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Disease Rewrites

 
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11/15/2008 0:20:40   
mastin2
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Death, Destruction, Despair, Dread, Doom, and Disease. It is funny how so many words can describe the same thing: the destruction of mankind by one of their own, via a man-made Epidemic, the Sarciller. It killed billions. Those that survived were permanently altered. Most became beasts. Some survived and were given powers. Yet those survivors that are not monsters live a life almost not worth living, forced to endure countless suffering from the sins of a few. The Disease has been unleashed. Now, the only question is: can we survive?

"Umm...Isn't there already a Disease Thread?"

Yes, you are correct. I suppose I owe an explanation to you.

Right, so I realized that Disease needed a rewrite. I haven't finished it, though, so started a new doccument, constantly referenced the original, and rewrote part of it. That's the part one below. It got positive feedback and me being the sucker I am to taking advice, decided to actually post it here. It is much better, but is also quite lenghty. As in, dwarfing most stories, lengthy.

Disease-wise, I'm neither focusing on rewrites nor new content, but rather, am doing both. Episode 4's part two might not come out soon and might be beaten by the rewrite of Episode 1's part two, but it is still being worked on. They're both receiving equal attention, so you won't be left forever wanting more if you've read that far. ;)

Comment Thread is Here, with the original as well. A note: your critiques of the old Disease aren't wasted. I encourage people to critique it, actually. Yes, most of what you see that is wrong will be fixed in the rewrite, but some of it will not. Those things I absolutely love having them pointed out, so that I can fix them and save you the time on the rewrites. Like I said, both are equally important.


Index:
Episode 1
Episode 2

Without further ado...

Here it is. ;)



< Message edited by mastin2 -- 12/21/2008 19:50:44 >
Post #: 1
11/15/2008 0:27:51   
mastin2
Member




Episode 1

“The Beginning”


Terror spreading rapidly though the once-beautiful land, an infection meant to cure, killing nearly all who it reaches…and it is my fault. I am the source of this terrible disease, which has sprouted through the land. I am Brian, the starter of it all…


The toxic atmosphere strikes at a young man’s nose; he knows that he is getting close to his destination. His eyes wince at the scent, twitching slightly to acknowledge the smell. The ghastly green clouds above remind him of the poison surrounding him, of how dangerous the area is. He lets out a small cough as another wave of the toxin spreads through the air, choking a little at his lungs. The only comfort in this wave of death is the warmth, masking the cold of his home…what’s left of it. “We’re getting close.”

“How can you be so certain?”

The frown on the young man’s face turns to a slight grin. “It’s not that obvious?” He teases. “The stench is a dead giveaway. This area reeks of…IT. The last time I felt like this was…back then…when it all started.” The grin disappears again. He squeezes his hands until they turn white, only then releasing his grip.

“It’s not your fault, Brian.”

Brian snaps at this line. The sadness in his eyes, the almost-formed tears, turns into rage. His eyebrows lower as he swerves around to face the other voice, snapping back his answer. “Yes; it is! I…I started it all… How could it have happened? Why me, now, at my age? I wasn’t meant to be here, at least, not like this! I’m supposed to be living a perfectly normal life, relatively happy…not doing this to repay a sin that I can’t forgive myself for! Julie, my sister, how can I look at anyone in their faces again, after what I—”

Julie loses control and puts all of her momentum into her right hand. Her rage has boiled over to the point of no return, the hand making contact with Brian’s face. The slap’s sting snaps Brian out of his state, the pain being an unexpected gift. He rubs the red mark, stunned enough to listen. “Snap out of your depression, already! You…couldn’t have known this was coming.”

“But I should have! My habits…my carelessness…my ignorance, selfishness, my recklessness…they’ve cost us everything. I can’t forget that day, Julie. I can’t forget that moment.” Water condenses around one of Brian’s eyes, a tear dropping down his face. He clenches his fist, his face distorted to no longer show sadness, but rather, anger. “I can’t forgive myself, and especially not forget…that day…the day when it all started…”


Brian had done nothing special that day that he did not do the day before. He reluctantly got up, ate breakfast, and prepared for school, like he normally would. His mother let him drive their car to the school that day as part of his training. While, occasionally, there would be some type of negative disturbance, he was happy with his life, the average life of a sixteen-year-old.

He had done nothing wrong. Until he started fidgeting, waiting for his first class to start. Isolated in the back of the room, there was no way any other would notice what would transpire. And, if they did, then they would have just shrugged it off as another thing that Brian would do.

He was just innocently fidgeting with the simplest of objects: his favorite blue mechanical pencil. The trustworthy object that had served him for so long couldn’t possibly have done anything worse than it already had done, in any person’s mind.

Fidgeting with a few stabs, one of his random strikes hits his left thumb…hard. It was an innocent enough action; while it hurt and was noticeable, he pushed it aside. Similar wounds had accidentally been created enough times in the past for nothing to be possibly different, in his eyes, so he ignored the badly-bleeding wound. While not with his pencil, he had even wounded that same area the day before, so reopening a wound would be of even less concern than a brand-new one.

Others noted it as much as he did: not at all. The wound was invisible, unnoticed. There was no pain in the wound, no sign of any abnormality, and no sign of a sickness. The wound was invisible, plain in sight, but with no pain, no feeling at all other than what should have been there, he had no way of knowing what had happened.

Hour after hour of class did not change a thing. Even with a black tint to the wound, it remained unnoticed. Every class of Brian’s went just as it normally would, with the one exception of the wound growing greatly in size. Even through a lecture in English and mastering his math class, Brian felt no pain, no sign of the wound. He didn’t even spare a look.

When the later half of the day came, his lunch hour passed without incident and he proceeded to his Tae Kwon Do class. Because of sparring that day, the gloves hid his wound from any who might have alarmed him. His kicks were too devastating for him to ever need a punch, ever need a block, which might have been a chance to notice.

After this, the normal school day for him was over. Now, it would be a few hours’ wait for other classes to finish and for his mother to catch up on him. With nothing better to do, he went on a computer. The bands on the chair allowed him to sink in, relaxing his muscles after an average day at school. The roar of a dozen computers was music to his ears, this background noise a way for him to relax. His slightly-sweaty clothing did not make him uncomfortable, but actually only served to cool down his body, relaxing it further. It was like the world around him was trying to keep the wound from him as it spread deeper into his body.

He cracked his wrists and began furiously typing at over eighty words a minute. Staring at the monitor and nothing else, he had no way of noticing the wound on his arm, having no need to look down at what he was typing. His normal business was finished there within half of his given time, giving him some free time.

He left the area and settled in a chair nearby one of the more isolated tables and decided that catching up on sleep might be his best course of action. Without a single thought, he let his tiredness consume him, forcing him into his slumber.

At the appropriate time, his mother came rushing in. Of course he was instantly woken up by her shouting, expecting her to be yelling at him to get more sleep—but there was little rage in her voice. All he could hear was panic, a sign that something was wrong. He and all those around him might not have noticed anything odd about Brian—but a mother’s instincts are far more in tune to danger; only then did he notice the wound, his sentence sealed.

The shriek of terror from his mother, the scream at the top of her lungs, was enough to pierce through his eardrums. Her panic could be felt by others within half a mile. This was something that was not there in the morning; how could it develop so fast?

Chaos engulfed the school. Worries about Brian instantly shot up, Brian not being the only one wondering why it had gone unnoticed up to that point. Brian barely had enough time to grab his belongings before they were already out the door, heading for his car. His mother dialed a few cell-phone numbers as she sped away into the highway, racing to help her son. The drive was too brief—his mother’s panic was such that her driving got them there in a fraction of the intended time.

He was rushed in, awaiting imprisonment. He nearly tripped as his mother practically ran with him in tow, escaping a fall at lest three times. While someone with a broken leg or arm might have been forced to wait, a panicked mother with connections was enough to have him instantly rushed in. They had no way of knowing how far the disease had spread through both Brian’s body, and through the populace. Anyone touched by it could have been infected as well; speed was of the essence, so Brian was not surprised when he was shoved into a large cell in the back of the hospital for testing and quarantine.

Brian needed not hear the doctors to know what was going on. They were clueless. Something had spread with frightening speed through his body and continued to spread. Was it contagious? Would others share Brian’s fate?

