Title: Twice Lost
Author: Jennifer Field
Publisher: Forever Red Publishing, LLC
Genre: Paranormal Erotica
Purchase at AMAZON
Jenna Thanatos is discovering that life isn't what it always seems. Just an ordinary girl with a healthy sexual appetite, she soon learns there are such things that "go bump in the night" and she's one of them. Can she accept who she really is? Can she save the sexy men in her life and herself before it's too late? Join Jenna on her life altering journey and learn what it's like to be a Harbinger.
The rain and stench of rotting flesh permeated the Harbinger’s senses. He dragged his victim through the massive gate leading to the ferry. The man, whose name he didn’t care to learn, was another fine upstanding citizen of the human race: child molester, rapist, murderer. This fate was almost too kind for him.
The man kicked and screamed obscenities at the large winged creature that held him. “Where are you taking me, you ugly fucking beast?” The screaming man looked around and the scene he saw was something out of a horror movie. Several massive winged creatures dragged both men and women to the edge of river, unfazed by their victim’s screams or cries for help. Each stood sentinel, waiting for their turn to board the ferry.
The mountains and terrain were charred black. No life grew here; no sunlight penetrated the sky above that swirled with red and black clouds unlike any he had ever seen. The lightning marred the landscape, setting fire to brittle, lifeless trees. He held back gagging as the smell of burning flesh overwhelmed him.
“I never did anything, bring me back.” He struggled against the thick chain wrapped around his neck, pulling with all his might; yet, unable to budge the beast that dragged him further into this nightmare.
The Harbinger lifted the man by the thick chain, cutting off his supply of putrid air; his black claws dripping with blood from where he had reached into the man’s chest, pulling out his soul to drag it to hell.
The man stared into eyes that were solid black pools, devoid of any feeling. “I am not your judge, nor your jury.” The creature pulled him closer, revealing his massive fangs. “But, I have seen what you have done. Death is too lenient for you.” The creature flared its black wings and let out an unearthly growl.
Urine ran down the man’s leg and onto the Harbinger’s booted foot. He tossed the man back down onto the ground, still holding tight to the chain. He heard the distinct crunch of breaking bone as the man’s body hit the ground in the most unnatural of positions.
A smile curled along the Harbinger’s lips, the soul had corporeal substance in the underworld. More importantly, it felt pain, but would not die. This man would beg for a death that would never come. Each day would bring endless pain and suffering, no other existence waited for him.
“You have no right to bring me here, I repented!” The man’s screams were one among many as the souls of the unrighteous waited to cross one of the five rivers.
“Did your victims beg? Did you show them any mercy?” His clawed hand came down over the man’s skull and inundated his mind with images from his young, helpless victims. Flashes of an innocent face stricken with fear, a mother’s grieving heart as she identified her child’s broken, lifeless body.
“Stop please, I repent, I repent! I’m sorry for everything I have ever done. Please, I repent my sins.” The man shook with such fear, and broke into prayer. “The lord is my Shepherd…”
The creature looked down at him as he heaved him closer to the river’s edge. “There is no God that will save your soul now, it belongs to me. And, my payment lies beyond the river.” He pointed across the river to their destination.
The man watched as creature after hideous creature approached the ferry with their victim dragging behind. The ferryman held out his hand for payment to cross. The man watched as the creature held out its hand, revealing a coin that floated just above its palm. The ferryman took the coin and turned it back and forth, inspecting it, testing its weight. When he was satisfied, he nodded his head and the creature and victim entered the ferry.
This was repeated as several of the creatures and their charges entered the ferry. His creature stood, waiting, as the boat drifted into the mists of the river.
“Why did we not board the boat? There was clearly room left.”
The creature, again, lifted the chain and looked into the man’s eyes as he watched him struggle for breath. His eyes began to bulge and his face puffed out in bright crimson. “Those people still have hope. You, do not. Our destination lies elsewhere.”
