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Part 2 - Giving Out

Favnir_Dragon

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        Jinx snapped awake, opening his eyes to a sea of shaded crimson. He shook his black head to clear the strange effect to no avail. The rain had long since ceased to dampen his fur, though the chill wind left his moist body cold to the touch. As the young fox struggled to his feet he could feel a blossoming burn in his chest.  Jinx took one step, and then another, and then he screamed. Every inch of his body suddenly burst into white-hot agony, steam rising from his dark fur. He felt as though his veins were full of molten lava.

Struggling against the pain Jinx moved toward the eastern edge of the forest, heading for the small lake nestled among the trees. It only took him a matter of minutes but time seemed to stretch and warp into hours as he crawled along the wet grass of the forest floor.

       Finally the still waters fell into view and Jinx pulled himself into a shambling lope. The cold lake HAD to end his suffering. He launched himself head-first into the water, taking a deep breath before his face was submerged. The fire seemed to dim inside him, but he could still feel it attempting to sear his tender flesh. After a few moments of blessed release he came back up, gasping and panting for air.

       The air was blanketed with what appeared to be a thick pinkish fog; his world was still bathed in red. A small popping sound from behind him caused the fox to turn wildly, fearful of what he might find. There was nothing there but the water, beginning to pop and churn. Bubbles surfaced as he watched, slowly growing more numerous as the moments rolled past. Finally the surface of the lake was coated in them- the water was boiling. Jinx gasped and bolted, fighting to run back toward the inviting shore.

        The fox collapsed on the rough soil, his heart racing within his chest. He leaned over the lip of the water, staring in wonder as the lake grew calm once more. It was then he caught sight of himself for the first time since his meeting with the beautiful purple-skinned woman. Jinx cried in horror as the beast staring back at him followed suit.

       His once beautiful brown eyes had warped into hideous red orbs that pulsed with an unnatural light; small sharp horns of rounded bone had torn their way through his snout, tiny pools of his blood coagulated around their bases; every breath he took was accentuated by a small plume of smoke with every exhale. Whatever he had become, it was not from this world. A haunting laugh echoed through the trees behind him, turning his burning blood nearly to ice. It seemed so familiar to him, but he could not place it.

         'They yet live, Jinx. Why have you not gone after them? They killed her, they molested her, and they tortured your poor, weak mother. I need you to make them pay, my son. I need you to find them. Only their blood can put me to rest, Jinx. They deserve whatever they get. Can't you see? Don't you want to save me?'

       Jinx closed his eyes against the scorching tears welling up in the corners of his eyes.

         'I do, mother. I want you to be at peace, but the price you ask is too much for me to pay. I cannot take another's life. These men are sworn to heal, and I cannot do this.'

          The voice seemed as though it were right next to his ear. He could almost smell his mother's perfume, although the scent was tainted- Jinx could not put his finger on the underlying smell.

         'But I love you, Jinx, and you love me. You owe me this favor, child. You are the only soul in the world that I can turn to. Please, my son, you have talents far beyond any other creature that walks this earth. Without you, I will be trapped in this hell for eternity.'

       Jinx turned to look. There was no one sitting by his side. The scent was still strong, however. As he passed his red gaze over the lake, he thought back to the visions that Ylluurieth had shown him. A skeletal fox graced with the barest of flesh reaching toward him, trapped in the tiniest of spaces as maggots wormed their way across her mostly-liquefied eyes...

       Rot. The smell was rotting flesh. He could smell his mother's putrefying body near him. Jinx's eyes began to roll as he screamed and began to claw his way back to his feet.

         'No, no, you're not here! I buried you! I saw them bury you! You aren't my mother! Whatever you are, leave me alone!'

       He tried to run, but a tall figure stepped out to block his path. It lifted its face to his, smiling as its flesh slowly dripped down to ground beneath it. Scant hair covered the little bit of scalp left, showing the slightest hint of curls. A silver locket hung around the corpse's neck.

         'I'm afraid you have no choice in this, Jinx.'

       The fox fainted.

       A strong metallic smell roused the black-furred fox. He opened his eyes slowly, aware of the warmth of his body. He found that he was no longer in the familiar forest he had fainted in, but what appeared to be an alleyway in the neighboring city of Deshan. Jinx's breath was labored and his muscles ached, his panting eerie in the darkness. He felt as though he had strained himself to his physical limits, but he could not fathom how. He had reeled into blackness in the forest, losing consciousness at the awful sight of the rotting creature. Why, then, did he hurt so badly? How had he gotten to the city?

       And why was he wet?

