I stood among chaos.
Bodies swarmed in all directions, screaming. My heart thumped, pounding erratically as if desperately trying to catch its breath. The mêlée—a whirlwind of life and death—churned around me. My clothes were spattered in mingled sweat and grime. The pit was terrifying.
I fought against the swell of sanity-breaking panic every single time I stepped into the pit and faced the sea of aggressors. It always felt like one against a thousand. It was hell. It was my job.
I enriched or ruined lives on a daily basis, my own included. As a floor trader for the New York Stock Exchange, I battled the greedy horde for a greater share of the same pool of wealth. Think of it as planned chaos brought forth by a den of thieves who were jockeyed by self-made Gods. No good would come from it and failure was never an option.
Life in the pit was intense. It was a constant physical and mental brawl. There were a few times where I felt like I was drowning in the crowd of jostling bodies, but I kept my head above water—for six years now—by moving, staying fluid, and working hard. Any moment not spent in the rough bump-and-grind of the fray, I would frantically scour through reports, analytics, predictions, news; praying for a tip that would offer the upper hand.
I can’t remember a day without barbed wired stress raking through my veins. I fear soon, either the thread clinging to my sanity will snap or a swollen blood vessel in my brain will rupture and drop me like a sack of wet concrete; just one more failed investment, one missed booming trend, or one more raw deal would be enough.
My last backfired barter came from Bryce ‘Midas’ Wentworth. You can guess why people called him that. He’d only worked the floor for eight months and was already the Trader of the Year frontrunner, earning the status through blind luck in cheap investments or twisted facts to saddle other traders with collapsing deals. He sabotaged my success on multiple occasions, each time punctuating the stolen deal with a toothy grin through the throng.
Just this morning, as I stood at the edge of the pit waiting for the bell to ring, he bumped past me, spilling coffee all over my shirt, flashing that grin.
“Pardon me,” he said, smiling. “But, I’m a busy man.”
The sight of him chilled my blood to a slow-moving slush. The hot beverage sizzled against my flesh; my pulse rising like hot mercury.
When the bell rang, it snapped my attention back to the pit.
Traders swarmed the floor, shouting and waiving paper slips at each other, and I relaxed my white-knuckle grip on the pen in my pocket.
Watching the pandemonium for a moment, I enjoyed a deep breath. For the first time, I felt calm and in control—comfortable in the chaos. Who knew that an old method, a simple decision, would set me free. I brandished a smile of my own and joined the dense crowd, weaving my way to the middle.
Wentworth doesn’t know that I served time in lock down before serving time in the pit. On the inside, we handled blatant disrespect a little differently. He’s gonna learn all about it. And, this time, I won’t even have to carve up a perfectly good toothbrush.
~ Tyr Kieran
© Copyright 2014 Tyr Kieran. All Rights Reserved.
He sits in the bell tower: watching, waiting; scenting the air.
It has been far too long since his last meal, not because he hungers, but because he craves. So many years of eating spoiled meat, the rotted flesh of the dead; so much time held in subjugation, fearing the wrath of a god that does not exist – these things no longer shackle him, he no longer recognizes a master other than his own desire. However, the invasion of his privacy, his sanctuary, after the last feeding frenzy came to light has forced him to stay his hand, to crawl back into the warren beneath the ground to avoid unwanted attention; as well as forced an unnatural silent abandonment of his home. This is his true birthplace – the place he shed the bonds of superstition and started living for himself; he is loath to leave it.
So he sits in the bell tower of the old church that boarders his domicile and he waits.
A fog sits heavy upon the ground this night, cloaking all but the nearest object, masking all but the loudest sound – but not to his senses. He sees and hears with a sharpness the pathetic human rabble can’t even comprehend. Frustration and anger setting in, he is about to descend from his perch when he hears it…
“Come on! I know you’re scared, but do you wanna go back and let him beat you again?” The boy’s hushed voice asks, “I’m not gonna let him hurt me again, and I don’t wanna let him hurt you.”
