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72 Hour Virus



Winter wind whipped through the city in gusts that tortured the exposed flesh of Thadious Hus. He felt the wind and the cold warring with the heat that radiated off of his body; his muscles shook and his teeth chattered, it was hard to take in the frigid air and release it again.

Thadious Hus wanted nothing more but for this nightmare to end. His tears streaked down his face and froze in the wind as they fell to the snow covered earth below.

There was blood mixed in the snow and footprints all around. They had been here recently. He dearly wished he could just wake up and be rid of this foul dream. Shaking his head and wrapping his arms around himself he continued to run.

His skin had turned red from the ice cold winds shortly after he escaped from the home he used to live in.

The shower had been deliciously warm on this cold morning. His wife and children were still in bed. They were beautiful. He had been home for four years and not a day had gone by that he was not thankful to be near them.

Her name was Lissa and their children’s names were Bastion Grey, Daltun Hail and Samantha Lee Hus. The night before had been pleasant and enjoyable. The fireplace had burned until late, its bright red and green flame dancing in mesmerizing patterns that caused the shadows on the wall to bend and sway.

They had eaten stew at the dinner table and enjoyed a board game that involved marbles and dice. The children had laughed when Thadious acted like a grox and brayed like one running through a field. It was funny. The way the children laughed made all the hard work he did at the mill worth it.

The way Lissa looked at him with that twinkle in her eye and the set of her mouth and lips made him suddenly very “TIRED”.

He had put the children to bed and then had some personal time with his lovely lady that had been dearly missed.

The warm water caressed Thadious’s body and flowed into the drain at the base of the tub he stood in. The curtain was drawn. He did not remember getting into the shower, but the water was warm and intoxicating.

After letting the water wash over him a little while more he rinsed off and stepped out from the tub. He reached out for the towel in order to dry off but pulled his hand back quickly in surprise and pain.

The knife in Lissa’s hand was streaked with his blood and she had the look of one gone mad. Spittle mixed with blood ran from her mouth and her clothes were drenched with the life fluid. She lunged at him but missed as his training kicked in.

Quickly he backed away from her and the swinging bloody knife. She screamed and lunged at him again. ‘What are you doing?’ he shouted at her. She did not answer, but charged at him once more.

The blood from the wound spattered against the wall and the mirror as he shook his hand. It hurt badly but he could not take the time to look at it. The woman he loved was after him like a rabid dog. ‘Lissa!’ he shouted.

As she struck at him again he reached past her hand and grabbed her wrist. He quickly twisted and turned her in towards the sink. With another twist he snapped her hand down and the knife came free.

‘Lissa!’ he shouted again. ‘What has happened to you?’ Tears formed in his eyes as she slapped him in the mouth. He was shocked at the woman before him. She was not herself but a beast enraged.

She threw herself at him, but he kicked her away and ran from the restroom.

Naked and scared, Thadious ran into the kitchen and stopped dead in his tracks. There on the table before him on plates awash with blood were the heads of all three of his children. Their eyes were open and their mouths were filled with fruit.

He heard his wife behind him and ran from the house. She followed him out screaming incoherently. ‘What have you done?’ he screamed at her. The tears fell from his eyes, confusion gripped his mind. Lissa Hus ran at her husband, hands outstretched, mouth open, tears running red as blood flowing from her eyes.

Thadious kicked her in the gut and punched her in the face. His mind was filled with the images of his children and the woman whom he had loved before him. Without thinking he kicked her in the face and she fell back in the snow.

Blackness overtook him for a moment in time and when he came to, his hands were bloody and her face was gone. He could taste blood in his mouth and shook with animal need. He feasted upon her flesh and slammed his hands into over and over again.

His mind was gone. He was not himself anymore.

The cold bitter wind reflected Thadious’s soul as it chilled him to the bone. But he did not care about the cold. From within the homes around him he could hear the shouts and screams of fathers and mothers and children losing their minds.

Terror filled him and he vomited up the blood and flesh he had consumed. Vile rage replaced the terror he felt and he ran across the yard and flew through the front window. Glass shattered and ripped through his face and shoulders but the pain only drew him on.

In the living room the man of the house had lit his family on fire. They were screaming and rolling about with terror and pain upon their lips.

Thadious slammed into the man and they fell into the writhing bodies. The big man tried to grab Thadious but could not hold onto him. He tried to bite him, but Thadious palm-struck the man in the face. Blood burst forth from the man’s broken nose and he screamed in frustration.

