Dusk Creek: Chapter Fourteen

[ The final chapter.. for this story at least. ]

His life didn’t flash before his eyes. Neither did he feel himself die. He simply slept.

When his consciousness finally stirred to life again he realised he could breathe. His lungs still hurt and his arm throbbed, but he could breathe. He also realised he was not floating in an endless black sea, but laying on something firm.

His eyes opened and he was blinded by light. He shut them firmly, rolled to the side and coughed up mouthfuls of black water, hacking and shivering.

Just breathe.” It was a woman’s voice and a soft hand on the square of his back.

He wheezed in air like a college student guzzling a bottle of Jack. His nerves convulsed and he hacked and coughed painfully. He felt pain through every nerve in his body. The realisation came to him that he must somehow still be alive if he hurt this much.

His heart dropped and he tried to open his eyes again. The blinding light eased up.

Dusk Creek?” he choked out, still trying to adjust.

He squinted and her form started to take shape.

Solarium.” She said simply. The bone skull shone on top of her head, her hair brilliantly flaring behind her like a mane. Her wings outstretched on either side of her shoulders like tattered evening sky. She wore the most beautiful shade of crimson he’d ever seen wrapped around her body.

We’re in the Solarium?” His voice was rasping, his mind running. She was alive. He was alive. Something had changed. Chuckled laughter slipped out of his stripped throat. “We got out!”

They were free from the hellish city. They were saved from the black waters. She was alive and she looked beautiful. But her lips weren’t turned up in a smile. Instead, they seemed curved down. A frown of concern edging on her lips.

No. My name.” she whispered softly. “I am Solarium. I remember now. I’m one of the guardians of the Solarium. I’m the last one left. The others… they all died.”

He tried to move his feet and noticed that one was stuck against something. Looking down he saw it strapped to the bed he was on. The simple bed of metal and linen. A hospital bed. Details of the room started to faze into existence as his eyes cleared.

He was scraped up and stitched; a simple material gown covered him only barely. Around him the room was white, cement, and reflected too brightly of florescent light. There were no doors, no windows.

What?” He looked at her and reached out to touch her cheek. His fingers slid right through.

I’m sorry Corey. I wanted to keep you, but I can’t. It’s because of you this happened.” Her image started to fade, just as her feathers did whenever they emerged. Only now it was her whole body, the pale white becoming translucent.

He yanked at the foot restraint as panic started to rise.

Because of me? What the fuck is going on!” He screamed and tried to yank his foot free. It banged loudly as he thrashed.

Your one of the ones that hurt me, like the others. The humans. You’ve been contaminated now by the blast.” Her voice was again, cold and toneless. “Your kind corrupt things here. You make ones like us forget who we are. If we allowed you back into any of the worlds you could contaminate others.”

Look I just want to go home! I’m not contaminated; I’m not like the others!” His eyes were red now, pleading. “You have to let me go!”

I thought maybe you were different. I was sick, and I thought maybe I was different too. But it will only take time, Corey. Eventually the contamination will show and you will be just as twisted as they are. That’s what it does.” Her wings stretched out, tattered bristled edges. “Your soul can’t leave Dusk Creek, Corey. I can’t allow it.”

You can’t do this! What about Shep? Shep liked me!”

You were alive then… I tried to keep you alive. It was your only option. But you died here, and now you can’t leave. You are like them now. They all died too, and they turned into those things.”

But I’m not dead!” he screamed.

You drowned. You are human and you drowned. I can’t. The only thing that can kill us is what you already did. I’m the last one left. I can’t die. I am the Solarium.”

You’re wrong! You’re fucking wrong!”

You won’t be eaten like the others were.” Her eyes softened, sadly. “When one of them gets eaten they turn into something worse. They keep contaminating this place from the inside of the others. I spared you from that.”

He thought of all those creatures, mindless killers. Feasting on each other. Each part of them continuing to exist in some form separated from their body. Torn into many facetted pieces which could still think and feel. Endless pain that would never stop.

I’m all alone now and I’ve got so much to do. I need to hunt down anyone else contaminated like you who may have escaped. I need to hunt down those who did this and bring them all back here. None of you can leave Dusk Creek, Corey. It’s what you all created. It’s your punishment.”

I saved your life!” he screamed and his voice cracked. Again he clawed at the restraint with renewed vigour. His ankle started to bleed as his nails dug deep into his skin trying to pry it free. “You can’t leave me in this hell!”

It was then he realised the black spot on his leg. It stretched from his hamstring up the back of his leg. The discolouration seemed darkest in his veins and looked as if it were crawling. It was burning hot to the touch and he wanted to vomit.

Maybe in time I can fix the damage you made. Maybe I can find others to help. There is so much to do. I’m afraid this is goodbye Corey. I will miss you.”

I can help you!” He was desperate now. His hands shook like a leaf.

I would have liked that, but it’s already too late for you. Don’t worry, soon it won’t matter. You won’t remember me or your loved ones. You won’t care about freedom or happiness. You will be like them. Part of the chaos. It won’t hurt so much then.”

