DEAD WAR

By CHAD FLEAGLE

The author unleashes more frightening visions of dark shadows in our brightly lighted environment. This exciting story explores the theory of a spiritual realm, and nerve-racking psychological suspense. This story clearly illustrates the author’s ability to juggle science fiction and imperiling doom while spinning horror and fear into great entertainment. The author is a clever writer with a sharp sense of irony and his characters continue to be strong, cunning and very believable. Such a talent is destined to impact the literary world.

About The Author

Chad Fleagle is in his late twenties and has been writing since age ten. He is a masterful storyteller and his screen and teleplays reveal a vibrant imagination. His experienced and urbane writing style evokes a sense of being there, which all writers strive for, but so few achieve.

DEAD WAR
By

CHAD FLEAGLE

Gripping Horror at its BEST

Exciting Psychological Suspense

www.mittymax.com

e-Book 2000

Copyright 2000

DEAD WAR

The college campus appears dismal in the early morning hours. A solitary light illuminates the lab window. Eric and Kyle Johnson work on their science project. Three year’s of college as science majors and they’ve built a machine of their own design. If their creation works properly it will prove the existence of the true spirit realm. The place where we go when we die to await eternal judgment.

“Is the beam fully charged?” Eric questions. “Not yet, Eric. It’s going to take time.” “It’s only supposed to take twenty-four hour’s.” He glances at the unit’s readout.

“It’s already been twenty-five hour’s.” Kyle looks at the monitor for himself. “What the hell?” He groans.

“What’s up, Brother?”

“According to the readout,” he taps the screen. “It’s not even gaining power.”

“Don’t hand me that shit, Kyle.”

“Look for yourself.”

Eric stares at the secondary screen. “Look for yourself, Brother.” Eric stares at the screen. “Damn it.” He slams his fist on the table. “When‘re we ever going to get this right?”

Kyle turns the unit off. “It’s not like we don’t have the rest of our lives to keep trying.” A dying hum is heard as its power fades.

“Yeah, you’re right.”

“Well...” Kyle’s mouth widens in a yawn. “I’m out of here. I’m bushed.”

“Get some sleep.” Eric stares at the unit. “I want to check a few things first.”

“Suit yourself, see you in the morning.” “No...” He shakes his head. “You might not.” “What are you saying, brother?”

“You know what I’m saying, Kyle.” Eric walks up to his brother. “You can’t be thinking about cutting classes?” “That’s what I have in mind.” He grabs a notepad. Moves away from his Brother. “Eric, I know this projects important to you.” He follows him. “Hell, it’s important to the both of us. We’re only here for one more year. That years worth of knowledge can help us even more.”

“I know, Kyle.” He drops the notepad with a sigh. “It’s just think what we can prove with this unit.” He places his hands on the unit. “The real spirit realm, life after death. We can be famous, not to mention rich.”

There’s a moment of silence between them.

“And it all depends on this damn thing working.” He slams a fist against the unit.

“Eric...” Kyle pulls his brothers hand off. “What the hell are you doing?”’

Blue surges of electricity, sparks erupt from the unit.

“Oh shit.” Kyle shouts. “It’s going to blow.”

“Lets get out of here.”

They run for the door.

“What in God’s name is going on here, Eric?” Professor Reid walks in. “Professor Reid... our projects taken a turn for the worst.” Eric answers. The Professor is bathed in red light. “Don’t be foolish, dear boy.” His eyes widen. “It appears you’ve done it.”

The Brothers look at each other. They turn to look. Their creation hasn’t exploded, a thin blue beam has shot from the unit, ending about thirty feet from its fired point. At the beams end swirls a red, hurricane like mass. Electrical discharges jump and crawl about the room. “This is a major breakthrough, boys.” The Professor nears the portal. “You’re going to be famous. “

“Don’t get too close, Professor.” Kyle warns.

“Don’t worry about me, Kyle.” He stares at him. “Worry about how you two are going to be able to handle being the first in history to open a doorway into the spirit world.” He stops at the portals edge. Raises a hand. “You can feel the energy flow from it.” He smiles. “This is truly amazing.”

The Brothers are dumbfounded. At a loss for words. It just isn’t possible. He turned the unit off. Was it his physical contact with it? Or did something else Cause the surge of just the right amount of power?

“Come here, boys.“

We’d rather not get too close, professor.” Eric replies.

“Why?” He looks around. “There‘s no danger here, come on now.” They hesitate, but soon join him. “Here it is, boys. Your hard work paying off.”

“You can feel the energy.” Kyle smiles.. “It’s like a static charge.”

“We should be getting this on video.” Eric notes. “The camcorder’s over there,” Kyle jogs to get it. “I’ll get it!” “Do you realize what you two have accomplished here today?” Professor Reid asks.

“Sure, Professor. We’ve opened a doorway to the spirit realm.”

“Yes, that’s true.” He puts a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “But now we’re able to travel into another dimension. There’s a world beyond this doorway that’s strange and new.”

“I have the camera!” Kyle says.

“Shut up and start taping.” Eric says.

He aims the camera at the portal, peers through the lens, sees nothing, not a trace of the swirling mass. He lowers the camera.

“What are you doing, Kyle?”

“I know this is going to sound strange. But there’s nothing to tape.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

He hands his brother the camera. “Why don’t you look for yourself?” He takes the camera, looks through its lens, he sees nothing. He takes it away, it returns.

He repeats the same motion, gets the same results. “He’s right! When you look into the camera lens, the portal vanishes from sight.”

“Let me have a look, Eric?” He takes the camera, stares through the lens. “This is strange.” He admits. “But I have a theory about this.”

“And?” Eric asks.

“As you both know, we’re of a physical body.” He puts the camera on the table. “We exist in a three dimensional realm.” He points to the portal. “This portal you’ve manifested isn’t of our physical plane. The portal itself is like one giant spirit, real spirits have seldom been captured on film.”

“So what you’re telling us is we cannot film the portal?” Kyle says.

“If my theory holds true,” He folds his arms. “I’m afraid it’s impossible to do so.”

“How are we going to keep this secret?” Eric wonders. “That’s going to be a problem.” Professor Reid says.“ So what the hell do we do?” Kyle asks.“ I hate to say this, boys. But you’re going to have to turn the unit off.”

“Turn it off?” Eric protests. “If we turn it off, it might not work again when we want it too.” “I’m afraid that’s the chance we’ll have to take.”

The brothers look at each other.

“What do you think, Kyle?”

“It seems to be our only option, brother.” Eric walks over to the humming unit, takes one last look at the portal and switches it off. The hum and blue beam disappear, the swirling portal doesn’t.

“The portal?” Kyle shouts. “It’s not leaving!”

“Are you sure you turned it off?” Professor Reid asks. “Of course, Professor.” “Then what I’ve feared has happened.”

“What have you feared, Professor?” Kyle asks.

“I’ve feared, that once a doorway into another dimension has been opened, it may never be closed again.”

“Hold on here, Professor.” Eric paces. “Are you telling us we can never close this thing, ever?” “If my theory is correct, that’ s what I’m saying.”

“Oh great!” He throws his hands in the air. “Excuse me, sir? Would you like to see a portal to the spirit world?” He laughs. “Sure, bring the wife and kids. It’ll be fun!” He rants.

“Chill out, Brother. Don’ t go freaky on us now.” “Okay, Brother.” He smiles. “I’ll chill out. But I was just pondering on something we never thought on.” He turns to the portal. “What if something comes out of this doorway? Something that’ s evil, and remember...,” He points. “We can’t close the doorway to send it back.” There’s silence in the room.

“We must find a way to hide it.” Professor Reid breaks the silence. “But how? We know nothing about it.” Kyle says. “We must devote our time until we find a way.” Professor Reid answers.

“But what about our classes?”

“I can always get you out of those. Dean Smith is a good friend of mine. I’ll talk to him in the morning.” He shuts the room light out, pulls the blinds. “For now we’ll lock the lab door.” He opens the door for them as they leave for their room. He locks the door, a red glow seeps through its cracks.

Three hours of rest is all the brothers manage to get, the Professor’s night isn’t as rough. The blare of his alarm clock wakes him, the first thing he does is grab a notepad and pencil, he writes:

“The Johnson boys are brilliant. Last night, with the aid of their unit, they opened a portal into the spirit realm. Although they accomplished something magnificent, they cannot close the portal. With my help they’re trying to find a solution to this problem. I truly fear that Eric’s evil maybe lurking beyond waiting for the right moment.” He closes the pad with a sigh, begins his morning rituals.

An hour later, he’s on his way to the Deans office. He knows that on his way he has to pass the lab, here it is now.

He stops.

His hand grips the knob, turns, finds it locked. With a smile, he continues down the hall. At the door to the Deans waiting room, he hesitates. What’s he going to say? How can he say the right words? Will the Dean believe him? Of course he will, they go way back, back to the days when they were students of this College. He pushes the negative thoughts from his head, puts on a smile and pushes his way into the waiting room.

“Good morning, Professor Reid.” Miss Livingston, the Deans secretary smiles. “What can I do for you?”

Thirty years old, an hourglass figure, large breasts and an ass that won’t quit. He’ll never admit it to anyone, but he gets a major “woody” whenever he’s around her, like right this moment.

She talks, but her very short skirt, her long legs, bronzed to perfection, entrances him, he hopes she doesn’t notice the bulge in his pants.

“Mr. Reid?” She smiles. “Are you all right?”

“What?” His trance is broken by her question. “Oh, excuse me.” His face glows red. “Yes, I’m fine.”

“What can I help you with?” She asks, as she crosses her legs.

You can do a lot for me, he thinks to himself.

