The Silverlight Dome – Chapter 2

“That bitch is around here somewhere. Keep your eyes open, if we don’t have her by sunrise I will personally skin every last one of you sorry motherfuckers.” The big burly ring leader that had held Lilth hostage towered over the small pack of ruffians gathered around him. A little stream of angry spittle swung from his chin to mingle with the blood from his broken nose. They shifted nervously from one foot to the other, every man knew what Bolath was capable of and they didn’t want to push their luck.

Sneaking through the shadows the group of six moved like water, silent and sure footed. Not a sound could be heard as their soft, clothed feet padded across the soft sand street. Like cats they surrounded the first door, jimmied it open with an old, rusting screwdriver and flooded inside. A few seconds sweep of the building gleaned no results. Old, worn out furniture was tipped up, cupboards and closets ransacked; nothing. This process was repeated all the way down the street, the homeless and destitute dragged from their make-shift beds, dazed and confused.

They reached the fourth door. Grappling with the door handle the scrawniest of the group twisted and turned the rusted door knob to no avail. The group behind him began to titter and his cheeks flushed an angry red. Bolath, used one large, furry hand to yank the smaller man out of the way, impatience brewing up inside him, making his agitated. Using a little of his strength he ripped the door from its hole in the wall and threw it some way down the street, no longer concerned with the noise it made.

Forcing his way inside he filled the dark room with his vast body. Stooges poured in around him and searched the place.

“There’s nothing here!” One called from the back room. Bolath’s temple twitched and the men closest to him took a few quick paces backwards. In two strides he was in front of the speaker, grabbing him around the throat and forced him back against the wall.

“Nothing?” He snarled. “Is that what you said?” Before he could go on something fell from above, tapping him lightly on his naked head. A few bits of roof tile rolled down his back and plopped unceremoniously onto the floor. He looked up, still gripping his accomplice in a vice, his face turning a nasty shade of blue-purple; he caught the flash of a heel as it disappeared up into the rafters onto the roof. He dropped the man, now unconscious onto the floor and forced his way outside.

“Lilth!” He bellowed into the night as she leapt from her roof onto the neighbours, crumbling abode. His face become a beautiful shade of purple and blue mottled rage as she turned to blow him a kiss before disappearing off down the street; canvas bag draped over on shoulder.

“Get her back!” Bolath screamed at the men already scrambling after her. Pulling out their light dividers they shone the bright beams across the rooftops, catching a gleam of red hair and shinning brown boots.

Lilth could hardly breathe, the stitch in her side rendering her almost incapacitated. She pranced like a deer over the last few rooftops before she came clattering to the end of her tiled road. Without missing a beat she gripped onto the rusting old drainage pipe that was just clinging to life and swung herself around and down the side of the rickety structure. The pipe crunched and swung, the screws that held it in place flaking away from the old walls. Leaping the last two foot Lilth rolled into the dust, losing her bag in the process.

“There she is!” Someone shouted just behind her, the sound of running feet beginning to gain on her made her heart pound in her chest. Snatching up the bag she cursed as a few precious gems rolled out into the street. She gave them a longing look before pelting off down a side road, leaving little skids from the heels of her boots in the dust; oh how she hated anyone else touching her bounty.

Crashing into the next street she headed for the docks, there was a boat leaving for the Outreaches at sunrise, if she could just make it there before the sun started to peak over the horizon she’d be ok. Picking up the pace she ignored the screaming cramp in her calf muscles and carried on. She could smell the clean atmosphere of the air lock. This was it just a little further.

Something whizzed past her, grazing her arm. Yelping her bag slipped down around her elbow; a sudden pain in her upper arm and a warm, flowing sensation apparent to her. Reaching around she touched the hilt of a knife embedded in her flesh, puckering the once taught skin where it pulled and warped it out of shape. She didn’t have to pull it out, she knew if she took even a second longer they would catch her and she’d be dead meat.

She could see it, the great ship filling the dock like a great, flat dinner plate suspended in space. It was gently spinning, getting ready to depart, she was a fraction of a second too late. She was limping now, unable to keep her pace. Skidding to a halt at the end of the dock she cursed her bad luck, the goons were behind her, blocking her in, forcing her towards the edge. A face she recognised peeked out of the crows nest as it began to float down beneath her.

“Jaspen!” She called out, waving with her good arm. “Jaspen, wait!”

“Can’t now lassie! She’s afloat!” Lilth swore at the little old man staring up at her with confusion abound on his face. There was nothing for it, glancing back one last time she knew she had no other options left to her. Her wide eyes took in the sight of the great disk, rotating, floating down towards the hatch in the great glass dome they called home, its shining silver exterior cold and uninviting. It looked like her death. She took a deep breath, shook herself twice and jumped.

