Chapter 1

Regards From Hell


A blood-curdling shriek tore through the eerie London night. Wings fluttered against the dense fog as frightened birds fled the sudden scream. Constable Gordon Harvey, however, didn’t have the luxury of fleeing.

Brandishing his club, Gordon raced through London’s gaslit, cobblestone streets. Adrenaline pumped a concoction of fear and exhilaration through his veins. White knuckles gripped his weapon. Sweat dripped into his sapphire eyes. His body readied itself for the imminent conflict, like a predator readying to pounce on its prey.

“Help! Please help!” A woman pled.

Another deafening cry spurred the policeman’s legs to churn faster. The gust generated from his sprint sent Gordon’s hat flying from his head, revealing his shorn, auburn locks. With each stride through the haze, the woman’s sobbing grew louder.

When the constable turned down a dank alleyway, the gruesome visage stopped him in his tracks. Gordon’s churning stomach sent bile bubbling up his throat. His face turned ghost-white as the air hung stagnant in his lungs.

At the foot of the wall to Gordon’s left lay a body, sprawled out in a puddle of blood. Deep gashes marred her face beyond recognition. Innards spilled from a laceration that stretched from nave to sternum. An apron of blood cascaded from her slashed throat, staining her purple gown crimson.

Memories sped in the constable’s mind. In a flash he was ten years younger, rushing to the scene of a disemboweled prostitute. It had been the first in a string of disturbing murders that gripped London with fear.

The wails of the satin-clad woman huddled across the dead body ripped Gordon back into the present. Tears mingled with mascara and rolled down her cheeks, streaking her powdered face. Fingers clutched her blonde curls as she rocked back and forth in a futile attempt to soothe herself.

Wresting himself from shocked paralysis, Gordon rushed to the distraught woman’s side. “Are you hurt?” He probed, kneeling next to her.

Her head shook.

“Did you see anything?”

Another shake.

Gordon put a reassuring hand on the woman’s shoulder. “It’s okay. I’m here now. I’ll protect you.”

Her trembling finger stretched forward and pointed at the opposite wall. “Nothing can protect us now.”

Sapphire eyes followed the woman’s finger. A lump swelled in his throat at the thought of what terrors loomed on the horizon. Four words were painted in streaky blood that sent a shudder up Gordon’s spine.

Regards from Hell,



Chapter 2

Uniquely Vile & Perverse


Swift feet cycled at a brisk pace across London’s sun-soaked streets.  A tenuous hum of frightened whispers slithered into Father Ronald Pierce’s ears, sending ripples of tingling dread through his skin. Yet, his fear wasn’t for London.

Turning around the priest’s sad, blue eyes considered the young man nipping at his heels. Ronald’s narrowed gaze accentuated the deep crow’s feet around his eyes. “Don’t be afraid, lad. We can’t know if it's him yet.”

The pale, broad-shouldered seventeen-year-old’s brooding glare declared what his words affirmed. “I’m not afraid,” Nigel Eddowes proclaimed through a clenched, square jaw.

Their torrid pace came to an abrupt halt. Father Pierce’s strong, calloused hands clutched Nigel’s arm. He leaned so close to Nigel that the white whiskers of his beard brushed against his ward’s cheek.

“You should be,” he warned.

When they reached the decrepit alley’s mouth, it was swarming with peelers in blue. Some were interrogating locals for information. Others were consoling distraught bystanders, gripped with terror at the mere mention of Jack’s name.

Out of the crowd emerged a head of shorn, auburn hair. Dark circles hung below Constable Harvey’s blue eyes. He extended his hand to greet the priest.

“’Bout time you showed up,” Gordon sighed. “Been a bloody nightmare keepin’ these nosy Nancys away from the scene.”

“We came as quick as we could,” Ronald assured. “Is the scene untouched?”

“Indeed,” Gordon nodded. “I can take you back now . . . if the lad’s ready.”

Both men turned to Nigel. He drew a deep breath to summon his composure and nodded.

Buzzing flies assembled around the mutilated woman. Her mouth was spread, shrieking in silent anguish. Wide, bloodshot eyes stared skyward. The prostitute’s flesh grayed as blood seeped from her grisly wounds.

“I hated leaving her like this,” Gordon admitted, “but I didn’t want to contaminate the scene.”

“You did well,” Father Pierce affirmed, patting the constable on the shoulder.

The priest turned to Nigel. “How are your senses?”

Nigel gazed up towards the moon hanging against the blue backdrop. “There’s enough power for our purposes.”

Closing his eyes, the young man began an exercise of rhythmic breathing. Soon, his hands balled into fists and his muscles quaked with raw power. Then the gruesome grinding of resetting bones mingled with the strained grunts emanating from between Nigel’s clenched teeth.

Long, sharp fangs morphed from human teeth. An elongated jaw merged with a sprouting nose, forming a snout. Points sprouted from the lobes of Nigel’s ears. That’s when his eyes popped open, revealing a reflective, golden ring around chestnut pupils.

“Not sure I’ll ever get used to that,” Gordon remarked with a shudder.

“That’s only a partial transformation,” Father Pierce clarified. “He’s a wonder to behold come nightfall.”

Dropping to all fours, Nigel put his nose to the ground and scanned the area. Fervent air billowed from the beast’s nostrils as he huffed the alley’s malevolent scents. He scoured the ground across the corpse before shifting his attention to the marred prostitute herself.

Nigel’s heightened senses breathed in every noxious stench. Around the victim’s neck, the werewolf came to a sudden halt. Whatever it was, the stimulus elicited a low, guttural growl from the beast.

That’s when Nigel stepped away from the body. Choppy groans and grumbling accompanied familiar grinding bones. Once the transformation reversed, the wolf subsided within the man.

“What did you find?” Father Pierce probed.

Nigel’s brow was furrowed. His distressed eyes remained affixed on the corpse. “Do you believe this was Jack . . . truly?”

“The M.O. fits,” Gordon replied. “Her uterus and kidney were removed. Jack did similar to Annie Chapman. The facial wounds are consistent with Catherine Eddowes’ murder.”

Nigel flinched at the utterance of Catherine’s name. Flashes of a smiling woman with a soothing voice rippled through his mind. For an instant, the young man could feel her warm embrace. However, that fleeting feeling was swiftly replaced by cold, eternal loneliness.

Realizing his error, Gordon was struck with guilt. “Sorry, lad . . . didn’t mean to speak out of turn.”

Quelling his grief, Nigel waved a dismissive hand. “Old wounds.”

Ronald sensed Nigel’s dismay and changed the topic. “What did you sense?”

“In this realm? Nothing but perfume and rot,” Nigel explained.

“And beyond?” The priest prodded.

“Something uniquely vile and perverse,” Nigel expounded. “The soul that did this is twisted by darkness and gorges on death.”

“Is he demonic or vampiric?” Gordon chimed in.

Nigel shook his head. “This beast is man alone. Whether he’s Jack or not, he will not stop until he’s stopped.”

“Very well,” Father Pierce replied as he put a hand on Nigel’s shoulder. “Let’s get you home. Tonight, you hunt.”


Chapter 3

Spirit & Flesh


The towering visage of Jesus on the cross loomed over Nigel. His eyes scoured the hanging statue for answers as he sat in a pew in St. Mary’s Chapel. Nervous sweat collected on his palms as the young man brooded over the morbid choice the approaching hunt presented.

“In my experience, statues provide few answers,” a voice advised from behind.

“Then where do you suggest I search?”

Father Pierce grunted as he lowered his old bones onto the pew next to Nigel. “Ask and you shall receive.”

“Fine,” Nigel relented with a sigh. “What should I do when I face Jack?”

“When I found you,” Ronald began, “I had half a mind to kill the child werewolf, just as I’d done with the beast who’d abducted you from the orphanage and turned you.”

