Dawn of the Darkening
Chapter 1 –
Trevor had finally breached the town’s walls. He knew more would be looking for him. Ever still, he continued to trek onward, trudging through the seemingly endless ocean of dark before him. Slowly. A desperate search. He had to keep moving, it was the only way to escape them. It was the only way to survive.
The once eternal bringer of light had diminished into a void of vast nothingness. Following generations would share stories of a bountiful summer harvest. Knowledge of the sun’s divinity passed down and scribbled in the dirt. Nothing more.
The life essence that once drove humanity into the tomorrow land was gone. Forever lost by the soul sucking Devourers. Dwindled to reside in a keepsake locket. Histories forgotten and it was just the day of reckoning.
The sky devoid of sun was purple and menacing. It mocked him. It frightened him. The wind blew ominously and was cold. So cold that his teeth would chatter. The remnants of his coat were now a tattered piece of cloth and the striking mark from its claw bore his center.
If he ran into another one, he was doomed. He was lucky this one was so small. A baby, or toddler acting like a curious bear cub. Even so, he had only just barely escaped with his life. Was he truly so lucky?
Creeping along a paved sidewalk like an escaped convict, just a mere few feet of sight aided him. A pale translucent moth fluttered before him. The ironic omen of death was the only friend left accompanying him on this journey.
It left his narrow view and Trevor waited for its return. Then he waited for death. Neither of those came to him. Not yet anyway.
If he closed his eyes he was met with vividly re-lived flashbacks. They came to him in waves and unrelenting bouts of torment and despair. The sound of muffled static still echoed in his eardrums and all he saw was the dark silhouette of the creature.
Trevor snapped from his frazzled state of hypnagogia. Inching forward. Slow, but with purpose, he continued on his hopeless mission knowing that the pitch-black creature nightmares were made of stalked him at every turn.
He was thankful this town was shrouded in a thick gray fog. He prayed that it would cloak him and he would be safe from them.
Along the run down city street, nearby store fronts and buildings presented in various states of decay and were slowly crumbling to dust. Fallen road signs and stop lights littered the road. The air around him was filled with ash and soot. An awful smell lingered in this town of ruin.
He let out a violent cough into his fist and then slowly reached inside of his back pocket. The piece of folded up paper remained unscathed. He looked at the letter once again, wiping a light mist of blood from his hand onto his jacket.
I have headed west towards the coast. There is an underground settlement which lies near a red waterfall, safe from the reach of Devourers. You should get here while you still can.
Eyeing the scroll, Trevor felt something squash beneath his feet. It wasn’t until he looked down that he noticed it.
The drained remains of a human corpse stuck to his boots like goo. Sucked dry of every last drop of fluid, it lay sad and shriveled like a deflated balloon with a frown.
Would this be his fate too? He wondered what that might feel like; the sensation of his organs being vacuumed out of him.
The paper left his hand and he realized he dropped it on the body of the fallen. He memorized the message long ago and so left it. Farther down the street, an ablaze building which had toppled over blocked his way forward.
Rerouting down a side alleyway, the heinous smell proved to be so unbearable that Trevor vomited. He was used to the smell of death, but not his own rotting flesh. For some reason it was worse than the death smell.
He wiped the gunk from his mouth and reached into his backpack. He opened the first-aid kit and then applied a fresh layer of gauze to the gangrenous chest wound that stretched the length of his torso.
That’s when he heard it.
A shriek that was so unimaginably haunting, the traveling sound carried along piercing vibrations of agony down the alleyway. Trevor glanced around the corner.
Huffing and puffing with every step forward, Trevor noticed a large wooden monument that emerged from the town square and was illuminated by green candlelight forming an eerie, Satanic like circle around the structure.
He didn’t hear the static. He was still safe from them.
Further inspection of the cross shaped structure, Trevor noticed a young girl plastered to it with a hammer and nail. She lay naked. Blood ran from her entry wounds down the length of her body and pooled on the ground below.
He noticed her twitching. She was still alive. Immediately, she opened her eyes and peered into Trevor’s with a powerful gaze, nearly bulging from her skull.
They sadly pleaded “Help me,” but the words were never actually spoken.
Then she began to let out a cry. A cry nearly identical to the maniacal scream he had just heard from the alleyway. The girl gave it her all to point at Trevor with her wrists shackled and immobile and he knew if she kept screaming they would come.
“Shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up.” Trevor let off in a panic wondering why he’d ventured this far out of the shadows in the first place.
“They’ll come for us you fucking idiot.”
He began to look for anything he could possibly knock the girl unconscious with when something else grabbed his attention.
Thunderous trotting footsteps galloped behind him and got louder until Trevor realized the woman was not pointing at him, but towards the light given off by a lantern in the dim fog behind him. Someone else was approaching, and on horseback no less.
Lantern lights glowing all throughout the fog before him. He realized that it was many people who were approaching.
It was too late to make a break back to the alleyway. Trevor sat by the stone statue like a sitting duck in the middle of the town square.
He readied for death when that first horse dashed its way through the fog.
But in miraculous fashion, the rider edged on, not even glimpsing once at Trevor.
