The smoke choked the breath from my lungs like an anaconda crushing my chest in a deathly embrace. The smoke was everywhere. It burned my eyes. My throat was raw, the wet cloth I had used as a mask was now dried out and offered no protection against the poisonous clouds engulfing the street ahead of me. The street. There was nothing to see except cascading waves of black tendrils. Occasionally I could make out the outline of a building but it was never anything more than a faint silhouette – at least I’m on the right track.
I stumbled onward , my boots crunching and scraping on the detritus that littered the road; occasionally slipping on the more fleshy collateral of this days madness. I dared not look down. Onwards and onwards. One foot after the other. The stench of burning meat assaulting my nostrils in unison with the smoke. Do not think where it comes from. Do not think just keep going.
There were distant screams echoing around me now as I made my closer to the centre of the city. Echoes of the horror that had been visited on this city. Different parts of the city. Different people. Not me, no it is not me. I can’t stop. I can’t think about them now. The smoke was beginning to thin and as it did it began to reveal the monstrosity that now filled the cities skyline. The ship had crashed straight into the city centre, smoke and flames were pouring from it still, the pistons and cannons occasionally sending thunderous concussions reverberating through the ground. If you made it to the tunnels you must be thinking we lost. In the darkness the worst is always waiting for you in the light. The monolithic machine dominated the horizon and even from this distance it was clear nothing could have remained of centre buildings. Parliament , the Palace, Munker’s Hold ; all gone. All gone. How many cowered in the temples? How many had prayed to the Righteous to save them? All dead. The beast was brought down. The beast was brought down but how many has it devoured in its death throes?
As I finally approached the end of (what I guessed to be) Danton’s Street I stopped. Out of the smoky gloom a silhouette appeared. A small figured clawed its way out of the darkness, a child, wearing nothing more than a dirty tunic. From its head to its bare feet the child was covered in blood ; fresh blood. It dripped from the child’s – a young boy – arms that hung at its side. The boys eyes were glazed over, uncompromising. The trauma of the day has sent his mind far away. I approached and knelt down in front of him. He stopped but made no indication of even registering I was there. As I moved to carry him I stopped – there were wounds on the flesh of his arms and back. Wounds, claw marks…bites. Something has been trying to eat this child. Oh fuck. He doesn’t even seem aware of it.
I carefully wrapped the child’s wounds with some bandages from my pack and then gently lifted him into my arms. He didn’t protest. His body went almost limp. Around me the smoke began to clear even more and the buildings that had been obscured came into focus. Tenements and shop fronts now resembled ancient ruins. Entire chunks of the buildings had been ripped away revealing the remnants of rooms littered with bodies. I turned my attention to the street ahead of me and all along the tarmac there was blood. Blood, bones and bodies. A carpet of human meat. If I never smell again I shall count myself a happy man. I continued on, making sure to avoid the worst parts of the carnage. The closer I got to the centre the quieter the screams I had heard earlier became. Even the concussions from the crashed ship had ceased leaving an ominously silence.
That is when the howling began.
Linky to me bloggy – One I prepared earlier.