“An orphanage I would’ve never been in had it not been for Jack,” Nigel snarled.

“Yet, as I neared plunging a silver dagger into your heart, I heard a voice in my head say, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay,’ says the Lord,” Ronald continued. “You see, to kill a man is to kill all that he might become. Despite the evil that turned you, you have become a powerful ally for good. It’s to my shame to think I might’ve robbed the world of all you have and will become.”

“Forgive me, Father, but I can’t see how Jack’s survival does any good,” Nigel admitted through a clenched jaw.

“Since I brought you in, I’ve taught you to allow the Spirit to win the war against your flesh and tame the wolf within. The wolf is dangerous, but the desires of man are even more depraved,” Ronald cautioned. “Jack is governed by such desires. To submit to your flesh is to emulate Jack.”

“You know what he did to my mother,” Nigel growled as he clenched his clammy fists. “He must be stopped . . . permanently.”

As the first shards of moonlight trickled through the chapel’s stained-glass windows, Father Pierce leaned in and put a reassuring hand on Nigel’s knee. His sapphire gaze pierced Nigel’s brown eyes as if he were peering into the conflicted man’s soul.

“The question isn’t whether Jack must be stopped. The question is: will you sacrifice your soul to stop him.”


Chapter 4

Hunter or Hunted


A pounding heart sent adrenaline coursing through the hunter’s veins. Every sense was heightened as dark eyes darted about in search of prey. Like a beast prowling the wilderness by moonlight, the thrill of the hunt intoxicated Jack.

Wicked pride swelled in his fluttering heart, witnessing how the mere mention of his name sent terror rippling through London. Exhilarated thoughts danced through his depraved mind of the panic his next murder would stir. White knuckles clung to the silver blade concealed within his jacket pocket, yearning to feel the sticky warmth of blood trickling over his fingers.

The mustachioed murderer’s pace quickened as euphoric heat crawled from his thumping heart, up his neck, and into his round, flush face. Quaking breath poured from Jack’s mouth as the hunt neared its inflection point. That’s when he saw her.

Red satin covered a curvaceous frame. A black bustier accentuated ample bosoms. Flowing, auburn locks cascaded down her neckline. Her beauty was captivating, and Jack craved its destruction.

“Care for a tumble?” The prostitute beckoned as Jack approached.

A sly smirk slithered across Jack’s face. “How much?”

“How much you got?”

Jack displayed the coins in his left hand as his right clutched tighter to his concealed blade. The prostitute’s green eyes lit up as she held out her hand. The coins clanked as they exchanged payment.

“Let’s go somewhere more private,” she instructed, taking the deviant’s hand.

Deep in a secluded back alley, Jack’s heart raced. He gripped his knife so tight that his hand trembled beneath his cloak. When he was certain they were alone, Jack’s façade crumbled away as his primal urges surged to the surface.

His left hand lurched to the prostitute’s neck. Shoving her up against the wall, Jack pressed up against her. Exhilarated eyes glowered at her beneath a sweat-soaked brow.

The prostitute chuckled. “Impatient, are we?”

“You have no idea.”

Yet, before his blade could leap from its concealment, a shrill shriek blared through the alley. The prostitute’s eyes widened with dread as they stared skyward. Whirling around, Jack scanned the rooftops. That’s when he saw it.

A brutish beast armored with thick sinew and white fur was perched on an adjacent roof. It bore the snarling head of a wolf but stood on its haunches like a man. The creature unleashed a deafening howl, announcing that the hunter had become the hunted.


Chapter 5



A vicious ball of serrated claws, pointed fangs, and white fur hurled itself at Jack. Weightlessness overtook Jack as the beast barreled into him. His brief flight can to an abrupt halt as his back crashed against the brick wall. The murderer gasped as the air was knocked from his lungs.

In a flash, the wolf’s right claw swiped across his face. Jagged nails scraped across Jack’s flesh, inciting a searing explosion of pain. A waterfall of blood rushed down the murderer’s face, clouding his vision in crimson.

Desperate shrieks from the fleeing prostitute commingled with the enraged wolf’s snarls to muddle Jack’s senses. With his back against the wall, Jack’s internal beast rose in his defense.

His blade sped from hiding. Erratic slashes flailed toward his adversary. That’s when the familiar tension of metal tearing through meat reverberated through the knife’s handle.

A pained howl bellowed from the beast. Wiping the blood from his eyes, Jack watched the wolf crouching in recoil against the opposite wall with a fresh gash on its chest. Power’s intoxicating surge flowed through Jack. The craving to plunge his blade into flesh swelled as he advanced on the beast.

With the knifepoint facing down, Jack raised his dagger with murderous intent. A mighty heave propelled the dagger toward the whimpering beast. Maniacal cackling lurched from Jack as death’s euphoric sensation neared.

That’s when a powerful claw snatched Jack’s wrist, halting his blade’s descent. While the wolf’s left claw restrained Jack, its right swung upwards. Nails shredded flesh from nave to sternum as Jack’s bowels burst forth from beneath his skin.

Dropping his knife, Jack’s desperate hands strived to push his innards back into place. As the wolf rose, Jack backpedaled in retreat before falling onto his back. Vengeful gold eyes hovered over Jack. Tears rolled down the murderer’s cheeks as the beast’s hot breath blew against his face.

“Do you feel it? The fear that gripped your victims,” the wolf growled. “Will you beg asthey begged? Will you grovel to cling to your pathetic life?”

“Please,” Jack sobbed.

The wolf pressed his claw against Jack’s jugular. Carnal cravings clamored for vengeance. Yet, a whisper flowed from spirit through flesh.

Where are you, Nigel? Look at yourself.

Nigel’s heart plummeted. He hovered over a pleading life with gashes across the face and skin split from nave to sternum. Jack once stood where he stood, and Nigel’s mother once laywhere Jack did now.

“No,” Nigel proclaimed as the spirit within placed righteous chains on the wolf’s ruthless nature. “Vengeance isn’t mine to deal.”


Chapter 6



Reporters flocked to the police station like vultures to a corpse. They clamored for a morsel of detail about the infamous killer chained within the building’s infirmary. Yet, a wall of constables held them at bay.

Meanwhile, Nigel and Father Pierce observed the fervor from the opposite side of the street. Soon, the sea of journalists parted, and a head of shorn, auburn hair emerged from the fray. Gordon beamed from ear to ear when his gaze fell on his cohorts.

“What news from inside?” Ronald probed.

“Jack’s stable, but in excruciating pain,” Gordon replied. “He’s chained to a bed until he heals enough for his cell.”

“Has he said anything?” Nigel wondered.

A sly grin flickered on the constable’s face. “It appears Jack has become a foreboding prophet.”

Nigel’s brow furrowed and his head cocked. “How so?”

“Each of his waking seconds is spent trembling with fear and screeching in warning about a monstrous wolf hunting evil beneath the moonlight,” Gordon expounded.

“A vengeful, yet just beast,” Father Pierce remarked, patting Nigel’s back.

“His wailing tale has already sent terrified shudders rippling through the inmate populous,” the constable noted. “Many will think twice before dealing out wickedness, knowing what lurks in the shadows.”

“It appears I’ll haunt him for the remainder of his miserable days,” Nigel observed before shifting his gaze to Father Pierce. “Perhaps such torture is a greater punishment than a swift death.”

Father Pierce’s crow’s feet wrinkled as he smiled, exuding with pride. “No, I don’t doubt Jack will forget his duel with Whitechapel’s White Wolf.”








Nigel is part of a much larger universe and his story doesn’t end here! Since you’ve signed up for this free story, I wanted to provide an exclusive preview of the first chapters of my upcoming, time-bending paranormal action series, “Project Elohim”. Which will follow the battle between Heaven and Hell at the intersection of the seen and unseen realms across different eras. Check out the epic first 3 chapters of “Project Elohim” now!


