The Weeper is a zombie story the like of which you have never read. give it a full read...you won't be disapointed.
The forest was thick with the sounds of weeping, slightly muted by the heavy carpet of snow that rested upon each branch, stalk of grass, tree trunk and what parts of the ground that the thick white flakes could settle upon.
The thinner branches bowed under the weight of the snow like servants bow to their masters or slaves to their owners, while thicker branches rebelled against the snow’s growing mass, straining, groaning and creaking while swaying from the rising winds that ghosted eerily through the shadows below.
Among the branches birds huddled from the unnatural drifts…they did not sing nor stir, for there was something unnatural; something stalking…hunting in the night.
Cold confusion wormed its path into the wayward mind of Riniald Bloodsong. His thin, muscular form stumbling over a skinny tree root that jutted from the nearly frozen ground. Shaking his head and wiping the tears from his eyes, he struggled to rise and keep running; although fatigue and fear were sapping the strength from him as surely as the wound in his side and the coldness of the night.
The clothes he wore were Guard issue; tattered and filthy with the freezing moisture of the snow and the blood of his former unit and the wound he now bore. He wept bitter tears as he struggled to find a way through the miasma of acquiescing undergrowth that seemed to reach out in possessed effort, trying to catch him and keep him from escaping the ever closing toxophilite.
Blood stained the snow where his body had fallen, but in the darkness Riniald Bloodsong did not notice or care. Terror stricken, he fought through the lowering branches and entered a clearing ringed with the moonlit, snow covered branches of soulless trees that could not help or save.
Breath clouds stretched out in the cold. They were not his alone. His breath came out in small clouds, puffed hurriedly from freezing, aching lungs; while the breath clouds he saw that streamed past his face were controlled, lengthy and entirely frightening.
With nowhere else to run and no hope of escape he turned and saw into the eyes of the huntress, the weeper in the night.
Riniald Bloodsong awoke, the sun shining into his face, upon his own bed. Blankets of cotton and fleece protected him from the icy chill that ebbed its way into his wooded cabin. He could see his breath puffing out before him in thick streams of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and oxygen; the discharge of lungs that had just taken in the outside air and exhaled into the winter chill around him.
From the edges of his mind the dream still sought to pull him back in, but the breaking of day and awareness of life around him kept the night shadows from continuing to seep their darkened talons back into his momentarily freed soul.
Riniald Bloodsong wearily pushed himself from the warm bed, still shaking from the night terror. His mind was racing; for the feelings seemed so real…so lifelike. Night after night he struggled for survival against a foe that could not be killed, could not be captured and could not be vanquished. Morning after morning he awoke to a shaking body, racing mind and…loneliness.
He remembered the first time this happened…the first time the weeper had come to him. This was not a dream. It had been as real as the flesh upon his bones. His unit had moved out and was marching through the abandoned city streets of Sal’saberge. Sal’saberge rested upon the broken face of a desecrated continent that free-floated upon the acid oceans of Puilfolase Primary, in the Quad-Star-Cluster.
Beast, a large tattooed brute with long hair and a bad nature, moved at point while Flamer, another large man with tattoos and bald head, covered his right flank. Eel and Soffit took the outside lanes of the street and Fram and Plant Killer took up the rear. Eel, Soffit and Fram were all pretty basic; average height, build and temperament while Plant Killer was anything but average.
Plant Killer was tall and lanky with glasses and short red hair. He loved plants more than women or sports or anything else. The problem came when he actually owned one. Upon every landing Plant Killer would lovingly and carefully search for the most beautiful plant he could find, dig around the outside of the root system and pull it from the ground. He would then take the plant back to the camp and tend it as best as he could, for the duration of the mission.
On most missions the plant would die from a week of starvation or a week of over watering, too much heat, too cold or the onset of a new bombardment that turned his plant into powder. But on one occasion, Plant Killer hunted down the perfect plant. Its leaves were of the perfect texture and color.
The plant was the perfect height and covered the perfect amount of space and had the most intoxicating scent. Problem with that was this plant was a Careborn; a predator that the natives had learned long ago to stay away from.
