Categories > Original > Horror0 Reviews
A creature in the guise of a young woman strives to figure out who and what she has become in a post apocalyptic world
minds. Most became mindless blood thirsty ghouls, yet for some reason others while still blood thirsty where still capable of cognitive thought. Gathering the remnants of twisted humanity from under the cities they swarmed across the country like hungry insects devouring anyone and anything they could find.
There were still towns that survived, they for the most part where rural backwater towns. That even in the end times no one knew or cared about. Jackson’s Veil was one of those towns, it was small seaside town that got most of its income from fishing and shrimping. Even before the world moved on and the final war left its radioactive pock marks across the globe, the small sea side town was a quite place. The locals still bragged about how "Honestly it was quieter back in the old days!” The town itself was small enough that it went unnoticed while the bombs fell, and it was only after the fallout reached its tentacles inward that anything changed. The abominations where the biggest problem in those days, They seemed to be collections of anything and everything the sea could offer, their undulating almost formless bodies covered in patches of scales and pink vein covered bulges pulsing and oozing as their barnacle encrusted masses came crawling, or dragging their twisted glowing hulks up from the water and devouring anything that got close enough. Then the ghouls came they where the most human, coming from the destroyed and abandon buildings along with where ever they had fallen dead. What was left of their burnt flesh dripping off their feeble radioactive skeletons. They were the easiest to take care of, a bullet to the head or just removing it seemed to do the trick, but they always came in group’s, that's what made them dangerous. Of course the radiation did other things as well. Some times entire towns would go insane, as it crept into their minds eating anything that was self control or reason. You would almost always hear about those from a drifter or a trader passing through who had "Seen it with his own eyes!" or you would find out for yourself if you where unlucky enough to wander into one of those towns, and managed to get out with your life.
But for the most part this town was still quite. The locals had moved on accepting the fact that the world they knew was gone and they could only stay alive by working together. The sheriff formed a local militia to help protect the town. There where even "Safe Zones" they had established by blocking off streets and alleys with semi trailers, vehicles, and good old fashion chain link fence leaving a few square miles of the beach front community almost untouched by the rest of the world. Manned checkpoints ensured nothing got in without some one knowing, but these things where in place for the things they knew existed.
The town, like any other had its rumors. Rumors that involved locals making deals with unspeakable and inhuman things late at night, in the towns out laying swamps. To people passing through, the rumors became even more true when they would see what was left of the local churches or what the remaining ones now looked like. Any Christian artifact, long sense being removed, and now replaced by twisted, winged, squid like effigies, and odd symbols. Regardless the people still seemed friendly enough, always welcoming outsiders with warm smiles, a meal, and a place to stay, for at least a night. But still few people came to the town, and only if they had business to tend to.
It had been raining for almost two weeks and at this time of night the only light was the occasional working streetlight or neon lit store front. Among the burnt out cars and buildings the lights meant their where still people, or at least a generator that was still going. That was why she stayed in the alleys; the spotlight of a dilapidated squad car landed on her its sickening yellow light bathed the alley in a nauseating spew of color. The sirens barked like a wounded animal, she didn’t act startled or like she was even worried… just curious. She was crouched over something hands covered in blood her mouth covered in gore, gnawing on what might have been a cat.
The officer’s appearance suggested he hadn’t originally been the owner of the uniform. It was ill fitting in all the wrong ways and covered in holes that let his grimy skin show through. He squinted through the downpour trying to make out what was going on. At the sight of a soaking wet girl covered in blood he didn’t even try to calmly question her, he had just pulled his gun and gave her the standard don’t move and drop it commands like she was a dog. She stood, still clutching the bloody lump of fur to her mouth. As another squad car pulled up she dropped it, it landed with a sickening plop. The officer grimaced disgusted and she cocked her head quizzically. From his car, the radio crackled. The man jumped, startled for a brief second. Lowering her head she grinned and dashed straight for him. He fired as she jumped over him spring boarded off of the roof of his car clambering up a fire escape overhead and disappearing onto the roof.
She was almost four blocks away before stopping to assess the damage the 45. Caliber slug had done. Pulling off the blood soaked once white tank top and the tattered jeans she was able to make out the entry wound. It was just below her left breast and about the size of a dime, blood steadily oozed from the hole. The bullet hadn’t gone through and she could feel it still hot inside her body. She pushed her fingers deep into the hole, probing for the bullet. She could feel her finger nails scratch against it and winced. Taking a deep breath and holding it, she dug it free. Gasping, she held it up and examined the small mushroom shaped piece of lead before tossing it aside. At least in the rain it didn’t take much effort to clean herself off and the wound had already stopped bleeding but was still quite obviously a bullet hole. Sighing, she wiped the rain from her eyes and stretched, raising her arms and letting the rain hammer against her pale, thin body.