Ch. 1

No Man Left Behind


Terror permeated the battalion as they raced across desert sands. Their enemy raged in hot pursuit. An entire platoon of battle-hardened Allied troops had been decimated—reduced to ten soldiers. Fueled by raw adrenaline, the survivors dashed towards their base at Ras Ghareb with the roars of unnatural beasts snarling from the shadows.

Private Isley looked over his shoulder into the black abyss. Just then, lightning struck, illuminating the torrid landscape. The visage of evil incarnate sent a shockwave of hopelessness reverberating through Isley’s very soul.

A fleet of winged abominations blotted the night sky. They bore the roaring heads of lions and the wings of giant eagles. Memories of how they’d swooped down, plucking off his comrades one by one sent a dreadful shudder up Isley’s spine. His stomach churned, envisioninghow they ripped men limb from limb in the sky, raining blood upon the battalion.

On the ground, leopards with serpentine necks and the faces of cobras careened over the dunes. Acidic venom dripped from their serrated fangs. A mere drop of their poison could sear flesh from bone.

Worst of all were the monsters riding on steel chariots alongside the horrific beasts. A regiment of Nazi tanks and vehicles bore down on the ten survivors with two Egyptian deities in tow. One was an imposing humanoid with a jackal’s head. Visages of the beast adorned the temples walls, worshipped like a god. There was also a princely man with a cobra crown. Images of him sitting on a throne littered the temples hieroglyphics.

What in the bloody hell happened back there!” Corporal Dolan, a ginger Brit, bellowed.

“Don’t look back!” William Roberts, a curly-haired Carolinian, commanded.

Hope looked to be lost. Isley could smell the monsters’ noxious stench as they drew near. Spinning tires, churning tank wheels, and pounding paws sent tremors rippling through the ground.

As the chances of survival waned, a glimmer of hope appeared. A set of headlights sped towards Isley. Machine gun fire scorched the desert air as a hail of bullets assaulted the winged terrors.

Two of Isley’s companions—Sherman and Owens— had made it back to base, jumped in a Humvee, and sped back into the carnage for their comrades. Their counterassault bought precious time.

Sherman—a grizzled brute from the backwaters of Pennsylvania—manned the gun and unleashed a murderous barrage against the mythical beasts while Owens, the battalion’s most prolific warrior, drove holding his Thompson submachine gun out the window, launching his own assault.

One after another Isley and seven other remnants of a once powerful force leapt into the back of the vehicle. Covered in blood and soot, they turned their weapons out the back, ready to join the fray. Instead, they received a stern warning from Roberts, the regimen’s senior-most officer.

“Save your ammo!” Roberts shouted amidst the pandemonium. “We’re gonna need every shot! Don’t waste ‘em!”

As Owens sped off, increasing the distance between the horde and survivors, the crew in the back stared back toward an insurmountable army of evil abominations with sullen eyes. Distraught, they had no answers for what they had witnessed in that temple. Was it black magic, necromancy, or another devilish plot devised by the world’s most vile regime?

“This was supposed to be a simple mission,” Dolan groaned with hopelessness. “Berlin’s s’posed to fall soon. The war’s s’posed to be over.”

Brad Davis, a stout Philadelphian with calloused hands and a burly beard voiced the harsh truth. “This war’s just begun.”

There was no time to waste when the ten weary combatants entered Ras Ghareb at the banks of the Red Sea. The shantytown’s citizens fled when Axis forces arrived in 1940. Four years later, they hadn’t returned. The squadron was on their own.

“I need two guns on each side of the main alley!” Roberts barked, leaping out of the Humvee. “Isley and Lee, I want you in the highest spot you can find to snipe! Get a roof over your heads! Keep those damned lion birds from swoopin’ in on ya!”

Isley and Adam Lee, an eagle-eyed Korean American soldier, grabbed their rifles and headed for the ghost town’s two highest peaks. Meanwhile, Gida, a husky, boisterous Brooklynite, and Dolan scurried to move their machine guns into place.

“Let me, Sherman, and Claypool play bait down the main drag,” Owens suggested. “They’re gonna come at us full-bore. When they’re too much for the gunners and snipers, have them fall back. If we’ve got men in the adjacent alleyways, they’ll have broadside shots once those things break our line.”

Roberts paused, leering at the three volunteers. “You sure you can outrun those things?”

Jed Claypool, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Floridian cracked a snide grin. “I know I don’ look like much, sir, but I’m deceptively quick.”

The commander shrugged and clicked his tongue. “It’s your funeral. Davis and Goldberg, I want you two in the alleys. Snipers and gunners will join you when the wave becomes too much.”

Goldberg, a lanky Polish Jew, who immigrated to America before the war, spoke up. “And what happens when we’re overrun?”

“We’ll get underground. Get them into close quarters in cellars,” Roberts theorized.

Nodding in recognition, Davis and Goldberg moved into position.

“It’s not a good plan,” Sherman jested through a quaking chuckle, aware of their impending doom.

“No,” Roberts agreed, “but it’s the one we’ve got.”

When the plans were laid, the calm before the storm arrived. White knuckles clutched the grips of their weapons. Sweat accumulated on their palms and their breathing quivered with dread.

Soon, a black swarm of griffins blotted out the stars in the sky. A horde of serpopards covered every speck of sand. The noxious stench of Nazi tank engines wafted through the air.

The onslaught came to an abrupt halt outside the shantytown’s walls. As the beasts stood stoically, awaiting their next command, three figures strode to the front. The jackal, cobra-crowned monarch, and a Nazi officer clad in black leather and adorned with medals stepped forward.

“Resistance is futile,” the German office proclaimed with snide pomp.Lay down your arms and embrace the new world to come.

Roberts shouted in reply while climbing atop the Humvee to man the sentry. “I think we’re gonna hang onto our guns. We’ve grown quite fond of ‘em.”

The Nazi scoffed. “Ten men stand no chance against the union of ancient Egypt and the Third Reich.” He threw his hands up in triumph. Abandon this silly resistance and witness the birth of a new empire.”

A sudden shot rang out. The Nazi provocateur collapsed. Gore oozed from his forehead.

Isley, who fired the shot, smirked. “Now who looks silly?”

A pause fell across the unholy army. The jackal and prince glanced down at the Nazi’s corpse before refocusing on Ras Ghareb. With a blood-curdling shriek, the jackal thrust his arm forward. At their master's beckoning the roaring army charged.

The initial onslaught took heavy damage. The griffins and serpopards spearheaded the charge ahead of their Nazi allies. Despite their fearsome appearance, the beasts remained mereflesh and blood.

Gida and Dolan’s machine guns shredded the serpopards’ advance. Isley and Lee proved adept sharpshooters, blasting griffins from the sky like pheasants. What few creatures broke through the line were dispatched by Owens, Claypool, and Sherman. A hail of bullets erupted from Roberts’ sentry, pelting the onslaught with lead.

As the beasts’ bodies began to litter the main drag, a murmur of hope exuded the battalion. Defiant confidence replaced their hopelessness. Their demise was no longer certain.

Their advantage, however, was short-lived. German tanks caught up with their supernatural counterparts. Now, the battered soldiers weren’t simply dealing with mythical predators, they had to contend with mortars, tanks, and infantry. Their familiar adversary turned the tide of the conflict.

A familiar whistling of a tank gun pierced Roberts’ ears. Adrenaline raced through his bloodstream, spurring him to leap from the Humvee. An explosion rocked Ras Ghareb as the commander leapt from the fiery plume.

With their primary source of air defense rendered inept, the burden fell heavily on Isley and Lee. Despite their prowess, neither man could reload fast enough to counteract the bombardment of griffins swooping at the regiment with murderous intent.

