Editor's note: In honor of Hallowe'en 2017, Pumpmonger's newest story pits Red the paladin against a familiar horror-fiction figure...
Red had no idea where she was, or how she got there. The sun was sinking in the west and the surrounding forest was dark and twisted. The last she remembered she was in the torture chamber of King August, the lash and hot irons being used to make her last hours on earth as painful as possible before execution. Stretched to the breaking point and naked she could only scream in pain as the torturers worked.
"Did I die?" she mused. "This does seem like Hell."
She ached all over, her magnificent freckled body naked and covered in stripes from the lash and hot irons. There was a smell of Fall in the air and the rising moon was full. Red gathered a few branches and made a fire by friction. The glow of the fire comforted her, but her confusion remained with a growing uneasiness. There was a smell in the air she could not place. She had smelt it before. Then it hit her.
"Frankenstein's Monster." She leapt to her feet wishing she had a weapon.
Red turned around searching for the source. The firelight made the muscles of her powerful body stand out as they flexed and shifted with each tiger-like move.
"No. Not Adam," came a voice in the darkness.
It echoed around so Red could not tell from where but she knew the source of it.
"Bride," she gasped. "I thought I had destroyed you."
"I thought I had killed you, but here we are."
There was a rustle of leaves; Red spun to face it. Too late she realized it was a decoy. The Bride slammed into her from behind. The paladin was lifted high and slammed onto the ground. She shook her head and rolled to the side as a foot came down to pin her. The Bride towered over her, clad only in tatters and a few bandages.
"She has gotten bigger and faster," Red thought, while she was still suffering from hours of torture.
Red forced the pain and fatigue from her body and sprang to the attack. She slammed her shoulder into the rock-hard belly of the Bride and wrapped her arms around her. Unfortunately, the Bride stood firm and she drove a knee up into Red's stomach. The warrior gasped in pain and the beautiful monster broke free.
"You are weak," the monster hissed as she spun Red around and looped her arms under Red's.
The hands locked behind the paladin's neck and unbearable pressure strained her back and neck. "I will have my revenge by taking your heart and your life."
They stood for many minutes locked in the deadly struggle, sweat pouring down steel hard muscles. When it seemed Red had come to the last of her strength the paladin yanked her body forward catching the Bride by surprise. The huge creature was tossed forward and landed hard. The paladin dropped to her hands and knees struggling to recover, but the Bride was not about to give her time. Red barely had time to rise to her feet and brace for the attack before the Bride was on her. They stood trading blow for blow for several minutes. Hard fists slamming into bodies with enough force to snap good sized trees.
"Damn it! She seems to be getting stronger," the Bride thought.
She was right; the joy and fury of battle had engulfed Red. She no longer felt the pain or the fatigue as the fire of battle filled her heart.
"I have got to end this," the Bride realized.
The Bride lunged forward capturing Red by surprise. She wrapped the paladin in a crushing bear hug with her arms trapped at her side. They stood chest to chest as the Bride tightened her hold. Red let out a moan of pain as she struggled to break free. It was like trying to crush an enraged bull but the Bride linked her hands behind the broad freckled back and lifted her foe off the ground. The freckled warrior twisted and strained but was unable to stop the bearhug tightening. Red slammed her head against the Bride's but the creature didn't even flinch. The full moon rose shining its light on the life and death struggle. Red gasped for breath but could not fill her lungs as the life was being squeezed out of her body.
"It is over, Red. Just give in," the Bride purred.
The paladin barely heard her voice as the world swam. She felt her head swaying helplessly back and forth before all went black. The Bride wanted to roar in victory as Red's head swung back and her flame red hair hung like a flag of surrender. She tightened her hold until she was finally sure the paladin was out. She dropped Red and the paladin hit the ground like a butchered ox. The Bride planted her foot on the powerful breast and breathed a sigh of relief.
"I could kill you here and now." She said to her unconscious foe. "But I want you to suffer."
She grabbed Red's ankles and dragged the paladin away.
Red's head throbbed as she woke up. She opened her eyes to a world upside down. She moved and heard the clang of chains, and felt the manacles locked around her ankles, thighs, waist, biceps, wrists and neck. She twisted and tugged to test the strength of her bonds.
"Please struggle. I want you to know your doom," the Bride said.
The paladin glared at the undead creature. The Bride was truly a work of art, powerful and beautiful in spite of the stitches. But the hate and evil in her heart twisted that beauty. She approached the freckled paladin and rubbed her hands over the straining muscles.
"I want you more than you can imagine," she purred. "But not like this. I will rip you apart and recreate you with a new heart and new brain." She motioned to a table with the organs in jars.
"Why not just cut me up when I was unconscious?" Red asked.
"I want to hear you beg and then see you suffer."
Red rolled her eyes and the Bride turned red in anger. "You will beg before you die!"
"You are boring me. Has the rot finally reached your brain?"
The Bride forced herself to calm. She would not be tricked into giving Red a quick death.
"Your chains are linked to the various shafts and gears of this windmill. The growing storm outside will give it near limitless power. Once I throw this switch, you will die."
Red was sweating heavily, and not just from the heat of the night.
"I see fear in your eyes," the Bride taunted. "Maybe you will beg for mercy?"
Red gave her a hard look and shook her head. The Bride smiled and moved the lever.
Red braced her body as the windmill began to turn. It did not take long for the slack of the chains to be taken up. The impact of her body was frightening. Red let out a low moan as she was pulled five ways. The Bride purred in delight as the muscles on the freckled beauty flexed and swelled to their limit and beyond. She could hear the muscles and tendons popping and the bones creaking under the pressure. Each turn of the gears brought more agony to the hero. Red reached her limit as did the chains and the windmill moaned to a stop. Now it was a contest of strength between flesh and machine.
"You are putting quite the show, Red," the Bride said. "Much better than that girl who was with you."
"Girl?" Red managed to choke out.
"You know; that blacksmith's daughter who led you to me last time. She was strong, but was easily ripped apart. You can see the dried blood right there."
The Bride laughed as she pointed below the paladin. Brenda was the only one to help her. The girl was no warrior but had the courage of a lion. Red remembered the short blonde hair and high cheeks with a dusting of freckles. Rage filled her.
"Bbbbbrrriiiddde!" she growled like an animal.
The windmill began to crack and pop as the muscles flexed. The gears moaned as they turned back.
"Not possible," the Bride whispered.
Red yanked her right arm and the shaft holding the chain split. She grabbed the chain attached to her neck and snapped it.
"No! Stop!" The Bride shouted as she charged forward.
But it was too late. Red ripped the gears and shafts from their mounting. The windmill rumbled and groaned. The Bride screamed and ran for the door outside, but a chain snaked around her waist. She was yanked back and stood face to face with death. Red's violet eyes blazed with battle rage. The Bride struck out with her fist but the paladin caught her wrist.
"Noooo! EEEEIIIIIIIIII!" she screamed as the limb was twisted off at the stitches.
"This time you will not be coming back," Red growled.
She grabbed the Bride's head in her hands and began to twist.
"Mercy! I am begging you," the Bride screamed, forgetting her own taunts.
"The same mercy you gave Brenda and all the others you have destroyed."
She ripped the head free. The mouth tried to speak as the eyes rolled back. The Windmill was collapsing all around. Red calmly walked out with the head of the Bride. She would make sure it was never found again.
© 2017 Pumpmonger