Author's note: This is my entry for RedNovaTyrant's "Cruel Fate" Writing Contest. Fate has dealt me the card #3, The High Priestess.

Oleg of Novgorod by Viktor Vasnetsov
Oleg’s weary eyes shot open as his small body suddenly jolted awake. A nightmare had plagued his sleep. He couldn’t remember the details of his awful dream, but he was afraid. Cold sweat traveled down his delicate cheeks and the beating in his chest sounded like the beating of war drums in his ears. He stared into the darkness of the night as he struggled to inhale sufficient amounts of oxygen into his lungs.

“It was just a dream,” he muttered to himself before lowering his back onto his pillow. “I am old enough to handle this without waking mom and dad up,” the ten-year-old sheepishly proclaimed trying to reassure himself.

He closed his eyes shut and tried to slide back into the realm of the dreaming. Oleg had twisted and turned in his bed for long minutes before the agitating sensation of his sweat-soaked covers became too much to bear. The young boy shot up from his bed and placed his feet on the floor. As he tried to stand straight, the room began spinning violently. He felt as if his body was burning. The walls and the furniture in the room were all dancing around like waves in the black sea. Oleg resisted the urge to collapse to the floor as he was steadfast in his conviction to make his way into the living room. He had to get a dry blanket to sleep again.

Making his way around his house shrouded in darkness didn’t seem as bad as the monsters that haunted his dreams. Everything around him just seemed to bounce around, stretching and compressing ridiculously. If his skin didn’t feel like a bucket of boiling water had fallen on top of him, the child would have found the whole thing hilarious.

Riddled with a nauseating fever the child soldiered his way around to the living room and back to his room with a dry blanket in hand.

Knowing his mother would be upset if he just threw the wet one aside, he folded the sweat-soaked blanket. Just as he placed the folded blanket at the edge of his bed, the illness seemed finally to overcome him. He collapsed suddenly onto his bed. The room stopped moving around. Instead, it became boiling hot; as hot as he imagined the caves where the bad people go, the ones from the stories of his pastor.

Oleg’s body felt heavy, and he felt the sweet caressing of sleep finally cradling him once more. His eyes shut themselves and he began to sink back into the dreamland until a knock from his window echoed throughout his room. The boy sprung into consciousness once more and fixed his gaze onto the window. He could see a figure standing there, its face pressed against the cold glass of his window.

Something inside the young boy’s head clicked, and his stomach began knotting up violently, but it wasn’t a typical belly ache. The mysterious figure knocked once more sending a wave of worry across young Oleg’s body. His vision became clearer, and the heat of the room suddenly started fading away. He could make out the features of the mysterious figure outside. It looked like a woman with a skin so pale it was almost luminescent under the moonlight. A hood covered the eyes of the figure, and her smile wasn’t right. Oleg felt his chest tightening again as if he was reliving his nightmare again.

The young boy slowly made his way out of his bed and cautiously walked towards his window. He stopped a few short steps away from the glass and carefully whispered at the being, “Who are you?”

The figure’s smile widened even further, making it seem even stranger to the child who didn’t see the inhumanly large teeth of the being. It opened its mouth, and a soft voice came out, “I am a guardian spirit, my dear.”

Oleg’s stomach knotted even more, and he grasped at his belly.

The figure continued, “I can see you are ill and that monsters plague your sleep.”

The boy’s heart sunk to his feet. “H… How did you know?” Pained whispers escaped his sore throat with a sickening realization.

The figure’s smile widened even more, making the boy’s stomach crawl with disgust.

"I am a guardian spirit, I told you,” the thing tried to reassure him.

Oleg felt himself trembling, unsure whether it resulted from his fear or fever, “I… I…” he mumbled.

The figure cut him off, “What if I turn into a butterfly, my dear?” The creature spoke in a sweet tone. “Butterflies can’t be bad, can they now?” it continued.

"I… Guess…” the boy answered sheepishly.

"Please open the window when I do; I want to help you, my sweet child,” the creature proclaimed. It proceeded to hum its pleas, “I want to protect you from the monsters outside and heal you from those insides, my beloved!”

“I… I… don’t…” the boy muttered, his stomach twisting and turning with repulsion and anxiety.

Before he could finish his sentence, the child blinked, and the being was gone. His eyes widened in shock when he realized he was standing in front of an empty window. His heart was pounding and cold sweat traveled down his back. His childish instincts took over, and without a second thought, he threw the window open. As he looked around, he couldn’t see anyone around the house. The creature was truly gone. Oleg let out a relieved sigh and slammed his window shut before turning back to his bed once the cold breeze hit his sizzling skin.

The sight in front of him froze him dead in his tracks; a beautiful anomaly graced his otherwise lifeless and dark room. A majestic creature gracefully danced around in the space above his bed. The boy stood in awe staring at the magical image that had unfolded before him; a blue butterfly.

After a few moments of pure astonishment, Oleg cautiously made his way towards his bed and gently clasped his hands around the angelic blue creature. “Got’cha”, the boy coughed, before releasing the butterfly from his hands.

“So, you weren’t lying, Missus”, he whispered as he watched the butterfly fly towards his desk.

A soft voice broke out laughing seemingly out of thin air, “I told you, darling!”

Oleg’s anxiety seemed to fade away, and he climbed back into his bed. A yawn escaped his little mouth.

The soft voice spoke again, “Close your eyes, my boy. Close them for a short moment.”

The boy did as he was instructed.

“Can I open my eyes?” he asked tiredly.

“Yes,” the voice answered. It came from the body of a feminine figure covered in a dirty white cloak seated on top of Oleg's table. Her back turned to him.