Her small hand trembling in his, one only slightly larger than the other, she looks to her older brother through the mist with tears running over her chubby, flushed cheeks. “No… I don’ wanna let Uncle hurt you or me no more. But Mommy and Daddy said we should stay there. That man read it from the special paper. The paper that said Uncle was s’posed to take care of us until they came back.” Tucking her head into the dirty teddy bear she clutches in the crook of her arm, she begins to sob – small feet trying to keep pace with her brother.
“Look, Mom and Dad aren’t coming back. That man with the paper said they are dead – do you know what that means? Dead?” Hearing her wail even louder, he stops for a moment to kneel in front of her. “Look, I’m sorry I yelled at you, and I’m sorry I said mom and dad are dead so mean like that, but it’s the truth – I know you don’t want it to be true, I don’t want it to be true, but it is. So now it’s just you and me, and we gotta protect ourselves.”
“Uncle is s’posed to protect us…” she shouts, spittle flying from her swollen pink lips.
Jumping up and clamping a hand over her mouth, he tells her to hush. Tells her that if anyone hears them, they’ll be sent back to Uncle’s house and he’ll beat them for trying to run away. He tells her he’s bringing her to say goodbye to their parents before finding them a new safe home where they don’t have to worry about being afraid of a backhand that will tear her cheek open, or a strap that will leave him too sore to sit for days. Gently rubbing his thumb over her injured face, he sees it begin to bleed again. “C’mon,” he yanks her small arm in anger; anger at himself, anger at their parents for dying and leaving them on their own. “We’re doing this and you had better stop crying about it or I won’t let you say goodbye to Mom and Dad. Do you understand?” This last statement hushes her bawling, and she nods her head as hiccups and quiet shudders escape with her heaving chest and still watering eyes.
Feeling ashamed of scaring her into silence, he puts his head down and starts walking once more.
Listening all the while, the Ghoul’s quills vibrate with the stuttering rhythm of her nearly imperceptible weeping. They are headed his way; where else would dear old Mom and Dad be if not in his burial ground? One clawed nail rap-tap-taps on the exterior metal of the bell before scratching its way down the surface, sending out an eerie wail of protest from the bronze. He begins making his way to the ground.
“I can’t go no more,” she protests as she plunks herself down upon the sidewalk.
“We’re almost there,” he replies as he pulls on her arm trying to get her to stand. “I told you to put on sneakers not those silly shoes. Now, come on, get up.”
“I like my pretty shoes, momma gave them to me! She said they were my princess shoes!” The bear is thrown; her arms cross her chest in protest. Looking into her face, he can see he’s made another mistake; her lips are curling, cheeks puffing up, and eyes beginning to squint for yet another outburst.
“Shh.” Finger to his lips, he bends down. “I’ll carry you and you don’t have to worry about walking. Okay?” he pleads, hoping she won’t start screaming this close to their destination.
From the fog, another voice answers, “Let me. I’m much stronger and I believe where you are headed is just over to the left.” Both children freeze in terror, trying to peer through the dense fog to see who is addressing them.
Slowly, walking with a paced gate, a hunched figure begins to emerge. Holding the teddy bear out in front of it, it speaks to them once again. “I have your toy animal, would you like it back? And if you are tired, I can easily carry the both of you.” He comes into full view – the boy pisses himself, the girl begins to giggle.
“Are you a giant talking puppy?”
The hair along his spine bristles in protest, “No child, I am not a giant puppy. I am something entirely other. But I can pretend to be a puppy if you’d like?” Sensing the boy’s need to flee, the creature reaches out a hand and lays it heavily on his shoulder. Addressing the little girl once more, he inquires, “Would you like to ride on me the rest of the way so that your pretty shoes don’t hurt your feet? You can pretend I’m a puppy, I don’t mind.” He grins, being sure to keep his lips sealed, hiding his teeth.
The girl leaps from the ground, and after reclaiming her teddy bear, climbs upon him. Gritting his teeth at the indignity, he allows the grin to slip as he stares the boy in the eye.
“Okay puppy, let’s go,” she kicks his flanks with her wooden orthopedic shoes and clutches tiny fistfuls of his highly sensitive hair. Bearing the humiliation, he nearly drags the boy along as they proceed to the graveyard.