“Is Dean Smith in, I’d like to speak with him?”

“Yes, he’s in.” She reaches for the intercom button, strikes a pencil holder, sends dozens of pencils to the floor in front of Professor Reid. She leans over, exposes she’s not wearing a bra. “Let me get those for you.” He bends, very pleased with the view.

“Why, thank you, Professor Reid.”

“It’s no problem at all.” He puts the pencils in the holder. “There you go.”

“Dean Smith?”

“What is it, Miss Livingston?” His voice returns.

“Professor Reid is here to see you, sir.”

“Send him in, Miss Livingston.”

“Go right in, Professor Reid.”

“Thank you, Miss Livingston.”

With a deep breath, he enters the Deans office. “Ahhh... Reid you old dog. Dean Smith stands.

“How are you doing?”

“Doing fine, Charles. How have you been?” “Never better, old man.” He sits. “Have a seat.” He seats himself in a plush leather chair. “So,” the Dean smiles. “How can I help you?” “It’s kind of hard to explain.”

“Don’t be a fool, Reid.” He chuckles. “We’ve known each other far too long.” He points. “I know when something’s bugging you. Spit it out.”

“It ‘s about two of my brightest students.”

“You mean the Johnson boys?”

“Yes. Something went wrong with their experiment last night and…”

“You’re talking about the portal project?”

Professor Reid is stunned, this is a secret project. How could the Dean know of it?

“How would you know about that?”

“To tell you the truth, I hadn’t a clue until this morning.”

“What happened this morning, Charles?”

“Would you believe a load of soldiers came here? Two Government agents spoke with me.“

“What were they doing here, what did they say?” “They said they knew about the portal. Said it can be a danger to people.” “What did they do to it?” “They took it out of here in a semi-truck.”

“What, but how?”

“They put it in a high-tech containment box and they hauled it away.”

“Thanks, Charles.” The Professor stands.

“Where are you going?” “I want to tell the Johnson boys.” “While you’re at it,” he hands him an envelope. “Give them this.”

“What is it?” “It’s a check, for a million dollars.” Professor Reid opens the door. “Hey, Reid?” The’ Deans voice calls.

“Yes?”

“Come back when you can stay longer.”

He leaves without a smile however, it returns as Miss Livingston, bending over, greets him as she picks up a scrap of paper. She jumps as he clicks the door to the Dean’s office shut.

“I’m sorry, did I startle you?”

She holds her bosom. “Just a little.” She says. “I was wondering something, Miss Livingston?” She returns to her seat. “And what’s that, Mr. Reid?” “Would you be interested in going out with me this Saturday night?” That would be nice.” She blushes. “You know,” being so caught up in the moment, he continues to talk. “Some dinner to get to know each other.”

“I said that would be nice, Mr. Reid.”

“If you decline my offer, I’ll understand.” He wakes up. “Excuse me, did you say something?”

“I said,” a small laugh escapes her. “That would be nice.”

“I’m sorry for rambling on like that.” “Don’t be.” She smiles. “Okay, great!” He smiles. “Saturday at eight, how does that sound?”

“Sounds good to me.” “Where should I pick you up?” “I live at 556 Lyndall Street.” “I know where that is. Then I’ll see you Saturday.”

“Okay.” She smiles.

He walks down the hall, he can’t believe he asked her, and she agreed. Enough of that, he has the portal to think about. He stands before the

Johnson brother’s room, knocks, Eric answers the door. “Professor? Come in!” He says.

“So, have you found a way to hide the portal?” Kyle asks.

Professor Reid sighs. “The portal’s no longer our problem, boys.” He sits on Eric’s bed.

“What are you saying, Professor?” Kyle asks.

“It’s difficult to explain and even harder to believe.”

“We ‘re listening.” Eric replies.

He takes the check from his pocket. “Some time, early this morning.” He looks the check over. “Two Government agents gave this to Dean Smith.” He hands the check to Eric. “With instructions to deliver it to you two.”

“What’s this?”

“Look for yourself, Eric.”

He opens the envelope. “It’s a check for a million dollars!” He stares at his brother, whom has no words to share. His eyes do all the talking. “But how did

the agents know about it?”

“Who cares?” Kyle grabs the check. “It’s not our problem anymore. Let’s worry about how we’re going to spend this money.”

“We can’t keep the money, Kyle.”

“Why the hell not?”

“Because the Army will test the portal. Try to enter it, they can bring something out. Even do it on purpose, we can’t let that happen.”

“Eric’ s right, Kyle. We must try to tell the Army to close it. God only knows what may happen.”

“I guess you’re right.” Kyle looks at the check a final time. “I don’ t like doing this though.” He hands it to his brother. Eric folds the check, puts it in his pants pocket.

“Now, to find the location of the nearest military base.” The Professor says. “That’s not a problem.” Kyle says. “The nearest base is, Fort Spear.” “Good, we’ll go there today.”

“That’s where we’ll run into a problem. They only admit authorized personnel.”

“There goes that idea.” Eric sighs. “Not really, brother.” “What do you have in mind, Kyle?” Professor Reid asks.

“If I can interface with the bases computer. I can enter our names to their list of scientists.” “Isn’t that taking a big risk? If you’re found out, they can trace it back to our computer. Then we’re caught.” Eric notes. “It’s a chance we’ll have to take.”

Chapter 2

A big unmarked military truck backs into a hanger. Once inside, the hanger doors close. A soldier in camouflage field gear speaks into his hand held radio. “This is, St. Nick. The present has arrived.” “This is good child.” A reply comes instantly. Message received; open present.”

The man jumps from the cab, runs to the rear of the truck, opens the trailer doors. “Opening present, St. Nick out.” A metallic ramp descends from the opening, clanks against the pavement. The soldier radios a command; “this is, St. Nick. Send Santa’s Helpers.”

“Santa’s Helpers are on their way.”

A loud hum throughout the hanger, two large doors slide away, expose an elevator with five scientists within. They rush up the ramp, the holding container is wheeled down, red light illuminates four view windows, the hanger is bathed in the light. They wheel the container into the elevator and the doors close. Ten minutes pass, one hundred feet below the surface, the doors open.

A large area, hundred foot across, hundred feet to the ceiling. In the room’s center, a compartment, extension port for the containment unit. High-tech computers and equipment fill the room, two futuristic cars sit close to the containment units final resting place. The fifty scientists stop as the unit’s wheeled in, a gray haired General meets the scientists half way, they stop.

“General Spears?” The scientist with dark hair and glasses says.

“Dr. Smith, is this our little baby?”

“Yes, General Spears.” He smiles. “It is.”

“Good.” He peers through a view window. “Lets get this thing opened then.”

“Yes, sir.”

They connect the container to the port with a “Click”. “Power it up!” The General shouts. The scientists back away.

Blue surges of electricity crawl about the unit, a loud “Clang,” as it splits down its middle, the unit opens, both sides lower slow, an explosion of white light mixed with red illuminates the area. Two “Clicks” are heard as each half of the unit hits the floor, the light fades, replaced with a soft red glow. “Beams up!”

Another order. With no sound, laser beams, five beams to each row, four separate rows surround the swirling portal. Forms that of a squared parameter, set at a height of six foot.

“Containment away!”

Below the portal, the two halves and its connection slot disappear into an opening in the floor. With the opening process over, all stare in awe. “Incredible, isn’t it?” The General and Dr. Smith approach the laser bars. “Two College students accomplished this.”

“It truly is, sir.”

“Is the test robot ready?”

“It is.”

“Then let’s get started.”

“Lower laser field, send in the robot.” Dr. Smith orders.

Two scientists walk up to them. “By the way, Smith. Great work on making the robot appears human.” The robot stands with them.

“Thank you, sir.”

“Will we be able to view what the robot views?”

“Every detail, sir.” He hands him a small monitor. “Here, this miniature video unit will show you anything the robot views with its eyes.”

The General looks it over. “Isn’t technology wonderful?”

The laser field drops.

“Wait a minute, Smith!” “What is it, sir?”

“Your robot’ s staring right at the portal.” He shows his monitor to him. “This screen’s showing nothing at all. What gives?”

“I must apologize, sir.” He walks up to the robot. “Try this.” He stares the robot in the eyes. “Switch to infra-red mode.” “Why the need for infra-red?” The small screen turns green, the portal appears. “There it is!”

“It would take too long to explain, sir. Shall we send the robot in?”

“By all means, Dr. Smith, by all means.”

The robot enters the swirling mass, vanishes.

Chapter 3

Eric and Professor Reid’s eyes are glued to the computer screen.

“Plug the phone receiver in, Eric.”

He plugs it in.

“Okay, dial the bases number.”

The dial tone comes through the computer speakers. The dial tone stops. “Uh oh!” Kyle groans.

“Warning, warning! You’ve entered a Government database. The computer involved in this crime will self-destruct in five seconds.”

“Don’t worry,” Kyle said. “It’s trying to scare us off.”

“FIVE”

The computer starts a countdown. “Are you sure about this, brother?”

“FOUR”

“Yes, are you sure?” Professor Reid asks. “THREE” “No computer system has the power to cause another to self-destruct.”

“TWO”

“Just to be on the safe side... jump!” They leap behind one of the beds.

“ONE” The voice stops.

A small explosion; they’re showered with bits of glass and computer debris. After the last piece falls. “Damn!” Kyle stands. “It really did explode.” “Whoa!” Eric comments.

“This disproves your theory, Kyle.” The Professor says. The computer is a charred mess and gray smoke streams from the remains.

“Now how are we going to get on the base?” Kyle groans.

Chapter 4

Back at the hanger base, tensions mount.

“Lapsed time, T-minus one minute and counting.” announces.

