By: John J. Fischer
Joe stood silently as the last creature fell to the ground; it's viscous, luminescent green blood pooling around it. He hung his head in the shadows as drops of blood dripped from his sword and splashed on the ground in a sparkle of green before fading to black. The creature twitched as its body continued to pulse with electrical energy that slowly dissipated. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and walked off into the cool night.
The air was still and quiet as he patrolled the Philly streets from the rooftops. The silent guardian of the night, looking for a reason to drop from his perch atop the city. The hours passed and not a sound was heard. "A quiet night." He said to himself. "Why is there never something to kill when you want there to be. I guess I'll just go home, there's nothing going on tonight."
He skipped the rooftops until he found a suitable way down. He hopped down to the fire escape and made his way down the steps, silently, just like the night. He got home and walked into his living room. He flipped the lights on and dimmed them. Looking over at the clock he realized what time it was. "Awh crap, it's four thirty. Dammit I have to get up for class in four hours. You'd think the hero would get the later classes but nooooo."
Joe walked upstairs and reluctantly jumped in the shower. He felt too tired to be standing, but he was covered in sweat and blood, he had no choice. The warm water and the steam soothed his aching muscles, but at the same time, lulled him to sleep. He began nodding off as he stood under the water, so he did the only logical thing. He reached for the hot water handle and spun it. In an instant the hot turned to frigid cold. The icy blast of water struck him and ran through his body like a bolt of lightening. He quickly turned the hot back on, but the cold certainly did its job. He finished the shower, dried off, and flopped into his bed. He barely even moved after, just enough to slide under the soft, warm blankets. He drifted off into dream land within seconds of getting under the covers, as the unfriendly clock ticked towards the alarm.
The daylight streamed through the blinds in his room. The warm light caressed his face as the iPod clock turned on and blasted some hard rock music above his head. He slept through a good two minutes of the song, but it eventually got him up. He searched for the power button and clicked it off. He put his head back down on the pillow and rubbed his sleepy eyes. "I am so tired. Why do I have class today."
He reluctantly got out of bed and staggered into the bathroom. Looking at himself in the mirror he wondered why he was awake, before walking back to his room to get dressed. He grabbed his bag and stepped out into the brisk morning air. He walked over to the car and slid into the seat. He shivered as the cold leather penetrated his clothes. He slid the key in, turned on the car, and pounded the button for the heated seat. The car gently rumbled down the alley as the V8 woke up from its slumber. The black paint shined under the morning sun as the two yellow stripes running up it's hood glistened from contrast.
He navigated the streets and ended up in the school parking lot. The hardest part of his day was finding a parking spot. He looked to his left and got excited when he saw a great spot. He pulled in, got out, and walked over to his class. When he sat down he suddenly remembered why he came. It was a simple one word answer, Mandy. He waited anxiously for her to walk through the door. Seconds ticked on the clock like hours as every one brought him closer to seeing her. A shadow passed over the door and he knew immediately who's it was. She walked in with the sunlight on her back, illuminating her outline. Her soft, straight brown hair glowed with the light and streaks of blonde that ran through it and her big brown eyes glistened under the lights that hung on the ceiling.
Joe sat there in a smitten haze as she walked in and looked for a seat. Then he suddenly realized that the only seat left was conveniently the one next to him. Somehow it always worked out that no one wanted to sit next to Joe unless they weed forced to. According to some he looked like a "scary dude," but he had no idea why anyone would think of him that way. She slowly walked over and sat down next to him with a conservative smile on her face. He knew what she thought, and even though it wasn't like him, he wanted to change it.
"Hey. How's it goin?"
She glimpsed over and gave him a coy smile, "Pretty good. I hate this class but I'm here."
He let out a soft laugh and said, "Yeah it sucks. It has nothing to do with my major either. Wish I didn't have to take it."
"Lucky, this is my major. Just, this part is irrelevant to what I want to do and I can't stand the teacher. He's so bad."
"Yeah I hate him. He shouldn't be teaching this class."
"Don't even get me started. The way he teaches has nothing to do with the tests."
"Oh I know. I usually don't need to do anything to get an A. I actually need to read the book because he can't teach."
"Yeah for real." Her voice trailed off as the class begun and the projector lit up.