Plant killer pulled the shovel from his pouch, unfolded it and began the preparations of transplantation. Carefully he placed the bucket next to the plant. Lovingly he stroked the plants fronds. Gently, he tested the thickness of the stalk and with this action the plant showed more life than could have even been expected by the likes of a space marine.
The root systems of the Careborn were the nerves of the body of the plant and stretched out in an eight foot circle. Beast, Soffit and Bloodsong had found Plant Killer wrapped up and half ingested by the plant three hours after he had come up missing from roll call the next morning.
He still bears the scars around his legs, arms and most of his face from where the barbed roots and the digestive juices of the plant had peeled away his flesh. After that sad time of his life he finds more joy in burning new plants than tending to them. He said it was therapy.
Riniald Bloodsong moved in the middle of the group, putting away the memories of the past and now concentrating on the present. The unit moved down what had to have once been the main street.
Buildings stretched the distance of the street, glass broken, smoke billowing out of some and debris covering the sidewalks and bleeding into the thoroughfare, but there were no bodies anywhere…living or dead.
The sound of weeping seeped through the ruins like water through a ceiling. As the weeping began, Beast held up his hand and motioned for the unit to come to a stop and take cover. At his unspoken command Riniald Bloodsong and soffit hunkered down behind a still smoking four seat transport, Fram and Plant Killer moved off into an alley and Eel took up sniper position at the end of the street.
Flamer made ready his weapon and took up position behind a devastated currency transport, hidden, yet still able to watch the back of the captain. Beast had moved into a darkened doorway where he could see out but could not easily be seen from the street.
From the cover we had taken we watched her move through the ruins. She was tall and beautiful, dressed in a long red dress and black bonnet that covered her face in a light shadow but did not hide it fully. Her features were pale-milky-white and gaunt.
Not malnourished but underfed; not dying, but slightly sickly…on the edge of coming down with something worse than fever…but not as horrible as plague.
Her weeping was a baleful song…a siren to the broken hearted…a distress signal to those who sought to rescue someone. Her weeping inspired, asked…begged for deliverance from the torment she now suffered.
Under the watchful eye of Flamer, Beast rose out of cover and approached the madam. ‘Woman,’ he growled in the nicest voice he could, ‘we are a scout unit with the 437th Imperial Guard; Guandlemen Regiment.’ She slowly looked up at him, the weeping stopped for the moment, and then past him to where we watched from cover.
Her eyes were the color of cream, the pupils purple…the color of thistle.
‘We were sent here in response to a distress signal the fleet received thirteen days ago. Are you the only one here? Where are the others?’ Beast asked as gently as his hardened soul could ask.
She just stood there looking at us, slowly panning her eyes from one to the other of us…taking us all in like she had never seen people before. Beast looked back, ‘I think she’s in shock…Soffit, get over here and help the lady; see if there’s anything you can do for her.’ He looked back to the woman and said, ‘Lady, we will help you and any others we find. You’re safe with us’
She nodded but did not respond to his words other than that, except for a tear that slowly made its way from her right eye and traced its way down her melancholy face.
Beast took in his surroundings and seeing nothing amiss ordered us to guard positions, sending Eel and Fram scouting up ahead.
The darkness came early upon the world called Puilfolase Primary…it seemed to come all the more quickly within the ruins of Sal’saberge. In the evening chill, Eel kept everyone abreast as to the movements of the main Guard body and the current orders of command. The scout unit had been sent ahead to locate the position of the elusive enemy and report its findings back to Command.
A small two story storage building provided the billet for the night. It was somewhat long, with no windows on the first floor and two on the second. It still had a sturdy, plas-steel door that was both fireproof and strong enough to deflect all but the most serious of thieves. It was defendable if worse came to worse and protected from the changing elements outside.
The wind had picked up and with it the temperature dropped and the chill set in. By dark-thirty the temperature had dropped to below freezing and the tang of the acid oceans carried upon the increasing winds, caused the skin to tingle and provided a bad taste to the tongue.
