Supernatural Fiction posted April 16, 2013


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a prophecy comes to fruition

Legacy of the Beast

by Fleedleflump

The cold of the night would soon arrive. That was my last hope, hanging in the air like a frayed rope held together by cotton. I grasped it willingly, just as my clammy hand gripped the child's toy, and poured every ounce of will into staying as still as possible. I closed my eyes and listened to the shuddering breaths tearing back and forth through my throat. My heart hammered like a bass drum in my chest, sending sickening vibrations through my lungs and a repeating spike of pain into the space behind my eyes.

Filling my mind with memories of peace, I coaxed my body to some semblance of sanity. Lazy Sunday mornings, curled up in a warm bed with a warmer wife, brought a smile to my face. Sun-drenched picnics with fresh bread and hunks of cheese brought my heartbeat under control. Floating on my back in the ocean, sun sparkles dancing across my skin like fairies, levelled out my breath. Eventually, I was there - alert but in control, steady in body and - most importantly - as quiet as a sated ghost.

I opened my eyes again, surveyed the empty barn from my position, huddled in the corner. Sunlight lanced through the cracks in the East wall, sniffing out every inlet with ruthless power. The beams cut through heat shimmers and the rancid stench of suppurated horse corpses littering the floor - sad detritus of lives once vibrant.

A sound infiltrated from outside - a soft scraping, as of cloth against wood - and my throat constricted as tension washed through me. Finding my meditative place again, I forced back the gorge rising to my mouth. My family was dead, supper to a beast no sane person believes in. My world was in tatters, dying in the waning sun, and no hope remained but the approaching night. What thing might linger to cause me fear? Another sound floated in - loose hay crunching into concrete - and I glared in its direction. Making myself as small as possible, I watched the entrance in anticipation and settled down to listen to my silence.


*****

Johnson checked the breach, then hammered a fresh cartridge into the gap and pumped, chambering the shell. "Get outta my way, Flo. I'm huntin' his sick ass down."

"Johnson, listen to me," pleaded his sister. "You shouldn't go out there, not without reading everything in the memoirs."

"Bullshit." He doffed the purple sweater he'd been wearing and grabbed his armoured vest - remnant of years on the force. "I read enough. This family's got a curse, and I'm gonna fix it tonight."

Flo wrung her hands. "The cold of night approaches, Brother. Please, wait for the dawn's protection and arm yourself with knowledge as well as that vile weapon."

He raised the shotgun and planted dry lips on the barrel - a kiss for violent intention. "All my life, Grandad then Dad been teachin' me how ta hunt, how ta kill. All for some dumb shit about the family an' some prophecy. They tol' me I got a purpose. Finally, I know why. This's destiny, Sis. This's blood."

"You're the sword, Johnson. That's your role. But I'm the brain. That's why they sent me to college and taught me to read everything I could. Just wa-"

He didn't hear what else she said because the door cut off her whining when it shut behind him. Late evening sun cascaded from one side, sending a tall, armed shadow across the farmyard. He pulled a fat cigar from a pocket, cut it, and squeezed its length between jaws. Earthy spice flooded his mouth, followed quickly by saliva. He struck a match to light the other end, sucking a sweet cloud of smoke deep into his lungs. At last he had a purpose, a focus for his insane upbringing. Gun in hand, cigar between lips, prey somewhere ahead. He sighed out a great funnel of smoke like a dragon without a spark. Life was good.

A clank sounded from the old stable barn - probably a restless horse, but maybe not. He turned towards it, trying to tread quietly in his over-sized hobnail boots.

Your family will be needed. So said the prophecy, handed down through the generations. The first sons would fight, the first daughters read and chronicle. Together, they watched for 'the time' - a historic moment when their talents would be essential. Johnson didn't know what his ancestors had in mind, but watching his own brother turn into a ravenous monster seemed pretty historic.