       A yellow-bulbed security lamp flickered above him, occasionally lighting up the brick street. It was on one such flash that Jinx had to fight the urge to vomit. Even with his tinted vision he could see that there was blood everywhere- it seemed to pulse with an orange aura beneath his demonic vision. Glancing at down at himself, he could see that he was drenched in it. His eyes traced their way down to the ground, afraid of what they might see.

       Lying at his feet was what appeared to once be a living creature, its body ripped to literal shreds. Scraps of fur and flesh littered the alley, organs flung haphazardly here and there along the road. The stench of the corpse's voided bowels was overpowered only by the stench of its fresh blood, spilled along the ground and walls of this quiet place. As grisly as it was to see this body, the worst of all could be found a little way above the mess. Painted in the blood of this poor victim was a message, a message to Jinx himself-

       HELLO J.

       Jinx fled, his mind struggling to pierce the blackness shrouding his memories. He could remember nothing after blacking out except for the sound of fevered whispers. What had they been saying? It was impossible for him to pick apart single voices from the throng. As he ran he searched for a place to hide, somewhere to rest for the night, any form of shelter. Sirens rang out from the streets- he needed to pick fast. As though on queue his ears picked up the sound of the buzzing neon sign of a nearby mission. Glancing behind him Jinx could see the flashing blue-and-red lights of a nearby police cruiser. They had found the corpse. He grabbed the handle of the Mission's door and pulled. It was unlocked. With little other choice, Jinx ducked inside.

       The sounds of sleeping people calmed his raging heart. He would be safe here; he would leave before the sun rose. He made his way around the cots and sleeping bags, searching for their restroom. He found it tucked behind the eastern wall, complete with a shower and a small rack of cheap toiletries. Locking the door behind him the fox stepped into the shower, turning on the hot water as high as it would go. He scrubbed his fur, massaging the soap in as the water at his feet grew darker and darker with the blood of the creature from the alley. As he leaned back to wash it from his black hair, the water fell against the holes in his snout. He cried in shock at the pain, unable to stay silent. His muzzle flared up in pain, dropping him to his knees. The skin around his horns was amazingly sensitive, almost cripplingly so.

       Jinx turned off the water and closed his eyes, concentrating. He could hear no sounds from the sleeping area save for the snores of the unfortunates. This was good. He shook himself dry and exited the restroom, heading to look for a free cot where he could spend the night. As he rounded the corner, he found a small group of people huddled in the corner. He had woken a few people, at least. The eldest among them, a gray-furred mink, muttered prayers beneath her breath. Though she spoke with amazing speed Jinx could feel every word.

       'Our father, who art in heaven, protect us from this awful creature. We are your faithful flock, the downtrodden, those who hold you in our hearts. Save us. Deliver us from his evil. Guide us through the night. In God's name we pray, amen.'

       Jinx tried to approach them, to tell him he did not mean them any harm, but he found he could not move toward him. As he tried to address them, his voice failed. Their prayers had been answered, apparently. Jinx looked at his hands, graced with wicked claws. What was he that God would protect against him? Was he even the same species he had been born into the world as? Shaking these existential thoughts away he picked a clear spot on the floor and laid down, falling into an uneasy slumber pierced by thoughts of the alluring demon woman who had gotten him into this mess.

        As golden light began to fill the small building, Jinx's eyes snapped open. He had been lying curled on his side, dreaming of a river a blood when the warm glow of the sun reached his face. With a groan the twisted-looking fox stretched and yawned, relishing the feel of his straining muscles. As he brought his arms down he glanced around the sleeping quarters. He was alone- sometime before he roused, all the people had left. Everyone. There was not a single living creature in the mission besides himself. Jinx sighed and got to his feet, heading for the exit.

 As he stepped out into the bright sunlight, he contemplated his options. After the previous night's blackout, he knew he needed information- what if he was sick? He knew of a library a few blocks to the south, where he might be able to learn about his condition. And if he stumbled across information on his physical changes, well, all the better. With his decision made he set off, keeping to the shadowed alleys and backstreets. He met no people on his path.

        Jinx walked through the glass doors into the warmth of the library, his ruby vision drinking in the sight of the towering shelves brimming with books. Reading the signs, he was able to find his way to the Reference section. As he stood pouring over the medical tomes his eyes caught a glimpse of a black leather-bound book inscribed with gold leaf. He walked toward it slowly, his heart beating inexplicably fast within his chest. He could tell the spine was written in Latin, though he could not understand the words. Jinx withdrew the book with a trembling hand, flipping its weathered pages open to the middle. There was a picture of his Ylluurieth, sitting on a gilded onyx throne and surrounded by rotting, engorged corpses. Her silver eyes seemed to dance just as they did in the real world, flames of hunger burning in her skull. The naked creature appeared to be smiling at him knowingly. He read the inscription beneath the image, wondering what it meant.

