Posted: March 27, 2011 in End of Times, Fiction

They told him there was a cycle to all things. They told him that the world had been destroyed before. Aron had listened, and learned his lessons well, but belief… That was something that he had never had until now.

The mountain men had come through his little town three days ago warning of disaster. They were grizzled and haggard the way Aron would have expected. One of them even wore red and black flannel, just like the guy on the roll of paper towels. There were four of them, each covered in a layer of filth. All four of them bore dingy camouflaged frame packs and rifles over one or both shoulders. Each had the smell of an unwashed goat.

The leader, the one who wore the red and black flannel, had sought out the leader of their tiny monastery. The eldest, whom Aron and all the others called Friar, had taken this burly outdoorsman into the inner sanctum. Aron and his studymate had fetched water for the other three.

“You ever been out there, kid?” One of them had asked Aron. Aron had eyed him warily.

“No.”

“Well, you’re about to want to. Something wicked this way comes.” One of the man’s companions had elbowed him in the ribs.

“Don’t scare the kid.”

“Why not? I’m fuckin’ terrified. And it’s kept all of us alive so far.”

The last man had rumbled an assent. Aron had made sure they all had water and left as quickly as it was polite to do so. He had snuck away and climbed the rough mortar of the Sanctum. He had listened at the smoke hole as Friar and the woodsman had talked. “…have been broken. I don’t know what sort of faith you have here, padre, but the Book of Revelations may as well be the newspaper right now.” Friar’s wizened features crinkled even more as he smiled.

“God will protect his children.”

“I dunno, padre. It looked like he was letting an awful lot of them die ugly.”

“There is beauty in all things,” Friar had pronounced. “All things are cyclical. The riders have come before and passed through here. They shall do so again. None in these walls shall come to harm.” That was when Aron finally understood. He had not waited for the strangers to leave. He hadn’t even waited for the Friar to finish talking. He had climbed down the sanctum and gone straight to the Armory.

He stood in front of the suit and felt the hair on the back of his neck rise. The suit was so much more than armor. It was a full suit of extremely ornate gothic plate. Every surface showed etchings of angels. Some blew horns. Some battled daemons. All had the same expression of serenity. They were made to do what they were doing, and the suit was no different. Aron cocked his head as he heard the first baying of the hounds of Hell. He knew that Friar would come down to don the suit. The armor would deliver them from evil.

Aron had paid attention in his studies despite his weak faith. He knew what a martyr was. He stood before the Armor of the Martyr. Friar had to live to keep the order alive. All things were cyclical, but the cycle had to be tended. Aron opened the massive cuirass. It unfurled like divine wings. He clambered up into the cavity and the wings embraced him.

I’ve written myself into a corner with Asher’s predicament. As I wrestle with details, I hope you can make do with another snippet from “The End of Times.” It’s been a series of short stories that kind of follows the apocalypse. I’m not sure if they’re properly tagged, so I’ll put some work into that.


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