Reaching the field-stone wall, he bounds over with the one child holding firmly to his back while tossing the boy onto the grass. Retrieving him once more, the Ghoul asks for the name of their parents.
The little girl pipes up that her mommy’s name is Rose as she pulls and stretches his skin with tiny digging fingers. Finding his humor for this game fading fast, he draws the boy close to his face and, with much malice in his tone, asks again for their parents name. The boy replies that it is Rose – their last name is Rose. Their mother is Chistina and their father is Benjamin.
Breathing fetid breath into the boy’s face, he mocks, “I guess that makes you little Bennjie then, doesn’t it?”
“His name is Christopher… he was named after mommy. Do you want to know my name? Do ya? Do ya, puppy?” The growl that issues from his throat is not intended, but he does not bother to cut it short, either. The small girl stops laughing and becomes still. With his free hand, he reaches around and plucks her from his back. Lifting the boy with his other hand, he begins to bound toward the portion of the cemetery where they may be interred.
Reaching the proper area, he slows and asks the boy where their marker is. There is no response. He glances down and sees the boy’s vacant stare. “Well, point then if you are too much a dullard to speak in my grasp.” The boy motions slightly with his head; the creature nods as he recalls the planting of the Roses’ and their elegant yet modest gravestone. Striding to where they rest, he tosses both children to the ground.
“Here you are children, reunited with Mommy and Daddy once again. I believe I overheard you discussing saying goodbye to them before moving on, is that correct, Bennjie?”
Rushing to her bother to clasp her arms around his neck, the little girl defiantly states, “I told you his name is not Bennjie! His name is Christopher!” Her face is red once more, in anger this time. “You’re just a big meanie – a monster that no one likes!”
A full grin splits the Ghoul’s face this time, his teeth glinting with saliva. The girl stares, not comprehending.
“I beg your pardon, my sweet one. I’ll ask again. Christopher, is this or is this not the grave of your parents?” He takes one knee before the children, placid, calm. Christopher nods once.
With lighting speed, the demon whirls and punches a fist through the packed earth, through the lid of the uppermost casket and rips dear mommy from the grave. Her putrescent corpse drips a trail of pealing tissue and carries a noxious fume as he holds it before them. Both stare in terror.
“Well go on, give mommy a kiss goodbye. That’s what you came here for, isn’t it? To say goodbye… here is your chance. You don’t want it? Don’t you think Mommy would like a hug and a kiss before you ungrateful little shits disobey her and your father’s wishes? Hmm?” He growls, “No takers?” His fangs flash in full display.
“Fine, I’ll just give your Mommy a goodbye kiss for you.” And with that, he turns and bites clean through the front portion of her skull, ripping the still clinging sinew and tissue away with a horrendous sucking sound amid the crunching of bone.
Turning back, he leers at both children before spitting their mother’s face onto the ground at their side.
The little girl begins to screech hysterically while clutching her brother. With a flick of his forefinger, he silences her by sending her tiny body tumbling several graves away. The boy has still not moved; he sits frozen, gaping at his decaying mother.
“Damn!” the Ghoul declares as he tosses the corpse at the boy’s feet. He stares at the small girl, hoping he hasn’t killed her. He detests eating dead flesh. After a moment or two, he sees slight movement and hears the beginning of a groan. As the faint groan develops to a moan, adrenaline courses through him. In a leap, he is upon the child. He lifts her by her skull and with two strides is back at her brother’s side.
She screams hysterically for Christopher to help her while clutching her auburn capped head. Growing tired of her ceaseless kicking and the cacophony emitting from such a small mouth, the creature starts to squeeze her cranium until she can no longer screech. The kicking – now only a spastic jerking motion. Easing his grip, her body relaxes but her feet continue their odd peddling.
Holding the child before his gruesome, viscera covered face, the Ghoul asks the little girl to tell him her name. Her blank stare gives him the answer he seeks – the child is no longer capable of comprehension, the pressure on her skull too great; it has deadened her brain. Wide eyed like a porcelain doll, she stares back at him, drool puddling in her gaping mouth, and overflowing her lower lip.
