Writing Prompt: An aspiring necromancer’s spell goes wrong and the world is ravaged by a zombie apocalypse that no amount of steel or magic could stop. You and your band of survivors are now just trying to survive.
They called him Abaddon, for he was as close to the devil as the World would ever come. He was the son of a Nercomaniac, and through his father’s own misguided good intentions the young Abbadon had grown to develop a firm disbelief in the necessary fate of mortal creatures. A disbelief in Death itself.
Abaddon’s own father had refused to teach him the ways of Nercomania in hopes his son might lead a better life. Necromania, you see, was a plague in its own right, a taint that lingered on the mind, a darkness that devoured the heart and the soul. But by refusing to teach his son the father had driven Abaddon to conclusions unbecoming of the natural World. Death itself could not be real, for those that die will rise again at the hand of the father… his father.
So it came to pass that the UpRising began when Abbadon’s father died.
A cult was formed with a single determined goal, to raise all lost from their earthly sleep and let the World walk eternal in the light of life. Only when the dead did rise they did so with a new found hunger. A hunger for life. To be void of the living World seemed to have left them bitter, twisted creatures, each feeling that they alone deserved life, more so than any other.
The recently dead were affected least of all, those merely days or even weeks old rising to be near reflections of their former selves. It was those who had lain in rest for long years, starved of their right to life, who came back in more unnatural ways. The Aged Dead barely shadows of what they’d once been…
“Christ above, Grimm, we can’t let the Horde find its way back to camp.” Angelo was a ranger with a keen eye (literally, for he’d lost the other at the hands of Day-Lighter who’d been hiding in a lake).
“And what exactly do you expect me to do about it?” Grimm was straggling some steps behind Angelo, carefully dodging the throws of his robe underfoot. Robes may not have been the most practical choice of clothing, but then choice was a scarce business now-a-days.
“If I call on magic this close to camp I’ll be sending a flare out to every Waking Dead for miles around. Now a Horde we might stand a chance at defeating, but even two-fold combined…” Grimm shook his head, narrowly avoiding a curling root that snatched up at him from the dirt laden path.
In some places more than humanity had risen before Abaddon.
Angelo instictively groped at the quiver on his back.
Well, sh*t. If I had any arrows we wouldn’t be in this Gods damned mess.
Turning back over shoulder he caught a glimpse of the Horde that hounded after them. There was a lone Runner to the fore-front of the massing dead, an arrow leaked from out the side of its neck.
If that Runner had just stayed down… played dead like a good mutt.
It was the Runner that kept pace with Angelo and Grimm, marking the way for the Horde to follow. Without their leader the Horde might just have been blinded, they might have lost the trail in the woods.
“Where’s Fletcher?” Grimm asked between breaths, “Couldn’t he…”
Angelo gave a whistle, fingers pressed to his mouth. He turned his gaze for the skies, but nothing.
“Then it’s hopeless.” Grimm didn’t dare look back himself, the faces of those decrepit creatures that chased them were long ingrained in memory. Drooling mouths that peeled away at the cheeks, puffing eyes that seemed ready to pop, scaled skin festering with clots… thank the Gods they’re only human… but Grimm was quite certain he’d seen something else lurking behind the Horde. Following in wait.
But waiting for what?Grimm tried to shake the thought from his mind.
“I’ll hold them off.” Angelo was starting to slow his pace, leveling with Grimm. He settled his bow upon his back and drew a short blade from his side. “If I can take out the Runner, then I might be able to lead the Horde far enough off track…”
“No.” Grimm shook his head resolutely, “Not an option.”
“I don’t think we have a choice here, Grimm.”
“We don’t leave our own behind. If you stay, I stay.”
Angelo laughed from behind a thin smile, “I appreciate the sentiment, but you said it yourself, you can’t call on your magic here. You’d only hinder me, and if we both die then who’s to warn camp of what’s coming?”
“There are barely enough of us to start wasting our numbers.” Grimm tried to argue, but he saw in Angelo’s face that his decision had been made. There was nothing he could say.
“Prepare them… to move on.” it was the last thing Angelo said to Grimm before stopping in his tracks entirely, leaving Grimm to run on alone. Grimm might have stopped too, but fear was motivator enough to keep his legs moving.
Prepare them… to move on. Of course Angelo had meant to move on from the camp, to find a safer place to hide, but still those last words would prey on Grimm’s mind for many a night to come.
There was the definitive sound of garbled screaming as Angelo’s blade found its way through the soft of the Runner’s neck, then there came the gentle thud of a body as it hit the ground, stilled at last. The few sounds that followed after grew fainter with each step, Grimm’s heart eased a little knowing that Angelo had at least driven the Horde from the path back to camp. But still, even faint as they were, the savage snarls and sullen snapping of teeth were enough to turn the hardest of stomachs.
Grimm stopped only once to throw up, heaving over a patch of bluebells that grew from the base of a blood coloured stump. When the roots about that stump started to writhe for air Grimm quickly found his feet again.
We’re not safe here, not any more.
He would make it back to camp, and then the true battle would begin. He’d have to explain what had happened to Angelo, he’d have to convince the others that they needed to move on, but worst of all he’d have to take command, for without Angelo who else would rise to the challenge?
Copyright © K R Perry 2019