Open 2020, Short Stories - H.L. Dowless


The Pursuit

By H.L. Dowless  


Silently..,ever so silently.., I move through those hallowed oaken groves. The beasts lash out from behind concealing bushes , the foul swoop down from vast heights in pursuit of my warm flesh? In the distance, I perceive the low pitched growl of a crouching panther.., or a demon traveling on the wind without?


My feet increase in speed on their own accord as those three intrepid villains bear down in pursuit. Do they desire my capture for some personal gain? Is it the coin that I failed to hand over due to some sudden loss of employment? Are they mortal entities, or some evil vaporous spectral entity conjured up by their hooded saint of that clear crystal orb?


These answers I know not, but my soul knows that it must find perfect sanctuary...or all is forever lost, yes all will be forever lost.


I hear voices....yes, heavy coarse voices! I perceive them to be spectral voices from those eternal souls of the damned. They appear beside me, from immediately behind me, blowing the foul wind of their breath into my face, chilling my body as they speak into my ears beside me. I fear they may originate from the very pit of the flaming lake itself!


I leap into the canal before me, still I feel them just above, I glance upward and behold, nothing! They whisper their foul dark words into my ears. They cause misfortune to torment my body and mind. They speak of evil instruction., but I refuse to lend ear or obey.


Behold, they instruct me to destroy the woods by raging flame, destroy the mortals who once surrounded me, yea, even to destroy myself, but I delight in disobeying their demands! I run to escape their pursuit, and I as of yet, have failed to find it!


Hark now! Lo I perceive their crunching footsteps; Yes, their near silent slow pursuing footsteps! A gust of wind puffs, and I now choose to move away...but I detect their movement simultaneously. I halt with the silence of the wind, and the pursuing footsteps halt in their deadly pursuit!


My intellect., yes my delightful splendid intellect and imagination...conceives an intricate trap! I shall swing out in a wide loop, silently doubling back, only to halt at an opening in the wood stand that allows me to view the trail from whence I came. Then I shall get a glimpse of my pursuing villain! I shall then throw my hatchet, destroying this creature for all eternity; then and only then I shall be master of the dreaded moment, and he shall come to know it and curse the moment of his very birth!


I perceive the approaching footsteps, the gentle crunch of that so horrible a master of evil intentions; oh yes, they continue to crunch ever closer to my line of sight! Will my eyes close to conceal the horror? Will my mind refuse to accept the yon view that stands so dreadfully before me? My heart races in nervous anticipation, it's beat increasing in tempo until I hear it's loud pounding in my ears. Yes, all that I hear is it's repressive pounding in my tormented ears!


Those trifling footsteps, yes those evil repressive footsteps, now cease at my line of sight! Yes they cease on the immediate edge of my line of sight to conceal the figure from my anticipated view! Does he wish to toy with my soul? Does he fear the strike of my blade? Does he know of my defensive intentions!


Hark! Now I know fear with an intensity like that of which I have never before known! Is this villain man, or some beast unknown to science or human perception? Is it demonic or sanctified spectrum, wishing only to redeem my poor wretched soul from the endless torment of the flaming pit?


I must flee and take no chances. I must hope for some break in that hallowed horrible thicket, staying only on the streets where the evil fear to venture. There the beast will know not how to travel without exposing his hidden figure to my tearful eyes, or his body to the barrel of those mortal weapons of men.


Ahead I see the glorious light, behold, I see the golden rays of light through the trees of the deep midnight forest! My feet move faster, my heart hammers ever more with increasing intensity. Yes my poor aching heart hammers with more ferocious intensity! My throat swells with the blood of absolute anticipation, my limbs tremble with abstract trepidation, my lungs heave even to the point that I fear collapse.., but I do make it.., yes, I do make it to the forest edge!


Before me run those asphalt streets.., yes those wonderful gritty asphalt streets, and those passing cars with the voices of men; yes the wonderful warm feel of the sunshine, and the coaxing voices of mortal men. Quickly I step from the wood stand and into the center of the street. The footsteps race to the forest edge..,and halt.., yes they halt out of the fear of exposing their dreadful being!


My heart now slows in the rhythm of it's beat, the pain in it's center gently fades away. Yes the pain in the center of my breast gradually subsides, and the throbbing hammer in my swelling neck and throat. Quickly I move down the center of those sand covered streets, the warm wind gently puffing my hair to soothe my poor tormented soul.


But now those voices....those evil deviling horrifying voices.., they begin to whisper their dark instructions into my vulnerable ears. Their demonic voices are jumbled, imperceptible at the onset for there are many sources, just how many, I know not. Then they gradually merge into a single monotone; yes they merge into a rhythmic single destructive monotone, only to thrust their eternal pain and gnashing contempt into the very heart of my wretched soul.


