Unleashed, 1918

Bombed ruins of a church.

The war has released too many monsters.

Europe is old and full of death.

For four years, I have waged war across France and Belgium. I have slain men and monsters, and I have killed those that needed killing, regardless of where they stood in this conflict.

This morning, emerging from my shelter, I discovered two of our unit were missing. They had gone out wandering, searching for fresh food an hour or so before dawn, and they had not returned since.

It was unlike them.

Standing with my companions, my nose wrinkled at a faint, familiar stench, one hidden beneath the chemical and unnatural odors of the battlefield.

I told my friends to stay where they were, and I left them.

I picked up the trail of our missing men easily enough, and soon, I was outside a ruined church. The odor I had smelled earlier was stronger, lingering in the air.

Moving forward, I saw a splash of dark blood, and when I crouched down and touched it, the blood was still damp.

I followed the blood trail into the ruins, down a set of stone stairs, and into a crypt. My friends were hung from their ankles, throats slit and the blood draining into large casks. An old man stood beside them, his red eyes wide with surprise, the long nails on his fingers clicking against one another. His nostrils flared, and he took a step back, exclaiming in French, “You are a Blood!”

“I am,” I said, and I drew my knife. His eyes darted from my face to the blade.

“I was hungry,” he explained. “I have been locked here for centuries.”

I didn’t respond as I advanced upon him.

“I will kill you!” he snarled, his back pressing against the wall.

“You’d have done so.”

He tried to race past me, but his age and his hunger slowed him.

I punched through his breastbone with my knife, driving the weapon to the hilt. Fetid black blood sprayed out of his mouth as I jerked the blade out, took hold of his hair and yanked his head back.

Without a word, I sawed through his neck, the damned bastard writhing and lashing out at me the entire time. Soon enough, I had his head in my hand, and I dropped it to the floor.

With a nod, I raised a boot and stomped his brains out onto the stones.

Published by

Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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