Dusk Creek – Prologue & Chapter One

[ Warning: Language and violence are somewhat graphic in this story. There will be curse words and the mention of gore.. you have been warned! This is the first part of a small horror novella I wrote. I thought I would revisit it and post a bit of it to the Black Quill blog. Story and characters are (c) me. ]

In the moment of crisis, sometimes all thought disappears. You are no longer thinking like a logical, intelligent person. Instead you are very much the animal. Run, hide, hold very still – it becomes one thought all at once. One paralysing choice that binds you in a moment of suspension that feels like forever. That is, if you are even lucky enough to see the crisis. One of those unlucky few who realize just how screwed you are before the danger of the event is finally upon you.

This is the place that Corey was now in. Hanging in the existence of “oh shit”, and “my life is over”. That place that no one in their right mind would ever want to be in; or ever leaves the same.

Above him, drifting down in streaks of slow dripping ember was the missile. The missile that would change everything he had grown to know in his 30 years. And amid the panic and the hanging moment that seemed to last forever, all he could think in the deep recesses of his mind was “Fuck. I really wanted to go to my birthday party tonight.”

And then time started again in a blinding flash of crimson light and silence.

~

The first thing that brought him back to reality was the annoying beeping noise to his left. He felt like maybe he was having a dream and that annoying beep kept disturbing him from something he was trying desperately to hold on.


Louder and louder, closer and closer. The beeps seemed to echo into his ears and ring his very brain. Beep, beep, beep… He opened his eyes and around him was the blasting of white walls, white curtains, and white sheets. A startling sight that caused him to blink rapidly and look around with squinted gaze.

It was unmistakable. A hospital room, and the beeping was from a heart monitor hooked up with wires and electrodes to his chest and arms. The blood pressure band squeezed at him, taking a reading he knew must be elevated. It took a long while for his weary mind to process his situation. Although Corey could sort out logically that obviously something must have happened, he could not seem to sort out why he was alive. Or why he was in this hospital room with all his limbs and skin intact.

He heard death by nuclear exposure could be a long and painful death – but if he was close enough to see the missile dropping from the sky then he knew he should have been instantly killed. Maybe it wasn’t a nuke, maybe it was just a normal missile. But then, what had the light been? And why would the hospital even bother with someone apparently unharmed?

Just as his hopes were raising thinking he had somehow avoided cataclysm by some form of luck, the nurse came into the room. He knew then, looking the human shape over dressed so carefully in hazmat protection that things were not okay. She seemed just as much surprised to see him as he was to see her.

Oh, Mr. Savage… You’re awake.” With distorted voice echoing through the mask she quickly picked up his chart and brought it over to his bed.

It’s Corey. What is going on here? Why am I here?”

You don’t remember? You need to stay calm.” She scribbled awkwardly on the clipboard and looked over his readings barely paying attention to him squirming on the bed.

Stay calm? What happened, why am I here?” he noticed a tug and looked down under the sheets to notice a catheter inserted uncomfortably. With a painful shudder he tugged it out with a grumble.

Sir, remain calm…” She was now backing away from him and hiding a call button around her neck.

With pure aggravation he started to unwire himself from the sticky monitor electrodes and IV lines. Corey had always hated needles and hospitals. He did his best to avoid them completely, although occasionally he would have to get himself stitched up here and there. However he was frantically trying to sort out what was going on and the nurse’s reactions had not done anything to calm him.

Being calm was the furthest thing from his mind at the moment. Even when the alarms on the monitors sounded due to the detachment. A moment later two big men struggling to fit inside their masks and suits came in. And it was obvious from the needles in their hands that looked bigger and more menacing then he had ever seen that he was in deep trouble.

Whoa, hold the fuck up…” he backed away from the men, the nurse, and the bed. Quickly heading into the corner of the room past the other two beds which remained empty. He pulled one across to protect himself from the men who kept on coming.

Just calm down sir! You need to calm down. These are just sedatives, it will help you relax.” Big lug on the right tried cooing the words out like he would talking to a kitten, but Corey would have none of that.

In one quick moment he jammed the table at the two, bolted to the right and ran for his only salvation. The set of double doors.

There was screaming and alarms and so many flaps of white plastic and curtains he passed that it all went by in a blur. Even the absence of any real clothing and the breeze from his open hospital gown did nothing to slow him.

He ran blindly, turning right, then left, then right again. Zigzagging down halls hearing the pounding of feet and the screams of men after him. All until he saw the red sign echoing him further. Tall glowing red letters informing him of his only route of escape. The exit sign above the fire escape stairs.

He slammed hard against the door, and nearly tripped over his own feet while bolting down stair after stair until the last obstacle stood in his way. The door outside. Even though he didn’t hear any more feet behind him, and even though he wasn’t sure what he would find out there he knew it had to be better then standing half naked in the stairway waiting for the men with the sedatives to find him.

He raced outside into the brightness of mid day, and didn’t stop running until his chest heaved in retaliation, and his bare feet were planted firmly in a patch of grass. He bent and heaved, holding his shaky knees while an angry set of lungs burned for more air.

Oddly enough, no one came after him. No one sounded any alarms. If anything, it was suddenly a very disturbing quiet that shivered along his spine. He looked up and around to realise nothing at all was right with the world. In fact this didn’t look like the world he had known at all.

Around him was an unfamiliar landscape of abandoned cars, burning dumpsters and an odd colour to the trees. An ashen white look that reminded him of white birch gone a little psychotic. The sky smelled of fumes of burning plastics and cardboard. Its darkened menacing hues of charcoal grey heralded an oncoming storm. And for the first time in a very long time, there was complete silence. No alarms, no sounds of voices. Nothing but silence. It was as if everyone in the world had simply disappeared.

What the hell is going on…?” Corey wandered, dazed and confused over the grass of the safe patch he was on, and into the unfamiliar street. The first car he came across was a black Grand Am. Its engine long died, and the deflated air-bag hanging loosely from the steering wheel. As he came around the vehicle he noticed the spider web shatter of the wind shield and dents in the hood and front driver body of the car.

What he thought from a distance was a dark interior of the car was actually the colour of dried blood coating the front seats. Whatever happened here was violent, and it left no corpse. He would find the same sickening scenes in the blue Mercedes nearby. And the Dodge Ram further in the intersection.

Corey had been scared before finding the vehicles. Now he was utterly terrified. None of this made sense to him, there was no way a city like this could be so empty. Where were the passengers? Where were the punk ass kids on the street who kept begging for money or cigarettes? In his entire lifetime he had never felt so utterly alone.

Then the thoughts streamed into his brain. The hazmat suits. The hospital. Was he somehow contaminated? Was he right now being slowly cooked inside by radiation he couldn’t feel?

He ran back from the vehicles, he ran like he was on fire. Barely holding in a terrified scream as he tripped and dove headlong with a roll across the pavement. He didn’t care; he got up in barely an instant. Running, running while his heart pounded in his throat.


Then he stopped. He stopped so fast his feet skidded painfully on the pavement.

It can’t be… you’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”

Where the hospital was merely minutes before seemed to be a gaping hole and crumbling foundation. There was nothing there now as if someone had simply plucked the building up and moved it without him. It was surreal, numbing, and devastating. He even thought for a moment that he had been turned around and that actually the Hospital was just in another area entirely. That maybe, somehow, this was all just a misunderstanding. So when he finally saw the large cracked sign only a few feet next to him, his heart sank completely.

Dusk Creek Hospital.

Emergency Entrance Only.

Corey Savage was now completely alone, in a place he had never heard of before. This was going to be a birthday he would never forget.

 

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