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Atrophy (WIP) [Slight Swearing]

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RowanW
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« on: May 15, 2007, 01:25:53 am »

Thought I'd better introduce myself. I'm Rowan W., horror/fantasy writer and fangirl extrodinare. This is the first 10 sections (not long enough to be called chapters) of my WIP piece Atrophy. It may look long, but don't be daunted. It's a quick read.

Warnings: There is quite a bit of gore in this. And, I think, one or two swear words.

***

Part 1 - Halloween Disturbances

It took exactly one year for the world to end.

It began on Halloween, which makes sense, I suppose. Think about it: October 31st is the night that the barrier between our world and theirs is at itís weakest. It would have been simple for some of the magically stronger of the demons to slip through and cast whatever voodoo was necessary to cause the barrier to dissolve altogether. The spell must have been something they had been carefully crafting for centuries because it worked perfectly. Keeping the hellbound creatures inside, for the time being, but allowing the evil aura of the place to spread into and across out world.

Most of the humans who served witness to that ceremony were snatched and turned into blood sacrifices. There were only a few who escaped, and though they attempted to warn others, people simply tuned them out or suggested an extended stay in the closest mental asylum. The demons did this on purpose, of course. To them, a little mind **** was a source of entertainment then never got boring.

It started.

***

Part 2 - The Death of the Sky

The sky was first.

It was all over the news as scientists worldwide worked themselves into a frenzy theorizing about the cause: an unexpected side effect of global warming, a sudden change in the atmospheric gases. Nothing for us to worry about, said the government, we assure you this is completely natural and is no cause for alarm.

Some people thought it was aliens, possibly hostile ETís that wanted Earth as their own and had commenced a terra forming process, modifying our air into something compatible to that of their homeworld, preparing to descend from the heavens to slaughter whatever humans had survived their poisoned gases.

It explained the slight but distinct odor of sulfur.

If it had been aliens, a lot of people might not be dead now.

Whatever the reason, instead of the bright blue we were used to, there was now a dark, eerie red sky that left an observer with a uneasy feeling in the pit of their stomach.

Fire engine red, said the government.

Blood red, said the rest.

Night was the worst, though. Always the stars and moon had lit up the dark, made it bearable to a certain degree and allowed the blood thirsty and the reckless to wander instead of sleep.

Even with the newfound sky, there was still a sun. Though weak, hazy like heat rising from a desert road in the summer, it was still there, comforting us with itís familiarity.

But nowÖno stars, no moon. Nothing but a black so deep and disturbing that a curfew was set. The crime rate dropped 90% in the months that followed. No one was willing to risk the darkness.

***

Part 3 - World Decayed

Everything began to die.

Plants wilted, animals collapsed, and humanityís panic reached a crescendo.

At first it was only household pets: cats, dogs, fish. Poor tearstained children were left with nothing but the rotting corpses of their beloved friends buried in their backyards. Then wild animals started perishing too. It became normal to see the bodies of raccoons, rabbits, and squirrels lying in peopleís yards or in parks. They were dropping too fast for anyone to collect, and the nausea-causing stink of putrefying flesh was getting to people.

But the plants were dying too and in many ways it was far more worrying then the animals. Crops were withering, and many wondered if there was going to be enough food, because the livestock went the way of the other animals.

It wasnít just that though. Trees and similar plants werenít just dying, they were decaying. They actually smelled worse then the animals, and oozed a nasty, sickyellow pus that was responsible for the disgusting odor. It was also quickly discovered to be poisonous to humans. Go figure.

By now it was obvious to many of us that our planet was wasting away before our eyes, and it wouldnít be long before we joined it.

How right we were.

***

Part 4 - Religion Done

After that religion was easy to wipe out. Iíll note here that without something to believe in, people tend to lose it. They need to think that some higher power is watching over them, keeping them and their families safe and in good health. The dark ones were understandably competent when it came to destroying humanityís one globally acknowledged dream. What else had they to do all these years but watch us? Learn to understand us, think like us? Someone down there had obviously heard the proverb ĎKnow thy enemy.í And know us they did.