Bolath came to the edge of the causeway and looked down as the ship was swallowed up in the cloud that lingered at the bottom of the great glass bowl and howled with anger. He turned and strode away, rummaging in his pocket for his cigarettes and pocket communicator. Lighting a tar black stick of smoke, he kicked the smallest of his bunch of henchmen off the edge to alleviate his rage. Feeling somewhat calmer he raised the little black box to his face and pushed a series of buttons. An electrical crackle emitted itself from the speaker on the bottom of the box. Giving it a swift whack with his palm the static settled down.

“Sir. My most sincere apologies Sir.” Bolath began.

“Did I not make it clear to you how important it was that you recover that gem, Bolath? Perhaps I was not making myself clear?” A whispering, rasping voice echoed out across the musky dock. It sounded distant, far away and muffled.

“No Sir, I understand. It was, just that …”

“Oh Bolath. I am disappointed.” The voice hissed, a little louder now that it had been before. “I’m afraid that I can’t stand for such a thing. I might have to let you go.”

“Sir, please.” He coughed and pulled on his collar.

“I simply cannot afford anymore blunders at this stage, you understand I’m sure.” Bolath heaved, suddenly unable to take in any air. The blood vessels burst in his eyes, filling them with little strings of red. For the last time he flushed his trademark shade of purple before falling unceremoniously to the floor, to the great delight of his crew. As they shied away into the new morning the radio crackled to itself, keeping the cooling body company in the still of the dawn.

An Unusual Lady

Lilth’s feet pounded the soggy ground as sparkling green grass slipping around underneath her, making her tumble with every other step. Her breathing came fast and labored; her right leg was starting to scream with the cramping muscles. It seemed as though she’d been running forever.

Somewhere behind her a tree crashed to the ground, groaning its death rattle on the way down. Twigs and rocks alike snapped in the way of the great thundering footsteps that traipsed after her through the dense forest.

Her skinny framed dived over one huge tree trunk, her heeled boots making little grooves in the bark; she cursed her choice of inappropriate footwear. Scuttling under another low hanging branch her waist length, blood red hair caught itself around one of its many fingers. She tugged, pulling on it until her head hurt. The footsteps got closer; she watched as the birds flew in a crazed panic, squawking as the trees around them swayed and bent into unnatural shapes.

With one last wrench she pulled herself free and stumbled into a clearing. Everything shone with life, bright pink and purple blossoms carpeted the floor and huge, expanding trees enveloped the sky above her in brilliant blue leaves. The sun just peaked through the odd gap in the branches, punctuating the half light with streams of glowing strips.

She whirled on her heel, the thundering footsteps made her whole body leap into the air as each giant foot smashed into the poor, forgiving ground. She had no where else to run, it had inevitably caught up with her.

“Fuck.” She muttered under her breath. Throwing off the heavy satchel, she hitched up her under bust corset and popped the buttons on the sleeves of her long white shirt. As she crouched to the floor she screwed her left knee into the ground, feeling the water from the earth creeping up the fabric of her maroon colored, tatty jeans.

She fumbled with her gun, ripping it from the holster and stabbing at the safety switch on the left hand side as the creature came thundering into the clearing. The Bluntersnitch snarled, its dog like face set in a look of pure anger and rage. A couple of sharp twigs stuck out of its bleeding hind quarters; a tree held in its mouth like a stick. Seven feet tall and full to the brim with unrelenting, animalistic hatred.

Lilth aimed for the middle of its three eyes, trying to ignore the spittle dribbling down its dirty white fur. She felt the pistol power up in her hands, the vibrating, whirring sensation familiar and comforting in her palm. She let a shot fly, bolting forwards just as the Bluntersnitch charged forward throwing her aim off balance and catching him just at the tip if his left ear.

The monster screamed and picked up the pace. Reaching her in under three seconds it made a fell swoop at her with its mouth, all yellow teeth and bad breath. She jumped, forcing one small foot into the jaw of its mouth and the other found itself on the animals nose. Before she knew it she was swinging through the air, clinging to a clump of fur to land on the Bluntersnitch’s back.

It roared and bucked, tossing her left and right. The gun flew from her gloved hands as she grappled with the creature. With one smooth motion she brought a devastating punch down onto the back of its head, stunning it just long enough for her to leap up and grab one of the low hanging branches that swayed above her. Using all her upper body strength she pulled herself out of reach, just as the creature turned and snapped its jaws at her dangling legs.

She was fumbling with the knife that she kept down the back of her left boot when a piercing whistle rang out across the forest. Both Lilth and the Bluntersnitch turned to stare in bewilderment at the man who stood in the center of the clearing, looking cocky and self important. Lilth rolled her eyes.

“Nice Bluntersnitch you’ve got there!” He shouted across the yawning expanse of space.

