Day of Lords
A crack of thunder shook the whole house to its foundation, the sound of breaking glass and splintering wood. The yelping of inhuman creatures, their tongues clacking dry. Then another volt from the heavens and another and the scratching footsteps stopped. Only the creaking remained and a quiet mewling yelping noise and the sounds of heavy feet stomping down on the thin wooden boards.
The boys were frozen, scared stiff staring up at the ceiling their guns shaking in their hands. Then the footsteps started up again and the floor boards creaked again and the boys tensed up aiming their weapons at the boards.
The footsteps got closer to the trapdoor now and it was suddenly flung open. The boys shook training their weapons on the opening as a shaft of light and dust billowed in. But no form came through the opening just the light and the dust and every nature sound that could fill a godlessly long minute.
Then something was tossed like a sack down the stairs and the trap door was closed up again with a slamming force plunging the boys back into darkness. The boys almost fell over themselves to see what it was and then it move a little and they thought to fire but it was too dark. Jameson lit the lamp again and it was some odd mass of something, dark mat hair.
Then the thing uncoiled and sprang away from the light like a huge rat and the boys shrunk away terrified.
“Ya killed ma paw and ma maw and all my brothers.” The voice was a vicious and guttural whisper like it was pushed passed the tusks of a boar. “Now imma kill you dead”.
The thing was fast and it leapt out of the shadows and swept a clawed hand at the lamp knocking it into the dirt plunging them back into the darkness.
The eyesight of the lug akin to a beasts made darkness little more than an obstacle to them, whats more their other senses were much keener than a humans.
“Jaysus” Shaun sputtered.
“Shhh” Clarke cautioned.
The cellar was black as pitch and quiet as a graveyard, then there was a scratching noise. The sound of tendons coiling and then it leapt out of the dark and attached itself to McDonald. He swung it around with his mighty arms and pinned it to the wall of the cellar with his forearm. And he went to work on it’s underbelly with the brass knuckles keeping it’s jaws away from his face. “Sunovabitch” He shouted.
The things arms and legs were pressed by McDonalds body. But his wriggling was vicious and he cut and clawed and pawed at McDonalds arms and legs biting into his flesh but Mcdonald held him there. “Would someone please shoot this bastard?”
“Sure” Clarke said as he pressed the barrel of his rifle under it’s chin and fired. The flash lit the floor of the cellar up for a brief second before plunging it into darkness again and filling it with the smell of gunpowder.
The boys gathered themselves and slowly and cautiously made their way to the trapdoor. After at least ten or twenty minutes of listening to the still silence upstairs. They finally decided they’d face whatever was up there waiting for them rather than be starved out.
Jameson was first, he tossed the trapdoor aside with one hand. He steadied himself against the floor aiming the schofield around the room and back at the entrance to the store but both were clear.
He climbed all the way out followed by the others who filled the room slowly and quietly. He quickly threw open the doors to the bed room and tossed the schofield around the corners finding nothing.
He came away from there as they stood in the kitchen “It’s clear” He whispered.
Shaun made a little whistling noise and pointed at the door into the store front. Clarke sidled along against the door jam and nudged the door open with the barrel of his rifle.
McDonald came in low with his revolver and angled himself around the door so he could see what was there.
“You can come on out on now” They heard a familiar voice boom in the store front. “They’re all dead.”
Jameson gripped his schofield tighter and bounced into the storefront and stopped dead. As he saw Gage standing there covered in blood and fur below the waist. Some scratches on his face and hands, teethmarks on his boots.
The bodies of the other three half-lugs lay strewn around the store like some macabre tableau. One bent over one of the racks with all his spine showing. Another collapsed in the corner turned on his side allowing his brains to tumble out. And the other cut clean in half below the waist and looked like it crawled aways before it died leaving a clawed bloody trail.
“Let’s go” He said.
The boys took whatever they could carry and brought it back to stash it at the whorehouse with plans to come back for the rest later. Once they found a place to put it all.
They eventually had to bury a lot of it to retrieve later, that way it couldn’t be found if any convoys came idly by.
The food they found wasn’t much but the old man had suggested that there was a town nearby. Where he most likely got the bulk of his food.
The boys went back to that outpost and burnt it to the ground with some lamp oil. They burnt all the bodies separately on a pire until there was no trace left of them. Any passing convoys would just see a burnt out building and think it was struck my lightning or a gang of luggers that had somehow discovered fire.
After some preparation and some advanced scouting by O’Shaughnesy and Clarke. Clarke spotting from the outside and O’Shaugnesy talking to some of the locals they learnt everything they needed to know about the town and more. The power and comms that was the first thing they’d strike, crippling the towns infrastructure was the first step to taking it.