Brian waited…and waited. Tests were done. By his estimate, a few hours had passed; it would be light out only for another hour or two. He was bored, but knew he really had no choice but to wait…and listen to what he could hear from his prison. His eavesdropping was all he could do to keep himself occupied—and he regretted it when he heard what was being said.

The disease had spread much farther. It had only sped up a great deal since the time in the hospital and had consumed most of his arm. While the speed had lessened, it was still spreading rapidly. Others were showing no signs of this; Brian appeared to be the only one being damaged…but that was enough. The doctors still had no clue what it was that could be doing this to him.

The next bit of news he didn’t even need to hear to know would be most likely true—while they had no idea what this disease was, there was a good chance that when it would reach his heart, Brian would die. Burning pulses where there had been nothing before only made Brian feel all the more dead. But the next part was the part that he truly did not want to hear.

“I’m sorry. We really can’t do more. We could wait and hope he survives, but there’s just no way we can find a cure for his condition before it’s too late if this really will be lethal.”

“There must be something you can do!”

“There is one thing that we’ve been working on…but it’s just a theory of one of our doctors, something not even tested in the lab. This is something best done in a research facility, not a hospital, but we do have it. It hasn’t had even simulations run on it with any kind of success, but…it is something that doctors have been wanting for thousands of years, assuming it works. This is a ‘miracle cure’, something we hope to cure any sickness…but I don’t see how we could—”

“We have to try it! Others could also be at risk of this disease as well; if not for my son…then for them…”

“We don’t know enough! This could kill him when he could be saved!”

“But it could save him when he would die!”

“A-alright. This goes against my better judgment. This prototype is in such a raw form that we’d have to deliver it in gas-form. The creator of this might be someone you’ve known for years, someone who we’ve all worked with and he places his confidence in it that it’ll work, but…we really have no way of knowing if it’ll work.”

“Him? He’s a genius; I know it’ll work. I don’t care if it’s in a gas form or is a portable injection; we need to try this. Please?”

It was done, sealed at that point. Brian knew that he could have protested, but knew that action would probably only make things worse. He wanted more information, to know more about what this thing was, about whom this acquaintance was…but when his mother made up a decision about his health, there really was no other option. It was far too late for anything to be changed.

The ventilation to the room was sealed. It was the rawest gas-form possible, spread through the ventilation system to that room. Brian knew instantly that something was not right about it, but with the gas already in the room; there was absolutely no way out of the situation at that point.

A foul odor hit him first, the putrid stench warning him of the upcoming disaster. His nose instantly clogged up, desperately trying to block out the smell. Forced to breathe through his mouth, he knew that his throat would burn.

The feeling of something evil in the air was too eerie for Brian to shake off. The doctor, he could tell, had meant every word of the conversation with his mother. But without knowing who the original creator was, how could he be certain that the intention was really to save lives? He surrendered to his fate. If he wanted to resist, he knew he could, but that it’d be futile in the end; holding his breath would stop him from taking it in, but after two minutes at most, it’d be over.

The pain hit seconds later. His throat felt like it was being ripped apart. His tongue went numb from the bad taste of the gas, sparing it the pain of the burning spiking through his body, feeling like it was destroying his lungs. His heart nearly stopped—this was too painful for him to bear, his mind utterly overloaded to the point where it could not force his heart to beat. Only his instincts kept him from being killed in those seconds.

The gas made contact with the disease, and instantly, things got a thousand times worse. His body felt like it was being ripped apart. His heart felt like it was being crushed. His lungs felt like they had exploded. His throat still felt like it was on fire. Had it not been for extreme willpower and the feeling that his vocal chords had been crushed, he would have yelled, screamed for help.

This could not have been what the doctors had wanted, but it was too late; Brian knew that much. Brian’s feet collapsed on him. They bent instinctively, forcing his body into a small ball, a ball hugging the ground on its side. His nose felt like it wasn’t there. His ears were feeling such intense pain that he felt like ripping them out of their sockets. His sense of touch body-wide had been suppressed, burning, freezing, or just pure pain taking away the sensation for what felt like an eternity.

The reactions became more and more violent, his body leaking blood on the floor. His eyes felt like they were being crushed, then burned, the pressure on them nearly killing him at that moment. The blood began to pour from any place it could, just below his eyesight included.

The disease, the ‘cure’ had mingled together for far too long. His left hand, where it all started, was losing its skin, then the muscle below it. His very flesh was being torn away by the violent forces clashing, mixing together. The damage spread across his arm, leaving nothing but bone and blood behind. Soon, little of his left hand remained and his right arm was next.

He was no longer curled up into a ball. Now, his arms—what were left of them—were outstretched across the floor, holding him just above the ground for fear that if he were to take a position as comfortable as the one he had been in, he would never wake up again. The ripping began to spread to his chest, tearing his skin away. Blood filled his eyes, clouding his vision from the nightmare, and he coughed up a large pool of blood.

One way or the other, he knew that it would be over soon. His self-control was passing away. If his throat was still in tact, he knew that he would scream, giving up the part of him that would never do that. A feeling of coldness spread through his body, hitting both the areas shredded and those that still felt like they had flesh—to him, he couldn’t tell, his eyes still firmly closed. Fire hit next, consuming any part that still had flesh. The last thing to hit was pain, not heat, not cold, shocking his whole entire body, and then, there was…numbness. The thought of death crossed his mind. Was that really his end?

It did not feel like it. His body still felt like it was changing, the numbness being lessened. The first sense that he regained was that of taste—a similarly foul taste from before filling his tongue, this time the sinister taste radiating its evil more clearly, the tainted, disgusting, and undesirable feeling staying glued to his poor tongue.

While it continued to change Brian, his ears managed to return, although extremely weakly. First a ringing sound, and then a humming sound dominated, but soon enough, one sound dominated: the hissing of the gas. This gas, however, was not pouring into the room—he knew it was the gas escaping his body in its mutated form. It would be all over if containment was breached.

He regained his sight, finding his body fully healed, somehow changed, different, slightly numb, sore, but otherwise, seemingly unharmed. But his body was not what worried him. With his new-found life, he stood up, praying that what he thought was happening was just his imagination.

The pain through his body distracted him momentarily, forcing him to scan his body once more. He stared at his tan skin; no change. He moved his arms, outstretching the fingers and the hand to be as far away as possible, finding no pain there. They were fine. He regained his sense of smell, the scene of the evil gas instantly overloading his nose again. He determined this to be the source of the pain, it also blurring his eyes for a brief second before the life fully returned to them.

Then, to his horror, he saw that the hissing sound from before was the gas. The gas was expanding like wildfire through the room, but not suffocating him. The reason he could soon tell from the screams of panic of the other side—the gas had found a way out. He could tell that it was spreading, too late to stop. He was fully healed, even his clothing back to normal, but the damage had been done. He was unsure whether the cold feeling over his body was just the temperature, or the knowledge of him being responsible taking physical form. He could hear the doctors panicking. The ‘cure’ had gone out of control, killing most of the people there. It was too late. All he could do was watch as it spread, an intense feeling of guilt overwhelming him. It was too late. The damage had been done, and he was powerless. It was too late.


“Hey, snap out of it! Don’t make me hit you again!”

Brian raises his hand in defense, showing that he is no longer daydreaming. He smiles at his sister’s comment, finding invisible humor in the statement. “That’s hard to do; you’d take any excuse.”

Julie manages a slight grin, but can’t find the will to laugh. Still, it is enough, in her eyes, to show that she was entertained by the comment. She feels she owes her brother an explanation, turning serious again. “True, true. But still…you looked uneasy…even for you.”

Brian can’t help but laugh. The response puzzles his sister; what did he find humorous in that statement? “Oh, just the ‘what am I going to do with my life; I have nothing left’ feeling getting the better of me. It’s been a long time already and I’m still not sure what to do.”

“You call a week a long time?”

“Time seems to be moving hundreds of times slower, yes, but time has also sped up by about thirty times as well. Seriously, this would be a thirty-minute drive, tops, with a car before. A week later, and we haven’t yet reached our destination.”

