Sunday, June 30, 2013

Stayed Behind, Part One

Authors Note: A spin-off from my “Atheist’s Nightmare” series, this story will have heavy religious undertones. If you are not in favor of such metaphors I would suggest reading something else. Thank you, and as always, sweet dreams!
It’d been twelve years since the end of the world, the often scoffed about rapture. Turns out that Christianity had been right; when Hell was full, the dead would walk the earth. It was around the time when the first few zombie outbreaks started that people began disappearing, some vanishing in bright flashes of light. Tremors rocked the globe while tidal waves rocked the shorelines, all the while the dead feasted upon the living.

For twelve years, those that had been left behind had fought and scraped by, forming secret villages where they could while raiding the cities for supplies. Each raid would take a little longer, and come back with less and less food. Many of the villages, such as my own tucked away in the rocky hills leading up into the Rocky Mountains, had taken to farming what they could from seeds harvested from wild plants. Our village even boasted sheep and chickens, a rarity in this time of great strife. The zombies, you see, ate whatever they could get their hands on.
Sitting on the slanted tin roof of my single room house, I lie back and watch the sky as the final vestiges of day bleed out into the darkness of night. Red nebulae were visible in the night sky, great swathes of red and purple gasses that surrounded the new moon that had formed after the rapture.
We’d named it Heaven, as the bibles we had spoken of a city where the righteous would go to live after the rapture. It was where the majority of the people prayed to every night, in hopes of disappearing from the Hell that was now Earth.
Me? I still thought it was a load of bull. True enough, I had evidence for something supernatural, as the world now had roving bands of ghouls with a hankering for warm human flesh, and great rifts in the ground were constantly flowing with fresh dead crawling up from the pit. But was this enough to make me believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing God? Not a chance.
If he was all-powerful, he could stop this. This was the mantra that ran through my head every time I journeyed away from the safety of my home in search of supplies. If he was all knowing than he would sense our suffering and do something about it.
But he didn’t. Those that still cried out his name and prayed for salvation sat amongst us every morning during our gathered meal time. The last person to be seen vanished in a flash of light had been well over a decade ago. If God was real, he’d abandoned the rest of us to the nightmares he’d kept bound for so long. You see, it wasn’t just the undead that we had to worry about…
Smiling grimly as I see the first silhouette in the darkness, set against the burning red brightness of a nebulae, I sat up and slid down my roof to the soft earth below, brandishing my longbow in one hand while reaching for an arrow with another.
I suppose now would be as good a time as any to introduce myself, considering you’ve been willing to listen to my sad little story for so long. My name is Rose, and I hunt demons. I pull back the arrow on my drawstring, pulling the bow taut as I hear the Byakhee’s cry ring through the night’s sky, a number of other worried cries following it.
The Byakhee was a terror of the night sky, a creature of leather and bone and metal that soared about, part-dragon and part-eel. Overly long legs ending in six grasping talons allowed the horrible creatures to swoop down and pluck unsuspecting people from the ground, while the scythe like arms granted the horrible beast the ability to disembowel anyone unfortunate enough to be caught within its grasp. I watch it as it silently circles overhead, my eyes watching the six red slits that bleed into the darkness around it. The eyes were the easiest way to keep track of where the ebon-hide Byakhee lurked.
I notch an arrow an take careful aim, the hammered silver arrowhead glimmering in the faint torchlight surrounding me. Several other demon hunters have already emerged from their homes, weapons at the ready; it won’t matter.
This one is mine.
I wait until it swerves into an unstable dive, it’s leathery wings held tight to its body as it free-falls towards earth. A burly hunter, Jacob, brushes past me as he jogs to where the demon is diving, double headed axe gripped tightly in hand. I ignore him.
I let lose my arrow with a simple pluck, smiling as the long shaft pierces the creatures carapace with a satisfying crunch, even audible from this great distance. I quickly notch another arrow and fire it as well, tagging the creature close to the same spot as my first arrow.
“Your just hitting its body, you foolish girl!” Brother Zachary, one of the village priests, berates me as he stares at the rapidly descending form. “You should know body shots are worthless against the Devil’s children!”
“Just watch…” I say to the irritating man, smiling as the Byakhee unfurls its wings to initiate a swooping measure, only to tear the leathery membrane away from the bone as my arrows remain fixed within its body. With only one wing available to it, the Byakhee lets loose a horrid wail as it collides with the soft earth, a thunderous slam that sends sod flying in all directions.
I turn and look at Zachary with a smile, one that grows even wider as he sees what my plan had been. “I call dibs on its teeth.” I say simply, slinging my bow over my shoulder as I begin slowly making my way over to the corpse of the otherworldly being. Demon teeth are even better than silver when one hopes to hunt the foul creatures of the abyss… the jagged fangs can easily shred through the hard armor that all of Lucifer’s followers bear.
I chuckle as I brush past the villagers offering me thanks. An old phrase echoes through my mind, a distant memory from years long since passed.
“God helps those who help themselves…” I mutter, picking up my pace as the crater where my prize lay became visible. “If that’s true than what’s the point in having him?”

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