Friday, September 30, 2011

A World Without God - Part 1

You could feel that the world had changed, right after the disappearances. Inside of you something changed. Your conscience was weaker. Negative thoughts crept in more often, and were harder to shake out. The suffering of others didn't effect you as much.

I thought it was just a response to the tragedy at first. With so much pain it made sense to put up walls, but that wasn't it. Compassion and empathy deadened. You had to fight to keep feeling them. You had to fight to keep the horrible thoughts from your mind. You had fight with all your will not to become something inhuman. Most people weren't up for the effort.

As things got worse with people, other changes went unnoticed. The sudden problems with sea travel barely made the news, and the reports of monsters were treated with scorn the few times they were mentioned. By the time people realized humanity wasn't the only thing that had been changed it was too late. The oceans belonged to them.

Soon after I saw my first monster. It wasn't one of the coiled sea beasts, it was something else entirely. Some nameless horror from within the earth. The ground rumbled, the earth split open, and the first pieces of it reached the surface. It was formless, a mass of flesh and bone that had never known a designer's hand. It's limbs grabbed buildings, and people, and trees. Some smashed through the ground and acted as anchors, and it pulled itself from the earth. Its own bones shattered and reformed as it moved, that was the only noise you could hear over the destruction.

Once it was out it started eating. It didn't seem to discriminate. People, pets, cars, statues, buildings; it ate them all. It would skewer something or someone on one of its limbs, and then drag its victim back to its central mass, a mouth would tear open, engulf its food, then close and disappear beneath the thing's shifting skin.

I was there when it first broke through, in a field half a mile from the house where I grew up. That was around quarter of eight in the morning. By sunset the town I'd spent my whole life in was gone. Devoured.

Fun fact: the interstate highway systems was created for two reasons. The first was to be able drive a tank anywhere in the country at a speed of 50 miles per hour. The second was to allow the survivors of a nuclear holocaust a way to get far enough away from the cities that they might rebuild along the road. Neither of those things actually requires more than one state to be involved, which is why there are interstates in Hawaii.

Not that I've ever been to Hawaii. What the interstates did not anticipate was that those fleeing the cities might be followed by things that wanted to eat them. There isn't any cover if you're on the road. We lost at least a hundred in the first attack. No one knows what did it; no one who stopped to look survived. We went to the woods after that.

It wasn't safe, but it seemed safer. Things moved in the shadows, at first we thought it was just the wildlife, but it set in, gradually, that there was something else. Something smarter than foxes and bears. There was never a scream, never a struggle. Every so often someone would simply stop being there.

All the while we degraded. A notion would slip into your mind, something you never thought you'd ever think. Something you knew should disgust or horrify you, but instead you'd find it enticing. No matter how you tried to drive it out, it would linger, every free moment it would occupy your thoughts. The urge to simply do it would grow and grow. Some people gave in.

Your perspective on the world is forever changed the first time you dump the body of someone you executed in a ditch, fully aware that you wanted to do the very thing you shot him in the head for doing. That you still want to do it. That your desire to do it keeps growing. That someday you'll give in and then you'll be the one in a ditch. Or worse still, you'll get away with it. That no one will stop you and you'll just keep on doing the same thing.

Several thousand people made it out of my home town with me. Inhuman monsters could only be blamed to bringing that number down to around two thousand, that means that the reason the current population is barely half that can be blamed solely on ourselves.

I came to realize that the religious people were right. It don't claim to know the exact truth, I have no denomination, but it is clear to me that there was some cosmic battle between good and evil. There was some greater good outside of ourselves. Something that kept our darker impulses at bay, something that propped us up and prevented us from ever having to face the true horror of human nature. Something that fought to hold back the darkness. And it lost.

It lost when the disappearances happened. Since then we've been on our own, and everything we were once protected from has come out of hiding, crawling from the darkest cracks of the world, and the darkest recesses of our minds. Things best kept in darkness have started coming into the light.

I don't know what happened to the missing, I don't know where they went, but it can't be worse than here. I like to think that they're evacuees. That whatever was holding back the evil in the world knew it couldn't hang on any more and loaded as many as it could into the lifeboats. Children first. Then some adults. As for the rest of us, there just weren't enough life boats.