After they destroyed the barrier, the number of possessions increased exponentially, and those were only the ones we knew about. Priests eventually started performing group exorcisms because they now had a 24/7 job that just wouldnít quit. Without the barrier, an exorcised demon returned in a matter of hours instead of clawing itís way back over a period of time that could stretch from anywhere between a few months to a few decades, depending on how powerful the demon was.

Most of the demons were low level, but the ones that werenít were causing all the trouble. They had telekinesis, and it was a power they used judiciously. Since they were no longer attempting to stay hidden, the demons set about scaring the humans into almost uncontrollable turmoil. All over the world they flew, black-eyed and screaming, throwing cars into crowds, making buildings shake and the roads cracks, knocking over fire hydrants to soak and blind people. Nothing too serious, except for what they were shouting. Latin words, but terrifying to hear, even without the translation. It was something along the lines of íHumanity is about to be destroyed, your God canít save you nowí blah blah blah, you get the picture. A lot gets lost in the translation anyway.

Any scholars in the crowds immediately kneeled over in a dead faint. So far, the concussions they sustained were the most severe injuries, except for those hurt during exorcisms. It didnít stay that way for long though.

Soon people began dying. It was bad enough with plants and animals dropping dead where they stood, but people started doing it to. One second they were completely normal, the next they were writhing on the ground in pain, and they stayed that way until their hearts gave out. There was nothing they could do, the doctors said, all the tests came back negative. It wasnít like any virus they had ever seen before. Nothing in the blood except trace amounts of sulfur.

It got worse though, if that was even possible. People actually started exploding. The demons somehow pushed themselves against the insides of the bodies they possessed until they just ripped at the seams. Imagine: Youíre standing on the sidewalk waiting for the light to change so you can cross. You turn to the guy next to you to ask the time, but before you get the chance his eyes go black, and with one short, stomach twisting screech of victory, he goes BOOM. The next second you find yourself covered with blood and guts and brains and holy **** is that a finger in your hair and the demon is free, itís smoke-form billowing madly in all directions, a dark shape against the bloody sky, before vanishing on the wind, no doubt gone to find some other innocent person to inhabit, maybe a little kid this time, possibly even a baby, and wouldnít that be funny, seeing the motherís expression as her precious newborn burst in her face? Wouldnít that just be *the* most hilarious thing ever?

Can you imagine?

The government had no comment.

***

Part 5 - The World's Shortest War (Lost)

Despite, the sky, the dead plants and animals, even the **** *flying people*, when the demons began their main attack, we were completely unprepared. So we fell.

Hard.

They came in the lightless night, when no one would bother wondering about the faint, frightening noises in the distance, because, deep down, everyone knows that there are monsters in the dark. But thatís crazy, isnít it? No one over the age of 10 would admit to being afraid of the dark.

And yet, while the humans slept, the demons appeared in our homes, hungry to taste the warm pulses of our lifeblood, eager to watch us gasp our last breath and beg for mercy.

In 24 hours they had swarmed and destroyed every place that had even the slightest chance of defeating them. Strangely enough (at the time) this included salt factories and (not so strangely) churches.

In 48 hours they had killed the important humans, the ones that were needed to keep control of the countries. The President, the Pope, the Queen. People like that. All dead.

In 72 hours, half the planetís population had been taken to God doesnít know where. The other half was busy dealing with the fallout of losing a war that they hadnít even known existed.

Some were wandering, pale and trembling, calling the names of missing loved ones until night fell, when their soft, sorrowful cries were cut short and nothing was left but deafening silence.

Some were cowering in the farthest corners of their closets, sobbing hysterically and clutching torn, bloody pillows.

And the rest were simply sitting in the streets, numb and disbelieving, unwilling or unable to comprehend that their time had come.

***

Part 6 - Demon Street

During the initial attack, they only revealed themselves in daylight once. It was a purposeful move, obviously meant to scare any remaining fight out of us. It worked.

It was quite a sight, the demons flooding the streets in groups so large that the sheer number of them was more then enough to freeze most people in place with fear. There were three types of demon guises: their natural cloud-like appearance, the humans and, the most startling, various different forms of our own stylized demons. Horns, wings, claws, red skin. The whole shebang. They had dug deep, taken our worst nightmares, and used them against us as a psychological weapon.