The creature dragged him along the river’s sulfur coated banks. He looked in and saw that the water was full of bloated bodies that still wriggled with pain, their skin bursting open and oozing a black liquid.
“Where is our boat?” Though he tried to sound as if he were the one in charge, the man’s voice rattled with fear. He picked up a stone within his grasp and threw it at the Harbinger’s head, hitting him square in the back of his skull.
The Harbinger swung around, grabbing the man by the throat and pinning him against the dead trunk of a tree. His features seemed much more demon-like now that he was truly angry. His cheekbones jutted out at an extreme angle, his horns curled back along his bald head, and his fangs protruded from his mouth.
A growl emanated from him as he sniffed at the air, scenting nothing but the man’s fear. “Perhaps you are unaware of the severity of your predicament, human.” He spoke with ultimate disdain for the man. His claws began to penetrate the struggling man’s throat, small drops of blood running down his neck and arm, dripping onto the ground.
“You are the lowest form of vermin down here. You have no idea what true torture is.” A grub-like creature crawled from the petrified bark of the tree. Its mouth was rows upon rows of rotating teeth. It was attracted to the blood that dripped down. He watched in horror as its head began to burrow into his arm, its body slowly disappearing under his flesh. The man screamed as the creature ate its way up his arm, under his skin.
The grub continued to work its way up the man’s arm, its white body covered in an acidic slime causing the skin above it to bubble. The Harbinger held the bug under his skin and sweat ran down the man’s face, the stench of feces permeating the air.
“Your skin will be flayed from your body, your eyes will be gouged out, and every orifice you have will be violated by creatures so hideous, your nightmares couldn’t conjure them.” The Harbinger continued his detailed description of what the man’s eternity would be like, projecting the images into the man’s thoughts as he spoke. “Then, finally, when you think you can’t take another minute, your body will be healed, your pain will be gone, and the process will start again.”
The Harbinger let go of the man and he slumped down the tree trunk to the burnt ground. Tears and uncontrollable sobs left the man. Covered in his own waste, the man crawled to the massive creature that stood in front of him and groveled at his feet.
“What can I do? Please, tell me what I have to do.” His words were barely understandable between his sobbing and screaming as the grub ate its way out of the man’s neck and dropped to the ground, having gorged itself.
The Harbinger looked down at his palm that now had a light glow to it. The coin that usually sat as a tattoo now hovered just above his palm. It’s distinct and unique emblem of a skull surrounded by thorns clearly evident.
He looked down at the man groveling at his feet. “Our ride approaches.” He grabbed the end of the chain and hauled it over his massive shoulder, allowing the man to dangle and scream behind him as he made his way to the dock.
The Harbinger walked toward the ferry, holding out his hand. Charon took the coin and nodded for him and his charge to board. No other passengers boarded this ferry.
“Why do no others board?” The man had to know why he was the only passenger aboard this ferry.
The creature put the man down and let go of the chain, knowing that if the man decided to jump into the river, his fate would be the same as the other bloated bodies that drowned for eternity. A far better fate than this man deserved, but would allow no option for payment.
The ferry drifted slowly down the river instead of across as the other boats had done. Again, the man questioned his fate. “Why does this boat not cross the river? Surely this is the famed River Styx. My doomed fate must await me on the other side.”
The Harbinger looked down at the man. “Your fate does not lie on the other side of the River Styx. We will cross Phlegethon, the river of fire.” He pointed down the river to a fiery orange glow just beyond the horizon.
“And, what if I jumped and swam to freedom? Wouldn’t I then be allowed a second judgment, having made it to shore?” The man looked at the shore line a mere twenty or thirty feet from the boats edge. Surely he could make it.
The massive man-creature approached him, grabbing him by the wrist. “You are more than welcome to try.” He lowered the man’s hand into the black water of river.
