“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 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.”
“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.
“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.”
“Listen. What do you hear?”
“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?”
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…”
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?”
“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.”
“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.”
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.
“I told you so.”
“I didn’t regret it.”
“Only because I saved you.”
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.”
“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 >