Ericís heart began to slow itís speedy pace as the nicotine filled his lungs. His eyes however, still darted from wall to wall, surveying the darkness that inhabited his room. There was no danger. But to this poor, beaten wanderer there wasnít any such thing.
He could feel them closing in on him. Soon the inevitable would happen. He would have to leave Hellís Kitchen, possibly New York altogether. But to where? The obvious choice would be to leave the country. But for all Eric knew, the legion would be in any other nation as well as the states.
Suddenly, Eric let out a small yelp and gripped his chest. The terrible mark began burning him at full force. His flesh felt as though it was being seared away, and his insides would soon be pouring out. He drew a heavy cloud from the remainder of the cigarette in hopes to try and dull the pain. But the only thing it succeeded in doing was choking him.
Eric rose from his cot, stepped over scattered bits of newspapers and lucky strike packs, and entered the water closet. In the mirror his ruddy silhouette reflected along with the chain hanging in the center. He pulled it and was blinded for a few moments.
His eyes quivered while the lids began to open again. Finally they settled on his, now clearly visible, reflection. His hair was a greasy matted slop, formed from the constant pressure of his cap. Around his eyes crust stuck to the edges of the lids. A forest of black fur wrapped around his mouth, cheeks, and jaw.
But the most disturbing change that had taken place was the dark veins that seemed to reach out even further from the mark. ďItís growing.Ē Eric sighed as he ran his thumb along the char coal tinted scar. ďHow long until itís all over meÖ will I have to live through it?Ē Eric stared into the insignia were Neroís blade almost pierced through his flesh.
Echoes of the past ran through his mind like the tolling of a church bell. Scattered images, one after another. The skinned corpse of his mother, bathing in the moonlight. The cold wind that almost froze his tears, as he and his father ran through the empty streets of London. His first view of the sum of all horrors.
Nero, the dark priest who took Ericís seemingly normal life, and made it a nightmare he feared heíd never wake from. His raspy voice whispered in the darkness. His face haunted Ericís dreams. And the burning of the mark was a constant reminder of his ritual blade.
Every thought of the dark priest caused the mark to singe Ericís flesh. The closer Nero or the other priests got, the greater the pain. And judging by the incredible burning that was now taking place, they were very close to catching up to him. There was nowhere to go, nowhere to turn. He would have to face them once more.
The country had been in the Depression for two years now. From the grandest cities to the most humbled of small towns, Eric seen a wave of hopelessness and despair grip itís oppressing hand upon every heart.
He also understood why the demons had been able to keep pace with him.
When people loose hope they loose their faith, when they loose their faith they loose their morality, and when one looses everything all he or she can do is gain something else. This is the creatureís most potent weapon. Deceiving the poor and heart broken into corruption.
And who will stop them? God? The thought made little sense to Eric. If God loved this pitiful world so much why didnít prevent the recent catastrophes from happening? Why didnít a bolt of lightning come down and strike the one who caused the great world war.
The truth was as far from Eric as a good nights rest. He had been on his own for so long. It was hard to trust an almighty being that couldnít save a screaming ten year old boy from having his chest carved into like a cows hide. Nor stop his father from taking the same knife and plucking it between his eyes.
Eric quickly dismissed these thoughts, for the mark began burning him with terrible relish. He opened the cold water valve in the sink and cupped his hands underneath the faucet. The burning had gotten much worse, causing Eric to worry that they had found him.
He splashed the water onto his chest in hopes to cool the mark. But, he suddenly screamed in agony as the water began to boil from the intense heat. Eric fell to his knees whaling. They would find him like this. Nero would laugh at his tears. They would rejoice in his misery.
Ericís eyes jolted open. His hands clenched into defiant fists. The anger inside him began to awaken the power inside him. The power which has been a mystery to him for the past few years. He gritted his teeth in rage as the adrenaline pumped through his veins.
The light above flickered for a few moments, and then became bright as the sun. The walls around him began to morph and bend, while the wood floor creaked loudly from the unseen pressure. Eric saw the bulb explode into peaces, darkening the room. But suddenly a light began to glow from his body, growing brighter as his rage progressed.
Ericís mind was swept back to that awful night. He could see his father lying dead before him. His last words before he took his own life still sounded in his young ears. ďEric! Fight them son!Ē Nero stood before him, his hand reared back to stab him with the ritual blade.
Ten year old Eric screamed in hatred for the dark priest. Neroís eyes widened in fear as his body began to tremble, the blade remaining in the air. The cry continued sounding through the entire cave. The creatures that served as Neroís minions began screaming as well, but in horror. Eric felt a warmth over take him as a light began to exert from his flesh.
Eric began to calm himself, the adrenaline slowing its course. The walls around him were all cracked and falling apart. Shattered glass from the light bulb and mirror lied all around him. He was alone in the darkness. The burning had subsided. A strange feeling of peace fell upon him.
He slowly rose from the floor, his legs feeling like they had been run over by a truck. The wounds caused by the glass were already healing. His heart pounded strongly. His nostrils opened taking in the stale air. The funny thing being, it never smelled so good.
Through the walls Eric could hear the other tenants rustling about, there low voices filled with worry. An infant cried in distressed, but was then comforted by his mother. The sound of her gentle voice reminded Eric of sweet lullabies after a horrible nightmare. However this one seemed to have no end.