Her voice was the last to disappear. It hung and lingered in the air like a curse. Finally his leg restraint gave way and he managed to tear it off with his blood soaked fingers. He fell off the bed and hobbled to his feet.

Have to get out, have to get out!” He mumbled terrified. The more his heart beat like a hummingbird the more he could feel the burn spreading through every vein.

There might not have been a door, but there was a window. It was cut out from the thick cement walls and had four tight bars blocking him from freedom. He managed to grab the edge and hoist himself up to look outside. His breath caught in his throat and his eyes grew wide and wet. He saw outside, into the city of nightmares. Fires burned somewhere in the distance, and the streets were bare. On the horizon the horde was coming for him. Marching like black wraith’s on the wind sensing live food. Sensing one not quite their own. At least not their own just yet.

No… Please no…” The faded black lettering of a sign could barely be seen.

Dusk Creek Mental Asylum

This time he screamed so hard it came out as a disfigured howl.

In cells next to him the howls repeated and echoed over and over again. He had looked into the abyss and it looked back at him and grinned beneath a crow’s skull.

[ Thank you for allowing me to share this story with you all! It is well loved and I may again revisit the strange place like the Solarium or Dusk Creek in future tales! For now, thank you again. This story, Dusk Creek, and the characters are (c) me, but it has been my pleasure to share this tale with you all here on Black Quill Blog! ]

Dusk Creek: Chapter Thirteen

[ Beware the waters of Dusk Creek… ]

Joan had long been lost to him. He wished now he had kept a grip on that lovely metal thing. Lost to him like its namesake had been. Still he managed to at least get back to the familiar surroundings that he new led to his destination. Towards the creek.

He ran the whole way. Barely stopping to breathe. That was until he saw it. A pack of black things feasting on the remains of one of their own. In fact it looked like they were tearing apart and eating from the gangrene body of the large dogs who hunted him before.

They stopped, sniffed the air and then saw him. Blood and sinew hanging from their jaws and slurping against their throats and necks.

Shit!” He ran to the right, running fast towards the bridge.

They were on his heels, snarling and spitting blood with each pump of their black little hearts. A scream caught in his throat accented with curse word after curse word. More black things followed and he glanced back for a moment to see a blur of black things trailing him.

He couldn’t outrun them at this pace. But he didn’t need to.

Forget about the boat, the gun, the lantern and any safety measures. Fuck it all. He ran headlong up the bridge of the overpass, kissed his ass goodbye and continued running long and hard up and off the crumbling remains of the last bridge out.

His body flew while his legs still kicked and for a moment he remembered the sensation of flight. Of being held by that distorted angel who saved him from the monsters before. He barely remembered her above him, clutching tight as her wings extended out. Those wings that he saw far above him now.

She was there, watching his decent into the black waters. He wanted to call out to her, but before he could even speak he hit the water and his world snapped to an endless black crash. He was still falling, but slower now. Sinking. He was sinking and she was gone.

This is it.” As the water rushed into all his sensation he felt heavy and surrounded. “I’m dying.”

For a moment he was at peace. He had always heard that drowning was a painful way to die, but in this case it felt as if drowning was his only way out. His lungs burned, his arm burned, even his legs stung with fire. The water seemed to be the only release.

Just as his lungs felt as if they were about to burst something grabbed him by the chest.

The sudden realization hit him like a brick wall. They must have fallen in with him and were still wishing to feast on his flesh like rabid sharks. He screamed as claws dug into him and he kicked and screamed in the water as he fought to find the surface. They were yanking on him, snarling at him. Trying to tear him apart.

Finally he broke the black creeks surface and his lungs heaved pained trying to take in as much oxygen as they could. He wheezed, coughed hacked and thrashed his limbs trying to fight them off.

It was then that something gripped his hand firmly and held it still. His eyes met hers. It wasn’t the monsters ripping him apart. It wasn’t the enemies at the gates. It was her. She dove for him and forced him to the surface.

I can’t swim.” She said weakly, still trying to balance her wings on top of the water to keep herself from sinking.

Corey saw the panic in her eyes and his heart sunk. “What?”

I can’t swim.” She repeated and struggled to pull her wings up more, her head bobbed and her mask pulled downward.

Just hold onto me. I’ll swim us back to the bridge.” He looked back and brushed the hair out of his eyes. There was no longer a bridge, and no longer safety. The shore swarmed with black things waiting. “fuck!”

He looked back to her and her eyes were large and silent. So large that his terrified face reflected back at him. The large graceful wings which allowed her to soar the sky were merely pulling her deeper now. Yet the strong laboured flaps seemed to be the only thing keeping her at the surface.

Corey struggled to keep a grip on her arms and kicked his legs harder to try and keep them both afloat. She was cold, fragile. She clung to him for a moment in a tight hug which broke his heart.

