Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween Story 2: We don't go out at night.

At first we didn't believe it. We thought it was a hoax, some sort of mass hysteria, something like that. It just seemed so unlikely, you know?

But it was true.

It was an archaeological project in Armenia that set them loose. That's what they say, anyhow: a bunch of academic types using a small army of grad students and local labor to unearth some very old ruins. They breached the wrong vault, and found something inside - and then they died screaming in the darkness.

That night, most of Armenia was overrun. The night after that, Georgia and Azerbaijan and parts of Turkey and Iran. On the third night, they pushed down into Iraq and Syria, and up as far as Volgograd. A hastily-assembled U.N. task force moved in to try to close the vault. They were still fifteen miles from the site when darkness fell. Nobody made it back out.

The following morning, they bombed the ruins. Maybe that sealed the vault, maybe it didn't - nobody can get close enough to be sure. It doesn't matter anyway - whatever came out of there had already established nests outside the ruins.

A year later, we still don't know what they are. Hell, we don't even know that they're a "they" and not an "it." We know more than we did at first, but that's not saying much. The little ones are about the size of birds. They don't look that dangerous, but if they get you with those tentacle-tongue things... You don't come back from that. And the big ones are worse.

We know they don't come out in daylight, but we don't know why. Maybe light hurts them, but maybe not, too. There's some evidence that they don't actually feel pain, not the way we do. We don't know if they're intelligent, or if the things that look like planning are actually just instinct. We don't know if they communicate, and if they do we don't know how.

We know they're everywhere. The cities are still safe - anywhere there's enough light is safe. But without the countryside, the cities are dying. Maybe we'll reach a point of equilibrium, as we lose more of our population; maybe not.

We don't go out at night. We don't want to see those obscene shapes drift past, darker than the night. We don't want to feel that soft, questing touch from the shadows. We don't want to watch our world slipping away from us.

We huddle close to the light. Some of us, the ones who haven't given up hope, still search for something, anything, that will save us from the things in the darkness. The others... they hold on for as long as they can.

It's all we can do.

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