The man’s clothes caught fire and he howled in torment because of the unforgiving flames. Thadious stood up and kicked the man backward into his burning, screaming family. The carpet caught fire and spread throughout the house. The heat of the flame brought Thadious Hus out of the fog that had caged his mind.

He looked on in horror as the bodies of the family bubbled and popped and simmered as they burned.

In shock and as if in a dream Thadious left the burning house and made his way back over to his own. In the front yard lay his wife, bloody, dead and cold. He had done this. He began to shake as he moved past her and entered through the same door he had come in and gone out of thousands of times before.

His mind reeled in confusion and he staggered as a drunken man into the kitchen. He stared at the table in appalled bewilderment and shame. He could not save them. He could not bring them back. He never imagined he would have had to save them from their mother.

His mind collapsed in grief and gilt and he fell to his knees and wept. It felt like he had been there on his knees for hours, but he did not care. From outside he could hear gunfire, screaming and suffering.

Chaos had come to this place and this once faithful world had fallen from grace. Slowly Thadious Hus stood up and moved past the heads of his children and up the stairs to his bedroom. The children’s room was at the immediate top of the stairs, just around the corner.

The door stood open and blood was pooled along the floor. Thadious could not keep from looking inside. The beds were filled with blood and the headless corpses of the children he so dearly loved.

His mind went black as he vomited. He was sick.

In his room he clothed himself and donned his Imperial Guard uniform. He placed the cap upon his head and slung his small field pack over his shoulders. He could not stop shaking. He knew he was sick. He could feel the fever washing over him as he stood on shaky legs.

While picking up his las-gun and his shotgun and pulling the power-cells from the overhead in the closet and the extra shells from the drawer, he wept.

What had happened to them? The whole world had gone crazy. He set on the bed and closed his eyes.

It seemed like a dream but he was sure he had been there. The war against Chaos had been fierce and vehement. Fire lit the eastern sky and death was in the air. The respirator was pulled tight over Thadious’s face and his las-lock was firm against his shoulder.

The Great Enemy had invaded Thrica VII seven weeks ago, but they had already taken the cities of Tamairas IV and Gipsom Primary.

As part of the Black Storm Elite, Thadious Hus had fought the vile hosts building to building and street to street for the last three weeks. Chaos was a dangerous foe without pity or fear. They fought like the warp itself was driving them on.

Commissar Isach Furdinand shouted orders that were barely heard above the din of battle. He fired a three round burst from his las-rifle into the chest of a masked man at the end of the hall who fell like a sack of rocks.

“Righteous” Demetry Gaspone moved past him and bellowed a litany of scripture as he plunged the next room in flames. Two small children and a female began to scream as their flesh melted because of the liquid fire.

The Commissar turned and shot “Righteous” Demetry Gaspone through the forehead. As the man fell the Commissar shouted, ‘We do not under any circumstances kill the innocent! Do I make myself clear?’

Yes, he had made himself quite clear.

The war for Thrica VII had lasted for seven years. The purity of the Imperiam had proven stronger than the corruption of the fallen powers.

Thadious Hus opened his eyes. He was looking up at the ceiling of his room and it was night. He had been dreaming. Rolling over he felt the stalk of his shotgun cram into his ribs. It hurt, but not too bad.

Down stairs the sound of falling shelves and crashing glass erupted. The sounds brought Thadious out of the fug he had been feeling, he was instantly alert. Slowly he stood up. His body hurt to move and he was sick to his stomach. He could feel fever chilling him to the bones.

He could hear someone coming up the stairs. The person was breathing like a feral animal, huffing and snorting as he climbed. Thadious waited for the intruder, shotgun raised and aimed at the doorway.

He waited for him to come closer, but the person did not enter. Thadious listened for any sound that may give away the position of the man. He watched the shadows in the hall. The man did not come in. There was no sound anymore except the wind blowing outside and the occasional terror scream in the distance.

Slowly Thadious got up and moved towards the door. He looked out into the hallway expecting to see the stalker coming down the hall. There was nobody there so Thadious moved forward until he was close to the children’s room.

Inside the room, Thadious could hear that breathing. He could hear chewing and smacking along with a vile belch of gas and blood.

Thadious racked the shotgun and waited in the hall. The sound of the feasting stopped and was replaced by the sound of the cannibal stumbling towards the entrance of the children’s room.

The man’s face appeared around the doorframe. It was dark in the hall, but the features could still be seen. The man’s face was shredded and slack. His mouth was covered with blood and fresh meat still clung to his teeth.

Thadious shot the man and that vile sickening face disappeared in a shower of blood, brain and bone.

