Jacob and Sam were walking through the fields of the sunny valley.
The dandelions perked up their heads beneath the sun, and the red-legged grasshoppers skipped and bounded ahead of the pair as they moved through the grass.
Jacob rested one hand on Sam’s back, who then turned to look at Jacob with large kind eyes and a drooping tongue.
Jacob smiled back, and a single cloud passed overhead.
The shadow lingered, and Jacob felt his stomach tighten.
To his alarm, Sam’s eyes began to have a pinpoint of red,
growing the longer he looked at them.
Sam’s eye’s narrowed, and his ears laid back.
Even as Jacob withdrew his hand in concern he felt Sam’s fur turning to thick bristles.
Sam swelled before his eyes, growing muscular and tall,
the red now glowing with fierce embers.
Sam’s teeth pointed into fangs and his tongue curled
sinister in form and intent.
Jacob stumbled and then fell backwards,
his hands behind him as he crawled slowly away without choice.
His chest ached with pressure-
his heartbeat now pounding out beneath his shoulder blades.
Jacob’s ears were filled with the sound of nauseating drums.
Sam, now a massive wolf-beast
towered over him, his frame rippling with coiled energy.
Jacob knew to outrun or overpower the wolf would be impossible.
Without words, Jacob knew the beast’s name was Asforoth,
and upon mentally registering the name,
Jacob saw a sickly grin spread around the monster’s stained teeth.
Grey-red saliva pooled and slowly dripped out of his black lips.
Jacob’s was frantic-
How could this be?
What happened to Sam?
He felt a tinge of anger trying to push up from beneath his fear.
Jacob grabbed hold of the thread:
“How dare you hurt my Sam!”
His words were conscious only, but stern.
Azforoth heard them but pressed closer with deliberate measured pace,
unaffected, his gaze fixed.
Jacob’s small rebuke faded to complete icy fear.
Panic welled within him.
Cold fire was sweeping across his body in wave after wave of terror.
But his eyes- oh his eyes were what terrified Jacob the most:
a rotting violent red,
gleaming with a vicious lust- continuously screaming and laughing.
And through those eyes, Jacob knew without words, that the Wolf’s greatest passion
was the infliction and observation of anguish and terror.
Jacob knew that worse than death, he was about to be ravaged-
torn and tortured- to the fullest pleasure of the beast.
A terrifying delight more complex than Jacob knew existed,
a stormy tide against thin glass,
was swelling within the body of Azforoth.
Jacob’s entire conception and belief of safety and goodness in the world was in flames.
Never had Jacob known such fear.
Never could he have imagined such passionate cruelty.
Despite all of his valiant efforts, and beside all of the other terrors,
it was Azforoth’s hungry revelry in others’ suffering that broke Jacob’s will.
Despair seized him
with such ferocity that Jacob burst out in tormented sobbing and screaming.
Azforoth raised a massive gnarled paw
and began slowly digging into Jacob’s chest-
laughing a slow and contented laugh.
Deeper and deeper
Hell and despair
Carved their way into Jacob’s soul.
with speed and power,
strong hands and arms reached down and lifted Jacob swiftly
out of the reach of the wolf.
Jacob was ascending to safety
and hell faded below.
Through his tears Jacob opened his eyes and saw the tired face of his father
in the dark of his bedroom,
the sobs and anguish shaking him.
“He killed Sam!”
“He killed Sam!”
Jacob clung to his father as a depth of sadness he had never known cascaded over him,
tearing at his very identity and reality.
His father held him in his arms,
swaying slightly among the shadows cast by a dim light.
“It was a dream son. It was only a dream. Sam’s ok.”
His father’s words were so sure and calm.
“It was real! The wolf- he took my Sam. He wanted to hurt me.”
Although Jacob did not see it, his eyes never settling in any one place,
his father’s eyes glistened as he restrained his own emotion.
Having a full measure of nightmares himself,
he felt compassion for Jacob,
and sadness for not being spared this affliction while so young.
Raymond was proud of the love Jacob had for Sam
calling him “my Sam”
and he too felt a pang of grief at the idea of losing such a loyal and cheerful friend.
For a long time Raymond held his son,
rocking him resolutely in the dark.
Eventually Jacob’s fear and sadness gave way to puzzlement.
That he could have a dream that was so real was not the issue,
it was that something so new and terrifying could intrude
upon what had always been protected.
Danger had always been remote,
an exaggerated hypothetical employed by his mother to keep him from physical injury. But this…
Now he knew that danger was real.
Without another word, Raymond placed Jacob back into his bed,
pulled up the covers, and patted him twice on the arm.
As he moved away from the bed Jacob noticed for the first time
his mother standing in the doorway,
her white nightgown casting a soft glow through the dark.