‘Why anyone would choose to live here, let alone build an entire city, I will never understand.’ Soffit said while digging away at some bread and soup. His blond hair leaked out from under his skull cap and helmet setting a deep contrast to his pale blue eyes. His tight mouth came together at the moment he took his first bite of the soup, in an expression of distaste and bitterness.
‘I mean the acidic nature of this area would tear the very structures apart after only a few years. It would bleach the skin white and Emperor knows what it would do to the organs of the body?’ he continued.
As the Apothecary of the group he always looked to the well being of the unit, but sometimes he could make others around him very uncomfortable by overfeeding needless or terrifying information to anyone who would listen.
‘Hey, we don’t need any of your sermons right now, dock. You think we don’t already know what could happen with the effect of acid to the skin or the interior of our bodies? Frack it, man; I know I sure don’t want to think about it.’ Flamer said; his expression worrisome and nervous. He was a big man but sometimes the little things like the thought of your insides being eaten out could push him to the edge of rational.
The others nodded or voiced their agreement with Flamer but Soffit kept eating and talking about the weather, the acid ocean and the way it changed the taste of the food. Finally the others got up and left him alone. It seemed that was what he was looking for anyway. ‘You know…you sure have a way with words Soffit.’ Riniald Bloodsong said as he got up and moved upstairs.
Fram was already up there looking out the east window, the clearest view over the main Street. Outside, darkness prevailed and the cold winds blew; hoarfrost coated the glass and the iron works of signs and outer stairways of the opposing buildings, burned out vehicles and transports below.
‘You know Bloodsong, I’ve been in fifteen actions all across this war-strained star cluster, but not once have I seen a war-torn city, that has suffered to any degree…like this one. Fram whispered. ‘What do you mean by that? Bloodsong asked.
‘There’s nobody here: nobody…living or dead, except that woman down there.’ Fram’s voice was quiet and strained, as if he were trying to keep the fear from it. ‘When have we ever come into a combat situation and not found any one? Never. It doesn’t happen!’
Riniald Bloodsong had to agree. For some reason he hadn’t given it much thought, but Fram was right. Something was amiss here.
In the still of the night, toward the morning hours, Fram found the answers to his questions; he wished he hadn’t live long enough to regret those answers.
From the acid ocean they came by the hundreds of thousands; bleach white, hairless…dead. They were all naked; their clothes eaten away by the ocean’s corrosive properties. The moonlight exposed their advance; their birth from the burning fluid.
Wisps of vaporous steam rose from their pail-white bodies like specters from an ancient grave, to be carried away by the swirling winds.
Their movements were eerily smooth and quickly covered the ground before them. They moved as with one soul; as with one body, as to one heart beat, as to a single will that was not their own.
The freezing temperature did not harm them; the toxic air did not hinder them. The winds did not persuade them. They were dead and could feel nothing except the call of their master; the siren call of the weeper.
All seemed quiet from where Plant Killer was perched, just inside the east window, having taken up guard duty from Fram two hours before.
The winds had shifted and now blew from the south instead of the north, but the cold, bitter chill that had come with the north wind did not lesson when it changed to the south. Even though the building was insulated from the weather, the foul bone chill still seemed to creep in anyway.
The clouds had long gone and were replaced by the moon’s unfiltered glare. Beast could be heard snoring away while Flamer stood guard at the doorway.
Soffit sat in the north corner on the first floor, head bowed…asleep. Eel did his best to stay in contact with High Command and could be heard tapping in some added information or relaying some audible code word or laughing with his counterpart on the other end.
Fram and Bloodsong slept on the floor on the second floor, trusting Plant Killer to keep watch until next it was his turn to take over.
It was about three hours until first light when she began to cry again. At first it was a gentle sound like a babies cooing or the loud purring of a large cat, but quickly the sound grew more woeful, more terrible…more heart gripping.
Soffit looked up from the corner where he had fallen asleep and watched the woman for a moment. Her shoulders shook and she rocked back and forth with her groaning.
