Trigger warning : Death, Slight blood
No one knew when they arrived. No one knew how they got there. Some called them demons, others called them angels.
To Thorn, they were the doom of all humanity.
His parents were taken first. Thorn was with them that night, on their walk home from the grocery store when something large suddenly landed inches from them on the sidewalk. Seemingly being thrown out of midair, Thorn’s mother had screamed and his father put on a protective stance, ready to fight whatever it was. When the object didn’t move, his father went to check it out. As soon as he saw what it was, he stopped Thorn and his mother from coming any closer.
“You don’t want to see this. Trust me,” He had said, gagging.
That’s when they heard one of them for the first time. A deep, mangled, call of sorts that came from the alley nearest them, that then followed the sound of breaking glass and a woman screaming.
“We need to get out of here. Now,” his father said quietly, rushing Thorn and his mother around the large object in front of them, making sure they didn't look at it. As Thorn passed it he couldn’t help but get a smell of it and it made him feel instantly sick, the rancid odor filling his nostrils as he covered his nose and tried to move on.
Once they thought they were safely away from whatever it was that had happened back there, Thorn’s father sighed in relief as they slowed their steps to a normal speed.
“What did you see back there dad?” Thorn had asked, at 16 he was naturally curious, and he had never smelled something so awful in his life.
“Nothing to worry about kid,” his dad said, giving him a reassuring smile. “We’re almost home, let's forget about it. The police will have it all under control anyway.”
They kept walking, but then heard it again. It sounded similar to the first, but this sound was more gargled and much quieter. Thorn thought it sounded almost confused, like something lost trying to find its way home.
“What is that? Sounds like an animal, and I heard it back there too,” Thorn’s mother said, “Is it something in trouble? Maybe we should go look?” She questioned, and her husband looked at her in concern.
“If it makes you feel any better, I’ll check it out,” He said, but he didn’t have to go far.
The creature came to them. Since it was dark outside and there weren’t many street lamps in their neighborhood, it was hard to tell what it looked like. All Thorn could see was what looked like a large mass slinking its way into the middle of the street, then stopping when Thorn’s father stood in front of it.
“Are you alright? Are you lost?” Thorn’s father said to it, eliciting the same odd sound from the object that it had made earlier. His father moved closer, almost close enough to touch it.
The creature screamed. An awful, ear-drum ripping screech that made Thorn and his parents instantly cover their ears, Thorn closing his eyes and his mother falling to the road in pain. Thorn looked up just in time to see the silhouette of a creature who was once a large blob in the middle of the street, that now was becoming an almost nine foot being. Its body was similar to a malnourished humans, and it was dripping with a black substance that fell to the road like ink. In the darkness the only thing Thorn could make out was the creature's face, which was covered in glowing green eyes, too many for Thorn to count. He saw its jaw that seemed to stretch all the way around its face, the monster starting to open his mouth wide to show his rows of bright red razor-sharp teeth. The being unhinged its jaw to open ever wider, and…
In one swift movement, Thorn’s father was gone. His mother screamed. He just stood there in shock as a thick liquid landed on his face and clothes, his body unable to move.
The monster roared, and Thorn snapped out of it. Fear shot through his veins and his heartbeat sped rapidly, and he ran. He was running so fast he hadn’t heard his mother fall, but he shot around when he heard her scream his name. She was at least 10 feet away from him now, the monster approaching her rapidly, and Thorn didn’t know what to do. There was nothing he could do. So he watched as the demon took her, too.
Thorn looked down at his watch, which read 11:20 AM. Forty minutes to get to the station, Thorn thought to himself, looking back up at the deserted buildings and empty streets that laid in front of him.
It had been almost two years since his first encounter with the beings, but definitely not his last.
Not humanities last, either. The world as Thorn knew it had been torn apart, buildings burned, nearly all of the population killed, and not one place on the planet was safe. People had started building underground shelters hoping it would help them hide, and it did for the most part. They always found a way in, somehow.
Thorn genuinely wondered how the monsters hadn’t gotten him yet. He hopped from shelter to shelter, never settling for one place out of fear. That also meant he didn’t get time to make connections with anyone, which he was fine with. Less relationships meant less loss, and after what happened to his parents he didn’t think he could ever handle that again.
Now, in his filthy tank top and ripped up jeans, Thorn was trying to make it to the train station near his old home. He had gotten word that the last train was taking the rest of humanity in his city far away from there, to somewhere safe. And if he didn’t get on that train he would be left behind, alone. Death would be almost certain, he was sure of it.
He was a 20 minute walk away from the station, but with the amount of time he would have to spend escaping from the creatures it would take him much longer to get there. If he were to be on time, he better get going, and soon.