Dr. Smith

The General holds the monitor close to his eyes, nothings visible, only a bright purple sky. The sky moves swift, colors dance together, simulate the waves and currents of our vast earthly oceans. But what’s this spiritual skyway made of? Can it be normal cloud masses? “Dr. Smith, zoom in on the sky as close as you’re able.” The General wishes to know the answer to these questions.

“Zooming in now, Sir.”

He pushes a few buttons on a keyboard, The General watches the screen. The skyway comes into view. “Stop!” What he sees sends chills down his spine. “Right there! Do you see what I see, Smith?”

“It’s amazing!”

The ever-moving skyway isn’t some cloud-ridden void; it’s filled with thousands of phantom-like beings.

The winds don’t move them, there isn’t the slightest breeze in this new plane of existence. Through some form of levitation they ride the sky,

ever moving in a straight line, not one strays from the flow. It’s like the sperm, a mass of evil seeds, on the path to finding the egg, breaking through to begin a new life of sin and corruption.

There are sounds to be heard. A moan, not unlike the wind passing over a chimney, these are of agony and pain, desire, and lust.

Desire of a virgin on the verge of a climatic orgasm. The agony of knowing of their deaths, not wanting to fully accept the reality of them.

The hanger grows still, silent at the sight. “My, God!” The General points to a location on his monitor. “Look!” He shouts.

Off to the far right of this realm, something that hadn’t been in sight. A very large shadow figure, it appears far away; even at its distance its size is horrifying. The tormented souls flow straight into the very being of the shadow.

“What’s going on, Smith?” A loud roar, it drones into an echo of emptiness, it moves, skyway stops. “I don’t know, sir.”

“Call the robot out, Smith!” The shadow closes in on the robot. “Call it out now!”

“Okay, okay! Return to Base! I repeat, return to Base!”

The robot walks from the portal.

“Raise the laser wall!” The lasers hum to life. The Robot is covered in a thin layer of blue slime. Dr. Smith scrapes some of the substance into a petri dish. “Have this analyzed.” He hands it to another scientist. “Secure the robot and analyze its internal video. If you find anything out of the ordinary, let me know right away.”

“Yes, sir.”

The scientist leaves with the robot. A loud yell and an alarm bell rings out, as something large and black rises from the portal. “What is it?” A voice cries. No one can make out any features, due to the fact that the figure spins in a clockwise fashion, so fast that it’s a blur. The General backs away from the laser wall. “What the hell is it, Sir?” Smith joins him.

“How the hell should I know? Whatever it is, it can be dangerous. It could escape!”

“Impossible, sir!” “How the hell would you know, Smith?” He gives the man a dirty look. “You said you’ve no idea what it is!” “Look, sir!” He points. “It’s stopped spinning!”

Indeed it has stopped but still no features can be made out, just a mass of shapeless black. It begins to grow, expands and fills the laser confines to its top. The portal’s no longer visible, black ooze explodes over the top of the containment cell; screams of panic and terror fill the large room. People inhale the stench of the black substance, clutching their throats and spiting up blood.

The General and Smith fall to the floor, out cold. The others aren’t so lucky, one of the men feels as if his face is aflame, the very flesh melts from his face. The shriveled corpse of another, whom bleeds to death, as his very life’s blood gushes from his nose and mouth. Soon, the room is dark and silent.

The ooze returns to the portal.

Chapter 5

Getting onto the base is their problem, it’s a problem they think they have a solution too.

“We’ll use the money. Buy the uniforms and patches, even a jeep.” Kyle smiles. “How will we explain who we are?” Eric asks. “We’ll say we’re visiting from another base, and the General called us personally.”

“It sounds good, Kyle. But what if he wants to speak with us?” The Professor asks. “I never thought of that.”

“I think we should devise a plan.” Eric notes. “Before we attempt anything.”

“He’ s right.” The Professor agrees. “This has to go off like clock work.” “We’re going to need the whole day off, Professor.” Eric says. “No problem, the Dean had no objections when I spoke with him.” He heads for the door. “Lets go.” “Whose’ car should we take?” Kyle asks. “We’ll take mine, less hassle.” The Professor notes.

On their way down the hall, Dean Smith spots them. “Boys?” He stands. “Professor Reid?” “Keep walking,” the Professor says, under his breath. “Act like you didn’t hear him.” Their pace quickens. “Did you hear me, boys?” The Deans does as well. “Get back here at once!” He stops. “You too, Reid!” They slow, then stop. The Dean walks fast; fast walking means he’s pissed. The Professor knew that for sure. looks them over. “What’s going on here? And where are you three going during class time?” The boys plan on telling him nothing. “If you must know, Charles. We’re using the money they received to start production of a new portal unit.”

“No kidding?” His face lights up. “That’s great!” He smiles. “Well, on you three go, take all the time you need.” His walk returns to normal.

“Nice work, Professor.” Kyle says.

“Yeah, good thinking.” Eric adds. “But that might not be such a bad idea.” “You mean, building another unit?” “Of course.”

“Hell no, brother!” Kyle shouts. “The first unit took three years to complete. Are you willing to wait another three?”

“I am thinking of a better design, compact, lightweight and portable. With the funds we have, it should only take about three weeks to complete.”

“Three weeks?” Kyle laughs. “No way, man!” “Yes, three weeks. It’s won’t be as powerful as the first portal, but strong enough to shut down the other portal.”

“Lets give it a shot.” The Professor says.

Dean Smith is a low man, lower than the filth he treads upon. But that isn’t an insult worthy of his lowness there are no insults harsh or cruel enough to describe him. Ever since his childhood he’s lived off the pain of others, it makes him feel good to see someone suffer. Right now he plots against Professor Reid and the Johnson boys.

For five years he’s been with a secret government group, formed by General Spears and Dr. Smith Brandon. Dean Smith knew of the boy’s spirit world project. The boys were never meant to attend this College. General Spears arranged their admission and enrollment, without their knowledge.

The Dean, spying on the brothers, reporting any new progress to Spears, or Dr. Smith, spends every waking hour. Now, as he picks up his

phone, to report his most recent discovery, he wolfishly smiles at the thought of deception.

“Spears Military Camp, how may I help you?” A receptionist answers.

“This is, Doorway, Delta, Johnson. Connect me with the General.”

“Right away, sir.”

She patches him through, ten rings later. “He doesn’t answer, Sir.” She says.

“Thank you.” “I’ll contact him later.”

The hanger’s quiet, except for the hum of the computers, a total of forty-eight are dead or dying. A black substance tangles and drips from the computers. The portal has changed its color, once red, now black like the ooze. Three shadows emerge from the portal, followed by five more. All the dead disappear into the portal, shadows toss bodies through. Only the living are left, with all the dead disposed of, the shadows return to the portal.

“Uhh... what?” The General begins to regain his senses. He looks around. “What the hell’s happened, Smith?” He notices Dr. Smith’s out cold. “Smith? Smith, wake up, man!” The man's eyes open a fraction. “General?” “It’s me, Smith.”

“General!” His eyes widen, lapsed shock catches up with him. “General, it’s horrible! It’s horrible!” The General slaps him.

“Get hold of yourself, Doctor!” He shouts. “I’m... I’m sorry, sir.” “My, God.”

The General stares around the (All of a sudden) barren room, blood everywhere. “What the hell happened?” “Sir, look at the portal!” The Doctor points. “It’s changed color.” The General walks up to the laser bars.

“Indeed it has.” “Look out, sir!”

He jumps away from the bars. A large shadow, one that stands fifty foot and is as wide as a house, floats from the portal. Blazing red eyes, they cower in awe. “MORTALS!” The shadow speaks, voice like thunder. “THE TIME IS NIGH. OUR ESCAPE IS NOW POSSIBLE. I GIVE YOU TWO A CHOICE. LIVE, AND RULE THIS PHYSICAL WORLD WITH ME, OR ROT IN A WORLD OF DECAY AND SUFFERING!”

“No!” Dr. Smith runs. “Nooo!”

The shadow lifts a finger. “COME TO ME!” Shoots it toward the Doctor. He turns, walks up to the laser bars.

“YOU SEE, GENERAL? WHEN YOU INHALED THE BLACK OOZE, YOU IN TURN INHALED PART OF ME, PART OF MY EVIL. NOW, I CAN CONTROL YOU, OR KILL YOU! LIKE THE GOOD DOCTOR’S ABOUT TO FIND OUT.”

Dr. Smith’s eyes widen, lips part to form a scream, no scream escapes. The white in his eyes cloud over with red, eyeballs explode outward, hair turns white, falls out. Blood pours from his nose, it caves inward; the flesh of his face melts away, drips to the floor in a quagmire of pink and red. Facial muscles glisten in the dim laser light, sliding off bone, strands of slime follow there decent to the floor.

The General vomits on the laser bars; the hiss of burning vomit fills the room, a putrid sour smell. It ends as his skull and brain implode, the body drops to the floor.

“NOW DO YOU SEE MY POWER?” The shadow laughs. “WHAT’S YOUR CHOICE, MORTAL?”

“What it has always been... YES!”

“GOOD.” It laughs. “NOW IT BEGINS, A NEW DAY IS DAWNING. I MUST POSSESS YOU, FOR I’M SPIRITIAL AND YOU’RE PHYSICAL. ONLY THEN MAY IT TRULY BEGIN.”

“Will I get my body back?” “YOU WILL.”

“Do it.”

The shadow leaps over the laser bars. The black substance envelops the General, panic erupts within him. He cannot breath, his body feels as if acid were eating his flesh, something bursts, pain floods his beclouded mind.

More bursting, more pain, he realizes what has been bursting, his legs, his legs have exploded, the rest of his body will follow.

