Aftermath: Chapter Twelve

Luana pulled gloves onto both arms, green scales covered her skin up to the elbow. After, she dug a leather trench coat out of the piles of scavenged clothes, tools, weapons and other items. She found the trench in the basement of a burnt-out department store. She had wondered if she’d ever have use for it.

She slipped it on, covering most of her conspicuous areas. She ran her gloved hands over the coat, pressing it into her grip then grinding it in her palms a bit. Her sunglasses found themselves to her last. She put them on and peeked at herself in a cracked mirror. One of her men stood in the reflection.

Luana pressed the front of her foot down on the floor. A button clicked and the door to her quarters shut and locked.

“How long have you been standing there?’ she asked.

The soldier trembled. His mouth opened but no words came out.

“Shall I repeat my question?”

“ah…ah…n-n-not long…I swear. I didn’t s-s-see anything.”

“I can’t take any chances.” She extended her arm and her laser bracelet coiled around her wrist. She took aim and fired.

The blast sent him flying against the wall. His body smoldered. A host of footsteps resounded behind the door. Luana pressed the button in the floor again and the door reopened.

Soldiers rushed into the room, guns armed and ready. They stopped as soon as they saw Luana and the body.

“Get rid of that.” She pointed at the dead man and the others dragged him out of the room without question.

How long? Luana punched the wall. How long before I am a thing….I can’t let them see me….I can’t. They mustn’t see me!

She curled her hand into a fist and smashed her mirror. Glass splintered to the floor, reflecting the light of her chambers.

###

“Mommy!” Justin rolled over in his sleeping bag, thrashing his legs, breathing hard. “Mommy… mommy!”

“Hey.” Jack shook his sleeping bag off and rushed to his son’s side. “Hey buddy, it’s okay.” He brushed the boy’s hair. “Daddy’s right here. Don’t be scared. It’s just a dream. Just a dream.”

“I want mommy…I want h-h-her now.”

“Mommy’s in heaven now, Justin. She’s watching us and smiling.”

“I want to see her.”

“You can’t right now buddy but she’s always with you. In here.” He pointed to the little boy’s chest. “Remember we talked about that?”

Justin nodded, wiping his tears away.

Orchid watched from the doorway. Her heart broke for him. So many had lost someone. Some had lost their entire families. It sucked. Even survivors of the end of the world still couldn’t rest or find peace. Danger snatched the innocent from one moment to the next.

Morganna appeared beside Orchid. She looked up at Orchid. “He’s here.”

“Jack,” Orchid said. “We gotta go.”

“I’ll stay with him.” Morganna looked toward Jack.

Jack grimaced, gritted his teeth. Orchid could tell he wanted to explode, his skin glowed with fiery light. “Yeah.”

They left the bedroom and joined the others in an old dining room inside the caretaker’s house. The house butted up against the lighthouse, connected to it by time and function. Old wallpaper still clung to the walls, oil lamps sat on the mantle above the brick fireplace. The wooden floor creaked beneath their steps.

“Sam, are you ready?” Orchid asked.

“I think so. I’m a bit nervous but ready to go.”

“Okay, the rest of us will wear him down. Use our powers together as one. Remember, teamwork and focus. We should be able to weaken him. We’ll need Jack’s fire, Lila’s animal friends, some of the telekinetics.”

“What can I do?” Kyle stepped away from the wallpaper and its busy pattern. No one had known he was there.

“Keep yourself from getting hurt,” replied Orchid. “Hide and track his moves. Observe him. See if he makes any mistakes we can use against him.”

“Sounds lame, but I’ll do it anyway.”

“Good boy. Okay everyone. He’s nearly here. Let’s meet him head on.”

Cesar made his way over to Orchid. “Be careful. If he gets too close, send him into the ocean and we’ll run.”

“We’re done running. Keep those special hands of yours ready though. You just never know.” She winked at him and led the others outside. The morning sunlight was just shimmering over the trees. A light breeze stirred. Gulls circled the lighthouse tower.

###

Orchid walked away from the tower and up the beach. Thunder rolled across the ocean. Something else rumbled from the opposite direction.