If they could shut off the tubescope delivering those pleasing numbing theta waves. They had a chance of convincing the people or failing that using force. Gage had absolutely no qualms at this point about killing his own people or forcing them to save themselves.
He was more than aware that humans hadn’t the faintest idea what was best for them and had been subverted far beyond the means for rational discussion. If he had to he’d use terror and violence to save them from themselves and he’d kill those that refused to fight at his side to save the human race.
“You’re out of your mind Gage, you know that?” Doctor Westwood spat, his face drenched in sweat his voice cutting through thick silence of McClusky’s bar. “You’d replace tyranny with tyranny where there is none. In your vision you’d tear this world apart just to be rid of a race that bares you no ill will, do you not see that this is the product of a sick mind?” Westwood was shaking as he spoke “Come with me and you have a chance at having a normal life, we can help yo-“.
Gage fired at the tubescope hanging over the bar blowing it to smithereens.
Westwood froze in terror grabbing his ears. Then scuttling his fat hands for his pistol on the table holding it low looking at Gage with wide eyes “You’re out!” He said almost like he was asking permission.
He got cooler and calmer and smiled and said “Destroying those will do no good. There’s a hundred more where they came from even if they did what you claimed they do.” As he said it the power went out, the loud tubescopes and their megaphones outside shut off and the streets were silent. “Cute trick, but you can’t save this town from itself” He said reclaiming some of his confidence as he fingered his gun with his sweaty palm. “Not by yourself”
“I’m not by myself”
Westwood swallowed “You’re out, you fired three times now, I have you, you’re coming with me!”
“I’m not going with you” Gage said as he raised his gun to Westwood’s head.
“You think I’m stupid, you want me to kill you where you sit, is that it?” He sputtered, his vision narrowing and focusing on the three barrels of the gun pointed at him. And then he focused hard on it and noticed something strange in the middle of the three wide shotgun barrels.
Westwood squinted as it caught the light and he shuddered at the realisation of what it was – another barrel.
Gage pulled the fourth trigger which fired the rifle barrel in the centre of the three shotgun barrels. Taking the back of Westwood’s head half of the way off. His body was still rigid and sat upright but the back of his skull was hanging down his back by a tiny flap of skin. The inside of skull was turned into a fine paste and then a mist and his body taking time to notice the departure of it’s vital essence slumped. Then collapsed off the chair onto the floor.
The women in the bar were too frightened to make a noise now. Instead they had begun a quiet weeping at the start but were now just still and trembling, emitting a light mewling noise. The rest of the bar was contemplating their own mortality with a meticulous nature.
There was a long quietus after the good doctor departed. Then there was a set of footsteps outside and a young man came cautiously through the saloon doors. He was tall and clean cut looking with strawberry blonde hair a schofield in his hand. A sharp screeching as Gage pulled out of his chair and walked over to the lad.
The two men looked over at the bar where the voice came from. But it wasn’t McClusky who was huddled in a puddle of his own piss amongst the shattered tubescope pieces who asked. It was Mary Sue the serving girl who asked. It hadn’t even occurred to me to ask why at the time, there was some kind of ringing ancestral sense to it although I was glad she asked.
Gage and James looked at the girl.
“Why tell him all that only to kill him?” She said quivering.
Gage looked her up and down and something close to a smile crossed that crooked crocodile face and he said. “It was for you.” He then looked around the bar eyeing each person in it, stragglers as they were, old and drunk and tired and hungry. “All of you”.
With that he turned and went out and when I thought they were far enough away I went out to the door and watched them as they went. The rest of the bar, the madame looking out the window, McClusky peaking over the counter watching them go.
The townsfolk had already spread out into the streets because of the power going. And the relative ominous quietus now and their confusion met with a sinking dread. A sinking feeling like something was missing, I could feel it too. It was like waking up from a good dream to find yourself in a bad one. It felt like food wouldn’t taste as good, the air smelled worse and it was colder and you could feel everything, the pain in your gut and your head.
People squinting and holding their heads and their eyes like they’d never used them before. A ringing in their ears, like a constant low humming had suddenly stopped and been replaced by a deafening silence that would go on forever. A distinct feeling of insignifance gripped me at the time and I felt almost like a bug about to be squashed. I could remember time before that I was quite a precocious lad who wasn’t afraid to get into all kinds of bother. Now I felt like a freshly laid egg with a thin brittle shell shaking in the cold dirt.
And with that fear and revulsion and insecurity came a great unbridled anger. Like it was there all along but we couldn’t see it, it was there hidden, waiting to come out. A rage, a deep seated hatred for everything and everyone that wasn’t us, that wasn’t human.
