Welcome to installment #19 of the Chasing Shadows – Making Amends series. For more information or to read the previous scene, head to this page.
Wow! It’s been almost a year since I’ve done a Chasing Shadows post. I’m looking at my novel and see I have a few more scenes I can share. Then I’ll have to concentrating on finishing a chapter to bridge a gap in my story line. Honestly, I have so much going on right now, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to work on it. For now… let’s see what’s happening next in Chasing Shadows.
Mujur knew it was a dream, but that didn’t stop him from playing out the fragmented scenes over and over. The human, a jinjang, took command, ordering his demons about the cavern.
Comely women draped in sheer cloth flitted about in a whirlwind of colors, their dresses flowing around them in a graceful dance. Their beauty did not deceive Mujur. Beneath their wrappings, death dwelt. As they passed, they reeked of vinegar which did little to mask the decay permeating from their skin.
Penanggalan. The mere presence of the demons left a foul taste in Mujur’s mouth. Unnatural creatures who traded their souls for beauty, immortality, and power. Forever hungry to fill the void left by the exchange, the penanggalan sucked the life force out of their victims. Each night, they detached from their bodies. Heads with entrails dripping poison, they traveled in search of prey—Mujur’s people—and had a particular taste for women and children.
“The long thin one,” the necromancer said.
A jenglot sidled up to the human, clutching a razor sharp dagger the length of a forearm.
The demon master stared down at the bulbous-headed jenglot, his lips curling in disdain. The creature’s multi-jointed fingers, which resembled spider legs and extended past the handle in an awkward hold, trembled. Without making physical contact with the pale grey creature, the jinjang plucked the knife out of its hand and turned to Mujur.
The fuzziness of the dream obscured the features of the human, but a strong since of familiarity plagued Mujur, and he struggled to bring a clear memory to the surface.
The necromancer sliced the knife down Mujur’s chest. The cut was shallow but burned with the intensity of a thousand jelly fish stings. Mujur pulled against the cords strapping him down until the muscles in his chest felt like they’d burst from bulging.
The jinjang captured the trail of blood in a vial and set it on the stone table. “We’ll save that for later.”
The long spindly hands of a jenglot eagerly closed around the glass and lifted it to his lips.
“No.” The harsh voice of the demon master made the jenglot flinch and nearly drop its prize. “Drink it, and your blood will be next to spill.”
The jenglot went into a series of chirrups unrecognizable to Mujur. The squeaky sounds ended in a sharp screech which jolted Mujur out of his fitful rest. The long screech came again, and he bolted upright.
Kecil curled on her side, filling the space Mujur had vacated. It didn’t matter. He wouldn’t be able to rest with the cat whining in the background. Nor did he want to sleep with the jinjang lurking in his dreams. What he did want was a cat snack.
Mujur wiped the flecks of betel paste from his shoulder and rolled off the bed of leaves. He’d worry about replacing the poultice later. For now he had a more pressing engagement.
The binturong lifted his whiskered head before settling back on Kecil’s calf. Knowing Teman watched over the wehr-tigress put Mujur’s mind at ease. The binturong provided little protection but no doubt would wake the female at the first sign of trouble.
Taking on his tiger form, Mujur padded away. The cat continued to call like a queen in heat, making the tracking easy. He came upon the pest atop a fallen log. It released a shriek, licked a paw then swiped its nose.
Mujur took a few steps closer, and the cat paused and locked eyes with him. A purr vibrated the air as it took to grooming again.
It wants to be eaten. Mujur crept closer.
Hackles raised, the cat stretched and gave a shrill wail which traveled down the length of Mujur’s spine. The snarl which pulled Mujur’s lips back couldn’t be helped as he approached within pouncing distance.
“Do you see that?” The voice snapped Mujur out of the hunt. Well off in the distance a flaxen haired man pointed in his direction.
The flat-headed cat gave one last screech before bounding away. As much as Mujur wanted to give chase, not knowing who the strangers were gave him pause.
“Is that him?” A second voice joined the first.
Mujur instantly recognized that one. A voice he would never forget.
His chest burned with the memory. Frozen in time, it took him awhile to realize it wasn’t the caning but his attempt to rip the rash from his shoulder earlier which caused his discomfort. Meanwhile, the two edged closer.
“Don’t let him get away!”
Mujur took off. He couldn’t go through another beating. Death was preferable. He sprinted until his cat form was beyond fatigued then shifted, forcing his lungs to supply oxygen to his exhausted muscles. His heart hammered against his ribcage, and his legs cramped from the exertion, but he continued. He ran with a singular purpose—to outdistance the demons from his past.