“That was cool, Missus!” the boy tried displaying the excitement festering inside him but he was too tired.

The figure chuckled before asking, “What is your name, my child?”

“Oleg” the boy answered.

“Oh, like the Prince!”

“Yes! Like him. Do you know him, Missus?”

“Of course, I do. Everyone does. Who wouldn’t know Prince Oleg the Foreseeing?!

“The foreseeing?” the boy genuinely sounded surprised at that title. He had known of the ancient Rus’ prince, but he did not hear about the title.

“Oh, you didn’t know, my dear Oleg? Your namesake, his Greek enemies once invited him to a feast. They had told his messengers they wanted peace, but that was a lie. They planned to poison him.”

Seated in his bed the boy, listened attentively to the figure’s story.

“The prince, however, had a prophetic dream in which he would die if he drank the Greek wine and when he finally agreed to meet with them. He refused their drinks and revealed to them he knew of their plot.”

“Wow…” the boy exclaimed.

“Had he not listened to his gut, he would have died then and there. Do you listen to your gut, my beloved Oleg?” the being questioned the boy.

“I try to…” the boy meekly responded.

“That’s good… Or else you’ll die just like the Prince. He didn’t listen to his gut when it mattered the most.”

“Really?” the boy questioned, genuinely intrigued.

“Yes… He foresaw that his favorite horse would cause his death and so, he sent his beloved equine companion away; where it could do him no harm. Years passed, and he was missing his companion so much he couldn’t help but ask what had become of the animal. The prince was told the horse had died. Feeling overconfident in his supposed victory over his fate; the foreseeing prince ignored his troubled guts and made his way towards the grave of the animal, had it excavated and stepped on its skull as a final farewell. Before the prince could part ways with his now-dead companion a snake sprung from the skull and bit his foot.” The being suddenly froze.

“Did he die?” the boy questioned.

“Horribly so,” the being started laughing in a gradually deepening tone.

The boy’s stomach knotted up once more. His heartbeat rose once more, and the room began twisting and turning into odd angles all over again.

“How’s that stomach of yours, boy? I can hear it rumbling like Saint Elijah's thunderbolts” the being growled in an inhumanly low tone, freezing over the child’s blood.

The being slowly stood up and turned towards Oleg who was frozen in fear. The colors on walls and the furniture blended into ungodly shapes. The ceiling and the floor bled into each other producing a sickening image that threatened to make Oleg vomit all over himself. In the middle of it all, the figure slowly turned towards the young boy, revealing its face to him in all of its diabolical glory.

In the sockets were lifeless black orbs that seemed nothing like human eyes, there was not much else on the face besides a monstrous cavern of a mouth. Endless rows of shark-like teeth that seemed to span into a lightless infinity inside the beast throat filled the beast’s maw.

Oleg felt a warm liquid running down his leg as the monstrosity lunged towards him. A demonic cry bled out of its maw, one that sounded like a growl and a screech of two voices blended into one.

“You should have listened to your thundering stomach, boy!"

Oleg jolted awake in his bed, cold sweat running down his spine. His flesh simmering. His head was throbbing as if someone was beating with a church bell over it. His breathing labored and the room slightly shaking. “It was just a fever dream about my childhood self dreaming about Upirs and children’s nightmares. Yeah... Just a fever dream...” Oleg mumbled to himself as he let himself fall onto his pillow once more. His wife rolled over to him and he began feeling the tension fade away.

Oleg closed his eyes and let himself drift away.

Just as he began falling asleep once more, something yanked him away from his slumber once more. He lied there with his eyes wide open and his heart beating violently inside his chest.

A call for help from outside.

It wasn’t the call itself that made him anxious; it was the way his stomach twisted and turned at the voice echoing from his frozen neighborhood. Remembering his dream and something a fortune teller had recently told him; Oleg opted to try to ignore the calls for help.

It robbed him of his sleep because the calls for help wouldn’t stop until just before dawn. He almost managed to ignore the calls and fall back to sleep. However, every now and again, the soft distressed calls were replaced with a hoarse plea. One that would send daggers scraping against the man’s skin shaking him awake.

Every time Oleg heard a hoarse call, his stomach knotted so bad he felt the urge to vomit. After a few hours of auditory torment, Oleg just lied there with his eyes sewn open. He lied there, internally begging for the voices to die down.

By morning everything was quiet once more.

He told his wife that his fever dreams robbed him of his sleep when she saw his bloodshot eyes.

Sometime later, Oleg’s wife went out to collect medication for her sickly husband from the local pharmacy. He was about to fall asleep on his couch when his beloved’s blood-curdling scream jolted him back into the realm of the awake.

Adrenaline pumping through his veins he sprinted towards the door only to find his wife standing on the porch, screaming and wailing in shock. She was pointing at something in their snow-covered yard. Oleg felt his stomach twisting again, this time he ignored the sensation and made his way towards the thing his wife was pointing at.

A corpse.

The corpse of their neighbor.

The corpse of their neighbor with his head nearly torn off his body.

Obvious teeth marks around what used to be the man’s neck, where nothing but blood and strands exposed muscle remain.

Oleg slowly made his way back to the porch, chuckling to himself.

He hugged his wife tightly and burst into laughter.

Shocked, she meekly asked, “Honey, what’s so funny?"

He stroked her hair gently and his nervous chuckle turned into a maddened laughter, “My love, it was me… It was supposed to be me!"

Oleg’s wife looked at her husband, taken aback by his statement. She pulled herself away from his embrace questioned worryingly, “What… do… you mean?"

Oleg cried out, “My dreams, I saw it in my dreams! I had a prophetic dream!”

Written by BloodySpghetti
Content is available under CC BY-SA

Published January 31th, 2020

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