For him, the weeping did not make him want to help her, but run from her. He didn’t know why she made him feel like that, but she did. Slowly he stood and paced the length of the room, picked up his med-bag and approached the weeper.
‘Lady, you’re going to be alright. If you would permit me…a sedative.’ As he spoke to her he quickly prepared a syringe and gently took her arm. She did not resist him but almost willed him to sedate her. The contents of the syringe administered, he placed it back into the bag and paced back to his position in the corner.
The weeping did not stop, but redoubled in intensity. Now the others were stirring and becoming agitated…frustrated with the only survivor they had found from Sal’saberge.
Beast growled at Soffit to shut her up but there was nothing the apothecary could do for her short of bashing her in the head. Flamer was only too eager to do just that and had to be restrained by Eel.
The woman was causing confusion among the unit but there wasn’t much they could do about it except rely on their self discipline and stamina.
‘Hey, Beast…you had better see this. Plant killer called from upstairs. He had to yell to be heard over the wailing woman.
At once Beast took to the stairs, partly to see what it was that Plant Killer had found, but mostly to escape the direct line of noise from that woman’s throat. ‘What have you got?’ he said as he moved to the window and peered out. Plant Killer’s answer was short and to the point. ‘The missing.’
Through alleys, subways, sewers and streets they came. They clogged the avenues and poured from aqueducts. They came from every direction and as Beast watched, he knew exactly why they came and for whom. ‘We have to shut her up, now!’ he yelled down stairs.
Soffit yelled back up the stairs, ‘If I drug her any more she may die. I’ve given her all a woman of that size and weight could take without her passing out for three days.’
Beast flew down the stairs, his tattooed face as white as a sheet. Through gritted teeth he took Soffit by the throat and said, ‘Does it sound like she is near death or remotely even tired or sleepy or anything else? No; it frakking well does not. She is the bane of the Emperor and her hosts are upon us.
Letting go of the doctor, beast moved over to the woman, took her by her red collar and slapped her hard enough to knock a grown man down. Blood burst from her twisted mouth but the weeping did not stop…if anything it grew louder.
Flamer grabbed Beast’s arm and held it in check. ‘What in the Emperor’s name are you doing?’
Beast looked his friend in the eyes. ‘Get back to your post and prepare for the fight of your life, and don’t ever stop my arm again. Do you understand me soldier?'
All those on the ground floor watched and didn’t move. They were awe struck by the venom in Beast’s voice. They had been through hell together and he had never freaked out like that. ‘What the frack are you staring at? Get to your posts now or we’re gonna die.’ Drawing his gun he put it to the madam’s head and fired.
The woman fell out of the chair she was on, the top of her head reduced to jellied powder, but the weeping did not stop. The windows cracked as the sound grew even more shrill and with the woman’s mind-stealing cry the dead began to run.
Plant Killer was the first to fire his weapon. The heavy slugs from his rifle slammed into torsos, shoulders and the abdomens of the advancing corpses. Some were sawed in two by the gunfire, but they continued to crawl forward as if they felt no pain.
With no windows on the first floor, not everyone could fire at the same time and the dead slammed into the walls and door with life crushing force.
From the window, Flamer sent wave after wave of liquid promethium upon all within range. The bodies that came in contact with the flaming fluid became torches that set others on fire.
The smell of acid soaked flesh wafted into the building, causing choking and coughing fits to erupt from those guarding the only entrance. The burning bodies finally lost their strength and fell to the ground to be trampled on by the others.
The liquid flames ignited the east wall and the fire began to grow and climb in an ever spreading area that threatened to spread to the other parts of the building.
The fierce winds caught the flames and sent them flitting and swirling along the base of the length of the building as well as causing them to advance upwards into the overhang of the low roofed storage building.
Through the weakened east wall a hand crashed through the wood and then another until finally the wall collapsed and fell in upon the invading dead. Beast, Soffit,Fram and Riniald Bloodsong fired their weapons on full auto; their shells raking the dead from foot to head but it did no good. The only ones who fell were the ones whose heads were completely disintegrated from a well placed shot.