Cocking her head she tried to hear over the wind and rain, sirens? Where they still following her? “Damn it.” She said to her self. They where still following her, and getting closer. In this weather it had to be because she had come so far past barriers. This was supposed to be a quarantine zone, but she wasn’t like the others. She had simply went below ground into the old storm drains and came up in the old water reclamation tanks in the old sewage treatment plant. It had only taken a few hours to get this far into the town and with only the single police entanglement she was feeling quite confident she could continue to evade them. Still hungry she stuck her nose into the wind tasting it for scents. The storm made it hard to pick any one thing out but at this point she was like a shark, one drop of blood was all she needed. Finding a solid scent, she squinted into the swirling, wet, blackness to the east. It smelled of fresh human remains and was less than a mile away. She had to be careful, it could be a trap. Even in this weather you couldn’t be too careful. She had been around since the first days of the outbreak, and had survived only because she was overly cautious. The humans where getting more devious, after all there where less of them. That did however mean, there were less of the creatures. Which suited her just fine, as this meant more meat for her. With no more thought she headed east, following the sweet scent of death.
She continued along the rooftops. As she got closer the smell became intoxicating, it made the hunger almost too much to control. It had been weeks since she had tasted human flesh, and she drooled at the mere thought of it. While traveling between towns she tried to never feed, as she found out in the early days. If you’re being tracked by a hunter, a blood trail was extremely easy to follow whether it’s animal or human. As she came to the building where the smell was spilling from, something seemed off. The building itself was an older hotel, and the roof had caved in and water poured into the giant hole. Peering into the bowels of the building she only saw darkness. Silently she slipped into the hole. As she reached ground level the only sound to be heard was the thundering of the water pounding the floor. She sniffed the air. The smell of mold and rotting wood made it hard to smell anything else, but not impossible. Raising her nose into the breeze she sniffed again. The smell was there, it rolled into the room where she was like the incoming tide. Tipp toeing she crept onward not making a sound, her mind only the thought of food. Her eyes began to focus in the darkness as she moved deeper into the ruins. From the corner of her eye she saw something move. Snapping her head in the direction of the movement she simply saw a ragged backpack and tactical harness, its loose flaps fluttering in the wind. As she moved closer she could see and smell the fresh blood covering it. She crawled toward it on all fours, probing the darkness. To her the blood gave off a soft glow as if under a black light. It had splattered the walls and there was a trail leading down the connected hallway in a grotesque smear. There was a machete in the webbing of the backpack, she pulled it loose and with her free hand rifled through the contents making as little noise as possible. There was a flashlight, some road flares, loose ammunition of various types, a few loaded clips, some label less can goods, and what seemed to be a military two way radio. Stuffing the items back into the bag she slipped into the rigging buckling it into place with a loud clink. She cringed at the sound looking around nervously. After a few tense moments she continued on following the blood trail. As she followed the blood trail she began to realize what the smell was she had picked up on. Fear over road every thing in her, and panic began to seep into her mind. She had let the hunger cloud her judgment and as she realized her mistake, she saw the bone pit. The sickening smell of dozens of rotting corpses hit her all at once, almost bringing her to her knees. Slowly she began to move
back down the hall not letting her eyes leave the direction of the horror she knew was coming. There was the sound of crumbling plaster above her. She looked up just as a large chunk of ceiling came crashing down pinning her to the floor sending the blade clattering to the ground a few feet out of her reach.
From under the rubble she looked into the blackness. At first it was just a low ominous growl then it grew into a symphony of visceral bone curdling snarls. The first one she saw was younger, its skin still pink and only slightly mottled. What was left of its clothing hung like a giant blood stained bib. It looked at her like a child examining a toy, as it moved forward cautiously. She struggled trying to get some kind of leverage to push the rubble free. Groping for anything to pull her self out on she grabbed a piece of rebar that protruded form the dilapidated wall. She pulled, and as her body slid free she could feel every nail, broken piece of concrete, and grain of dirt grinding into her legs and torso, cutting bloody ribbons in her unprotected flesh. She could smell her own blood and it made the unseen creatures go wild as they smelled it too. Frantically she struggled to get to the machete as at least a dozen of the feral creatures poured into the hall knocking the one already in the hall to the ground trampling it. Just as the first of them reached her she felt the textured handle of the machete gripping it tightly she whirled around. Their was a horrible squealing sound as the blade cleanly decapitated one and embedded itself into the skull of the next. It grabbed her arm snatching her loose from the rubble. She kicked it in the chest with both feet. It let go, her body immediately dropped pulling the weapon free. She slammed back to the ground and scrambled backward trying to get to her feet. Another one jumped on her immediately digging claws into her bare chest and biting into her collar, she screamed in agony. With her free hand she dug her thumb into the creature’s eye, then brought the machete down into its shoulder. It wailed in anger slamming her into the ground then against the wall. Another one grabbed her by the feet and was attempting to pull her away from the one that had a hold of her. Within seconds the remaining ones where on her clawing and biting chunks out of her, trying to tear her limb from limb. Just as she began to give up their was a explosion and a blinding flash as armed men stormed into the hallway opening fire with automatic weapons. There was no discrimination or hesitation as they dumped round after round into everything in the hall including her.
