I scrambled through the woods at break-neck speed. I had no idea which direction I ran, I only knew I had to escape the beast that attacked me. A clearing in the trees ahead revealed the flicker of a fire’s glow. As I stumbled into the mudded tract, I realized I’d come upon a gypsy encampment. Two men immediately rose in defense, but a hunched old woman shushed them away. She guided me to a rough-hewn bench. I sat in the brisk night air, chest heaving, lungs still gasping for breath as the crone examined my scratched torso, the gouges left upon my arm by the beast’s maw.

Heavy drapes at the rear of a nearby caravan parted. Concealed behind a voile sheath loomed a tourmaline eyed creature of exquisite beauty. She held my gaze for but a moment before her eyes crept down toward my bare chest and further still to the ruined forearm. The old gypsy woman tending my torn flesh immediately bowed her head and began to back away.

As the black veil unfurled, I saw the illusion for what it was; the alluring countenance of the creature’s face belied the grotesque malformation of its body. A withered arm snaked its way forward, grasping the rail along the stairs in its elongated hand. The exposed flesh covering it resembled nothing more than flaking mica. The body that followed was near indescribable. Multiple legs, in varying size and stage of abortion, dangled beneath the tattered rag it wore around its distorted midsection. One hip jutted upward and away from its body while its engorged abdomen bucked in sway with something yet unseen. I tried to avert my eyes, to look away from this aberration, but fear and revulsion would not allow it.

Moving in awkward jerks, it approached. Terror demanded I flee, but a wave of authority emanating from those rapturous eyes locked me in place. It lowered itself to the muddy earth at my feet. Its stare burned through me as it brought its mouth to my savaged arm. Crimson lips whispered an incantation that danced with the feather-light touch of its breath over my aching skin. It then clutched my arm in its claw-like grip, threw back its head and began to screech a banshee’s wail.

As its legs tore open, a gush of fluid sluiced from between them. The screech morphed to a guttural moan as something passed from its body and darted into the woods. The echoes of torment silenced; the only sounds left were labored breathing and what scurried in the dark underbrush.

The creature before me spasmed, struggled to right itself, to regain its knees in the slick afterbirth. Composed once more, it stared at me with fierce brutality. Once again, it grasped my wounded arm in its roughened talon and spoke a single command as it seared its mark into my flesh. I saw depths of rage, hate, regret, pain and sorrow in its release as the eyes dimmed and the body fell backward to lie unmoving.

The old gypsy woman approached. She looked upon the corpse from the caravan, the wound and brand on my arm. Compassion and terror colored her countenance as she dipped her fingers into the mingle of blood and amniotic fluid. While making a sign of sanctity to ward herself from evil, she spoke these words.

“The pup is born, the mantle passed. Protect it, and you may yet find your own salvation.”

~ Nina D’Arcangela

© Copyright 2017 Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved.


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About Nina D'Arcangela

Nina D’Arcangela is a quirky horror writer who likes to spin soul rending snippets of despair. She reads anything from splatter matter to dark matter. She's an UrbEx adventurer who suffers from unquenchable wanderlust. She loves to photograph abandoned places, bits of decay and old graveyards. Nina is co-owner of Sirens Call Publications, co-founder of the horror writer's group 'Pen of the Damned', and if that isn't enough, put a check mark in the box next to owner and resident nut-job of Dark Angel Photography.

30 responses to “Pup”

  1. Joseph Pinto says :

    Absolutely loved your story this week, Nina! It possesses so much mystique and alluring darkness. Your hybrid werewolf/beast/pup is killer, and the old gypsy woman you stirred in for good measure makes your tale go ka-boom in the best way! 🙂 Now I’ll be wondering just who is your character now ‘marked,’ and where has that pup gone….

    Liked by 2 people

  2. afstewart says :

    Dark and intriguing, loved it.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Brian Moreland says :

    Fun story, Nina, yanked me in from the first paragraph. Well done!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Nina D'Arcangela says :

      Thanks, Brian! I had a quick visual of what the woman in the caravan looked like, and next thing you know, there was scrambling through woods, afterbirth, and a mystical incantation… I’m really glad you enjoyed it. 😀


  4. Lee Andrew Forman says :

    Fantastic story! This one really captivated me right from the start. I love the imagery and twisted nature of this piece!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Brian Moreland says :

    Reblogged this on THE CRYPT OF HORROR and commented:
    Here’s a free horror short story “Pup” from author Nina D’Arcangela.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Steve Boseley says :

    Reblogged this on Steve Boseley and commented:
    Dark fiction. Never can get enough…

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Veronica Magenta Nero says :

    loved this tale of gruesome and scornful magic Nina

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Christopher A Liccardi says :

    This is one of those pieces that I not only read, but live through. It’s as if you want to be part of this as it’s happening and see it beyond the scope of imagination. Well written, Nina. Loved it!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. adeleulnais says :

    Loved this. The setting, the creature whom I felt sorry for and now I’m left wanting more.


    • Nina D'Arcangela says :

      Thank you, Adele! The creature does engender empathy for her ‘condition’ even though she curses another to a life chained to her illbegotten offspring (okay, more of that may have been in my head than in the story – lol)!! 😀


  10. jonolsonauthor says :

    Loved this one, Nina! The description of the creature within the tent was hideous, haunting and perfect!


  11. jonolsonauthor says :

    Reblogged this on Jon Olson and commented:
    PUP by Pen of the Damned’s Nina D’Arcangela


  12. John Potts Jr says :

    Great story, Nina! What a cool incorporation of Gypsies with the looming beast, described with just enough grotesque buildup that ends on a great afterthought for the readers: the Mark, and what may (could) fall next. Excellent!


  13. Angel with dirty wings says :

    Oh bravo that lady writer! Quickie but a goodie , loved it! Possibly not the best thing to read when felling sick and just before bed, but epically good! (I’m so blaming you if I have nightmares about tha sort of labour with la frogs sprogs!!!) AWDW X


  14. Nina D'Arcangela says :

    Thank you for reblogging ‘Pup’, Lee! 🙂


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