Joe sat there half paying attention to the lesson, with the other half devoted to Mandy. Every couple of minutes he glanced over at her to see the shimmering white of her eyes. The blue glow of the screen up front was reflected in her eyes and the shine made her all the more beautiful. Sitting next to her took his breath away. She was everything he wanted and more, but was kept away by Joe's fear; his fear of failing. Losing was not something he did, it was something he never did, but he was always certain of anything that tested him. He did not want this one time, something that felt so important, to be his failure.
He looked up at the clock only to realize that the time was up. The warm glow of the projector shut off and the sudden reality hit him, that the class had ended. Mandy packed her books and quickly got up, leaving Joe sitting at the desk sad and dismayed. He sighed and picked up his bag as he hung his head and walked out of the classroom. He saw her down the hall and sighed again as the depression of lost desire gripped him. He saw her stop to check something on the bulletin board and he suddenly had an epiphany. He stopped dead in his tracks, "You know, failure isn't just not getting what you want, it's also not even trying." He said to himself as a small chill ran down his spine.
He hurried down the hall after her, trying to make it look as if he was not rushing to get to her. He caught up as the door shut behind her and right in front of him. He took a step back and pushed it open, only to get caught in the surge of people trying to get to their classes. He tried to get through the raging throng of people, but he just could not push through. He calmed down and waited until everyone had passed. He stepped outside into the crisp air and looked around for any sign of her, but she was gone. He bit his lower lip in anger, adjusted his bag, and headed over to his car. He got in, adjusted his restyled mirror and caught a glimpse of himself. He looked at his reflection in disgust and turned away from the glass. He slid the key in and started the engine. The soft rumble soothed him as he sunk into the supple seat, wishing that he had done something. "Thursday. I'll do it on Thursday." He thought to himself as he pulled out and made his way home.
The sun drifted behind the horizon making the sky glow a beautiful and soothing red. The short lived glow was a delight to see as the darkness set in and replaced it leaving Joe with the constant knowledge that people would die if he did not go and protect the innocents from the malevolent fiends that stole the night. He returned to his perch high above the city, looking and listening for the helpless scream of someone in need. The air carried silence on it's chilly breeze that blew across the rooftops. That silence, however, would not last as long. His senses heightened as if he knew something was coming. The air carried a horrifying sound, a shrill death knell of a shriek that was too painful to hear, followed by a blood curdling scream of pure terror.
Joe marked the direction and took off leaping from rooftop to rooftop. He heard another scream and knew he was close. He peered over the edge of the roof and saw the origin. A woman went running by as fast as she could, the whole time pursued by a frighteningly horrid and vicious monster. Joe timed himself and dove off of the roof towards the creature. He spun in the air and landed with his feet on the monsters back bracing himself on its shoulders. He could feel bones shatter under his feet from the impact as the monster was flattened against the ground. He hopped off and backed away waiting to see if the impact had killed it.
He heard a crunching noise then watched as the creature stood up and shook the grime from itself. He turned towards Joe, eyes a blaze with anger. It shrieked as it narrowed its eyes in preparation to attack. Joe readied himself for the assault. He thought about drawing his sword, but he chose the smaller pocket knife instead. The monster charged towards him, claws outstretched with talon like nails seeking blood. He ducked, rolled, and slashed at the creatures leg. He cut right through the tendon crippling it and causing it to fall to the ground.
He heard another crunching sound and then watched as it stood up with no problem. "So you can heal yourself huh? That's just great, guess I'll need the sword after all."
The creature charged again, but Joe was quick to react. He whipped the knife blade around and threw it straight into the creatures face as it barreled towards him. As it slowed down and bent forward he spun out of its way while drawing his sword and cut through it's neck. He walked over and kicked the disembodied head away from the body so it could not stitch itself back together. He looked over in the direction of the girl he had saved, into the pitch black which she had run. He saw nothing and walked closer to see through the shadows. She was gone, nothing left but a whisper on the wind, a vanished thank you. He sighed, "If I cared about thank yous I would've stopped doing this a long time ago."
Joe climbed back up to the roof and disappeared into the lingering shadows above the city. Hours continued to pass filled with intermittent attacks that he stifled. He looked down at his watch to see that it had once again reached four in the morning. He shook his head. "Guess who's not going into school tomorrow. This guy!" He said as he climbed down to the street and made his way home. As he entered his room after a nice warm shower, the sun began to peak through the blinds. He waved his hand in a vain attempt to shoo it away as he climbed into the cold bed. He shut his eyes and whispered, "Give me a break why don't you."