It was disconcerting enough when the demons were possessing a human, because who never knew who was being controlled by a hell fiend. Family, friends, strangers you met on the street; any of them could turn on you in a split second. You werenít aware you were in the company of a demon until your blood was dripping off their chin.

The cloud-forms were frightening in their own right. Wouldnít you run screaming if a giant black cloud was descending in your path? They were known to drop down on unsuspecting groups of people, envelop them in darkness, then fly away again a few seconds later, leaving behind nothing but a few splotches of blood, and the occasional extremity.

But the stylized demon were the most bloodcurdling by far. Staring our fears in the face, close enough to feel them breathe, burning air ghosting over your shoulders and neck, rustling your hair and making your spine tingle, mouth burning from the acrid smell they brought along, so strong you could practically taste it, was more then many could handle. It was truly terrible to watch these things at work. They would fly overhead, sometimes swooping down to carry a shrieking human away, sometimes landing to slice open the people near them with their giant claws, maybe even chewing peopleís heads off. Whatever they did, it was messy, it was obvious, and it was designed to terrify. Needless to say, anyone alive after these encounters left with empty bladders and stomachs, and considerably less sanity.

And if you were unfortunate enough to glance a calendar youíd be tempted to scream. It was Halloween.

All tricks and no treats.

***

Part 7 - Nightmares

After things began to settle (and when I say settle I mean there werenít enough people left in the city to fill a block of houses) I finally dared to venture out of my apartment complex and onto the oh so dreaded sidewalks. I descended the fire escape only after peering into the alley below for several minutes, determined not to be captured and killed like my neighbors, even though I seriously doubted I could hide from a demon if one decided it wanted me for lunch.

But, after three weeks of being holed up, my fridge and cabinets were empty, and I needed food and water, so I had to take the risk. Miraculously, the power had continued functioning after the attack, and I could only hope that somehow, someone at the plant had survived and kept everything running, maybe with the help of a few other survivors.

I crept down the alley as quietly as possible, doing my best not to disturb the garbage around me. My attempt turned out to be futile in the end, because a black cat came speeding down the alley from behind me, knocking over one trash can before perching on another. A horrible smell hit me, and when I managed to control my gag reflexes enough to search for the origin of the odor, I began choking all over again.

It was a hand. Not severed, but torn from the poor foolís body and dumped here. Putrid and swollen, it appeared to be oozing pus, and I wondered what kind of diseases were festering there in that dark, balmy mass of flesh. Then the top of the thumb began to bulge. I thought it was pus, and it was, but when it popped, three slimy, off-white, bloodslick creatures came with it. Maggots.

I recoiled into the cold brick wall behind me, then turned and fled the alley with a hand over my mouth.

~~~

The cat from the alley was following me. Every time I snuck around a corner, it was there, lounging on window sills or parked cars, staring at me with deep, strangely intelligent eyes. I was starting to realize that this was no ordinary cat. In this world of supernatural horrors, nothing was what it seemed to be, and this feline was one of those things. It was, more likely, a witches cat, sent to trail humans and report their whereabouts to itís master.

With that in mind, I attacked it the next time it was level with my feet. I kicked out. The cat leapt back, hissing angrily, and, quicker then the eye, extended itís claws, sinking them through jeans and socks to tear skin. Then it was gone, disappearing around a distant bend, and I was left standing there, bleeding and shaking, fearful of being tracked by shadows.

~~~

I made it to the store with out further incident, and pried my way inside with a handy crowbar. The store also reeked, but no where near as badly as the alley had.

Someone had cut the power here, so the perishable items were rotten, and the air was warm enough to be smothering; fruits and veggies had been reduced to piles of pulpy mush, bread and cheese were moldy, yogurt and milk curdled.

I passed the meat on my way to the canned food, and this was where most of the stink was originating. The blood in the packages had congealed, and flies swarmed around the rancid meat, chewing through the plastic to reach the delicacy inside.

When I arrived at my destination, I found more evidence to support my theory of other survivors. The shelves here were partially pillaged, large sections simply gaping holes in the gloom. I approached cautiously, wary of creatures thriving in the black. Once, I nearly slipped in a puddle of wetness, which I first thought was blood, but closer examination revealed as beans.

