Chaos bombs the planet and with it releases a mutation virus. The survivors are left to cope with the destruction and two men find their purpose in the heat of battle. This story was a blast to write. This story is violent, bloody and will truly scare you... I hope.
And the King said unto her, ‘What ails you?’ She answered, ‘This woman said to me, “Give me your son so we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.” So we boiled my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, “Give your son so we may eat him.” But she had hidden her son.’ 2 Kings 6: 28-29
The twisted gnarled bones of the city stood defiant against the nuclear winds that had hammered them not so long ago. This city once flowed with life and hope. It was like an underground river that provided the life giving nutrients to a land that could not sustain it on its own.
The Habs, both highland and lowland, had been filled with people who had gone on about their business with no thought about the distant wars that were being waged upon other worlds. Their thoughts were consumed with what they had to do for the day, the week and the next few years.
Some people made plans for when they were old enough to retire while others made plans for their families in the event of their deaths or for when they grew too old to provide for their families any longer.
Some of the cities inhabitants shopped at grocery stores picking out the abundant food-stuffs they and their families would need in the next week, while others shopped for extravagant items of merit such as rugs, tables, chairs, dish-ware, cabinets and so forth. Some looked for off world items that were worth untold fortunes to the right buyer.
Some of the people went about shopping for clothes, toys, books and bedding for their homes at the used-stores, looking for that rare item they could never afford to buy when it was new; looking to find a good deal that they could boast about to their neighbors and friends.
The women would boast saying, ‘Look at this dress that I found.’ Or ‘Look at this dish set that I just got; it only cost two thrones.’
The men would boast about the deals they found at the charity stores in the lower habs, saying ‘Hey check this out. I found the tool set that I couldn’t afford last year. It’s old but, hey, it still works and it only cost me thirty thrones and a crown.’
Sanual Tinnison had been one of these people. He was twenty-two, tall and as fit as a man could be who ran four miles a day and participated in self defense classes three times a week. He loved to think that he could handle anything that came at him, as most men that are physically fit and strong tend to think.
Sanual Tinnison loved to find things of value and buy it for cheap. He had been a deal finder. If there was a deal that could be found he could find it, buy it, fix it and turn it around to make a profit. Most deals were able to be found in the Downs at the charity stores. He had loved going to the Downs, in the daylight of course.
People who wanted to get rid of their old stuff that still had a little value would donate it to the charity stores when they got new stuff to replace the old stuff. The poor would come in and find the old stuff and buy it for just a fraction of the price it would have cost at new.
There were stores that sold things for half price and places in the shadows that dealt with stolen or smuggled items. They were always ready to deal, trade or barter for them.
Sanual Tinnison smiled as he held up a rare lamp that bore the seal of Lusterna Prime. ‘Why did they ever get rid of this?’ he said to himself. It would have been worth a fortune to the right people.
The Downs, during the day had been full of life, the flow and ebb of traffic had moved like controlled rivers, crisscrossing at varied intervals to stop congestion. Transports had hovered above the ground moving silently while they carried hundreds of people at a time.
There had been personal craft that were made to be able to attend the needs of the basic family, utility vehicles that were managed by computer and work-servitors who saw to the basic needs of water, electric and traffic signals.
In the day the Downs had looked like the basic, family oriented city-state that it was supposed to be. But at night things had been radically different. Sanual Tinnison had not wanted to be caught in the Downs at night… nobody did.
At night the gangers and thugs ran the streets and did what they wanted to do with whomever they wanted to. Their lawless ways were brutal and uncontrollable and even the public safety patrols would refuse to go into those neighborhoods during the long dark hours before sunrise.
Back then that was the worst thing Sanual Tinnison had to worry about… the Downs.
Now, he stood in the charity store holding a rare lamp and wondered how much he could have got for it back then. He set it back down on the dust and ash covered table and moved on down the row.
There were books. There were always books. He loved to read them in his hab, back at the refuge at night when they were about.
At night they roamed the street, businesses and empty buildings in their search of something to eat. At night they sought to find the weak and feast upon them. The gangers were still around, the ones who survived the “Attack”. But they were as afraid as the rest of the survivors.