 'Ylluurieth, Cruciatum et Inexplebilis Libido Reginae'.

As he watched the page, lost in the sight of the beautiful creature, he was unaware of the approach of a fellow library patron. A young badger woman drew closer to him, peeking over his shoulder at the Latin tome grasped in his slender hands. His ears caught the sound of her exhalation and he whirled around, claws raised in defense. The young woman held up her hands and took a step back.

  "Whoa, there. I'm here to help. You looked troubled. I really don't mean you any harm."

Jinx lowered his claws and blushed.

  "I'm sorry, miss, it's just an instinctive reaction. DO you happen to know if there are any more books about this woman?"

He held open the book to the image of Ylluurieth. He could have sworn she had changed positions...

   "Ylluurieth? There's some in the New Age section, some in fiction, a few more in the Catholic section of religion... Why do you ask? Are you writing a report?"

         He stole a quick glance down at the book in his hand. Ylluurieth had moved. She was moving toward the frame, her naked breasts gleaming with sweat. He saw her tail move, her mouth curl in a smile. She was coming closer. She was coming out of the book. Jinx could not suppress a scream of horror. As her claws began to emerge from the yellowed page Jinx's eyes rolled in his skull. His entire body felt as though it were melting from the force of the fire inside of him. He hit the floor, reeling, as his red world drained to black.

        His left side was gummy. Jinx opened his eyes, finding himself lying in crusted pool of blood. With difficulty he was able to extract himself and sit up, fear gnawing at his insides. It was pitch black, but he knew what he would find. He stood and moved toward the wall, feeling for a switch of any sort. After a few moments of nothing his fingers found the hard plastic. He flicked it up.

       He was in the Religion section of the library, the body of the badger woman torn in half at the waist. Her blood had turned the soft gray carpet a rigid, deep maroon. Her face had been torn off. Her torso cavity was completely empty save for her ribs, her intestines draped over the Christian texts and shelves like some sort of twisted tinsel. Blood sullied the holy pages. A crown of gore rested above the badger's bare face. A few feet above the body, the rest of her organs rested against the drying ground.

They were a message.

SEE YOU.

Velvety laughter echoed through the abandoned shelves as Jinx turned to run.

       Jinx's feet seemed to move of their own accord, propelling the blood-stained fox down the streets of Deshan. People moved out of his way in horror, revolted by the gore-streaked fur of the warped fox. His black hair fell in his eyes as he hunched his back, trying to hide from their volatile stares. His mind raced. Every time his world faded out, brutal violence happened in his vicinity. He had no memory of doing it, but neither could he find a reason why it was not him. What had happened to him after his meeting with the sensual creature in the forest? Had she caused his transformation? Was she to blame for the deaths? Was he?

        Caught up in his private turmoil, he did not see where he was headed. Inside his body something else directed his path, something else tugged subtly at his strings. He was not his own, not until he did what he had been called to do.

        When he finally glanced up Jinx found himself in an alley, standing in front of a dark blue door. The red garbage bin to his left was plastered in biohazard warnings. Everything about this place seemed familiar to him, but he could not place it. There was a ghost of a memory writhing around in his mind, something about a gurney and a pristine white sheet... He shook his head and turned back to the door, approaching it cautiously. His hands shook as he reached out for the silver handle. He drew a deep breath as his fingers closed around it.

        The door flung itself open, cracking him hard in the skull. The fox collapsed, his vision hazy. He recognized the sound of shouting and something creaking, but his concussed mind could not place where they belonged. Arms reached down and lifted his neck, placing a Styrofoam brace against his spine. Very gently he was lifted and placed on something hard and cold. Shapes swam before his eyes, dark against the red. His last thought was of his mother as he sank under the waves of unconsciousness.

        There was a sharp stinging in his arm. He could hear something beeping near the right side of his head. Bright white light burned his eyes even through his closed lids. Where was he? Was he dead? He opened his eyes and hissed against the piercing bulbs above him. He was in a glass cage, quarantined alone with various medical equipment.  The sensation in his arm was from a saline drip hooked from a stand to his right. Surrounding his clear prison were many masked figures in white coats, scribbling furiously on clipboards and watching his every moment.

 He was being observed.

   'They're holding you here like a tragic specimen, Jinx. They want to see your insides.'

 Jinx shook his head.

   'They're going to cut you open and fill you with formaldehyde. In the basement there is a dank laboratory where they plan to boil the flesh off of your bones. You're going to die if you stay here, Jinx. You need to break free. You need to make them pay.'

        Jinx screamed. The doctors surrounding him were lecherous corpses, soulless and rotting, gaping at him with dripping eyes. Their mouths were fanged and covered in blood, much like their red-spattered lab coats. They cackled wickedly and brandished hooked tools toward him. Some of the males were engorged. The women's tattered remnants of breasts were graced with hardened nipples. These demons got off on the torture they inflicted upon the innocent.