From downstairs the sound of the intruders could be heard. The whole downstairs had to be full. Thadious did not care. He was ill and covered in the blood of his family and neighbors. He was tired and ashamed.

The heat from the flames of the burning people next door had taken the fog from his mind. The shame of not being able to protect his children and the torment of that loss was just beginning. He was sick and the fever burned and weighed him down.

The people that were coming up the stairs were not in their right minds any longer. They would kill him and eat him or mutilate him and eat him. Thadious was not about to find out which.

As he turned the corner he fired down the stairs, directly into the chest of a woman he was sure he recognized. His mother-in-law fell backwards into the press and disappeared beneath screaming, biting mouths.

Mother-in-law. That was funny. Thadious almost laughed. He had wanted to do that for years but could not justify doing it until now. He almost laughed as he saw her being torn to pieces below.

He fired again and again until the weapon was empty then he slung it over his back and pulled his las-gun. There were too many. Thadious knew that. He did not have any choice but to run or die here and become the next meal for these people.

On shaky legs he ran. It only took him a few seconds before the bedroom window was open and he was on the roof. The cold winds bit into his exposed flesh, his face and neck, his wrists and ankles.

The snow had begun to fall and the temperature had plummeted. All across the city the buildings burned. In the shadows, figures moved and fought and feasted upon their loved ones. Many of the people bore axes and knives. Some wielded chainsaws and guns. Some people held clubs and chains.

Chaos had come to this world. Thadious Hus had once heard a Commissar bellow on the battle field, ‘The wages of sin is death!’ What had the people of Newdessa V done that allowed this death to come upon them? What sin had they committed?

In the front yard a mound of snow lay higher than the rest around it. Tears came to Thadious’s eyes once more when he recognized the form beneath. He had done that.

‘Dear Emperor, hold not this sin upon me or the people of Newdessa V. Remember us in our weakness. We do not know what it is we do.’ Thadious prayed.

He looked back into the house and saw the space that he and his wife had so recently shared, being filled with the crazed and debased.

One by one they began to climb out on the roof after him. He kicked the first one off the roof and smashed the skull of the second with the butt of his shotgun. The third he caught by the hair and slammed her face into the window frame of the bedroom.

The woman went slack and was pulled back into the room. Thadious moved up to the crest of the roof and looked over the other side. The way was clear, but it was icy and steep.

A hand grabbed him by the shoulder and struggled to pull him back. He kicked the legs out from under his assailant then shot him in the head. He was surprised to find that it was the grocer down the street, Mr. Jules Bligh.

The whole world had gone crazy. Thadious coughed violently and almost fell on the slippery shingles. He noticed that blood was mixed in his saliva. He did not know if it was from before or if he had internal bleeding. It scared him though.

As quickly as he could, Thadious Hus ran down the steep side of the roof. He felt his old skills begin to take over, the training of the Black Storm Elite, Imperial Guard.

His fear was fading, adrenaline steadying his nerves. The night sky glowed with orange and blue flames from the homes that blazed nearby. Above, the clouds moved by slowly and without care for what was happening below.

Thadious heard the shot before he felt the impact. The slug, fired from an old style pistol, sent Thadious tumbling end over end and off the two story house roof.

Dazed and lying on his back, Thadious looked up into the face of a child. The boy had blood all over him and a knife raised, ready to strike.

Without thinking about it Thadious rolled out of the way, pulled his las-gun and fired it. The boy cart-wheeled and landed on his face. As Thadious stood up he saw the cauterized hole that had been punched through the boy’s torso.

Something fell beside Thadious with a dull thud. He looked down and saw the man who had shot the backpack Thadious wore. The man started to move, but before he could get his footing, Thadious shot him in the face.

Thadious ran as fast as his tired shaky legs could carry him. He ran through back yards and jumped over fences and dodged dogs that until today had been fun to play with. Now they were every bit as feral as their masters.

In the distance the lights of the refineries could be seen. The oil and fuel refinery employed upwards of a million people on a daily bases. He could only wonder what hell was being played out within the confines of those guarded walls.

The cold air seared his lungs and the exposed skin of his face and hands were growing numb. He was so tired. It felt like he had been running for hours. Thadious stopped and took a moment to catch his breath.

Looking up he could see the moon’s luminescent glow through a break in the clouds. The moon was like a baleful eye of a vengeful god. It stared down in judgment for the sins of mankind and the evils that they do.

The grass was still tall in the backyard that Thadious had stopped in. The house was eerily quiet and dark inside. Thadious walked slowly to the window and looked inside. The house seemed to have been vacant for a while, maybe even condemned.

