The Moth Shall Eat Them Up

 By an anonymous contributor

     After running past several dark hallways, Jared slowed down to catch his breath and to listen for the sound of the hellwarden’s chains dragging against the floor. When he had walked several paces, he stopped and held his breath. Hearing only silence, Jared let out a sigh of relief. In this particular hallway, only the left side had cells. Between each cell were tiny candlesticks that emitted an eerie white light. Jared walked on the right side, placing his hand against the wet stone wall as he regained his breath. The cells appeared to be empty, and for a time Jared was relieved to be alone in the darkness.
     After passing several empty cells, Jared began to hear in the distance an occasional flutter. The sound would only last for a few seconds. From a distance, the sound appeared to come from a sheet hanging from the wall. But as Jared quietly stepped closer into the dim candlelight, the source of the noise came into focus. On the wall to his right, standing taller than Jared was a giant gray moth with a wingspan three times Jared’s height. It had two wings on each side with the top wings extending several feet beyond the bottom. The creature’s wings were jagged and frayed with tears along the edges and gashes in the middle. Centered in each wing was a black circle that resembled an eclipsed sun. Its dark antennae were as thick as Jared’s arms, and extending from its forehead was a long black tube-like appendage. Every few seconds, its wings would flutter, sending out a swift breeze down the corridor and revealing its furry, bear-like abdomen. As Jared gazed upon the creature, the warm feeling of terror returned. He then recalled the scripture written in blood on the wall of the very first cell: “They all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up.
     Jared slowed down and crept to the left side of the hallway, where the cells were. When he was within a few feet of the enormous creature, Jared turned his back to the cells and slowly sidestepped in front of the moth while clenching the rusty bars with his hand. As he stood directly in front of the moth, the creature’s antennae froze. Jared held his breath and stood still. The creature then fluttered its wings, releasing a white powder that covered Jared’s face. Immediately, Jared felt the urge to sneeze. He needed to take a breath, but he feared inhaling would cause a sneeze that would direct the creature’s attention to him. After a few moments, the creature’s antennae began moving again, and Jared began to slowly sidestep down the corridor. But before he was beyond the moth, Jared accidentally inhaled. Instantly, the powder made its way up his nostrils, causing Jared to sneeze right on the moth’s wings. The enormous wings began to flutter in pulses. The creature then leapt from the wall and flew erratically inside the corridor, creating a wind that sent powder everywhere. Jared looked away, but he was still covered in the creature’s dust. After a few moments of flying around, the moth landed close to its previous spot and then began slowly climbing up the wall into the darkness.
     Finally feeling safe, Jared let out a sigh of relief and then continued sidestepping down the corridor. But after a few steps, the flutter swiftly returned from above. The noise quickly got louder but came to an abrupt stop when what felt like a sheet rested against Jared’s face. Jared was under the creature’s wing. His heart began to race. He could hear the creature’s voice. It sounded like a chorus of screeching bats. After remaining still for a moment, the creature rotated a few degrees clockwise toward Jared, forcing him to feel its thick dusty wing gently drag against his face. With Jared still under its wing, it then began very slowly walking towards him. As it got closer, the screeching became louder. Jared was frozen by fear. He could only watch as the hideous monstrosity slowly crawled closer and closer to him.
     Then, down the hall up ahead, Jared could hear the clanking of metal and the quick footsteps of someone running. As the footsteps got closer, Jared could hear panting.
     “No… No!” cried a fugitive escapee.
     Through a tear in the moth’s upper wing, Jared could see in the dim light a thin shirtless man with shackles dragging from his feet stagger as he ran down the hallway. The man was constantly looking over his shoulders for a pursuer. The moth stopped moving. When the man had run several cells past Jared, the moth quickly leapt from the wall and in an instant attached itself to the back of the escapee while continuing to flap its enormous wings. The man screamed and swatted at the creature’s legs. But the moth’s grip was too strong. The hovering creature lifted him a few feet off the ground and then with its legs turned him around. As the man gazed upon the monster’s face, he let out an even more terrified scream. The flapping of the creature’s wings sprayed powder all over his face and into his mouth. As he choked on the moth dust, the man began violently flailing his arms. But he was powerless to the creature’s grip. Then, with two of its legs, the moth held the man’s head in place. Suddenly, the sound of screeching of bats returned. As the moth brought the man closer, the screeching was joined by a lower-pitched chorus of white noise. The long tube-like appendage extending from the moth’s forehead began to curl toward the escapee.
     The man screamed with even greater fear. “No . . . No . . . Please . . . No!”
     With the man held in place, the moth thrust the appendage into the left side of his chest. Immediately the man’s left arm went limp. Jared squinted at the sight. The moth drank for several seconds while the man let out a continuous barrage of blood-curdling screams. After several seconds of feeding, the moth dropped the fugitive to the floor. The weakened fugitive collapsed like a doll in a pool of his own black blood. The man then used what strength he had left in his right arm to push himself to his knees. But as soon as he was on his knees, the moth reattached itself to him. Again, the moth held the man’s head in place, and the screeching returned even louder than before. The moth then twirled its tube-like appendage over his head. The fugitive let out a weakened and exhausted high-pitched whimpering plea.
     “Please…”
     Immediately, the moth drove the tube down the man’s throat. In just a few seconds his eyes rolled back and his body began to convulse. Slowly the flesh around the man’s body began to shrink and lose its color. Before long, all that was left was a thin sheet of flesh that resembled an onion skin wrapped around a skeleton.
     Jared hyperventilated as he tried to build up the courage to flee. But as he was about to run, a cold hand reached out from the cell behind him and grabbed his left wrist tightly. The hand was old and pale but had an inhuman grip. Jared turned to the cell and tried to quietly jerk his hand free, but the hold was too strong. He couldn’t hide the sound of the struggle. The moth was only the distance of a few cells away. As Jared violently resisted the grip, the moth discarded the drained corpse of the escapee. It then flapped its wings and turned around to face Jared before landing on the floor. Suddenly, the arm began to pull Jared’s arm into the cell. The moth then began crawling toward Jared. Jared was able to withdraw his arm from the cell, but the grip never loosened. As the struggle became more intense, the noise became louder, and the moth increased its speed. Desperate for anything, Jared turned around and raised his arm to his mouth. Ferociously, he bit into the old pale forearm that held him bound. The flesh was so old and tender that Jared’s teeth sunk into the arm like he was biting into a tomato. The prisoner’s black blood oozed like running water down Jared’s jaw. But the old hand didn’t let go and the moth began to increase in speed. Jared bit again into the wrist. His mouth was now surrounded by a dark stain, but the grip continued to hold fast. Then Jared heard the moth’s wings flutter as it was about to take flight. Just as the moth became airborne, Jared dug his teeth deep into the old wrist one more time. He could feel the tendons brush against his teeth. Finally, the prisoner released its grip. Just as the creature flew toward the sound of the noise, Jared took off down the corridor into the darkness. He turned at every intersection of hallways until he could no longer hear the flutter behind him. When he was finally free from the pursuit, Jared leaned over to catch his breath.
     “The moth shall eat them up,” he said to himself.

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