Why did you dive!” he screamed. Her weight was immense now and he shook her to get her attention. Her legs thrashed and she bobbed up a bit more before starting to sink again.

I wanted to save you.” The answer was meek. Barely more then a whisper. Her arms released him and she pushed away.

Why?” He gripped her arm, yanked her back towards him. “Why the fuck would you do that? You were safe!”

She was soaking wet, but the tears she cried were blood tinged and separated themselves in distinct lines running down her white skin. Her mask slipped from her head and descended into the darkness, cutting the waters deep with its pointed edge. Within seconds it was gone.

I didn’t want to be alone. I’m sorry.”

Look we are going to get out of here, you can… can’t you just… do something!”

I’m sorry.” She reached up and stroked a talon through his hair. Her voice was a whisper now, barely heard above the sound of the water. And without another word her wings stopped moving. Her legs stopped kicking. She sank like a stone even as he clawed at the water trying to grab at her.

No!” he screamed clawing frantically. “Don’t you leave me!”

It was too late.

One breath passed. Then another. And then he snarled his frustration in a low rumble before he clawed and kicked, swimming down following her trail. He wasn’t going to run this time, he wasn’t going to simply give up. If he was going to die it would be trying to do the right thing.

Down until the darkness swallowed up all hope of knowing up from down.

Just as he thought it was hopeless he saw a slender sliver of white breaking the blackness. He reached out, released his breath and grabbed her hand. Her talons felt like ice against the skin of his wrist.

You aren’t leaving me.” His mind screamed as he clenched his hand tight.

I can’t hold on…” her words trailed into his memory as he started to black out.

Just breathe…” he thought over and over.

I can’t hold—“

Dusk Creek: Chapter Twelve

[ ‘Of explanations and theories…’ or ‘When fools rush in..’ (or out in Corey’s case…) The story continues. Dusk Creek (c) Me. ]

When the bombs fell, the Solarium around ground zero was shattered into chaos. Each of the four bombs exploded causing the balance that the Solarium had kept since the dawn of time to be knocked asunder.

The purpose of the missiles were to try and breach the veil of the worlds. To retrieve vital resources and to bring about a new renaissance for mankind. The Geneva convention had already ordered such things too dangerous to achieve and far too dangerous to try. And yet like all things – people in charge thought themselves above moral convictions.

Four modified weapons were used to breach the veil of the Solarium. Released in the hours of the morning they fell silently and destroyed the boundaries around the blast sight. However it didn’t create a door into fantastic other worlds. It didn’t give humanity a paradise to raid and escape to. It slammed the worlds together and created the city of nightmares. It created Dusk Creek.

As Corey had experienced, it was a city on the edges of madness. The convergence of chaos into hellish monstrosity. It was as if the negligence, force and twisted desires of the blast had transformed the place inside Solarium into just as violent and twisted things. Or at least, the places of the blast. It was a dome they were trapped in. The Creek was not an endless ocean. It was the very waters of the Solarium itself.

And yet there was her. There was Shep. And there was him. Some things weren’t changed into evil twisted things. Some things remained as shadows of what they were before the blast.

Corey learned from her that there were people here before he escaped the hospital. People who like him, were hunted down and devoured or drowned in the Creek trying to escape. Neither of them knew why some were transformed while others remained the same; only that once they changed – they were mindless vicious creatures. And hungry. So very hungry.

They were perched in the tower of an old library. A modified room turned into a safety nest. But both knew it was only temporary. All things in Dusk Creek seemed temporary.

Eventually the information dried up. There was much the creature didn’t know – and even more she didn’t seem to know about herself. In fact she seemed to grow pained and silent every time Corey pried about her life and how she in fact survived.

The only facts that he had so far is that Shep had been with her at the beginning and that she was not as human as he wanted to believe she was. She had no memory of her name, her purpose or her race. Only that she was and would continue to be.

You can’t go out there.” He watched her teetering on the edge of the window frame. Her wings were already outstretched from her back like a huge eagle. In her arms, the bundle of black fur and a stitched blanket acting as a casket.

Deserves to sleep.” She whispered quietly, glancing down to study the animal clutched in her grasp. Already she was starting to smell and decay. The wounds even stitched seemed festered and septic.

They’ll kill you too!”

No. I’m quicker then them.” She clutched the animal closer, adjusted her footing.

He grabbed her foot and clung on to it tightly. “No, I won’t let you.”

Her beak turned, razor sharp and she growled like a wild thing. He faltered, pulled his fingers back. Then with a simple growl snarling in her throat she clutched her talons into the dead animal, leaned forward, and dropped a good length of the tower before slamming her wings out and leaving him.

In a few moments her dark form simply disappeared into the archaic ruins around the library.

Great. I’ve pissed her off.” He sighed and looked around. “Great job Corey. If she doesn’t come back I’m royally screwed.”

There were still so many answers he needed from her. He had to find out how she knew about the Solarium and if she knew of any ways out. To do that he needed to gain her trust, but how do you gain the trust of someone who refuses to trust you? She saved him. More then once. Perhaps somehow he already had some trust with her.