Julie takes up her grin again, seeing that—despite the seriousness in Brian’s comments—he is joking. “Well, we’ve got excuses. Cars tend to actually need to work to drive us, for one thing. There needs to be no obstacles in the road. It needs to go fast enough to actually do us some good as well. The caution that we’ve put ourselves through helps as well. Oh, and then there’s resting the whole day after a fight because we lack the endurance to fight on longer.”

Now, it is Brian who can’t help but flash a slight grin. “Yea, that takes five days, for five fights. Plus a little interest from…well, you know. But what about the other two?”

“We take our time. What else?”

For the first time that his sister can remember since the incident, Brian laughs a weak chuckle. “Yea, I suppose so. We really need to make ourselves stronger. Oh, and speaking of powers…have you managed to locate anyone? You’re more gifted at that than I am.”

The two continue on. Both hold onto the pleasant thoughts, yet neither can keep up the grin for that long. “Not yet. I’m not that good at it. I wouldn’t have known I even possessed the ability if you hadn’t briefly gone wandering off for a while.”

“Yea…we’re still adjusting to the basics of the basics. I don’t think we’ll ever truly master our new…gifts.”

“Hey, Brian…the car over there looks like it’d work. Wanna try?”

“Sure, why not? I suppose it’d help.”

Brian strolls over to his sister’s location, opening the driver’s door to assess the vehicle. “Keys…that’s good.”

“Your hotwiring skills could’ve used the practice, though.”

“So? Less work for me to do. Anyway, hop in. This truck will get us some distance.”

“You…driving…putting my life in the hands of someone worse than our brother…I’m still not comfortable with the thought.”

“Well, it sucks to be you. You can’t drive ‘til next year, at least, not officially.”

His sister frowns at the thought, Brian grinning at her suffering—revenge. He takes his position and begins to get comfortable. He reclines the seat a little, moves it back a few inches, straps his seatbelt…and then adjusts the mirrors. For a brief second, the mirrors show his face. The swirls of red disturb him, added to the fact that the previously-hazel orbs now shine mostly bright green. He frowns for a second before pulling the hood up on his black jacket.

A thought flashes through Julie’s mind, allowing her to reform her grin, “You’ll never cease to amuse me, Brian.”

Brian looks at his sister in the passenger’s seat, clearly confused as to what she could possibly be saying. “Eh? How so?”

“You can wear two layers less of clothing outside, in the cold. Most of the time, you choose to wear too much, yes, which is strange itself. But it fails to even be worthy of comparison to the fact that you’ll be bare-headed out there in the cold open, yet will put your hood on the second you get inside of a warm car.”

“I have my reasons.”

“Which are what, exactly?”

“Well, warm car or not, the hood can keep my head warm during the night, vital to keep me up and running at a hundred percent.” Brian rubs his hand through his rusty-brown hair, reminded of how the six-inch hair would have needed a haircut before. He smiles for a brief second at the thought before returning to his dark mask. “I don’t mind the fact that it messes my hair up, either, since I’m no perfectionist. For another…let’s just say that it has to do with the mirrors.”

Both frown; the intended humor had backfired on them. Yet again, they find themselves in serious conversation. “It’s…to hide your eyes, isn’t it? They are the largest physical reminder on your body that you’re not as human as you used to be; looking in a mirror makes this more obvious than it would be.”

Julie receives no answer. Brian turns the key, returning the life into the engine. “Well, it works.”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

He runs his left hand through his hair this time, keeping his right on the steering wheel. “Ah, how much I enjoy sifting through my hair. The static cling you feel is rather strong, in comparison to what it was, thanks to enhanced senses.”

Julie gets a little angry, tempted to reach out and hit her brother. “Stop changing the subject!”

“Consider it changed. I forgot the original question and will tune you out with depressing thoughts if you ask it again.”

Julie sighs, admitting defeat. “I just think that having your hood up like that…well, it reminds me of too many things. First of all, it makes you look a little like a gangster. But you’re not that bad; it more reminds me of…well, a dozen characters from anime with a similarly bad taste in fashion.”

The two share another laugh, the dread in their voices again reversed into humor. “Ha, ha…good one. Well, let’s get moving, shall we?”

The accelerator is floored, forcing the car to jet forward with frightening speed, before decelerating and settling for a mere thirty miles an hour. Julie can glimpse the objects that are the reason behind Brian’s hood for just a split second—in them, she can now spot a few black spots, swirling in an almost hypnotic pattern.

No wonder Brian covers his eyes…the pattern is so…beautiful, so…deadly… It draws me in; I can see why it reminds him of his change. Even through the hood, I still sense some depression, some anger, leaking through.

She sighs again at her thoughts, wanting a distraction. Her own reflection is far from normal; her shoulder-length dark brown hair has green strands showing up every once in a while. In her eyes, a brilliant emerald green shines through, like Brian, having replaced the previous hazel.

“You know, Brian, now that I think about it…the hood, honestly, seems a little…well, pointless. If it’s to keep yourself a little warmer at night…well, just breathe a little more and you’d be fine, with the temperature out there. If it’s to keep yourself from being reminded of the disaster…well, just look around you; there’s always reminders.”

“Who’s to say those are the only reasons?”

“Well, true; you do like to keep that kind of thing to yourself. But, honestly…it makes you seem too dark, too inhuman.”

“Opinion noted.”

“And I imagine it’d hinder you in battle.”

“Five fights later, and I’m fine. But…Julie…something that I noticed when I don’t have the hood on…when blood gets splattered over my face…I go berserk.”

“That happened once when you had the hood on, anyway. One time when you did not have the hood, you were absolutely fine.”

“Well, I’ll note your opinion.”

“Oh, and Brian…”

“What?”

“We need to find a place to salvage clothes from.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Have you looked at yourself?” Brian shifts his gaze away from the road for a brief period, not understanding the question’s meaning. “Well, that’s a ‘no’. Let me just put it this way: we haven’t changed since the incident began. Our clothes are becoming rags. While I enjoy wearing my current clothing, scratches, wear, and tear are wasting them away.”

Julie points to his black jacket. “Have you taken the time to observe that there’s a large hole in your layers of clothing, or that there’s a huge scratch across your back that—while the wound has healed—the clothing isn’t as so easily repaired? What about your sweatpants?” Brian glimpses at the areas Julie had been talking about. Sure enough, his black sweatpants have tears in many places. His jacket has scratches all along his arms, along with a huge hole in the front. He takes one hand off the steering wheel to feel his back, the marks clearly showing through that. At first, he frowns, before chuckling a slight laugh. “What’s so funny?”

“Oh, nothing. It’s just…clothing is not something a guy would normally ever think about.”

“Well, I’m a girl, and I’m disliking the rags we’re wearing.”

“I’m not changing out of this jacket, period. I can be thankful that the white letters on the back are not scratched.”

“Like we need the ‘LEWIS’ on there to know that it belongs to you; nobody else would have a jacket in such terrible shape.”

He smiles at the thought. “Good point. I, unlike you, don’t wear ‘normal’ clothing and tend to somehow find ways to damage it more than any others.”

Julie looks at her own clothes: faded blue jeans and a purple t-shirt, both with their own scratches, both with spots worn down beyond recognition. She frowns. “With the condition these are in, they’re not normal either, Brian.”

“Well, live with it.”

A chill runs down Julie’s body. At first, she shakes it off, not wanting to believe it. Then, it gets stronger, causing the hair on her skin to rise. She feels it through her body, knows what is there. She keeps it silent, hoping for some type of confirmation from her brother.

The feeling becomes stronger as they enter the edge of their destination: the now-ruined former city of Monroe. Brian, even through the car, can smell the stench of his doing. Even with the protection of the car, the air still radiates its foulness to him. He can feel, he can hear, he can practically see the power of the wind, a force amplified to the point where it wants to tear through everything.

The road he is traveling on is deserted, yet another reminder of the disaster. Nearby, a giant lake of green sludge sends spikes of pain through Brian’s memory; the sight replaces the images of the beautiful lake that was one of the best features of the city. The brown murky lake, now full of junk, offers only pain, forcing him to look in other directions. He can’t take the sight of it, only thinking of the memory that it is replacing, the memory of many hours spent at the nearby park, letting the breeze sweep against his hair after surviving the bombardment of the sun…

He forces himself to reality again, feeling a slight chill, not one related to temperature. He looks at the park nearby the lake by instinct, only feeling the pain of a landmark destroyed, left for nothing but scrap metal. The black sand tells of the decay. The sky itself is filled with green and brown ooze, showing even in the bright daylight and blanketing the city with only more trouble.

