Evening raindrops clung to a broken spider web, and fallen leaves held water like tiny crumbling cups. Silence draped across the forest; the animals fled at sunset when the sky shed its first tear. Even the carrion birds flew away, and the rodents scampered deep down into their holes.

The animals knew.

Like a drumbeat, the chill rain pummeled the forest earth, slapping a copper stench into the wind. The air glided with the taste of elder blood, careening, coating the tumbling raindrops as they soaked back within the dirt. The greedy soil drank of the tainted water, as it once drank the soup of decaying flesh, and the trees rattled as bones.

Somewhere, came a moan.

Beyond the eventual and gentle hush, the rain ceased, but the sky stayed black. No moon graced the shrouded firmament, and no starry luminosity scattered the inky air swallowing the trees. A fog crept like silky spiders, thick and velvet over the ground, obscuring earth and flora. Grey met black and swirled, mingling, melding in a darkling kiss.

And the night waited.

It waited in stillness, the breath of air grave and expectant with longing. It waited cold and cavernous, as if time gave this occasion pause. And then… past the midnight hour it stirred. A faint noise from beneath the onyx soil. Scrabbling, scratching, a shiver sound of creatures crawling, of fingernails groping through the dirt.

Digging upward.

The ground trembled, softly, gently, as if a lover’s touch caressed it. The wind sighed, dancing among the trees and twirling with the hoary mist. Slowly, slowly, the earth gave way, in splinters and snaps and clefts of soft loam. The soil parted, cracked, and a bony hand burrowed out from beneath the world. A sallow, deformed hand smeared in grime and filth, its reaching skeletal fingers smelling of long rotted meat and crumbled skin. Strange grunts followed, and a heaving of dirt as a shoulder bone, and then a skull, pushed from under the tomb of earth into the interim of night. It crawled forward on jointed bones, hollow eyes somehow seeing, a throat void of words somehow screaming. It dragged and squirmed and writhed, this awakened remnant of what once was human, fumbling out of the dirt and standing upright. One step, then two, a stumbling walk through the woods, towing leaf and bark along its path until it escaped the confines of the forest.

There it stopped. There it shrieked.

Loud and strident, an articulation grotesque, yet wrenching in its suffering. A ballyhoo of noise to clatter the trees and jangle the ground. To echo past all the desolate unholy, far into the dark depths of the forest and beyond.

It gave voice to its eternal pain.

A single, howling voice, offered to the night…

To be answered by a thousand snarling cries.

By a thousand sounds of scrabbling and scratching.

By a thousand things digging upward.

~ A. F. Stewart

© Copyright 2017 A. F. Stewart. All Rights Reserved.


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About afstewart

A writer of speculative fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, horror) and an indie author of such books as Ruined City, Killers and Demons and Chronicles of the Undead. Also a contributor to the anthology, Mechanized Masterpieces.

26 responses to “Rebirth”

  1. Angel with dirty wings says :

    Great story this week! Awesomely me flow , great use of words and just fab-u-lus! Well done that lady writer! (You ate new right ? I don’t think I have seen your writing befor) write off to teach a human and dog yoga !!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Angel with dirty wings says :

    Frenchman reminded me to say ‘ should any of you lovelys be on Instagram , I post you stuff on there to. If you fallow me @the_happy_hound I can then tag you in on the posts, meaning the word of the damned will be spread farther!!!! My post are mostly about yoga, Lego , dogs , my wording taste in music and stuff that floats round my brain. With odd selfie and pics of surrey and London! (All the growed up stuff and x-rated stuff comes out when I’m drunk!)

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Hunter Shea says :

    What a way to start the new year! Fresh blood with a wonderful tale. Wonderfully written.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Joseph Pinto says :

    Welcome to the Damned, Anita! This was a wonderful piece, so vivid and richly drawn!! I loved it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Veronica Magenta Nero says :

    Enjoyed this piece Anita, rich, vivid and pain ridden! Welcome to the Damned.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. John Potts Jr says :

    This is a serious piece of superb imagery and fluidity. Macabre done right, I’d say!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Nina D'Arcangela says :

    This is a beautifully crafted tale, Anita! I love the way the words caress and carry one another forward to form such a brutally magnificent visual. Welcome to the Damned, AF!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Lee Andrew Forman says :

    What a beautifully written piece! A real pleasure to read!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. adeleulnais says :

    A beautiful dance of words. Loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Mercedes M. Yardley says :

    Way to hit the ground running. This has a sensuality to it that is just superb.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. jonolsonauthor says :

    A dark and wonderful way with words! I enjoyed how you made the setting beautiful and alive, only to have it invaded by the unnatural rebirth of the dead. Nicely done and welcome to the Damned!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. jonolsonauthor says :

    Reblogged this on Jon Olson Author and commented:
    REBIRTH by Pen of the Damned’s A.F. Stewart

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Nina D'Arcangela says :

    Reblogged this on The Road to Nowhere… and commented:

    First, I’d like to welcome A.F. Stewart to the ranks of the Damned. If you haven’t had a chance to read an offering from her before, you are in for a genuine treat.

    ‘Rebirth’ by A.F. Stewart, a visually provocative feast for the mind by one of the newest members on


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