And yet he also recalled what she had said. There were others here, like him. Hunted and tormented. And she didn’t seem to succeed with saving any of them.

If this hell hole is part of the broken area of the Solarium, wouldn’t the Creek be the outer edges?” he looked around the room and pulled out a few pieces of dirty white material. With a salvaged pencil he started sketching the remembered areas of Dusk Creek.

It made sense. Surrounding the city at all sides was the creek itself. The swirling black waters that tasted like blood. That had to be the key to getting out of here.

The only thing he needed was a boat, a shotgun, a lantern and a hope in hell…

When she returned, Corey was gone. He broke down the door she had sealed off to hide the stairs from the twisted things that hunted. It wouldn’t be long till some of them found their way into her nest of safety.

Fool.” She groaned as she sat annoyed. Her heart still wrenched from having to bury her only friend. This foolish human was going to ruin the only sanctuary she had left.

Yet he was the only one of them left now. Without him, she would be truly alone. And Shep had chosen him to protect in her great wisdom and compassion. Her companion, her Shepherd. If she thought he was important then she had to have seen something in him worth saving.

She shoved her favourite dresser down the stairs. Then her favourite chest and all the collected objects she salvaged that were heavy and awkward. They tumbled down the stairs and blocked the passage once more. Maybe she would be lucky and they would leave the area be. Or maybe she would have to hunt down every object again.

Either option meant little to her in the long run. It was merely truths that had to be addressed at other times. There were more important things to focus on.

She would have to find him. He must be somewhere, vulnerable and stupid, waiting for her to rescue him. She was needed somehow and it did at least distract her from her sorrow. She wished she could remember when she felt needed before Dusk Creek. Yet all she could remember was a hollow spot that made her feel sick inside.

Out her feathers bristled feeling the cool wind of the desolate city. Caressing them with each feather tip as she dropped another time, free as a bird in a gilded cage. Her heart beat wildly, her eyes closed. She’d felt this drop so many times that she knew it’s sensations by heart. Further and further, pushing it by long seconds before finally she gave in to the desire to live.

Feathers and muscles snapped out causing her wings to finally catch the updraft. Her wings propelled her across the city sky. She searched for him.

He couldn’t have gone far.” She reminded herself as her eyes scanned carefully and the skull mask directed wind away from her sight. “Humans are slow.”

Dusk Creek: Chapter Eleven

[ This is a bit of a long chapter – I’ve drawn together a few of the smaller chapter portions to make it easier to post. The secrets of the Crow and Dusk Creek are starting to unravel.. ]

There was a fire crackling in the room. It felt warm and safe and reminded him of Christmas postcards. Though of course Christmas was very far away from his mind. Corey opened his eyes and glanced around. It was dim, the firelight making the small room look even smaller. A bed, a small stove, a fireplace and a boarded window.

His arm ached but it was dull and dim. He seemed to be naked other then a long bandage wrapped around him and a makeshift quilt which covered him. He felt warm, strangely at ease. He glanced around and there she was. She was sewing by the fire, and at first he thought she must have been stitching another blanket. A normal domestic task. It wasn’t until he saw her lift her arms up and pull a long thread through her arm did he realise she was stitching herself up. Her own sentient patchwork quilt.

She turned that skeletal beak and their eyes met. He wanted to stay awake and look into those eyes and ask her a million things. Like where she was from? What was her name? Why did he only now realise just how strange and beautiful her naked form was?

But there were no questions, no words. He merely fell once again into a deep and warm sleep.

~

You lost a lot of blood. It will take some time for you to recover.”

Words fuzzed into existence slow at first and then they flooded in with understanding.

I cleaned you up though… I stitched you up good.”

Corey groaned and opened his eyes. “What?”

She looked up at him, it was the first time he saw her with the mask removed. It sat at her side and the one she was talking to was not him. It was the still form of Shep. The woman’s eyes were wet, and her body wrapped in the warmness of a blanket as she rested her hand gently on the dogs chest. Both heads watched him in cloudy open eyes. Each tongue now a paler shade hanging lolled out of each maw.

She didn’t blink, her chest did not rise. No heart beat.

Corey pulled himself up painfully and rubbed the bandaged arm as she looked the pair over. The woman ignored him, again stroking each soft muzzle with caring strokes of the back of her talons.

You scared me this time. You let yourself get cut up so bad…” her voice was weaker now. She was almost human. Maybe more so then he’d seen in a lifetime. Weak tears streaked down her alabaster skin.

Without the harpy mask, she looked so much smaller, thinner. Weaker. Perhaps that was the sole reason why she wore the disgusting thing. It gave her strength.

I think… I think she’s dead.”

She turned to him and snarled causing him to jolt back further on the bed until his head bumped into the wall behind. Her viciousness seemed to transform her for a moment, a brief moment before her eyes softened and she ignored him once more.

