A soft white glow now filled the room where Daniel had been sleeping. It came from a bag of clear skin, an inside-out man. Daniel's eyes had been clouded by drowsiness, but now they were stuck open, boggling the gruesome figure who'd awoken him.
"I am Chau." It spoke. The voice was a dull festering corpse of a sound. The smell of maggots came with the words. Daniel sat in his bed, awestruck by the spectacle. Chau continued.
"The flames of the souls in this house kept, are threatened by the presence of a beast. The beast is terrible and must be vanquished to spare your lives." The creature at the end of the bed spoke not only of Daniel, but also his wife of six months. Carrie had been in the bed the whole time, undisturbed by the bloated, rotting man.
Daniel let out a breath he didn't remember holding, trying to usher some words from his mouth. None came, all he achieved was a mouth full of the fetid air. Chau, his message concluded, headed toward the bedroom door, and out into the hallway.
A cold sweat ran down his brow as he sat upright in bed once more. His fear turned into concern for waking his wife, his breathing now louder than the mild snoring she emitted. Feet now over the edge of the bed, Daniel put his head in his hands, the memory of the dream more vivid than any other he could recall. The stench hung in the air still.
A light caught his eye, creeping under the bedroom door. Carrie and himself were the only two living in the house, the home itself in the middle of vast expanses of agricultural property. He immediately remembered the dream, the morbid omen contained within.
Surely no "beast" could get inside. He caught the corner of his bedside drawer as he stood up, revealing a small, silver revolver. It leered at him, questioning his masculinity, begging to come for the trip. Daniel reluctantly obliged, before heading to the door. The cold steel pressed to the inside of his hand, still taunting him. Calmness came with it, though his escalating heartbeat indicated otherwise.
Breathing a sigh of relief, he felt silly at having been scared. He'd left the bathroom light on when he'd gone to bed. Carrie had wanted to show him a new dress she'd bought, and in urgency he'd come. He walked up to the sink, noticing he'd also left his toothbrush on its lip. Putting it into the glass beside the faucet, he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. His eyes were slightly red, probably from the bright white of the bathroom. Something else caught his attention; a light from outside. Daniel picked up the gun again, warnings of local robberies calling him.
He'd only walked to the TV room when he heard a noise. Something moved in the corner, near a large sprout of green leaves Carrie had been nurturing. A black mass behind it, shapeless and groaning. Daniel's hand left the gun and clumsily felt around for the light switch. Once it's plastic lump had found his fingertip, he flicked it. In the corner was a man, dressed in dark colors, who's attention had been caught by the snapping sound of the switch. His weather worn face showed disappointed shock.
"Don't move," asserted Daniel, now pointing the gun at him. The trigger was slippery with sweat, Daniel as surprised as the burglar. In his sleep deprived state he hesitated when the man made for the window, his only response a belated gunshot. The bang died in the open area, still deafening to both men. A hit scored, the shoulder of the intruder now ran with blood. The thief backed into the corner, his face now paled behind his five o'clock shadow. He showed no pain, only defeat; the red water bleeding through his chalky fingers. Daniel's elbow now panged a little from the recoil, he put the gun down by his side and headed across the room to the kitchen, eager to call the police.
He walked cautiously across the carpeted floor, keeping his eye on the character now breathing heavily in the corner. His mouth now showed a grimace, his yellow teeth gritted together. Daniel turned to the phone, oblivious to the light already shining in the kitchen. His red robe now seemed so warm, sweating him. He'd no sooner picked up the telephone receiver than a loud crack cut into his head. The short brown hair on Daniel's head did little to cushion the lamp which had bludgeoned him. Dropping the the phone, he turned to face the brute, his head now aching.
The gun still in his hand, the crook grabbed greedily at it, locking his digits around whatever he could. The two refused to surrender the silver treasure, pushing and pulling their way onto the tiled kitchen floor. Daniel knew he couldn't win, though the man was injured, he had size and muscle. The black hulk towered over him, his ash like breath spreading the hate. Now desperate, Daniel pulled the trigger, missing the black stomach by little more than an inch, the bullet shooting off into the kitchen. The last of his strength massing inside of him, he tried with the last shell and split the abdomen wide open. Reeling backward, the once beastly man conceded defeat, back to the wall. He slid down the flowery wallpaper, as the blood did his chin. Both arms clutching his stomach, as if to keep his very life in, the man started shaking violently in the corner.
Daniel turned away from him, sure he wasn't still a threat, to finally make the call. A call he'd never make though, as his heart plummeted, dragging him to his knees like a cannonball in his stomach. On the floor next to the refrigerator, lay Carrie, her blue pajamas now soaked in red death. She must have come to investigate the noises, the gunshots calling her out of her safe slumberland. Life still remained, her lips gasping helplessly like a goldfish out of water. A wound on her chest had sprayed the white appliances with a thick layer of crimson splatter. Oblivious to any other pain, Daniel buried his face in the tiles, his face screwed, tears flowing up his inverted face to his hairline.
There was only one beast in this house, as Chau had said. Daniel now knew he was it. The times when he'd hit Carrie, the bruises visible even now. This was why the gun was calling him; he was so insecure about his own manliness he'd forgotten about those who needed him. The dream an omen, a symbol of deep guilt calling him out. His head lifted, now determined to save the life of his bride. Her lips were now turning blue, no longer sucking in the fragile little breaths. Higher he lifted his head, now out of tears and personal grief, he allowed himself to be swallowed up by his emptiness, catching her lips folding into a smile as her weeping eyes roved onto him. Two large larvae hung from above his view, framing the image of a less than peaceful passing.
The veins in the legs now caught Daniel's attention, wanting to be alone in his agony. He looked up and caught the rank smell of Chau. The pair of red beads in his misshapen head looked down, pitying the man, the leech like lips curling into a comforting sort of a smile.
"I'm the beast, aren't I?" Whispered Daniel, his arms shaking as his palms supported his weight. Chau replied in his most foul voice.
"No, I am."