Once again there was silence, she could hear their boots on the floor but from under the pile of bodies but she couldn’t see a thing. The feel of their cold dead skin and black decaying blood dripping on her was disgusting, but she had to remain quite and still. She didn’t think they had noticed her before opening fire but she knew she wasn’t in any shape to fight them. Waiting for her chance, she heard boots head down the hall toward the direction of the bone pit. She wasn’t sure how many of them there where, but it sounded like quite a few had gone down the hall. This might be her only chance, with every once of her remaining strength she pushed free of the bodies and ran. She frantically headed trough the building getting as much space between them and her as she could, but as she rounded the next corner she was face to face with one of the armed men. Surprised by the naked bleeding girl in front of him he stood silent not knowing what to do. Without breaking stride she pounced on him, sinking her teeth into his throat and violently ripping out a ragged chunk.
She knew she only had a few minutes before they came looking for him, so she had to work quickly. Gulping down as much blood as she could she unclipped her harness and shrugged it off. She quickly began stripping him of his armored vest, pants, and pistol. Immediately slipping into the pants she put on his leg holster and readied the gun dropping it into place at her thigh. As she shrugged on the vest the mans radio crackled to life, scooping up her backpack she ran.
Its was getting brighter outside, but with the storm still in full swing the sun still wasn’t going to be coming out. Regardless, when the double doors swung open the light was still blinding. Raising her hand to her face she tried to block the light. She stumbled forward trying to see where she was headed but her eyes weren’t meant for day regardless of the conditions. She could just barley make out a manhole cover just a few yards away. Throwing herself to the ground she clawed at it frantically, forcing her fingers deep into the narrow metal seam. The muscles in her arms tensed and contorted as she pulled at it, and her fingernails began to tear loose. Finally with a horrible metallic screech the rusted cover came loose. Almost laughing with joy she let her body go limp, dropping into the black hole.
A few hours later she awoke tangled and twisted among all the refuse of the world that made its way underground. The sound was deafening down here, it roared and echoed off of the corrugated metal with almost a robotic re-verb that was head splitting. Her arm had gotten stuck in a metal grating and was twisted at a horrible angle the bone protruding from the pale grimy skin. The water still rushed trough the tunnel, it tugged at her body threatening to rip her arm the rest of the way off. Her body hadn’t been able to handle any more punishment and she had blacked out. At least no one was around when it happened this time. The torrent of water flowing through the storm drains had washed her away from where she had been, but she wasn’t sure how far away or where. She got to her feet, careful not to loose her footing in the water. Looking at her twisted arm she gingerly began maneuvering the broken appendage out of the grating. One free she had to reset the bone so it would heal. With clinical detachment she pulled the limp arm sliding the protruding bone back into the skin. Once done she flexed her arm and wiggled her fingers making sure everything was in working order.
Calmly she assessed the condition of her newly acquired gear. A moment of brief shock washed over her as she noticed an odd squid like emblem embroidered on the left breast pocket of the vest. As quickly as the thought came she let it pass focusing on the task at hand. The only thing not accounted for was the machete but she wasn’t even sure if she had brought it with her when she ran. The radio was there but she wasn’t sure if it had survived the hours of being submerged in water, but now wasn’t the time to figure it out. Without anymore hesitation, she started trudging trough the darkness. Water beat at the ragged holes that covered her body, they had begun to heal but without proper food they resembled festering boils that where slowly seeping. The blood that oozed out was so dark and thick that it almost looked like oil as it clung to her.
The man she had fed on hadn’t feigned her hunger and she could feel it creeping more noticeable than before. She had to find a proper meal but on nights like this most people stayed in. Regardless of this fact, she had to try and with the weather like it had been, the coming day didn’t matter. She inhaled deeply tasting the air, was it salty? She remembered the ocean. Was she near it? She didn’t know, but from the recesses of her memory something told her humans would be there. Smiling at the thought of “real” food, she headed east. As she crept trough the storm drains she thought she could feel eyes on her. She stopped raising her head like a deer who suspects she may be the next victim of natural selection. Her eyes wide she peered into the blackness of every, would be hiding spot she could think of, but nothing….. So she kept on, stopping to check her surroundings every block or so. When she got close enough to hear the crash of waves reverberated through the tunnels over the roar of the water, wind, and rain she looked for an outflow pipe. Finding one with the grating loose enough to pry open she stepped out into a concrete spill way. She noticed orange cones and signs that blocked the streets. Leaving the shelter of the spillway she walked to one of the signs. It was older than she thought, weathered, and paint flaking barely legible in the darkness.
Order of Sheriffs Department
A flashing traffic signal bathed the intersection in yellow bile colored light that made her uneasy. The light began to sway crazily and a few of the palm trees cracked and made splintering noises. She darted into the shadow of an abandon house like a frightened animal. As she did a familiar smell drifted by but in this wind it was only for a split second. She tried to remember but couldn’t or didn’t want to. Putting it out of her mind she continued on.