Jack joined Orchid’s side and took her hand. Lila took Jack’s, the wolf stood right with her. Gulls perched on Lila’s shoulders.  Some of the others in the group stood with Lila, a telekinetic woman and Girard, a man who could levitate himself.

Kyle came out of the tower holding Sam’s hand. Orchid looked back at them, watching them kiss. Exchanging whispers with each other, smiling happily. She hoped everything would be ok, There was always a chance of losing someone. That’s why she told Kyle to hide and observe. He wasn’t as strong as the others. His power was meant to protect him.

Sam let go of Kyle’s hand and joined the others. Her eyes met Orchid’s and she nodded.

The ground rumbled.  Kyle stepped back and blended into the lighthouse’s tower, his flesh taking on the white of the paint, strewn with cracks and chipped plaster, a bit of green flecks from some moss.

The rumble grew louder, Orchid turned to watch the killer rise out of the dunes, stepping through sea brush and sand.

Emily the telekinetic willed the killer off his feet slamming him into the sand. She then hurled him backwards.

He recovered quickly.  Girard lifted himself into the air and soared at the recovering masked man.

“Girard, no!” Orchid cried. “Stay with us!”

Girard ignored her and slammed his feet into the killer’s face. The killer stumbled back but kept his footing, he reached up and plucked Girard out of the sky.  Girard screamed and squirmed but the killer made short of work of him, snapping his neck.

“No!” Orchid cried. The wind stirred. A dark cloud formed above the ocean.

Jack unleashed a ray of fire as Orchid directed it.  The wolf howled, leaping from his perch. The gulls launched into the air and ignited with fire, each transforming into a phoenix.

Jack’s ray sent the killer down again, the blast stunning him, flames engulfing his chest.  He lay there prone. A moment later he jumped up and patted out the fire. Ghost the wolf howled and opened his mouth. He spit a cloud of fire at the masked assassin, advancing on him like a dragon.

The killer fought his way through the waves of fire and backhanded the wolf. Ghost rolled across the sand and yelped but quickly got to his feet. His hair bristled and his size double. He was ready for more.

The phoenix gulls dove at the killers head, ripping at his mask. He swatted at them again and again. Their screeches filled the air.

Orchid shivered from head to toe, her skin glowed. She felt intense power building inside of her. Her hair teased from static electricity. The clouds above her clustered and shifted to black.

Her grip tightened on the others, Jack and Lila stared at her with dread. Thunder crashed.

The killer grabbed one of the gulls and crushed it in his palm. the other glided away from his strike. The killer turned to Orchid and the others. He stormed toward them.

The sky crackled with energy and a gust of wind tore at the masked man. He fought against it, struggling step by step, pushing himself as the wind howled.

Rage filled Orchid, she gritted her teeth, feeling the inside of her mouth vibrate. The scent of ozone filled the air, the charge caressed her tongue.

Lightning streaked across the sky and struck the masked man in the chest. He was thrown off his feet. His arms twitched another strike forced him down. Another ignited the ground around him.

A crack resounded across the sky. The clouds whirled. The ocean churned. One final lightning strike exploded upon the assassin and he flipped onto his belly.

He remained unmoving.

“Sam,” Orchid yelled, the power easing out of her. “Now!”

Sam’s eyes fluttered and collapsed. Jack caught her in his arms. Orchid saw a misty form rise from the girl’s slumbering body. “Go get’em Sam.”

###

Ok, ok, I can do this. Won’t be so bad.  Inside the body of an unstoppable, insane killer. Sure no problem. Sam floated through the air. She looked back on the others, most were staring at her body but Orchid was watching her soul. Orchid could see her.

She hovered above the ton of fun. His muscular body seemingly dormant, his tree-trunk legs sprawling over the sand, his masked face lolling to one side.

Ok…you can do this, you can do this.

She lifted a bit higher, stretched herself over his body and shot toward him.

Oh my God…. No… no….what are you doing here? And you?  Or you?  Can’t…can’t…argggghhhhh…..too many…. Too many….I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.