 He would not be their next victim.

 With a howl of rage the black-furred fox tore the IV from his vein, dripping smoking black blood onto the pristine white-tiled floor. He leaped toward the glass, smoke pouring from his nostril as his temperature rose.

 Once. The glass cracked.

 Twice. The cracks deepened.

 Thrice. He was free.

      The glass shattered outward as the fox dove through, snarling, burning saliva flying from his parted jowls. He pounced on the closest doctor, a young ermine man who had turned to flee. His jaws closed on the soft flesh of the man's throat, crunching down on brittle bones and tissue and tearing them out with a jerk of his head. Hot blood splashed onto his face as the doctor tried to scream with the last of his energy, unable to do more than send a bubbling froth flowing from his gaping wound.

 Jinx leaped again, raking his impossibly sharp claws down the back of an older lynx woman. She fell with a pained cry and he was upon her, tearing her clothes off and grabbing her womanhood with his black talons. He tore her most private of regions to ribbons, slashing and stabbing as her loud screams of agony echoed through the tiny room. He shoved his claws deeper, gouging a path through her womb until he was able to tear his paw out through her stomach cavity, a fistful of organ tissue clutched in his hand triumphantly.

 The doctors gathered at the front of the room, screaming, pounding their fists against the study security door in hopes someone would come by to save them. Jinx would not give them the chance.

 He tore through the throng of terrified people like a dervish, his claws lacerating every inch of flesh he could find. Blood flowed like a river as he worked, carving faces and veins and limbs. One lucky cut completely eviscerated a rat who had nearly managed to break one of the hinges in his panic. His steaming organs fell in a pile at his feet as he tried to shout. Jinx slashed his throat before he could muster the strength.

         Finally the fox stopped, his mouth and claws littered with ruined scraps of flesh and muscle. He panted, smoke furling around his muzzle, and he grinned a bloody grin. His glowing red eyes were wild with glee. He strode toward the security glass and stared through the criss-crossed sliver of glass. A nurse vixen strode past, glancing at the door.

 She mustn't be allowed to tell.

 Yes.

 Jinx took a fiery breath and threw himself against the door. The study metal caved outward. He crashed against it again and it gave, spilling him out into the anaesthetized hallway. He bounded on all fours toward the now-fleeing nurse, he powerful jaws snapped shut on her ankle. He dragged her to the ground and dug his claws into her ribcage. With a twist he pulled, sending the bones flying from her chest. She howled an unearthly noise as Jinx crushed her windpipe with the heel of his hand. Something began to pull him toward the eastern part of the building. He could feel it, a siren's call beckoning him from his slaughter. Leaving the silver vixen's crumpled body on the ground he turned to the east and began to run, following the beacon burning in his chest.

        Red alarm lights flashed in his eyes, accompanying blaring sirens issuing forth from loudspeakers on the walls. Jinx ran, oblivious, determined to reach the place that eagerly pulled him forward. Finally he stopped in front of a brown door. A sign beside the frame marked it as the STAFF ROOM, in no-nonsense capitals. The thing that he longed for was in here.

 Jinx kicked in the door with powerful legs, his paws colliding with the plastic and splintering the durable material. Two men were inside, on cell phones, screaming at what sounded like the police.

   "You don't understand- So much blood- Please! Help us! We- Oh my god. He's here."

 Jinx recognized the men- these were the doctors who worked on his mother. He thought back to the vision Ylluurieth had shown him.

 'My mother was not an old bag,' he growled, his voice seeming flowing from two throats at once.

 The human man turned to his stoat companion.

   "The vixen with cancer. Whatever that thing is now, it used to be her son."

He turned to address Jinx.

   "Look, we did all we could. Her cancer had progressed to a stage where removing it would do nothing except straining her already weakened body. Surgery would have killed her. We made her comfortable in her last days, son, which is all we could do. You have to understand, doctors can't fix everything, no matter how hard we try. For what it's worth, we're sorry for your loss. We-"

 Jinx cut him off with an outraged snarl.

   'Save your pitiful attempts to curb my wrath, Doctor. I am not here to demand you apologize for her murder. I am here for revenge.'

 Jinx ran towards them, his claws bared, screaming in glee as blood began to fly.

        The black fox stood towering above the desiccated corpses of the two doctors, admiring his work.  There was not one inch of the small staff lounge that was not coated in their vile blood. Their heads had been severed and skinned, their blood-streaked skulls staring blankly at their murderer. Their skin had been flayed from their bones and hung over their chairs like twisted floor rugs. Jinx had carved away their muscles and had devoured chunks of them raw, his jagged fangs leaving marks in the tough meat. Their organs and faces had been hung on the walls, run through with shards of their bones. He looked down at his hand to find their eyes crushed within his palm.