Wanting to escape from the oppressive atmosphere of the store, I snatched as many cans as I could in a minute and stacked them precariously in a nearby cart. I was just approaching the front doors and freedom when a resounding thud issued from the back room, so thunderous the floor vibrated under my booted feet.

I froze, heart fluttering in my chest, and I was reminded of the hand and the maggots. What could be growing in that room? A giant version of the maggots? Ones that could swallow humans whole? I stumbled, dizzy with fright, and retreated through the doors and into the weak sunlight, hoping beyond reason that the whateveritwas couldnít follow me into the sun.

~~~

I had another stop to make: the gun store. If I was going to have any chance of living through this mess, I needed to be able to defend myself. I was a hunter, and already had a shotgun, but I had run out of shells after my last trip. No matter how reluctant I was to wander further away from my apartment, I had to go.

I arrived without additional injury, located and collected what I required, and high tailed it out of there without a backward glance. I thought myself scott-free, only a few blocks from my home, when that damned cat reappeared. It was lying there, in the middle of the sidewalk, gnawing on the hand. An alien sound was rent from my throat, one born of panic and disgust. As I pivoted on my toes, prepared to run, there was the strange sensation of displaced air and then a crunching noise behind me. At first I thought the feline had jumped onto something and then chewed through bone, but there was a liquid gurgle, and I glanced back over my shoulder.

It wasnít the cat.

A young girl of six or seven rested before the cat like a sacrifice on an alter. Her arms and legs were splayed at impossible angles, blue eyes lifeless, long blonde hair soaking in the blood that was pooling around her. Back of the skull gone, brain splattered, bones and teeth shattered. A ruined image of the beautiful, smiling child she once was.

Black.

~~~

When I awoke, my head was pounding, and at first the pain drowned out surroundings and memories. Then I realized I was lying on chilly concrete, and remembered everything. I turned by head and lay still while I watched the demon cat devour the girlís face. Eyes, nose, and lips had already been consumed, and she no longer resembled anything human. Her hand twitched, a death spasm, but for a wild, endless second I was certain it was eating her alive. It raised itís head, and grinned, exposing bloody fangs.

Darkness.

~~~

I was roused this time by cool wind on my face. I lifted my hand to touch, and found my cheeks sticky with dried tears. I opened my eyes, saw no cat and no body. I sat up, and there was a blood trail leading into an alley. I pushed myself to my feet and went to stand at the entrance. It was pitch black, and I imagined I could hear quiet sobs emanating from the dark.

I walked away.

~~~

I no longer bothered with furtive movements. If the demons wanted me, they could have me without a fight. They knew it, I knew it.

I waited to die and didnít.

Instead I left my cart in the kitchen, staggered into my bedroom, and collapsed, exhausted and in shock, on my red carpeted floor. Sweating, crazed and demented, I slept.

~~~

I dreamt of cats.

I dreamt of being shredded by bodiless hands.

I dreamt of a laughing girl jumping from a tall building, arms pin wheeling madly look mommy i can fly.

I dreamt of death. My death, her death, the death of a species, millions of species, humans, animals, plants, and the death of a planet. Bloody ground to match a bloody sky.

There is no hope, no love, no happiness. So there is no humanity, because these are the things that make us human.

There is nothing left but fear and desperation and anger, the things that make us murderers.

There is nothing left for me here.


***

Part 8 - Migration

I spent the next few days in a coma of delirium, and awoke amazing clear-minded. My muscles ached from being held in the fetal position for so long, and I would have stayed on the floor if not for my parched mouth and rumbling stomach. I forced myself to my feet, swaying slightly, and made it to the kitchen with slow, shuffling steps. My eyes lit upon the cart of food, and I fell on it, far hungrier then I had previously assumed.

I was calm now because most of the fear had been sweated out of my system, but I was also now a man with a mission. If you have something to concentrate on, itís harder to become sidetracked by despair and surrender to hopelessness. I was going to pack my car and leave this city. I wanted to get out and start a new life in another place with a clean slate. Maybe even settle down with a group of survivors, safety in numbers and all that jazz.

I finished eating and grabbed a suitcase and my cooler, packing as much food and water into them as I could. Another case for my clothes and a backpack for the personal items I was loathe to leave behind. A photo album full of memories my friends had given me last Christmas, a few novel I had cherished since childhood, and many notebooks and pens along with a dictionary and thesaurus that were worn with use.

I carried everything down to my car, and then returned to my apartment one last time. I also gathered some forgotten supplies. Two pillows, a sheet, and a blanket because I didnít know where I was going or how long it would take me to get there. Finally the shotgun, innocently perched on the wall, now for defense rather then the hunt. I laid it and a box of the shells on the seat beside me, within easy reach, started the engine, thrilled in the barely contained power beneath my hands, and didnít look back.

