The Horde. Short Story.

The wind howled through the buildings carrying with it the thick, animalistic scent of fur and blood and filth. Every now and then Jacob could hear a scream carried by the wind, a snarl or a yelp, the horde was coming. A man had run into the town the day before, exhausted, near delirious, ranting about the monsters that were coming, half of his face had been covered in dried blood, the rest of him was coated in muck and grime. He had ranted for almost twenty minutes before he collapsed into unconsciousness, in that time they’d learned that his settlement had been attacked and he had been one of the survivors. He didn’t know if there were others, all he knew was that he ran as fast as he could and didn’t stop. A few people in the town wanted to throw him out, worried that the monsters were following him, but it was too late to make a difference. If the stories were true the creatures would be unstoppable. The size of the town offered some protection, made in the few stable tall buildings of old they could barricade themselves indoors, spread out into different buildings. Jacob knew that some had grouped together for protection while others like him retreated to higher ground. This place was his home, but his home could be rebuilt, he wouldn’t get another life. A flashing light in the distance caught his eye, that was Evie, up one one of the other buildings keeping watch. Four flashes, they were close.

Ten minutes later he heard them arrive, their shouts and screams echoing off the buildings accompanying the sound of smashing glass and the groaning shriek of tearing metal. Jacob scanned the streets below him, he was four stories up, high enough that hopefully they would miss him. Most of the taller buildings had already collapsed and any that hadn’t were too unstable. Jacobs breath caught in his throat when he saw the first one, it was nothing like he imagined. He had pictured giant fierce lions and panthers, like the kind he’d seen pictures of, instead he was looking at something twisted and sick. He could make out the face of a human, mouth stuck open in a permanent snarl. It had three muscular arms, two in the normal place and a third coming from its stomach, another, smaller arm jiggled loosely from it’s side. Its legs were thick and covered in criss crossing veins. Jacob threw himself back from the edge, praying it hadn’t seen him. The thing was climbing a building one street over. Heart beating wildly Jacob crept from the roof back towards the stairwell, earlier he’d blocked it with a metal pipe hoping it would help keep the things out. Now he slid the pipe free, wincing as it clanged and jangled against the door. He gripped the pipe tightly, feeling comforted by the weight of it in his hand. He pulled the door open and slipped into the darkness inside. He kept the door open a crack and peered through. He saw another one of those things leaping through the air, this one had long, twisted horns sprouting from all over its body, it carried with it a human head, swinging it by the hair as it let out a laughing shout. Jacob let the door close, he only had a glimpse but he was pretty sure the head had belonged to Evie.

Outside he could hear the screams and shouts, the rumbling of a building falling somewhere. Every now and then there would be a bang or crash against the building and each time he froze, barely able to breathe. Jacob slowly counted to ten after each one, gripping the pole tightly, only when he reached ten and there were no more sounds did he allow himself to relax.

Downstairs there was a loud crash, Jacob froze, he could hear something moving about on heavy feet. Below him the door to the stairwell opened. Jacob couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. There came a low chuckle from below, a gravelly voice called something out but it was difficult to understand, it took Jacob a second to decipher it. “I can smell your fear.” a small whimper escaped before he could stop it, below there came another chuckle. The door to the stairwell closed and then he was in the silent darkness again. He counted to ten, then released the breath he’d been holding. Then it moved. It’s heavy body plodded up the stairs slowly, as if it had all the time in the world. Jacob couldn’t move, he knew he had to but his body wouldn’t respond. He felt a warm wetness spread from his crotch and some part of him was dimly aware that he had just pissed himself. The chuckling started again, just the sound of it made Jacobs throat clench in sympathy. There was a scraping sound, just below him, the thing wasn’t far now. The thing called out from below, “Do you want to live, human?”
It sounded so close, he could almost feel the breath of it on his face.
“I asked you a question.”
“Yes.”
“Good. Tell me of the other towns.”
“There’s another nearby, it’s about two days journey from here. It’s small.”
“You will take us to it or you will die.”
“I-”
something heavy and wet landed in his lap, the stench of blood invaded his nostrils, his hands moved over it and he let out a shriek as he pushed the head from his lap, its long damp, sticky hair tangling in his fingers.
“you will take us or you will die.”
“Please, please I’ll take you, just don’t kill me.”
The creature chuckled, the sound of it hurt Jacobs ears, it was so close now he could feel the rumble of the words in his own chest, could smell the foetid rank stench of the creatures breath as it washed over him, “you’re all the same, anything to live just a little longer.”

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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