He slept through most of the day and woke up at three just in time to do nothing. He staggered around the house in a well rested daze searching for something to do. He plopped himself down in front of the TV and waited until night fall so that he could go out and do his unofficial duty. He watched and waited as darkness slowly crept into the sky following the fleeting light. "Bring on the night" He whispered as he stood up and readied himself for battle.
A light, cold drizzle came down from the sky making the night much worse than it already was. The full moon was protruding through the rain clouds, giving the droplets a blue glow, which meant that more than the average monster would be out for blood. He waited and responded to scream after scream saving each and every person that needed his aid, most came without a thank you. The worst one that he had was a woman out power-jogging. She was attacked by a horrid monster that was ready to rend the flesh from her bones. Joe ripped it off of her and stuck a sword through it's skull. When he turned around he was greeted by a swift right hook from a small angry woman who was saying, "You disrespected that things culture you jackass." After which she stormed off in a huff leaving Joe standing there very confused with a red mark on his face.
It was a long night, over ten fights and it was only midnight. "Midnight" He thought, "The worst hour for my job."
Just as he completed that thought he heard a cry from a familiar voice and a screech that he never thought nor wanted to hear again. He took off toward the direction he heard the cries coming from and faded back into his memory of the first time he heard that shriek, the first and only time he failed to save someone.
It was a very similar night two years before. Joe was new to his job, but like all things he did, he got the hang of it fast and he was already a full blown, berserking hero. he heard the dreaded cry of a beast he wish he never met. It was big, not just tall, but thick. It was covered in a thin film of something slimy which made it impossible to grab it. Its blood red pupils surrounded by pitch black pierced every layer of strength and courage, chilling the soul. Its fangs and claws could cut through steel like a sharp knife through a melting steak. As if it needed it, it carried a mammoth weapon with a mace on one half and an axe blade on the other. It was the ultimate killing machine, the one Joe could not stop. He watched in horror after it batted him away and gored the helpless man that Joe could not save. He fled before it turned on him and never saw it again, until now.
He crested the roof and saw it lumbering down the alley after a girl, but not just any girl, it was Mandy. Without even the thought of a plan he dolphined off of the roof towards the malicious fiend. He latched on but the layer of slime made him slip right down to the ground. The grab slowed him down, but the hard concrete took the brunt of the fall. He coughed and rolled off to the side as the creature turned towards him. He stood up against the wall and glared back into its eyes. The death stare from the beast never reached the layers of courage and strength, it never got to his soul, it was stopped by the fiery love Joe had for Mandy.
It held its weapon up and Joe drew his. Mandy called out from down the alley, "Joe what are you doing?"
He maintained his focus on the monster but cockily said, "Don't worry, I am a professional."
The creature roared and barreled towards Joe. He dove out of the way and let it slam into the brick wall. The wall shattered and left the monster unaffected. "Maybe this is going to be harder than I thought." Joe whispered to himself.
The creature charged again, which was met by a charge from Joe. He slid at the last second and passed in between its legs slashing wildly. The sword however, glanced off of the protective slime and did no good. The creature bashed into another wall, which left it a bit dazed. Joe took his opportunity, realizing he was outmatched. He took off down the alley towards Mandy and grabbed her. They ran as fast as they could to Joe's car, jumped in, and ripped up the road.
Mandy was still in a sleight state of shock but was able to talk. "What... What was that back there?"
"Well to put it bluntly, it was a monster, a really really bad one."
"No that's not possible, monsters don't exist."
"Then how do you explain what you just saw back there?"
"Obviously I'm hallucinating or dreaming and this will all be over soon. Just take me home"
Joe rolled his eyes, "Okay where am I going?"
She directed him to her house which was not far away from his. He walked her to the door and helped her inside. She closed the door behind her after thanking him and he walked back to the car. He sighed, "She'll never know how I feel. But I did save her life. Maybe in the morning she'll come to terms with what just happened and I'll have my in."
Morning came and Joe's excitement could not be measured. He anxiously waited for the class they had together. He sat down in his desk and waited for her backlit image to walk through the door. The unbearable seconds ticked by as he stared hoping she would walk through right then. She finally entered a minute before class started and t sat down next to him. Before he could even say anything she turned to him, "Don't talk to me, don't look at me. I've come to the conclusion you must've done something to me last night. Stay away from me and this won't become a big deal, but keep it up and I'll make sure they throw the book at you, you sick bastard."