Sand ripped at her bare skin threatening to scour it away, but she didn’t even notice what should be pain. Her hair whipped and whirled around her face as she tried to see the beach in the inky blackness. Stepping from the shadows of the last row of houses that lined the water front and onto the open sand was almost overwhelming to her. Sand, wind, and water danced in horrible sheets that where so strong they had began to rip the sheet metal off of the nearby life guard station and up root the palms that lined the threshold of the boardwalk. In the distance she could make out the pier and light could be seen coming from under the boards that covered the windows of the attached bait shack. She could imagine rolling in the blood and gore covering her self in it and cleaning her self like a wild animal. The mere thought of it made her quiver in parts of her body she hadn’t used in the months since she became whatever she was, and she wasn’t worried about how many may be inside or how young or old they might be she had ripped full grown men limb from limb and drank the fresh blood from their marrow. The police man was different you don’t kill guard dog, just the sheep he’s meant to watch over.
She could smell them over every other sent that invaded her nose, and taste the sweat that covered their bodies before she even entered the room. She crawled along the exterior wall like a pale spider and waited by the bathroom window. After what seemed like hours one of the humans made their way to the bathroom. She could hear the door open then close, and the sound of urine splashing into the toilet. Just as she leaned close enough to peek through the gaps in the boards, he leaned forward to look out. They locked eyes and he began to fall backward startled. Before he was out of arms reach she shot her arm out splintering the wood and grabbing the young man by the face digging her nails deep into his flesh. The people in the other room only heard the crash of breaking wood and glass, and called out to their friend, but no answer came. Slowly one of them walked to the bathroom door and reached for the handle. As he did the door came off its hinges and smashed against him throwing him across the room. The remaining man stood in the center of the room slack jawed.
A young girl no older than twenty stood, her pale petite body looking like a porcelain doll and what should have been a beautiful doll like face was stained crimson with the blood of the man that hung limply from her finger tips. He started for the exit but as he turned the limp body struck him in the back. He fell to the floor under the weight of the corpse, and she pounced on him adding her weight to the pile. She leaned over him almost touching her face against his and sniffed him tasting his scent. The fear made her want him so much more. She ran her tongue across his cheek tasting the tears that were beginning to flow and he whimpered. He opened his mouth to speak but no sooner had he opened it she pressed her mouth onto his and bit down taking a large chunk of tongue. The sound of his gurgling brought a feeling that could best be described as joy. He struggled, trying to push her off. Grinning she pinned his arms to the floor and squeezed his wrists gradually increasing pressure until they made a gut wrenching crunch. The man began to flail wildly and when he wouldn’t stop she flipped him over and stomped on his lower back crushing his spine. He stopped flailing but not gurgling and wheezing. She began to feed on the still breathing man, but then that familiar smell drifted into her nostrils. She stopped, turning her attention to the man lying in a mangled heap under the splintered door. She crept over to the crumpled man on all fours. Pushing the remains of the door aside she snatched the limp body of the unconscious man up by the arm. It made the stomach churning sound of cartilage popping, and stretched longer than it should under his weight. Examining him like a rancher would examine a stud animal she sat him gently aside
Through the darkness and from what seemed like miles away he could hear this horrible wet smacking sound. He tried to open his eyes but they where so heavy, he didn’t even want to
try. There was also a dull throbbing in his head that grew more painful as he focused on the sound. When it got to be unbearable he forced them open and once they where open he couldn’t close them even though he was terrified of what he saw. At first his friend seemed alive, twitching every few seconds and fluttering his eyes. It was when he met his gaze and looked into the cold lifeless doll like eyes that he realized it was just muscles tensing as a small ghost white girl covered in viscera gnawed his throat. He tried to get to his feet, but when he shifted his weight and there was a horrible crunch. The sound was loud enough to get her attention.
She stopped chewing and looked over her shoulder. The man who she had set aside was awake and trying to crawl away. Confused by this she stopped what she was doing and turned to face him. Letting her body drop to all fours she crept over to him like a curious cat. She sniffed him almost touching her nose to his. He tried to pull away but she grabbed him by the back of the neck not letting him avert his gaze. There was something different about this one she thought, he smelled familiar …… just slightly off in comparison to the others, but she couldn’t place it. Her eyes locked with his, and he quit struggling.
