Pawel tore out into the open, tripping over the brush and stumbling onto his knees. Terrified, he glanced quickly over his shoulder to see if they were still coming. They were. Almost upon him, they stormed through the trees as if driven by the winds of a hurricane. Pawel sprang forward like animals, reacting instinctively to and feeding on his fear. He was a frightened animal himself, running away, his only thoughts were to escape and to flee. He was on the plain now with no place in sight in which to take cover, so he ran with all he had left toward the tree line just visible in the distance. Would he make it this time?
On they came, pounding the brush beneath their feet, howling into the wind that carried their shrieking curses to the ears of Pawel. They wanted only to rip the flesh from the bones of Pawel. They fed upon his fear first and could already taste his blood. They knew that their prey was scared and was no longer thinking, that he was merely responding to their wicked presence. Who were these demons? They were the horde called the Voice. They hunted their prey on the Plain of Life and they were relentless.
Pawel was within their grasp now and he could feel their breath on his neck. But worse still were their taunts, their unceasing mockery of his unworthiness and his failure. He was scum they said and unworthy of the name he had been given by the master of the Plain. They were his punishment and they would enjoy showing him just how worthless he really was. Pawel was forsaken, he was without hope, and he would soon be theirs.
On they came, running with abandon, knowing that they would ultimately gain their prize. Once in their grasp Pawel was helpless to resist their attack. They beat him on his face with their words of despair. They bloodied his body with their sharp tongues. They pierced his skull with their talons and they kicked him again and again when he finally fell to the ground and begged for mercy.
Overhead the sky was darkening and the wind on the Plain began to swirl above them. As it spun and the darkness grew the horde paused in their destruction of Pawel and raised their eyes to the heavens. What was this? they asked incredulously. This was not in the rules. They had caught their prey and they were to be allowed to devour it! Pawel is ours! they screeched with upraised fists over the man who lay motionless on the ground, beaten, battered, demoralized and pathetic.
“Mercy,” Pawel whispered. “Mercy.”
And mercy came from the heavens, in a flash of light that seared the horde to the ground. It burned them before their cries on pain could even be heard. Their last moments were snuffed out amidst their own self tormenting snarls and grimaces. The sky brightened as the heavy cloud that had formed above him slowly unraveled and the sun’s rays were able to descend and light upon the cringing figure of Pawel. As it shone down on him he was warmed and began to see clearly again. His vision had clouded during the attack, but looking up he was grateful to see the sky once more and the Plain opening up to him again.
Pawel struggled to his feet and shook himself free of the clothes that had been ripped to shreds on his body. Standing naked before the eyes of the world, Pawel began to shiver. He felt so vulnerable now and so alone. How could he begin again? he wondered. He had been going so strong in the forest. He had built a house and had fashioned a home for his family. But the horde had found him and had begun to tear down the work of his hands. Piece by piece they took what he had made and ground it into the dust. When they were done with his belongings they began to pursue him. They called to him in the night and when they grew bold enough they called to him in the day as well. Pawel resisted as best he could but they were without shame or morals. There was no limit to their attacks and no boundaries they were not willing to cross in order to destroy him. In the end Pawel simply ran away. He plugged his ears and ran like a child away from a nightmare- only Pawel’s nightmare was real and was clinging to him with a tenacity that could only come from hell itself. He ran for days, spurred on at first by fear but finally by irrational instinct. They had caught him twice in his flight but each time he had struggled to stand once more and had broken their grasp on him. But this last time he had lost hope- he had given up the struggle and had quit the fight. He was lost.
And now? He stood, free from his fears and free from their terrible bite, but alone and vulnerable. All that he had once possessed was gone and all who would have offered to help him were far away and unable. What was there for him to do? How was he to live now?