From the Depths. Flash Fiction.

Brenda felt herself tense as the building shook lightly, most people continued working while one or two others looked around nervously. The tremors had been happening for the last week and while the news said they were nothing to worry about they still worried Brenda. It wasn’t entirely clear what was causing the tremors, different people seemed to have different answers from aftershocks of the larger earthquake they’d experienced the month before, to changes in the water table and everything in between. Brenda didn’t really care why they were happening, she just hoped they’d stop soon. She had always been afraid of earthquakes, ever since she was a young girl when she’d have nightmares of being buried alive in buildings as the world shook itself apart. After a moment she began to relax again, she glanced at the clock, it was almost time for lunch anyway, there wasn’t much point in getting stuck in again. She grabbed her purse and jacket then left the office.

Brenda felt better outside, she walked the short distance to the park, popping into a cafe briefly to buy a sandwich, and found a bench. Normally she would eat lunch with the girls but she just wasn’t feeling up to it today, she sent a quick text making her excuses then she took out her sandwich. She ate slowly, enjoying the sunshine and the fresh air, the large open space of the park was reassuring, much more so than the closed confines of the office. A flock of birds took off from the nearby pond, bursting into the sky, calling to another another as they went. A second later there was a faint rumble, Brenda tensed, waiting for it to pass, but it didn’t, it just became stronger. Brenda dropped her sandwich and grabbed onto the bench, around her people were falling to the ground. Brenda focused on breathing, it would be over soon, she just had to remain calm, she was safe where she was. It didn’t work, a deeper part of her was screaming to run, to get away, to go go go as fast as she could. There was an almighty roar drowning out everything as the concrete near the pond cracked, then burst upwards. Something was coming out of the ground, its skin was white and streaked with mud, its body was thick and wide, it had a gaping maw that opened and closed blindly, it looked almost like a giant worm if not for the large appendages that stuck out from it on all sides, the appendages moved wildly, they had large pincers on the end that opened and closed seemingly at random. With almost impossible speed the creature emerged from the hole, it stretched on and on as the ground still shook. Brenda got up from the bench and was almost immediately thrown to the ground, she did the only thing she could and started crawling away from the thing. Around her she could hear people screaming over the din, she looked behind herself and saw the creature was moving towards her. She struggled onwards but it was too fast, the creature moved over Brenda, crushing her beneath its mighty body, its mouth was moving around wildly, grabbing at everyone it could. The end of the creature slipped free from the hole and the shaking paused for a moment, then there was another faint rumbling as another of the creatures appeared, snaking its way free.

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Survival. Short Story.

So the storm has past and everything was pretty ok. Thankfully there was no major damage around us, no cars destroyed or trees pulled down, unfortunately my sister and brother-in-law werent as lucky, they’d a few roofing slates pulled off the roof and there’s a hole in it. They did keep their power though which was great!

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Keith listened to the radio, straining to hear what was being said above the heavy static. “Anyone… Don’t…Think.” he shook his head, he couldn’t make any sense of it, but hearing another human voice did give him some measure of relief. It felt like an eternity since he had last heard someone speak though in reality it had only been four days. He stood from the small desk and went to the window, the sky was carpeted in thick, heavy clouds and the rain was still falling heavily. They had talked about weather disruptions before it all went to shit, he had been sitting on his couch, watching TV when in the distance he could hear a rumble, the TV flickered once, twice, then the power went out. A few seconds later the entire house was shaking, he could hear glasses smashing in the kitchen, things falling in his bedroom. He stayed where he was, paralysed with fear, when the shaking finally subsided, he stood and went outside. He couldn’t see it, though he knew what the swirling vortex looked like, he had seen it on the news the day before, some new kind of weapon they were saying though it was still unclear as to who was attacking.