The room was silent and the wrath of the storm could be heard above all else. The waves beating against the pilings of the pier made the small attached building rumble. She was keenly aware of these things along with the man panting through what had to be an excruciating amount of pain. She could feel his erratic pulse and the wheezing in his chest as he struggled to breath. Gingerly she released her grip on him, and he slumped over. Leaning over she nuzzled him like a wolf would an injured cub. He groaned, face twisting in agony. Against all of her better judgment she picked him up and draped him over her shoulder. He tried to wriggle free but at this point his body had just given up. Making her way to the door she surveyed the room one last time for anything of use. A satchel lay on the floor near one of the bodies. Without bothering to check the contents she shouldered it and opened the door. The wind and rain cycloned into the room, soaking everything instantly
His thoughts swam aimlessly until finally one coherent thought brought his wandering mind into focus. He opened his eyes trying to get them to focus in the inky blackness. The pain in his arm had subsided so he put his weight on it expecting to collapse but to his surprise he was able. Getting to his feet he squinted into the darkness trying to make out shapes. There was a blinding crack of lightning followed by a deep rumble, and it was in that brilliant flash that he saw her crouched only a few feet away watching him intently. He stumbled backward in terror tripping over something soft as he did. Looking down he noticed a satchel…. his satchel, but quickly dismissed it. He heard a click, a pause followed by another click. On the third click a small flame shown brightly almost blinding in the darkness. He could still only make out her small shadow, but it looked as if she was attempting to light a fire. A few sticks had caught but the breeze whistling through where ever they were threatened to put them out. He heard the splash of liquid and instantly the flames billowed into a fireball then shrunk into a fire pit made of cinder blocks where it remained lightly flickering and crackling.
He sat watching her, and she sat watching him. Her damp skin seemed to give off a soft glow in the light of the fire and even in the dark he could make out her pale blue eyes framed by her ink black hair. Under different circumstances he would have considered her beautiful and she still was but in the same way an animal stalking its prey has its own natural beauty. His eyes traced her soft features trying to make sense of what he had seen earlier and what he was witness too now. She should have ripped him apart, he had seen enough of her kind to know that’s what they did. They never stopped, there was no talking to them, there was no reasoning with them, they survived on pure extinct.
“Who are you? Where am I?” he asked.
She remained silent.
“Damn it, I asked you a question…answer me…” He demanded
She simply smiled an eerie cold smile
“Say something….. You can talk can’t you?
Still smiling she gave a simple “Yes.” In the most calm and soft spoken tone he had ever heard.
“I had a name, but that was so long ago I don’t remember what it is now.”
He looked puzzled “How old are you?”
“Why does it matter?” her smile began to fade into a sad expression
“Honestly it doesn’t, I know what you are.” He said sternly. “Do you? At least you think you do, but I don’t even know what I am.” She replied
“Okay, then why did you bring me here?”
“Do I need a reason….. Would you I rather do to you what I did to your friends?”
Her grin returned and he went silent
“They weren’t my friends, we were just holding up until the worst of the storm passed.”
He paused as he thought about what he had just said, did he really believe it? When he realized he did, he sat down. Was he that detached, did he care for people that little? He had been witness to real friends and real family dieing in ways no man should ever have to worry about, as well as having to put a few out of there misery himself. Did this make him a monster? He didn’t know and at this point in his life did it really matter? The rest of the world had long since moved on since the days when the first started to appear. He wasn’t even a shadow of the person he had been back then, he couldn’t afford to be. This was however the first time he had ever been in a situation like this, which meant he had to play his cards right.
Thunder boomed, farther away this time and a few seconds later the flash of lightning came. Kneeling down he opened the satchel and sifted trough its contents. His fingers brushed against a smooth cylindrical container and he knew he had an escape if he needed it. She must have noticed the expression on his face change because she coyly tilted her head in curiosity. He dismissed the idea and found a water bottle.
“Why did you bring my bag?” he asked her
“I didn’t know it was yours, I just thought it might be useful.”
“I’ve got some spare clothes if you want them.” He informed her
“I know. I found them.”
“You went through my bag?” he said accusingly
“I told you I didn’t know it was yours, and do you really think it matters? I found all your little toys, and believe me when I say if you decide to get cute you will be greatly testing my hospitality.”
He sipped at the water bottle, then offered it to her. She shook her head declining it but held something up offering it to him. It took him a moment, but he finally realized it was a chunk of what looked to be raw meat of some kind.
“Depends, what kind is it?” he asked trying to hide his disgust.
“Don’t worry it’s not human. I caught it a few hours ago, when we first got here. It’s just a cat.” She replied still holding it up
He nodded and she tossed it to him. It landed in his out stretched hands with a wet smack. Setting the remains on one of the cinder blocks around the fire he wiped the blood from his hands on the leg of his pants and checked for his boot knife. It was still their so he pulled it from its sheath and carved off generous piece before tossing the carcass back to her. He wandered in the darkness for a moment before finding a stick suitable for roasting the meat on. Finding one he secured the meat to it before sitting back down next to the fire.
It was in those first few months of the outbreak he came to realize, when your starving almost any animal smells delicious roasting over a fire. That rang just as true now as it did then. His mouth watered at the thought of real meat, regardless of its source. For the last week he had survived off a few packs of military rations he had found in an old surplus store and a bottle of homemade rum he had bartered off some folks that lived by the pier where she had found him. He had thought he might be able to stay in that area for awhile, after all he had grown up around their and knew the area pretty well. They even had their own sheriff and a few deputies to keep the peace. But you can never plan that far ahead nowadays.