Pain shot up the man’s arm as he watched his skin then meaty tissue melt from his hand, leaving only bone. His bloodcurdling scream did nothing to stop the creature from lowering his arm further into the muck. The black water seemed to grab onto his arm and crawl up to his elbow, blood gushing into the water.
The creature released the man’s arm and looked at his own hand that was unaffected. The man clutched his arm, now nothing more than bone and dangling tendons. “You are more than welcome to swim.” The Harbinger laughed out as he spoke.
At the sight, the man vomited bile over the side of the boat. Curling his knees against his chest, he watched as the fiery glow grew closer, the stench of sulfur and rot overwhelming him once more.
As the ferry drifted down the River Styx and slowly began its turn onto the River Phlegethon, the black, murky water slowly changed. It smelled of petroleum and the surface burned around the boat. The deeper the boat traveled, the hotter and higher the flames became.
The man peered over the side, straining to see past the inferno that burned before him. He was sure that the flames would consume the boat before they reached their destination. Yet, the ferry drifted through them, unaffected.
The Harbinger stood as still as death, looking out past the flames. His wings stretched out from his massive back, spanning across the width of the boat, the tips now singed from the flames.
As the boat glided through the river of fire toward its final destination, the man had to know what this creature was that held him. “Are you death? The grim reaper? The devil?”
Black eyes immediately met his. “For you, I am all those things and more. Your very soul now belongs to me and it is mine to do with as I see fit.” The demon slowly turned back to look at the approaching shore.
“Then you can be bargained with, I would presume.”
No matter their background, each soul he brought across Phlegethon thought that bargaining would gain them passage to another, better place. In the countless millennia that he had been taking souls across, no bargain was ever worth consideration, but all tried.
Again, the creature turned to face the man. This time, his eyes were no longer the black, endless pools that had faced him before. They were now as blue and clear as a summer’s sky. “I have riches beyond your wildest dreams, what could you ever have that I would want?”
The ferry hit the shore with a clank as the ferryman wrapped the chain around a post. At a second glance, it was not a post at all, but a pillar of skulls and bones stacked at the river’s edge.
The creature grabbed the chain that was around the man’s neck and pulled him to his shaky feet. Fear overcame him and the man’s legs refused to move, his muscles freezing in protest. With a tug of the chain, the man lunged forward, tripping over his own feet into the back of the creature that held him.
This new land made the place they had just come from look like a paradise. The sky was no longer a swirl of black and red, but an ominous gray-green that kissed the molten landscape; fire and stone encompassing his line of vision. The creature pulled him toward two massive gates made of human bone. The screams of pain and despair could be heard beyond the gate.
The man pulled on his chain, begging the hell spawn to stop his forward trek. “Please, again, I beg you. I can give you something no one else can. All I ask is that you let me go here. I’ll make my way on my own.”
The gate and the payment for this soul laid within reach. Yet, something in this human’s voice made him pause. He had been offered everything and anything to bring a soul back, but never had he been asked to just let a soul go. Here at the gate of Nephtal, of all places.
“Why would you have me just let you go? You have crossed over the river of fire, there is no way back. All hope for you is gone.”
“My soul is damned, I know that. But, in there…” he nods his head toward the tall gates, “I won’t be able to even attempt to make up for the sins I have committed.”
The creature pulled the chain, dragging the man’s face up to his own. “There is no do over, your time has come. Your soul has been damned to this place.”
He continued his walk to the massive bone gate, dragging the man behind him; kicking, screaming, and begging to be set free.
Finally reaching the gate, a creature of massive proportions stepped out, pushing the immense gate open. This new monster, an odd combination of wild boar and almost human, stood twice the height of the one who dragged him across the river.
Its skin was black and scaled, appearing almost grey with the dirt caked into his features. Greenish pus oozed from welts around its wrists, ankles, and neck where huge shackles bound the creature to the gate.
“Please, there’s a girl I know you would be interested in.” The man tried to dig his heels into the burnt and smoking ground.