Without removing his eyes from the little girl, he asks Christopher to tell him her name. Listlessly Christopher replies, “Deborah. Her name is Deborah, but everyone calls her Orie.” The monster lets out a resounding cackle, leans forward and delicately pinches Orie’s pink tongue between his front teeth. Once he has a firm hold on it, he slowly pulls backward until it, and a portion of her esophagus, tears free from her tiny body. With a slapping sound, it strikes his chest. Slowly, sucking bite by sucking bite, he consumes the delicate morsel. The drool now runs red with blood.
Bending down in front of Christopher, the creature asks if the boy would like to say goodbye to his sister. Christopher turns his head away.
The Ghoul bites into Orie’s face as though it were a ripe tomato. Juice spurts in all directions. Holding the small body to his mouth, he sucks it dry until there is no more fluid to take. Wanting to get to the organs before they cool, he rips the stomach cavity open and begins plucking them out one by one; the smallest he grabs in handfuls like raisins. After finally sucking the bones clean of their marrow, he tosses them to the side and turns his attention back to Christopher once more.
Sounds echo in the distance, Uncle must have discovered them missing and assumed they’d run to the cemetery.
The blood smeared visage before Christopher speaks to him again. “You know your legs are useless. You know they, and your spine, were shattered on the grave markers as we traveled to this place, yet you didn’t tell your sister even when she begged you to save her. Why? Why let her die thinking you didn’t care?”
“Does it matter?”
Considering the boy, the Ghoul reaches out and rips off his left leg, then the right. He laps the blood pouring from the arteries, then just as with the girl, he slices the stomach and chest cavity open. The child’s heart beats at an alarming rate, his breath rapid and shallow, his lungs gasping for air as his mind tries to process what his body can no longer feel. Looking the demon in the eyes, he speaks his final words.
“At least I won’t go to waste, huh?”
With his hand wrapped around the boy’s heart, the beast replies, “No, you certainly will not. The trouble you children have brought me will force me back into the warrens once again. But you and your sister made for a scrumptious snack.” Leering in pleasure, he rips the heart from the boy’s chest, devours it whole, then fades back into the fog.
~ Nina D’Arcangela
© Copyright 2014 Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved
Droplets of water, impure at best, having been defiled by the pollutants above my present sanctuary, drip annoyingly around me. I bounce around like a child trying to avoid becoming ‘it’ in a game of tag. What is this annoying sport I am forced to play? Me, the Dark Angel, ruler of the sky above.
A ruler – that was yesterday, one so seemingly far back that mere remnants of recollection scratch at my mind. We live in the present, no better off for what once was. The future means naught either. The now; the manifestation of what is… that is what we are left with.
Listen to me, pandering on like a pathetic whiner instead of the glorious creature I am. Control! I need to take control of what surrounds me: seize it from the one who is depriving me of my birthright.
The ceiling of my inglorious cave refuses to cease its watery supplication to one who could be ruler of the sky above and of the land below. Yes, I could have ruled alongside him, but that would have meant a denigration of my status. I would have been a mere titular ornament.
Truth be known, I would have been nothing more than a slut at his beck and call. A woman of my superior stature, a Dark Angel born to rule, need not accept that.
Fresh air blows in through the cave opening, carrying with it the scent of love in the making, an aroma I have waited for far too long. If nothing else, I need to leave this place and get ready for my new now. I need to find this sensation for myself and carve out my kingdom.
Walking towards the opening of my cave, I find the sky to be dark when I venture outside. Ah, the perfect time of day for me. I stand bare naked. When I escaped his arms, I was left with nothing, forced to retreat with none of my former entourage either. How I long for their groveling at my feet, hoping to please me and curry my favor.
Pain strikes me as I unfold my wings. Too many years of not being used have relegated them to the arthritic state that the miscreant humans suffer as they age.
This is my time of rebirth – the pain means nothing.
One by one, my Dark feathers unfurl, telling me of their desire to fulfill their obligation to my wants and needs. Yes, individually they remember, and collectively they rejoice at my decision to take back what is mine. Like a tiger stretching in anticipation of the hunt, they become one force and ready themselves for what I expect of them.