He had tried to get into town but his shitty car wouldn’t start, not that that held any great surprise, it had been on its last legs for almost three years now, hell he was surprised he had gotten this long out of it. He had enough food supplies for another two weeks, that was when he’d normally make the next trip into town. The nearest neighbours were about a two hour walk, he hadn’t gone to them yet, he was afraid of what he might find once he got there. The McKenna’s were nice enough people but they were religious nuts, he didn’t want to think about how things were playing out over there. It seemed better to just wait until things settled down a bit. After all it couldn’t be the end of the world, there were too many people, it was a disaster, a tragedy that would scar humanities conscious for millennia, but it wasn’t the end of the world. People would rebuild, they always did.

Keith had taken to keeping himself busy, there was no TV any more, his power had never come back and the generator was only big enough to keep the fridge and chest freezer going. The radio would do for now, he had plenty of batteries stocked up, though he limited his listening to a few hours in the evening. He would sit, fiddling with the knob, searching for any voices until eventually he would end up where he always did, with the garbled and staticy transmission. He figured that it was just someone out there talking for the sake of talking. There seemed to be no real narrative or repetition to what they were saying. They didn’t sound overly distressed either. Everything would be fine, it was just going to take some time, that was all. A voice came through, it was only for a second, “taking people from their homes, I don’t know where they’re taking them, I-” the static came back, stronger than before. He frowned, it was a different voice, it wasn’t like the one he usually heard. He quickly grabbed the radio dial and started turning it slowly, searching for the voice but it was gone. He sat in front of the radio for hours, easing the dial back and forth, every time he caught a hint of a voice he felt his heart jumping into his throat and his fingers would grip the dial so tightly they hurt, but he couldn’t find it again.

Eventually night came and he decided to stop, it was too dark to see much of anything in the room, the clouds were obscuring the moon and the stars outside, rain still hammered against his windows. He got up carefully and made his way to the small kitchen table, there he felt along its surface until he found the box of matches. He struck one and looked away as the match flared to life, carefully he lit a candle, then another, the two would have to do, he didn’t know when, if ever, he’d get his power back. The broadcast earlier on had rattled him, more than he was willing to admit even to himself. For the first time since this all began he moved around the small house and closed the curtains making sure there were no gaps as he did so. It was dark outside, too dark to see much of anything and he was afraid now that the light from his windows, however faint, might act as a beacon to anyone outside. He told himself it made sense to close the curtains, there were plenty of people who had lost their homes, everything they had, they’d be on the move and god only knew what desperate people might do. He was out here alone and he wasn’t in the best shape of his life either.

The night passed without incident, in the morning he opened the curtains again and stared out at the grey, rainy day. In the distance he could see thick plumes of black smoke rising into the air, despite the rain it was fairly still out with little to no wind. The smoke was coming from the direction of the McKenna’s. He wouldn’t be able to get to them in time to do anything, all he could do was wait and see if any of them had made their way to him. It was probably just an accident, that was all. Their kids were always rough housing with one another, it wouldn’t be a surprise if one of them knocked over a candle or lamp. Besides, the youngest one had gotten in trouble before for playing with fire, he’d managed to set an entire field of grass alight two years ago, they’d just barely been able to get the blaze under control before it managed to do any real damage.

Keith tried to keep himself busy through the day but he kept finding himself staring out the window at the smoke, which now looked like nothing more than a dark smudge across the sky. The voice on the radio was completely gone now too, there was nothing but static. He spent the afternoon looking out towards the McKenna’s, the smoke had disappeared but still, he couldn’t seem to look away. He expected to see the family of six walking along his road at any moment, tired, wet and perhaps soot stained, but otherwise unhurt. They didn’t arrive that evening, nor did they arrive the next day or the next.