“My second home…not exactly the way I remember it. It’s sending a chill down my back…”

“Brian…that’s not the chill of pain.”

“WHAT?!?”

“I feel it too, felt it earlier.”

“A survivor?”

“Probably more. I don’t think it’s one of them, either. They could be here as well—I’m counting on it—but I think there’s definitely a survivor nearby.”

A ring begins echoing through Brian’s ears. “Ringing sound?”

“Humming, for me. I suppose it’s stronger; I can almost sense where it is coming from.”

“Well, where is it?”

“I said almost; I can’t know!”

They break into laughter at the mark, Brian forcing himself to catch his breath as to not crash their car. “Right. Sorry.”

“Nervous?”

“A little.”

They both sweat a little. His breath becomes heavier, more hopeful. His heart increases its tempo, beating fast enough for him to hear it. Where he felt only depression and sadness before, the excitement and hope now are close to engulfing him. “Well, now what?”

“We drive around ‘til we find something, of course.”

“That sounds so much like you, Brian.”

“Well, got a better idea? Mine works.”

The car’s driving becomes more and more bumpy, now racing. Brian unwillingly speeds up the car, forcing it to race forward towards the turn he plans to take, even though he is barely controlling the car as it is. “So, Brian, the school?”

“Well, most of these buildings are too ruined for any use, but they’re in tact just enough to cloud my vision of that area, so I have no idea what to expect. But, assuming that area has fared better, it makes sense that people would gather there. It’s just a theory of mine.”

To Brian’s dismay, smoke bellows from the engine and the car slows down to a stop, half-way through the turn. He frowns, displeased at the lack of transport. Julie, however, can’t help but smile and let out a sigh of relief. “Good timing. And here I thought that we’d come all this way, only to die in a crash, no thanks to your driving. I suppose the dead car is a blessing.”

Brian’s face is agitated, annoyed at his sister’s response. He is about to answer, but she opens her door and quickly makes her exit, shutting the door with the greatest care possible. He sighs; she timed it so that his response would be on deaf ears. He steps out of the car and duplicates the same procedure—making sure that the door remains quiet when shut. Sound might attract the attention of a survivor, but Brian knows something else, something far more likely to be attracted to the sound, something which he fears that even his scent might give away.

He holds back his laugh, this time out of caution rather than to keep up a mask. In the open, he whispers his protests to his sister. “Julie…I’m not that bad!”

“Maybe you are; maybe you aren’t. But when you’re tensed up and in the middle of a reverie, the car becomes a dangerous place to be with a driver drunk on depression. So, the school, right?”

“Is the feeling stronger as we walk that way?”

“Yea. It’s a good sign.”

“Another good sign: the Mc.Shell is out of food and probably out of gas. It must’ve been raided by people in recent history.”

Julie chuckles at the thought. “Yea, along with all the other sources of food in the area, but that area looks particularly ransacked.”

“Are you scared?”

“Yea, a little.”

“Well, too bad. You’re not on Scare Tactics. I kinda wish we were, but simply put, they’d never be able to create such an elaborate nightmare, this delicate dance of death.”

Julie grins a little at his humor. “Nice one. So, been saving that one for half a week?”

“Something like th—”

They stop dead in their tracks. Brian can hear something now, and he knows it is not a survivor. He can smell it more than anything else. While the whole city is overloading by itself, this scent is amazingly powerful. Julie expects Brian to guard himself and show extreme caution, even though he knows a fight is inevitable.

Instead, she sees him shake his hood off and grin. She only frowns, sure of how grim the odds are in the upcoming fight. And, looking at her brother, she can tell one thing: he’s gone berserk. Without even moving, without blood, without even seeing the enemy, her brother has shifted into a more battle-ready stance.

“Ah!” Brian happily exclaims, throwing his whispering voice to the wind. “They’re here. Lots of ‘em, too. Target practice it is, then; we need to practice some more!” His grin becomes nearly sinister in nature; Julie knows that he’d probably begin hunting down the enemies if they were to run away. His eyes narrow a little in anticipation, him taking a battle stance. Julie sighs and does the same, preparing herself as well.

A swarm of monsters appear from all directions. Some rush down from the hills above, probably having failed hunting animals in the forests above, the place once containing their real home, but now containing nothing but evil darkness. Out of nowhere, many more appear from the ruined buildings that Brian had surveyed earlier. Even more come from behind them, swimming across the lake to get a shot at a feast.

Their numbers are too large for Julie to accurately count; such a task would be impossible. While she can’t count them all, she certainly can sense them all, their number masking the signature she had been tracking before. With such a number, she doesn’t know the precise amount, but knows enough to guess the general amount—a lot. As the monsters bear down on their location, their roars shaking her to the core, she is reminded—out of all the times to be distracted—of how they discovered their powers…
Post #: 2
11/16/2008 13:31:51   
mastin2
Member

Episode 2

“Demon of Death”


Julie was not there at the time, but Brian had told her what he did only seconds after the disease began to spread, as soon as he was free. Her mind runs wild with the images that she had imagined, recreating the moment in her mind.

Pure chaos had engulfed the hospital. Brian had mentioned seeing the skin of the doctors peel away as they died, turning to ash. He ran before he could see them die, but from Julie’s perspective, she can imagine what happened to them. “I have doomed us all,” he had muttered, crying, running full speed for the exit.

Knowing her brother, she imagines how he probably thought it to be his deathbed—something which determination would help him escape from. From her own experiences and his recounting the events, she imagines him running faster than he had ever done before, desperate to get away.

The breeze rushed at his skin. He dashed through the narrow hallways from which he had come in, heading for the one entrance, one exit, that he knew of. He found it, rushing out before he could hear the roar from behind him. Julie knows what it is, that image floating through her head as well.

But, at the time, only one thing mattered: escape. Out of the hospital, he was in just as much danger as within. He swerved left, dashing towards his vehicle. The trip had not been made by just him and his mother; Julie was there as well. He knew what to look for, only able to pray that she was still inside, alive and well.

He spotted it as he rounded another corner. There weren’t any cars quite like the one they had, by fate, brought that day. Their large, old, rusty white and red suburban had been serving them for ten years. It was supposed to have been retired, but with a family vacation planned, the seats would have been needed and the car was going to be dropped off for an engine checkup later that day.

Cries echoed from across the city. The ones from the hospital slowly begin to be drowned out by those around him, along with terrible roars that dominated the afternoon. But he couldn’t save them all; he had more important priorities. He had a guess: most of his family was dead. What little family he had left became his priority. If Julie was in the car, maybe he could do something. A tear was almost shed for those he had left behind, but almost to the car, there was only one he could save. Between saving them and preventing Julie from getting into more serious trouble, was there anything else he could’ve chosen?

She knows that it must have hurt Brian. But he was there too quickly, at the time, for any further doubt. It had taken no more than twenty leaps total to get to the back of the car, another two to get to the right passenger’s door. Though almost certain that the car was locked, this had been the car he had been in for over half of his life, his favorite, his choice to drive, if it weren’t for the low gas mileage. The right side had a defective lock: a way to get in.

This part Julie remembers without Brian’s help. He placed his finger on the button to apply the trigger and then, with frightening speed, tore the door open, forcing it nearly off of its hinges, stopping after swinging a hundred and thirty degrees. The only obstacle removed, he could instantly spot Julie…and what he saw was something that only Julie could see: pure, total horror.

“Julie, are you alright?” Brian had asked, the panic in his voice clearly visible. There, in the middle of the floor, was Julie, lying there, close to death. She was crying out in agony, rolling around in the cramped space in a futile attempt to lessen the ordeal. The question was a pointless one to answer; it was clear she was not. Her hands were clenched over her stomach and, after the question, her eyes closed.

This was painful. Julie had to experience it, but knows it must have been worse for Brian, since he had experienced it, and then had to watch it as well. Now, her thoughts slightly clarified, she can understand a little more why Brian blames himself. It was not a pleasant experience to her; Brian’s look of despair at the time made her worst moments look like smiling, in comparison.