Some people still refuse to believe the religious explanation, but any doubts I had were washed away when Danny died. At first it seemed like he had succumb to his baser instincts. He just went hunting, with a pistol. First a teenage boy, then a teenage girl, then those who came to investigate the screams and shots, then random people, then those sent to hunt him.

But when we finally found him you could see something was different, there was something in him, and around him, it made him difficult to look at, your eyes couldn't quite focus, he almost seemed blurry around the edges. He was fighting with whatever it was, he had tied himself to a tree and it was trying to make him free himself. We didn't get a chance to kill him, he did it himself.


Though he put the gun to his head, the wound wasn't immediately fatal. I think he tried to tell us something as he was dying, but it was impossible to understand. Whatever got in him wasn't an alien or an inter-dimensional whatever, it was supernatural. He was possessed.

I don't know how you fight that. I don't have any garlic and I doubt it would work anyway.

Danny was a reminder, I'm just not entirely sure of what. Don't let your guard down? There's always something worse?

Two days later the last person I knew from before was taken. Not killed, taken. An inky black thing appeared behind her in the night. Other than the wings it looked like a poor attempt at sculpting a human. I could have done something. I saw it, I saw its faceless head turn to me, then to her. I should have warned her, told her to run, or duck, or something, but I couldn't find the words. Malformed arms wrapped around her, and with a flap of its wings she was gone.

She's still alive. I can feel it. I don't know how, I don't know why, and I don't care. It's enough to know. Trouble is, I can't get her back right now.

When we were all too busy dealing with foreign thoughts creeping into our minds, missing persons, and the damage left by the disappearances we failed to notice another change. We didn't notice until after we were forced to flee our homes. There was one change more subtle than the rest, which threatened us more than each other, more than any abomination. The land had changed too. Crops started to wither in the fields, fields we had hoped to live off of.

It's clear now that there will be no harvest, so we did the sensible thing. We found a city that hadn't been destroyed. It was abandoned, no doubt for fear of the others, and we looted it. All the food we could carry. Then we went back for more. We got enough that I thought that maybe, just maybe, we could survive. Yesterday it was stolen. Every can. The people guarding it were killed. Not just killed. Whoever did it to them enjoyed themselves.

I don't know a lot about wounds, but a medical student we have told me what was done to them while they were alive. Don't really want to know how she could tell.

It was done with knives, the others don't need knives. They have claws, and teeth, and worse. That means humans did it, that means humans stole it, that means we can get it back. Maybe. Without knowing how many and how armed there's always the chance this is suicide. Hence this.

I realized that I've left nothing behind. The place where I lived my life is gone. I went back once, I told people to see if anything could be scavenged nearby, but the truth was that I wanted to see it. I was hoping something would be left. There wasn't. It was a hole in the ground. A canyon dug by that thing's teeth, heading westward as far as the eye could see. Everything I ever made, or influenced or touched before my hometown fell was gone.

If I die, I want to leave something behind. Something that says that I was here. Something that makes me more than a forgotten casualty. I've never written a diary before, I guess I'm not very good at it, but at least it's something. If I live to write another entry I promise it'll be less scattered.

One other thing. If I don't make it back, if I do in fact die. That means I won't be able to save my friend. You have to. I don't know who you are, I don't know what you think, but it doesn't matter. You have to save her. This is imperative, it is non negotiable.

Finding her is simple. Head north west. When you start to feel like something is wrong, like you shouldn't be doing this, that means you're going the right way. Follow that feeling. As it grows in the pit of your stomach that means your getting closer. Follow it until you feel it in your bones. When every part of you is screaming at you to turn back, to give up, to drop everything and run like hell, keep going.

If you do that I'm sure you'll find her, and I know she's still alive. I can feel it as clearly as I can feel the pen I'm using to write this with. Her name is Jessica, she has green eyes and brown hair. She was wearing a red shirt and bluejeans when she was taken. Find her, and save her. If your conscience has faded to the point you can't see any altruistic reasons for doing it, then consider this: if I had been taken instead of her, she would have rescued me by now and gotten our food supplies back. She's that good. Your chances of survival are much better with her on your side than they'd ever be alone.


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