Seeing the havoc Dolan and Gida wreaked on the preliminary charge also caught the German attention. Fixating their firepower on each machine gun nest, the Nazis forced the gunners to abandon their strongholds. As they retreated down the side streets, the next cog in the battalion’s defense crumbled.

Without anything to slow down the serpopard assault, the serpentine leopards flooded the main street, snarling as their acidic venom dripped onto the sands below. Still, Owens, Sherman, and Claypool stood defiant in the face of carnage.

“C’mon, ‘ya goofy kitties,” Sherman provoked the leopard-cobra hybrids, “it’s chow time!”

Without hesitation the nightmarish beings gave chase. In a flash, the serpopards gained on their prey, snapping at the trio’s heels as they sped down the main drag. Rearing back, the horde readied their killing blow.

That’s when a hail of gunfire erupted from each side of the alley. Davis, Dolan, and Roberts flanked from one side while Gida and Goldberg manned the other. It was a pristineambush, drawing the mongrels into a meat-grinding crossfire.

Despite their brief success, there was no time to marvel at their tactical acumen. More explosions shook the landscape. The heavy mortar fire drew too close for comfort as the Nazis littered the alleys with shells.

Fortunately, the Nazis weren’t just bombarding the platoon. Shrieking serpopards yelped as explosions sent their blood and severed limbs hurdling through the streets. The creatures’ slowed advance bought enough time for the battalion to flee deep into Ras Ghareb.

Roberts located a storm cellar as they fled the carnage. “There!” He cried out, pointing to the entrance. “Get to cover!”

Some of the men skidded down the stairwell, but two stayed behind. Gida and Davis knew there were still two soldiers enveloped by the fray. They weren’t about to leave a man behind.

Gida grasped Roberts’ arm. “Sir, we can’t leave Lee and Isley!”

“Look out for them, but as soon as it gets too hairy, you get into this cellar and lock the door!” Roberts commanded.

Emerging from cover, Gida and Davis gazed into the abyss. Blood pooled in the street. Many of the buildings crumbled to rubble. Smoke billowed from roaring fires. This was Hellcome to Earth.

Ravenous serpopards were fixated upwards, jumping and clawing at the sides of buildings. The duo shifted their focus to discern what caught the rabid monsters’ interest. Astounded, they were shocked by what they saw.

On the rooftops of the buildings lining the main drag, Isley and Lee raced for their lives. Though out of the serpopards’ clutches, the snipers were far from safety. Griffins dive-bombed with murderous intent; their assault concealed by dense smog.

Bounding from roof to roof, Isley and Lee were sitting ducks. Gida and Davis knew they needed to act fast. Raising their barrels to the heavens, the duo fired into the haze. Limp bodies of griffins plunged from the maelstrom, crash landing amongst their abominable kin.

Though Gida and David granted their cohorts a brief reprieve from danger, they also drew the ire of the serpopard pack. The snake-like felines charged toward the soldiers while Isley came skidding down a fire escape ladder to rejoin his compatriots.

“You boys havin’ fun yet?” Isley jested as he lent his own firepower to the defense.

“We gotta knock ‘em back!” Davis realized. “Hit ‘em with grenades!”

In unison, the trio pulled their pins and flung explosives into the onslaught. Three explosions flared in quick succession. The serpopards recoiled as shrapnel shredded through their despicable ranks.

They might’ve bought Lee a few more seconds, but he wasn’t out of the woods yet. A gust of heat and blinding light flashed against his face. The final structure he would’ve used to climb down was just then struck with a mortar. As the dilapidated building collapsed, so did Lee’s hope for escape.

Distressed, his eyes darted about, looking for some semblance of salvation. There was nothing. Jumping meant broken legs and a cheap meal for ravenous serpopards. Climbing would take too long. There was no escape.

“Alright, Adam,” Lee murmured to himself, “time to get creative.”

Clutching two bowie knives from his belt, Adam Lee drew them with his eyes glued to a moving target. A rogue griffin was launching an offensive towards his fellow soldiers below.

Time slowed as the abomination crossed in front of Lee. Summoning all his strength, the sniper leapt from the rooftop. For a moment, time stood still. He hovered in the air, unprotected. However, so was his target.

With two mighty stabs, Lee plunged his blades into the griffin’s side. Blood spurted from the creature as it squealed in agony. Fluttering wings desperately flapped, accelerating its blood loss and slowing their descent.

When they were a meter off the ground, Lee unstuck his victim and dropped to the earth. With a graceful roll, he leapt to his feet and sprinted to rendezvous with his cohorts. Pride swelled within his chest at his comrades' awestruck gawking.

“That was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen,” Gida remarked, astounded.

“That was the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” Lee agreed, delightfully shocked at his cockamamie plot’s success.

Noticing another wave of charging serpopards, Davis grabbed his cohorts and lead them down the cellar stairs. “We gotta go! You can brag all about it down here.”

Once the cellar door locked, the battalion sat in sullen silence. Some tried to rest, though their minds were wrought with disturbing visions of the atrocity they’d witnessed. Others stared into space, striving to erase the bloodshed from their memory.

“What the hell happened at that temple?” Claypool whispered through the tense silence.

“Black magic, necromancy, witchcraft,” Sherman theorized possible explanations, “at least that’s my guess?”

“How would you know?” Gida jibed.

“I read!” Sherman defended.

Gida turned with a furrowed brow towards Davis. “Did you know he could read?”

Davis shrugged. “I know he’s good at killing. Reading doesn’t matter now, no book is gonna help us outta this fight.”

Isley sighed. “Since when do the freakin’ Krauts care so much about magic and Egypt?”

“Berlin is on its last leg,” Owens interjected, “Hitler’s desperate. I reckon he’ll try anything.”

Roberts lent his perspective. “Rumor has it that Hitler designed an agency to investigate the occult and mysticism since before the war. Obviously, they found something.”

“Why Egypt though?” Lee pondered.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Dolan chimed in.

“Not at all,” Claypool answered for the group, “please enlighten us.”

Dolan’s lips pursed. His eyes shifted towards Goldberg. He fidgeted before expounding.

“We’ve all heard the reports out of Europe,” Dolan began, “Jews and undesirables being slaughtered by the millions. Can anyone think of another historical empire bent on enslaving and massacring Hebrews?”

“Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go?” Goldberg broke his silence, quoting scripture. “I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go. Pharaoh gave that charming tidbit to Moses in Exodus.”

“Looks like they’re still holdin’ that grudge,” Davis surmised.

Owen’s chin tightened in anger. “Hitler wants to ensure that, if Germany falls, there’s someone left to carry out his depraved endgame.”

“I’d bet the farm that princely lookin’ fella is the Pharaoh that got sideways with Moses,” Gida wagered.

“Then what the hell’s the dog-headed guy?” Isley was perplexed. “I don’t recall any jackal men in Exodus.”

Roberts shrugged. “Some Egyptian god, probably Anubis, given what I remember from third-grade history.”

Claypool snorted and threw up his hands in dismay. “They were nothing but myths! Even if some sorcery resurrected Pharaoh, those gods never existed! Neither did any of these other bizarre creatures!”

“The devil’s got many tricks,” Dolan speculated.

“And we’ve got front-row seats to his newest one,” Owens added through a clenched jaw.

Sherman scoffed. “Somehow I knew this was gonna happen. Been having freaky dreams a week leading up to this operation.”

“We don’t need to hear about none of your perverted fantasies,” Isley’s jesting wit didn’t cease, even in dire circumstances.

“Not that kind of freaky,” Sherman’s solemn tone remained steadfast.

Roberts perked up, intrigued. “What are you talking about, soldier?”

“Been the same thing every night. I saw a shadow, racin’ across the desert, consuming everything in its path,” Sherman began. “I ran from it, towards the sea.”