Other horses and their riders quickly made their way through and it became apparent they weren’t the slightest bit interested in Trevor as they continued to gallop past him in continuing numbers.
There were men and women on horseback who were shouting and screaming. Others seemed so terrified, their faces were permanently morphed into an expression of fear and lacked even the ability to scream.
One woman hollered as she passed, “Get back to the church!.”
Another clamored, “We’re all gonna die”.
The familiar static crackle which Trevor knew all too well began forming in his eardrums.
More of the town colony continued to flush through the fog in a complete scramble. Those without a steed were running at full stride to get away from the creature of anguish and torment.
Some were bleeding from their ears and covering them in an attempt to drown out the horrendous noise, mostly to no avail.
Without any hesitation, Trevor bolted from the cover of the cross and into the crowd of about a dozen people, doing his best to blend in with them and remain unseen in this time of panic.
He pulled his jacket hood over his head and for good measure covered his ears. Then he followed the straggling runners in the opposite direction knowing any place far far away from a Devourer was better than here.
People branched off from the town square into separate streets and alleyways. Some poured into abandoned shops and others scrambled into run-down homes. Wherever they could be safe.
He followed a particular group farther up along the road and over a small hill. His chest wound was throbbing and he was worried he’d pass out from the exhaustion as a tightness filled his chest.
The horrendous crackle gave way after a little running. There must have been plenty of bodies for it to feast on if it wasn’t chasing.
When the noise came to a halt, The lone women in the group of four that now included Trevor pulled ahead, turning and stopping everyone.
“We need to get back to the base, that sacrifice was a complete failure, It didn’t even go for the girl.”
“I can’t hear you Mom!” The young boy no more than twelve screamed horribly while hanging by her side.
The woman motioned a follow me with her hands to the boy instead.
“Are you coming back with us?” The woman was now looking directly back at Trevor and studying him from head to toe. He feared she’d recognize him as an outsider.
She left him with a daunting choice.
To follow this peculiar family back to their headquarters. The same people who had just now tried to sacrifice the life of a girl no more than sixteen years old. Or wander these streets aimlessly and likely straight into the arms of another Devourer.
Trevor weighed that he’d have much better luck finding the Red Waterfall’s exact location from someone at this cult as opposed to searching for it by himself.
Then he figured they might just put him on display for the next sacrifice and see if the Devourer thinks he’s more of a tasty snack than the girl. It didn’t matter at this point. He knew he had to find the Red Waterfall and he wasn’t going to do that alone. Not with his injuries.
The injured group veered around a corner and a little ways down the street before tucking through a side alleyway. The little boy still covered his ears though no sounds were present and a stream of blood trickled down his hands and arms.
The woman approached a manhole cover. She was aided by a burly man and together they pried the heavy cover off, revealing a vast sewer system down below.
The depths were filled with columns stretching in all directions and they were aided by lantern light.
There was only a faint smell of sewage water. It had long dried up and what remained were clusters of rats scurrying along the dampen concrete.
After a couple of winding turns throughout the tunnel system, the group came to a welded metal ladder in the stone similar to the one they had climbed down, along with another manhole cover overhead.
However, this one was already opened from the other side.
The woman went up first and then the man.
“Come son, It’s okay,” he said helping the crying little boy up through the narrow hole.
Trevor went up behind him and back into the cold dead world. He thought it would be nice if they could just stay in the sewers.
Trevor poked his head through the manhole cover and he was immediately taken aback by the towering cathedral which stood completely unscathed up a small hill.
Once they got closer, he noticed enormous stained glass windows that depicted scenes of biblical passages from ancient times, polished in all sorts of vibrant colors. Its elegant appearance was immensely out of place among the rubble crumbling to dust all around them.
The group scaled the steep stone staircase and approached two large stained oak doors. Upon entering the cathedral, Trevor was shocked to see everything inside displaying such grandeur.
A large stone cross bearing the same markings as the one Trevor saw at the town square hung from a decorated wall on the other side of the large church. This time however, it was a sculpted man who was plastered to it as opposed to a scared little girl.
Rows of finely crafted wooden pews sprawled along the sides of the miraculous building and flooded up to an altar that stood proudly in the middle of the room. The whole place in all its glory was brightly illuminated by candlelight stretching the perimeter of the building
There were red velvet steps leading up to the altar which further adorned the place of worship and behind the altar stood a priest giving his sermon to several clusters of people who sprawled all throughout the pews.
The wrinkly old man was dressed in a spotless white gown and wore a stylish hat with bright religious markings Trevor could not identify. He had a long white beard and gave off an aura of mystery.
The preaching came to an abrupt end when the boy’s cries commanded the attention of those inside.
“Good heavens, what happened?” The priest rushed forward from his station behind the altar.
“Has no one come back yet?” The father of the boy asked.
Attention from those inside was now directed completely at the bruised and bloodied gang. The boy continued to wail unrelentingly while his mother tried vigorously to calm him down.
Pounding pressure suddenly began to build behind Trevor’s eye sockets. He started to feel queasy and stumbled forward before falling face first into the side of a pew, with a crashing thud to the floor below.