He tried the door handle. It was locked. Pulling a knife from his pack, he pried the door open and stepped inside. The house was freezing cold.

Thadious stood there in the doorway for a long time listening and watching for any sign of threat. At length, he stepped further in and closed the door behind him. The place was vacant and quiet. For the moment he could let down his guard and try to figure out what was going on.

Cautiously he looked out of the front window. He could not afford to be seen. He was so very tired and sick. His mind still twisted and lurched with the events of the day. Nothing moved outside the house. Nothing seemed to move anywhere down the street.

He took time to reload his shotgun and recharge the power-cell to his las-gun. He took a moment to strip down a field kit and eat a day’s rations. The taste was dull and chalky, but the calorie intake was much needed.

Thadious Hus stretched out under the lip of the bay window and, holding his shotgun in his arms, closed his eyes.

Corporal Thadious Hus watched his men die as the forces of Chaos swept in through the trenches from the east. Bodies were trampled in the mud and pushed against the thick muddy support walls that already clutched the fallen from the last few campaigns to hold the fields of Castris Principal.

Burning promethium flashed down the length of the trench and engulfed thirty men in flesh melting, bone stripping heat. Their screams blended in with the falling, exploding shells that shook the ground and jarred the mind.

Corporal Hus fired his las-rifle at close range directly into the scarred face of the enemy. The traitor’s head exploded and he fell fast and hard before him. Thadious fired again and stabbed another of the advancing hordes in the gut. As he pulled the bayonet out fresh blood followed along with intestines and part of the man’s stomach.

Where one fell ten more filled their place. Thadious screamed the prayers of the faithful and extolled his faith in the God- Emperor while he shot two more of the Emperor’s hated. Death was a welcome fantasy in this nightmare world.

Barbaras Knoll stood shoulder to shoulder with Thadious and fought with a savage glee. He was a big man with twisting tattoos swirling up and down his arms. His eyes were black and fire filled as he stabbed his enemies with a two foot long blade.

His head crumpled as the enemy fired an explosive round into it just below the eye-line. A black mist seemed to fall over Corporal Thadious Hus’s eyes and he moved as a man possessed. Grief and hate filled him and he would not be denied his vengeance.

The early morning hours sped by and was replaced with the cool of the evening. As the sun set the enemy withdrew from the trenches. Like a fog in the sunlight they receded from the battlefield.

There amongst the blood, the bodies and the carnage left behind, Thadious still stood above the ridgeline, shaken, bloody and lost in the ever present reality of war.

Thadious Hus trembled from the cold. He shook as if gripped in the hands of an angry god. Fever clenched its brutal hand around Thadious’s twisting guts.

He vomited while lying on his back and he gagged upon the contents of his own stomach. Like a drowning man desperate for life he rolled over to his side and spat out the foul tasting mush. His lips were flecked with fresh blood.

His eyes hurt from the brightness of the morning sun as he raised his head and looked over the lip of the window frame. Fresh snow had fallen in the night covering everything, all the stains of death, flame and taint.

The cold wound its way through the abandoned home and struck his exposed flesh. The cold struck a chord of fear that shot down to his very core. The sickness he felt would only be pushed deeper into his lungs and stomach by the coldness of winter.

For him to survive he would have to find heat, but he knew that for him to go out during the day would expose him to the eyes of Chaos. “Better to be cold than dead.” he thought.

Quietly he made his way into the kitchen. He tried the water faucet and to his surprise the water had not been shut off. It flowed freely and ran down the drain. Thadious washed his hands and face the best he could and drank deeply of the cold water.

‘What?’ he said. He had heard a voice whisper behind him. He was sure it had been his wife. She had laughed and smiled while she had spoken. Thadious turned and looked around. His wife was not there. He shook his head and washed fresh water over his face again. His wife; Lissa, was dead. His children were dead.

She had killed them and then she had tried to kill him. He fell to his knees and wept. He sobbed his misery and loss out loud and sounded like a wounded animal caught in a trap.

His neighbors had burned and were now nothing but ashes under a fallen house. The insane had invaded his home and tried to kill him. The whole world had fallen into Chaos and he was the only one awake within the nightmare.

The sun rose into the eastern sky and struggled with the gray clouds that encroached upon its territory. Glorious golden rays of light mingled with the ice flecks that floated and swirled in the wind. Thadious felt like he was in a snow globe and his whole world had been shaken up.

‘Huh? What was that?’ he asked. He looked around the kitchen but there was not anyone there. Blood pooled around him on the floor of the abandoned house. Thadious was sweating and stumbling around in a daze. He was sick and the world around him had fallen into the ruinous ways.