 The gory mess was missing something, though. Jinx tilted he head at the blank, blood-soaked wall above their disembodied faces. He scooped a bit of their mingled excrement and approached his canvas. He could hear a voice in his mind, translating the phrase he wished to write.

 Medice Cura Teipsum.

 Physician Heal Thyself.

 Pleased with his work, he walked over to the sink and rinsed the disgusting filth from his paws. Once he was sure he had gotten every inch of his fur cleansed, he turned to survey the scene once more. He felt amazing. Their murders seemed to free something inside of him, something dark that he had buried until this point. This thing was equally glad to be free. Jinx howled in exultation. His voice carried a strange echo, as though sounded from two sets of vocal chords. He didn't seem to notice his unnatural voice.

        Gunshots rang out loud from the hall, cutting Jinx's celebration short. The door slammed open and six armored police officers entered, their massive pistols trained on the fox. The largest of them, a mastiff, shouted toward the blood-soaked Jinx to surrender or they would fire. Jinx took a step forward.

 Before he could pounce, a searing pain shot through his back, dropping him to his knees. He collapsed in a pile guts and twisted his arm back to scratch at the source of his new agony. He dug his talons into his black fur, tearing at his skin to get to the burning spot. Beneath his coat his flesh began to ripple. In their shock the officers lowered their weapons, watching in horror as Jinx's scrambling grew more frantic. The fox began ripping chunks of his flesh and muscle away, sending his boiling black blood spattering the ground beneath him.

         As his flayed his own back, two black bones began to jut out of his freshly-opened wounds. They grew larger as they extended. They were oddly jointed, bent double as they sprouted from the fox's back. Once they were free of his flesh they opened, allowing a dark black membrane to being knitting itself between the onyx osseous shards. Jinx screamed as the gouges on his back began to mend themselves around the new growths. The police screamed in horror as these new black wings began to beat madly. Pulling himself together and gritting his teeth through the pain, Jinx saw that his chance for escape was now or never. He turned away from the terrified police officers and dove through the window, his new appendages carrying him safely to the street below.

     As the black-furred fox's feet touched the ground, he caught the faint smell of sulfur drifting by. A woman's voice chuckled near his ear- he could feel her exhale.

   'You're so much more than I could have hoped for, Jinx,' the voice cooed. 'No other mortal has been so... indulgent. The trail of horror you left behind is something to be admired, my pet. My kind will feed well of their fear.'

 In his mind he could almost envision the sensual demoness whispering in his ear, her naked body pressed close to his...

 Jinx shook the thought from his head.

   'I will do better,' he thought. 'I will do better.'

 The wings gracing the fox's back flapped twice before he took off at a run, laying them flat against as he headed back towards the forest. Inside him the fire was raging, no longer searing but bolstering the warped creature. He relished the memory of the way their weak flesh parted at his command, their blood spurting forth to cover his body in its warmth. The sensation was so foreign to him, so unthinkable, but he could not hide how fantastic he felt. Every sense he possessed was heightened, the lava flowing through his body burning eagerly for the next blow. There could be no doubt. Killing felt amazing to him.

         Jordyn nudged her car door closed, juggling her groceries precariously in her arms as she made her way to the front door. Her keys jangled as she searched through them, balancing her harvest between her body and the outlying wall. She managed to find the correct once when she heard a bloodcurdling cry from somewhere behind her. She whirled, her food and keys falling to the pavement as her arms relaxed in shock.

 There was a blonde-haired human woman on her knees, screaming as a hulking black creature ground a talon against her temple. A small trickle of blood began to bead around the wound, finally gaining the weight to trail down her soft flesh. Jordyn found herself paralyzed with fear, unable to help the poor woman as the monster dug its way into her brain. Finally it roared triumphantly hooked its finger, tearing the phalange out of her weakened skull. Her body slumped to the side, a mask of agony etched upon her face. The monster turned to Jordyn, its red eyes blazing in triumph.

   The vixen stared back at him, her mouth moving soundlessly as her mind tried to process what she was seeing.

She knew that face.

 It was her brother.

The creature snarled and bounded away, lashing out at any person who happened to be in his way. Bodies began to litter the ground; his claws never seemed to miss their mark.

       Jordyn snatched her keys off of the ground and nearly dove into her car, determined to follow the murderous monster that looked so much like Jinx. She had not spoken to him since their grandmother's funeral; as far as she knew, no one had. He had left the burial in a rage, refusing to speak to anyone, and had simply vanished. It had been months. The young fox woman knew that the death of their mother so many years ago had hit poor Jinx the hardest, but she could not understand just how much impact it had on him.

