepped in a puddle of blood that made his foot slip. He gathered himself and looked down and realized he now stood. Linda lunged at him and he put up his arms to block. She shouldered him in the abdomen and was tossed back against the wall. The man had a ferocity in his eyes and looked about to explode when something glinted in Linda’s hands. She had taken his knife, that’s what she was tackling him for. She stared at her captor with anger and insanity, then said some Latin from the book. The man’s eyes widened, and he screamed “No don’t!” as Linda finished her chant and brought the knife to her neck. He tried to step forward, but Linda’s face now poured with sweat and tears and with one last sigh, she cut her throat.
Linda fell over, gasping and convulsing as her blood spilled in front of the pentagram. The entire world seemed an eerie quiet, and the man took a step backwards. Her corpse lay still, he watched closely and after a few seconds he turned to head toward the door. He went 3 steps and heard writhing behind. Linda’s body was convulsing again, every limb going all different directions and in inhuman patterns. The man rushed for the door but was tripped up by the ankle. He fell to the floor and got to his elbows. He looked back and a demonic hand, scaly, decayed, and slightly smoldering, was gripping his ankle and jeans. Linda was alive again, her neck hung open and showing her trachea, but her absent limbs had been replaced by these demon limbs. Her eyes were black with a hint of what looked like a dancing flame in the center. She gripped tighter, snapping his ankle, and he screamed in pain. She lunged and grabbed him on the back of his jacket. He tried to kick at her, but every time she would squeeze harder. The man screamed “I did all for you! Everything was for you!” and Linda smiled ear to ear. “Your work is done” she said in a small voice. She picked him up with his jacket, letting go of the ankle and re-gripped his wrist. She whispered in almost a growl “not tender” and yanked on his arm. It looked effortless, but in one movement, his arm popped out of the socket and tore the skin. The man lurched away in pain, but had nowhere to go, and with another yank his arm was removed. She dropped him to the floor and quickly sat on his back facing his legs. She grabbed his leg with her demon arm right above the broken ankle and ripped it off at the knee. He bucked all over, but the demon gave her weight and Linda did not budge. She removed the other leg in the same manner and the man passed out. Linda held out her arm and took notice of its fingers, now tipped with brutally sharp nails. She stared at them with mystery, then thrust her hand, nails first and in a vertical line, into his spine. He sprung back to life, shrieking in agony, but no longer able to move anything but his neck. He cried, and she bent down to his face. He heard her breathe in deeply, then whispered “Tender”. In an instant, the pentagram burst into flame. The man cried in agony and fear, “NO I CAN’T GO! NOOOO” but her grip was everlasting. The pentagram opened into a hole and Linda slid back into it, the man grabbing at the floor with his surviving hand. His nails dug in and tore off, and with a scream was brought into the hole with Linda, who smiled the whole time.

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