She wrapped her arms around Shep and heaved the animal’s immobile chest into her lap as she leaned down and curled around her. The blanket slipped off her shoulders and back and out from deep slits protruded skeletal arms which tendrilled out and covered with ethereal feathers of black. They curled around the pair and the woman cried.

You can’t leave me…” she sobbed into the black fur. “You stupid, stupid dog!”

Corey was staring at the wings as they twitched and rustled like a ball in front of him. It was surreal and the emotion was choking. He didn’t want to believe the dog was dead. He didn’t want to believe in a place called Dusk Creek. And he didn’t want to believe those wings were real. But none of those facts he could deny.

I’m sorry.” He managed to mumble, stumbling over his words. “I tried… I wanted to keep her alive…” the pauses were only answered by silence for a few moments, before the crying stopped and the wings released the cage surrounding the pair.

The woman, the creature. She crept away from the body and moved closer to the fireplace. She dragged her mask with her and sat heavily.

Corey slipped off the bed carefully and moved towards the dog’s body. He rubbed her between each neck, the spot that seemed to calm her. She felt cold and stiff and only a shadow of her brilliant self.

Shep had protected him, guided him. And in the end she even gave her life for him. He too cried. Deep and hard like losing a first loved pet. She died for him. Inside, a part of Corey Savage died as well.

It took a long time before either of them spoke. And then, it was only because of necessity. The creature had donned her mask again and forced herself cold. Her voice cracked with hardship came out like the caw of a raven.

There is food in the crate.” A talon stretched out and pointed to a small box half ripped open in the corner under a dripping sink.

He moved to it cautiously, digging around in it.

What’s your name?” He found a box of crackers and ripped the package open. He stuffed his mouth with them ravenously. His stomach never felt so empty.

She looked at him sternly and he felt suddenly embarrassed for the way he ate. He tried to slow his pace and brushed crumbs from his chest. He then looked down and realised the utter nudity of his form. Unlike her, he suddenly felt very terrified and covered himself with the cracker package.

For a moment, a brief moment, he thought her lips turned up in the barest of grins.

There are some clothes under the bed.” She shifted and moved, turning her back to him as her feathers seemed to fade.

He watched astonished as the bones retracted into pockets in her back. Sucking into her thin frame with the sound of rustling. It looked impossible. It seemed so strange that such large things could compact into such a small space such as her chest and torso that he almost talked himself into believing they somehow jutted out her front.

Yet when she turned slightly, sitting once more in front of the fire he saw that they were simply gone. Hidden somewhere in a way he couldn’t even imagine.

He moved to the bed, reached under and dug around the fabric.

Solarium.” She croaked.

Is that your name?” He slipped into a pair of black boxers. They were a little big but managed to stay up. And they seemed cleaner then the rest of fabric nestled under there. It looked very much like a nest of collected and salvaged goods.

No.” Simple. Toneless.

What is Solarium? Is that where we are now?”

We are in Dusk Creek. Solarium is what brought you here. There were four missiles that broke through the worlds. Solarium was the place between the worlds.” Her eyes looked at him cold, judging. “Your people destroyed the Solarium.”

He recalled the falling ember death bomb. “The nukes?”

Your scientists were stupid.” A coldness edged into her voice. “They found Solarium when they played with the very fabric of space. A giant collider named Hal found it. They had no idea what it was. And no idea what damage it would do. When they peered in with their stupid desires for black holes and antimatter they found the very edges of the Solarium. Then they thought to simply destroy it.”

She curled away from him, breathed and poked at the fire again. “Stupid scientists. Stupid arrogant humans.”

Slowly and carefully he edged closer to her. He lowered down and scooted on his behind. Her legs still concerned him – the animalistic way they ended in talons like a giant bird. The way they were muscled and sleek. Closer until she stiffened and he dared go no further.

What exactly is the Solarium?” He lowered his voice, looked her skin over. He saw now that her perfect alabaster skin with blue tinges wasn’t flawless. In fact there were many scars in which her recent injuries added to. The one raked up her arms looked deep but each one was meticulously sewed to near perfection. Such small fine stitches that seemed impossible with her long hooked talons. She had the finesse of a fine surgeon. Perhaps that was the only reason she was still alive.

I don’t know. It has always just been there. Keeping order.” Her coldness faltered. He took the moment to reach out and touch her shoulder with his hand. She turned with fierceness in her eyes and the razor skull glaring, but he didn’t pull back. Slowly, she softened. “It killed it… the Solarium. I felt it die…”

Suddenly she clutched him in a desperate hold that made him jolt at first. But she relaxed against him and her skull rested against his shoulder. It was cool and smooth and her skin was warm and soft. Her hair tickling under his chin as he simply held her and breathed. She smelled like pomegranates.

He knew she was crying, but he didn’t care. He slowly stroked her back careful to avoid the odd slits where her wings had gone.

What are you?” he whispered quietly as her rocked her gently.

She pulled closer and cried. “I don’t remember.”

