The breath intensifies on my neck. Hands grip my shoulders, and my eyes jerk open in horror. I’m too terrified to look at whatever is behind me.
Hello, my pretty pet,
I knew you were awake.
You should never try to trick me.
I know what’s real and what’s fake.
A raspy voice whispers in my ear. The last word tapers off into a louder growl. I can feel my body shaking now.
Still I haven’t seen a face, but I’m able to observe the strange hands on my shoulders. They look almost like human hands, but they have coarse hair at the knuckles and animal claws instead of fingernails.
Shudders shoot through me when something wet drips on my collar bone.
Abruptly, he releases my shoulders and swings around me, placing a hand on my upper leg. His face is close to mine, and I’m staring into giant round dark eyes. His breath smells like that of an animal as he pants in my face.
He has normal human skin but instead of hair, the top of his head is covered in coarse fur. His abnormally round dark brown eyes make me cringe. Goop is accumulated at the crease of his eyelids. The creature’s ears are small and point up. The sides of his lower lips sag a little. Saliva hangs loosely, waiting to drop. Awkwardly he stares at my face, blinking a couple times.
Silence goes on for so long I can’t take it. “What do you want from me? Who are you?”
The left side of his upper lip rises when he talks. Giant sharp teeth like those of a lion are revealed as he opens his mouth to speak. His words are accompanied by a rumbling undertone.
My pretty pet, I’ve been so rude,
Of course my name you’d like to know.
It is Sir Riddles, if you will.
Think of me as neither friend nor foe.
Instead call me master,
You’ll be glad when you do.
I will teach you tricks,
And possibly even feed you.
His words come out slowly and sometimes aren’t even spoken but instead growled. He lets go of my leg before backing away toward the people chained at the wall. The monster walks with a bit of unsteadiness, but he wears long robes, preventing me from seeing what’s wrong with his legs.
See, these are my pets.
These are good and those bad.
He points at the people chained to the wall, indicating they’re his good pets. His gesture suggests the bad pets are outside the back windows, but I can’t see anyone. Straining to set my eyes on what he’s referring to, I finally make out dead bodies and bones scattered about on the ground outside.