He had to endure! ‘The Emperor protects!’ he screamed. Nobody answered him. The house echoed with the remembrance of his voice, but nothing more.

Thadious staggered back into the front room.

At one time this room hosted guests, children played, families may have sung songs. A dinner table had held the steaming bowls of food, maybe stew or soup.

Thadious swirled slowly in the waning light as he moved about the front room. Looking out the bay-window the city before him was ablaze. Smoke anointed the sky and souls begged for the end to come.

In the distance he could hear the bells as they began to ring. Souls screamed and begged for release as the hammers struck their sides. Thadious fell to the floor and covered his head. He screamed into the wooden floorboards. They were coming for him! He could hear them storming the house.

A blast furnace of fire perched upon his back as he ran. The fires of hell were grasping at his very soul. ‘The Emperor protects! The Emperor protects!’ he screamed as he fled. He could hear them not far behind; their footsteps crunching upon the broken, dried bones that lined the streets.

He turned around and fired his las-gun. Bright red embers of light slammed into someone at the end of the alley. The person grabbed his chest and fell onto his face.

Thadious laughed and wept at the same time. ‘You will never have my soul!’ he screamed.

The house that he had run from had been overrun by the hosts of Chaos. They had come through the windows and burst through the doors. Two men dressed in the gear of Imperial soldiers had thrown themselves at him.

Their faces were scarred and their teeth were bleeding and had been sharpened. They wore the Holy Aquila but they were not His. They called him traitor, but he fought them. They were the traitors! They were the ones that had fallen away!

He stabbed them with his bayonet and shot them with his shotgun. They fell but he did not take the time to see it. He was already running and they would never have him.

The bells continued to scream and the souls continued to beg for mercy. They would find him, the endless sea of souls were washing through the alleys like flooding waves. They were screaming out his name and his position. He could not escape.

Someone stepped out in front of him. The man wore a trench coat and a crested cap. He slammed the butt end of his shotgun into Thadious’s face. He fell to his knees and tried to crawl, to get away. ‘The Emperor protects.’ He mumbled through broken, bloody teeth.

As darkness overtook him he heard the man above him say, ‘The Emperor does not protect traitors.’

In the darkness Corporal Thadious Hus awakes to the feel of a gun-barrel at his temple. His hand moves to his knife but the man above him says, ‘You draw the knife I will kill you. Do you understand me, son?’

Thadious recognizes the voice. That voice has bellowed across the battlefield for the last six years. The person behind that voice was responsible for the deaths of just as many of Thadious’s friends as were the enemy.

‘Commissar Furdinand.’ Thadious began to say. He was cut off by a swift battering to the lips.

‘I am watching you, son. I will put you down as sure as a fiend of Chaos.’ The Commissar said.

Cold sweat beaded upon the face of the young Corporal. ‘What did I do?’ he managed before he was struck again.

The Commissar bent down; his face next to the ear of Thadious Hus. His breath smelled of strong drink and cigars. ‘I saw you in the battle today, Corporal. Sane people do not fight like that. Just know that I am watching you.’ He said.

Thadious shook from fear for the rest of the night. He did not fear Chaos or daemons or some enemy across the fields of Castris Principal. No, his fear was of the Commissar.

As the morning sun began to rise, so did the brutal advance of the enemy. War heads fell into the trenches and blasted people apart like dolls strapped to grenades.

The trenches were filled with fresh blood that mixed with the morning rains. Thadious fired his las-rifle from above the trench line. He killed the enemy with perfect accuracy, but he waited for his moment. He watched the commissar out of the corner of his eye.

As the enemy advanced and began to throw themselves over the lip of the trench, Thadious shot the Commissar in the back of the head. A couple of soldiers had seen what he had done, but they did not do anything about it.

The Commissar was a hated man who was worse than the heretics that were compromising their position now. Thadious, along with the remaining Black Storm Elite continued to fight.

The enemy growled their hate and curses while bludgeoning the lines. They fought as death itself but they were driven back. The Black Storm Elite smashed the life out of them with renewed purity of purpose.

The darkness overtook Corporal Thadious Hus but he did not mind. He was the righteousness of the Emperor and a weapon in the hands of his god.

The day ended and with it the battle for the fields of Castris Principal. Thadious’s time with the Black Storm Elite had ended; he was being sent home. For seven years he had not known anything but war. He returned to a world unfamiliar to him and to a wife that did not understand him.