She turned away and left Joe wide eyed and heartbroken. He choked back tears and turned towards the front of the room. Of everything he expected to happen, that was not one of them. He somewhat expected denial, but he never expected what he had just heard. He sat in utter silence and crushing defeat as the class moved on around him. The next thing he knew, everyone was leaving, but he stayed in his seat. He could not even bring himself to move his feet to take him out of the horrible place.
The memory of what had happened kept playing over and over in his head. The movie screen in his mind was lit up with the vivid image of the agony and his eyes were stuck open forced to watch. Everything about him was crushed, his spirit, his heart, his soul, and his mind; he was gone to the world. Like a zombie he walked out of the room and down the noise filled hall thinking that everyone could see right through him; see the shattered heart of a broken man and laugh at his utter defeat.
He made it to his car without breaking down and collapsed into the front seat. He was not even conscious as he pulled out and drove home. He walked up to his room and fell onto the bed pouring his broken heart into the sheets. He stayed there until night when his sense of duty that still remained compelled him to go out and protect the innocent. He got to his rooftop and heard a scream of terror on the cold air. He dashed off but stopped halfway there. He looked up at the sky and said, "I just don't care anymore." He turned and walked to his car. He drove off into the darkness back to his house, where he sat and waited as the remaining shreds of the hero in him died.
Dawn broke with a crimson sky and to Joe that meant one thing, innocent lives were lost that night. But he just could not bring himself to care. He was done being a hero, done caring for those who cared not for him. He was done loving everyone but himself only to get hatred in return. He poured blood, sweat, and tears into protecting people from the creatures that roamed the streets at night and all he received in return was a shattered heart.
It was Friday, Joe had no classes or anywhere to be. He settled into his chair and turned on the TV, which just happened to be left on the news. He watched as they reported on the grisly deaths that occurred during the night; the gruesome displays of violence that Joe knew could only be attributed to the things he no longer vowed to slay. Normally he would have felt bad, the anger in him would have stirred him to action, but he was dead inside. He turned on movies and played some video games as day drifted by and night settled in. He crawled up to bed at eleven-thirty, after all what did he care there was nothing he needed to do that night.
Mandy was walking to her car when she heard a rustle in the bushes behind her. She spun around to see what it was that caused the leaves to shake so violently. She narrowed her focus and backed up a little bit. The rustling came to a stop as two squirrels spilled out, apparently fighting each other. She rolled her eyes and turned to see the lumbering beast glaring at her from across the lot. It had tracked her down because it never let it's prey get away. It slowly crept towards her as she looked around for help and for Joe.
"Joe where are you? I told you to leave me alone! Wy are you doing this?"
Her questions were greeted by the sound of a low rumble coming from the monster and general silence on the air. She jumped in her car and sped off as the crawl turned into a dash. It chased after her, but it was no where near as fast as a car. It faded off into the shadows and continued to stalk it's prey. It had a unique ability to see a path left behind by the person they targeted, the reason it was such an effective hunter. It hurried off in pursuit of its meal tracking her down by the path she never knew she left.
She pulled up in front of Joe's house and pounded on the door. He was just about to fall asleep when he heard the noise echoing off of the walls, the loud thumping coming from the door. He sighed, slid out of bed, and walked downstairs. He opened the door and when he saw Mandy standing there he immediately turned and began to shut it.
"Wait" She said with a mix of panic and anger in her voice.
"What do you want? I left you alone, I'm not bothering you. Now get away."
"I... I can't, that thing is after me."
"I thought you didn't believe that thing was real?"
"Well you're here so it's not you and I know I'm not hallucinating so that only leaves one option and that's that it is real."
"How about those apples."
"Please just help me."
The look in her eyes kindled the slowly dying ember of Joe's humanity. As much as he wanted to be spiteful and turn her away, the tiny bit of love that he still felt for her compelled him to say yes. He hurried her inside and looked into the dark for any sign of the beast. Everything was quiet, and Joe knew from experience that a quiet like that served as a shroud for the monster he knew that he could not kill. He shut the door and locked it. He turned towards Mandy and said, "We're going to have to wait it out till morning, there's nothing I can do right now."