       After the loss of their father, they and their younger sister had been taken in by their kind grandparents. They were loved and cared for, but the tormented Jinx had withdrawn further and further from them. Finally, when he came of age, he had left to make it on his own. Until the funeral of their Nan he had remained silent, out of contact with his siblings and the rest of his blood relatives.

       It had hurt Jordyn deeply. She loved her brother, and as children they had been nearly inseparable. Jinx had often commented that she was the only person in the world he could confide in, and there were many nights spent between them sneaking into the woods to play Swords or Robbers. What could have twisted her brother's handsome visage so awfully in the few years since they had seen each other?

       She pushed the pedal to the floor and drove after the creature, able to follow the trail of gore right to him.

       She checked the glove box at the first stop light. It was good.

       Her pistol was still inside.

       The steel door shattered inward, sending shrapnel flying into the patrons of the small dive far. A woman screamed. Jinx didn't care. He glanced around, his red gaze falling on the startled faces of every patron. His beer forgotten, a young man turned to rush the towering newcomer. He lowered his head and charged towards Jinx, bellowing in a way he seemed to find menacing. Jinx smirked. He rushed forward as well, meeting the fool head on and jamming his snout-horns into the man's face. Crumpling to the floor and clutching his face, the patron cried in pain. Jinx licked the blood from his muzzle and started toward the next closest person, a balding gentleman dressed in dark leather.

       This human stared in abject horror as Jinx grabbed him by the throat and hoisted him into the air. The man scratched and gnashed his teeth, struggling against the iron grip of the murderous fox. His fingernail drew black blood, but Jinx didn't seem to notice. He squeezed tighter, watching the man's flesh slowly turning red as he suffocated. When his eyes began to bulge from their sockets Jinx dug his talons through the meat of his neck, severing his artery and gouging the bone of his spine. Blood splashed against Jinx's bare torso as he flung the corpse away, leaving a warm trail as it sailed to the western corner of the building.

       The people were panicking now.

       A woman, presumably the one who loosed the shriek earlier, was crawling amidst the chaos of stampeding patrons fleeing the bar. She was a white-furred mouse, her pristine coat stained with the blood of the biker. She would be an easy kill.

       Jinx leaped on her from behind, catching a knot of her hair and tearing her head backwards. He could smell the wet stench of her fear, feel the gooseflesh crawling along her skin, hear the frantic beating of her heart. He lowered his muzzle and ran a burning tongue along the nape of her neck. The mouse woman shuddered and sobbed, begging for her life as Jinx contemplated how to end her life. He began to apply pressure against the middle of her spine, where he sat kneeling against her fragile frame. As the weight increased she began to scream. Jinx could feel every knob of her vertebrae, her spine beginning to creak beneath his power. Finally he drove down with all his might, snapping the bone and severing the fragile cord of nerves. Her body went limp beneath him as her pathetic whimpers ceased.

       The people had stopped screaming. They were staring at Jinx, hardly daring to breathe as he stood up and began moving towards them. He neared the cowering group, huddled together in fear as they tracked his approach with their wild eyes. The burning in his chest grew. He was close enough to see their perspiration beading against their flesh and fur. He had an idea.

       Jinx drew in a deep breath and bellowed, able to feel the burn of the heat he released as a wave of burning air reached the waiting customers. Their flesh began to blister and ripple, melting and bubbling as it began to drip to the floor. Internal organs were set aflame within rapidly-appearing skeletons as the blast destroyed their bodies. The wood behind them began to crack and blacken, but he refused to stop until all of the energy inside him had been released.

       The pooling mess of flesh smoked and sputtered as he ceased his roar, the intense heat hanging oppressively in the air as the sounds of weeping reached Jinx's finely-tuned ears. He turned and his pulsing eyes sought the source of the disturbance. It did not take him long to find a vixen woman cowering beneath the bar, her curled brown locks tussled and matted from her attempt to escape. Jinx stared down at her, his joy ebbing away.

        He knew that face.

        It was his mother's.

        Jordyn followed Jinx's not-so-subtle trail to a run-down looking dive bar not too far from the forest where they and their sister had spent most of their youth. She recognized it as the bar their father sometimes frequented on the rare occasions he went out to celebrate with his friends.

       She blinked an unbidden tear away.

       The door was missing. She left her car idling on the gravel and crept toward the portal leading to the darkness inside.