On the third day after the fire he saw someone on the road, they were crouched slightly and moving slowly, at first he thought they were injured, he went outside, raised a hand in greeting and yelled, at the sound whoever it was crouched down lower and ran off into a patch of trees. Keith scrambled backwards into the house and locked the door, he had expected whoever it was to call out for help, not run away. He checked that the windows were locked too, though they wouldn’t do much to stop someone who was determined to get inside. Keith kept circling the windows, moving from one to the other and peering out, it would be dark soon and after that he wouldn’t be able to see anyone approaching. The rain had finally died off, but it was still cloudy outside, once it darkness fell it would be almost absolute. He looked out the front window again and his breath caught in his chest, there was a group of men marching down his road, they wore all black, even their faces were covered by masks, each one held a gun. Keith s heart started hammering in his chest, they weren’t moving incredibly quickly but they were moving steadily, they’d be at the house in no more than ten minutes. He grabbed a bag, the biggest he could find, and stuffed it with some canned food, he threw in a box of matches and some clothes. He didn’t have any real survival supplies, no tent, no sleeping bag. There wasn’t time to grab anything else, he slipped out the backdoor, not bothering to lock it behind himself, then he took off running.

When he finally stopped he was gasping for breath, he looked behind himself and was relieved that he couldn’t see his house. Once his breathing had slowed he started walking, who ever they were he had to stay ahead of them. Occasionally he would look behind himself to make sure there was no one following. He turned and looked again, he stopped and stared at the large plume of thick black smoke in the distance. He felt a bolt of nausea, he hoped that the McKenna’s had seen those men coming. A gust of cold wind shook him from his thoughts, he turned and kept walking. He couldn’t think about the McKenna’s, he couldn’t think about his house. None of it mattered now, the only thing that mattered was surviving.

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Church of the Divine Sight. Short Story.

Hi everyone, waiting for Ex-hurricane Ophelia to hit at the moment. I’m expecting everything to be fine but just wanted to write a quick note in case we lose power or something like that for a prolonged period. I should be back on Wednesday with another short story, but if I’m not it’s because of Ophelia and should be back on Friday at the very latest.

Hope everyone is safe!

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Jacob kept his head down and walked past the Surveyors, most people did the same. Even now after all these years the pitted scarred tissue where their eyes should be made him uncomfortable. They didn’t smile as he passed, but none of them made a move to stop him and really that was the best he could hope for. The Church of the Divine Sight was still considered a fringe religion despite the steadily growing popularity Jacob himself hadn’t been to any of their services yet but as more time passed he felt the need to go. Not for any religious reasons but because he could see the fervour with which people believed and it frightened him. People were dissapearing from the streets, unbelievers mostly and usually they had last been seen with some of the priests. People would dismiss the rumours almost as soon as you brought them up, their eyes darting around the room quickly to be sure that there was no one else listening. The priests wore long black robes and had shaved heads, though he knew little about them he assumed they had taken some kind of vow against pleasures of the world. All of the priests bore shaved heads, men and women alike for there was no distinction made between the two, and all had gaunt faces, he suspected that underneath the robe their bodies would just be skin and bones. Jacob jumped as he felt a firm hand on his shoulder, “Excuse me sir, can you come with me for a moment?” He recognised the harsh raspy voice that all the priests seemed to have, he turned slowly, already the crowd was parting around them, everyone was looking away. “I’m sorry, I’m in a bit of a rush at the moment.”
The priest smiled, “Don’t worry, we won’t keep you long.” The priests grip tightened on his shoulder, it was just on the edge of painful.
“I’m really sorry but I’m afraid I can’t.”
The grip tightened again, “I insist.” Two priests emerged from the crowd and stood either side of him, both grabbed his upper arms, their fingers squeezing into his flesh, Jacob knew he would have severe bruises their tomorrow, if he lived to see tomorrow.