~~~

Remember how half the planetís population disappeared? Well, they came back.

Zombies. I should have known.

I was miles from the city, cruising fast and easy because I was alone on the road. My only complaint was the scenery. Everything around me was dead, and I could smell it even though the windows were rolled up. Every once in a while I came upon a tree that had fallen onto the tarmac. They were effortless to avoid; I just pulled onto the grass next to the road and went around them. It was dry and brittle, and crunched noisily beneath the tires.

I was studiously ignoring the dreary landscape unfolding around me, so I didnít notice them emerging from the trees. They swarmed around my car far more quickly then I would have thought possible for rotting corpses. My foot had slipped off the accelerator in my surprised dread, and the car slowed, allowing them to close in around me. When I realized this, I pressed my foot to the pedal again without thinking, and the sound of bones crunching beneath the wheels made my stomach clench.

I had hit a considerable number of them, swerving from side to side to clear a path. I could no longer see through my windshield, because it had accumulated a layer of mashed internal organs. I shuddered when I noticed the eyeball caught in the wipers.

After what I was certain was an eternity, the number of zombies thinned, and then they fell away completely. When half an hour passed and I spotted no more of the walking dead, the white knuckled grip I had on the steering wheel loosened. I should have known better.

I was on a straight stretch of road, and I shifted my attention to the CD player, changing the track. I hadnít even bothered to search for a working radio channel, partly because I doubted I would find one, but also out of fear of what I might hear. When I glanced up at the highway, she was there.

Dead eyes. Blood soaked hair. The jumper from the city.

I shrieked and yanked at the steering wheel, knowing she was an empty husk and still unwilling to hit her. I spun out of control and crashed through the trees, brittle trunks splintering and falling around me. I finally came to rest, dizzy, darkness pressing against the edges of my vision.