My wings spread far as a smile crosses my face. Power… the power is being restored to me once more. My mind has wakened from its dormancy and is fully aware, and with it my body, that of a Queen preparing to ascend her throne once again. I shake off the inactivity of the past years.
Walking to the edge of the abyss wherein the valley lies before me, I jump out over the edge, feeling the rush as I fall, before allowing my wings to take flight. I soar, reveling in the slowly building majesty of the power my physicality adds to the ever-increasing strength of my mind, one that mere mortals could never hope to achieve.
I fly for hours, gaining strength and wisdom with each passing moment. The now. I exist for the moment. I have discarded the tarnished memories that would cling to me. Yesterday is slop for the sow; today is freedom.
Daybreak is approaching and with it, I will now be visible to the rabble below. It matters not to me – clothed or bare – I wish to bathe and remove the repugnant desecration coating my body.
A bubbling spring presents itself to me. Upon reaching it, I dip my right wing in and then my left, allowing the ebony appendages to warm the water to a soothing level. Ah, the majestic rising bubbles act like cleansing sponges, working their magic on every inch of my body.
Feelings and desires long forgotten rush back to me. They tug from every direction. My thighs twitch in anticipation of being satisfied by a playmate of my choice. My breasts rise to the top of the water; nipples harden and scream out in supplication. Yes, a lover is needed, one who will do as I wish by want for the sheer delight of pleasing me. A lust born of devotion; one devoid of all control.
But, there is much to do before the moment comes for me to sate my desires.
Foot falls approach as I am enjoying my prolonged bath to the fullest. Every step and pause relayed to my hyper-senses; my wing tips bristle in anticipation of what is to come. Another approaches from the opposite direction. Tsk, tsk…stupid vermin. A trick such as this will gain them nothing.
I wait until they have almost approached my position before I open my eyes. Both of them have a look of evil intent, a look not hidden from me as I see through to their souls.
“I did not invite you two to share my bath,” I say, making sure my lips are luscious and full as I leer at them mischievously.
One of them disrobes, steps into the spring. Faster than either of them can comprehend, my wing reaches him and slices his torso from the lower extremities of his body. A parody of the jester, both halves acting independently of each other, arms and legs working to achieve escape: a wish not to be granted. Before his worthless soul departs his body, I reach out as my right wing plucks out an eyeball. Popping it into my mouth, I enjoy the luscious tidbit as his other eye watches in horror.
His companion defecates his pants as he reaches the brush to add a coating of vile vomit to them.
“Would you like to join your friend?” I ask. “Or perhaps you might like to leave.”
Nodding up and down like the coward he is, he begins to run away. I land in his path and hand him the useless arm of his dead co-conspirator. He stutter-steps to a complete halt, shaking as if he were caught in a freezing blizzard.
“Don’t lose this,” I intone. “Deliver it to the one who dares usurp my power. Tell him the Dark Angel is back.”
Stepping aside, I allow him to scuttle by, relishing the lopsided motion of his movements caused by his self-defecation.
I return to the spring and stare at the remaining eye in the bobbing head. “See what my soul is like,” I say as I pluck it out and hold it before my face, then I place it in my mouth and chew it as if it were a grape.
Thirsty, I tear his head from his neck and sate my needs from the trickling blood. When I have finished, I toss the remnants of his body out of the blood bath and seek a fresh area of the spring in which to cleanse myself.
This magical valley has many springs, and it is only a matter of time before I find another one, one I remember well.
My adversary will not allow my mere return to his fiefdom. As much as he desires me for the pleasure I could reward him, my homecoming will show him I have no desire to keep the status quo as is. For all his faults, he is not stupid.
Patience, unlike before, is now a virtue of mine. I know he will come. My guess is it will not be long.
From all sides, they peasants gather. Yes, they stare, wanting to see who dares attempt to usurp the power of Kirsten. Their fear of him dictates that they come to display their support. I laugh at them, not feeling threatened in the least by the cowardly rabble. As for my nudity, what does it matter? The men and women both will lust after me once having seen me in my total splendor. I am not ashamed of who or what I am.