“Ain’t no escape through the Red Sea,” Davis grumbled.

Sherman shrugged. “I know it sounds crazy. But each night, I saw a dove fly over the sea into a sunrise. Never felt like I was gonna die.”

Lee wasn’t so hopeful. “Sure feels like we’re gonna die.”

Claypool smirked, rolling up his sleeve. He turned over his arm, exposing a dark tattoo. It was an angelic figure, clad in black armor, wielding a scythe. The angel’s feet trampled atop a serpent. Above his head was a verse of scripture.

“You are my war hammer, my weapon for battle,” Claypool recited from the book of Jeremiah, “with you, I shatter nations, with you I destroy kingdoms.”

Owens stood with defiance brewing in his spirit. “It took ten plagues to defeat Egypt last time. Tonight, we’re the embodiment of those ten plagues, reborn to send those demons back to Hell.”

Roberts lent his renewed exhilaration to the plotting, “We’ll radio the Navy. Once we fight our way out of here, we’ll make a beeline for the sea. No man left behind.”

“No man left behind,” the platoon echoed with courageous resilience.


Ch. 2

Battle of Ras Ghareb


Streams of dust trickled from the ceiling as mortars sent tremors rippling through Ras Ghareb. A collective sigh of relief followed each explosion when the building held steadfast. Still, the squadron knew they couldn’t stay in the basement for long.

Their stronghold was two stories, so the battalion divvied up into two squadrons of five between the first two floors. With guile they crept into their positions, observing their foes from the shadows.

German tanks rolled into the main drag. Three of them hovered around the fighters’ location, guarded by unnatural mongrels and sadistic Nazis. On the second floor, Roberts, Sherman, Lee, Gida, and Davis bided their time, awaiting the moment to strike.

In a flash, a flurry of action erupted from below. Goldberg, Owens, Claypool, Isley, and Dolan burst forth from the first floor, unleashing a vicious onslaught of bullets into the fray. Without mercy, they cut down serpopards as each man scattered in five separate directions. The serpentine cats gave chase and a hail of griffins attacked from above.

The Nazis, however, whirled about in confusion. Chaos reigned as they failed to decipher their targets’ location through a stampede of mythical monsters. Not only that, they were guarding slow-moving, unagile tanks that struggled to navigate Ras Ghareb’s narrow streets.

Utilizing the Nazi confusion to their advantage, Roberts bellowed the order to open fire on the bewildered soldiers. The second-floor squadron released a lead downpour on their adversaries. Nazi soldiers crumpled into puddles of their own blood, giving way to the ambush.

However, as the tanks’ barrels began slowly shifting the battalion’s direction, realization struck that their onslaught would be abbreviated.

Sensing their time was short, the eyes of the operation, Lee, hollered the order they all knew was imminent.

“Jump!” Adam Lee roared.

The leap wasn’t far, maybe about ten feet to the sandy earth below. But that didn’t make it any less terrifying. Yet, when the deafening eruption of tank canons firing resounded, the regimen found the motivation to take their leap of faith.

In unison, five soldiers soared out the windows. Two missiles whizzed through the air, rocketing between Roberts and Gida as well as Goldberg and Sherman. A plume of fire mushroomed at their backs, searing the hair from the back of their necks. The shockwave’s violent force propelled them forward, careening toward the tanks.

Roberts, Lee, and Sherman landed with deft, rolling before bounding back to their feet,and firing into the Nazi squadron. Gida and Goldberg were less fortunate. Goldberg crashed onto one of the tanks with a bone-rattling thud. Gida was sent skidding across the sand.

The Brooklynite scrambled to his feet, but a swooping griffin was quick to pounce. The winged lion barreled into Gida. Its serrated fangs clamped down on his meaty shoulder. The soldier bellowed as the snarling monster shook its head, tearing flesh from bone.

As the griffin’s mighty wings beat, Gida felt his feet lift from the earth. Despite the pain that scorched his nerve endings, the soldier refused to relent. His free hand scrambled around his belt buckle, clamoring for the hilt of his knife.

“I’m nobody’s dinner!” Gida growled through gritted teeth, thrusting his blade upwards, through the bottom of the lion’s jaw, and up into its skull.

With a guttural gurgling, the griffin released its prey. When his feet hit the ground, Gidas mangled left arm hung limp. He’d have to finish this fight with only his right.

“Screw it, a one-armed Yankee is worth a hundred Krauts,” Gida lauded as he charged one of the tanks.

Leaping, Gida grasped the tank barrel and pulled himself up onto the platform. He charged the top hatch, wrested it open, and dropped into the cockpit, catching the inhabitants by surprise.

The first whirled around, wide-eyed at the bold maneuver. That surprise remained on his face even after Gida hurled his knife into the Kraut’s chest. Once he collapsed, the tank operator abandoned his captain’s chair to charge Gida, drawing his German Luger.

Before he could fire a shot, Gida batted the pistol away, leaving his foe exposed. He delivered a swift punch to the tank pilot’s face to stun him. The big American then gripped the back of the German’s head like a baseball and slammed it against the inner wall. Filled with rage, Gida bashed the Nazi’s skull until all that remained were skull fragments and pink gore.

“I think you got him,” Goldberg observed, peeking in from the top hatch before joining his comrade below.

“That was a little excessive,” Gida admitted, panting.

Goldberg shrugged. “Best kind of Nazi is a dead Nazi. You know how to drive this thing?”

Gida inspected the controls. “Eh, sure. It’s just buttons and levers. How hard could it be?”

Back outside, Sherman, Roberts, and Lee battled through the horde. They leveraged two of the Nazi tanks for cover, utilizing proximity to hide from the tank operators. The third machine started erratic spinning, so they avoided that one.

Griffins swooped down from the black sky, only to scrape their talons against metal, missing their targets. The Nazi soldiers fired into the fray, but their harmless bullets ricocheted off the tanks’ steel.

Bobbing from cover like gophers from tunnels, the trio returned fire. Roberts, Lee, and Sherman kept their movement patterns erratic, keeping their adversaries guessing. The plot worked for a time until reinforcements arrived.

A serpopard brigade charged onto the scene. Five monstrosities led the assault. Three bounded atop the tank, while two crept around the sides. Their elongated necks would prove to be an issue.

The three serpopards on top lurched forward, thrusting the poisoned fangs at the Allied trio. With no choice but to retreat from the safety of the tank, the human combatants backed away. However, the remaining two serpopards flanked the trio, encircling Roberts, Lee, and Sherman.

“How are you guys on ammo?” Roberts’ voice quaked as the monsters approached.

“I’m damn near empty,” Lee admitted, his voice trembling with dread.

Sherman was in a similar predicament. “I got three shots and there’s five of them.”

“Shoot,” Roberts cursed, “I’m out too.”

Sensing their advantage, the serpopards inched closer. From the right, one of the beasts lunged its neck forward. Roberts dodged to the left. Now, his overextended foe was exposed.

Summoning all the strength he could muster; Roberts pinned the serpopard’s head under his armpit. As the monstrosity writhed, striving to free itself from his grip, Roberts plunged his knife into its neck.

Blood spurt from the mythical animal as it crooned in anguish. A searing sensation washed over Roberts’ forearm. Steam sizzled from his burning flesh as it melted from his arm. The serpopard’s blood was just as acidic as its venom.

“Bad idea! Very bad idea!” Roberts groaned through clenched teeth, releasing the serpopard’s neck.

“Screw it,” Sherman growled, turning and firing a shot at the other hybrid creature prowling on their flank. Now only the three standing atop the tank remained.

“What do you suppose we do with them?” Lee pondered, knowing Sherman only had two bullets left.

That’s when a faint whistling sliced through the tension, followed by a massive explosion. A melody of carnage resonated through the desert. A symphony of metallic moaning and agonized shrieking blared. Ringing filled the trio’s ears as they were flung backward by the shockwave.