"Johnson!" Flo's voice was shaking as it drew close from behind - her fault for trying to read and run simultaneously. "Listen to this: Upon the dawn of darkness, when hope is at its lowest ebb, the monster shall arise to strike terror in the hearts of men."

He swivelled, cursing in a loud whisper. "Shut up! There's somethin' in the stable."

"Horses, perhaps?" She scowled at him.

"It might be him."

She crossed her arms over the open book. "Do you really believe our brother is the monster that strikes fear into the hearts of men? It's Bernie - little bro bumpkin. It can't be him."

"He cut 'er up an' chewed on her, left pieces all over the house. Then the kids ... Nah, that ain't Bernie no more, Sis. That there's a monster, an' I'm gonna fuck it up." He turned away before she could see the tear crawling between facial hairs en route to his chin. The stable barn was only a few feet away, now. Night was falling, the sun's last shafts piercing vision and distorting shapes. He crept ahead, almost cursing when his clothes brushed the outside wall, and headed for the door.

*****

The bile rose like a wave of acid, surging from my stomach into my mouth. I watched his shadow flit between the sun shafts as gut fluids burned my throat and gums.

Raw urgency thrust through me, gripping my spine like a giant fist and shaking my innards. Pain blossomed across my body - a million roses with syringes for stems. I looked at my arm to see hair sprouting, bursting from pores with twig-like texture. I tried to scream but it sounded like howling, and my whimper of fear was a lion's growl. My vision shifted as the bones in my face separated, crunching and elongating. Teeth clattered from my mouth, thrust from their homes by fangs. I wheezed as ropes of saliva slathered the ground between my paws. A sound filled the stable - the door, kicked in by a hobnail boot - and I bounded forward, ready to fight by tooth and claw.


*****

The world was a morass of slow motion images for Johnson. His foot descended towards the floor as though moving through treacle. Splinters of the old stable door were spinning through the air, fleeing the violence of his entry. A bead of sweat slid like a slug down one temple as the previously shed tear flavoured his lips with salt. Pale orange light speared into the gloomy space ahead, outlining his shape in shadow ... and from that shadow raced a nightmare of beastial threat.

"Lil' Bro Bumpkin?" he mumbled, his voice deep and slow.

The monster might have been a giant wolf, if not for its hideously distended forehead and remnants of clothes clinging to limbs. Johnson had time to smell the stench of ruptured horse corpses, mixed with the earthy depth of hair and excitement. He had time to see his brother's eyes and semi-human fingers, the pain etched in every strained cord of muscle. There was even time to hear the earnest hopelessness in the creature's howls.

Time for all that, but not to make a plan.

Reality crashed back to full speed. A beast thundered from the light's remnants and leapt, growling, directly at Johnson. He pulled the trigger on a pure adrenalin reaction and blew its face into a cascading eruption of blood and gristle.

"No!" screamed Flo. The body crashed to the floor as gore washed over Johnson, specks of flesh spattering his face and catching in his hair.

A distant rumble of thunder announced night's approach like a sullen death knell.

"I ... I had no choice."

"Johnson, you fool." Her voice was a whisper on the wind. "You've killed us all."

Her words echoed through the dying light as death approached from the horizon. Borne on the wings of ancient evil, the cold of the night had arrived.

*****

I lay as still as the grave I'd soon inhabit, listening to the words of my sister as she recited from her book.

"But that terror will be a cleansing fire, a tempering of humanity's steel. The beast shall rise and form a beacon of light against the darkness to come. He shall lead us in redemption, and the chosen shall protect him."

That seemed funny as I listened to the last breath leaving my frame. Presumption was our undoing. The things I'd done, unknowing but undeniably culpable, filled my mind. Death seemed best. "Goodbye, my family," I whispered on that final waft of air. "And thank you."

With that thought, I faded from the world and bequeathed my soul to the shadows.


This Sentence Starts The Story contest entry

Recognized


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I hope you enjoyed the read. I'm thinking about making a longer story of this so I can investigate the concept and characters more (once I've finished Warped, of course!).

Mike :-)

Mike
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Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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