It started small, people tore down the tubescope loudspeakers in the square and on the street corners. They burned system propaganda with and anything with an alien face on it. There was a lot of fire a lot of broken glass. Honestly I don’t remember much of it, it was all just a blur of violence and anger like I was watching as men tore down the world to start over.
The alien owned businesses had their windows broken and all the goods were taken out and burnt. All the alien books about their history and their culture. Their pornography, their media of any kind that had so entranced them before had captivated them. But now was revealed as based and wretched and a symbol of their power of their minds and bodies and had to be destroyed. The shop keepers of those stores were deeply rooted and invested in the alien cause to some degree. Possibly having some alien ancestry a quarter Cyclon, maybe an eighth or a sixteenth but they didn’t seem to affected by the theta waves abating.
Their control wasn’t as simple as having their brains microwaved. They were deeply ideologically and financially invested in the most cynical way possible. It was enough to keep us backward country folk with our minds pickled. But for them it was all part of the plan, their brains were born pickled. They didn’t need to coaxed or conjolled or controlled because they saw a morbid sense in it all. It made them money so they felt like they were above it or a focal part of it. Which made it much easier for the townsfolk to pull them out of their stores and beat them to death.
It was sort of an accident, but the people were mad and when people get that mad people die. And I guess that’s exactly what Gage wanted, he wanted us so mad we’d kill our own mothers because that was the truth, that was what was really in us. We needed to get mad, we needed to do more than that, it was a release, but also I see now it was the first step. First we needed to get mad, we needed to get so mad we’d bite our own tongues because then we’d be ready to do something, to do anything but we first we had to get mad. You can’t think and you can’t plan unless you get mad first.
They point at Ghandi who never got mad and got what he wanted anyhow. But how could he even want it, how could he even dream of resisting of fighting back even peacefully without first getting mad?
Even that peaceful man laid awake at night getting mad, I’m sure.
There was a righteousness there, they threw off the false bonds of brotherhood. The sugary sweet lies forced down their throats. The lie that there could ever be a bond between two alien tribes that wouldn’t result in one controlling the other. But as perfect equals where neither pushed their interests over the other. This lie and others was now smashed in this small pocket of the west for what felt like a new awakening a droplet of a coming wave of change.
The people walked the streets like they owned them for a day. For that day they truly did, they owned themselves. Their minds were their own and faced with that horrible realisation a new reality faced them in that they were truly alone now.
The worst crime the alien had commited was teaching us to hate ourselves. To feel guilty just for existing, they projected their strength by instilling in us their weakness. Their loathing for themselves became ours and we excelled in it beyond them. Their moulding of our history and our past made it easy for them and they made such a mess of it I can’t even now say what is the truth and what is speculation. I didn’t care who was right, I didn’t care about morality or justice, these were all words, their words, the words they used to control us. All that mattered is who would survive, who was left and it was us or them that would remain and no one else. And the scholars from then on could moralise it however they wanted, we’d be the dooers and they could forever talk about it, if we let them. We would be the ones who wrote history from that point on and all the past would be pliable. Morality and philosophy were decadent concepts for people that weren’t facing extinction. Survival came above all, after our survival was secured we could try and make sense of it all.
I remember the bank manager, name of Barry Longer he managed to escape the mobs. He was smart and saw it coming, he must have been far less cynical than the others seeing the rising tide of something or maybe he was just paranoid.
He managed to escape the bank before it burned. Night had set in by then but it was bright with fires burning. The smoke must have been visible for miles and those bright orange and yellow fires burning high and hot on the planes.
I watched him from the crowd running, a middle aged man, balding, sagging in the middle. Running with all his possessions strapped to him, running into the night. I could almost hear his huffing and puffing, feel his heart and his breath. Straining against the night. Casting an eye back to the flames and the smoke behind him like he was running out of hell itself.
Then I saw Gage watching him go, one of his boys saw what he was looking at and shouldered his long gun kneeling. Following the bank manager’s sweat soaked back as it sagged under the weight of his worldly possessions. His cold eye following him, running with him like I was, feeling where he’d be next and where he’d put the bullet to wait for him there.
Gage gripped the barrel of the rifle and pointed it at the dirt and looked at the young lad and shook his head.
I couldn’t understand it at the time, I had grown almost accustomed to the violence, it made sense I could understand it, this I couldn’t understand. Was it mercy or something else? I’d seen Gage cut down men, his own people, heard him say as much, he’d slaughtered them knowing little about mercy, there was no mercy in him, none at all.
The young lad looked up at him confused and said something like “He’ll bring them down on us”.
And Gage breathed in deeply and lifted his shoulders like a mountain range and said “Let them come.”