Aftermath: Chapter Thirteen

The train’s whistle cut through the night. Faces brightened, smiles appeared as the train eased its way to a stop in front of the battered, brick station.

“Where’s Kyle and Sam?” Orchid looked around. Jack and Lila shook their heads as they loaded supplies onto the train.

Cesar approached Orchid. “I haven’t seen them in some time. We don’t have time for this.”

“I’m going to look for them.” Orchid started away from the station.

“Orchid no, we need you. Everyone depends on you and Morganna. There’s not time, the train will leave as soon as we’re all on.”

“I won’t leave them behind.”

“Orchid,” Morganna made her way between Cesar and Orchid. “There is danger. Be careful.”

“I knew it. All of you go on ahead. We’ll catch up to you.”

“I have a bad feeling about this,” Cesar said. “Please don’t do anything foolish. Look for us at the next station if you can.”

“Don’t worry. I can take care of myself these days.” She smiled and dashed down the station stairs.

The dark slithered all around her. Howling wind rustled through the trees. Out near the rear of the station she heard a groan. Orchid moved slowly through tall, overgrown grass, stepped over some garbage and saw a form squirming on the ground.

She ran to it. “Kyle!” She wiped blood from his forehead and brushed his hair. “C’mon kiddo. Are you okay? Kyle?”

Kyle opened eyes and moaned. He reached for his head. “What the…” His eyes widened. “Sam! They took Sam!”

“Who, who took her?”

“Some men in red robes…we gotta find her!”

“First, we gotta get you some help.”

“No, no.” He pushed her away. “There’s no time for that. We need to go after them. I know them. They’re cannibals. They’re gonna….gonna…”

“Okay, I’ll go right now. You get back to the train with the others. It’s about to leave.”

“The hell with that. I’m going with you. I know where they operate. I’ve seen them downtown.”

“You really are a stubborn kid. C’mon, let’s go.”

The train whistle started again.


Cesar stood between the cars and watched the landscape stream by. The air was tinged with the smell of soot. It had become a bit colder outside. The sky was a shade of purple with hints of the stars behind it, like a veil. He noticed some of the haze was fading as they left the city.

The train reached the outskirts of the city and pair of headlights lit up the tracks. Cesar froze, his heart pounded as large truck pulled onto the tracks. The train whistle blew over and over but the truck didn’t budge. Finally, the train came to a screeching halt, coming dangerously close to barreling into the truck.

The truck doors sprung open and Luana leapt out with her men. They attacked the train with vicious drive. Guns rattled, swords clanked and the men rushed aboard.

Cesar pushed his way back into his car. “We’re under attack! Morganna hide!”

Screams filled the train. People fell to the tracks, riddled with bullets. A few of the telekinetics willed soldiers off the train and into the streets.

Jack pushed his son Justin under one of the seats as the car doors flung open. “Get off our train,” Jack’s hands lit up with fire.

The men aimed and fired. Jack thrust both hands and a cone of fire roared toward them. Bullets exploded in the flames. The fire rolled on, catching the men and igniting them instantly.

“Go!” Jack cried to Cesar, Morganna and Lila. “I’ll hold them off.”

Cesar led the others from car to car until stumbling into a cargo hold. The side door burst opened and Luana climbed in with her men.

Ghost growled and jumped across the cargo hold, tackling one of the soldiers. Both fell outside the train.

Three more men took the fallen soldier’s place. They advanced on Cesar, Lila and Morganna.  Cesar rushed the men and got the butt of a gun across his jaw for his trouble. Unimaginable pain burned through his face and he went down. Lila screamed.

Luana spotted Morganna behind a pile of crates and trunks. “Come out, come out, little one. Our time has come.”

“Ghost!” Lila called for her wolf but there was no response.

One of Luana’s men shoved his gun into her face. “Shut up or you’ll end up like your friend.”

All around the train shots fired, people screamed. Psychic powers wreaked havoc on men and the train itself. Bodies levitated past the open cargo doors.

“Stay away,” Morganna called. “I’m warning you. You should leave now.”

“Just hand over your gem stone and I will. I’ll go away as soon as I have it.” Luana pulled the crates down one by one, her arms were covered in scales, her face showed signs of reptilian skin on her forehead.

“Ah, there you are.” Luana kicked one more trunk out of her way to reveal Morganna cringing against the wall. Luana reached for the girl and her necklace but a still Morganna grabbed hold of Luana’s arm. Luana screamed.

The connected doors to the car burst opened and Jack rushed in with Justin. He hurled a couple of fireballs at the soldiers, engulfing them. They threw themselves from the train, screaming, smoke billowing into the air.

He turned to see Morganna with a firm grip on Luana’s arm. “Let your true self come out,” Morganna hissed.

Luana felt the flesh slide from her face, shedding like a snake. Beneath a reptilian face leered, moist, green scales rippled, yellow eyes glinted. She saw her own reflection in Morganna’s green stone. A baleful screech escaped her and she threw herself backwards, away from the little girl.

Luana fell on her back and ran her clawed hands over her face. “No! No!” She climbed to her feet and jumped from the train, running off into the night.

“Is Cesar alright?” Jack bent to the unconscious man, turning him over.

“They knocked him out,” Lila said. She crawled over to him, cradling his head in her arms.

Morganna came out from hiding and joined the others.

“What happened to her?” Lila asked her.