Touching his still-bloody hands gently to her, he was desperate, hoping that she would not die. What he witnessed seconds later might have been worse. The action only accelerated Julie’s pain. The spasms became more violent in strength. She kept trying to look at her brother, failing every time.

She could barely speak. When words did come to her, they were only a weak mumble. The lag between them was great enough for Brian to know just how true they were, increasing his mental misery just that more. “…So…painful…” He, himself, tried to turn away, nearly unable to watch his sister in such a condition. But his head refused to move, locked in on the terrifying sight.

His dread, his despair, increased. How could it not? He was seeing his sister continue to get worse and worse. She coughed up a little blood, then removed her grip from her stomach and instead locked her arms around each other. He could predict what was next. Her arms were torn apart. No sinister gasses leaked out, but still, the similarities were disturbing to him. Feeling it was one thing. Seeing it was worse.

Her arms reconstructed. The rest of her body, albeit lessened, experienced similar trauma. At this point, Brian was almost fine. It took a few minutes for the remainder of the disease to spread again through his body to give him strength, but he was fine after that. Julie, however, was not. Her body jumped a foot into the air, reaching the top of the seat before hitting the floor again. Her arms and legs began flailing around, hitting anything and everything.

Her agony no longer reflected his own; while his mental agony might have outmatched her physical pain, her suffering was obviously greater than his could have been. Julie, however, knows that the mental pain more than makes up for it.

After all, she couldn’t actually feel most of the pain. Her senses were ripped to shreds, reconstructed more sensitive than ever only later. It was relief, considering how many ways her body twisted and turned unnaturally. Finally, the reason why hit Brian with such force that his heart nearly stopped beating:

The gas had been created in his body, but had escaped. What little remained multiplied to again fill his body, but it still had escaped. That escaped disease had infected others. His sister had gotten it as well, obviously. But, unlike with Brian, the gases didn’t escape. They were trying, but couldn’t manage to do it.

Brian thought that if others were like that, he could have ended up the only survivor in the whole world. Julie’s life was obviously ending. Maybe others would survive because Julie was only dieing because Brian had touched her, a thought he hated even more. But, no matter the way he looked at it, he could only see his sister dead, her blood on his hands, mixed with millions of others and his own.

Her eyes went blank, devoid of life. If not for her heartbeat, he would have thought her to be dead. The spasms stopped. Julie had ceased to move. Brian dared to feel her heart again, but his fingers picked up no pulse. All the signs led to her having died. Brian’s already watered eyes broke into tears again, unable to take the loss.

Then, he heard movement. He wiped the tears away and looked at his sister—changed, but right in front of him, leaning towards the door, was definitely his sister. The figure that once had been Julie had miraculously been brought back to life—and only then did Brian remember how he went through something similar, after all.

Different, yes, weak, certainly, but for a brief moment, Brian’s despair had disappeared, replaced with the joy that, somehow, she was alive. That was more than enough for him. He stared into her eyes, now closing again. She collapsed into his arms, falling out the door. She muttered something only once, at such a volume that Brian had difficulty hearing it. “So…weak…”

He lay her on the ground for a while, smiling. Julie never saw it, but Brian had insisted that he smiled while she was unconscious, and that was the moment at which he did it. She was losing her train of thought at the time, allowing her body to rest after such a large change.

“Oh, Julie…ever the complainer. ‘So painful’, ‘so weak’; you’re always ‘so something’.” He laughed a little at the time, before changing his train of thought. “At least she’s safe. Don’t worry; I’m tired, but I’ll watch through the night for both of us.”

He, himself, was indeed weak. His muscles were all sore. His eyelids were lead. If there was a fight, he wouldn’t have been able to do anything. With the last of his energy, he placed her in the somewhat warm car, laid her onto the floor, took up his position on the seat, and slammed the door behind him.

He wouldn’t last long, but every moment he was awake would be another moment she was safe. He watched her, the only movement in her body being her chest moving, and surveyed the outside of the car. Night would set in soon, so he wouldn’t be able to see the damage. With luck, the screams would be dampened by the car. In there, they felt, for a while…at peace, just happy to be alive. Guarding her was the least he could do after unleashing an epidemic of this scale across the world; if they felt at peace, that was just another large bonus.

When she regained her consciousness, all she could see was the blurred image above her. There would be no doubt as to who it would be. The blurred vision lasts for another few minutes before her head begins to clear. Immediately, she clenched her hands to her skull, a headache the probable cause in the disruption of her sleep.

She blinked one last time and opened her eyes to see Brian, awake and almost smiling. The light around her told her that she probably slept through the entire night. A quick look around her confirmed as much, a red sun slowly rising above the horizon in the distance. She looked back at Brian, spotting the rings under his eyes. She could guess immediately that he probably was awake most of the night, looking after her. But he, himself, looked a little refreshed, so she sighed in relief that he probably got at least some sleep.

“How much?”

“What?”

“How much sleep did you get?”

He answered with sarcasm, holding back his grin. “A whole night’s; I slept without a single thought about you, without protecting you for a minute, leaving you to fend for yourself.”

She laughed. “Alright, good one. But, seriously, how much?”

“None. I was guarding you all night to ensure your safety.”

“Liar.”

“Okay, so I tried to guard you all night, but I fell asleep at roughly five and got a little rest.”

“Honest answer. If you’re punching yourself for sleeping, I hereby forgive you.” She winked, displaying a grateful smile. “The thought is more than enough and, in the end, is what really counts.”

“Yea, but I only woke up a few minutes ago. Waking up to see the world for what it is now instead of what you’re used to seeing it as is rather the shocker. Have you taken a look at the town? What’s left of the town, that is.”

She looked out the windows, observing the damage around her. Many buildings she was used to seeing were missing, destroyed, ruined, or nothing but gray rubble. Most of those that were left were missing at least a wall or two that she could see, along with many collapsed roofs. While she couldn’t see everything, she could get the impression that the whole town was similar.

“Creepy.”

“Disturbing as well. Right now, it feels so eerie to me, as if even the ghosts have run away from the town in fear of what happened here.”

She opened the door to get a better view. Instantly, she felt the smell. A thick air clogged all her senses except for sight. The brief chill her body experienced made her instantly come up with a thought about the air: it was evil at its purest. The new perspective allowed her to look at the cars around the area. Many were in the street, shredded, abandoned. Those in parking lots generally seemed to fare better, with only a few missing anything more than a roof.

“Well, there’s plenty of transportation, if you want to go somewhere. But first…what exactly happened?”


“I don’t know the details, Julie. All I know is that this is my fault. The disease from before was released in a gaseous form and did all of this. We’re different, changed from what we once were. And, from the looks of things, there is the possibility that you and I are the only ones left alive.”

“Life eternally stuck with Brian…hmm…I think I’d steal the pistol from the gentleman and use it instead of letting him shoot himself or not use the shot at all.”

Brian pulled his hood completely over his face, hiding the grin underneath that he allowed to break through. Even muffled, his voice still carried through strong enough for Julie to hear his comment. “I’m insulted that you’d take it. I’d rather be the dirty man who’s too cheap to starve to death than be the gentleman who shoots the starving lady. Nice try, though.”

“Why hide yourself that deep under your hood? You rarely do it that deeply.”

“Because I normally am not this deep in thought. I need to think about what to do next, so that we don’t end up sitting on this island for three days, waiting to get rescued. Our old life is gone, Julie. Our ship sailed away last night.”

“I hadn’t thought of that…”

“Which is why I’m thinking of it now so that you don’t have to.”

Julie stepped out of the car, stretching her muscles. Brian pulled off his hood and followed suit, glad to be able to stretch outside of the cramped space he had allowed himself during the night.

“Thought of a solution, yet?”

“Nope; I’m just taking in the details.”

“Like what?”

“Listen. What do you hear?”

“Silence.”

“Precisely. What happened to the screams? What ripped through many of these cars yet left others in tact? Why are most of the buildings in ruins appearing to be hundreds of years old yet leaves others untouched, looking exactly the same as they did yesterday? Look at the hospital.”

“Still in tact.”

“Shall we check it out?”

