[Every now and again scenes from stories pop into my head, though I have not written them up as I should have, convincing myself that I will eventually have time to flesh them out into something more solid. I’m getting over that, scribbling out scenes which may come to nothing but which need to get out of my head one way or the other. This was handwritten at about 4am one day, it is presented here unedited]
Isaac felt the thud of arrows in his back, felt them stagger him. But there was no pain, only a sense of creeping wonder at how the arrowheads drove deep and hung there. There was a sound then. It came from somewhere far, far away and yet very close. As his hands dropped and he fell to one knee, flashes of colourless light shot across the decrepit stone arch. Not enough. So close but not enough power.
His head dropped to his chest and the sound came again, again, and again. Hollow and ragged. Eventually he realised, dimly, that the sound was coming from his chest, and that he was laughing. That only made him laugh harder.
With one last effort he rose to his feet and turned back toward the forest trail. If I am going to die today, I will die standing and with my face to the enemy. Small men from the town. Even with their hoods up against the cold he could see their faces in the flickering light of the braziers. How triumphant they looked in the darkness, how proud of themselves for shooting a man in the back. How their triumph turned to confusion as the shot man laughed in their faces. How confusion turned to fear as Isaac caught the next arrow and turned it to ash.
The other two hit their target, one in the shoulder an done in the chest, missing his heart. With a flick of dying will Isaac burned off the arrows stuck in his chest, and set fire to those in the quivers too. But his legs were like water now, and his vision blurring. And yet the work was not done.
He stumbled more than walked toward the small, rounded altar. He could feel the heat of flashing raw power behind him as the ruined portal stirred. He fancied he could hear someone, or something, calling his name. Calling him home.
Still laughing, he slumped over the altar. As his blood touched the stone and ran down the carvings of labyrinthine entities he felt a surge of energy behind him and heard the triumphant, joyous song of a thousand angels or devils. “It is done,” he whispered, as his heart gave out.
As Isaac died the ancient doorway opened in a blaze of glory. And hell followed.