He reached over and pulled the spit loose examining his soon to be meal. It was a little burnt, but he didn’t care. He bit into it the warm flesh and ripped a mouthful loose. The taste was exquisite compared to the stale crackers and dehydrated stew of the rations. Looking across the fire at the girl he noticed her watching him intently.
“What?” he asked her through the mouth full of meat.
“Who are you?” she asked him in that same calm unfaltering tone.
“I don’t have a name anymore.”
“Why is that?”
“I’m never around anyone long enough to need one.” He responded in the same calm tone.
She thought about this for a long moment before continuing to eat, but still never taking her eyes off of him. His smell kept drifting toward her, and she was sure that she knew it from somewhere. Was it from her old life? She didn’t know, but she was positive she knew it. The not knowing was the worst part, it meant she couldn’t let her guard down not even for a second. He could be a threat, but he could just as much be the missing piece to what she was. It wasn’t any of his features or voice or his mannerisms, just the familiar smell.
"What town is this?" she asked
"Jackson’s Veil... Why are you here if you don’t know where here is?" he answered quizzically
"I was just passing through, needed to eat and rest for a few days. I might have some business here as well."
"Might?" he asked
"Turns out I might know a few people here. Do you know what this is?” She said pointing at the patch on the vest
His expression immediately changed to one of fear as he sprung to his feet dropping the spit as he did.
“Where did you get that? Are you one of them?” he said with sheer panic in his voice
Again she had the puzzled look on her face.
“Calm down, the man I got it from is dead.” She said snidely
“That’s even worse… There a cult, they run this town. Why do you think we where out at the pier, because we didn’t want to stay in town. People say they aren’t human, or at least not anymore.” His voice began to waver
“I’m not either….”she said flatly
“That’s different... I only have to worry about you killing me…. The things I’ve heard about them…”
He trailed off not wanting to finish.
“Tell me.” She asked with an almost desperate tone.
He swallowed hard, as if trying to force the fear back to the pit of his stomach and sat back down.
“People talk….” He paused for a long moment picking his words carefully before beginning to speak again. “They say they worship something as old as the universe itself… something unholy, something unspeakable, some nights you can hear the screams coming from the town hall where they meet. On other nights you might hear sounds no sane man can comprehend nor want to…. But always you can hear the chanting…. What ever language it’s in is a horrible guttural thing…. And drifters or passers through vanish…. That’s why we where at the pier…. We would rather take are chances in the storm than stay with anyone their….” He fell silent.
She watched him unsure of what to say, if anything. Deciding not to push the subject she remained silent, only making sound as she unrolled a sleeping bag next to the fire. Laying down on it, she told him he was free to go if he wanted. As she drifted off to sleep she watched him not expecting him to be their when she woke up.
He watched her eyes begin to droop, pop open, then droop again, before finally closing them falling asleep. If she was breathing he couldn’t tell. Did she need to really sleep? Was she faking or testing him? He didn’t think it mattered, but he figured he was safer here for the time being. After all, if she wanted him dead wouldn’t he already be? Since he wasn’t really tired he picked up his satchel digging out a small metal tin and a homemade pipe. Opening it he smelled the pungent contents, and let a little grin escape as he packed the bowl. He reached over and grabbed a loose stick from the fire, holding it to the pipe as he puffed on it. Holding the smoke in as long as he could, exhaling slowly leaning back and placed his head on the satchel. Letting his thoughts drift he finally began to relax while listening to the rain. The one thought he couldn’t push out of his head was what went on inside that town hall and what those sounds might be.
He awoke startled, to familiar feeling of falling. Looking around everything was where he had left it and the fire still lightly flickered and crackled. She still lay there and he was still unsure if she was even alive. Something seemed off, but he couldn’t place it. Getting to his feet he walked around the room trying to make as little noise as possible. He kept getting a horrible nauseating feeling in his stomach, and almost fell several times trying to keep his balance. His thoughts kept drifting aimlessly as he tried to focus. What was going on, why would he be feeling like this? He tried to call out, but his voice only came out in a muffled crackle.
He began to notice subtle differences around the room. Everything seemed muted from the colors to sound. The light from the fire threw weird shadows that seemed alive as they danced around the room almost mocking him. He turned his attention to the fire, and its muted flames. As he turned toward it what looked like bubbles drifted up from the flames a few growing almost as large as his head. They drifted toward him as if on a breeze and as they got close enough for him to look at them clearly he could see something inside of them. Their was movement inside of the flouting orbs, and what sounded like muffled voices. He looked closely, and oddly wasn’t at all surprised at what he saw. Their where people inside of it, and they seemed to be arguing. He reached out with both hands and gently pulled it from the air. Holding it closer he tried to hear them. With mild shock he realized one of the people was him and let the bubble drift away.