A groggy haze blurred the soldiers’ vision. Once their senses returned, Roberts, Lee, and Sherman saw the mangled tank before shifting their gaze to the source of their salvation. Goldberg’s head peeked out from one of the tanks.

“Get in!” Goldberg urged. “Time to go!”

In a frenzy, Roberts, Lee, and Sherman scurried to rejoin their squadron. Lee and Sherman descended into the tank’s bowels unscathed. However, Roberts wasn’t so lucky.

A lunging serpopard struck out with its elongated neck. Sharp fangs plunged into Roberts’ calf. The commanding officer wailed in agony as the acidic venom slithered through his bloodstream.

The vicious beast didn’t relent. With a violent shake, it tore flesh and sinew from bone. That’s when a heavy paw pressed against Roberts’ chest pinning him against the tank.

Baring its teeth, the monstrosity reared back, readying the killing stroke. In a flash, death’s jaws careened toward Roberts. Realizing his final moments were imminent, the commander closed his eyes and transported himself to happier memories.

He’d left behind his wife, Victoria, and child, Grace, to join the war effort. Now, at the end of his life, his mind drifted to Victoria’s warm embrace and declaration of pride in her husband’s courage in the face of war. Her lavender perfume filled his nostrils, recalling the last time he held his baby girl and pressed his lips against her chubby cheeks. At least his last thought would be a good one.

A brutish shout erupted, wresting Roberts from solitude. When his hazel eyes poppedopen, salvation arrived.

Owens soared through the air with an axe raised high. Tracers from Nazi bullets zoomed past the soldier, each missing their target by some miracle. It was as if time had stopped, allowing Roberts to witness the heated race between the axe blade and serpopard’s murderousfangs.

Just when the creature’s jaws were so close that its noxious venom dripped onto Roberts’ shirt, its body went limp. Owens struck down, severing the serpentine neck from its feline torso.

Panting, Owens collapsed onto the tank’s platform to recover from the dire sprint to save his commander. Leveraging the serpopard’s corpse for cover, Owens found a moment of peaceamidst the bedlam.

Owens contorted his neck, rolling to lock eyes with Roberts. “You’re not dyin’ on me yet.”

Roberts snorted. “I stormed Normandy, it's gonna take a lot more than a snake bite to take me down.”

Shortly thereafter the remainder of Owens’ squad stormed the tank, laying covering fire for their cohorts within. Goldberg pulled Roberts inside to join Gida, Lee, and Sherman. Meanwhile, Owens, Dolan, Davis, Isley, and Claypool reloaded and laid covering fire, beating back the Nazi advance.

Soon the shooting came to a halt. The Nazis formed a semi-circular, defensive formation around the Allied troops. The serpopards took a similar formation, while the griffins landed in droves atop buildings. The five soldiers outside the tank stopped laying covering fire to conserve what little ammunition they had left in anticipation of what was to come.

Despite their recent success, a wave of dread permeated the battalion. When the Nazi offensive slowed an ominous tension hung in each man’s heart.

“They’re plotting something,” Owens warned.

The jackal-headed god and Pharaoh strode to the forefront of their forces. A hush fell over Ras Ghareb. Only the guttural growls of the malicious serpopards sliced the silence.

“Hear me,” Pharaoh proclaimed, “your valor is most impressive, but your resistance is futile! Abandon your iron chariot and swear fealty to me and I will grant you peace and prosperity during my reign!”

With Roberts out of commission, Davis stepped up to assume authority. “I think we’re gonna hang onto the tank. It’s pretty cozy inside and we’ve grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle.”

The resurrected Egyptian sneered at Davis’ arrogance. “Two gods stand before you and an army unlike any the world has ever seen. Your choice is simple: kneel or die.”

Claypool raised his hand with an observation like a child in school. “Excuse me, but there’s only one God and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t wear eyeliner.”

Pharaoh scowled. “You insolent little—!”

“And also,” Claypool interrupted, “I know you’re new to English, but I think you’re mixing up dog and god. Your buddy there’s got a dog’s head, not a god’s head. It’s important to me that you understand the difference.”

“Very well,” Pharaoh relented, no longer amused by his foes.You’ll have the death you deserve.” He turned to the jackal-man hybrid and nodded.

The interspecies being snarled and turned its palms upwards. Fire sparked by magic, enveloped his fists. Undaunted by combat with mortal men, the pretentious monstrosity swaggered into battle.

Sensing this battle wouldn’t be easily won, Davis called to his comrades in the tank. “Goldberg and Sherman, get out here! Lee, keep watch over Roberts and Gida, they’re useless in this fight!”

“I am not useless!” Gida protested from inside the tank’s cockpit as Sherman and Goldberg climbed out and into the fray.

“Out here you are!” Davis countered. “Try finding a way to help from in there!”

Within the confines of the steel chariot Lee, Roberts, and Gida contemplated their role in the fight. However, the serpopard’s poison continued to permeate Roberts’ veins. A dull, distant stare washed across his face as he entered a trance. Yet, before he dozed off, he had one last command for his men.

“Listen to Davis,” Roberts ordered, “he’s your commander now.”

With Roberts drifting off to a state between life and death, Gida and Lee turned their attention to contributing to the fight at hand. While they sought out relevance in the refuge of the tank, the battle outside erupted.

Outside, the battle against the Egyptian god fared poorly for the remainder of the regimen. The glowering beast was swifter and possessed the strength of a hundred men. Hurling balls of fire at his adversaries, Anubis ensured the combatants remained on the defensive.

The Egyptian god’s strategy proved successful. Isley, Owens, Claypool, Goldberg, Davis, and Sherman spent much of the initial battle dodging for cover as explosive fireballs scorched the air. On a few occasions, a soldier was able to squeeze off a shot against the humanoid jackal, which seemed to briefly hinder the monstrosity.

Whenever a bullet struck Anubis, his serpopard and griffin subjects would recoil, screeching in pain. Owens and Davis, who’d found shelter behind a pile of rubble, noticed the peculiar phenomenon. They exchanged inquisitive glances, pondering how to leverage the first chink they’d unearthed in their enemies’ armor.

“They feel his pain,” Owens realized.

“If we can put enough lead in him, it might buy us enough time to escape,” Davis theorized. “The Navy should be close to our location by now. All we have to do is hold them off for a few minutes.”

Owens sighed as flames crashed into the wall of rubble at their backs. “That’ll take hundreds of shots, we don’t have that kind of ammo left.”

Epiphany struck Davis. A sly grin crept across his face. “Maybe we only need one,” he insisted, turning his gaze toward the tank.

Owens smirked. He grabbed his radio to relay the message to his cohorts in the tank. “Boys, we need you to aim that gun at our canine friend.”

“You see how fast that thing’s movin’,” Lee protested, “how are we gonna get him to stay still long enough for a shot? We’ve only got three more shells in here!”

“Leave that to us,” Owens replied with stoic confidence.

With renewed resolve, Owens and Davis sprinted from cover. Davis’ Thompson sub-machine gun hurled bullets from his final clip at Anubis. Owens lent his sidearm to the fray, carrying the trusty axe as a supplemental weapon.

Anubis had been focused on Isley, Dolan, Claypool, Sherman, and Goldberg, who’d been darting in different directions when the hailstorm of bullets struck. When the Davis and Owens’ barrage struck, Anubis backpedaled, freeing the others to unleash their own onslaughts.

Overwhelmed by the attack, Anubis dropped to a knee, flinging erratic fireballs at his foes to no avail. The offensive was just enough to distract the Egyptian god long enough for Owens and Davis to reach him. Meanwhile, the tank cannon hummed as Gida shifted it into position.