The demon stopped, looked at the man he had chained, and laughed. “A woman? You expect me to let you go by offering me a woman?” He laughed once more, condescendingly, and continued through the gate.
The Harbinger dragged the man passed the gatekeeper to a small tent just on the opposite side and pulled him past the threshold. Silently, the soul wondered what creature he would see next. He expected a cloven footed devil or another winged beast, but what sat on the other side of a golden desk was neither of those things.
Leaning casually back in the chair with her perfect, black, stiletto heels crossed on the top of the impressive gold desk was a woman, her make-up and features model perfect. Her long, blonde hair was neatly pulled back in a high ponytail.
She wore a white, button-down shirt that barely closed over her ample breasts and a black pencil skirt. The man eyed the woman and followed the lean curve of her legs to her thigh, revealing the lace at the top of her thigh-high, silk stockings.
She looked like an angel in the otherwise hellish nightmare. She could have been his angel sent from heaven to save his damned soul. But, the fiery glint in her deep brown eyes led him to believe she was anything but the angel he saw seated before him.
She stood as they walked in, giving the creature that dragged his chain a devilish and familiar smile.
“Hello, Harbinger.” Her voice was sultry and oozed sex.
The Harbinger slipped the end of the chain over a six foot tall spike in the ground. “Hello, Pesta. Where’s my payment?”
Pesta tossed a sack of gold onto her desk, continuing to eye the Harbinger that stood in front of her. He reached for the sack of gold but was intercepted by her hand running up the length of his muscular, tattooed arm.
“I’m sure you’ve had a long, hard journey, wouldn’t you rather something a bit softer and hotter than gold to soothe your weary bones? The offer of my bed isn’t something I give to just any…man.” She ran her tongue over her perfect, red, glossy lips.
“I’ve told you before, Pesta, I never mix business with pleasure.” With that, he picked up his bag of gold and turned to leave.
The man he had brought in stepped in front of him, a feeble attempt to block his path. The Harbinger raised his arm to backhand the man out of his way.
The man quickly whispered into the Harbinger’s ear words he never thought he would hear—an offer too good to turn down.
“What’s your name human?”
“It was Laird.”
With his arm poised to strike, he instead flicked the chain off of the spike, leaving the man free to escape into an eternity of pain. The man stood still for a heartbeat, staring into the Harbinger’s still blue eyes. “Well, Laird, I would run if I were you, she’s not as angelic as she looks.”
The Harbinger casually walked out of the tent, past the gate, and back to the ferry, holding out the coin that floated above his hand to Charon. As the ferry drifted back toward the River Styx, he heard Pesta screaming for someone to stop the man that now ran past the boned gate and into the fiery landscape.
Timoteus folded his wings against his back and relaxed himself into the ferry as it floated back through the fiery river. He reflected on what that man had said. A female Harbinger had never existed, yet he was intrigued by his statement. “Her name is Jenna, she’s one of you.”
Jennifer lives in Massachusetts and works full-time in the Bridal Industry. With a daytime job surrounded by simple romance, it is her love for adventure that makes her who she is. She has a love for all things 80’s and has a very mild Diet Coke addiction. As an avid mountain climber, it is not unusual for Jennifer to be hanging off a 5.9 in the Adirondacks or the Shawangunk Mountain ranges. During the off season of climbing, also known as winter, she attends the New England Center for Circus Arts where she studies static trapeze (think Cirque rather than circus). She is an only child so she has her mother to thank for her over active imagination and knack for storytelling. Over the years she has written several short stories of the "naughty" nature for friends but never had envisioned herself as a writer; Just someone who enjoyed telling a steamy story from time to time. Throughout school she had difficulty with spelling and English, but it never stopped her love for reading, especially a good romance, horror or mystery! To this day she still spells so poorly that even spell check has to ask what the heck she is trying to spell.
Her latest book is the paranormal erotica, Twice Lost.
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