The wind buffeted Thadious Hus. Winter regaled him with endless flurries of snow and iron whips of icy wind. The city was quiet and lifeless.

What had happened in the darkness? What had happened during the time he was blacked out? Thadious turned around and saw the alley entrance. His mouth hurt from the battering and he spit out fragments of the teeth that had been broken.

The alley was dark but the bodies of those who had been chasing him along with the corpse of the one who had struck him could be clearly seen. They hung at various angles from the walls of the alley. Their heads were missing and their intestines were pulled from them and strewn along the alley floor.

The men had suffered horribly. Thadious could not remember doing it, but the blood that covered him and the taste in his mouth confirmed what he had become. ‘I am the weapon of the Emperor of mankind.’ He said.

The city was still and quiet in the falling snow. Thadious could not understand why. The fires that had filled the sky with smoke were gone as if they had never been. The city lights flickered and beamed in glowing auras down the street.

Thadious made his way down the snow covered streets watching for any sign of the ruinous powers. He listened for the sounds of Chaos, the choral ministrations of wickedness. Where were the bells that had released the cries of the lost and broken souls? Where were the haunting processions of the insane cultists that had stormed his world?

Newdessa V was a plagued world that had fallen to Chaos. Thadious would rid his world of the hosts of Chaos one person at a time. They would learn to fear him.

The winter winds were burning his face and causing his eyes to water. His stomach twisted and he vomited blood and flesh from his mouth. He gagged, but the release felt good. Sweat ran down his face and his back. He understood that he was sick. The cold winter wind was not helping his condition at all.

Thadious made his way through an industrial park. The mills and weld shops were quiet, the workers all dead. There were bodies everywhere. They lined the streets and the shipping docks. The machines had fallen silent with nobody to keep them up. The fires had swept through here leaving the windows dark, the brickwork blackened and the corpses cooked.

He had to get out of the wind so he moved through a darkened doorway of a red bricked building and made his way into a side room with no windows. There he fell into darkness and slept.

Lissa Angeloi Hus walked from the kitchen into the living room. She was watching her husband play with the children. Thadious was on his knees and all three of the children were on his back trying to ride him like a horse.

They were all laughing; they knew that they were loved. She watched his face as Bastion Grey fell off his back. Thadious had felt the movement and caught the boy without even straining in the least. It was as if he had known beforehand what would happen.

Lissa dismissed the thought. Thadious was a warrior, his instincts were razor sharp and viper quick and his strength was unmatched by anyone she had ever met.

She remembered him before he had gone to war, when his soul was clean and his heart was soft. He was a beautiful man who was gentle and full of life. He was her hero and for seven years she had waited for him to return.

Upon his return home, when she first saw him again, she immediately knew he was different. The way he stood in the rain, head down and shoulders hunched, feet slightly spread apart, hands behind his back.

She could see the weight of the world upon his shoulders. He talked differently too. His voice was like gravel and his demeanor was stone cold. He scared her when he had first looked at her, but then he smiled.

The smile was reassuring, but sad. His countenance was full of emotion, but tightly checked and held in place. What had he seen there, on the battle fields?

His voice was raw and unfeeling, the tone of it scarred and rough. He said it was from the chemicals the enemy had unleashed. They had burned his throat before he was able to don his chem-suit.

Thadious seemed distant as well. She had known him as a gregarious man, full of life and humor. He was always doing things that made her and everyone around him smile and laugh. Now the only time he smiled was when he was playing with the children.

They were all young. Thadious had only been home for four years. One of the children, Dalton Hail Hus was almost four, Samantha Lee was three. Bastion Grey was… older.

Thadious had closed his eyes when he had heard the news. Bastion Grey Hus was not his child. Thadious reigned in his anger and simply walked from the room.

Lissa had set on the bed and cried for hours after telling him. She had felt so ashamed for cheating, but it had been six years since she had even spoken to her husband. Six years of her not knowing if he was alive or dead. She had needed someone to be there for her, she was so lonely.

When she had come out of the room she had seen a look in his eyes. Thadious was holding little Bastion Grey Hus. The one year old was at peace in a stranger’s arms. Thadious smiled at his wife, ‘It’s alright.’ He had said. That was the last time they had spoken on the matter.

Now the children were older and daddy was playing with them and mother was bringing in the hot chocolate. The fire was crackling and the warmth of it comforted them all.

Lissa remembered the first time Thadious had taken off all of his clothes as he was readying himself for bed. His body was covered with scars that dipped and rose and swirled in pink and black waves like an angry sea.

She had sucked in her breath and gasped. She could not help it, and Thadious had noticed. ‘Promethium.’ That is all he had said.