Brian started moving towards the hospital, taking caution. Rounding the corner, he could see the rest of the building in perfect condition, with one exception: tiny, blue shards lay scattered across a dozen square feet and the glass of the doors was missing. Something needed out and didn’t have the time to use the door.

“Well, Brian, it looks rather untouched; I agree that we should enter.” Julie took the lead, heading towards the door and nearly entering, waiting for her brother to catch up. She stole a look around, noticing a bush nearby. She fidgeted with it, fascinated with it for just a fraction of a second. Brian was already there, reaching out for her hand. As soon as he touched the plant, though, it withered into a husk, the green that was there disappearing in seconds.

“Apparently, it doesn’t like me.”

“More than that; your mere touch killed it.”

“I suppose it’s just bad blood, or something. Well, let’s enter. We could find something of interest in there, something to help us or something to explain this better.”

He got one answer just before entering, but it was not in a way that he had been expecting. He heard a sound from behind him and swerved around to face it. What he saw: a beast leaping dozens of feet at a time, heading straight for him. The wickedness in the thing’s eyes glowed its sinister red. It somehow managed an evil grin, flashing a set of yellow canines. “Mmm…fresh meat!”

The words caught Brian and Julie off-guard. Had it just said fresh meat? Were they food? Brian took a quick mental note of the approximate size of the thing, noting the resemblance of damage in many of the areas he had observed. This beast, maybe not alone, was probably one of the reasons the area was so deserted.

Brian ran the math through his head again. Eight feet, six inches tall; the thing was a true monster. Both he and Julie dared to look at its bright crimson eyes. Brian was chilled, but Julie was paralyzed. She couldn’t move, not even shake her body to show that she was afraid. They both could instantly sense its murderous intent, a sign that they should run and not slow down.

…But neither could move. The chill in Brian’s spine caused him to tremor a little. His hairs rose up and his teeth chattered. He wasn’t cold; this was just pure, simple fear, getting the best of him. The monster opens its jaw, now approaching striking range. A quick calculation told Brian that each tooth was roughly the size of a finger or two—a bite he’d want to avoid at all costs. The last thing he sees of the beast is the long, dagger-length claws, claws he imagined would leave a nasty mark.

“Can you run, Julie?”

Julie recovered from the sight of the thing, only to be startled by that question. While she couldn’t move her body, every instinct in her told her that running would be a good idea, the only possibility. Instinct, she hoped, would overcome fear. “I think so.”

“Well, then, RUN!”

Both of them shot forward with incredible speeds, hoping to escape the thing that was only a single leap behind them. They dared not look back to see it. Objects blurred around them, fading away at the speeds they ran. Brian made another calculation that their incredible speeds could have easily been over twenty—more than enough, apparently, as neither of them were dead.

Taking a quick glance at herself, Julie noticed that, not only were her legs moving faster, but they were also taking larger strides, allowing her to cover a much greater distance in far less time than she normally would. She knew that this was a sprint, the maximum of her abilities. Much longer, and she guessed that her strength would fail. Even so, she was pleased; such an adrenaline rush from her increased strength and speed was something she was thrilled to feel. After all, it wasn’t every day that they were chased by something hostile and she managed to actually keep up with her brother.

“I didn’t know we could go this fast!”

“We probably couldn’t ‘til the need rose, back there. If you’re referring to before we became different, that much is obvious. We’re going at speeds that would make even the best Olympic athletes cry in defeat; I don’t see how it couldn’t be one of the changers we’ve experienced.”

They shared a grin, though Brian turned his head the other way so that his sister wouldn’t see it. He focused on more pessimistic thoughts, to wipe away the grin he had been holding on to. Running was against his instincts. While fighting was something he disliked even more and Brian was good at running, to him, it was a sign of defeat. If the only alternative was a fight, though, there would be no decision; protecting Julie was his priority.

Unfortunately, fate would force him into the one thing he wanted less than running. The same beast leaped in front of him. He smelled it before anything else, able to dodge the incoming strike with nothing but the reek of the disease strong on the beast. The two were forced to separate, allowing the monster to divide them.

“Too slow!” They hadn’t outrun it. It had just been toying with them, looping around them and intercepting them. The thing was letting them know that escape was impossible. They would be forced to fight it, and—most likely—die trying. Reasoning would be impossible. They would die.

Brian narrowly dodged a swipe from the monster’s claws. He rolled to the left and put his weight on his right hand to get up, finding only extreme pain from the limb. He spared a look at his arm, cursing at his carelessness. His rapid leap to the ground saved him from being killed in one blow, but his good arm took the force of the slash.

His hand was bleeding severely. Had he not already lived through worse, he would’ve been sure that the blood leaking from the wound would have been mortal and that he’d be dead within seconds. Dodging another swipe from the beast revealed a terrifying fact: it just ripped through what appeared to be a solid steel door. If he wasn’t extremely careful, he’d be dead, anyway.

Whatever he was going to do, he would have to do it fast. He was already drained from the day before, and the sprinting certainly had not done him any good at all. He was clueless as to how to beat the thing. This was turning from bad to worse fairly quickly. The bleeding would only hinder him in battle if he couldn’t stop it. A thought so sudden, so rapid, hit Brian with such force and speed that he wasn’t sure it was him. What if…he used it instead?

Instinct took over. He dodged a lunge from the beast and then aimed his hand at the rough location of the thing’s throat. He concentrated all of his energy through the hand, wanting the blood to swirl around and create…something. At first, nothing happened; he avoided the thought that his instincts betrayed him.

Seconds later, as the beast prepared to attack again, though, he could feel some force brushing along his hand, swirling around his fingertips, stealing the blood from his arm, forming some type of weapon. His hand was engulfed in an eerie red glow. His arm’s wound healed instantly. And, as the beast lunged, the energies detached from his hand, shooting forward in the physical form of an arrow.

The beast was caught off-guard and the arrow hit. It dug into his flesh, but stopped inches afterwards. Brian pulled the magical arrow back and solidified its form even more and tried again, with even worse results: the arrow just bounced off of the monster’s skin. Realizing with shock and horror that his attacks were useless, Brian could only narrowly dodge another slash of the lethal claws.

Okay, I have almost no clue what I just did; I can guess, but it’s something I need to look into. I can’t replicate it, and just opening a wound in my hand would be too risky at the moment. If I could, though, then I can guess that the less the attack is physical, the more damage it will do. But I can’t count on it; if I don’t find a way out of this mess without relying on a faulty power…then I’m toast.

“I see. You have learned of your abilities. My kind was just like you, yesterday, you know. Human, weak. But we were changed. Most humans turned to dust. Some, like you, survived. But others became better than human—us. Your kind is weaker, but when they discover that they have powers…the meat becomes more tender, more appetizing, more delicious, and so much more enjoyable to massacre.”

Brian was forced to dodge another slash by the beast, and then survive being kicked. He flew back two dozen feet, before hitting a building. The monster approached for the kill, jaw open, ready to bite. Brian leaped to the side, allowing the thing to dig its teeth into the material behind him.

The leap allowed the beast to attack Brian again, resorting to the claws as it was already half-way through its own dive towards Brian. He took the pain on his back gladly and used it to focus his power again, this time focusing it on the thing and imagining it slamming into the wall.

Seconds later, it does just that, accelerating into the wall Brian had just imagined it hitting. It was caught off-guard, stunned by the action. Brian looked around for any type of weapon he could use. Knowing he had only seconds, he grabbed the first thing that caught his eye—three bars of glistening metal. If he had to guess without knowing, he would think those bars were silver. He tossed one towards Julie—just in case she would be forced into the fight—and grabbed the other two for himself. They were heavy, but not unwieldy.

The beast lunged forward again, growling, angry, ready to kill him. Brian raised the bar he held in his left hand to block the teeth, seeing it bite down hard. The result shocked him: while his fragile bar had broken, so had the monster’s teeth.

He dodged the blades of the thing’s hands, knowing that if it was angry before, it would have a bloodlust for him then. He discarded the remains of the broken bar after using them to briefly shape his other one a little to be sharper. The beast still hadn’t recovered, violently flinging his claws in every direction, letting out a painful roar.

“Be careful, Brian. Stay far, far away.”

“If I did not know better, I’d think we’re facing werewolves of some sort. Tonight is a full moon, you know, and I’m guessing these bars are made of silver—and one of them just broke his teeth.”

