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By Richard Dani
The sounds of conflict had faded. The proud stances of the victors marked a strange contrast to the broken bodies of those who had been defeated. Like a flash flood, the fallens’ crimson fluid raced across the mansion’s marble floor. The moon shone through the undressed windows and glimmered on the emptied revolvers, broken helmets and the gold plated badges that were pinned to the officers’ chests. Used and discarded bullet shells lay sprinkled about the expanse of the building’s large living area as useless now as they had been in the heat of battle. Around them and in some cases on them, lay overturned tables, shredded couches and chairs, shattered lamps, disfigured pictures and broken glass from a multitude of sources.
Dobermans barked triumphantly from their various positions within the house as the ghostly feet of the specters floated over the crumpled remains of the squadron. All had moved in unison as they converged on a single spot where the lone standing officer was still engaged in the losing battle.
That evening Myers, Captain of the Los Angeles SWAT unit, had seen the strongest of his men bitten, hacked and minced into pieces. With twenty officers, he had crossed the estate’s masonry walls and raced across the thick-bladed lawn to hammer through the mansion’s large double entry doors. Initially, they had found the interior’s great hall to be expensively decorated but lacking any living presence. Behind them, as silent as a light breeze, a river of the brown and black guard dogs had entered and attacked with the fury of a renegade tornado. He was too late to respond and many of his men were already feeling the dog’s angry teeth by they time he had sounded the alert.
His men fought to stay in formation against their unexpected foes, but the four legged beasts were slicing through his officer’s ranks making it difficult to use their firearms and even harder to stand upright. Then without warning, his true enemies began to appear. Thin plumes of gray smoke seemed to billow from the walls, floor and ceiling. At first, he had assumed that these apparitions were merely “eye tricks” caused by condensation sticking to the interior of his helmet’s Plexiglas shield, but then the clouds took on a more ghastly form—One that was strikingly human, but certainly not living. The ghosts signaled their approach with a strange wailing that seemed to freeze his men with fear and allowed them to be torn either by the dog’s savage fangs or ghosts’ taloned hands.
His men had spread out looking for room to fire—first, at the dogs and then, at the ghosts. Many lost their composure and shot haphazardly. Some of the Dobermans were wounded, but most of the bullets passed harmlessly through the apparitions to damage the building’s interior and on occasion, a fellow officer.
A few men tried to escape through the large windows that climbed nearly to the hall’s cathedral ceiling but all of them were caught and destroyed. Fortunately, most of their dismembered bodies were hidden by the drapes that they had drug down with them.
Now of the twenty-one men who had entered the hall, only one still breathes. Only one still fights. Captain Myers, with is back against a large white wall that has been freshly painted red with his troop’s blood, stands among a heap of cooling bodies—Some which are human, but most are canines who had had their heads or spines broken by the Captain’s steel reinforced billy club. A horde of dogs, whose fur is matted both with sweat and blood, encircle Myers whose uniform is equally soaked with the very same fluids. The canines growl and bark and occasionally one leaps over the pile of gore only to be beaten down by the Captain’s savage club.
Now over the yapping of the frustrated Dobermans float their ghostly masters. Their features are etched on their near transparent faces by darker shades of gray. The leader, if he were human, would probably stand at six foot. His white hair is combed straight back to expose his large forehead and deep set eyes. His thin nose tapers to a sharp point and his mouth is stretched in a sinister grin. His thick hands, which extend from the sleeves of his waist length coat, should be covered in red since he had stolen as many lives as all the dogs combined. Instead they appear to be an ethereal blue that highlights their existence and in some ways, their danger.
Still, the Captain stands defiant. His well-aged face drips sweat as he stares at his would be slayers through his red splattered visor. He clenches his fist around the club that is adorned with a thick red fluid and large clumps of black fur. Myers, an Irishman by birth, is now more animal than officer and he growls through tight set teeth.
He’s not afraid of dying. He just refuses to go willingly and when the specters attack, deep down, he prays he doesn’t scream.
If you have no questions or fears about your abilities, then you will learn nothing from your mistakes and know nothing about your limitations.