In truth Sanual Tinnison did not know what had happened. The thousands that had survived the “Attack” said the “Attack” had come from the eye of terror… from the great enemy himself… from the unnamed. Sanual did not know what had happened for sure.
All he knew is everything had been normal. Everything was as it should be. Everyone was going about their business, eating, drinking and making marry, working hard at their jobs to provide for their families and the lifestyles they chose to live in.
He knew where he could go to get the best grox-burger in the lower levels of the city or the best drink and imported stag in the Ups. He knew where in the city he could go to find a beautiful woman for the night or the best regicide games in the hide houses. He knew where the soldiers hung out and what black market things they were looking to buy before they left off world to fight and die for an Emperor they had never met.
Back before “it” happened his life was real good. He had not been wealthy, but he was making a living working in the transport business delivering restaurant supplies. He lived with his parents in an apartment on the thirteenth floor of the Flats and saved the money he made for a rainy day.
The funny thing about that is the rainy day came. It rained in a torrential downpour and the money he had saved for that day was now as useless as the lamp he had just put down.
Now he carried a shotgun with auto fire and extra clips, seven shots a piece. He moved about in the day if at all; he never moved about at night. At night he barely made a sound. They were out there and they would hear him.
The hands of compassionate women have boiled their own children; they were their meat in the destruction of Judah. Lamentations 4: 10
There came a flash in the night and an earthquake. Sanual Tinnison falls out of his bed and hits his head upon the carpeted floor causing him to see stars and become disorientated. He tries to stand but falls down again as his world collapses under him.
People are screaming in the halls and from other apartments above and below him and from his window he can see that the world outside is on fire.
His mother is screaming from the next room, his father is out cold; blood is pouring from his head from where a shelf had hit him as it fell. His mother is weeping as she tries to make since of her husband’s lack of movement; outside the world is burning around them.
Sanual knows his father will not move again because he is dead. He tries to hold back the flow of tears as he realizes this fact but the pain of his father’s death is too much to bear. Through his pain he still hears the shouts of confusion and fear from the hall outside the apartment door. He knows that outside the world is on fire and he struggles to hold down his panic.
‘Mother we have to get out of here.’ he says as gently as he can. She does not seem to hear him so he grabs her shoulder. Tears of blood are running down her face as she focuses on him. She screams and sinks her teeth into the man she had loved and been faithful to for forty-one years, her husband who now is dead in her arms.
‘Mother!’ he screams in shock. She doesn’t even seem to notice that he is in the room. Blood is everywhere in an instant as she tears open her husband’s jugular vein. It covers both his mother and his father in a moment’s time and sprays the wall next to them as the pressure from the artery releases. ‘Mother!’ he screams again.
Caught in the power of his shock he could not move or even think. His mother looks up and screams again, blood and flesh flecking from her open mouth. Her eyes have cataracts and are glazed over, blood has caked her face and her teeth have grown long and sharp, like sharks teeth. He jumps in terror and falls backward over the couch, falling hard onto his back.
From the other side of the couch he hears his mother growling as she rips another piece of flesh from his father’s face. Without thinking, terror in his mind and gripping his heart he runs from the apartment and out into the hall.
The lights are out and people are stumbling around screaming and shouting in terror for lost loved ones or in predatory growls of insane ramblings. Some are wailing as brother or sister, mother or father succumbed to; it.
A body slams into Sanual from behind and knocks him face first into the wall. His nose breaks and he can taste blood and feel it as it runs down his face and neck. Tears of pain, fear and loss pour from his eyes.
It is pitch black in the hall so he cannot see those around him fighting for their lives as they are ripped apart, disemboweled and consumed by those who had once been closest to them. All he knows is that the world is going crazy and he has got to escape from it.
In the inky blackness someone else screams from right beside him. It is a woman, of that he is sure, but he cannot tell who it is or used to be. She does not scream because of fear or because she is in need of help but she screamed from hunger as if she has been starving for a month. Her breath stinks of blood and torn flesh and she flails with her arms in the darkness seeking for someone on which to feast.