Shaken, I was unable to fight the pull, and fell into the vulnerable void.

~~~

There was pressure on my face when I finally fought my way out of the darkness. Fingers, hand, and I screamed and clawed and fought hard because no way was I going to be taken out by a zombie. If I was going to die, it would be on my terms, not theirs. Groped for the shotgun, found nothing but cold leather seat, and was saved from resorting to teeth by a soothing voice that was decidedly human. Warm, breathing, not-possessed human. Something I hadnít heard in a long time.

I settled, let the guy pull away, and got a good look at him for the first time. Curly blond hair hanging in concerned but wary blue eyes, eyes covered by thin gold rimmed glasses. Clothes dirty, torn, slight too big, and he was either naturally skinny or suffering from starvation. Young, early 20ís, but worn with fear and insomnia. Scratches on his arm and blood under my fingernails. Gave him my best sheepish look, apologized, got a quick smile and reassurance for my trouble.

Henry, he said, and I was ridiculously pleased he had a normal name.

I told him mine, and he pulled me from my wrecked car, smile bigger this time, happy to be around someone who wasnít going to tear out his tongue in some disgustingly unsurprising act of torture. Henry held me at arms length, assuring himself that I wasnít damaged even after I promised I was a lucky bastard. Pointed out he was the one bleeding, not me, and went for the first aid kit in the trunk, an amused smirk I would remember for a long, long time following me around the twisted hunk of metal. I prayed the kit was still there, recalled that no god existed, that no one was listening, and resorted to fruitless wishing. Got granted this one thing, found it wedged between back seat and spare tire, came out easy when tugged on. I snapped it open, extracted ointment and bandages, ordered Henry to stand still while I covered shallow wounds in cream then cloth.

I finished and he didnít hesitate, wrenched open left side back door and rummaged around. Retreated with gun in hand, returned, retreated with backpack and suitcase, battered but in one piece.

Lucky bastard -- that doesnít even begin to describe you, man.
 
I laughed, dug through my pack, saw that every single one of my pens was whole, not one leak, and fell silent. This was the kind of windfall that never happened to guys like me, especially not in this new here and now, with so much misfortune around every corner that luck was just some distant memory, known to have been real at one time, now just a thing to fizzy to be properly remembered.

I shouldered my pack, fought with Henry over who would wheel the case, lost, and then followed him deeper into the woods. No words were exchanged; none were needed. He had somewhere to take me, I had nowhere to go. But there was something else too. A prickle at the base of my spine that hadnít left me since consciousness, now identified as saccharine anticipation. 

We walked for a while in silence, eyes watering, sneezing uncontrollably from the permeating stench of decay. Undergrowth crunched loudly beneath our shoes, and pus dripped from high branches, repulsive, toxic. This stuff got below the skin, you were gone in days, death drawn out and painful, no cure. Scream and writhe and clutch all you want, no relief short of shooting yourself.

Flinched whenever an ooze got to close. Worried about Henryís opened skin. Hoped we would get there soon, didnít ask because it would be worth it. I knew that wherever we were going was better then I could imagine, couldnít imagine because places like it didnít exist anymore, not in all the darkness. But it was there and I could really feel it now, like a hum in the air, a sweet sound that curved by lips and lightened my step. Suddenly noticed the air was clear, that the ground was green. That everything was green.

Died, just a little bit, on the inside, because, no I hadnít finally lost it, yes it was real. Reach out and touch breathe in deep roll around in hallelujah real.

***

Part 9 - House Mysterious

Henry and I climbed the slight slope slowly, savoring the clear, pleasantly cool wind on our faces. It wasn't particularly warm out, but the air was soothing; at times city air seemed to become so thick every inhale was a struggle and every exhale a relief.

The grass beneath our feet was green and healthy, springing back despite our heavy footsteps. It made for good cover, though an observant eye would likely be able to follow our trail. But Henry appeared unconcerned, so I stopped worrying and enjoyed myself.

It had been a long while since I'd hade the pleasure of viewing plants that werenít dead or dying. I reached out to touch bushes as we passed them, reveling in the fresh smell and feel of their sticky juices between my fingertips. So giddy was I that I was sorely tempted to bring my fingers to my lips to taste, and resisted only so I did not look a fool before my new companion. Henry smiled. I believe he knew anyway, and understood.

The tree branches swayed gently in the wind, a friendly greeting that warmed my soul and chased away a few of the shadows that lingered there. I laughed, a rich expression of joy that exploded from my toes and out my throat, racing to the crest of the hill like an eager young boy in this small piece of paradise.

I rested there, breathless from far more then exertion. For around a bend stood one of the most gorgeous houses I had ever seen.

It was a modestly sized three story building, old, which was apparent from the crumbling mortar between the weather eroded bricks. It nevertheless gave the impression that it was sturdy enough to be safe. The windows were plentiful and considerable in size; no artificial light would be needed as long as the sun shone. But the windows of the third floor were larger then the rest, making that area of the building seem disproportionately tall. When I inquired about it, Henry simply grinned and told me to be patient. I would know before the day ended.

When we approached the door, I noted the ornate knocker. It was in the shape of an elegant bird with a long tail that arched down to form the handle. The ends of the feathers were pointed, and, combined with the copper of the knocker, appeared to be aflame.