When a worthy garment can be sewn for me, then I will clothe myself, not before. I refuse to wear the rags of peasants.
An old woman, one whose ancestor I remember well, stands there, bearing a gold embroidered gown. She kneels and presents it to me as though it were a crown. I smile. Yes, this garment I will wear, but not before Kirsten and I settle things. I will allow no droplet of blood to taint it.
As I knew he would, he arrives in his usual grand manner. His wings, if anything, are even darker than mine, and they shine like precious stones in the light. But that smile, and his overly plump red lips give him a near feminine appearance. He circles, clad entirely in black, and any misconceptions about his sex are gone. The huge bulge in his trousers assures me of that. I provocatively move around under the water, displaying my charms to their best advantage.
He lands next to me, the audience around us waiting with bated breath. Kirsten may appear to be calm at the moment, but that could rapidly change. Many of the residents in the valley have fallen prey to his vicious mood swings. Perhaps I am not exactly a benevolent being myself, but my demands of obedience are not repaid with the sway of a child’s tantrum.
“Ah, my Dark Angel, I see you have returned,” he says. “You look the same as when you left, maybe even more of a spark in your eyes. And your charms are still lovely.”
“Not that you’ll ever get to take advantage of them, Kirsten. I pick and choose my lovers carefully. You don’t pass the test.”
One of those nasty mood swings is about to happen. My wings are like sensors, probing my surroundings at all times, warning me when I should take greater care. This is one of those times.
Or is it?
Throwing caution to the wind, my feathers reach out to him in an instant, wrapping themselves around his head and pulling him into the water. He struggles, but the advantage is mine. I tease him, allowing him to come up every now and again for a gulp of air. I want to stare into those eyes of his when he realizes what I have in store for him.
He reaches for me but is dragged backward. Confusion colors his face; chaos colors his world. Both of them evident in those black orbs as he stares at me in fright. I laugh as he is pulled around the spring; the water marks his bloodied trail. His blood…yes, the blood of a Dark Angel. We do bleed.
He returns to where I wait for him, a remnant of what he once was; pieces of jagged flesh jut down from his once haughty features. Hardly any skin is left on his desecrated body.
Ah… my lovelies. They cling to him yet, even above the surface of the water: trusted fish with teeth so sharp they could cut a metal rod in half. His shaking is not enough to disengage them. But those eyes, they must remain as I do what I need to do. My soul must be seen by my would be assailant.
Through what remains of his chest, I plunge my hand, using my nails when I must to part the sinew, and pull out his heart. I hold it high in the sky for the audience to view before I calmly take bite after bite out of it, teasing him with it; at one point even allowing the still beating life force to graze against his destroyed lips. When the last bite is taken and swallowed, what is left of him falls back into the water.
“Eat your fill,” I tell my pets, as they cleanse even the water of blood, and I wash one last time before standing up and motioning for the woman with my gown to come forward.
She smiles as she proudly carries it over to me and helps me put it on. I smile back. Not my usual style, but loyalty must be rewarded.
The rest of the onlookers watch me in fear, not knowing what to expect. They can find out another day. I need to go back to my old home. Kirsten has no use for it now.
When I arrive, the castle is ready for me. Servants are already there. And, when I walk into my bedroom, I find a young, muscular man, as well a petite woman with a sparkle in her eyes that says she will please me in whatever way I wish.
It is good to be back…
~ Blaze McRob
© Copyright 2014 Blaze McRob. All Rights Reserved
Becky Dunsworth could not believe her eyes when she and her boyfriend, Thomas Woods, emerged through the thick wall of spruce trees. Just as news agencies around the world had broadcast, Becky saw for herself that the town of Hume, Nova Scotia was dead. Some buildings remained intact; some were just shells surrounded by piles of rubble, and others had been completely demolished. She looked down at her feet and saw the paved street that they now stood on was badly damaged and showed years of neglect.
“I told you it was still here,” Thomas said, smiling.
“So that means their explanation all those years ago was just…” she trailed away.
“It was just a cover story to hide the truth.”