Feelings of suffocation overwhelmed Sam. She felt many hands clamoring over her incorporeal form. Blackness filled her, oily, dark, foul. A stink thickened inside of her, weighing her weightless soul down. Voices cried inside her mind…hundreds of lost voices.

No, stop, please! NO!

In an instant she was propelled outside of his body and soared into the air.  Sam wasted no time, she raced back to her body and…

###

She opened her eyes and gasped.

“Sam, what happened?” Orchid asked.

Jack held the weakened girl.

Her eyes widened. Terror in them. She coughed until words came. “I couldn’t take possession of his body…. There wasn’t any more room for me.  God…there’s so many souls stuffed into him. Hundreds maybe thousands. They were all like soldiers or something but from different time periods… there were Roman centurions, Greek warriors, Native Americans, US Marines…all kinds…it was awful. They were so angry I was there…they wanted out in a bad way.  I-I-I was… thrown out of him.”

“He’s still out,” Jack said, looking toward the killer.

“First time we’ve kept him down that long,” Orchid said. “We need more time.” She turned and willed the killer’s unconscious body into the air and hurled it across the ocean.

“It will take him hours to get back here. Sam, let’s get you some rest.”

“Guys! Guys!” Cesar hurried from the lighthouse.

Orchid turned, he was out of breath, his eyes lit up. “What’s going on?”

“Our scouts found a train station still working… a train is coming. A steam-powered train. We can get out of the city on the train.”

“Let’s freaking do it,” Jack said.

“Cesar, are you sure,” Orchid asked.

“Absolutely. I think we should go. Morganna hasn’t sensed any others like us, but another place might harbor more. She thinks it’s a good idea.”

“Then we go. Let’s get Sam to a bed and start packing. Tell everyone.”

“It’s about time.” Jack helped Sam to her feet and guided her back to the lighthouse.

###

Kyle and Sam snuck off to the back of the train station as the others waited on the platform. They kissed under the stars. “I was worried about you,” Kyle said. “Are you sure you’re alright?”

“Yes, silly, I’m fine. It was over fast.”

“I can’t believe what you told us was inside him. It must have been like being in hell.”

“There is no hell. There are only phases of existence. Planes we cross to reach the God consciousness. Some make their own hell when they die, trapped forever in twisted energy and deeds. They haunt the lower planes.”

“Sometimes you baffle the hell out of me.”

She nodded. “I know, that’s why you like me.” She kissed him again until rustling bushes interrupted them. “What is that? Do you see the red…”

Before Sam could finish two red-robed cultists rushed from the dark and knocked Kyle unconscious with the hilt of a sword.

Octavius slipped behind Sam and covered her mouth. “Our new sacrifice is delivered to us. Praise the Lord of the Feast.”

Malek snickered as he helped Octavius drag Sam into the night.

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About John Grover

John Grover is a dark fiction author residing in Massachusetts. He grew up watching creature double feature with his brother on Saturday afternoons. This fueled his love of monsters, ghosts and the supernatural. He never missed an episode. In his spare time he loves to cook, garden, go to the theater to watch horror movies with his friends, read, talk about food, bake amazing desserts, play with his dog Buffy (yes named after the character in the TV show) and draw-badly. Some of his favorite TV shows and influences are The Twilight Zone, Tales from the Darkside, Space 1999, Battlestar Galactica, X-Files, Night Gallery, Monsters, Star Trek, and much more. He completed a creative writing course at Boston’s Fisher College and is a member of the New England Horror Writers, a chapter of the Horror Writers Association. Some of his more recent credits include Best New Zombie Tales Vol 1 by Books of the Dead Press, The Book of Cannibals by Living Dead Press, The Vermin Anthology, The Northern Haunts Anthology by Shroud Publishing, The Zombology Series by Library of the Living Dead Press, Morpheus Tales, Wrong World, The Willows, Alien Skin Magazine, Aurora Wolf and more. He is the author of several collections, including the recently released Creatures and Crypts, 20 tales of over 70,000 words of fiction, as well as various chapbooks, anthologies, and more. Please visit his website www.shadowtales.com for more information. View all posts by John Grover

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