He cries out as the pain envelops his chest and arms, cries are muffled as the substance creeps down his throat, the expression on his face, frozen terror. His head the remaining body part, explodes in a cloud of floating red. Not a trance of human blood or tissue remains in the changing substance. It chooses a human form, slick surface begins to harden, empty eye sockets, nose holes, all fill in. Its eyes bright red, human-like skin grows over the blackness of the creature, it smiles, rows of glistening fangs.

“I NEVER SAID YOU’D BE ALIVE WHEN I GAVE IT BACK, GENERAL.” A bellowing laugh echoes through the hanger.

The evil that Professor Reid and Eric have feared, is free.

Chapter 5

The technical parts and equipment have been purchased, three weeks have passed since they begun work on the new unit. It’s going as planned, yet the last and most important piece isn’t fitting right. “Damn, damn, damn!” Kyle shouts. “Why the hell isn’t it fitting?” Eric adds.

The Professor picks up the unit and examines it. “I’ve spotted our problem, boys.” He raises an eyebrow, stares into the extension port.

“And that problem is?” Kyle asks.

“Your problem is this.” He points to the port. “You need a new extension port. This one has twenty prongs, you need one with fifteen.”

“Oh great!” Kyle throws his hands in the air. “How stupid can we be? Buying a parallel port with too many prongs.” “The electronics store is closed.” Eric says. “Looks like we finish tomorrow.”

“No.” The Professor shakes his head. “Eric, can you cut out the extra prongs? So our unit will accept the extension port.” “It can be done. But this port is meant to have twenty prongs. If we cut five, the port may become useless to us.”

“Lets try it.” Kyle says. “I mean, what other choice do we have?”

9:30 PM. they finish cutting the final prong. “Okay.” Eric says. “That’ s the final one.” He holds out a hand. “Give me the power pack, and pray it works.” The pack is handed to him. “Here goes.” He inserts the pack, they wait, nothing happens. “Well, we knew that was the chance we had to take.” He sighs. “No shit, Eric. But it should have worked.” The Professor sighs, glances to the floor, smiles at what he sees. As if in a daze, he stares at them.

“Are you all right, Professor?” Eric asks. “Yeah, why are you looking at us like that?” Kyle asks. “Lets see if this helps the unit to recover.” He walks over to a wall outlet, bends down, grabs an unplugged plug, plugs it in. The unit beeps, begins and begins to hum.

“Yes!” Eric says. “That’ s done it!”

“Bet your ass it works, bro.” Kyle slaps his brother five. “Now we’re in business.”

The Professor smiles, shakes both their hands. “Now we just have to wait for it to power up.” “How long is that?” The Professor asks.

“Twenty-four hours.” Chapter 6

Bringing his army into this world is going to take at least one hundred fresh bodies. This will not be the limit of his legion. Soon, he’ll raise the dead from around the globe. They’ll do his bidding, getting bodies isn’t going to be a problem. This is a military base, more than two hundred are stationed here.

“Now, I shall call them to their doom.” He pushes an intercom button, capable of communicating with the entire base.

“This is, General Spears.” He says. “All personnel must report to Hanger number Ten immediately. I repeat, all personnel must report to Hanger number Ten, on the double.”

He releases the button and smiles, his voice has no rumble overtone. The sound is identical to the General’s human voice.

Throughout the base, the personnel are dumbfounded. Not one of the two hundred personnel on this Base knew there was a Hanger Ten. To most the hanger area was but a storage area and nothing more.

At the front gate, guards, Tom Patrick and Bob Rose hear the order again. “What the hell is he talking about?” Bob asks. “Why would he want the whole damn base to up and leave their posts?” They glance into the bases confines, notice that they’re the only ones disobeying orders.

“Damn, I can’t believe this.”

“Should we go?” Tom asks.

“I don’t know. It’s just not normal. I mean, why would he give an order like that?” “You’re right, it’s weird. But we can get busted if we don’t obey.”

“I’m not leaving my post, man. You go if you want too.” “If you’re staying, I’m staying.”

They lean against the guard shack, both light cigarettes. They stare at the hanger area, a hundred and ninety-eight people gather in front of the hanger. The shadows cast from the crowd cause them to wonder.

“They look like a bunch of zombies.” Bob says. Tom doesn’t reply, they straighten up for a better view as the large doors of the hanger open. The crowd begins to file inside.

“Lets get a closer look at this.” Bob says.

“No way Tom shakes his head. “Are you crazy? “Where would we hide?”

“See that jeep?” He points. “That’s as good a place as any. Okay, but let’s do it quietly. I don’t want to get caught away from our post. My dad will kill me if I get Court Marshaled.”

“Damn.” Bob flicks his cigarette. “Don’t worry so much, man. Lets go.”

On their way, they jump behind some empty oil drums, someone in the crowd turns there and peers in their direction. “Did they see us?” Tom asks. “No, I don’t think so.”

Without more heads being turned, they make it to the safety of the jeep. “We made it.” Tom sighs. Bob raises his head to take a look, what he sees stuns him.

“What?” Tom looks at him. “What did you see?” “There’s an elevator inside the hanger.” “No way, an elevator?” “Look for yourself.”

He looks and spots the elevator, returns to a seated position next to Bob. “It must be a secret area or something.” Bob says. “Wait a minute. If it’s a secret area, why would the General want everyone to find out about it all of a sudden?”

“Beats the shit outa me.” He has another look. “There goes the last of them.”

The final batch of people enter the elevator. Its doors close, as do the hanger doors.

With the area cleared, they stand from hiding, indeed they’re safe. But the people below ground, it’s a different story. Ninety-eight die

instantly, instantly, but not painlessly. Each of them suffer as their flesh and bone melt into puddles.

The remaining one hundred scream with terror and revulsion at the gruesome display, a hundred shadows come for their new bodies, male or female doesn’t matter.

They’re free. That’s all that matters. Each of their victims goes through the same transformation the General had. If they wouldn’t have been a hundred feet below the surface, Tom and Bob could’ve heard their frantic screams of suffering. But of course, they hear nothing.

They sit in the jeep and smoke. The keys dangle from the ignition. “Whoa, check it out.” He points. “The keys.” “Yeah, cool. But where are we going?”

The hanger doors open, they freeze, look, a lot of people are missing, what they see chills their marrow.

Standing in and out of the hanger is what appear to be a hundred people. But they’re not human. Their eyes glow red and their smiling faces show needle-like fangs.

“Start the fucking jeep.” Tom shouts. “Oh, Jesus. Start the jeep.”

Bob fumbles with the keys, his hand cold and numb, he can’t grasp them. Tom finds the ignition, turns the key for him. The engine coughs and dies. He tries again, the engine begins to rev. Tom pushes Bob to the backseat and

moves into the driver seat, puts the pedal to the floor. The jeep lays rubber, begins to gain speed. Some of the demons chase behind. They crash through the gate at top speed. He loses his tailgaters, slows for nothing, as they race down a county road.

Eric Johnson is driving back to the College after picking up pre-ordered fast food. He has taken a county road to avoid heavy traffic. Out of nowhere, comes this jeep, heading for him. Tom swerves, Eric swerves, the jeep impacts with a tree, Eric comes to a safe stop. He jumps from his car to check on the people in the jeep.

The driver is slumped over the steering wheel, he’s breathing and so is the man in back.

“Hey, buddy?” Eric touches him. “You all right?” “At the Army Base.” The man springs to life. “Monsters, man... red eyes. They’re horrible.” He faints in Eric’s arms.

“Has it happened?” Eric whispers to himself.

He decides to take both of the soldiers with him to the College, it seems something terrible has happened at the Base.

Can it be the portal?

From the sound of terror in that mans voice, he’ll say that answers his question. On the way to the College, Tom regains consciousness.

“Where am I?” He looks around. “Was that all a dream?” He notices Eric. “Who are you?”

“Whoa, chill on the questions. My names, Eric Johnson.” Eric watches the road. “I’m not sure if it was just a dream or not.”

“Where’s my friend?”

“Don’t worry,” He points to the rear. “He’s in back. What happened at your Base?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

“Try me.”

He describes the events that took place at the Base. Eric realizes what’s happened. “What does it sound like to you?” Tom asks. “I know what it is.” “What?” Tom questions. “What do you mean? How can you know?”

“My brother and I are science majors at the College. We had been working on a special project. It was a unit that would open a portal into the spirit realm.”

“No shit?”

“It’s true.”

“Does it work?”

“If what you’ve just told me is true. It’s worked better than we ever dreamed possible.”

“Where are you taking us?”

“We’re going to my dorm. I want my brother to hear your story. We co-designed and built the unit.” The car pulls into the College parking lot. “Here we are, Tom. Try to awake your friend.” Tom gets out of the car and opens the back door. “Bob?” He shakes him. “Wake up, man. It’s all right now, man.” Bob mumbles, turns towards Tom’s voice. “Come on, Bob. Wake up.”

His eyes flash open. “Nooo.” He screams with a look of absolute horror on his face.

“Is he all right?”

“He must still be in shock.”

“Let me try, Tom.” Eric stares Bob in the eyes. “Noo... stay away. Keep away from me.”

“Snap out of it.” Eric slaps him in the face. “You’re all right now, it’s safe.”

Tears stream down his face, it seems he’s regained his hold on reality. “Bob? It’s Tom, man. We’re safe now.” Bob looks at his friend, then Eric. “Who are you?” He asks. “Eric Johnson.” He extends a hand. “Pleased to meet you.” Bob shakes his hand.

“Yeah, hi.”

“Follow me, guys.”

They enter the College, a few students see the soldiers.

“What’s this, Johnson?” A student smiles.