I must find solace, I must find relief..,hark! I must find security from this diabolical beast or terrible being! There it is..,oh yes..,there it stands in the precious distance., behold! Oh the proud majestic towers of the magnificent crystal cathedral; there the spirits of saints shall surround me. Yes the venerated elder shall give me salvation from all evil..,yes perfect salvation from all mortal evil or evil from those dark angelic hosts!


I near the fortress of the massive crystal cathedral for inspection..,Yes, I behold the opened welcome of it's gracious doors! My tearful eyes perceive the beauty of it's sacred isles, and the lavishness of it's lengthy seats. Hark! The seats are all empty, but still I feel a warm presence about, though I see not nor do I hear any mortal presence.


I smell the sweet mystical smell of holy incense, I feel the warmth of is fumes on my cheeks, though I see no mortal view of it's source. On a slight wind within rides the sweet song of sanctified cherubs singing;


“Come, come oh thou persecuted among all mortals, do come!”


The warm beat of my now enraptured heart employs my legs to move forward, forward into the glow of the angelic voice without. Behold I kneel before the sacred alter at the railing....yes, I now kneel at the honored space. That venerated elder materializes before me. I hear the rhythm of his breath and throbbing heart, behold, I even see the movement of his silken garments! I see the golden chalice appear at my breast! I hear that cherished whispering voice saying;


“Take now..., yes take ye from the blood of the suffering lamb.”


I drink all of the sacred offering. I eat of that honored toast. I hear of the cherished blessing, I speak those words of the sacred oath. Into the sky I whisper those deep words of passion, yes, and into the depths those instructed words of woe. Yes.., into those horrible depths I spoke those instructed words of eternal woe.


I felt the warmth of his right hand upon my trembling shoulder. I felt the wind of his breath upon my flushed crimson cheek. I heard the whisper of his holy voice saying; “Come, come thy tormented soul among the persecuted meek, thou do come.”


I followed into the sanctity of the deepest chamber weeping, weeping with a joy that my words will never be able to give picture for the mortal to clearly perceive. Upon my nude body I placed that sacred robe of blood crimson silk. In the gentle wind of the saints I heard his soothing voice whisper;


“Come. Come thou, as we shall now walk among the saints.”


Before me now sits a majestic cesspool of holy water, yes, a blessed cesspool born from those cherished spirits of the saints. My nose detects the mesmerizing aroma of the precious incense, and I hear the whisper of his voice on the ghostly breeze within gently saying;


“Come thou, oh thou among the persecuted mortals of flesh and men.”


My feet do rise to pace upon each step, now gently, oh how gently do each one take it's proper place. I near the summit of the sacred stairway, taking my stand before the cesspool of the saints. In it's midst I behold the perfect vision of the being beside me, and the majesty of the crystal cathedral without.., yes.., the gracious majesty of the crystal cathedral without!


As I step into the cesspool to shatter the crowning reflection, the water draws me into it's loving midst.., yes, the sacred water draws me into the warmth of it's exalting midst. The might of the liquid holds me.., to receive the honored blessing.., I cannot move! The force from above weighs heavily upon my wincing shoulders. I hear the voice on the wind now saying;


“Behold, in the name of the venerated one of the ancients, we do now commend this most tormented among mortal souls...Yes, we now commend the flesh of his conscious body ,yea, and the sanctity in spirit of his passing soul.”


Above my head he swings the vile of aromatic incense, and the vapor of it's aroma entraps me amid the euphoria of it's holy rose.., behold.., a euphoria as that of the belladonna rose!


Upon my trembling shoulders I feel the ice of his right hand.. yes, I feel the cold of his gradual mutating touch! My eyes perceive the repulsive clove in his feet beneath his silken robe. My ears detect the rasp of his morphing multi voice saying;


“Submit thou, oh one of many hearts and faces. Oh thou one now of that tarnished midnight place.”


Though I now struggle to free myself from the grip of the baneful tainted waters, I cannot! I cannot squirm free from the weight of his solid grasp. I behold those freezing cold emerald hands of wrinkled flesh now upon my shoulders, alas, I feel the weight of their force from above. Yes.., I feel the weight of their solid force from above! From this subjugating situation now, indeed now, there can be no resolve.


Beneath me now sag my trembling knees that are so weakly, my poor body going in now so weeping and sleepy. Into his emerald wrinkled abominable face I place my gaze, as I slowly sink down beneath the might of his hands; hark, I now go down into those unmeasured depths untold!


Deep down into the cesspool my now weakened body slowly sinks, and that voice that I hear from above bids me new welcome; yes welcome into those depths of freezing cold and flame, welcome for all eternity into our blame-full name.



H.L. Dowless is an author and an international ESL instructor. He enjoys travel, hunting big game, participating in archaeological excavations, among other activities. What he enjoys most of all is meeting new people who happen to be his loyal reading fans.


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