He slowly crawled out from underneath the broken remains of a home, looking around to make sure it was clear. He saw ahead of him a hole in a building that he could easily fit into, and he decided to make a run for it. He got there safely, but just in time to hear a warbled screech come from the sky above (yes, they flew too).
He went like this for a while, hiding out where he could and scouting to make sure he was safe. He looked down at his watch, 11:45 AM. Fifteen minutes, He thought anxiously, realizing that he was still at least 10 minutes away from the station, not to mention the time he had to spend hiding.
I haven't had many encounters so far, I think I'll be okay. If I could just make a run for it…
He looked around from where he stood and when he saw and heard nothing, he ran for it. It was a straight shot, he knew these streets better than anyone. He had gotten about five minutes when he heard a screech from his right and looked around frantically, looking for shelter. He saw a broken down car to his left and he dove for cover underneath it, cutting his arms up along the way. He hissed quietly, grabbing his arm and feeling the warm blood come off onto his hand, but stayed quiet as he heard the monster get closer. With a sharp gasp from Thorn the monster hopped on top of the car, Thorn covering his own mouth to keep from making any more noise. His heart was beating so fast he thought the monster could hear it, but after a few moments he heard the creature flap its wings and take off into the sky.
Thorn peeked out quickly, and then took a quick glance at his watch. 11:55. Five minutes. He could do this. He inched his way out from under the car, dirt getting in his wounds as he tried not to let himself be affected by the pain. He could see the station from there, although it was blurry he could see little shapes that he assumed were people getting onto the train.
You can do this, Thorn. You can survive. For your family, for your friends. And that was his push to get himself going, to take the next leg of the stretch, to regain his life back, to live.
He sprinted. The station was coming closer into view, he could see the unmistakable silhouettes of other humans rushing to get on the train. He took a moment to realize that these people wanted to get out of here just as much as he did, and he thought with a jolt the possibility that the train would be completely full.
If I have to fight people to get on that train, so be it. Determination seeped through him.
He was so focused on running and so lost in thought however, that he didn’t notice the gurgling black object that he had just passed. He didn’t notice when it perked up at the sound of him, starting to move itself along the gravel to the sound of his fast footsteps.
He was so close to the station. Thorn could now see the people on the train, packed to brim, almost spilling out of the open door. They can fit one more, he thought, trying to catch some breath as he made the final stretch.
He was now at the station, pausing for just a moment under a broken bench to take a break. He was positively gasping for air, the adrenaline mixed with the amount and speed of running was making his heart beat almost out of his chest. You’ve made it this far, he thought, you’re so close.
He looked at his watch for the last time. 11:59 AM. One minute until those doors close and the people on there are taken to safety. One minute holding the balance between life and death for Thorn.
He stood up from underneath his hiding place, not even taking a glance around as he made his dash to the doors.
That was his first mistake. If he would have taken even the smallest of glances, he would have noticed the creature near him forming and changing, watching him as he made his way to the open train doors. Its body grew and altered into its most commonly seen state, its arms turning into claws the size of daggers, its many green eyes calculating, waiting.
Thorn was about 20 feet from the entrance. He knew he was going to make it. A smile lit up his face, a triumphant sigh escaping him as his feet continued to carry him closer. He looked up at the open doors, taking a look at the faces of the people who were crammed in the train.
His smile faltered though, when he heard the first woman scream. Thorn found the woman in the crowd, pointing to something behind him. Other people in the train followed her finger, and more gasps and screams started ringing out, now hundreds of people echoing each other in a scramble to get as far away from the doors as they could.
“We’re all going to die,” Thorn heard one man yell.
“He led it right to us!” Another woman shrieked.
“Don’t let him on!” A young man cried.
Thorn was lost in confusion. He paused to take one look in the direction of the pointing fingers, and he saw it. It looked just like the one that took his parents that night, black ooze dripping from its whole body as its jaw widened, ready to kill.
Thorn froze. He was mere feet away from the open doors, but his feet wouldn’t move. He couldn’t breathe. Then everything happened, way too fast.
One swipe from the monster's massive claws and Thorn fell. Disoriented, he tried to stand up. He couldn’t. Blood was everywhere, the screams of the people on the train were muffled as Thorn’s ears started ringing with panic. His legs felt numb. He looked down to try and get them to move, but he almost fainted. They weren’t there anymore. His vision clouded, he looked up at the creature towering over him, tears streaming down his face.
Someone help me… please…
He whipped his head around to see the doors of the train starting to close.
“NO!” he screamed, flipping onto his stomach and using his arms to crawl across the concrete, the lack of a bottom half hindering his speed.
He took one last look as the key to his survival closed in his face, his hand reaching out for something, anything. He sobbed. He accepted his fate, even though it wasn’t the one he had ever wished for, and one that he didn’t deserve.
One gurgled screech from the creature, and Thorn was gone.