Creative Expressions…

I just wanted to post a quick note while getting things ready to post another chapter of Dusk Creek onto this blog.

This little place on the internet has become very important to me. It allows me to share some important written pieces that hold a lot of sentimental value to me. Each story that unravels chapter by chapter on this writing blog brings back all the wonder and creative joy that came from writing it.

See, people who write don’t tend to do it for the fame or the money. (Really, there are actually very few authors who make real money out of their writings. At least from what I’ve seen..) It’s all about the stories.

We write the stories that are woven in our minds and we share them with others who are craving new stories, new worlds, and new adventures. We dream them, write them, and share them because we love them. A piece of us retains inside every world we build.

So thank you.

Thank you to everyone who reads these stories.

Thank you to all the writers out there who share their stories.

Without you – the world is a less brilliant place…

 

-Crowskin

 

Dusk Creek: Chapter Ten

Shep had not moved in an hour. Her chest rose and fell but she didn’t move, even to wag her tail. Corey had not left her, even when his stomach grumbled and pained for food. He was afraid that should he turn his head from her, she would simply die.

He had tried to sort out his options all morning. He could build a boat, try to cross the creek – but for all he knew it was an ocean. Like Tiny being the name of a gigantic dog because the name is stupid and ironic. He could try to find a phone again, dial the operator. Get emergency numbers. But who would hear him? Who or what would come? And he had so far had no luck finding any sort of internet connection.

It felt hopeless.

The only thing he knew was that the light seemed to slow the things down. They seemed to hide from it just as he was hiding from them. But no matter how bright the daylight was eventually it always faded into the darkness again.

He sat, perched on a rock as he watched the dog falter, breath in roughly, then relax. Then once more its chest would rise. Every time there would be a pause he thought that it was finally the end.

And then he saw it.

Its skin was black, coated in blood and flesh but for where there was smears of skin underneath it shone white. A blue alabaster white. Her gait was slow, lumbering. Dragging herself damaged and war torn towards the bridge. The battered skeletal mask still shone. It was her.

Corey wasn’t sure what to do. He was just as frightened of her as he had been the others, at least he knew what the others motives were. If he ran, he’d leave Shep to die for sure. If he fought her, he’d be just as dead. All that he could do was clear his throat and hope like hell.

Hey…” he called out, voice cracking. “Here… are you okay?”

No.” She called weakly, but her voice was still familiar. Still alive. She managed four more steps, wobbled and dropped to her knees. She hesitated a moment, then slowly crawled a step and stood shaky once more.

She’s going to make it.” It was like cheering for a car crash. You just can’t look away.

Just as he thought she regained enough strength to make it to him proudly something suddenly rushed the woman from behind. He saw it like a smear of black taking shape. It ran from the shadows of a car a good twenty feet behind her, but it caught up fast.

Look out!” He clutched Joan but he would never make it there in time.

Like a car crash, he was captivated and horrified. It leapt at her, she turned. They spun together like a horrible wave crashing. And then another, and another. Black smears seemed to be taking their moment to erect revenge on the one who stole their meal.

There had to be six, maybe seven on her. A pile of snarling screaming black creatures trying to rip her apart. They had claws, spikes, mutilated faces and bodies. They tore into her and feathers and blood sprayed in such wild patterns in the sunlight.

He screamed. No word other then a primal snarl of frustration as he clutched Joan firmer and stood. He moved a step forward, a step back. He eyed the dying dog and the mass of writhing blackness. He came to a crossroads and he was terrified of each direction.

Fuck it!” He snarled, and this time he ran towards them instead of running away.

Joan held high above his head one of them turned to him. Opened its jaws like a thylacine and leapt towards him. Its arms were the closest target so he spun the crowbar down on them and they snapped apart. Its torso and jaws slammed into him like the force of a wrecking ball and he found himself on his back slammed into the asphalt. He managed to get the hooked part of the crowbar into its mouth and he twisted hard. Teeth snapped and pried its mouth open as the stumps of arms bashed into his face and chest.

He snarled and cranked the crowbar past the limits and there was a sick bloody snap as its head cracked off its neck and the jaw hung slack and broken. It writhed, gurgled and flowed blood like a gothic fountain soaking through his shirt and coating his chest underneath.

The beast was dead but still kicking. He had no time to completely finish it off before another was on him, tearing its jaws into his left arm so deep that the pain felt like lightning right to his bone.

This one was smaller, sleeker. It reminded him of a bratty child throwing a temper tantrum. He slammed the end of Joan down once and then twice before it broke through the stone that was its skull. Finally it squished into brain matter and the creature gurgled between blood and flesh of his arm. It released and fell to the floor convulsing before it too died.

His arm felt like searing flesh and blood was gushing from the wound. He looked up and held Joan high but the form that came at him wasn’t another of the black things. It was her. Somehow she had survived. She looked like a walking corpse as she touched his shoulder and fell upon him. Both faltered to the ground in a bloody heap. The groans of the dying around them and the laboured breathing of both of them harrowed their end.