“They’re my cousins.”

They continue down the hall. “I see you’ve found the missing soldiers.” Eric stops, Dean Smith blocks their path.

“What are you talking about?” “Is your new unit complete?” “How the hell do you know about that?” The Dean pulls a gun from his jacket. “What the fuck?” Eric jumps.

The two soldiers pull their weapons.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” The Dean grins, raises the gun to Eric. “Now, where is your unit, and is it in operating order?”

“You’re in no position to threaten, sir.” Tom adds.

The Dean turns the gun on Bob, squeezes off a round, Bob falls back with a yell.

“You bastard.” Tom shouts.

He empties his clip into the Dean, whom falls to the floor convulsing.

“Bob?” Tom sees to him. “Are you all right, man?” “Yeah.” He sits up. “He only got my shoulder.” “Oh shit.” Eric yells. “He’s not dead.”

“What?”

They nearly lose their minds at the sight before them. Dean Smith walks towards them, half his face missing, bullet holes scattered throughout his chest. His face is somehow different, a black mist flows from the hole in his face, his eyes shimmer bright red, a smile exposes razor teeth.

“Now, mortals,” his voice growls. “Where’s your new unit?”

“Run.” Eric shouts.

Bob raises his gun, empties the clip. The demon falls, with mist leaking completely from its face. As it does, it lets out an ear-piercing wail, the mist itself. Eric stands stunned, as do the guards, the Deans body is still intact. It begins to bubble and jump, the eyes and nose sink into their sockets. Flesh and bone melt away, a puddle of pink and red remains, gives off a putrid smelling white smoke. Without warning, the puddle seeps into the floor, and vanishes.

The horrific event is too much for Bob, he vomits. Tom reloads his side arm and looks at Eric.

“That’s what they looked like at the base.” He says. “How many did you say there were there?”

“A hundred or more.”

“A hundred? Holy shit, they can be heading here as we speak.” “What’ll we do, man?”

“I have to tell my brother and the Professor. We’ll have to destroy our new unit as soon as possible.” He heads for his room, the soldiers follow. Without knocking, he enters the room, startles the Professor and his brother.

“Damn, Eric. Why don’t you try knocking next time. You scared the shit out of us.”

“We have to destroy the new unit.”

“Destroy our unit?” Kyle protests. “Are you crazy? We just finished building the damn thing.”

“This is all so sudden, Eric.” The Professor says. “And who are these two gentlemen with you?”

“This is Tom Patrick and Bob Rose.”

“Pleased to meet you.” He shakes their hands. “Did you two men come from the army base?”

“Yes, sir.” Tom says. “But to be more exact, we fled from the base.”

“Fled, but why?”

The story is told again, Dean Smith is an added extra.

“I’ve feared this day would come. And so it has.” He sighs.

“Yeah, and what the hell are we going to be able to do about it?” Kyle asks. “Not a damn thing, that’s what.”

“Don’t say that, Kyle. We know they can be killed. So we’re not totally helpless.” Eric says.

“Okay, okay. So we’re not totally helpless. But we’ll need some serious firepower to contend with demons, bro.”

“We must first destroy the unit.” The Professor says. “Then worry about the demons.”

“Lets go waste the thing,” Kyle says.

They stand in the lab, Eric holds the unit in his hand. “Is that what the demons want so bad?” Bob asks.“ “This unit is similar to the original. This one is designed to open another portal.” Eric explains.

“Get it over with brother.”

Eric stares at the unit, in a sad way.

“I know it’s difficult to destroy it, Eric.” The Professor feels his sorrow. “But it must be done.”

He takes one final look, throws it to the floor. It shatters into many pieces. To make sure it cannot be repaired, they gather every piece, toss them in a sink, soak them with lighter fluid and ignite them.

“There.” Eric sighs. “That takes care of that problem.”

“Yes.” The Professor agrees. “Now what about our other problem?”

Chapter 7

John Elliot is on his way to pick up his girl friend, Nikki Drake. He hopes this will be his lucky night. He’s nineteen and is always embarrassed when he has to tell his friends he’s still a virgin. He knows damn well she isn’t. She’s also his age, he’s heard plenty of stories about who she’s done, and how. She sounds very good at what she does and he wants to find out with a passion if it’s true.

He comes to a stop in front of her home, turns the car off, sighs. He wants to go to the door but her parents gave him the impression of not liking him very much. He takes a deep breath, heads for the front door as his heart slams in his chest and his mouth is dry.

“Calm yourself.” He mumbles.

He rings the doorbell, gulps down a mouthful of saliva. Waits a full minute before her father answers the door, the man smiles. “She’ll be ready in a few minutes, John. Come in.”

A mental sigh of relief passes over him, he enters the home. “Thank you, Sir.” He follows the man into the living room. “Have a seat, John.” He sits. “I need to talk to you about something.” His nerves jump like a frog on a hot plate.

“What about, sir?” He sits.

“It’s about you and my daughter. You want a beer?” “Yes, sir.” “You just failed test number one, son.” He shakes his head. “You mean to tell me you would drink and drive with my daughter in your car? I know you ‘re smarter than that, son.”

“I’m sorry, sir.” His heart leaps into his throat. “And no, I would never do something that stupid with your daughter in my car.”

“I know you wouldn’t, John.” He smiles, leans close. “One more thing, if I ever hear that you’ve had sex with her. I’ll have you arrested for rape. Do we understand one another?”

He feels as if he’s going to faint, he never expected this when he first asked Nikki out. He wants to leave as soon as possible, the bastard sits there with a grin and knows what he’s doing. It’s not going to work, he’s not going to

scare me away so easy. She enters the room. “Hi, John.” She’s looking good, he stands and so does her father.

She kisses, hugs him.

“You ready, hon?” “Sure, lets go.”

“You go ahead, honey.” Her Father says. “Wait for John in his car. I have to talk to him. It’ll take but a second.”

She hesitates but obeys.

“You remember our little talk, John. I have eyes everywhere.” He pats Johns back. “Have fun, boy.” He smiles.

John glances at him on his way out, the father gives a weak wave. In a near run, John enters his car. She leans over to kiss him. “Not here.” He holds her at bay.

“Why? What’s wrong?”

He stares at the house. “It’s your father, Nikki. Believe me or not, he just threatened me in the house.” “What?” She looks at him. “What did he say to you?”

“Well, he said if we have sex together. He’ll have me arrested for raping you.”

“What the hell gives him the right? If I want to have sex with you, I will.” She swings the car door open. “I’m going to talk to him. Right now.”

“No.” He grabs her before she exits the car. “Are you, crazy? He’ll take it out on me, not you. He might even say I assaulted you or tried to rape you.” “But?” “No buts about it, sit your fine butt in the seat so we can get out of here.” He smiles.

“I love you, you rapist.” She joshes.

“Watch your mouth lady.” He looks around. “Your Father might’ve bugged my car when I wasn’t around.” “Great.” She laughs. “Now my father’s a James Bond.”

The Cineplex 3 Theater is ten minutes away. During the drive they don’t talk much, his mind is on her fathers words. The car comes to a halt in the Cineplex 3 parking lot. They exit and stare up at the large marquee showing the current movie choices. “What’ll it be, Star Wars, Special Edition, Scream, or The Devils Own?”

“The Devils Own, I love Brad Pitt.”

“Brad Pitt it is.”

“Two tickets, that’ll be eight bucks.” The ticket man announces.

John gives him a ten-dollar bill and takes the tickets and his two bucks change.

“You want some candy or popcorn?”

“Popcorn and a Coke.” She smiles.

“May I help you?” A woman behind the counter asks.

“Yeah, give me a large popcorn and Coke.”

She fills a bucket with popcorn, a cup with fizzing Coke. Puts the items in a cardboard holder, slides it to John.

“That’ll be four dollars even, Sir.” He hands her four one-dollar bills. “Enjoy the movie.” The woman smiles. “Thanks.” He hands Nikki her popcorn and drink. “We will.”

They hand their tickets to the usher. John usually sits in the very front, he heads there, she pulls on his arm. “What’s wrong?” He asks. “Lets sit in the back this time, John.”

“Why? I always sit up front.”

The room grows dark, usual commercials, finally the movie starts. Most of the time is spent watching the movie, a good hour. He jumps as a hand finds his thigh.

“Why are you so jumpy?” She asks.

“I’m not.” “Can I tell you something, John?” “Sure.” “I’m not wearing any panties.” She whispers in his ear. Her hand finds his crotch, squeezes lightly, her thigh curls around his. “I want you.” She purrs, takes his hand, trails it up her bare calf, to her inner thigh. “Kiss me, John. Touch me.” He pulls his hand from her skirt. It’s hard not to touch her body, kiss her full and passionately. Her father’s words echo in his mind.

“If you have sex with my daughter. I’ll have you arrested for rape. Rape, rape...”

“Rape.” He shouts.

Every head in the room turns his direction, he smiles. “Lets get out of here.” He takes her arm.

“Ohhh... good.” she smiles. “Lets go.”

He knows what she’s thinking.

“It’s not what you think, Nikki.”

“Why the hell not?” She protests.

“We’ll talk in the car.”

He pulls her through the lobby, out the door. At the car, she stops, appears to pout. “Is it my body, John?” “What are you talking about?” “Inside.” She points. “I offered myself to you, you turned me down.”

“No.” He hugs her. “It’s not your body, honey. It’s not even you. I think the face attached to this body is fine. And the body is even better.” He smiles. “What is it then?” “Your fathers words kept running through my head.” He looks into her eyes. “That’s why I couldn’t do it. I hope you understand?”

“Awww... you poor thing you. You must’ve felt tortured in there. If anyone should apologize, it should be me.” She kisses him on the lips. “I’m sorry, baby.”