The priests had practically dragged him from the street and into an office building of all things. They brought him through a pair of large double doors, past a row of empty reception desks and into an elevator. As the doors closed Jacob found his voice and outrage, “You can’t do this to me! I didn’t do anything wrong or illegal, this is kidnapping! This is illegal!” He ripped himself free from their grip and started pressing buttons on the panel but they didn’t seem to work. He turned around and faced the priests, they didn’t say anything, their faces were passive. “Let me out of here right now. I swear to god if you don’t I’ll hurt you.” he took a step forward, raising his fists, one of the priest’s hands darted out and caught him in the jaw. Jacob stumbled backwards, bright pain blossoming along his chin, he felt a little disorientated and already his jaw was starting to swell, “You can’t do this!” The elevator stopped and the doors opened behind him, one of the priests, the same one that hit him, shoved him backwards and through the elevator doors. Jacob stumbled and fell to the ground, as he watched the elevator doors closed and the priests disappeared from view. As he stood up two men entered the small waiting room. The room itself had wall to wall white carpeting, the walls were painted white with large strange symbols painted across them in black. These men weren’t priests, they wore dark suits and had matching haircuts, they looked like FBI agents from a movie. The men stood a few feet from him, their hands clasped in front of them. “We are sorry for the way you were brought here. You have been chosen.”
Jacob rubbed at his jaw, “I was kidnapped off the streets and assaulted and you expect me to go along with what ever bullshit you’re selling? No, you’re letting me out of here right now.”
“I’m afraid we cannot do that. You have been chosen.”
“I don’t care, let me out of here right now, this is illegal, you can’t do this.”
One of the men smiled slightly, “You can cooperate or not, though it will be easier for you if you do.”
The other of the men reached into his suit jacket and pulled out a syringe, he uncapped it.
“What are you going to do to me?”
“We’re going to show you the truth. The ultimate truth.”
Jacob took a step back, “I don’t want to see it.”
“You don’t have a choice.”
The man holding the syringe nodded, the other man tackled him before he could react. He felt the sharp sting of the needle then a second later everything went black.

When Jacob woke he was strapped into a chair and unable to move, the men were standing either side of him, just at the edge of his vision. On of the men stepped forward and pressed buttons on a panel to the left of him, he couldn’t quite see what was happening. He heard the sound of gears and then a helmet was being lowered over his head. A bright light appeared, sudden and blinding, Jacob yelled and closed his eyes, the light got bright and brighter, his eyelids doing nothing to protect his eyes. Colours started appearing in the white, large swirls, his screams grew louder and the lights started to shift. Blood ran from beneath the helmet and coated his cheeks like tears. Jacobs body shook and jerked in the chair as he screamed. After a few minutes the helmet began to rise, Jacobs face was gaunt and pale, there was scarred, twisted flesh where his eyes had been, his hair fell about him on the ground. One of the men checked his pulse while the other unstrapped him. “Welcome Brother Jacob.”
Jacob looked around the room, he could see everything clearly, the two men beside him weren’t men at all, they hulked and towered over him, crouching to fit in the room. He nodded at them both, then spoke, his voice raspy and hoarse, “Thank you for opening my eyes.”

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Roomies. Flash Fiction.

Cassie yawned, then carefully folded over the top corner of the page and closed her book, she placed it on the night stand, checked her phone and seeing nothing she put it back on her night stand, turned off her lamp, rolled over and nestled deeper into her duvet.

Kelly saw the light under the door vanish, she waited, counting slowly in her head until twenty minutes had passed, then she stood and stretched, steadily working the kinks out of her muscles. Tonight was the night, it had been a long time coming but it was finally here. She gripped the cold doorhandle and gently pulled it down then she eased the door open. A thin sliver of light shot through the darkness of the room, Kelly froze, she should have turned the landing light off, how could she be so stupid? She slipped in through the gap then gently closed the door again. The room was dark but not as dark as she expected, there was a chink in the curtains allowing the light from the street lights through. She waited for a few minutes to allow her eyes to become accustomed to the darkness, she could see the lump that was Cassie on the bed and the faint rise and fall of the duvet in sync with the gentle breathing she could just about hear.