“Yep, it’s under control. One hundred percent. I don’t need any help, thank you very much, have a nice day.” She called back staggering with uncertainty across the outstretched branch.

“Oh yeah, looks like it.” The man mumbled to himself. He kicked Lilth’s gun about in the grass and caught it under his toe, flipping it up into the air with the panache of a man who’d long been practicing the move in front of the bedroom mirror. The Bluntersnitch’s eyes flickered from one human to the next, unsure of where it should strike first.

He took a pot shot, aiming it squarely at the giant dog’s behind and hitting his target. He guffawed as blood and a little flesh spurted out from the new wound enticing a pained howl from its owner. It twirled on its feet, churning up mud and grass as it went and lolloped towards him, a bit slower now then it was before.

Lilth let out an a exasperated sigh and watched as the man dodged his quarry, thick brown hair floating dreamily about in the breeze. He had all the trappings of a man with station, nice fancy clothes, a shiny looking blade at his waist and a cape. Who even had a cape these days?

“Aren’t, you going to ask my name?” The man panted as he artfully jumped over a swiping paw and dived underneath the animal’s belly.

“Nope!” She called out, summersaulting backwards off the branch to land in the grass next to him. “Not interested.” Racing forwards, she landed a swift kick to the Achilles heel and skidded to the side as the monster came crashing down next to her.

“It’s Ezrel.” He paused a moment to let her digest this new information. “You are?”

“I’m busy!” Lilth screamed as she ran up the side of the Bluntersnitch’s squishy exposed stomach and wobbled a little as it huffed and panted in pain underneath her feet. She lost her footing and fell, sliding down the belly of the beast until she landed on its throat. Before the animal even had time to think she whipped out her huge hunting knife and buried it into the creature, feeling it breath its last under her feet.

She hopped down from the still warm body, ignoring Ezrel’s outstretched hand and strode over to her satchel.

“You’re quite an unusual lady aren’t you?” Her unwanted companion asked, craning over her shoulder to see what she was rooting around for in her bag. “How did you get tangled up with our furry friend over there?”

“I stole something from him, not that it’s any of your business. Now if you will excuse me I have things to steal, places to get drunk in and bad life decisions to make.”

“Can’t I at least get you something to drink. You must be thirsty after all that … killing.” Lilth hoisted her bag onto her shoulder and gave him one withering look, eyebrow raised.

“You’ve got to be kidding me. Right?” Ezrel grinned at her expectantly.

“Out of my way short stack! I really don’t want to have to break your face.”

“Has anyone ever told you, you have a real anger problem. I could help you work on that you know. I’m a …” He never got to finish his sentence.

Lilth’s fist connected hard and fast with his chin, sending him flying backwards into a bramble bush. She shook off her fist and tugged her hair out from underneath the leather bag strap it had caught under.

These men, where do they even come from. Did she look like a damsel in distress? She looked herself over, the smears of blood and mud didn’t scream save me to her. Shrugging she retrieved her gun from where Ezrel had flung it onto the ground with the force of her punch and slapped his upturned, unconscious ass on the way past.

“See you around, scumbag.”

Incoming Message

I started getting the texts last month. At first I just got the odd one here and there, maybe once a week or something like that. The flickering of the blue light of my phone forced its way into my life like some great, terrible beacon that I couldn’t ignore.

It’s cold in here.

I was pretty sure someone had the wrong number. I tossed my phone to one side and forgot about it.

A few days later my phone bleeped again.

When did it get so dark?

Where am I? 

I decided to text back, maybe it was a stupid idea but it seemed like the most logical thing to do at the time.

Who is this? 

I waited exaclty one minute before the screen lit up with an eager, sickly glow.

Did you forget about me?

My stomach flipped over.

Who is this? How are you using this number? 

I got no reply to that. I sat up nearly half the night next to the phone waiting for something; nothing happened.

It must have been about a week before I got the next one. I must say I was starting to miss the interaction, the flutter of exciement and fear in the pit of my stomach has grown into a stimulus I craved.

I miss you.

I felt the keen prick of tears at the back of my eyes, sharp, vivious little needles digging into my retina.

I miss you too. 

I’ll be home soon. 

I sucked in my breath, tears propelling themselves down my face now.

When?

Soon, Jack. 

How would they know my name? How would they know if it wasn’t her? Maybe It could be true. I waited. I sat, crossed legged on my bed until I lost all feeling in my feet, pins and needles giving way to a fat, nothing sensation.

I was excited, the messages had given me new hope. I wanted to believe it. It had been a comfort to me, receiving all these messages. It was just a shame that Grandma had been burried with her mobile phone.

The Shopping List

I’ve still got her last note. Stupid really, keeping it all this time, it’s nothing more than a glorified shopping list but I can’t bring myself to let it go.