He calms down in the car, they drive pass a cemetery, she sees something inside.

“What was that?” She yells.

“What?” He looks. “What was what?”

“Go back and you’ll see.” He turns the car around, enters the cemetery. “What was it you saw, honey?”

She raises her skirt, caresses her legs.

“I saw...” She moans. “I saw... I saw a horny old man.” She squeezes her breasts. “Mmmm... and his name was, John.”

He doesn’t hesitate for a moment, helps her into the backseat, pulls her blouse off, tugs at her bra strap. She mounts him, he cups her breasts in his hands, she gyrates, faster and faster as she releases moans of pleasure.

Outside, in the cemetery, something not so pleasurable is happening. Unheard by those in the car, a soft moan. But is it a moan? It seems to be the sound of banging and howling. In front of a near by tombstone, something breaks ground. It appears to be a human hand, flesh long since rotted away, maggots fall from it.

Back at the car, she’s become an animal. Has him moaning along with her, the car creaks loudly.

Multitudes of hands spring up throughout the cemetery, like a morbid garden of dead flowers. Now those dead flowers blossom, blossom into petals of decayed human torsos and heads, their stems the mockery of former legs. Soon, the cemetery itself is a botanical of the living dead. Inhuman cries of hunger and pain explode into the night’s stillness. Nikki stops in midorgasm.

“Did you hear that?” She dismounts. “Yeah.” He sits up and pulls on his pants. “What the hell was it?”

Another strangled cry, louder than the first.

“What the hell is that?”

“I’m scared, John.”

“I know, baby. Don’t worry, I’ll protect you.” How can you protect her from the dead John?

“Oh my, God.” He spots the vision of terror, they creep for the car. “Oh, God.” He shouts.

He jumps into the drivers seat, inserts the keys, she screams over and over. The car starts but it’s too late. They crash through the windows, the car rocks, screams ring out, not screams of pleasure, screams of horror.

The dead flowers have bloomed and their bites shall spread the seed.

Chapter 9

The unit has been destroyed, that’s for sure, there’s no way the demons can repair it. The night has been stressful for them all. They slept in the dorm, the morning bell wakes them. For everyone else its class time, for these five men, life’s about to take a drastic turn for the worst.

“What time is it?” Kyle mumbles.

“Eight O’clock.” Eric says, looks at his watch.

Bob’s shoulder feels better, the bandage job was well done, Professor Reid gets to his feet.

“That’s odd.” He says, walks over to the door. “What’s odd, Professor?” Eric asks. “Well, as you know. At this time of the morning the noise beyond this door should be deafening. But, it’s quite outside.”

“You’re right.” Kyle says.

He opens the door, what he sees makes him turn and vomit.

“What the hell, Kyle?” Eric jumps.

“Out in the hall.” He says.

Everyone in the room glances at each other and walk to the open door. It’s the most graphic scene of violence they’ve ever laid eyes upon.

The hall’s littered with nearly a hundred students. Each one has been slaughtered, in their own separate way. Vital organs and several human heads add to the gore. Blood drips from the walls, forms a crude puddle on the floor.

“Dear Lord in heaven.” Eric gasps. “What could’ve done this?”

“Look there.” The Professor points, to the far wall. “On the wall there.”

Not able to remain, the two soldiers return to the room.

On the wall is a message, it reads: “This is a warning Johnson brothers. You’ve caused this bloodshed when you destroyed your new unit. Come to the Base at midnight. Or you shall be the ones lying in a pool of blood. Bring your friends, we’ll have a party.”

“It... looks as if we have no choice.” Eric comments. The Professor nods in agreement. “What’s on the wall, brother?” Eric closes the door. “It’s a warning, from our demon friends.”

Blood seeps under the door into their room.

“Shit.” Bob runs a hand through his hair. “Not them.” “Yes, them. They want us to be at the Base at midnight.” “What if we don’t go?” Tom asks.

“We’ll end up like those poor bastards in the hall.” Eric sighs.

“Great.” Kyle paces. “Just fucking great, man.” He points at his brother. “I’m not going, Eric. You hear me, I’m not going.”

“We have to go Bro. We have no other choice. Don’t you understand?”

“We’ll need weapons.” The Professor notes. “There’s a sporting goods store a block from here.”

“Lets go.” Kyle says.

“Not that way, Bro. We’ll go out the window.” He raises the window, a small bush blocks their way. They push pass it, stand in the parking lot. There are no noises, no cars speed by on the street. Even stranger, the two cars at the intersection haven’t moved, even as the light signal turns green.

The sky is black with clouds, they jump, lightning streaks the sky, a rumble of thunder follows. They stand there, feel as if they’ve went through a time

warp to a different world, an alternate earth. In a way, it would’ve been better for them if they had.

The world is dying!

“This is weird.” Kyle says. “It’s so damn silent.” He’s not really sure, but he swears his voice echoes, it really hadn’t done so. The thing that bothers them the most, are the two cars, why haven’t they moved?

“Lets check the cars.” Eric suggests.

“What?” Kyle stares at him. “There you go again, acting crazy. You go ahead,” He shoos his brother away. “I’ll stay right here.”

“Suit yourself.” He shrugs his shoulders. “Who’s coming with me?” “I will.” The Professor says. “Count me in.” Bob replies. “Same here.” Tom answers. They head for the cars. Kyle looks around. “That’s fucking great.” He protests. “I’m not staying here by myself.” He jogs after them. “Hey, wait up.”

Eric smiles as he catches up.

“What are you smiling at? You wouldn’t have stayed either.” “Lets go, macho man.” Eric joshes.

They approach the first car, a black Saturn. Its engine isn’t running. They go to the driver side, there’s a man inside, throat torn out. Flies buzz around the bloody wound, his eyes seem to stare at them.

“Another stiff.” Kyle shakes his head. “What’s going on?” “Professor, can you check the other car, please?” Eric asks.

“Sure, Eric.”

The other car is a gray Mercedes, it also sits silent. Before he reaches the car, he spots a dead woman within, face missing, mouth frozen in a scream. He hears a sound come from the car, like a girls whine. He makes his way to the driver’s side, peers in, sees only the corpse. He then looks in the rear, spots two young women, they huddle together on the floor.

“Dear, God.” He gasps.

He tries the door, finds it locked.

The girls begin to scream as he attempts to enter. Eric hears the screams, races to the car. The others stare at the stiff in the Saturn, follow quickly behind.

“What’s going on, Professor?”

The Professor points to the backseat.

“Lets get them out. They could be hurt.”

“We can’t.” He admits. “They’ve locked the doors.” “Girls, my names, Eric Johnson. We’re not going to harm you. We just want you to come with us, it’ll be safer that way.” They appear to calm some.

“Open the door, girls.” He tries the door. “We’re not going to harm you.”

The blonde unlocks the door, Eric opens it.

“Come on,” He holds out a hand. “You’re safe now.” They jump from the car and embrace him, in tears. “You always get the girls.” Kyle pouts.

“Cool it Kyle?”

The girls cling to Eric all the way to the sporting goods store. They stop before entering the store. “Tom, Bob?” He calls them over. “You’re armed, go in and check out the place. If there are any stiffs inside, clear them out. I don’t want these girls to see them.”

“Sure, man.” Bob says.

“No problem.” Tom adds.

They enter the store, guns at the ready. One stiff is spotted, a heavy set man wearing bright orange hunting gear, a hole in his chest where a heart was. Finally, there’s the clerk behind the glass gun display, minus a head. They don’t have to move them far, they place them in the back room, return outside.

“It’s safe.” Tom says. “Come on in.”

“Thanks, guys.” Eric says.

Bob gives him a thumbs up.

They head inside, Kyle’s eyes light up. He runs to a rack, grabs a twelve-gauge shotgun. “Oh shit.” He smiles. “I feel better all ready.” He pumps the gun.

“Pick lightweight weapons.” Eric says. “The bigger ones will be harder to carry.” Eric looks at his brother, whom has two shotguns and two ammo belts around his chest.

Make my day Punk.” Kyle smiles. Tom and Bob each choose a rifle with a sniper scope, and another nine-millimeter pistol. Professor Reid, with his love for the old west. Finds two Peacemaker handguns, a Winchester rifle, and an authentic gunfighters belt. Eric leaves the two girls in the care of a very grateful Kyle, who chooses two forty-four-magnum pistols, he figures it’s more than enough firepower.

“Eric thinks he’s, Dirty Harry.” Kyle smiles.

They take time to load their weapons. Extra ammo is stuffed into a duffle bag, all except Kyle’s, which he brandishes around his chest.

“I think it would be wise to stay here until midnight.” Eric notes.

“That’s a good idea.” The Professor says.

A loud thump from the back room. Kyle pumps one of his shotguns.

“What the hell was that?” He asks.

“Tom? Where did you guys put the stiffs?”

“In the back room.” Tom answers. There’s a loud moan from the room, followed by a gurgle.

“Oh, man.” Eric hisses. “That person doesn’t sound very happy.” Everyone yells as the headless stiff walks out from the back room. A large explosion from Kyle’s shotgun, a mounted head of a deer bursts over the stiff’s head. The crack of Professor Reid’s Peacemaker sounds out, bullet after bullet. Six holes penetrate the stiffs chest, it staggers, continues forward. He pulls his second Peacemaker, puts six more bullets into it, it falls to the floor.

“Damn.” Kyle smiles. “Dude’s John Wayne.” The heavyset stiff lumbers into view. “Raaaarrrh.” Kyle shouts and runs toward the stiff.

“Arrrhhh.” The stiff cries.

Kyle aims the gun at its face. “Eat this, fat boy.”