       As she drew near the smell or burning hair and skin met her sensitive nostrils. She covered her face with her hand and stepped inside, terrified of what she might find lurking in the blackness. As her eyes adjusted to darkness, she felt her gorge force its way to her throat. She fell to her knees and vomited, from the stench but also from the gore. There was not much blood, save for a trail leading to a throatless corpse, but there was a mound of black, red, and pink material that smoldered and bubbled ominously near the back exit. She could tell what it was from the foul odor emanating from the disgusting pile- it was flesh, marred here and there by splintered bones and skulls.

 Something had melted a large amount of people down to a disgusting sludge.

  Across the pile, paw-shaped indents led out of the door and through the damp soil behind the small building. They were accompanied by a deep, even grove, as though something had been drug beside him.

   He had a hostage.

       As she turned to run back to her car, Jordyn momentarily forgot about the pile of former people behind her. He foot caught on a skull and sent her flying face-first into the warm liquid, filling her mouth with filth and covering her fur in sickly-smelling muck. She screamed and fought to stand, spitting and retching as she struggled to clean her mouth. Shaking, she headed for door, pausing only to grab a glass of wine from an empty table and rinse the bits of charred pelts from the inside of her muzzle.

       She had a good idea of where her brother, if that creature could even still be called her brother, was headed.

       Their home.

       Perhaps he was still the boy she used to know after all.

              Jinx ran, his wings flat against him as he drug the screaming vixen through the thick underbrush of the forestry. Branches cut and scraped against the pair, the black-furred demon oblivious to the tiny wounds while his smaller, red-furred captive shrieked at the sight of her blood. He did not know how long he ran, with her hair gripped tight in his paw, but it felt like a lifetime.

       The sun had begun to sink beneath the horizon, casting an ethereal purple glow around the heavily wooded area. The vixen had ceased screaming, resigned to whimpering after her voice gave out. Jinx's feet padded against the soil, carrying him back where it all began.

       The crumbling ruins of their former home appeared in a clearing before him, looking almost corpse-like beneath his blood-soaked vision. He slowed as he neared the closest wall, adorned with a large hole where the brick had crumbled. Jinx stepped inside and hoisted his victim through behind him.

       A rotting wooden rocking chair sat beside a blackened fireplace long since void of the warmth of burning logs. Nature had begun to reclaim the house they had been taken from so long ago. Vines crept along the walls, entering through the shattered remains of the glass windowpanes, and various weeds had begun to rise between the wooden slats of the floorboard. It was a wild place now, but Jinx could still feel the presence of the happiness he had felt as a child, when their family was thriving. He cast his red eyes towards the empty chair, sinking to his knees- he could almost see here there, singing as she rocked his youngest sister to sleep, Jinx and Jordyn sitting at her feet and following along the best they could.

       They had been such a happy family...

       Tears of scalding black blood dripped down his face as he began to sob, the photo of him and his mother clutched in his paw. He had not noticed himself retrieving it, but he didn't care- all that mattered was that it remained close to him. The vixen he had brought with him cowered behind him, confused by the monster's suddenly display of such powerful emotions. He seemed to suffer more truly than anyone she had ever known. Quietly she gathered her courage and crawled toward him, reaching out a manicured paw in comfort. When her fur came in contact with his she cried out as though seared with hot iron. Jinx turned, sniffling, the fur beneath his eyes matted from his unusual tears.

         She was no longer some nameless woman from a bar; she was his mother adorned in a beautiful, flowing robe. A golden light pierced his red haze, as radiant and dazzling as the woman it enveloped. She stood tall, smiling down at her only son, sparkling tears falling from her luminous eyes.

         "Jinx..."

       "Jinx..."

       Jordyn stood in the doorway, watching the warped creature staring mesmerized at the bleeding vixen standing above him. The poor girl was shaking with fear but a look of compassion on her face told the young woman that she would not flee. Jordyn reached into her pocket and gripped the handle of her pistol as she stepped across the threshold.

       True, this thing was still Jinx, but the murder... Jinx, no matter how much he brooded, would never do such a thing willingly. She longed to speak to him, to ask him what had happened- maybe she could save him, if she only tried...

       The light of the moon sent shafts gleaming through the holes in the roof, throwing Jinx's ghastly visage into relief. Jordyn could see the blood and flesh plastered to her brother's black fur. It was a grim sight indeed- she could not suppress a gasp of horror.

       The noise shattered the illusion. Jinx found himself staring at the harlot from the bar, gazing down at him with pity. He felt his anger swell. He did not need pity. He did not need compassion. He was a creature of darkness, not some poor, weak dunce. Outraged by her audacity to feel sorry for him the beast leaped toward her, snarling. He collided with her, knocking her against the wall with the force of his momentum.

       He lashed out with his wings, dragging the sharp edge of the membrane against the young woman's bared flesh. She tried to escape, her movements bringing the soft flesh of her chest against the dangerous appendage. IT sliced through the thin material of the dress, cutting through the muscle and tissue of her breasts. She propelled herself forward with the fore of her moment, shriek as it slid up along her torso. Blood and skin dropped to the ground in a heap as the vixen crumpled to the ground, sock setting in as her blood flowed freely.