She wrapped her arms around him, pressing herself close to his body. Their hearts beat, the time stopped. The pain seemed to subdue somehow. He let go of the crowbar and wrapped his arm up carefully around her.

Black things were coming for them. He saw them rise over each of her shoulders leering at them, coming down for the final strike. They let loose a multitude of blades from either of their sides… and then he realised they weren’t monsters coming to eat them. They were wings with razor edges and they rose from the vultures back. She gripped him harder still, managed to dig her bloody knees into the dirt and lifted off onto her feet and into the air.

She dug her talons into him as they left a trail of blood.

I can’t hold on.” He mumbled weakly as the sky grew closer.

Just breathe.” She croaked as the wind quickened around their ears.

I can’t hold…”

Dusk Creek: Chapter Nine

[ The world’s coming apart.. in more ways then one. Rated M for violence and language… ]

After he showered and found clean clothes, he slept for a great deal of time. He wasn’t sure how or why, but he slept well. Maybe it was simply the fact that he accepted his current situation. Or maybe it was simply because he had nothing else left in him.

His dreams were not really dreams at all. Just his mind recounting the horror of his new reality in Dusk Creek. Every sharp detail that was so blurred and unseen at the moment of the incident itself.

He even recalled a face as the creature lunged at him. A face that was unlike any other he’d ever seen. Large eyes, huge and milky white with pussy yellow creeping up on the edges. It’s large mouth open with spikes and teeth gaping like a rabid bat from hell.

He also realised that each creature he’s seen so far, looked completely different. They were all black twisted things, charred silver grey things. But while the one in the store reminded him of some rabid bat, the one in his car looked a lot more like a great white shark – mouth agape with several rows of triangle teeth.

When he woke it was in a cold sweat. He was dulled, got up and showered again before going through the routine of making something to eat for him and his four legged companion. Nothing was spoken, everything was on auto pilot. He wished he could go outside and play Frisbee with her. He wished he could call up a friend and just talk. Hell, he wanted to find Joan demand her back and marry the bitch. He wanted some sort of normalcy in his life. Instead all he had was the Summerside.

Three days he spent there, never leaving. Shep had to use the shower for a bathroom, but he didn’t care. He didn’t want to risk losing her. If he did, he’d just be alone. All over again. And somehow that seemed a worse fate then being ripped apart by those black twisted things outside. He would stare out the windows for hours – looking for any signs of help. It seemed quiet.

However on the third day of routine, the chaos found him. Outside of the windows he finally saw them come. The black twisted things darting in and out of the street. Hiding behind cars, monstrous things that sometimes ran like animals.

His heart caught in his throat all over again. Joan, clean and polished was at his side, hooked into the belt of his jeans. They were coming directly for the building. And it wouldn’t take long for them to burst in as he did into the apartment that was on the ground floor.

He remembered the missile. The complete panic as he watched it streak down the sky and tear apart his life. It felt like that except this wasn’t going to be a quick death if they caught him.

Shep was already growling, snarling. Rabid with warning. And then, as if moving at super speed they were at the door. Pounding, banging, snarling. There was pounding from above, things shattering the windows. He screamed and bashed the hooked end of the crowbar through ones of their necks, twisting hard and ripping out its throat. Blood spilled like a waterfall.

Shep was snarling and biting, ripping chunks of throat out of another who had managed to lift it’s morbidly obese front half into the back window. It snarled and soaked the carpet in the living room. Shep held it with one jaw while using the other to rip into its bottom jaw and tear it out, teeth and all. It still howled and screamed trying to crawl its girth into the room.

The door wasn’t going to hold long. It didn’t take a genius to figure that out. As much as he threw furniture against the door it wouldn’t do much good. Eventually they would get in. Either past the fat slug of a creature dying in the window, or through the walls.

There was a sudden smash from the ceiling. Then another. Then another that finally toppled a large piece of ceiling into the kitchen of the small apartment. It smashed onto the table where they had their breakfast. It smashed into the sink where he drank.

He held Joan high in his hands, screaming rage when something came through that hole.

It was the crow. The skeletal masked woman. She fell down onto the table, crouched and looked around. He swung the crowbar wildly but she slipped back away from him and avoided the mad rush. Just then one of the smaller creatures managed to slip past the dead girth blocking the window, it ran at him. He was screwed.

Just as he was bracing for impact the creature stopped. Something metal hung slack from the creatures neck, it’s jaw opened and hung slack against his bloody throat as it’s body twitched and hung loose as a hand raised.

The skeletal crow. The first nightmare. With a snarl she snapped its neck deftly with a sickening crack and show of force. Off the creatures head came in front of him, hanging slack like a war trophy from the talons of her other hand deeply buried into the creatures brain like a sick hand puppet.

She let the head lower until his eyes met hers beneath that mask of death. They were firm and calm. Clear and dark. They watched him with a cool intelligence that the other monsters seemed to lack. Her face was almost human save for the deepness of her eyes. Somehow those eyes were far more then any human could have.