Once her eyes had adjusted Kelly made her way across the small room, it was only a few steps but the distance seemed almost endless in the dark. Cassie usually kept her room clean, at least it had been clean every time that Kelly had come in here, but there was always the danger that there would be a balled up t-shirt or a fallen book. She stood over Cassie’s sleeping form, she eased the knife from her belt and reached out for the covers. She grabbed a chunk of them, then took a deep breath, in one smooth motion she ripped back the duvet and brought the knife down. Cassie had no time to react, she was woken from her sleep by a screaming pain in her stomach, she flailed wildly in the darkness as the knife stabbed into her again and again. Kelly could feel the hot blood splashing across her face though it barely registered in her frenzy.

It took longer for Cassie to die than Kelly expected, Cassie lay gasping in a pool of blood. Kelly moved the phone out of her reach and left the room. She went to the bathroom and showered herself thoroughly then she dried and dressed, once that was done she went downstairs and out into the back garden, then she closed and locked the door behind her. It took her a few tries to Jimmy the door open with the screwdriver but she got there. Inside the kitchen she wiped the screwdriver down then returned it to the bag of tools the landlord had given them, she was confident that no one would think to check the attic.

Once she had finished she went into Cassie’s room again, Cassie lay on the bed, her body still. Kelly stood over her for a long time, looking for the tell tale rise and fall of her chest but none came. Satisfied she sat with the body until dawn then she went back to her own room.

When Kelly woke she got up and walked past Cassie’s closed door. She showered, dressed and applied make up. When that was finished she went downstairs and made two cups of coffee, one for herself and one for Cassie. She noticed that the back door was still ajar. Good. She waited a moment, then went back upstairs, she pushed the door open, the stench of blood immediately hitting her. Kelly took a deep breath and began to scream. She ran downstairs and rang the police, then she went to the front room and waited, tears already streaming down her face. She knew exactly how it would go when they arrived. They’d believe every word she told them, that she had gotten an early night and then this morning had come downstairs and made coffee as usual, that was when she noticed the back door was ajar and feeling concerned went to go tell Cassie that someone might have broken in and that’s when she found her. A few minutes later there was a heavy knock on the door, Kelly stood from the couch, it was show time.

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Close to Salvation. Short Story.

Larry gazed up at the sun above him, he licked his dry, cracked lips with his thick, heavy tongue. It had been so long since he had last had a drink, almost two days now at this point. Yesterday he had come across an old dirty bucket that had been filled with rain water, he had been tempted but the algae that covered the surface and the tiny wriggling things had put him off. Now he would give anything for a single sip of that water. He had been foolish to think he could survive out here, what did he know about the wilderness? The closest he had ever been to nature had been sitting out in his parents back garden on a nice day. Hell he hadn’t even been to the beach in years. He had been safe where he was, he’d still have water and food, though that would have run out in other few days anyway. In the distance he could hear the rev of an engine, his heart beat faster and he quickly broke into a shuffling run, he needed to get somewhere safe, some kind of shelter, before they spotted him. Even at full strength he wouldn’t be able to take them. He didn’t know exactly who they were but he didn’t need to, he had already seen what their kind did. The strong survive, the weak perish, that was their motto. He’d seen them run down an old man, he watched from his apartment balcony as the old man had struggled to get away, watched as they gave him a head start, then all took after him at once. The old man made it another five, maybe ten feet before they caught up with him. He didn’t want to see what happened next but he couldn’t look away and as he watched they beat the old man to death before tearing him limb from limb. At least Larry hoped he was dead at that point.

He had always thought that at the core of it people were good, that if there was any kind of mass disaster people would group together, try to help one another out. He was wrong. Or maybe the sickness just took all the decent people. He had watched as they broke into stores, sometimes they didn’t even take anything, they just broke the windows because the whim had struck them. He had seen them going into apartment buildings, making their way up through the floors. Sometimes they’d come out with someone, sometimes kicking and screaming, other times unconscious. He knew it was only a matter of time until they did a sweep of his building and if that happened where could he hide? His apartment was small and minimalistic in decoration, white floors, white walls, smooth clean lines everywhere. The day he saw the old man was the day he left. He packed a bag for himself, stuffed it with food and bottled water, then at night he snuck out, moving through the city slowly, listening to every sound and praying it wasn’t one of the gangs. He had made it out easily enough and then he’d just kept going, he didn’t have any place in mind or any real plan. It seemed like an adventure and, like all adventures, it was just supposed to work out for him. He was supposed to come across lakes and rivers as he needed them, perhaps a friendly farm house or two that had managed to survive or avoid the sickness. Perhaps he’d find a small town, a group of people trying to claw their way back from the apocalypse, people who wanted civilisation, peace.