A phoenix, said Henry, a symbol of the immortal.

Somehow this seemed relevant to the mystery of this house, and I filed that information away for future reference. Henry ignored the knocker and pushed his way inside. I followed. 

***

Holy hell.

Henry clapped me on the shoulder, obviously amused at my shock. Sure, the house was large on the outside, but inside? It was somehow even bigger. My apartment could fit in the entrance hall with room to spare . He propelled me forward with a hand on my back, toward a winding staircase in the middle of the room, and I craned my neck backwards to look at the ceiling. That's when I first knew that there was definitely something peculiar about this house. I turned to Henry, but before I could open my mouth to ask what exactly was going on, he pressed a finger to his lips and gave a slight smirk.

All in good time.

We passed the staircase, and I choked on a breath, because the house, like the horizon, seemed to go on forever. There were doors lining the walls. An infinite number of unadorned, wooden doors. But there were no knobs, only keyholes where the golden handles should have been. Still smirking, Henry led me to one of the entrances, reached inside his shirt to pull out a thin silver chain. On it was and old, intricately carved key. He slipped it from around his neck and into the lock, where it turned easily. The door swung inward without so much as a squeak, and I stepped inside behind Henry, knowing I was on he verge of an extraordinary discovery.

***

The first thing I noticed was the strong sunlight. There was no haze covering the sun for the first time since this mess began. Then I saw where the light was coming from, and I stood there, staring, rooted in place by the wonder shrouding my mind. The room had no ceiling, and my view of the sky was clear. But instead of the crimson that had become oh so familiar, there was blue. A staggering sapphire, far more beautiful then anything I had ever seen before.

When we had first entered the house, the sky had still been red. But now...

I turned to Henry, flailing weakly, attempting to make him understand what I wanted to ask. Which was, basically, how. He laughed, slung an arm around my shoulders, and sat me down on the giant four poster bed. It, just like everything else in the room, was an identical shade of blue as the sky. I sagged backwards onto the soft comforter, cracking one eye open to gaze upwards. Henry dragged me back off to pull down the sheets, then helped me take off my shoes. I crawled to the middle of the mattress and curled around the pillows.

Despite the fact there was no ceiling, I felt safe for the first time in forever. I was warm, comfortable, and somehow I knew that if it rained, I wouldnít get wet.

There was only the one door. Henry told me not to be surprised if I walked through it and found myself in a bathroom with a change of scenery instead of the hall. I wanted to say something about how strange all this was, but I was quickly falling asleep. Henry paused at the door (this side had a knob) and gave me one more piece of advice.

Donít freak out if your room changes color.

***

Part 10 - The Door

It was night in the world outside when I opened my eyes. Again, not the state of dark I was used to. Here, the black was interrupted by the dotted light of stars and moon. Such a welcome light. But there was another, very faint, around the door across the room. I crawled over the bed, now a deep, deep navy. I lost myself for a moment, drowning in a sea of sheets, but I tumbled onto the floor soon enough.

I made it to the door, weak with mingled fear and awe. The light was emanating, not from the space beneath the door as expected, but sigils glowing on the wall around it. They were scattered in no set pattern, burning bright when I laid a tentative finger on one. I was not hurt, and so I traced the lines, where they turned, twisted, looped, curved, straightened, connected, complex in their simplicity, surprising in their mystery.

A language as old as dirt and just as dead.

I touched the knob and the runes burned to blinding. Instinctively, I threw my arm over my eyes to protect them, and felt the handle turn without my prompting. The door swung out and away from my fingers, leaving them empty and questing.

I stood there a while, afraid to drop my arm, afraid of what I might see. After all, the human mind has limits, and mine had already been through the wringer. But curiosity won out, and my arm dropped to my side.

***

This place was even more astonishing then the first. The room was abandoned, left to crumble and rot from time. The remains of what might have been a chair rested in one corner, and I could make out what I thought was a symbol under the layers of dust. I knelt before it, drawing a breath before exhaling over the heavy weight of age and revealing what was beneath.  It was a sign I recognized, one that I had traced with my fingertips not five minutes ago. And I realized that this place, this place must have been the home of a family from whatever civilization was advanced enough to create transporters right out of Star Trek. Only far more remarkable.

Then I felt the hair on the back of my neck prickle, and I knew I was being watched. But it wasnít hostile, merely as curious as I was. I had thought this room deserted for whatever reason. I was wrong. Someone, or something, had come back for a visit. I got to my feet and turned slowly, doing my best no to startle whomever it was.

What was before me was not a person, human or even humanoid. It was just a shimmering silver fog, hovering about 5 feet in the air. The longer I looked, the more fantastic it became. In itís depths, I though I glimpsed shapes moving, people talking, eating, laughing, living. For a second I believed that there were actual people trapped there in that mist. Then I remembered where I was, in a room older then America, and where I had been, in a world filled with demons. Supernatural creatures. What if this haze was a spirit, formed from the memories and souls of those who had called this home? It drifted closer, apparently content I wasnít a threat (though whether that was because I had no ill intent towards it, or because there was nothing I could do to protect myself from it, I wasnít sure). It hovered there, twinkling, just within arms reach, for several moments, and then it moved and I was surrounded.