Thadious Hus was a very different man when he had returned from the war. He was a man whom she no longer knew, loved or understood. But she would try to get to know him again.

Now this man who was scarred in spirit more than his body was playing with her children, laughing with them and being as gentle as she had ever known him to be.

‘Lissa? Did you say something?’ Thadious opened his eyes and looked around. The room he was in was dark and musty and cold. The smell of ashes and reeking death filled the air. His mouth hurt from where the Chaos filth had smashed in his teeth and lips. He could still taste the blood from the wounds.

The fever was worse now than before. It was heavy upon his chest and his guts were churning like someone was stabbing him over and over again with a spiked hammer. He vomited. It was little more than a string of saliva mixed with blood.

Thadious was hungry and cold. He needed food and water and a warm place to sleep, but this was a Chaos world. There was no safe place here.

Slowly he moved from the enclosed room and out into the hall. The walls were paneled dark wood. There were some pictures on the walls of employees who had excelled in their labors. None of the people in the picts were smiling. Most were grizzled old men who didn’t want to be here anyway.

But there was one who was smiling. In fact this person was beaming with pride. The man was young, eighteen or nineteen years of age. He had red hair and is eyes were full of light. Thadious took the picture from the wall and began to study it in earnest.

He recognized the face from somewhere but from where he did not know. He could not for the life of him put a name to the face; but he knew that he knew the boy from somewhere. He brushed the dust and ash from the small plaque that was posted on the wall under the place where the picture had set and read the name.

‘Thadious Benjimen Hus.’ He read out loud. He was shocked. He shook his head and staggered down the hall like a drunken man. The face in that picture was not him. He did not remember being here before. This place was foreign to him. No! He had never been here before. This was a trick of Chaos.

‘You cannot have me! The Emperor protects!’ he screamed. His voice echoed down the hall of the empty building and waves of ice-cold air escaped his lips before him in puffy white clouds.

The building opened up to him as he staggered from the hall. The giant skylight above was a mix of broken glass, whole panes cover with ash and debris and gaping holes.

Sunlight mixed with snow filtered in through the openness onto useless machinery, rusted with age and covered with filth. Trees were beginning to grow from where the plas-crete had broken. Some even had nests where small birds had made their homes.

The building had been abandoned for years. A pang of regret and understanding filled Thadious’s heart. He and this building were alike. They were both scarred, broken and alone. To the right was a small lavatory. The door was shut and the sign was rusted through.

Thadious pushed open the door and walked past the frame. He did not know why he was here; why he had come inside. He found himself looking into the mirror as he stood before the sink.

The person he saw was not him. The person before him had red hair, hard cold lifeless eyes and a swollen lip. Blood and filth covered that face. No! The person in the mirror was not him. ‘The Emperor protects!’ he said.

Weeping, Thadious fell to his knees. No. The person he saw in the mirror was not him. It was not anyone who he knew. Pulling the knife from his pack, he began to cut his face. He screamed from the pain of it. Each cut and slice seemed to tear at his very soul, but he could not stop himself, nor did he even want to.

‘What? Who said that?’ Thadious stumbled from the lavatory. Covered in blood and weeping from the pain and loneliness he felt, he gathered his weapons and made his way down the hall. He looked around warily. Someone had spoken to him from somewhere, but he could not find the person though he looked and looked.

‘You will not have me!’ he screamed. ‘The Emperor protects!’ The echo of his voice was the only thing that answered him.

As he left the building the sun was setting. The snow crunched beneath his feet and the unrelenting icy wind chilled and stung his skinless face. The pain brought clarity of purpose and understanding. ‘I am the weapon and the righteousness of the Emperor’s wrath!’ he yelled.

The city was on fire and the smoke bellowed into the evening sky as he made his way into the war torn streets. The cold winter wind tortured his exposed flesh and froze the blood into sticky paste. The world before him had become a wasteland filled with the taint of Chaos.

From somewhere ahead he could hear them chanting as they worshiped their false god. There were thousands of them. Sirens blared and the bells began to ring again. The souls trapped within began to scream and weep as they sought their freedom.

They would give away his position. He readied himself for the enemies attack. It would not be long before they stormed the trenches. ‘Ready yourselves! The Emperor protects!’ He voiced. His las-gun raised in his blood covered hands he waited for the appearance of his hated foe.

The buildings seemed to bow down and glare at him, the streets began to rise. Razor wire twisted all around and corpses burned within. Thadious fired his weapon into the face of his assailant. They charged his position from every angle but he would fight them.