Ch. 3



Davis reached Anubis first, bashing the butt of his Thompson against the beast’s jaw. Undaunted, Anubis’ powerful hand burst forward, gripping Davis’ throat. His scorching hand seared Davis’ neck while crushing his windpipe.

Air squealed from Davis’ esophagus. Darkness clouded his vision as he smelled the flesh burning. As death’s poisoned kiss slithered towards his lips, Davis could only hope that his sacrifice would buy the time his men needed.

Davis wasn’t Roberts. He had no wife and no child waiting for him in Philadelphia. That desire was never built into his heart. Instead, he spent his life in the Army, training to be a warrior and yearning for a warrior’s death.

Pride swelled in his heart at the realization that there was no death more honorable thanto lay down his life for his friends.

Just as his eyes rolled back into his head, Davis felt himself falling back to the earth. A rush of breath returned to his lungs with a gasp. When sight returned, the commander’s eyes darted about in search of what severed Anubis’ iron grip.

Owens had buried his axe deep within Anubis’ chest. A symphony of anguished shriekingbellowed from Anubis and his beastly forces. Anubis released Davis, wrestling to pull the axe plunged into his chest.

Summoning all his strength, Owens grappled with the jackal. Throbbing muscles pressedforward, straining to push the blade deeper into the false god. Awestruck, Davis watched in amazement as Claypool and Isley also charged Anubis. Sherman, Dolan, and Goldberg soon arrived on the scene to lift Davis back to his feet.

The jackal roared in agony, straining against the might of mere men. Claypool and Isley pulled against Anubis’ right arm, wresting it away from the axe and allowing Owens to bury it deeper into the monster’s chest. As they strained against the vile deity, righteous resolve welled within Davis.

This was their moment. Anubis was rendered immobile. The tank’s gun was in position. Yet, the soldiers strength waned against the jackal’s supernatural might.

“Get back to the tank,” Davis commanded Dolan, Goldberg, and Sherman as his calloused hands balled into fists. Tell Gida to fire the shot.”

“What about you?” Goldberg cocked his head in confusion.

“We’re gonna hold him down,” Davis declared, undaunted by what his order meant.

“Are you kidding me?” Dolan threw up his arms in protest. “There’s gotta be another way!”

“You’ll die!” Sherman pled. “What happened to no man left behind?”

“This is war,” Davis replied, “there’s always men left behind, but they aren’t forgotten, solong as those who knew them survive.”

Without waiting for a reply, Davis rushed Anubis. Latching onto the terror’s left arm, he pulled with all his strength. A spirit of faith fluttered in his soul, sending tremors of new power reverberating through his body. He wrested away the beast’s arm, freeing Owens to unleash a vicious barrage.

Understanding what fate awaited, Owens’s blue eyes narrowed, white knuckles gripped the axe’s handle, and a yearning to inflict maximum damage fueled him with righteous wrath. He ripped the axe from Anubis’ chest and released a torrid onslaught of powerful swings like he was chopping down a malevolent tree. With each powerful stroke, Anubis and his army wailed.

It was as if Owens were born for a moment such as this. He’d once been a promising baseball prospect before the war. Known for his prowess with a bat, he’d been drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Yet, when his country called him to stand against the greatest evil this world has ever known, he answered the call.

Now, as it turned out, every swing Owens ever swung on the diamond came to fruition atthis moment. He remembered his father, a pastor, teaching him to swing in the park behind his childhood home. Today, in his last moments, his father’s wisdom returned for one last word of encouragement.

“Talent is what God taught you before He sent you to Earth,” Owens heard his father’s words in his head. “You’ve got a talent for swinging that bat. Rest assured, boy, He’s gonna use that one day.”

Lament burdened Owens’ heart, realizing that he would never be there to teach his son to swing a bat. Yet, the thought of his little boy, Clay, fueled the father’s muscles beyond their limits. He refused to allow his wife, Mia, and son to live in a world ruled by the unholy union of the Third Reich and ancient Egypt.

Meanwhile, Goldberg, Sherman, and Dolan made a sprint for the tank. After, sliding down the hatch, they shared Davis’ final order.

“Take the shot,” Goldberg uttered with mournful sadness in his voice.

Gida reared back in disbelief. “Our men are still out there! I’m not taking the shot!”

“No way!” Lee lent his voice to Gida’s defiance. “I’m not killing my friends!”

“They know what they’re doing,” Dolan declared through a clenched jaw, “this was their plan. It’s our only chance.”

“No!” Gida bellowed as tears welled in his dark eyes. “I’m not—”

Gida’s stand was interrupted by Sherman, who shoved him aside with resentful tears streaming down his face. Lee tried to block the husky brute, but he too was tossed aside. With his obstacles removed, Sherman clasped his fingers around the firing mechanism.

A brooding pause overtook Sherman. His hand quivered at the realization of what he was about to do. Those were his brothers, closer than any blood relative. Yet, he knew what he’d want in their shoes.

“They’ll die as soon as Anubis breaks free,” Sherman reasoned.Every moment we waste is a second closer to them dying for nothing. If it were me, I’d want to die for something”

With a heavy heart, Sherman pulled the lever. A booming shot rang out, but none of the men in the tank heard it. Overwhelming sorrow dulled their senses. The faint hum of griffins and serpopards bellowing in anguish confirmed they’d hit their mark, but every man knew the cost of that victory.

Goldberg mustered up the strength to stare through the periscope. Four bodies lay limp around a kneeling Anubis. Pools of blood surrounded Owens, Claypool, Isley, and Davis. Their fellow soldier’s stomach churned while his distraught heart plummeted within his chest.

Yet, the battle wasn’t over. Snapping out of grief Goldberg shifted his focus to Anubis to see what they’d earned at the cost of their brethren’s lives.

The jackal’s body was a bloody, mutilated mass. Shards of bone pierced flesh, jetting out in all directions. The heat of the blast scorched Anubis’ skin, leaving only raw sinew visible. The bottom half of the deity’s jaw was blown off and its eyes dangled from their sockets.

Parts of Anubis’ limbs were blown off. The Egyptian god was missing its left arm at the shoulder and the bottom half of its right leg. The jackal’s torso was split at its left shoulder as a bloody fissure spread down to its naval.

“We got him,” Goldberg announced with bittersweet numbness.

“Now’s our chance,” Dolan proclaimed, remaining focused on the task at hand.If we go full-bore to the sea, the Navy should be waiting.”

Sherman commandeered the driver’s seat, pushing the lever forward. As the tank lurched down the main drag towards the sea, Goldberg refused to tear his eyes away from the scene at their backs. That was when he noticed something strange.

The Pharaoh approached Anubis’ mangled corpse. He took a moment to inspect Claypool, Isley, Owens, and Davis’ bodies. He spat on the ground, indignant towards their sacrifice. After desecrating the fallen soldiers, Pharaoh laid his hands upon Anubis.

Wide-eyed with horror, Goldberg watched as new limbs sprouted where they’d been severed. The fissure in the abomination’s body crackled as it fused each half back together. Anubis’ eyes retracted back into their sockets and its bottom jaw ground back into place. The abomination had been made anew as if he’d never suffered a direct shot from a tank.

Guys!” Goldberg shouted in distress. “This isn’t over!”

“What’s happening?” Dolan’s voice quaked in fear of what horror loomed on their horizon.

“The Pharaoh healed Anubis,” Goldberg revealed.

Suddenly, a blood-curdling roar erupted from the Egyptian god. Anubis raised his fist in triumph and the griffins took flight. At their master’s behest, the serpopards charged forward, careening across the desert sands in pursuit of the tank. The Nazi soldiers joined their supernatural counterparts in the torrid chase.

Lee got on the radio, calling out in desperate hope that a Navy ship had arrived on the scene. “Does anyone copy?”

“This is the USS Iowa,” a voice confirmed on the other end.We received a distress signal.”