But it was a gentle warmth around me, a warmth that tasted as sweet as it smelled, like marigold petals in the spring, a tang that lingered in your mouth for hours, no matter how many times you swallowed.  And it was intelligent. Of that much I was sure. I could feel it, aware of me, understanding what I was, right down to the nature of my being.

To this day I am not sure how long the encounter lasted. It may have been minutes, maybe hours, days. No way to tell, for I was to learn later that the world I was on now was stuck in a state of eternal night. For research purposes. So they could study the stars. It floated away and out through the window like a cool breeze. I watched until it vanished in the distance. It was then I noticed the scenery. Half the sky was taken up by a planet that looked very similar to our Saturn, rings and all, though it was light blue in color, not yellow-orange like the planet in our solar system. It far more beautiful then anything I had seen before, then anything I would see again. It was so close I could see the gasses swirling in a hurricane movement, working slowly across the planetís surface.

I watched for a while longer, then retreated back through the door, confident I could return here from my room. I wanted to know more about the fog creatures and the planet presenting itself so clearly.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2007, 01:46:49 am by Kitsune Tsuki » Report Spam   Logged

If we could write in our sleep, every word would be extraordinary.

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« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2007, 01:50:35 am »

Well, let me first welcome you to the site.  Glad you decided to join and share your work.  I ask this to everyone, how did you find the site?  Your name isn't in reference to Rowan University, is it?

Anyways, I like what I got through so far(Just to the point with Henry leaving the room).  I like the style, but I think it might work better if the first few sections had more personality from the protaganist.  It feels like it just gives background, rather then the main character telling his story.

I hope to see more of your work in the future!

EDIT: I added to your title mentioning that it has some swearing in it.
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In a poll of Columbia\'s grad school of journalism, 57% believe in ESP, 57% in dowsing, 47% in the ability to read a person aura, and 25 believe in the lost continent of Atlantis

To the River Red, across the ochre steppe
A thousand fathers killed,
A thousand virgin daughters spread with swords still wet,
With swords still wet with the blood of their dead
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« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2007, 02:26:24 am »

Thanks for the welcome.  Smiley I'm sure I'll like it here.

I found you by searching on Google for a place to post my writing. And no, my name isn't from the University, it's just one I happen to like.
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« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2007, 02:39:07 am »

Wow, we just keep getting new members from no where left and right.  'Tis a good thing.  Well, glad you decided to join and hope to see more of your work.
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In a poll of Columbia\'s grad school of journalism, 57% believe in ESP, 57% in dowsing, 47% in the ability to read a person aura, and 25 believe in the lost continent of Atlantis

To the River Red, across the ochre steppe
A thousand fathers killed,
A thousand virgin daughters spread with swords still wet,
With swords still wet with the blood of their dead
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« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2007, 10:37:06 am »

I liked the beginning, the way you slowly described the end of the world. It was clichť at times but well written. I found my attention drift slightly at about page 12 or 13. the pace seemed to have slowed down. Keep writing I will try and be more awake next time.
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« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2007, 12:25:16 pm »

I'm enjoying it so far. Please, write some more, you have a good style.
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I will be out of the country - and away from internet - for the next 2-3 weeks.

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A story of a thousand words starts with a single thought.
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« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2007, 12:06:14 am »

It's weird, but I have to say it is quite amazingly written. I'd have to say, I'd like to hear more from this story. I'd also like to learn more of the narrator. He seems brave, but has a sense to show off that he is scared as well.
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« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2007, 09:40:41 pm »

Well, I have to be another voice in the chorus and say that all's well. You do use the cliches a bit, but there's enough in there that tells the reader you know it's a cliche ("Zombies. I should have known.").
The change in setting from the city to the house is dramatic, and better have some good explaining Tongue. I can just tell this is leading up to something big, though, so lead on!
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He who keepeth a secret must keep it a secret that he hath a secret to keep.
-Sir Humphrey

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Only a fool fights fire with fire.
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The bakerman is laughing 'cause he's rolling in the gold...
-Midnight Oil, Bakerman
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