Panic was in the air even as the weeper continued to scream from her ruined, blood-soaked body. Beast yelled at eel to call for help, but there was no need. Eel was screaming commands and code words as loud as he could to his counterpart on the other end.
‘Our location is in the middle of this Emperor forsaken city.’ he screamed into the mic. ‘Where in the only frakked building that’s burning and surrounded by dead people trying to butcher us!’ he paused for only a moment. ‘No! Does this sound like I’m frakking joking you stupid son of an ork?’ Eel held out the mic and left the switch in the open position.
Screaming, wailing, gunfire, swearing and falling storage equipment coupled with men coughing as well as the burning of the building, joined by the endless crash of the undead upon the door and walls greeted the ear on the other end of the mic.
Eel put the com-bead and mic back to his ear and mouth, ‘Do you hear that?’ he screamed. ‘Now do your job and get us out of here or so help me I will come from the dead and haunt you for the rest of your miserable life.’ Slamming the mic down, he quickly lifted his shotgun and added to the Mêlée.
‘Upstairs! Now!’ Beast yelled as he bashed in the head of what was once a living, breathing overfed fat man. The corpse fell to the floor only to be crushed by the advancing hoard.
Plant killer ran to the top of the stairs and lent supporting fire down into the swarming defunct cadavers. Flamer had switched to his las-rifle and was blasting away out of the west window, each shot well placed, into the top of the head. But for each one that fell a hundred more seemed to take its place.
Fram cried out as cold acidic hands grabbed at his cloths and clutched at his flesh, but he continued to struggle and make his way to the stairwell.
Bloodsong fired a pistol at near point blank range into the braincase of the closest corpse and it fell, lifeless upon the departed already upon the wooded floor.
‘Help me!’ Fram screamed as teeth ripped into the soft tissue of his face and neck. Beast did what he hoped someone would do for him if the roles were reversed; and shot his friend in the head…hopefully to end his torment forever.
Eel struggled and fell under the weight of what was once a beautiful dark-skinned female, even as he tried to carry his vox-equipment.
The animated dead woman lashed out with a bleached hand that was cracked and pealed from working against the materials in the wall that she had just come through and connected with Eel’s left eye causing him enough pain to momentarily lose focus, but he kept struggling under the zombie’s weight and refused to give up.
Riniald Bloodsong jammed a broken chair leg through the skull of the woman and sponge-like brain matter poured out of the hole when he pulled it from the dead woman’s head, spilling acid, brain and jellied blood onto the face of Eel. He began to scream as the corrosive liquid began to eat away at the top layer of his skin.
Bloodsong reached down and lifted his friend from the ground even as more decomposed, bleached hands sought to drag them down. Soffit and Plant Killer fired the last of their ammo into the tide of the eternal dead, giving Eel and Bloodsong time enough to make their escape.
Beast had joined flamer upstairs and fired the last of his ammo into the teeming masses below the east window. Frustrated he threw the rifle to the ground and pulled his long-bladed knife from its scabbard. Flamer cursed even as he ran out of ammunition too. Fixing his long-blade to the barrel of his rifle he could do nothing more than wait for the inevitable.
The weeping never stopped and through the turmoil the madam had somehow come together as if she had never suffered any harm. Her red gown and black bonnet moved among the dead but she was not harmed.
Beast stood at the top of the stairs, backed up, as ever, by Flamer. Soffit tended to Eel’s wounds while Bloodsong and Plant Killer stood behind Flamer and before the doctor and his patient.
Each was out of ammunition, but stood firm in the face of their fears. Smoke billowed in from the windows and from downstairs from the promethium’s flames and the rank acidic, decomposing smell of the dead caused the men to struggle not to vomit.
‘You know…good job with the fire, Flamer.’ said Beast with a feral grin. ‘Frag your mummy, beast.’ Flamer laughed back. The others in the room were caught off guard enough to crack long needed smiles.
They knew there hope was thin, but they would be cursed if they died as cowards. They also prayed what they believed, would be their last prayer. They would not die wondering if they were right in the Emperor’s eyes.