Now. Run.” Her beak turned and motioned for the ceiling the contact of their eyes breaking.

And then she turned, chucking the sick head from her talons onto another twisted thing breaking into the room past the now torn and ripped apart bloody mess of what used to be the obese slug of a woman. They were coming in like ants, crawling and writhing through the opening like a feeding frenzy. She moved quickly, a flash of metal talons, slicing beak and strong taloned inhuman legs.

She was very much the bird. But nothing graceful, nothing serene. Cold, calculating, precise. A predator like the great eagles. A blood soaked vulture.

He wished he had stopped to grab Shep, or to at least find out where her black sleek form had disappeared in the chaos of the Smiths apartment. He wished he could have fought all of them. But his dog was gone, and there were too many of them. More monsters were coming into the room and were barely being held off.

Kill or be killed. Or run. And Corey Savage ran. He ran and climbed with as much desperation as any man who wanted to live. Up onto the table, he leapt up and managed to grip hold of the ceiling and worm his way up just as a few creatures broke through and clawed at his legs. He turned when he was up safely and pounding the crowbar down into the brains of one. Into the eye of another. His screams were that of a very desperate man.

Run you idiot!” screamed from below. For a moment he thought it was Joan and that his mind had truly gone. Then he realised it had to have been Her.

After flipping a table over the hole to keep them at bay he ran. He ran as hard as he could, slipping out the fire escape and onto the street. It was starting to lighten and each building looked decrepit and empty. Every car was lost and abandoned. He now knew why there were no bodies, no pieces of anyone left behind. Only cold hard things that were inedible.

That was why there were blood soaked cars. That is why the apartments were abandoned.

He didn’t stop. He occasionally saw shadows out of the corners of his eyes and it only made him run faster. Corey Savage had never been an athletic man. He’d worked out once in a while with his buddies, but he certainly wasn’t a health nut. In fact he sold his mountain bike years ago. Now however he was pushing himself to his absolute limits.

Something came at him from the right; he heaved Joan in the air bringing the crowbar down on top of the mangled looking skull. It cracked sickening and blood and brains spilled across the asphalt. He didn’t stop, he didn’t double tap. He continued to run like hell.

He didn’t want to die. He didn’t want to see what damage those things could truly inflict if he stopped and gave them the wrong moment to act. It was a blur of madness, occasionally he would smell the foul stench of one gaining on him, he’d dodge left, dodge right. He even tumbled over the roof of a stalled car in order to get away.

Finally the light rose more, and he noticed he no longer saw any of the dark things following him. The coldness in the air lightened some with the burning of his muscles. It seemed like with the dying night the creatures slunk back into whatever hell hole they rose from.

Finally, completely spent and heaving he crouched and dropped onto his knees under the overpass. It was a small section under the broken bridge by the waters that he hoped no one would see him.

Joan was bathing in blood, making the sleek metal hard to hold onto and warm in his hands. He didn’t dare let her go though. It was his lifeline and had served him well. Sticky, dirty, but one hell of a bitch. He would kiss it if there weren’t remnants of brain still plastered in crimson attached.

He waited, breathing deep and ragged as the sun edged up in the sky and illuminated the edge of the road which crumbled into nothing above him. The black waters of the creek swirled into the thick fog which obscured the other side. The water itself smelt iron rich and deep. The creek was an ocean around him and his mind spun.

He had gone as far as he could. There was no where else to run. With nothing left in his body any more. He laid flat against the ground, closed his eyes and waited for the nightmare to end.

Sometimes all you can do is wait. Although he would give anything to sleep, he couldn’t. He laid there staring at the remnants of the bridge and feeling the wet air of the fog. He even crawled towards the creek and bathed his weapon in its water. Slowly and with care he cleaned the dark metal. A warrior with his sword, a gladiator with his shield. A fucking screwed and desperate man clutching a beat up crowbar.

When she was as clean as she could be, he safely tucked her at his side, then bent forward and cupped a handful of water. He drank with thirst, but was startled at the metallic taste. It reminded him of root canals and dental work. It reminded him of blood.

Something nudged up against him and he jolted to the side in horror. Shep was there and nuzzled each blood soaked head into the side of his arm. Battered and bruised, it was Shep he washed next in the waters of Dusk Creek. She certainly didn’t seem to mind; in fact in her own little silent way she seemed pleased to see him again, and just as pleased to have her fur and wounds cleaned and bathed.

I don’t know how you survived.” He mused to himself in barely a whisper. “But I’m glad you did, girl.”

He hugged the animal tight to him and received dual kisses up the sides of his arm. Her wounds were many but luckily not deep. They flushed clean with the water of the creek and flowed red tinted water back into the metallic water. He hoped she still had the power to heal like she did after he hit her with the car.

I’d rather die with you.” He whispered in almost a croak of a voice he didn’t recognize. “If it all has to end like this, I’d rather die with you.”