Don’t forget to pick up some milk and bread! You know what happens when I don’t get my morning cup of tea! 

xxx

I don’t know how I managed to hold onto it in all the confusion but somehow it survived, tucked out of sight in my old, beaten up leather wallet. I hate the fact that I can remember snatching the note up from the kitchen sideboard, the morning winter sun bouncing off the cold marble surface, but I can’t remember the sound of her voice anymore.

I shift underneath my blanket, it’s so full of holes I can feel a draft coming through it like wispy fingers; it’s a good thing it’s a warm night. My wallet is open in my lap, limply hanging across my thighs, bedraggled and worn out as if it’s run a marathon. I know how that feels. My wife’s face stares up at me, grubby around the edges and fading slightly with age and exposure to the elements. She’s got a brown tint that she never had before, marring her perfect pale skin and wavy blonde hair. Only her green eyes remained solid, colourful and piercing through the grime. Alysa, always perfect.

Our last day was so extraordinary, dull and average. Our screaming bundle of terror had woken us up at least 5 times that night, teething. I’d got a deep, gnawing pit of irritation starting up in the pit of my stomach as I sat at the breakfast bar watching Alysa shake a formula bottle agonisingly slowly, fatigue making her weak.

I spooned slow mouthful after mouthful of soggy, tasteless cereal into my mouth. The mush of bran squealching and wriggling across my tongue like a hoard of slugs. I swallowed the last bite with difficulty and offered my girl a watery smile.

“You don’t suppose they do refunds on these things, do they?” She said, jiggling the whimpering lump of snot and dribble on her hip.

“I think we’re way past the 30 day trial period.” I run a hand across my face and pull at my beard in frustration. My daughter’s chewing on Alysa’s hair, extra gummy, extra dribbly, making little snuffling noises whilst she does it. I should have got a dog instead.

“Damn. I guess we’re stuck with it now then.” She teases, kissing our girl on her sticky forehead. My smile reaches my tired eyes and the fatigue lifts from me a little, they look so perfect standing in the morning light; they were made this way, just for me.

Before I can lay a hand on my car keys and work file the TV blurts out a warning that demands my attention.

We are interrupting your scheduled programing to bring you this special news bulletin. An outbreak of a new virus has caused chaos across the north of the UK this afternoon. The highly contagious disease has symptoms similar to the norovirus and is spread in much the same way. 

Alysa isn’t really listening, still cooing over our girl; I lean over and turn up the volume. My wife comes over to stand next to me, even the baby is quiet as a pretty, young newsreader steps into view, her chocolate hair running helter, skelter under the bright red umbrella she was holding up against the wind and rain.

The Sheffield Teaching Hospital has been the hardest hit. Huge numbers of patients have been coming through thick and fast since the early hours of this morning. Staff here are overwhelmed. It’s been suggested that they currently have no working cure for this violent strain of the virus.

Alysa and I glanced at each other; a tiny frown appeared between her eyes. A haggard looking male nurse slid in from the side, he had dark circles under his eyes and something I couldn’t quite make out splattered across his scrubs.

We urge the public to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary. The norovirus is highly contagious and we want to minimise the infection field as much as possible. Symptoms you should be on the look out for are: a raised temperature, headaches, stomach cramps, aching limbs, sickness and seizure. If you feel unwell or think you may have contracted the virus, please, please do not leave the house and call the emergency services immediately. 

Within two weeks, 1.75 billion were dead worldwide. The dehydration hit thick and fast and no matter what the doctors seemed to do they just couldn’t replace the fluids the sick lost before they succumbed to death.  Before long bodies were pilling up in the abandoned streets, sunken eyes, staring out of gaping sockets, fingers clenched on cold hands as if they were still trying to grip to their weak, lost lives.

Naturally, we bolted like everyone else; loaded up the car with a few precious essentials and made for the coast. The boarder had been shut down long before we got there, it was just a seething, hot mass of desperate bodies wriggling and shrieking towards the military personnel charged with keeping the peace. After the first panic stricken shots began to ring out into the fray we decided it would be safer to hold up somewhere close by and wait for the hysteria to die down and the boarder to open up again. It never did.

“Dad.” The urgent whisper hits my cold ears like a jet of steam forcing unwanted reality down my throat. “Dad, there’s a noise. Something’s outside.” My daughter stands in the door way of the next room, the boarded up window behind her cracking a little moonlight across the floor. She’s the picture of my dead wife, even at twelve; the same yellow hair.

I reach for my gun with shaking fingers and stagger to my feet with all the stability of a drunk. I take a moment, just half a second to reflect on what our lives have become. My poor daughter, born into this now harsh reality. I’m sorry for that.

Suddenly I hear it; that banging on the door. Someone wants to come in.