Sanual Tinnison pushes hard in the direction of the bad breath and the woman’s scream and connects with her large frame with all of his might. She falls in the darkness and breaks her neck on an open hallway door. Sanual does not know about it because of the blinding negritude. Terror is all around him.
From the end of the hall someone turns on a flashlight and directs it into the corridor’s gloominess. Torn bodies; intestines, blood and excrement pouring from their lifeless frames line the floor between the walls. Lost souls are crawling through it longing to escape the madness or seeking to find another body to sink their shark-like teeth into.
Sanual retches and vomits as he takes it all in. The man at the end of the hall is shadowed and cannot be seen because the light does not reveal him; it is revealing the dead, the dying and the damned. From the shadows beyond the light a shot bangs out and the man falls to the hallway floor along with the flashlight; its glow beaming through the repugnant, feculent macabre before it.
Now that there is enough light for Sanual to know where he is he runs quickly to the flashlight and grabs it along with the man’s gun. In a panic he runs through the open door and heads down the stairs. From the thirteenth floor it would take him almost ten minutes to exit the building. ‘Emperor, help me!’ he screams.
The stairs wind down and around. Six stairs, a flat, another six stairs, another flat, round and round, six stairs, a flat, six stairs, another flat, round and round. He can hear the sounds of screaming and horror from other floors as he passes them by in his descent.
A person rounds the corner in front of him and he fires the gun into her face. Blood sprays the wall as she flips head over heels and crumples in the corner of the stairwell. He does not know if she is like the others, terror has him, shock torments him and death is chasing him. Sanual Tinnison runs for his life.
And in those days people will seek death and will not find it; and they will yearn to die, but death evades and flees from them. Revelation 9: 6
The stairway is pitch-black except for where the light from the flashlight beams. It bobs up and down as Sanual Tinnison runs down the stairs. They have heard the sound of the gun going off and are now flooding the stairwell above him. He can hear them running down the stairs above him. Their screams of desire and hunger crashing before them into Sanual’s nerves like the waves of the sea.
He is down to the third floor and moving as fast as his burning legs can carry him, but they are closing in on him, their longing for his flesh and blood echoing down the confines of the stairwell.
Around and around he goes, he is dizzy and winded but keeps running until he missteps and tumbles forward, flailing onto the landing of the second floor stairway. He tries to recover quickly but struggles to regain his breath. The smell coming from the hall entrance is overpowering as the breeze from the open doorway blasts him in the face. He vomits even as he tries to move past it.
He can hear them only a flight above him now. Rasping, burning breaths ebb from his aching lungs and up his torn throat and out of his puke smelling mouth as he begins to run once more. His nose has swelled and he cannot breathe through it. Every breath from his open mouth is grasping and tight, but he continues to move.
The four miles he ran every day is helping him now, but they are upon him and he cannot escape. He turns as he reaches the first floor and points the flashlight up into the stairwell, its blue-white cone illuminating them even as he begins to fire the pistol.
The fiery energy from the gun’s release illuminates his surroundings like lightning on a stormy sea and the shots echo unbelievably loud in the confines of the breezeway. The projectiles slam into the torso of the first man-thing and explode out of its back. It falls and rolls down three stairs and lands right in front of Sanual even as he fires again and again until finally the gun is empty and useless in the face of them.
The smell of death, blood and loosened bowels slams into Sanual Tinnison once more but he is already running toward the building’s entrance, nothing guiding his steps but raw panic and confusion.
A hand grabs him by the collar and seeks to pull him back. He can taste the breath of the foul thing and lashes out with an elbow catching the thing in the face. It screams and falls to the ground. Turning he sees that the once person used to be his neighbor from the floor directly below him; Mr. Goodman.
Sanual Tinnison exits the building and runs into the open courtyard. The openness is an area of blacktop and rock-crete where game-courts and children’s playground equipment stretch between the buildings.
Flames have completely engulfed the apartment building to the north and someone falls from the building to the east. Screaming, the woman plummets until breaking apart like a blood filled balloon upon the ground. Bones erupt from her shattered flesh but she cannot feel it anymore.
