While I examined the branches, I heard something stir in the marsh. I snapped out of my daze and glanced over my shoulder. My eyes beheld a creature emerging from the swamp

A black goat skull the size of an elephant head ascended from the marsh. The murky water poured from its eye sockets like rapids. I now fully faced the swamp.

Down here you’ll face the Tetromet.

Its body, covered with a black robe. Feline like hands gripped a sword at its hilt, blade resting against its shoulder.

Who will draw from you, your dying breath.

The hilt of the sword was fashioned with human skulls. The blade a flaming fire. The creature began to move towards the island. I saw human faces appearing and disappearing in the flames. One of those faces was Alex’s. But before I saw their faces, I heard their screams.

Goat, feline, and serpent, all three.

The creature neared the island, and my entire body trembled like I had been cast into a freezing lake. This creature loomed massive; foreboding; the thing of nightmares. Its presence tingled my skin and settled on it like a blanket. Evil flowed from it with hurricane force winds. I gazed into its eye holes. This thing…the devourer of light; the grave that buries goodness; the one that cripples hope. Visions of suffering flooded my mind. I saw myself standing naked again, chains on my wrist and feet, which connected to a wall of fire. I saw my skin being scraped off with claws, put back on, then scraped off again…over and over. The claws then gouged my eyes out with a black horn and replaced them with snake heads. They began to yank my hair out, and bite marks appeared all over my body. Then, out of the ground below me, tentacles emerged. They wrapped around my entire body and squeezed. My bones popped one by one, until they turned to powder.

My wobbling legs gave way, and I collapsed by the trunk of the tree. When I hit the ground, I pulled my knees close and began to sob.

He is our god, our trinity.

The creature had now fully ascended from the swamp and made its way onto the island. From under its coat appeared a tail- a giant viper the size of an anaconda. The creature walked over and stood next to me, towering above me. It spoke, and tentacles slid in and out of its mouth hole. The voice rang out deep, loathing, and guttural.

“I smell your heart. Those above may devour your flesh, but here below, I will ravage your soul."

My knees knocked. My hands shook. My lips quivered, too terrified to respond, so the Tetromet continued. “Do you know the beautiful thing about suffering? It tastes so good. Your pain is my banquet.”

My muscles remained in vice grips. I kept my head between my knees, refusing to look at the Tetromet. I heard a loud thud, as the viper tail slammed to the ground. I heard it slithering towards me. I found the strength to lift my head and open my eyes. I saw the viper approaching, then I glanced up at the Tetromet. “What…are…you?” I asked between sobs.

“Your concern is not what I am, but what I can do. But I will answer"

I shook my head, closed my eyes, and cried harder.

“Guardian cherub I once was. The tree of life was mine to protect. To keep your kind from eternal life, because of all your sin and depravity. But different plans were made. Plans that involved opening the tree back up. But your kind deserves no such mercy. So, I destroyed the tree. Lopped it’s branches off one by one and smashed each piece of fruit to mush with my feet. My rebellion changed me into what I am before you. Now, instead of the giver of life to souls, I am the devourer. I took a seed from one of the fruits that I smashed. I went and found the body of Abel, who was slain by Cain, and planted the seed in him. The tree you sit under was birthed. My tree.

I am no longer allowed to walk in the land of the living. However, a day will come when I have devoured enough souls, and enough branches have formed on my tree, that I will walk there again. And I will indeed bring hell to earth. I will be the fruit of my own tree."

I wiped my tears with the back of my hands. I opened my eyes just in time to see the viper come down and strike like lightening. Its fangs pierced my leg, and I shrieked. I tried to stand up and run away, but the serpent lifted me in the air and smashed me onto the ground. My entire being shook like a twenty-five-cent vibrating bed in a crack whore motel. I slung the blow off like wiping sweat from my forehead. This fucker wasn’t taking me without a fight. The need to survive overcame the chokehold of fear. I clawed and punched and struggled, but the serpent wouldn’t let go.

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