         With her out of the way Jinx set his sights on the intruder in the doorway, trespassing on his most sacred of locations. It was a fox woman, with pixie-cut black hair and like green eyes.

         His father's eyes.

       'J... Jordyn... Why are you here? Have you been following me?'

       His dual voice echoed through the ruined home, chilling his sister to the bone.

           "You didn't exactly make it hard to find you. You ran through my street, slaughtering anything that moved. I thought it might have been you, but I wasn't sure until I found the bar. I knew where you were headed. You always used to run away and end up here, remember? You'd sleep in mother's chair. Nan had to carry you to the car..."

              She trailed off, unable to speak of the past any longer.

          'In case you cannot tell, my beloved sister, I am not exactly the man you used to know. I was, for a time, but I have found my true calling since then. Did you know that living creatures void their bowels when they die? It's a disgusting occurrence, but one that never ceases to be hilarious.'

       "But what did this to you? What has changed you so drastically?"

       He smirked at her, his bloodstained fangs shining brightly in the moonlight.

         'What always changes men, dear sister. A woman. You can meet her, if you like. She's not picky about her lovers. She might find you... interesting. Ylluurieth has a beautiful home. It's very warm. Shall I send you to her? It only hurts for a minute, unless I want it to hurt longer.'

         "Where does she hail from, this woman of yours? The festering bowels of hell?"

         'As a matter of fact, Jordyn, she does. I will dash your corpse upon the brick and devour your heart. When you make it to her realm, she will rape you and cut you a thousand times over. Would you like that, Joey, an eternity of suffering? I am her chosen, you know. Her favorite. She could reunite you with Nan and Pops and our father. You could be one big, happy family, rotting and writhing in her thrall until the end of time. And I will deliver you to her myself!"

       Jordyn drew forth the gun, shaking in fear, aiming at the monster who was once her closest companion.

         "I swear on our mother's grave, Jinx, if you come near me I will end whatever life you still have. I loved you! We were best friends! You abandoned us, left us to rot and you dare threaten me? You're vile, Jinx! You've done terrible things to us and to the people you've slain. You're a twisted, horrible monster now. You may have been my brother, but now you are nothing but a blight. I'm so sorry."

       She tensed her finger.

       Jinx howled and steeled himself to pounce.

         'I WILL KILL YOU. I WILL TEAR YOUR LIMBS FROM YOUR BODY AND GRIND YOUR INTESTINE INTO THE STONE. I WILL SPEAR YOUR WOMB WITH A JAGGED SHARD OF BONE TORN CLEAN FROM YOUR CALF. YOU WILL SCREAM FOR RELEASE, BUT THE END WILL NOT COME. I WILL NOT PERMIT YOU THAT. YOU WILL NOT LEAVE HERE WITH YOUR LIFE.'

       As he scream the echo in his voice grew to a cacophony of sounds spoken from a myriad of throats, in dead languages and the common English. His words carried power, power older than the earth itself, power that was aching to devour.

       He leaped toward the small woman, his face twisted into a cruel caricature of the brother she once loved.

       Sobbing, screaming, the vixen pulled the trigger.

       The gunshot rang out like thunder, dropping the hulking black beast to the floor. Black blood gushed from the fist-sized hole in his skull. As the vital fluid pooled beneath his body, he turned his dimming eyes to the form of his sister, weeping on her knees as the pain of her actions gripped her heart.

         'T... thank... you... J... Joe...'

       He fell limp.

       A dark purple smoke began to pour from the entry wound, filling the front room quickly. It was noxious, and the deep breaths poor Jordyn took were beginning to take their toll. She began to cough and sputter, the scent of burning lavender thick in her nostrils and she began crawling toward her brother's still form.

       She heard a sultry laugh, seeming to fill every square inch of the room at once. Jordyn stared at the smoke, mesmerized as the laughter grew louder and louder. A pair of slanted eyes, filled with flickering silver flames, began to appear in the poison mist.

       Suppressing the urge to scream the vixen bolted for the fresh air, gasping for breath as soon as she was clear of the horrible miasma. She ran to her car and threw herself in, Sending dirt and grass flying as she raced away from the strange scene. She felt empty.

       The mist coalesced into a feminine form. This strange, evanescent being crouched down over the unmoving body of the demonic fox, running her incorporeal hands over every inch of his gore-streaked corpse. A forked tongue darted out and licked the bullet wound clean. She was smiling.

       In the fox's hand he clutched a weathered photograph.

       A baby smiled up at the night sky.

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