He felt a slight sting on his lips and brushed at them with the back of his hand. Looking down he
saw a dark crimson smear. Blood? As he looked back up he saw the girl her face had changed, her features seemed sharper and her eyes where now glowing slits that she glared at him accusingly through. The room grew dark as the shadows came to life swallowing almost all traces of light. She snarled letting out a horrible sound that had no earthly comparison, baring rows of shark like teeth. He tried to push himself back but the air felt viscous and he fell backward feeling like he was moving in slow motion. Instinctively he closed his eyes and threw his hand up expecting to feel her pounce on him, but it didn’t come.
He could feel warmth on his skin, and smell salt. Slowly he opened his eyes. Sun light flooded his vision, and he jumped up. He was on a dock overlooking the ocean, and the girl was nowhere to be seen. The water lapped at the pilings softly. The sound was familiar and comforting. He looked behind him back down the dock at a small beach house, its tin roof gleaming in the sun. He was home…. Dizziness over took him and he fell to his knees. He could feel the grain of the aged wood of the dock against his palms. His mind spun trying to comprehend what was going on, and he felt like he was going to vomit.
“Dad…. Dad are you okay?” a little boys voice.
Spinning around he saw a little boy no older than five. Was it his son? It couldn’t be…..
“Jake?” he asked in a soft almost unbearable tone.
He crawled on all fours toward the little boy, trying not to cry.
“Jake is it really you? I’ve missed you so much…..” he couldn’t contain it anymore and tears began to stream down his face
Reaching out to touch him, the boy smiled but took a step back.
“Dad…You shouldn’t be here… they’ll find you if you come back…”
“But Jake this is our home…”
The sky began to grow dark again, and the sea began to roll. Waves began crashing hard enough against the pilings to shake the small dock.
“No it’s not dad… You have to go, he’s coming…”
“Who Jake, who’s coming…”
Pieces of the dock where starting to come loose and he could feel the spray of the water as the waves crashed.
“The Old One… He knows your here and he wants you to come back to us…”
“But Jake… I love you…”
With that the dock exploded into splinters as huge tentacles wrapped around it crushing it as if it was made of match sticks. He was falling again, falling through blackness. The orbs from before
drifted all around him, hundreds… no thousands of them. Reaching, grasping for anything to stop his fall he found nothing but the blackness. He could feel himself picking up speed as he fell. His clothes whipped at him threatening to pull themselves loose of his body. He could see one of the orbs below him glowing like a star in the night sky, and he was headed strait for it. There wasn’t any avoiding it, so he squeezed his eyes shut and waited for the impact.
With a sickening plop he landed in something wet and slimy sinking up to his waist. He could smell the horrible scent of moist wet decay and opened his eyes. Stretched out before him as far as he could see was a barren wasteland with only an occasional slime covered rock formation or coral outcrop jutting from the muck. Struggling to get some kind of footing he pulled himself up trying get on top of the disgusting slime. The sky overhead was full of thundering, swirling, clouds that let just enough light through for him to see clearly.
For what seemed like hours he trudged through muck not knowing where or why he was here until in the distance he saw what looked like a white light. As he got closer it seemed to begin to rise out of the ground. Once he was close enough to realize what it was that feeling of horror returned. It was a giant obelisk jutting from the muck towering over head. The smooth sides broken only by the elaborate carvings of tentacle creatures, and familiar symbols. Whatever language the odd symbols where in made his head throb as he tried to read them. Finally he was close enough to touch it and reached out his grimy slime covered hand. As he put his hand to the smooth cold surface there was a booming thunderous noise that seemed to come from all around him. The sound seemed to be forming uncompressible words that tugged at his mind as he tried to understand them. He started screaming, demanding, and pleading for the horrible sound to stop. Images flooded into his head of unimaginable and twisted things with no earthly comparison say for the unknown creatures of the deep sea.
He began to sink into the muck. Franticly he groped at the stone spire, trying desperately to grab on but his finger tips only left bloody scratches on its smooth surface. Soon their was only the stinking decay to comfort him. Holding his breath as long as he could his lungs began to burn as they screamed for air. With his final thought being of his son he gasped, the sludge filling his mouth.
There was a load splat as he hit concrete unsure of where he was. He was shaking uncontrollably, his body covered in sticky black sludge. Trying to breath he gagged and began to vomit up. The black slime poured out of his mouth followed by his last meal then sickening yellow bile. Satisfied his body was empty he rolled on to his back raggedly gulping at the air. Then the girl was standing over him, a wide grin across her face.
“Welcome back.” She said
He tried to sit up but was still too weak. Holding her hand out he took it, and she pulled him
upright. The motion made his stomach turn and he dry heaved.
“What happened?” He finally managed to say.
“I don’t know, I woke up and you were gone… I thought you left.” She said
He paused unsure of what to say to her.
“… I don’t know what happened… I was dreaming… I think…”
“What the hell is all over you? And what the hell is that smell?
“I fell into some mud….” He replied in an irritated tone.
