By: Gabriella Balcom

The boundary loomed in front of Sluuge. Invisible though it was to most, his power allowed him to see the magical glow. Even those without special powers were alerted to its presence by the prickly sensations it caused throughout their bodies. Some of his lesser brethren feared getting this close, but the sensations only increased Sluuge's anticipation.

He'd only waited a year, but it felt like hundreds and hundreds had passed. The restrictions and antiquated beliefs chafed at him, and held him hostage. So what if his kind sampled rather than just scaring? So what if they craved the taste of blood more than the satisfaction of successfully terrorizing? The Keepers of the Threshold, who made and enforced the rules, wanted them to limit themselves and pretend to be something other than what they really were.

But, Sluuge had learned how to escape notice long ago. He'd sampled blood, loving and craving it from his very first taste, and his closest allies had felt the same way when he'd shared with them. He was sure the rest would, too, once the rulemakers no longer stood in their way.

He felt the partition weakening, its glow dimming somewhat, and his green lips twitched. A low growl rose from deep within his chest, anger at being held back all this time churning in his belly, threatening to overflow. Licking his lips, he imagined the possibilities, fantasizing about everything and everyone on whom he would soon dine.

The ground shook as his most trusted followers lumbered forward with heavy steps. Sharp teeth and fangs protruded from their gaping maws, their eyes gleaming red, standing out against their large, misshapen bodies. They were creatures dragged from the depths of hell. Their resemblance to Sluuge was strong, but he was more than three times as large. Draining humans of blood, eating their flesh, and inhaling their souls had made Sluuge different in more ways than one, including size.

"Is it time, Lord?" three–headed Grimus asked eagerly, all of his faces sporting crooked smiles.

"Now?" Fithen whispered, flames dancing in his eyes. He licked his lips with a black, forked tongue and a trickle of saliva fell from his mouth, landing on the ground.

Grimus extended his two long, yellow tongues, licking up the moisture.

"Soon," Sluuge replied. "The threshold is already weakening."

His nostrils flared as he anticipated the bloodbath. Grinning widely, revealing his triple rows of jagged teeth, Sluuge began to chortle.

Fithen and Grimus joined in.

Sluuge Adramalech, the former denizen of Hell, proudly drew himself to his full height. Behind him were more demons, hellhounds, and monstrosities than anyone could have dreamed of counting. Line upon line, battalion upon battalion.

Every year they were freed for one glorious period of time—All Hallows' Eve. They were allowed to haunt sites and scare people but never hurt them. At the close of the allotted twenty–four hours, Sluuge and the others were required to return to their prison and wait the endless three–hundred–sixty–five days until the next All Hallows' Eve.

But, Sluuge had no intentions of following the rules this time, and the Keepers of the Threshhold wouldn't be able to do anything about it.

During the last waiting period, he'd done what no other spawn of evil had ever successfully managed. He'd known relying on his own strength and power, vast though they were, was risky, so he'd envisioned a different way to achieve his goals. He'd communicated with those who were trapped like he was, and they'd become his trusted followers. They'd talked to, argued with, and even fought dissenters to the death. In the end, they'd hammered out an agreement—a treaty binding all of them by their very lives, so they wouldn't be tempted to break it.

Today when the boundary was lowered, they were to leave in pre–arranged turns—a certain number each time—but that wouldn't happen. Instead, they were all going out together. With the numbers they'd amassed, along with the hidden powers Sluuge and a few others held, there was no way the Keepers of the Threshhold could stop them. The Keepers would be drained of power in seconds, their bodies ripped to shreds.

And, with them out of the way, Sluuge and the freed would take over the world. They'd already divided it into designated sections.

Feeling the boundary lower completely, Sluuge bellowed, "Now!"


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