SK-BOOM...

Its head explodes in a shower of blood and brain matter, he blows smoke from the barrel. “No problem.” He smiles. The body falls on him. “Help.” He freaks. “It’s going to kill me.”

Eric shoves the body off.

“What took you so long?” Kyle gets to his feet. “It could’ve killed me.” “That’s hard for it to do, when it’s dead already.” Eric smiles. “No shit, its dead. It’s a zombie, Eric.” “I mean, it’s dead for good now. Your shotgun saw to that.” “Oh yeah.” Kyle smiles. “My shotgun.” He sticks his chest out. “I mean, damn right my shotgun saw to it. Blew its ass away.” “Give it up, Kyle.” Eric laughs.

Both girls had fainted before the first shot was fired which was good. It would have been difficult trying to control two hysterical females during the action. Fortunately they had locked the front door. Their shooting has attracted fifteen zombies, they surround the storefront.

“Fucking A.” Kyle stares out a window. “Look outside.” Eric races to a window, jumps back as a rotted hand shatters the glass. The other windows shatter inward, rotted hands poke through. The girls are awakened by the sound, they scream their heads off. Gunfire blazes out the windows, sound deafening, not the gun fire, the girls screaming.

“SHUT UP.” The men shout in unison.

The girls instantly quiet down.

Kyle gets pumped, each new hand that pokes through his window. “Oh, you want some?” He shouts. “You too?” A shotgun blast. “You want some more?” With the combined strength of their firepower, unlimited supply of ammo, the last stiff falls, two has hours passed.

“I’m whipped.” Kyle sighs. “Come and eat me you assholes.” “No need for surrender, Bro. They’re all dead.”

Eric checks on the girls. “Are you all right?” He places a hand on the blondes shoulder. They scream in unison, all the men turn their weapons in his direction. “Whoa, guys.” He holds both hands in the air. “Nothing to shoot at over here.”

They lower their weapons.

“Look, it’s all right now. The stiffs are dead, and the shooting’s stopped.” They calm once again, enough to tolerate. “How long is it going to take those two to chill out?” Kyle asks.

“I don’t know.” He looks them over. “They must’ve had one hell of a traumatic experience.”

“It would appear so, Eric.” The Professor says. “That must’ve been their Mother in the car with them.” “Damn shame.” Tom says.

“Mother?” The blonde shouts as she grabs Eric by his shirt. “Mother?” She beats on his chest. “I’ll kill you, you bastard.”

“Chill, woman.” Kyle grabs her off his brother. “He didn’t kill your Mother. Those walking stiffs did.” The brunette pulls a knife from her pocket, rushes Kyle with it. “Look out, Kyle.” Eric warns. “She’s got a knife.” He shoves the blonde away, turns to the crazed brunette. Knocks her senseless with a right cross, she falls to the floor with a weak cry.

“Why the fuck did you do that?” The blonde shouts. “You didn’t have to do that. Sarah?”

They all look at each other. “Sarah?” Eric says. The blonde runs to her sister’s side. “You all right, sis?”

“Yes.” Sarah sits up. “I’m all right.”

“Good.” She lays a coat under her sister’s head. “You rest for a while.” She approaches Kyle, shoves him. “Come on, asshole.” She shouts. “You want to hit me now? You like hitting girls?”

Another shove. “Come on.”

Kyle is shocked by her reaction. Here’s a girl that but two hours ago was in a state of shock, now she’s acting completely normal. “Look, lady. I’m sorry for hitting your sister. But I didn’t have much choice.” He looks her in her eyes. “With her having a blade and all.”

“You still didn’t have to hit her.” She pouts. “I would’ve stopped her.” “You seemed pretty content on beating the hell out of my brother.” He shrugs. “Lady, how was I to know?”

“My name’s not, Lady. It’s, Lisa Welch.” Her anger turns to tears. “I’m sorry.” She cries. “It’s just all that’s been happening, it’s all so fucking crazy.”

Kyle tries to put an arm around her. “No... please.” She pushes away his comfort, walks over to Eric. “Hold me.” She says. Kyle’s mouth drops open. “What’s up with that?” He says.

Kyle realizes what he did was wrong, he approaches Sarah. “Look.” He kneels beside her. “Sarah is it? I just wanted to say...” Her fist lands in his face. “Damn.” He holds his face, stands. “I can’t win damn it.”

Sarah smiles at him, he spots her. “Nice punch.” He smiles, rubs his chin “Thanks.”

He points to a spot next to her. “May I?” “Sure.” “Thank you.” He sits.

“Good.” Eric smiles. “Now we’re all friends again. Let me introduce everyone, Lisa.” He turns to the group. “This is, Professor Charles Reid.”

“Pleased to meet you.” The Professor smiles. “That is, Bob Rose and his friend Tom Patrick.” “They’re MPs from the Army Base.” “What’s up?” Bob says. “How you doing?” Tom asks. “That’s my brother Kyle, over by your sister.”

“Yo.” Kyle waves. “And I’m, Eric Johnson.” He smiles. “Hi, guys.” Lisa says.

“Kyle’s your name eh,” Sarah asks.

“Uh-huh. Look, I really am sorry for hitting you.” “And I’m sorry I hit you as well.”

Eric sighs, he knows he must tell the girls about their mistake. The one that started all this.

“Lisa, Sarah? I have something to tell both of you. Something very important.”

Kyle stands, walks over to his brother. “Don’t tell them, Eric.” He says. “I have to, Kyle. “No... you don’t have too.”

“Tell us what?” Lisa asks. “What’s going on, Eric?”

Eric forms words on his lips.

“Don’t do it, man. It’ll fuck up the mood.” He points at his brother. “And you know it.”

“Damn it, Kyle. Shut up.” Eric shouts. “We have to tell them, it’s the right thing to do.”

“Whatever.”

“What I’m about to tell you girls is hard for me to accept.” He takes a deep breath. “My brother and I are science majors at the local College. We had been working on a special project. A project to open a doorway into the spirit world.”

“Excuse me?” Lisa smiles. “You mean where we go when we die, that spirit world?”

“Yes.” He agrees. “The unit worked perfect, a portal was opened.” He looks at his brother. “Then the Army stole the unit from us. We have reasons to believe that a demon has raised the worlds dead.”

“What are you trying to say, Eric?” Sarah asks. “I’m saying, I think we may be the cause of the world going to shit all of a sudden. I’m almost certain.” “Then you’re responsible for our Mothers death.” The idea sinks in. “Tell me it’s not true, Eric. Tell me it’s not true.” “I’m sorry.” He shakes his head, in shame. “I’m sorry.”

“No, damn you.” She slams her fists into his chest. “Damn you, damn you.”

“Look, Sarah...” Kyle turns to her. “We didn’t...” She turns from him. “Great fucking move, Eric.” He turns to his brother. “You see what’s happened? I told you.”

“You don’t like it? Why don’t you do something about it.” “Lets go.” Kyle motions him on with his hands. “Right now asshole.” Kyle throws his shotguns to the floor, Eric tosses his guns. Kyle charges his brother with a yell, his right fist catches his brother on the nose, blood sprays. Two hard blows erupt into Kyle’s stomach, a swift uppercut follows. Kyle’s cut lip rips wide, blood flows, he falls to the floor. “You fucker.” He stands. A quick left and right from Kyle, Eric crashes to the floor.

“Stop them.” Lisa shouts.

Eric returns to his feet, blood runs from his nose, gash above his left eyebrow. “You’ve had it.” They charge, find themselves stopped by Tom and Bob. “That’s enough, man.” Bob yells, Kyle struggles to break from his grasp, unable to do so.

“Cool it, man.” Tom holds Eric at bay. “We should be worried about fighting the demons, not ourselves. “ Eric eyes the young M.P.

“You cool, man?” Tom asks. “Yeah, I’m cool.” He answers. “I’m cool.”

“Get off me, man.” Kyle shoves Bob off, stares at him. “I’m calm.” He points to Eric. “He’s nothing.”

“Just cool it, Kyle.” Bob says. “Don’t tell me what to do. Mind your own damn business.” He picks his shotguns up, sits at the far side of the store, alone.

“You all right, Eric?” Tom asks.

“I’ll live.” He replies.

The remainder of their time is spent sleeping. In two short hours, it’ll be midnight.

Chapter 10

Not far off, in the secret area of Spears Military base, a meeting of evil takes place, the demonic General Spears talks to his army.

“MY LOYAL SUBJECTS,” He raises both hands. “OUR TIME IS AT HAND. OUR MASTER IS WAITING INSIDE THIS PORTAL. BUT HE NEEDS POWER, OUR COMBINED POWER, TO HELP HIM ENTER THIS PHYSICAL PLANE. BROTHERS, CALL TO YOUR MASTER. GIVE HIM YOUR POWER.”

A chant begins, a name is called, in a language eons old. Outside, a storm brews, red clouds fill the sky with there color. Lightning, as black as the darkest night, black as the devils heart and soul crashes to the ground, chars the very heart of Mother earth. It rains, this isn’t a rain of water, this rain falls thick, it’s blood, blood falls from the heavens with no sign of slowing.

Inside, the chant becomes frantic. Explosive discharges of electricity jump from the portal, chanters eyes glow immensely bright, a

black nimbus surrounds the head of each chanter, a black stream explodes into the air from each nimbus, it gathers, swirls above their heads.

“OUR POWER IS AT ITS FULL.” The General shouts, raises his hands. “NOW THE MASTER SHALL COME FORTH.”