“I thought you didn’t go anywhere?” she snapped in the same mocking tone
Glaring at her he struggled to get to his feet almost loosing his balance. She reached out to help him, but he pushed her away.
“Don’t… Just don’t touch me right now…”
Grabbing his satchel by its shoulder strap he stumbled off into the shadows dragging it behind him. Outside he could hear thunder rumbling in the distance and rain hammering the roof. Realizing he didn’t even know where she had brought him as he walked out of the room. He could hear the sound of water smacking the concrete down the adjacent hall. Following the sound he found it and stepped into the torrent of flowing water. He gasped as the ice cold water washed over him. Scrubbing at the all ready crusting muck, it only made things worse, smearing it like wet tar all over his body. He striped down and dug through his bag finding a small bottle. Flipping the cap open he squeezed a small amount of the liquid into his palm before closing it and tossing it back into the open bag.
She sat perched at the edge of the fires light watching it glitter off of the flakes of toe nail polish that had been there as long as she could remember. Holding her hands up she examined them as she had done so many times before checking for any trace of the polish, there was nothing except for the dry crusted blood under her nails. Sighing she put her arms around her knees and sat rocking herself for a moment before the smell hit her. It was so much stronger than before and it was coming from down the hall in the direction she had seen him walk off. Was it lavender? She wasn’t sure what lavender smelled like anymore but she thought it may be. Sniffing the air she tip toed quietly following the smell down the hall, she cautiously peeked around the corner and saw him. He was standing under a hole in the ceiling that water steadily was pouring through, his head covered in white suds as he scrubbed at it. She crept into the room careful to stay out of sight and crouched in a dark corner. It was the soap he was using, she knew the smell. She was excited, it seemed like the only solid memory she could actually fully remember. She knew what it was for and remembered the way it felt across her skin. She hadn’t thought of actually being clean in a long time, she stopped, and tried to think of the last time she had actually been clean. She sat watching him as he scrubbed franticly at his skin trying to remove the sludge, she almost giggled when he started grunting. She found his frustrations amusing. Watching him in silence she felt almost comfortable and very aware of it. He reached into his bag and pulled out the shampoo bottle again and poured another small amount into his hand, and tossed the bottle back into his bag. Curiously she stood up and moved through the shadows of the room towards the bag and as he closed his eyes and stuck his head under the water to rinse the soap away she snatched the bottle from his bag and quickly exited the room. She sat back down by the fire place and waited for him to finish.
He had on pair of tattered canvas carpenters pant and his satchel slung over one shoulder as he walked back into the room, his chest was bare. As he entered she could see water droplets on his chest glistening in the flickering fire light. She caught herself staring a little too long as he walked past. He looked down at her and gave her a half hearted smile.
“Do you feel any better?” she asked
With a sigh that seemed like it took all the energy he had left him, he shrugged his shoulders.
The water he had showered in was freezing and it left him shivering.
“Mind if I sit with you. I’m freezing.” He asked as he pointed at the space next to her.
“I don’t know if it will do you any good but whatever.” She said with a hint of surprise.
He sat down next to her, on the sleeping bag and leaned back laying the satchel on the
floor. Being completely exhausted and out of energy, he began to unwillingly drift back
to sleep. As he did he curled up closer to her just barley brushing up against her exposed
skin. He was still shivering but already lightly snoring. She reached over and pulled his bag to her gently laying his head down on it. Once she was certain he was fully asleep she found the shampoo bottle she had taken from his bag, and snuck off.
She stood next to the flowing water and inhaled deeply taking in the scent of the shampoo. It felt like an eternity since she smelled something so wonderful. Stepping into the water she began to scrub it into her hair, almost moaning in ecstasy as she did so. She hadn’t felt this human in a long time, and she wasn’t sure why something this simple would make her feel like this. Rubbing the suds across her body she shuttered at her own caress. Her mind began to wander with thoughts of what it would be like to have someone else touch her that way again. Pushing those meaningless thoughts away she rinsed off, and solemnly walked back down the hall. He was still curled up and shivering when she got back. Silently and carefully she slid the bottle back into his bag and curled up next to him slowly wrapping her arms around him to keep him warm, but not going to sleep. He grunted and let out a moan as he wriggled settling into sleep. She squeezed him tighter not wanting to let him go and she didn’t.
He wasn’t sure how long he had been asleep but he didn’t feel rested. Their was something holding him and he slowly opened his eyes almost afraid of what it might be. It was the girl she had her head buried against his chest and her arms wrapped around him fast asleep. Slowly reaching up not wanting to disturb her he brushed a loose strand of hair behind her ear. She began to stir and he moved his hand. As she opened her eyes they locked with his, their was a uncomfortable silence as the lay their for a moment simply looking at each other. He was terrified, having no idea of what it was she was intending and didn’t know what the next move should
be. he sat still, waiting for her to decide what the next move would be. Slowly she sat up and removed her hand from his chest.
“So… Would this be where you tell me your name?” He asked