“Ha, good one.”

“Nah; they aren’t werewolves. Werewolves don’t have this much intelligence, normally. Werewolves have fur instead of rock-hard armored skin. Werewolves also communicate the disease via their bites, while these things were created from…”

His joke trailed off, the thoughts coming from it distracting him. He forced them away, knowing such a thing in battle would only be lethal. He did so just in time, as the beast recovered and slashed at him yet again. Now, it wasn’t going to toy with Brian; it wanted him dead.

Brian didn’t dodge. Instead, he merely raised the bar up, aiming for the monster’s heart, and—with all of his strength and effort—lunged into it with a grunt. He smiled at the prospect of victory, something which he couldn’t have imagined five minutes earlier. “Eat this!”

The bar plunged through the thing’s heart. It slumped to the ground, the snarling anger gone, the breath of a beast removed. Confident that the beast was, indeed, dead, he released the grip on the bar and turned his back to the thing and moved towards Julie. “Well, it works. I don’t know why silver works, but it works. Maybe something in the disease made that thing vulnerable to silver. Whatever the reason, we have a weapon, if we encounter those things again. Now, shall we leave?”

“Brian!”

Julie rushed towards Brian, confused at her response. Pure shock and horror stretched across her face, but he couldn’t understand why. She was about to cry out her warning, but it was too late. She couldn’t tell him that the fight had not yet been won, at least, not until he could feel it more than anything else.

His instincts told him of danger. He didn’t think to dodge, feeling more curious than threatened—a mistake. The second he was facing the thing again, he felt the force of the blow. The monster was still more than alive, its eyes now burning with the fires of its hatred. It impaled Brian through the stomach, a mortal blow.

Too stunned to do anything, Brian just fell over onto the ground, loosing consciousness slowly, losing his life with the power in the blow. As the thing removed its bladed hand from Brian, it left only a hole behind, reaching half way to his heart. The beast roared with a malicious laugh, content in its victory. It wouldn’t eat its prey alive, but dead meat would still suit it fine—now, to deal with its comrade.

“It’ll take more than that to stop me. Nice try. You nearly had me, but it takes a lot more than that to kill one of us. You nailed the part about silver, but I’m afraid when you swung the hammer on that, alone, being enough, you missed. Such trauma might kill a human, but one of my kind…needs a lot more than that. Shame…if you had slashed instead of stabbed, it might have worked, but you failed to do so. Now, your comrade will be my snack.”

Staring into Julie’s eyes, he could only barely register the monster’s gloating. Blood dripped from his mouth, a sign of his demise. Julie was still running towards him, towards her own demise. He couldn’t protect her anymore. His mistake had killed them. “Julie…forgive me…I…failed…”

“Brian!”

The beast allowed Julie to pass, running over to her brother. It wanted her to be in pure despair, to feel utterly hopeless. She could see the wound and knew that it would be mortal. As Brian blacked out, she couldn’t feel sadness. Only one feeling filled her: pure, simple rage.

“Without him, you’re powerless. I’ll let you two die together. Just think of how ironic it is. Humans who destroy anything they touch are to be destroyed by what once was their own kind. Now, the hunter is the hunted. You never stood a chance. We are better in every way and will—”

“Cut the chatter.”

The thing was caught off-guard by Julie’s demand. It was short, simple, and full of emotion. “What’s this? A human dares give me an order? That’s something I haven’t seen before. Very well. I shall stop my bragging, if that’s what’s bothering you. I shall end this quickly so that you can join him in the afterlife. You’re hopeless, powerless.”

“We’ll see about that.”

Rage was replaced by instinct. Julie’s calm, peaceful nature vanished in an instant. The beast wasn’t the only thing out to kill, out to get revenge. Now, the playing field was more even…but the scales were about to be tipped again. She lay her brother down on the ground, hatred consuming her.

She sprung to her feet, glaring at it with her own murderous intent, with her own raging fire of hatred. Her brother was alive—barely—but was fading fast. The monster before her had just wounded him, and for that, he—it—would pay with its life. She had to win, and with her anger, she didn’t care if she was ripped to shreds, so long as she took the beast with her.

She raised her hands up. She let a supernatural feeling flow through her body. Drawing her strength not from blood, but from the earth, Julie pointed her hands at the thing and then raised her hands, willing the energy to flow back into the ground, now with a target. Vines shot from the ground, instantly immobilizing the thing, wrapping around it, cutting it to shreds.

The beast was in pain, since the vines were cutting it. It was immobilized, but the pain and imprisonment would end eventually. There needed to be a more permanent solution. She couldn’t let the monster survive, especially after what it did to her brother. She was beyond her emotional limit, so the thought of ending it was…pleasant.

Once again, she drew her energy from the ground, focusing it into her hands. She pointed her hands at the monster, focusing harder and harder. All of her energy poured into the attack, all of her hatred, her will to kill. Ten seeds materialized, one out of each finger. Without a second’s delay, they shot forward, implanting themselves in her foe.

Each of them slowly began sprouting. Using the beast as energy, they each grew through it. Soon, the seeds and the plants sprouting from them had formed roughly into a tree pattern, interlocking as it spread deeper into his body. The cries of pain as the thing died were terrible. It was the worst possible way to die, and Julie had wanted it to happen, for vengeance.

Julie regained her soft nature as soon as the thing roared its last cry of life. She tried not to think about what she had just done, instead focusing on her brother. She frantically rushed towards his side, examining him for signs of life. His heart still beat, albeit with a much lessened pulse. It would not be long before he passed away; he had minutes to live, if that long.

Julie cried. She didn’t know what to do. She was powerless, just like the beast had told her. She might have avenged her brother’s wound, but it wouldn’t make up for the fact that he was going to die in her hands because she was helpless. This had not been something she was prepared for. None of what had happened she was prepared for, but this was the one thing she couldn’t adopt to, the one thing she couldn’t recover from.

She simply wasn’t meant to be in this situation. Losing her brother would only make her pain even greater. Her tears ran over her cheeks and fell onto Brian’s seemingly lifeless body. He still wasn’t dead, but it would come soon. She cried some more, this time, the tears reaching the earth.

Nature seemed to answer her call, forcing instinct to take over her once again. Her strength that had faded away returned again. She wasn’t going to let it happen; she would save her brother. She pressed her left hand over the worst area of the wound, applying pressure. Her right hand covered her left and applied even more pressure.

She drew the energy from the earth again and applied as much force as she could. She focused all of her power into him, refusing to let him go. He would survive the wound; she would make sure of it. A bright green glow covered her hands. Within the wound, she could spot her powers doing their magic, a faint blue glow covering the inside of the wound.

Slowly but surely, her powers healed the wound with unnaturally rapid speed. A minute passed and the wounds were half-healed. Another minute later and the wounds were healed. Brian still lay unconscious, so Julie taxed her powers by keeping the blue glow up for a third minute.

No trace of the fight remained on Brian’s body. She had removed all evidence, not even leaving a scar. Brian was still too weak to move, not able to wake up. Now it was time to repay last night’s favor. Her energy had already been expelled from the fight and the healing, but she would protect him. She lifted him up and made the journey back to the hospital, laying him down and searching for supplies to help him.

Brian stirred in the afternoon, waking about an hour later. Julie lay by his side, watching him. She smiled, happy to see him recover. He tried standing up, stumbling and nearly falling down. Julie caught him, helping him regain his sense of balance. When she was satisfied he was fine, Julie let him stand on his own weight.

“So, anything of interest?”

“What?”

“I can see outside; it’s somewhere around four in the afternoon. You’ve had hours to explore.”

“Would you believe I was watching you the whole time?”

“As much as you believe that I watched you through the whole night.”

“Alright, I left to find things that might treat you if you needed more help.”

“So, I ask again: anything of interest?”

“Not really. I gathered up a few supplies that might help us and put them in a bag, but otherwise, nothing.”

“Well, then, I think we should leave.”

“Good idea. Just a warning, though: in the time we were gone, the roof on our car disappeared.”

Brian cursed. “Well, there are other vehicles around.”

“Brian?”

“What?”

“What exactly are we?”