“She saw her real face.”

Shots continued to ring out. Ghost hopped back into the cargo hold and went to Lila’s side. He licked Cesar’s face.

“Everyone stay here.” Jack climbed out of the train, grabbing hold of the ladder just outside the cargo hold. He climbed to the roof. A few soldiers rushed him and he set them ablaze.

He spotted the truck on the tracks ahead blocking their path. He rubbed his hands together and a great fireball formed, he expanded it and expanded it until finally throwing it at the truck with all of his strength.

The fireball swallowed the truck, spreading flames over every inch of it.

“Crash through it!” Jack called to the conductor. “Get us out of here and drive threw it!”

The train whistle blared, the train roared and hissed, the wheels churned. Jack flung himself onto the ladder and back to the cargo car. He slid the doors shut. “Everyone keep down.”

The train plowed into the truck, sending it off the tracks, rolling onto its side where it exploded. Fire rained across the skies. The sound of the explosion echoed for miles and the train raced out of the city.


“Are you sure this is right?” Orchid asked Kyle.

“I’m sure. They’re right around here.”

Orchid heard the sound of animals rummaging through old trashcans. Footsteps sounded in the distance. Night creatures scampered here and there.

Kyle bent to a sewer cover and tried prying it free, grimacing, struggling. It was a bit too heavy for him.

“Here,” Orchid said. She pointed at the cover and it lifted from the street, settling in a vacant lot.

“Ok, last time I saw them, they were going in and out of the sewers,” Kyle said.

“Let’s get down there, then.”

He climbed in first, Orchid following right behind. The sewer catacombs echoed with dripping sounds. It was dank and dark, a stench so awful rose the moment they began sloshing through putrid water.

“I sense something,” Orchid said. “Energy or something…”

“You are sensing things now?”

“I know…I feel like I’m becoming more like Morganna everyday. I think we go left.”

Orchid turned the corner and felt a breeze tickle her face, there was warmth in it.

The catacombs stretched long, unending, dark until flickering light appeared in the distance. Chanting rose.

She turned to Kyle and put her finger to her mouth. There was no chance for mistakes, no alerting to their arrival. They had to be extremely careful if they were to get out alive.

They reached another threshold and there the first torches of the cult blurred their vision. A few feet away was the main hub, a junction of many tunnels and catacombs. Shadows writhed, figures shifted. Sam screamed.

“No!” Kyle yelled and Orchid rolled her eyes.

Men in red-robes rushed them with swords and knives. Orchid wove her hands and the men lifted into the air. She sent them crashing against the walls.

“Sam! Samantha!” Kyle called before being tackled into the water.

Men threw themselves at Orchid left and right and she propelled them backwards with psychic throws but ultimately found herself surrounded.

One of the men rose from the water, his blade around Kyle’s throat.

“Enough interlopers!” Octavius hissed. “One more move and their will be two sacrifices tonight.” He moved to one side to reveal Sam’s lifeless body.

They were too late. A dagger protruded from her bare chest, blood ran down the makeshift altar and into the water.

“The Lord of the feast is angry for your interruption. We must eat to conclude our sacred rite.”

Orchid looked over at Kyle, he was defeated, a shell, withering in the arms of evil. She seethed with anger. She eyed Octavius with his sword about to cut into Sam’s body.

Orchid felt her power surge through her, traveling down her veins, filling her every fiber. Her fingers twitched. Strands of her hair stood up.

“No more food for you!” Orchid said with a booming voice. A gust of wind swept into the sewers. It blew all of the cult members off of their feet and tumbled their altar.

Men flew against the walls, some landed on their own daggers and swords.

Orchid rushed to Kyle and grabbed his arm. “Let’s get out of here.”

She ran with him down the catacombs, she heard Octavius behind her. He and Malek were in pursuit, wielding swords, the rest of cult behind them.

She ascended the first set of rungs they came to, pulling Kyle up with her. Out in the street, she saw a huge warehouse in front of them and made her way to it.

They spanned the parking lot to the warehouse doors. She looked over her shoulder. Octavius and the others popped out of the sewers one by one.

“Inside, quick,” she said to Kyle, pushing him through a broken window, the remaining glass cracking and crashing to the floor.

The warehouse lights flickered upon Orchid’s arrival. The building trembled, the roof shook. The cult stormed the building, breaking down doors, shuffling across the floor, yelling and cursing.

Orchid ushered Kyle to a set of stairs and a network of catwalks. “Hold on to me tight.” She latched her arms around him and he followed suit. Behind her a window glowed with light. “Shut your eyes, lower your head!”

“What are you doing?”

“Ending this now!”

Orchid lifted into the air, carrying Kyle and glided through the window. The glass shattered but did not touch them. They hovered in the air, the wind wrapping around them as if holding them up.

She looked down at the building’s roof. “I think this world has had enough of you.” The roof rumbled violently and with an explosion it collapsed, crashing in on the cannibal cult and burying them.

Orchid lowered slowly, finding soft grass in the midst of a park. They touched down by a swing set and Kyle buried his face in Orchid’s arms. He wept for Sam and the loss of all she was. A light in the dark. A reason to go on. A beacon of hope. Now gone.

Orchid hugged him tight, running her hands over his head. “I know sweetie, I know. It’s okay…let it out…let it all out. We will never forget her. Never Kyle…”

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 for more information. View all posts by John Grover

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