She was a little put off and questioned his motives since a mutual friend had let it slip that he had a crush on her. Instead of saying anything she just nodded and sunk into the sofa. The warm, supple fabric was inviting, a little too inviting. She began to doze off and before she knew it she was fast asleep. Joe looked over at her and sighed, he was not going to have the conversation he wanted to that night. He grabbed a blanket from his room and gently laid it over her. She snuggled into the blanket in her sleep forcing Joe to smile and think, "She's so cute."
Joe thought about going upstairs to bed, but the threat from the creature still lingered. He sat down in the chair on the side of the sofa where Mandy was sleeping and waited. He switched between staring at her and the door. As the hours passed his eyes increasingly became heavier until he could not hold them up any longer. They forced themselves shut and he drifted off to his land of dreams, his heaven on earth.
Morning blasted through the windows waking Joe up immediately. Mandy was still asleep and he did not want to wake her. He quietly slipped out of the room and made her breakfast. He did not know what she liked but he figured he could not go wrong with pancakes. He set them out in front of her and walked into the other room. The sweet smell of the fresh hotcakes drifted up and caressed Mandy's nose. She sniffed deeper as she began to wake up and to her delight she saw the still steaming breakfast.
She was ready to eat when an unforeseen feeling of guilt came over her. She backed away and looked around for Joe. She heard noise coming from the kitchen so she went to talk to him. He saw her walking towards him out of the corner of his eye. "Good morning."
"Morning. Did you sleep well?"
"Yes I did, your sofa is a little too comfortable."
"Yeah it is. Like the pancakes?"
"Well thats kind of what I came in here to talk to you about. I appreciate what you did and I know you have a crush on me, but..."
Joe turned towards her and raised one eyebrow as a sick feeling gripped his stomach.
"I have a boyfriend and that's pretty much it."
"I see." He said as he turned back towards the window. The glistening dew drops on the glass were lit up like shimmering stars, the same as the lone tear that formed in his eye.
"I'm sorry, if things were different I..."
"No I get it, I do."
"I'm sorry Joe."
"No it's whatever."
She walked out of the room, grabbed her things, and proceeded towards the door. Joe heard her leaving.
"Mandy, hold up a sec."
"Come back before the sun sets, it'll still be after you."
The door shut behind her and the thud reverberated in Joe's mind like no other sound had before. His legs felt as if they were going to give out. He wobbled over to the chair and fell back on it. Taking a big breath and a long sigh he fought the emotions trying exploding out of him. He shut his eyes and the chills of sorrow ran up and down his spine like icy fingers tormenting him. He did not want to move from the chair as the hours ticked by like minutes.
The sun was close to setting and like he had instructed Mandy returned. She lightly knocked on the door and Joe answered it, no matter how painful it was to look at her beautiful eyes. She stepped in and the door locked behind her. Joe looked at her freshly done, wavy hair swaying as she walked deeper into the house, gripped by the scent of lilacs that drifted off of it. He took a deep breath and sat down with her. There was nothing but silence for a few minutes until Mandy finally asked, "What are you going to do about this thing after me?"
"SImply? I'm going to kill it. Not simply, you're staying here tonight and I'm going to go out and hunt it down."
"You're going to go out there and try to find it? But you'll get hurt."
"I've been fighting things like it for a long time now. I'm sure Ill be fine."
"But I don't want you to..."
Joe cut her off mid sentence, "You have no say in the matter. It's after you, it needs to die, thats my job. You stay here where it's safe, I'm going out to hunt it down and try to kill it."
"What do you mean 'try'?"
"I mean that I fought this thing once before. I couldn't save the person it was after and it kicked my ass. I barely got out alive. But that doesn't change the fact that I need to stop it."
There was nothing Mandy could say that would make Joe stop. If she told him she didn't want him to get hurt, it's not her decision. If she told him she loved him, it would be even more more of a reason for him to go out and find the creature to protect her. She kept quiet and turned on the T.V. Joe gathered his things and walked out of the house, locking the door behind him. She looked towards the window and saw him disappear down the street as the last bit of sunlight faded below the horizon. "Joe please come back alive."
He crept through the streets and alleys looking for a sign of the creature he was hunting down. It was a quiet night, but not too quiet that something lurked in the shadows. He spent hours wandering around looking for the beast, but he found nothing. What bothered him was that he did not encounter any other monsters. Something was wrong with the picture and Joe could tell in his stomach that the situation would not end well. He looked at his watch. "Ten minutes till dawn. Just need to keep it away for ten more minutes."