He was going to die out here, in the middle of nowhere, all alone. His throat was dry and felt as though it was sticking to itself, what little saliva he could gather was thick, more like mucous than spit. He had stopped sweating sometime ago, he knew that was a bad sign but he couldn’t remember why. His brain was slow and fuzzy and the only thing he could really focus on was the constant, screaming thirst.

Larry lay on the ground, he couldn’t go any further, he had collapsed a few minutes before, ahead of him he could see the shimmer of a lake, could hear the waves lapping against the shore. Slowly, painfully he reached out and grabbed a handful of grass and he began to crawl. The progress was slow and each movement took more and more out of him. He had kept his head down and just focused on moving forward, he looked up again and saw that the lake appeared no closer, he let out a low moan, he couldn’t do it, he couldn’t go any further. He was going to die here, alone and so tantalisingly close to his salvation. No. He wouldn’t die here, he couldn’t. This wasn’t going to be the end of him. He started moving forward again.

Larry lay on the warm ground, his breathing came in low, laboured gasps. The water was so close, maybe a fifty feet, but he had nothing left to give. He reached out and tried to pull himself forward, he didn’t move. He reached out again, trying to adjust his grip. He tried to pull again but he felt the clump of grass sliding through his fingers. There was a sick, steady throb in the back of his head. The water of the lake gently lapped against the shore, a cloud rolled across the sun sending cooling shadows across the land, somewhere a bird called out, Larry let out one last gasp, then he lay still

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No Short Story Today.

Sorry no short story today, not feeling great. Will be back with another on Wednesday.

Hope everyone had a good weekend!

 

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House Arrest. Short Story.

Fred moved around the room slowly, counting under his breath as he went. The library itself was large with book cases coving the wall. The windows were stained glass blues, reds and yellows all depicting awful, terrifying scenes. One showed a man being burned alive, another showed a woman being ripped limb from limb by demons. Fred stopped counting, then he reached out and pulled a book from the bookshelf, he didn’t bother looking at the title, instead he flicked quickly to page 43. He read the first two lines then put the book back, feeling satisfied. The security measures were still in place here, he was protected. He felt himself relax a little as he put the book back. They had told him that the system would not fail, but he had heard that before. When people were that confident it made him nervous because it seemed likely that they’d simply overlooked something. He left the library, weaving his way between the large plush chairs and tables that dotted the room. He walked along the carpeted hallway to the kitchen. The kitchen was large, with marble counter tops and tiled floors, everything seemed to gleam in the morning light. He hated the kitchen. It was too big, too open and far too cold. Whoever had designed it hadn’t taken into account the rather impossible task of keeping the room warm. He went to the fridge and pulled it open, he examined the contents for a moment, it was too full to see everything clearly. He closed the fridge over, he was too stressed to eat. He’d been in this house a week already and it was starting to grate on his nerves. He wanted to be outside, in the fresh air, feeling the grass under his feet while birds sang as they flitted from tree to tree. He wanted his freedom back, he wanted his life back. He turned from the large, glass doors that opened to the perfectly manicured garden. They had promised he’d only be here for two weeks at most and they’d have the entire problem sorted by then. Not that he fully understood the problem either, but when some lunatic who can teleport and throw fireballs comes after you you stop questioning and just start running. Apparently he had the good fortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and some demon had decided he was a good target and even better, demons didn’t stop until they, or their prey, were dead. The man who’d rescued him, Paul, and his girlfriend, Tessa, had dumped him here while they were out hunting. Fred had yet to see anyone else, but somehow the fridge and cupboards were fully stocked at all times and his dirty plates seemed to clear themselves away if he left the room.