Thomas slid his backpack down off his shoulder, unzipped it and began rummaging around until he found what he was looking for – a digital camera. He took the lens cap off and turned it on, the LCD screen illuminating his face. It was only three o’clock in the afternoon but the sky was so overcast and grey that it made it seem closer to dusk.
“This is going to be great, Becky. We can finally prove that what’s his name, that Douglas guy, wasn’t off his rockers when he submitted his manuscript about what really happened here.”
Becky grinned, feeling excitement brewing inside of her but at the same time feeling a sense of dread. It was a small feeling and she quickly put it on the backburner so they could get down to business.
They started walking down what was once the main street in Hume – Williams Avenue. Every few steps, Thomas stopped and snapped off some pictures of the buildings. There were a few burnt-out cars scattered along the street but other than that, there was nothing obstructing their path. A Canada Post mailbox lay face down on the street, its slot wide open; a few yellow and weathered envelopes stuck out.
“Thomas, do you think what Michael Douglas wrote about was true?” Becky asked.
He lowered the camera and looked at her. “What, that strange creatures came out of doorways in our so-called reality that were made by flying discs?” He raised the camera again and took a picture of her. “I can tell you that I don’t believe that this place was destroyed by a tsunami, like the official reports said.”
They continued to walking with their footsteps echoing throughout the ruins. They soon came to the only junction on Williams Avenue and knew that they had reached the center of the town. Hume only had a population of three hundred when it was suddenly wiped off the map.
Only it wasn’t wiped off, Becky thought. Something had happened that the government felt the need to cover up.
A rustling of paper caught her attention and she looked toward the origin of the noise. In another fallen mailbox to her left, an old newspaper lay inside. She walked over to it, reached inside and pulled it out.
It was an issue of the Hume Daily News, dated July 3rd, 1990. The main headline was about Hume’s mayor stepping down, but the bottom right of the paper displayed a small story about reported UFO sightings.
“Hey Thomas, check this out.” She walked over to him. “It’s a paper from the day Hume was destroyed! I can’t believe it survived over twenty years inside that mailbox.”
Excitedly, Thomas took it from her and pulled a file folder from his backpack. “We have to keep this and put it somewhere in our book exposing the cover up.”
The wind had picked up and as they were about to continue on, a loud flapping noise made them both look around.
It sounded like heavy curtains molested by a strong wind through an open window. Puzzled, they started looking around for the source of the flapping.
“Up there,” Thomas said. He pointed up a street from the junction. He could barely make out the words Ferguson Road on the street sign. “Come on, let’s go check it out.”
Becky’s feeling of dread returned, stronger than before, but she again dismissed it as the excitement in Thomas’ eyes was infectious. They started up Ferguson Road but then stopped, mouths agape.
The sound originated from the edges of a large tear flapping in the wind. A fence encircled the tear, the base of which was roughly eight feet tall and made of solid concrete. Large steel rods poked straight out, reaching the top of the tear. Chain-linked fencing, as well razor and barbed wire, were strung up from pole to pole, coming together at the very top like a roof. The fence looked well maintained, which worried Becky.
“Holy shit, can you believe it?” Thomas said. “It’s just like he said it was.” A grin was starting to poke at the corners of his mouth. “The tears were… are real.” He raised the camera and started taking pictures. “Help me find something that I can climb to actually get a look inside that hole.”
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea, Thomas,” Becky said.
“Not a good idea? Are you crazy? I need to photograph it to get the evidence we need.” He looked around and saw a bench a few yards away. “Help me move that over.”
Before she could protest, Thomas was already sprinting over to the bench. She sighed and followed. The bench, at one time, had been bolted into the sidewalk but the bolts had long since rusted out. They each grabbed an end and began to carry it towards the fence. Becky glanced down and saw the initials “I.R. + L.E” carved into one of the boards, wondering who they were and what had happened to them.
“Set it here,” Thomas said. The bench was placed against the concrete base. “Pass me the camera once I climb up there.”
Becky nodded but her eyes protested. “I don’t like this.”
“I’m just going to snap a few pictures and then we can be on our way out of here. Okay?”