That was when he heard the angry roar behind him. He turned around just in time to see the creature running full bore towards him. He had no time to get out of the way and it slammed into forcing him to fly through the air and skidded to a halt on his back. He stood up, blood oozing form the burning cuts on his back. The creature charged again and Joe just barely made it out of the way. He drew his sword and waited for another charge. The monster came at him like expected, but danced from side to side. Joe tried to slice it with the blade, but missed and took a fistful of talons to the midsection. The claws went deep but avoided anything major that would have been life threatening. He elbowed it in the face and ran as fast as he could. The wounds slowed him down a great deal, but he kept moving. He looked down at his watch, "Thirty seconds." He gasped as the tremendous pain wracked his body.
The creature sprinted towards him to finish off the kill. Joe had a good distance, but the gap was closing fast. He turned the corner to his street and hobbled down the sidewalk. The monster was steps behind. It reached out for him, but it was stopped. The brilliant sun burst over the edge and through the darkness sending the beast away. Realizing he was safe he slowed down so the pain was not as intense. He reached his house and fell against the door. The thud woke Mandy up and she ran over. She opened it and Joe fell inside, still conscious, but badly hurt.
"Oh God, what happened?"
"It got me. I have stuff upstairs in the closet in my room. You can't miss them."
He pushed himself inside with his legs and shut the door. He grasped his wound with one hand and pushed himself up against the sofa with the other. Mandy came running with his package of medical supplies. He lifted his shirts and she saw all the scars from battles before. She handed him what he needed and before long he had stitched himself back up and and the bleeding had stopped. He put his head back against the sofa.
"How many times have you been hurt like this Joe?"
"You only saw some of the scars. I get hurt a lot. It's not like I'm a super hero, but someone needs to keep people safe and that someone is me."
"Is this the worst?"
He faded back into his memory. "No, this isn't the worst."
He slowly got up and made his way to the bathroom for a shower. The water burned the cuts on his back and the stitching holding his wounds together, but it was a good burn. He gently washed everything, careful not to tear the stitches. The steam in the bathroom kept him warm as he stepped out and inspected the repairs he had made. He had become an expert at it, a sad testament to the risks he endured every night. He hobbled downstairs and fell asleep on the chair as Mandy watched with the sweetest sadness in her eyes.
Nightfall came and Joe was still asleep. Mandy had stayed the whole day, just to make sure he was alright. As the clock reached nine he finally woke up. He stretched and to his delight, Mandy was the first thing he saw when he opened his eyes. She was curled up on the sofa looking as cute as ever. The feeling warmed his heart and drove away the pain that the wounds caused him. He wanted to say something to her, but she was asleep. He was more than happy to just watch her sleeping on the sofa and hoped that she was dreaming about him. He grabbed a book, sat down, and read as the sun moved across the other side of the earth. He dosed off around three and slept until the sun streamed through the blinds in the morning.
Mandy woke up after she heard him moving around. It was a good thing she did, otherwise she would have been late for her eight A.M. class. She gave him a ride to school and they separated at the center. She began to walk away and he stopped her.
"Wait. Don't forget where you need to be tonight."
"I have a night class."
"Oh... guess I'll be hanging around then."
He waved and she continued to walk away. He slowly backed towards where he needed to be, the whole time watching her. Then he saw her jump into the waiting arms of her boyfriend. Joe's heart sunk in his chest and he quickly turned away. He did not want to watch something that would tear him in two.
His classes went by quickly since they were filled with his day dreaming. At the end of the day he barely remembered what was even discussed, but he did not care, he had one thing to take care of at that moment. He walked over to where Mandy texted him to meet her. He saw her and hurried over.
"Hey what's up."
"Nothing, just my night class."
"Okay, I'll wait outside just incase it wants to bust in during the lecture."
"I kind of wish it would."
They laughed, but the laughter was cut short when Mandy's boyfriend arrived. She introduced him and Joe put on his best act not to show his inner hatred. They walked into the small night class which was Mandy, her boyfriend, and a couple of mutual friends. Joe waited outside looking like he was mad at the world. They were halfway through without a problem, but Joe knew that would not last, not that night.
He heard the scream then he saw the doors down the hall burst open. The creature slid into the hallway accompanied by a handful of other monsters, about twelve, all with a bloodlust burning inside. He stood up and Mandy poked her head out of the classroom.
Joe turned and said, "Get back in."
She did not get back in, instead she watched as Joe charged down the hall and flipped open his pocket knife. The beast roared but it did not slow him down one bit. He jumped and flew through the air towards it, poised to strike. It caught him and pulled him close, squeezing as it did. It was trying to crush him, but Joe was not about to let that happen. He worked his knife free and plunged it deep into the creature's chest. It roared in pain and dropped him. "Guess I found the right angle to cut through that slime."
It swung wildly at him, but he had the advantage. He ducked and danced around making swift strikes and backing off after each one. It could not get him as each stab slowed it down and brought it closer to death. He slashed and nicked the back of its knee causing it to bend over. He brought the knife up into the bent over beast and it was dead. He let it drop to the ground but remembered that it had brought others. He was outnumbered with the knife and took off down the hall. He dashed into the classroom and shut the door behind him.
Mandy looked at him, "What happened?"
"I got it, but it brought friends."
The other creatures slammed into the door and tried to break it down being driven by the blood they sensed coursing in the room. Joe held the door closed, but it would not last, eventually they would break through and he would not be able to save everyone. He looked over at Mandy one last time. He gazed into her eyes, the eyes he loved so much. He knew it was the last time he would ever get to look into those big glossy eyes, see her sweet smile, and smell the lilacs come from her hair.
She looked at him and knew exactly what he was planning on doing. She tried to stop him, but she had no chance. He ran out of the door and it shut behind him. She got to it and was forced to watch through the glass. Joe dove into the crowd of monsters with his knife out. He swung and brawled as he attempted to kill all of the monsters. Slowly they fell, but not without getting their attacks in. For each creature that he slayed he received at least three lacerations, to not so safe areas. There were five left but he was bleeding bad. He stabbed one but another latched onto his side with its teeth. He fought it off and killed it but two more sunk their teeth into him. He stabbed the incoming monster, leaving the two still biting his shoulder and leg. He ripped the one off of his shoulder and snapped its neck.
Mandy watched in horror as the last one continued to gnaw on his leg and the blood poured from his body, bathing the ground. He was close to passing out but he gathered his remaining strength and stabbed down. He killed the last one and fell to the ground in a pool of his blood mixed with the dark blood seeping from the creatures around him. Seeing that they were all dead, Mandy rushed out and slid to Joe. She picked him up and begged him to not die. He opened his eyes to see her.
"Joe, please don't die. I... I need you to stay. I... love... you."
As everything around him faded to black he heard those last three words, the three words he wanted to hear from her for so long. Then he heard nothing but silence, saw nothing but black, tasted nothing but blood, and breathed the heavy scent of death. Mandy began to panic and her voice became real light as she held Joe. His blood was soaking into her clothes, the warm liquid slowly cooling against her skin.
"Joe please, I didn't know. I didn't have the time. I didn't have a chance. Please don't leave me." She pleaded as the distant sound of sirens filled the air, carrying with them a sense of urgency that already knew it was too late.
White filled Joe's eyes but the silence still remained. He could see nothing, he just felt warm and a sense of harmony. There was no pain, no so sounds of agony, just a peaceful, warm white. He felt like he was floating in a celestial place, a heavenly place where he could finally rest. He wanted to see the light around him. His eyes fluttered open and he gazed up. He knew immediately that he was in heaven. Looking down at him was an angel, but not just any angel, it was Mandy.
"Oh my God. Joe you're alive." She said as she gently caressed his face.
"Yeah, I'd like to know how."
"Maybe you are a superhero after all."
"Nothing super about me. Must've been you."
"Doesn't matter, the point is you're alive."
"Yeah. I feel so good. Is this morphine?"
"Probably. But you won't need it much longer."
"Because you healed up really fast. That and I'm going to take good care of you."
Joe smiled then had an inquisitive look on his face. "What was it that made you decide you loved me?"
"The way you threw yourself out there for me even though you had no reason to. The way you protect everyone even though there's nothing in it for you and it's not even like you are supposed to. The way you fought through the pain to make sure that I would be safe. The way you looked in my eyes before you rushed out that door and without words said to me that you loved me more than anything; that no matter what happened in that hallway you always would and wouldn't regret your decision. That's why I chose you."
He pulled her down and kissed her soft lips while he gazed into her eyes. That kiss was everything he ever fought for, everything he would continue to fight for. He would never fall, he would never bow, he would never be broken. He would stay strong with Mandy at his side and never let go of her, his duty, or his heart until the end of time.