It only takes a few seconds before they are upon her; feeding and fighting over her bloodied corpse like starving wolves over a fresh kill.
Someone shouts over to Sanual’s right. He looks and sees that it is a man in his thirties, six foot tall and muscled, fighting for his life. ‘Help me!’ he shouts. He does not sound afraid but angry. In the blackness of the cold night the fires from the surrounding buildings silhouette the teeming masses as they scream and tear at each other in their effort to reach the cornered man.
Now they are pouring out of the building behind Sanual Tinnison and he fights the animal erg to abandon this man.
Sanual watches as the man is pushed against the hab wall, punching and kicking and cursing while still calling out for help.
From somewhere in the distance the sounds of sirens are going off, a building collapses and a refinery melts down; its nuclear power generators overheat and vaporize the eastern quarter of the dying city.
From the building to the west another person falls, his motions in the darkness look like a terrified runner on his way to hell.
Looking around Sanual grabs a piece of re-bar and hefts it above his head and runs directly at the mob that has the man cornered. The fire creates a sickly glow and the ashes of what were the belongings of others mingle with the ashes of burned bodies that rain down and are tossed in the wind like snowflakes in a storm.
The man against the wall kicks a woman in the gut as she lunges for him. She flies back and slams into another behind her and they fall together to the ground.
The mob advances screaming and feral but the man keeps fighting. He is like a machine, though pressed he keeps performing.
Sanual Tinnison slams the re-bar onto the head of a once-man and cracks the skull. Blood sprays out as the man collapses to the ground. Sanual kicks out and strikes again with the re-bar, spearing another once-man through the chest. He screams and falls to the ground in a fit of shock and pain. A few of those nearby tear those who have fallen apart, their teeth tearing into their prone tortured forms.
Now that the mob is aware of him, they turn and with screams of starved desire, attack. From the hab that Sanual had just come from, they outpour like a surging demented river of ghastly visions. They fight among themselves bringing down the weak, stabbing them with elongated nails and teeth, drinking their blood and devouring their flesh.
From the fire lane between the high-rise tenements the children pull down a fleeing, screaming woman and tear into her until she is brought down kicking and fighting to the ground. Her screams subside quickly as they rip her to shreds with bloodied teeth.
A building two blocks over finally collapses as the fire eats away its foundation and bracings. Smoke, ash and dust billows in a fog-like plume that quickly covers all those within its grasp.
As the mob loses its grip on the fighting man he breaks free. ‘Come on! Move! Move! Move!’ he shouts at Sanual. Sanual was not about to argue.
Together they run past the bloodied children as they continue to scream, fight among themselves and consume what is left of the woman’s motionless corpse.
The mob is chasing them, running as fast as they can, hunger consumes them, the taste of blood is driving them, the flight of the week is guiding them.
Sanual Tinnison and the other man are gasping as their lungs struggle to take in another breath; the muscles in their legs are beginning to cramp and fatigue is threatening to give way to total melt down. The winds have changed and is blowing the burning smoke and dusty debris along the streets, each breath taken is to taste the death of thousands.
The thirsty mobs are closing the distance between them and they know there is little hope of escape. Despair is just a thought away, but they are too scared and adrenalized to consider it even for a moment.
There are no words shared between them as they run but they each know what the other is thinking… what is happening? This cannot be real.
From around the corner of a burning grocery store a man and his wife are taken by the damned. Their screams will forever be branded into the mind of Sanual for as long as he lives. There is no honour in running, but how can a person stand against this?
Another high-rise topples over onto another building to the west even as secondary explosions break into the maelstrom in the east.
Sanual looks back only to find that the mob is no longer chasing them but has landed upon the married couple and their assailants. They are butchering each other, the weaker giving place to the stronger. They growl like dogs or lions and snap at each other with their teeth. They are no longer people but animals that seek the flesh of man.
‘This way.’ Sanual says. The other man brooks no argument as he turns to fallow. All around them the city burn and the inhabitants consume themselves. What has happened? There is no longer any peace in the world around them.
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; 03-22-11 at 05:26 PM.