She nodded again.
Thomas stood on top of the bench and with a grunt, pulled himself up onto the top of the concrete base, careful not to cut himself on the barb or razor wire. He found a section of chain-link fencing and grabbed a hold, peering through it. His face gave an expression of utter disbelief.
“What is it?” Becky asked.
“Just like he had written in the manuscript,” Thomas replied. “It’s making my fillings tingle! There’s a bluish-grey light coming through this rip. I can almost make out some features on the other side!”
“Here, just take the camera and hurry up!” Becky thrust the camera towards Thomas and he squatted down to reach it. His fingers clasped around the camera’s body and pulled it up. Using one hand to keep his balance, Thomas stood, raising the camera to his face.
He got off two pictures before it happened.
A creature jumped up through the tear onto the fence. It was the size of a large dog and had what Becky could only describe as four spidery legs. Its head was level with Thomas’ and before he could react, a stinger shot from the creature’s face, piercing his eyeball. The stinger retracted quickly and the creature jumped down.
Thomas screamed and fell back to the ground, just missing the bench.
His face already started to swell; the pressure pushed the remainder of his eye from its socket. Becky put her hands to her mouth and was about to scream when three gunshots rang out. Thomas’ body jerked three times as bullets penetrated his chest, putting him out of his misery.
Becky realized that there were masked men on either side of her.
One held a flamethrower and shot a thick stream of flame onto Thomas’ body. There was a sickening crackling, like logs burning in a campfire, as the flames engulfed his corpse. The swelling along his face burst open and smaller versions of the creature that stung Thomas’ eye came crawling out; in high-pitched squeals, they met their death within the flames.
“Holy shit that was close,” one of the soldiers said.
Becky turned to look at them, counting six soldiers in all. They were all wearing some sort of metal body armor that she had not seen before. The armor completely covered their bodies, appearing bulky yet light enough as to not impede the soldier’s speed or agility. Their helmets connected to the shoulders, the lenses covering their eyes giving off a faint green glow, and their breathing sounded like it was going through a respirator.
All were heavily armed.
Three of them, including the one with the flamethrower, moved towards Thomas’ body to dispose of it while the rest remained with her.
One moved to lift his helmet. There was a hiss of air escaping as he did so.
“Is there anyone else here besides the two of you?” he asked. He had a handsome yet hard stereotypical soldier face.
Sobbing, Becky shook her head no.
He raised a finger to his ear, activating a radio.
“General, the situation has been neutralized,” he said. “Only two of them, one casualty.”
Becky could not hear the reply but she could tell by his expression that he was being told something.
“Understood, sir.” He switched the radio off.
“My name is Corporal Bollea. We’re going to escort you to a safe location and make sure you’re alright before we get you out of here.”
He pulled the helmet back down and started walking. Two soldiers, on either side of her, gave a gentle push to encourage her to follow their presumed leader.
They didn’t walk very far before they stopped in front of one of the buildings that was still intact. A faded and partially burnt sign read Jerome’s Bakery. Corporal Bollea pushed through a boarded up door. Becky stepped through and stopped when she saw what was in front of her.
In the middle of the room was a giant pit and in the bottom were piles of bodies. There were human and animal corpses, and even some that she couldn’t identify. Horror dawned on her as she realized it was a mass grave.
She heard a click behind her as Corporal Bollea held a pistol up to the back of her head and fired a single shot. Her body fell forward and landed on top of the heap of bodies with a heavy thud.
“That’s a shame,” one of the soldiers said in a deep voice. “She was a pretty girl.”
“The general wants us to make alterations to the perimeter so that we won’t be having any more visitors,” Corporal Bollea said. “These fucking kids. Why do they think this town is a playground?”
“They don’t believe the bullshit cover story they were given so they want to find out for themselves,” another soldier said. “Hell, I didn’t believe it when they told me.”
Corporal Bollea ushered the two soldiers out of the way and stepped from the building, pulling the door closed.
“The general wants us from this moment on to neutralize any intruder the minute they step foot in Hume. Is that understood? No more sightseers.”
~ Jon Olson
© Copyright 2014 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved