The Beginning of the End...
There’s no sleep tonight.
Beyond the shelter of their bedroom, a chilling howl rings endlessly in the stormclad darkness. Thick droplets of rain swirl through the obsidian sky, merging the fierce black clouds with the sodden earth as they batter the windows with a sinister ratta-tat-tat, and all the while, the unrelenting wind thrashes violently at the house. The entire room is bathed in seamless black as a jagged fork of lightning momentarily silhouettes the frame of the window through the curtains and fills the room. The feeling of her warm body next to his in the cool, stagnant air is the only respite from the storm. She groans a little in her sleep, shifting against him. Her back arches gently and he feels the blades of her shoulders push against his ribs. He sighs.
He doesn’t know why he can’t sleep.
Turning over, away from her, a coldness slithers up between them. He shivers and rubs his eyes, staring at the ceiling. Another bolt throws twisted shadows across the room. Gnarled shapes dance on the walls for an instant before fading to nothing once more.
“Baby?” She whispers, half asleep.
“Did I wake you?” He murmurs in reply.
“No, no, it’s fine. Are you alright?”
“Yeah, I’m OK.” He breathes, “Just can’t sleep is all.”
She rolls over and lays her arm lightly on his chest. She catches purchase on his neck and shuffles nearer, pressing herself against him once more. Her subtle curves, soft naked breasts, smooth hips and the sultry entwining of her long legs in his evoke a slow and buried passion deep inside him. She presses the tip of her nose to his collar and curls in from the cold a little more. Her steady breathing calms his gnawing angst. He can feel the slightly quickened pulsing of blood in his throat against her cheek. He doesn’t know whether it’s because of her, or the odd ambience that hangs sill in the room. She pulls her leg over his, her naked thigh brushing against him.
He feels her smile and with eyes still closed she parts her knowing lips and breathes softly into his ear, “Someone’s in the mood,”
She feels him grow a little against her.
He breaks into a small smile. He isn’t in the mood - but it seems that his body is. His mind is elsewhere, drifting, floating, sinking in another thought in another time; but his body is only human. It feels her gyrate against him; her breathing heavier now, her teeth tugging gently at his jawline. He turns his head and kisses her in the dark, his mouth tracing her cheek. Her tongue slowly stirs against his and her knee further across his hips in the blanket of darkness. She shifts easily and her hair tumbles over his face and chest in a fragrant pool. She’s on top now.
With no forewarning, lightning strikes once more, punching at the ground with blinding white brilliance. It’s closer now. The stark flash floods the room and he sees her outline above him, painted in purest milky grey. Her body rocks backwards and forwards, her breast heaving deliberately as she makes love purposeful to him.
It’s been so long, it seems. He tries to remember the last time they did this, and in doing so his mind swims to the door and down the hallway, to the room there on the right. Inside sleeps a baby. Their baby.
He exhales deeply, his hands already on her hips. His fingers squeeze her soft, dimpled goose-flesh, pulling her down into him. She moans almost inaudibly, swinging her hair over her shoulder. Her fingers run over his chest as she drops forward a little, her back arching away from him. She clenches her fingers in his skin, scratching at him as she pleases herself.
The baby sleeps softly just through the wall. It’s young, only a few months – no, she’s young. She.
They are still young as well, him and her, the man and woman making love in the darkened room; only in their mid-twenties, and they hadn’t even planned to have a baby. He’s studying still; in the last year of his Masters in Engineering. She’s training to be a Veterinarian; but she’s taken a year out to look after the baby. It had just... happened. They’d thought to have children later on but it happened now instead; and ever since the baby arrived, things were tense; awkward even. Money is tight and he’s never there: always at school or working some minimum wage job, just to make ends meet. It’s been tough. She’s been at home, with their daughter - Lila. They haven’t had chance to be close; to be in love, as they were before. They sleep next to each other, but not with each other. What’s going on now, with her on top of him, physically, and emotionally unified, with him inside her, losing themselves, like they used to, in that lazy haze of gentle lovemaking - he’s missed it. His mind floats back to the situation at hand. She starts to move faster now, with more passion. Each thrust of her hips takes him closer. She moves with conviction. He looks up at her, a mere shadow in the dark, but he sees her, for all her beauty. Her long dark hair falls in loose curls about her slender shoulders. Her perfect round breasts hang from her dainty frame and her still-flat stomach slinks down into low smooth hips. They lock eyes in the dark, those crystalline blue eyes; a disarming contrast to her pale skin. She’s maybe just simply girlish and perhaps not even that cute out there in the world - but to him she’s gorgeous; beautiful. He was in love with her from the moment he saw her.
One single bead of sweat tumbles from her brow. She bites her lip in ecstasy, to quell a moan. She’s trying to be quiet, he thinks; don’t wake the baby.
The droplet hits his stomach and runs sideways onto the bed. The muffled noise of the frame now squeaks incessantly in the silence between the timpani thunder rolls. He pulls harder at her hips, moving her. The rhythm slows and the strokes elongate. She slides backwards and then drives forward. A muted grunt escapes his lips. She unfolds backwards, sitting up straight. Her intrepid hands run through her thick hair, pulling it from her face and forehead. A pulse of pleasure ripples through him and his fingers dig into her skin. She moans a little more. He can tell she’s close.
Another burst of lightning streaks through the room. That’s close too.
The wind hammers at the windows, trembling them in the frames. A roar of thunder follows, shaking the whole house.
The noise reverberates through them both; but they aren’t in the room, they’re somewhere else; anywhere else, together; if only for now.
He pushes his head into the pillow and his jaw tightens. He’s there.
He feels her squeeze against him, her body shuddering in climax.
They both pause, locked in the moment; and then it’s gone. She drops forward on to his chest and they breathe hard as one. Her hair is everywhere. She kisses his collarbone sweetly and mutters a satisfied “I love you,”
He cradles her head and kisses her back. “I love you, too.”
And then, the baby cries.
They both laugh a little - too good to be true. At least we got to finish, he thinks. She rolls off him and they lay side by side, her head on his arm. Maybe she’ll stop crying on her own…
She doesn’t. She’s letting out long, deep wails.
They wait for a few seconds, letting their bodies settle before moving. He kisses her again, “Don’t worry, I’ll go.”
He shifts to the edge of the bed and his feet hit the wooden floor. The thin icy sheen that clings to it is bone tingling - but the room is warm in contrast, filled with the smell of fresh sex, sweat and love.
His toes detect the cold, though he doesn’t balk at all. It tickles him, even. He thinks nothing of it. Still grinning, he confronts the door. His hand moves to the handle and it creaks open. Beyond, he’s greeted with the usual sight of a shaded hallway, the bathroom on the left with her room opposite; but something is different. Something is strange.
It’s cold: colder than it should be. A draft flows through him. That’s odd. He’s a primeval sort of man in certain respects; protective and fierce, in both body and spirit; and a family man now too: he loves them both so deeply, Lila and her mother Emilie. Beautiful Emilie. Maybe he’s even overly protective. He went out and bought bolt locks for all the windows and doors just to be sure. They were good locks; sturdy and tough. They keep all the doors and windows tight in the frames. There shouldn’t be a draft.
His mind processes it methodically as he stares down the corridor beyond the door, somehow unsure as to whether or not to take the first step. He looks at Lila’s door. It’s open. It’s always open, but is it open more now than it was before? He hears her continue to cry, those long troubled sobs; but it’s different from her usual tune.
He swallows hard, framed in the doorway. He shivers again, from the frigid movement of alien air or otherwise. He takes a step. The floorboards creak under his weight. He’s suddenly nervous. A dull and somehow familiar thud echoes up the stairs and he envisions their front door open, and bouncing against the frame; that’s how it sounds. No, he would have heard someone break in. They’d have to wedge a crowbar into the frame and hammer it in to pry open a gap - it’d wake the entire street. To break in quietly you’d have to force the entire door, splinter the oak frame slowly. It was stupid to think that, impossible even. No one would have the strength - it would take a bulldozer to do that. His mind was just playing tricks on him. He would walk to the side of her cot and just find her there, safe, as always. He tried to convince himself, but he couldn’t help but pad cautiously; plagued by the worst of thoughts.
“What’s wrong?” Emilie asks from across the room, clutching at the sheets, seemingly sensing his unease.
He turns to assure and smile at her, but finds his face unwilling and his throat tight.
“Stay here,” he says instead, pulling the door half closed behind him. The cries of the baby bounce through the house. It’s dark in the hallway, with the only light spilling meekly from Lila’s room, from the small night light in the corner. Her cries are eerie and half hearted, but then they get louder, more troubled; pained even. He pauses, frozen. Then, she shrieks. It’s deafening. The thought of what’s transpiring beyond the corner is immediately unimaginable. He moves closer, reaching out for the frame. And as the cries grow and grow, he hates the thought, the realisation of all his irrational fears. They’re coming to fruition.
And then, she’s suddenly quiet.
He swallows again, trapped between relief and terror. He’s almost there now, and then, a shadow sweeps across the doorway, framed on the opposite wall. He stops mid stride. It’s a big shadow. He’s holding his breath, every hair on his body standing on end and the swollen beat of his terrified heart fills his tightened chest. He strains his ears for any semblance of an inkling of what horrors might lie beyond. There’s a quiet rubbing, like wood on wood; like the sides of a cot rubbing together as someone leans on it. He knows the sound well. He’s leant there many times himself. Then he hears a scratching. He fears a knife or implement, scraping across the top of the rail. His protective instincts push to the surface and his hand hits the frame, pulling him into the doorway.
The image is simply indescribable. He’s stuck, rooted in place. His brain stutters, unable to comprehend what he sees; what is transpiring at the edge of his baby’s crib.
He thinks it’s a man at first, but it’s clearly not. It’s huge; hulking and jet black. It arcs up over the cot like an odious wave, dwarfing it. Its head is brushing the ceiling as it leans on the squealing crib. It looks at him from the side of its misshapen head; its inky-black, beady eye shining balefully in the twilight. Its long forelegs extend from huge square shoulders, crooking sharply at the elbow. Heavy, aquiline dagger claws protrude from its bony forepaws, with one set curled around the rail of the cot and the other half raised to its mouth; and in it, is something too horrific to even contemplate.
His eyes refuse to see it and move on.
Its back streaks down to the floor, scaled, like a reptile, but covered with quills, or spines, or some sort of decrepit matted fur. Its tail coils thickly like a snake’s body, all twisted up on the floor in a vile tangle - and then, it starts to move. It uncurls clumsily, slapping against the opposite wall as the monstrosity shows its true size. It’s easily twelve feet in length, filling the entire room. Its enormous back legs support it like some depraved amalgamation of man and beast; but it’s not any part man. He knows what it is, he just can’t believe it.
It flexes its scalpel-sharp rear talons and the floorboards splinter with an anguished crunch beneath them. He shivers at the noise and it destroys him to watch. He still can’t move. The air trembles with a low growl that originates deep in the behemoth’s innards and emanates up its throat, rippling out from between its still dripping jaws. He meets its eyes once more. It’s looking at him, sizing him up. It’s not scared, it’s not hesitant, it’s not even surprised at his presence. How could it be? Look at it; it’s unreal, it’s ungodly: it’s an atrocity.
Its maw opens mechanically until it’s wide enough to fit his head inside, and shoulders too. And those teeth; those fangs. Two inch long canines on top and bottom; with something still hanging from them in thick strands. Saliva? Or something... else?
Blood; but not its own. Its nostrils flare with thrill and a deep hiss joins the chorus of the growl. Its split tongue writhes back and forth between its teeth. It’s a warning, but he just can’t move; he can’t bring himself to run - he can’t bring himself to do anything, except watch. His eyes drift back to the other clawed fist and they see, now, what hangs there. It’s a body. It’s what’s left of a body. A tiny baby’s body; all torn to shreds. Lila’s corpse hangs there in ribbons, the last remnants of curdled blood running from it. He can hear it now, even over the noise of the creature; the slap of the streams of hot liquid hitting the pool forming on the bed. It keeps its eye on his while it turns its head and returns to its meal. It looks at him unflinchingly while it slurps down what’s left of his child’s carcass.
Tears form in his eyes; an automatic reaction. His mind is blank. It’s failing; failing to do anything. It’s entirely overwrought. This can’t be happening. It just can’t.
He vaguely feels something at his side and he knows it’s something else, almost as bad. Emilie is in the hallway now too. She puts her unknowing hand on his arm and moves past him, into the doorway. She stands at his shoulder, peering over it, to look upon this horror for herself for the first time.
She draws a sharp, rattling gasp and her fingers tighten on him like a vice. He prays that she won’t scream; he prays that she won’t, but he knows that she will.
She screams. She screams like a banshee. She screams like a mother watching her own daughter being devoured by a monster. He knows what happens next. He knows that this will only entice it. He knows that the second Lila had stopped screaming, she was dead. He knows there’s nothing he could have done, regardless of whether he’d gotten there sooner. There’s nothing he could do now, either. All that he could have affected was the order in which they all died. Whether it was Lila, Him, Emilie, or Him, Emilie and then Lila; it wouldn’t have mattered; there’s no hope of survival for any of them. Not against that.
The scream jolts him back to reality. His mind was swimming through the ether; out of his body, watching it all from over his own head, but now he’s back.
The monster’s eyes narrows. It drops the scraps that are left and its forelegs hit the wooden boarded floor with a tremendous, quaking thud. Emilie is still screaming in his ear. The beast looks at them and advances without haste, its tail swinging barbarously. It’s close; close enough to feel the hot, sadistic, bloody breath snorting from its nostrils in thick, toxic plumes.
His instincts are screeching inside his head. He finally obeys them, turning into Emilie and throwing his arm around her stomach. He drags her backwards with subhuman strength. She’s stuck there, as he had been just moments ago; in horror, in pain: but she’s already gone - Lila is gone. They can still survive though, he thinks, if they run now. That’s what he tells himself as he drags her backwards towards the bedroom. He hears the ungainly crash as it lunges into the hallway behind them, hissing vilely as it does.
They enter in a blur and he throws Emilie, crying, on to the bed. He slams the door shut and throws his back against it, knowing it’s futile, even as he does.
In a moment it’s there. It smashes against the wood and snaps it clean from the hinges. The floor rushes up to meet him. He lands awkwardly and the wind is knocked from him. With a heave of elusive breath, he rolls onto his back, watching it enter the room. It’s unmerciful and prodigious as it bears down upon him. He can only accept his fate. It sails over him like the night and he can feel its palpable weight suspended there. He can sense its vastness, its danger, its power. And then suddenly, with an obscene, deranged battle cry, Emilie hurls herself against it. In anger for Lila or protection for him he’s not sure, but she does. She bounces off uselessly as though she were made of a paper. It snarls in minor annoyance and turns to her instead. She’s on the floor at its side, just a few feet away; just out of arm’s reach. He tries anyway, stretching out his fingers futily as though it may achieve something. Emilie and he lock eyes between its legs and through his trembling fingers and she mouths just one word.
No. He can’t. They stay, embraced in that final look as it slashes lazily with ragged claws. They strike her face and neck, cleaving them in two. With a gush of emotion, he watches blood explode from the deep gouges in her skull and throat. It sprays over him and the monster too. It’s warm. He can taste it in his mouth like copper. Her corpse slumps sideways and the beast coils over it, taking her sagging shoulder between its jaws in feast.