“I don’t know. We’re not that monster; I am certain of that much. We’re not human, either. We’re stronger and faster than we were before. We’re different. The question is…what do we do now? I vote that we go in search of others who survived and didn’t become…that thing. I saw another car in tact, with keys in it. It’s just outside and I believe still in tact.”

He walked over to it, opening the passenger door and waving Julie towards it. The car was old, but newer than the one he was used to driving. It wouldn’t be the best, but it would have to do. He gestured Julie again towards it. “Hop in.” He moved to the other side of it, opening the driver-side door.

“Oh, no…you’re not really thinking about…you’re not going to!”

“Yes, yes I am. Get in. We’re too exhausted to travel on foot and we need to head towards the closest town. We’re going to Monroe.”


A splatter of blood snaps Julie out of her state. To her horror, one of the beasts lies before her, brutally cut in half. Another monster lunges forward, only to be cut in half. There, in front of her, is her brother. He sends away the axe he was using. The small army takes a few steps backwards, cautious of their new enemy.

Brian’s face lights up, producing a slightly wicked grin. Her brother is still gone, buried inside of the berserker. “Hey, Julie, aren’t you supposed to be the one snapping me out of reveries? Fight, already. My axe technique didn’t work as well as I would like, so I’ll try another weapon. In the mean time, you could cover for me.”

“R-right!”

She is nervous, but she hides it well. She tries not to do the math. By her estimates, a little over a hundred have swarmed them. They don’t know their limits, don’t know how far they can push themselves. She seems to have only gotten weaker, the first instant of her powers a mere fluke. Brian’s strength remains constantly high, but still, he uses a great deal of energy in a small amount of time.

She prepares her combat position. Her offensive abilities are the weakest of all, so she knows the best she can do is to distract her opponents. Her heart races, both excited and terrified. Both of them eye a rather large beast, a monster at nearly nine feet tall. It, in the back, looks important, possibly the reason behind the attack.

Brian reaches into his pocket, retrieving the pencil which started it all. He stabs it into his left hand, allowing his hand to bleed again. Using more refined and controlled techniques, he focuses the energy. He presses both of his hands into the ground, forcing the energy to flow through the ground.

The ground glows a scarlet red. Swirls of other colors whirl around, but that color dominates all others. At first, nothing happens. Then, the ground shakes violently, releasing its rage in an earthquake. Julie’s whole body is shaken to the core, caught just as much off-guard as their opponents. Brian is testing a technique he had developed, but never used. She hadn’t been expecting this, but she did expect his next move.

Brown spikes shoot from the ground, puncturing half a dozen of the beasts on the way up. Brian had used natural soil. In their experience, the things can’t handle things native to the earth very well, being almost as vulnerable to it as they are to silver. Julie had proven it in one of their fights. Now, Brian was attempting to decimate the enemy with the technique, but only with limited success.

The cries of pain from the monsters are terrible, their shrieks piercing through Julie’s ears. Brian’s reaction is different, him grinning at their pain, at their suffering. While he had hoped for more carnage, dead beasts are dead beasts, just that much less of a threat. A fear pierces through Julie. At this rate, at the rate he is killing…could he become no better than what they are killing?

But she pushes the thought aside. At least this time, her brother is only testing his abilities, his current limit. His bloodlust is great, but she knows that he is still buried deep down beneath. She clings to the hope that he will overcome it eventually, become himself, recover, and fight like he should.

Recovered from Brian’s test, she musters her own powers. She chants a few words to help her draw out her power, focusing on hitting as many targets as possible with her scattered strength. Vines spread across the battlefield, completely engulfing one beast and ripping another in half. Another dozen are immobilized, though the rapid growth of the vines is halted, Julie’s energies spent.

Her vision blurs and she collapses to the ground, close to passing out from the effort. She can’t feel a single part of her body, only the numbness of exhaustion. She recovers, getting back up to fight again. Now she focuses her power into her right hand, creating a blade out of vines.

“You amaze me with your stupidity. That blade is excellent for blocking attacks and stabbing, but these things take slashes to kill. Don’t you remember that from our first encounter with them?”

“Maybe, but I’m counting on a certain element of that—when they attack me, I’ll block. The vines will pierce through their mouth and, at the very least, immobilize them. You go ahead and go full offense on them; you’ll regret it when they get through your non-existent defense. I, however, have such a good defense that my offense is enough to keep all but the most idiotic beasts away.”

Brian continues unleashing his spikes on the field, killing many that Julie had left untouched. He smiles at his sister’s logic, glad to see her joking at such a time. Releasing all of his energy in the spikes had cleared his mind, removed the bloodlust…for the moment. He knows it will come back the moment blood touches his body, but at the moment, he can appreciate his sister’s humor. A monster slips through his offensive web, about to strike, only to be hit by a projectile from his sister. The seed sprouts in the thing’s skull, killing it in seconds.

“Thanks.”

“I told you so.”

“I didn’t regret it.”

“Only because I saved you.”

“Touché.”

The number of the enemy thins some more. They become increasingly more defensive, afraid to strike at targets they had perceived as weak. The nine-foot beast they had spotted before yells at them, taunting the two for their lack of skill.

“One, two, at most three dozen have fallen so far, but there are still about seven more of those left. Your powers are greater than what we anticipated, young ones, but you are just two against many; your powers will fail, soon enough. You’re exhausted. You’re too new to combat to know how to conserve your strength. You stand no chance.”

“Maybe that is so, but we must try. We aren’t exactly going to go curl up in a corner and die. We’d rather turn to dust expelling too much energy rather than let you win. You will not exterminate us. Take your superiority act somewhere else; we’re not going to let you win.”

“A lovely speech, but a futile one at that. One more wave of attacks, and you will fall.”

Brian points his still-bloody hand at the speaker, guessing him to be their leader. The death of the leader wouldn’t nullify the attack; if anything, it would make them fight harder. But, without a leader, the beasts’ attacks would be less efficient, something that—like the thing had said—is essential in battle.

The energies gather and he shoots them forward in a spherical form. No mass given; that would just bounce off. It is just his pure magical strength. The crimson orb clashes with the beast’s chest, dispersing throughout the monster’s body. Instantly, it collapses, dead. Brian can’t help but grin. His powers are dangerously low. He is panting from the effort and his limbs are heavy. Yet, in his desperation, the actual strength behind the attacks seems to have grown.

As predicted, the beasts charge at them, no longer caring. Their disarray would make the fight easier. The temperature around the area drops. The air becomes denser. The fight is affecting the environment, changing it. Brian takes his more defensive stance, still panting from his earlier effort. His own inexperience would be his downfall, at this rate. But, even so, he knows he can keep on fighting, as long as he has a reason to fight.

“The thing was right, you know, Brian. We can’t do this much longer.”

“And I’m right as well. What other options are there? We have to keep our hopes high. Sure, be prepared to have them dashed against a rock, and always expect the worst, but we have to hope for the best. Something might change to favor us.”

“Like what?”

“Miracles happen. Don’t ask me what type of miracle, but I’m hoping we get one.” Brian winks towards Julie, producing a genuine grin. With the bloodshed sure to follow, her brother would lose himself in battle again. In that state, he’d be out of control, losing all his remaining energy within seconds.

Yet the sincere look in his eyes, the portrayal of absolute confidence that they’d survive…it gives her new hope as well. The beasts are only seconds away from attacking again, eternity in a battle where a heart is beating so fast that anyone within ten feet can hear it.

Brian prepares himself. He takes up a few scraps of dirt on the ground and concentrates his energies into them. The air swirls a crimson red around his hand, slowly but surely taking physical form. Where dirt had been before, a blade now was. In his hand is a crimson hilt, the handle of a glistening silver blade.

He collapses from exhaustion again. Creating a blade out of air and dirt takes more effort than he thought he could muster. It was a mistake, but when he runs out of energy, he needs a weapon as a last form of defense. He can’t feel his arms or legs for a second, a second which a beast takes advantage of, leaping above him.

Like Julie, though, he ignores the fact that every bone in has body is crying out from being too tired and weak. In a sheer display of willpower, he stabs his sword into the ground, using it to support his weight as he stands up quickly. He takes it from the ground and only then notices the monster bearing down on him, ready to strike with its might force.

To Be Continued…


< Message edited by mastin2 -- 12/21/2008 19:49:59 >
Post #: 3
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