From the base of the stairs they came. The iron staircase shook from their combined weight, but still held. The dead, naked bleached residents of Sal’saberge led by the weeper began their ascent.
The vox cracked to life and Eel put the mic to his bandaged face. ‘Yea, were alive!’ he croaked and coughed into the mic. Slamming the receiver down and diving for cover he yelled for the others to do the same. They knew better than to question him and instantly obeyed.
With a sound like the gates of chaos being ripped from their foundations, the roof came away and the bright floodlight of an Imperial transport illuminated the whole of the second floor.
A heavy chain-gun rotated and sent thousands of shells into the tainted souls below, bisecting and storming them with explosive shells and sheets of firepower that would make the Primarchs tremble.
The weeper stood amidst the hail of explosive shells until two slammed into her heaving chest, but still the wailing lament did not stop. Fire engulfed her as her clothes reacted to the heated slugs but she did not struggle against the flame…she just simply fell to her knees and to her face as if she were praying.
In the gloom of the mornings first light and the flickering glow of the flames all around, the weeper began to crawl.
The sound was like nothing Riniald Bloodsong had ever heard before. The sound of the transport’s jets, the shells tearing the world around him apart and the unstoppable weeping flooding his senses, he could not do anything except hope he would live to see the end of it. A hand grasped his left ankle so hard he could not pull free.
The sound of the weeping seemed to be channeling directly into his very soul and it shook him to the core. With a twist he turned to see who had grabbed him and his blood froze.
As quickly as he could he sat up and stabbed his long-blade through the neck of the weeper, but still she did not release him. With fearful motions and a strength not bourn of himself he began to saw back and forth. Bitter, acidic blood poured from the woman’s neck, but still she did not release him nor did she quiet her dreadful song.
It was not until the last thread of flesh had been cut that her dreadful dirge ceased. Bloodsong’s long-blade steamed and seemed to warp from the blood that ran the length of it and with disgust and fear he threw it away.
With dread he looked down at the headless body and the steaming blood that flowed from within. Smoke from the floorboard slowly mingled with the smoke from the flames as the blood ate away the space beneath its grizzly flow.
The woman’s head sat upon the floor facing Riniald Bloodsong and with a clarity of purpose its eyes opened.
Bloodsong could not look away from those pale eyes with the thistle colored irises…no matter how hard he tried.
With a last effort that defied reality, the woman screamed a last, mournful cry which slammed into the mind of Riniald Bloodsong.
Blacking out for a moment; Bloodsong could not think of anything except the pain that coursed through his battered, bloody body. As the pain ebbed, the weeper spoke…’You are no longer alone!’ The words were not from the body that now lay upon the burning floor but from within him and torment shook his mind as he sought to find release.
‘They will kill me if they find out.’ Riniald Bloodsong thought to himself. Fear directed his choices as he sought to conceal the horror he now felt. With great effort he shut his mouth and refused to do anything but wait for this nightmare to end. ‘They must never know.’ came the voice of the weeper.
The scout unit kept their heads down until the Chain-gun stopped etching out its wrath. The downwash of the Transport sent embers of flame and fragments of debris into the moonlit sky creating a moment in the minds of the survivors that would never be forgotten.
By the dawn’s radiant light, the corpses were revealed and put to task by the combined might of the Imperial guard and the Emperor’s navy, docked in low orbit, providing air support and precise bombardments that annihilated whole city blocks.
Epilogue: Twenty years later, Riniald Bloodsong can still recall that woman; not by memories of past events or the recollection of their first meeting, but because she has never left him. She is grafted into his very soul and into the fabric of his mind. The weeper had transfered her essence into him that night so long ago.
Riniald Bloodsong had once considered suicide in hopes of escaping her plaguing embrace, but that thought was quickly done away with, for as long as he lived, beleived and trusted in the Emperor's grace and by the force of his will, she could not escape him either.
She was as trapped as he was; as long as he lived and beleived, she could never harm another. Until the day he deid, Riniald Bloodsong would be the only one who would hear the maddening cry of the weeper.
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Last edited by Adrian; 02-25-11 at 10:29 PM.