Death Toll in ChicagoMature

A collection of works, following the story of a group of young men struggling to survive the Apocalypse.

I. Shadow Chaser
Northwest and Shane

They were like ghosts—phantom, hooked fingers snatching at him through the air. His body was in constant motion, desperate to ward them off, but they seemed to simply slip through their all too solid forms. They were taunting him; pulling at his hair, yanking at his clothes, scratching at the bare flesh peeking through the tears in his hole-ridden wardrobe, and he could do nothing about it. He wanted to cry out against them, shout for them to leave him be, and yet they persisted twice as much.

Come with us, they whispered. We know the way. False promises, all of them; they would only lead him further into the darkness with no hope of returning to the surface. He swayed away from them, pale and bruised digits curling harshly about themselves in desperation. He didn’t want to go; he wanted to stay where he was, where it was safe.

Only, it wasn’t safe, because he was completely alone. He knew that he could not face them alone, but without another choice he was going to be dragged along behind them, tossed about wherever they willed it. A low moan rippled past his throat and he allowed himself to wilt, bringing his arms up and allowing his hands to clutch at his head as if it would roll from his shoulders on its own. It was his only sense of security; to make sure that his brains remained, however dismembered, in their place.

They were angry with him. Their cackles became shrieks and the yanks became more violent. They were shaking him, rocking him with tremors that threatened to the already unstable, and yet he could only attempt to stay rooted. His foundation was crumbling beneath him and he could feel himself coming apart at the seams. His insides were lit with a white hot energy; too alive to be contained by his was paper skin. They were going to come out, whether he wanted them to or not.

A strangled noise left him and he clutched himself tighter, filthy nails burrowing into his bloodied scalp. Their ropes were about his throat, squeezing the air from him and leaping up and down, trying to jerk him to their level. Once he fell, he would never stop falling; just a constant plummet downwards, downwards into the heart of the demon’s den.

“H-Help…” The word squeaked past his lips. His eyes stung as warmth flooded past steely eyes and burned as it raced along his freezing face. “He-help… th-they… hurts. It hurts…”

He lost all air and his already shadowy vision started to spot. They were taking him; he could feel himself slipping off the precipice and his limbs were too bound in their task of keeping him in one piece that he could not struggle for balance. The shriek that tried to shove its way into existence was blocked off but their constriction and it rubbed his throat raw in its frenzy.

“D-don’t let them t-take me…” The words were of his own voice and he vaguely recognized it. They’d not been born of his paralyzed lips but instead of his heart, which had now begun to pound against his ribs in its madness. Far too long, it’d been forced into silence, and it would be damned if it was going to be ignored any longer, no matter how much it was

They were loving every moment of it; they knew that they were winning even though he was fighting them with everything that his body was worth. And yet he wasn’t strong enough. There was no way he could be.


And like that, with that simple suspended syllable, light burst through and scattered them, back into their awful shadows with hisses of disdain. Air leapt back into his lungs, as if back into the arms of an estranged lover. His eyes snapped open and he found that instead of facing everlasting darkness, he was surrounded by variant shades of gray. His gaze wandered around at the newly found light when he finally noticed that his head was heavier than he was used to supporting, bandages and all. His eyes flickered around, and he chanced a glance up.

A palm, solid and warm against him, was resting gently on his forehead, tilting his head upwards. He followed the length of the arm into a set of green eyes, shining with the reflection of a cool, gleaming grin.

“You had me worried there. You all right?”

He couldn’t help but to stare, unblinking dewy eyes fixed undoubtedly on the increasingly familiar face. He absently realized the other was fussing over his hair, smoothing the loose strands into a slightly more proper order, then his hand skimmed over his cheek, brushing away any moisture. Each gentle stroke of the stronger fingertips was like a Celestial kiss, chasing away any evidence of past sins.

“Your lip's healing up already.” There was something strange about his tone, something he wasn’t used to. What was it? Nurturing? Delighted even? His breath shortened at the possibility. “How’s about you let it, instead of tearin' it up again, okay?”

Absently, his head pitched forward once, yet his focus managed not to waver. All too soon the touch began to leave him, and he wasn’t entirely aware of it, but his eyes widened in fright. His fingers reached out to follow it before he was too aware of what he was doing, but stopped short and allowed his arms to hang uselessly at his sides. How could he even begin to think he was worthy of such comfort? Every short brush of human flesh against his own was like the ultimate taunt; just another thing that he, something less than what he wanted so badly to feel, could not have.

His head lowered now, the uncomfortable feeling of rejection settling somewhere in his throat and teeth managed to find a way to close around his bottom lip again. They were whispering to him again, relishing in his defeat. His eyes began to shut and they were almost upon him again when walls, pristine and beautiful came to shield him, covering his body and guarding it from their hateful whispers. His cheek was nestled against something soft, and a soothing heat slipped around, shrouding him in a veil that melted him completely.

“I’m glad you’re getting better.” The vibration of the voice thrummed through him, sending a small shiver down his spine. He wasn’t going to fall, he realized. Not with such a strong foundation beneath him.

“Yeah… just…. yeah.”

The End

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