The creature slowly subdued my weak efforts and rolled me on my stomach. Pinning my arms behind my back, he produced a piece of rope from among his rags and slipped it around my wrists. “Is my master comfortable?” he hissed in triumph as he began to tie me.
“Senis, you filth! You can never own me again! Let me go!” I exclaimed weakly from under him.
“Yes,” Senis whispered, bending low so his foul lips nearly touched my ear. “I can never own you, Chris—but I can make you miserable.” He yanked the rope to finish the knot, and it bit into my wrists.
Senis rose and in one motion took a chair and smashed it across my table. It exploded into many wooden fragments, and Senis gurgled with glee and began to rove around my cabin, destroying at will. He threw things from my cabinets and shelves, trampling what he could not eat. He tore out the pages from my books and broke what furniture he could. I yelled at him to stop, but he ignored me.
Regret and shame flooded over me. Here I was, an adopted son of my master, lying in bondage to a creature he had freed me from long ago. I now knew why I had been commanded to never again feed Senis, for he was destroying me and everything I owned. In the midst of my shame and regret, however, a strong determination to set things right burned within me. If I could but recover my strength and get free of my bonds, I would give Senis a lesson he would not forget.
“Master,” I said inside my head, “please forgive me.”
I felt instantly better after this prayer, but Senis suddenly halted his destruction and turned to glare at me. He watched me warily, as if he had heard my silent prayer and knew what I was planning in my heart. In the same instant I was struck with a sudden thought. Attached to my belt was the little sheath of the pocket knife I kept handy for farm chores and the like. If I could but reach it, I could slice through my bonds. I shifted my body a little to reach for my belt, and my fingers just touched the sheath to my knife. I worked as discreetly as possible to free the knife, but all the while Senis was watching me. I was angled just enough to where he couldn’t see my tied hands or knife, but he seemed to sense somehow that I was trying to escape.
He started to come my way, tense and crawling on all fours as if he was ready to leap at me. I worked desperately to free the knife, but it was a hard thing to do with my hands tied behind my back.
“You will never be free of me, Chris,” the creature hissed. “I will always be with you.”
“Not if my master has anything to say about that. He has given me a sword to slay you with,” I replied, trying to stall. The knife finally slipped out of its sheath, and my fingers fumbled to open the blade.
“But you will never use it.” Senis gave me a leering grin. “You know I will survive.”
The knife was open, and I was cutting through my bonds.
“We’ll see,” I replied.
In an instant my bonds were loose, and I sprang to my feet. Senis let out a hideous screech and lurched at me. He landed in the middle of my chest, his dirty fingernails clawing at my face, and I again tumbled to the floor, still weak from the effects of the poison I had willfully eaten. I struggled desperately, but Senis was again overpowering me. This time I could move, though. I kicked and crawled, trying to fight free. We battled amid the ruins of my cabin, each struggling to gain the upper hand. Senis finally pinned me down right before my fridge, but I managed to get one arm free and grasped the corner of the fridge, swinging the door open. The fridge light flicked on, bathing us in dim yellow light, and Senis scrambled away with a curse.
I rose to my feet and ran straight for the mantel above my fireplace. My hand grasped the broad sword that lay there, and I lifted it from the dust that should never have gathered on it. My strength began to imediantly return as I gripped that magnificent blade, and my mind had only one thought.
“Senis,” I called, “it is over! I am going to slay you!”
There was no response, but I thought I saw movement in the darkest corner. I walked that way, completely set on what I was about to do. A righteous anger burned within me to be rid of the creature that haunted me and to live a life completely committed to my master.
Suddenly Senis darted from the corner. He passed just out of reach of my sword and ran for the door. It was remarkable how fast he moved, for I scarce had time to react. He reached the door, but then turned to look at me again. His wretched face was twisted in a sneer, but his defiance only just masked his evident fear.
“Enjoy your freedom while it lasts, Chris. I will be back,” he hissed quietly, his gravelly voice cold.
“Come back and face me, filth!” I yelled passionately at the creature, but the thing had already disappeared into the night. Senis was gone.
I collapsed onto the floor with a mix of emotions still swirling within me. I wanted to kill Senis, but yet I was relieved that he was gone. The one thought that overruled all others, though, was my gratefulness for my master’s provision in giving me his sword. It had saved my life.
I gazed at the blade. It was still covered in dust and was not shining like it should, but yet still it was magnificent to me. I determined right then and there that I would never again take it for granted. A mantelpiece was something it was never designed to be.
A minute later I sat among my disheveled dwelling bending to one simple task. I ignored the destruction Senis had caused, for the cleanup could wait. I ran a wet rag over the blade of my sword, cleaning it till it shined.
A grotesque creature ran through the forest, tripping and stumbling, but pressing forward desperately. It looked over its shriveled shoulder several times as if in fear that it was being followed and muttered foul curses under its breath. Finally, deep in the forest, the creature stopped. Before him was a large hole in the forest floor, his dwelling.
As the first light of dawn began to color the eastern horizon, the creature turned to look from where he had come . . . in the direction of a little solitary cabin on a little secluded farm. Senis offered a tight-lipped smirk and disappeared down his hole.
I awake with a start. It is dark, and my first inclination is one of fear—but the crickets remind me with their steady melody of where I am. I have dozed off here on my little rocker, and my mind wandered into a dream!
But what a dream! It seems so vivid to me; I can still recall the horrible features of my intruder and our dreadful struggle. But yet, I know it is all a fantasy, a mix of the real and imagined that can only be lived in the realm of the unconscious. Such is the nature of all dreams.
This is not to say, however, that dreams are worthless. I would be a fool for saying such. Sometimes, I believe, a dream may be more profound then we can even imagine. Perhaps it is such with my dream tonight. I will let you decide.
For my part, I rise to my feet and head inside my cabin. I half-expect it to be in shambles, but thankfully, it is just how I left it that evening. Though it is late, I walk to the mantel above my fireplace. There is no shiny sword there--only a worn, leather-bound book. Still, it is my most-prized possession.
The onionskin pages rustle as I open it, and I begin to read.