Something slapped him in the side of the head and he lost his balance. As quickly as he could he recovered and began to run. ‘Fall back! There are too many of them!’ He fired his las-gun once more before the power cell ran dry.

Dropping it he pulled the shotgun from his back. They were after him. To his right he saw two of his men fall and to the left he felt the concussive blast of a warhead tear his friends to shreds. Shrapnel tore into his side and he doubled over from the searing pain.

Someone in an iron mask lunged at him with a power-blade. It roared with bloodlust and tore at the fabric of his bloody coat. ‘I will strike down my enemies!’ Thadious spat as he fired the shotgun at point blank range.

A shell exploded and tore a building apart. It fell in a torrent of dust, flame and tortured ironworks.

There were hundreds of them now. The night sky was filled with smoke, the stars hid their faces from the evil below. The taint of Chaos burned his throat and his eyes watered. Thadious ran from the trenches into the open fields.

The snow covered everything and crunched loudly with every step Thadious took. He cursed as he tripped over the bones of a dead man. Bombs burst all around him and shook the very fabric of his soul. The earth shook and the trees fell.

Blood and body parts were everywhere and torment gripped his mind. Thadious Hus was alone in a world gone mad. Chaos had taken his family and ruined his home. Everything he had known and loved was gone!

He would make them pay. They were behind him. He turned around and could see them in the gloom; men in trench coats, wearing ridged caps and shouting as they charged.

They were charging him with heresy and evil. What would the denizens of hate ever know about faithfulness and righteousness? ‘You are the heretics!’ he yelled. Anger filled him as they fired their weapons.

Darkness descended over his mind as he fought on.

Fresh sunlight and cool, crisp air washed over Thadious Hus as he awoke from a long night’s sleep. From his window he could see the place that he had called home. The war had been so far away and he had dreamt of this moment since he had first left.

Yes, he felt alive with hope and promises for the future. Lissa smiled at him from the bed. The covers were white and heavy and covered her nakedness. ‘What are you thinking about?’ she asked.

Thadious thought about the question and the softness of her voice. ‘That I’m glad to be home. Away from the war. In a place of safety, next to the woman I love.’ He finally answered.

‘That’s nice.’ She said before falling back to sleep.

He felt cold and feverous as the morning passed.

Something slammed into his face and broke his nose. The butt of a las-rifle. That’s what it was. Something stabbed him in the back and someone kicked him in the chest.

The walls were white and covered with pictures of his family. Sure Bastion was not his, but he would love him and take good care of him anyway. Thadious walked into the children’s room and watched them sleep.

Blood spattered across the wall of the redbrick building. Thadious kicked in the knee of one of the man. The man screamed as he fell. Something pierced his chest and punctured a lung. It felt like fire had run strait through Thadious’s torso.

Thadious held the knife to Bastion’s throat and began to cut, sawing back and forth in brutal back and forth motions of his arm. The knife was sharp and serrated so it cut through the flesh, tendons and bone without much resistance.

Thadious stopped his fighting and fell to his knees. He could barely breathe as the blood filled his lungs. He opened his eyes and looked into the angry face of the Inquisitor holding the gun level with his face.

Thadious walked over to Samantha’s bed and slit her throat. Blood sprayed all over the place. She shook and convulsed from the pain. Thadious watched her for a minute or two before taking her head from her body.

‘I name you traitor! I name you murderer! I name you heretic! I name you forsaken!’ the Inquisitor growled.

Thadious moved over to the bed where Daltun slept. He looked so peaceful and calm. His death was slower; more painful. Thadious had taken his time with him.

Blood pooled and drenched the carpet, forever staining it with accusation.

The shower felt good. Thadious did not remember getting into the shower, but the water running over his face felt warm and intoxicating.

The fever left the soul of Thadious Hus a moment before the Inquisitor fired the las-gun.

As he died the fires around him were instantly gone. The battlefield, the trenches, the razor-wire, the bells, the screaming and the sickness fled away as if they had never been. With clarity Thadious Benjimen Hus was struck with the understanding of what he had become.

A good reputation take a long time to build, but only a moment to destroy. Wow, that's deep! Check out the H.O.E.S. short story competition.
Other stories from Adrian.
Look up Adrian in the "Compendium" to find them. Thanks

Last edited by Adrian; 12-28-12 at 12:53 AM.
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 03-23-12, 03:35 PM
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An interesting story; I was not sure which way the ending was going until I reached it.

However, I found the single sentence paragraphs and lack of section breaks made it harder to read; I feel it would flow better if it was set in fewer longer blocks.
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