From “The End of Times”

Posted: November 15, 2010 in End of Times, Fiction

My world got turned on its ear. We all know I actually like it when that kind of thing happens, but I felt compelled to say something about it. Aspects of my life that have previously caused a bit of distress have been a source of great happiness. Meanwhile, things I thought were stable and good turned out to be disasters waiting to happen. I read that last sentence again, and I realize how obvious it should have been from the outset, but hindsight is 20/20. I’m going to keep it nice and vague for now, because I need to figure out what to do and I appreciate any good will, but I don’t want advice right now.

A while back, I posted a letter from Anders Johnson. The post is actually titled “Revelations.” I was recently inspired by my muse and have decided to expand on that. The whole thing is kind of piecemeal right now, but I’ll put up parts that I like as they become readable. Hopefully it’ll make a neat story when taken as a whole.

The minions of War had found them. The sanctuary had escaped the worst of Famine and Pestilence, if only by good fortune. Unfortunately for the tiny settlement, this time luck was not on their side. The monstrous hounds bayed and hurled themselves at the walls. Sheet metal reverberated thunder within the canyons of junk that served as streets. Terror filled the air, as the survivors barricaded themselves into their homes. The outer wall was sturdy, but the gates at either end of the settlement were already showing stress tears under the battering of the otherworldly horrors outside.

The militia of Second Chance was made up of twenty men and women with assorted firearms. Few had formal training, but all had brought their own guns when they found the scrapyard-turned-village. The other thing they had in common: fear. Even so, they stood in a half circle at the east gate. The west gate was blocked by the one working bit of construction equipment that remained. A massive crane had been backed up against the entry. The only thing strong enough to move the machine was itself. They hoped. A few of them cursed the arrival of the girl only a few days earlier. She probably led the monsters right to them. More of the defenders found themselves wanting to believe her story of supernatural aid.

With a howl, one of the hounds crashed into a seam in the gate. Metal shrieked as it tore, and the head of the thing forced its way through. The head of the thing was flattened, with a long canine snout. The eyes shone from within on either side of the beast’s head. Tiny horns protruded from each eyebrow ridge. The hound snapped and snarled as it tried to force its way through the small hole. The nearest defender shouldered a shotgun, and fired. The hound’s head disintegrated in a spray of gore. “Least they ain’t bulletproof,” the man muttered, “but that girl better hurry up.”

Deep in the junkyard, the newest arrival to Second chance was hard at work, throwing pieces of long-discarded machinery into a pile. It was entirely unclear what the criteria for her sorting were, but she continued to search.

The pack of creatures slammed into the hole, one after another. For every one that fell, another was waiting to take its place. The defenders continued to fire into the hole, and accuracy ceased to be a concern as the hole widened. Claws poked through at the edges of either side of the hole, and clamped down. The claws pulled, and the hole grew to a gaping maw in the blink of an eye. A few of the defenders broke and ran. The first beast reached the defenders, lunging with his enormous jaws open. The man screamed as his entire waist was engulfed by fangs. With a wet crunch, the hound bit the man in half. Blood sprayed as the thing shook its head and the corpse divided. More of the monsters poured through the gap.

She stood back and surveyed her handiwork. She unslung a satchel from her back and pulled out a large gem. It was nearly as large as her head, and pulsed with a warm red light. She placed the uncut ruby in a toaster oven that sat in the center of the pile. “Save them,” she whispered.

Blood soaked the ground at the gate of the junkyard. Two hounds pulled at the arms of another defender. There were only ten left, and an apparently limitless number of the vicious beasts. The defenders fell back, with a couple turning and breaking into a dead run. Everyone and everything stopped dead at the sight emerging from the heart of the junkyard. It crested the pile in what seemed like slow motion, and loomed over the courtyard. A single cracked lens of an old camera looked down on the carnage below. The thing rolled shoulders of old tires and flexed claws of discarded tools. It stood on one leg composed of ladders and another of remnants of an engine hoist. It spread wings of roof antennae and what used to be a hang glider. A tail of braided cable lashed and cracked behind it. In the toaster oven in the center of its chest beat a heart of uncut ruby. The dogs of War howled, and the walking junk heap fell on them like an avalanche.

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