“I need you to fire every gun you’ve got on that ship into Ras Ghareb!” Lee urged.

“Sir, we’d risk friendly fire,” the perplexed naval officer replied.

“There are no friendlies left!” Lee urged. “We stole a Nazi tank and are about to break through Ras Ghareb’s outer wall, just blow this place to kingdom come!”

“Oh my God,” the sound of disbelief came through the radio as the officer saw a legion of griffins blotting out the night sky. “Fire everything!”

A thunderous wave of explosions rocked Ras Ghareb. The tank quaked with each impact, rattling the men within. It was as if hell were unleashed on the tiny Egyptian town.

“What’s happening out there, Goldberg?” Gida hollered in terror.

“Navy’s slowin’ ‘em down!” Goldberg shouted back. “I think we’re gonna make it!”

Just then a stray shell rocked the tank. The blast sent the steel chariot hurdling forward, rolling like a tire down a hill. The occupants bashed into the interior walls as they were flung about the cabin.

When their roll eventually came to a halt, the tank was on its side as the woozy occupants staggered to their feet.

“Everyone alive?” Dolan inquired while kicking the top of the hatch until it flung open.

“Depends on your definition of alive,” Roberts groaned, waking from his poison-inducedtrance.

Emerging from the carnage, the six remnants turned to find a smoldering ruin where Ras Ghareb once stood. The main street they’d escaped through was littered with enflamed serpopard and Nazi bodies. A plume of dense smoke covered the entire area like a hellish cloud.

The survivors found a shard of the tank’s wheel that had been dislodged by the impact. Resting Roberts on it like a sled, Lee and Dolan began dragging their officer across the sands as the Red Sea came into view.

The USS Iowa floated in the water like an imposing monolith. Witnessing the devastation it had wrought on Ras Ghareb filled the remaining fighters with the hope that they might make it out of this alive. However, their hopes were soon dashed.

Hundreds of griffins swarmed overhead. The merciless beasts bombarded the vessel. The platoon looked on with slack jaws as sailors were ripped from the deck and shredded alive in the sky.

Gunfire and frantic shouting filled the air as the mythical beasts invaded the unprepared ship. Soon, an enormous fireball lurched through the sky, hurtling towards the Iowa. When the fireball crashed upon its target, the vessel was engulfed in flames. As the Iowa sunk below the waves, the battalion’s hope drowned with it.

Out of the smog, Anubis and Pharaoh emerged, accompanied by their conjoined Nazi and serpopard forces. Knowing their prey had no escape except swimming, the army’s pace slowed as they approached, confident in their absolute victory.

Unwilling to give up, Sherman, Dolan, Lee, Gida, Goldberg, and Roberts limped to the banks of the Red Sea. The sun was just cresting the horizon. It was a bittersweet visage.

“At least we made it through the night,” Gida feigned optimism amidst their imminent doom.

Lee smirked with pride. “We gave ‘em one hell of a fight.”

“Not a bad way to go out,” Dolan nodded, at peace with their looming end.

However, Sherman wasn’t satisfied with this ending. “No, we’ve fought too hard. This isn’t how it’s supposed to end.”

“Sometimes you just gotta embrace the inevitable,” Roberts reasoned from his sled with a shrug.

“No, we’re not gonna die, I just know it,” Sherman refused to surrender, “I can feel it in my bones.”

“Listen, Sherman,” Goldberg chimed in, “the ship is gone, and we’re damn near out of ammo. No one’s coming to save us.”

Just then, a dove flew out across the sea. Sherman wasn’t sure if everyone else saw it, but he did. White as snow, it flew with grace over the waters.

Harkening back to the recurring dream he had before this mission, Sherman was renewed with hope. The certainty of survival consumed him. As if he were controlled by an unseen force, Sherman stretched out his hand.

A strong easterly wind began to blow. Starting with the water at Sherman’s feet, the waves began to part. In amazement, Sherman watched as the line that began at his feet stretched deeper and deeper into the sea.

The others’ jaws went slack with awe as they witnessed the miraculous phenomenon. Soon, the entire sea had parted, leaving an alleyway for the soldiers to cross. They looked around at each other, striving to fathom what was occurring before their very eyes.

“Go,” Gida breathed.

They sprinted down the tunnel of water. The ground beneath their feet was bone dry as if it had never been a seabed. With renewed stamina, they pushed their weary bodies beyond their limits.

Roberts, who looked backward, saw a look of terror wash across the Pharaoh’s face. He bellowed a command and his forces charged forward in pursuit. Despite the Allied soldiers’ enhanced endurance, they were still no match for the serpopards’ speed.

The beasts were quick to gain on the retreating squadron. Pulling his pistol from his waistband, Roberts figured he’d make himself useful.

“Lee, hand me your sidearm!” Roberts ordered.

Lee obliged.

With the serpopard forces gaining and the griffins’ refocused attention, the battalion wasn’t out of the woods yet. Despite having lost the use of his legs, Roberts remained in the fight. Dual-wielding pistols, he unleashed a hail of bullets to keep their adversaries at bay.

Yet, there was no way to counteract the aerial assault that was about to be unleashed by the griffins. The escapees were sitting ducks, waiting to be picked off from above by the winged lions. Soon enough, the same horde of griffins that sunk the USS Iowa hovered above with blood-drenched fangs.

“Here they come!” Dolan shouted.

The mongrels careened towards their prey, growling and snarling with blood dripping from their salivating jowls.

As they came parallel to the highest points of the walls of water, something peculiar happened. The walls conjoined in an instant, creating a protective ceiling above the platoon. The waters engulfed the mythical creatures while a strong current funneled them to the depths where they were left to drown.

No matter how many barraged the group from the skies, the griffins could not break through the barricade of water. Yet, they continued to try despite their waning numbers.

The chase continued for some time. However, the Nazi and Egyptian armies couldn’t gain on the survivors. While the Allied soldiers fled across dry land, their counterparts traveledacross dense, muddy sand.

As the sun rose above the horizon, the Allied survivors reached the other side of the sea. They climbed from the depths onto the opposing shore with a wave of relief cascading over their souls. When they reached the opposite side, they turned back to watch the army in pursuit.

Pharaoh, Anubis, the Nazis, and the serpopards slid in the muck and mire of the sea floor. The pristine, powdered Pharaoh was covered in grime. The man who deemed himself a god looked more pauper than a prince.

Anubis fared no better. The malignant jackal hurled flames at his enemies to no avail. Each fireball launched was extinguished by splashes of seawater that whipped each attempt into impotence. This god was no match for the God who governed the sea.

When Lee and Dolan pulled Roberts onto the other shore, it happened. The dual walls of the Red Sea collapsed. Rushing water washed away the Pharaoh, Anubis, the Nazis, and the unnatural abominations.

The dove that had guided the soldiers through the sea glided over the waters once more.Their eyes followed the dove as it soared over the sea. Soon it turned and flew past the surviving soldiers. It rose into the sky, disappearing into the rising sun.

Once the mysterious dove left, the soldiers shifted their gaze across the Red Sea. Smoke billowed from Ras Ghareb. With the long night over, they reflected on the legacy their hellish night would leave.

“The world needs to know what happened here,” Gida declared.

“They never will,” Roberts advised, “as soon as we report this to command, they’ll bury it. If people knew what happened here, the world would plunge into mass hysteria.”

“Nazis wouldn’t be the big bad anymore,” Dolan agreed. “If they knew monsters and demons were real, humanity would descend into madness.”

“Claypool, Isley, Owens, and Davis died,” Lee mournfully reminded the group, “and you’re telling me that no one is ever going to know why?”

“No,” Sherman solemnly declared, “because that’s the sacrifice we made when we signed up to wear the uniform. We spill our blood for people that we’ll never know so they’ll never know the horror we’ve seen.”