Fred turned off the TV, he could have sworn he just heard a bang from somewhere in the giant house. He stood from the couch and cautiously made his way into the hall. There was a dull thud from the back of the house, towards the kitchen. He started towards it then paused, was that blood on the carpet? The carpet was a pastel green colour and there was a trail of dark drops leading down the hall. His heart thudded heavily in his chest as he followed the trail. Maybe those people were back, maybe it was a trap. He paused outside the kitchen door, he leaned over and peered around the door frame. Tessa was sitting at the large kitchen table, blood streaked down her arms and legs, her head was resting on the table. “Oh my god are you OK?” Fred rushed over to her, she didn’t respond. He moved her red hair from her face and neck, her pale skin was covered in scratches and bruises, he carefully felt along her neck for a pulse, it was there but it was weak. What the hell was he supposed to do? He ran to the sink and quickly filled a bowl with warm water, then he grabbed a cloth. First things first he needed to find out where she was injured. He bathed the blood away from her face and arms, there were numerous cuts but they were all shallow, nothing seemed too deep. When he had finished wiping off most of the blood he carefully picked her up and carried her upstairs towards the master bedroom.

He lay her down gently on the bed, her chest was rising and falling slowly, at least he knew she was breathing. As far as he could see she had no major wounds, but if that was true why was she unconscious? Tessa opened her mouth and started screaming, Fred jumped back, letting out his own startled yell. There were no words, just screaming that echoed through the house. It died slowly, fading away to nothing and then she was completely still. Trembling slightly Fred reached out to her neck again, there was no pulse. Her chest was still. CPR, he needed to perform CPR and ring for an ambulance, he should have done it the moment he saw her. He lay her flat on the bed, what was it? 5 pumps then a breath? No, that was TV, it was more than that. He put his hands on her chest and started pushing up and down, Fred heard a low voice behind him “I wouldn’t bother with that if I were you. Her soul has long since departed her body. There’s no coming back from that. She’s dead.”
Fred whirled around, “Jesus Paul, what the hell happened?”
Paul shook his head, “It was too strong. Stronger than we ever imagined. We were split up, it chased me so I thought it let Tessa go. I barely managed to get away myself.”

Fred rushed over to him, “You shouldn’t be in here, you need to sit down, rest.”
Paul looked at him, “no, I don’t want to leave her.” he shrugged off Feds hand and approached the bed, he sat down beside Tessa’s body. Gently he reached out and stroked her face. There was a sudden, wet ripping sound as Paul’s other hand forced its way through Tessa’s stomach. “She has something of mine. Something valuable.” Paul’s hand groped around blindly for a moment, Fred felt bile rising in the back of his throat. Paul pulled his hand from her stomach, it was coated in blood and gore, he held something small in his fingers, he rubbed it against the sheets, cleaning it. As he held it up again Fred saw it was a small, metal ball. Paul stood from the bed, “Thank you for letting me get on with my work. It makes everything so much easier when people cooperate.”
Fred opened his mouth, then closed it. “I knew eventually they’d come after me if I just killed enough people. They were always so protective of their kind.”

Fred’s heartbeat filled his ears, he felt light-headed, he turned to run.
“There’s no point in running, I’ll always find you. You’ve been marked.” He held his hand out flat, the metal ball resting in the centre of it. It rose from his palm then shot after Fred.

Fred reached out for the door handle, he pulled the door open and ran out into the fresh air, there was no sound of pursuit behind him. Ahead of him he could see his car, he was so close to freedom, he was going to make it. The metal ball hit the back of Fred’s head, it exploded almost instantly his body dropped to the ground with a heavy thud. The ball stopped, hovered for a moment then sped off back to Paul.

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