He’s up. He’s rolled away and he’s on his feet. He comes at it now himself in blind fury, but it’s pointless. The monster growls and swings an arm, batting him away. But it’s not just a swat, it’s a sledgehammer. Its leg is as thick as a railroad sleeper and shunts him square in the mid-section. He’s thrown backwards like a bug. He watches in slow motion as his love and his nightmare entangle in a final flurry of entrails and flesh. He sails backwards through the air and feels fresh and distant pain on his back: but he’s numb now; empty and broken. He watches as the ceiling turns to sky and then he’s suddenly outside. He’s falling, backwards. He falls until he feels more pain. His head hits wet ground and he just lies there. He can feel grass around him and the rain on his face. It’s dark and lightning splits the sky overhead. The storm rages on. He’s soaked; naked and cold; but he doesn’t care. All that he cared about was in that house; his entire life. The woman he loved and the baby that he didn’t love enough. He whimpers, sprawled on the grass. He wills his muscles to get up but they won’t listen. With meek hands he feels at his stomach. That hurts now too. He lifts them to his face and another flash of lightning paints them in red. His blood this time. He’s torn. Cut. Sliced from naval to chest.
He lets his head fall back and he closes his eyes. All is lost. Everything is over. He’s going to die. He knows that.
He doesn’t have anything left to live for anyway.
He’s dead inside.
263Adder: Okay so I adore this story. I only knocked one star off plot for historical inaccuracies because I'm a bit of a stickler for that. The ending broke my heart though, considering you already changed history couldn't you (SPOILER) change it a bit more and have them together!!!! I want an alternative...
cassandrab: Delightful SciFi (for a change)! I am not a SciFi fan: mostly the genre is far too dystopic for me. This book (written by a high-school friend) is, on the other hand, generally upbeat. Yes, Earth's future is threatened. But Earth has a chance to plan a response. And (spoiler alert) ultimately win...
Chevonne Prinsloo: I loved this book.. I didn't want to stop reading it! just my kind of book... I really love how the plot of the story carries along. I hope there are more books to follow after this one! I like the way she describes how Rogue is feeling and the way she shows the emotions going through Rogu. I als...
Erica: La trama es muy interesante y original y eso ya dice muchísimo cuando todos tratan de triunfar con ideas ya trilladas.No puedo opinar en detalle sobre la gramática, porque a pesar de entender el inglés a la perfección, la falta de uso en cuanto a lectura y diálogo hacen que me maneje bastante mal...
thePeeJ: aced it boiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii...
Catherine Kopf: Wow! This was a really great story. I really enjoy reading fantasy, so it didn't take long for me to become invested in the book and its characters like Jacob. I really liked your writing style, and it seemed to flow very well. The descriptions that you used for your world were also created n...
TheProfezzer: This is an excellent story. The plot covers several decades and at least two generations of good guys fighting the enemy from beyond. I found it hard to put down and read the second book after the first but you should red "the Origin of FORCE" first to keep the story in line. I just could not ...
PaulSenkel: If you like Arthur C. Clarke's Odyssey, especially The Final Odyssey, then you will probably also enjoy this book. I definitely did.It does, however, address a more adolescent public than the above-mentioned book.I enjoyed the story and finished it in a few days.The overall situation on earth and...
Hawkebat: Playing both Kotor I & II and Swtor I found the story line interesting and it held me until chapter 35 Very good story and plot flow until then, very few technical errors. I felt that the main character was a bit under and over powered, as it fought for balance. The last few chapters felt too f...
Jasmine Chow: As I read this story, I was reminded some what of Terry Pratchett, especially some descriptions of politics and economics. The sci-fic setting is quite intriguing. Writing style is quite lovely and grew on me slowly. I was also slightly reminded of Mark Twain, especially his book A Connecticut Ya...
Jason Phang: I'm pretty new to Inkitt (this is only my 4th book) and I must say I've been thoroughly impressed by the quality of the authors here. Remnants of Chaos is an excellently written book that hooks the reader, and doesn't let go. There are some grammatical and typographical errors, but nothing too se...