His raised hands glow red, the storm gains violent power, portal swirls faster and faster. He swirls his hands through the air, red mist flows from them. In a surge of power, he thrusts his hands towards the portal. Red mist explodes from his hands, it’s not alone, black power entwines itself with the red. It strikes the portal, a shower of multi-colored sparks, massive electrical discharge, a voice.

“MY LOYAL FOLLOWERS. I’VE HEARD YOUR CALL, AND I”VE COME.”

A shadowy vision, blurred and distorted, steps from the portal. All the chanters kneel, as does the General.

This vision of eternal evil isn’t one you’d expect, no drooling fangs, not a demon torn from the nightmares of children. His appearance will not turn the hair of those whom lay eyes upon him white. His appearance is human, face not visible, a suit of black winged, spiked armor, it shimmers with its own aura of darkness. His eyes, unlike his followers, electric blue, a vision of how cold his heart must be.

He advances from the portal, black mist flows from the armor, does so with every move.

“MY FOLLOWERS.” His voice like thunder. “RISE TO YOUR FEET AND PREPARE THE MORTALS WILL BE HERE SOON. THEN I’LL SHOW THEM WHAT THEY’RE UP AGAINST.”

His follower’s chant his name, that name is: Death.

Chapter 11

The group has been awakened by the raging storm. Only a half hour to go, before their appointment with Death.

If they only knew that will be facing the Grim Reaper himself, of course, weapons will be of little use. “What kind of rain is that?” Kyle asks. Each window is dark, the rain seems to ooze down the pane. “I don’t know what it is. But it’s not rain, brother.” Tom goes to a window. “It’s blood.” His face grimaces in disgust.

“That’s impossible.” The Professor says.

“Come and see for yourself.”

He walks over to a window. “He’s right.” He turns to the group. “It’s raining blood. I don’t like what’s going on here.” “It’s like the world’s ending.” Eric says.

A silence fills the room, thick thuds of rain are heard, and a minute passes, then five.

“We better get moving. The base is a good half hour walk.” “Excuse me, bro? But did I just hear you say, walk? I’m not walking in a rain of blood.” “Do you have any other bright ideas? “As a matter of fact, I do. We’ll drive.” He looks at Tom. “And Tom can lead the way.”

“Where are we going to get a car?” Eric asks. “Out back.” He points. “There’s a station wagon.” “What about keys?”

“Check the headless stiff.” He smiles. Eric glances at the body, kneels beside it, checks the left pocket first. Finds a handful of money, checks the right pocket, finds a set of keys. Some air bubbles gurgle from the corpse, he backs away quick.

“Our fearless leader, folks.” Kyle smiles. He gets a dirty look from Eric.

“Is everyone ready?” Eric asks. No one answers, he knows they are.

“There’s a door in the back room.” Bob notes. “Okay, lets go.” They enter the back room, Eric opens the door, searches for the car, and it’s hard to make out. He thinks he sees the car, their faces turn white at the sight of the blood on him.

“I see the car.” He points. “Create a human chain. Hold each others hands.” The chain is created. “When I nod my head, make a run straight ahead.”

They all agree, he nods his head, they run in a straight line. The blood is warm to the touch, slimy and unpleasant to feel, it stings the skin. In their blind run, they fall to the soaked earth. “Stay where you are.” Eric shouts. “Don’t panic.” He gets to his feet, searches for a door handle, and finds one. First attempt to open it is futile, his hand slips off the slick surface. Another attempt, the door opens, he enters, opens all the remaining doors, they pile in. “I’m glad that’s over.” The Professor says.

“This is disgusting.” Sarah shouts. “It’s insane.” Lisa adds. “It can’t be real. It must be a dream, someone wake me up.” Kyle pinches her arm. “Owww.” She rubs it. “Why the hell did you pinch me?” “To show you you’re not dreaming.”

Eric starts the car, headlights, full wipers give them only 50/50 vision through the thickness. “Your call, Tom.” Eric says. “Get on the main road.” Tom replies.

At first the tires spin on the bloody road, it begins to move. He turns down an alley, gains access to the main road.

“Go straight for a half mile.” Half mile later. “Make a right here.” The right brings them to a dirt road, ten more minutes pass. Eric spots something up ahead, looks like a group of people.

The closer they get, he realizes what they truly are, stiffs. They jump on the car, everyone freaks. Eric’s foot never leaves the gas pedal, a shotgun blast shatters the rear glass, an exploding skull follows. Kyle allows access for the other stiffs, flailing hands, moans, another blast. A decayed fist makes ease of the window next to the Professor, arms wrap around his throat. It pulls him out, highly rotted teeth bare down on his neck.

A shot rings out.

The stiffs lower jaw and most of its face explodes, the arm releases its hold, the Professor collapses back into the seat, hacking and choking. The shot has been fired by Lisa, she holds the gun tight with fear.

“Punch it, damn you.” Kyle shouts. “Get us the fuck out of here.”

Eric gives it all its got, stiffs left behind, mood at a fevers pitch, Kyle pumps his guns. “Wait a minute, where’s Bob?”

“My, God.” Kyle searches the backseat. “Where’s, Bob?”

“We left him back there.” Tom shouts. “We have to go back. We have to go back, man.”

Tom grabs the steering wheel.

“We can’t go back.” Eric shoves his hands away. “It’s too late for him now.” “No, man.” He shakes his head. “He’s alive. I know it, go back.” Tears stream down his flushed face, knows it’s too late for his friend. He had been weak from his wound, maybe it’s better this way, it ends his suffering.

He’ll be missed.

“Just... just keep going straight.” He stares out his window. “You’ll see the base.”

Eric drives on.

Chapter 12

They left him, for dead no doubt. He fought off the three remaining stiffs, but they’re coming for him again. He hides behind a large oak tree, his gun lost during the struggle. The thickness of the rain makes it difficult to breathe, damn it, he has to quit smoking. They’re close now, he knows it’s his head they can see, even through this God forsaken rain.

He spots it, one of his guns, barely visible, on the ground in front of him. The stiffs round the tree, reach for him, he rolls to the ground. His hand finds the weapon, a stiff jumps on him, he slams the butt of the gun into its skull.

It stops its struggle with him. The other stiffs advance, he gets to his feet, slips. Once, twice. His boots finally provide traction, he stands, aims, pulls the trigger, an explosion. The gun explodes in his hand, he screams, three of his fingers gone. He runs blind, stiffs are slow, they cannot keep up. He knows the base lies a short distance ahead, he only prays he can make it.

They arrive at the main gate to the base area, completely lit, driving will be much easier. The only question, where’s the hanger?

“Where’s the hanger, Tom?” Eric turns to Tom. “It’s the first one as you enter, to your right.” Eric pulls through the gate, he’s uneasy, they all are. No one knows what to truly expect inside the hanger, it can be a death trap, as soon as they enter, they’re struck down.

Who really knows?

All they know is that they must go through with it, or more innocent blood will be spilt. The car comes to a halt beside the hanger.

“Now, we don’t know what to expect in there.” Eric turns to them. “But stick together, don’t wander.” He looks at his brother. “Don’t look at me, man.” “Everyone ready?” “Not really,” Kyle says. “But lets go.”

They leave the safety of the car, hanger doors open by themselves. “You rang.” Kyle says. Light pours out from within.

“COME, WE’VE BEEN EXPECTING YOU.”

“Will we be safe inside?” Eric asks.

“I ASK THE QUESTIONS, MORTAL. BUT, YES, YOU’LL BE UNHARMED. JUST ENTER, AND ENTER NOW.”

“He sounds friendly, doesn’t he?” Kyle asks. “Yeah.” Eric answers. “A real peach.” The Professor smiles. They enter the hanger, not only the walls glow, they seem to move as well.

“What is that?” Eric asks.

Kyle walks to a wall, reaches out a finger.

“Don’t touch it, man.” Tom shouts.

He pulls his finger away, hearing a disturbing sound, like a can filled with fishing worms, squirming about each other. A flashlight beam hits the wall, what they see is impossible. Upon the wall is a muscular structure, large veins pulse with some form of blood.

“Shit.” Kyle says, disgusted.

The wall doesn’t attack, it has no means of doing so, it pulsates.

“ENTER THE ELEVATOR, MORTALS.”

“Who are you?” Eric stares about the room. “What do you want from us?”

“YOUR QUESTIONS WILL BE ANSWERED. ENTER THE ELEVATOR.”

The elevator doors open. They enter, its inside unnaturally moist and warm. Its walls are like the hangers, Kyle finds an eyeball staring at him.

“Holy shit.” He points. “It’s an eyeball.”

“Shoot it.” Lisa shouts. Kyle points his gun, the eye closes. “No.” Eric pushes his aim away. “Are you crazy? If you shoot it, it may affect the elevator itself.”

“VERY INTELLIGENT, ERIC.”

“Who are you?”

“I TOLD YOU, YOU’LL FIND OUT SOON ENOUGH.”

The doors slide away, in a room beyond is an armored man. He sits upon a throne, portal swirls behind, and he stands.

“WELCOME, FRIENDS.” He raises an arm. “COME ON IN.” One hundred demon followers stand on either side of the room, fifty to a side. None move, none take the time to stare, black fog hugs the floor.

“COME, COME CLOSER.” They move forward. “YOU’VE SEEN YOUR CREATION IN OPERATION, I PRESUME?”

He turns to the portal. “YOUR WEAPONS WILL DO YOU LITTLE GOOD AGAINST ME.” He stares at their weapons. “I DO ADMIRE YOUR ATTEMPT THOUGH.”

“What about your army?” Kyle asks.

“THEY WILL NOT MOVE, UNLESS I WISH IT.”

Death comes face to face with them, the girls fall ill. Lisa grabs her stomach, Sarah vomits.

Death laughs.

“What’s going on?” Eric asks, holds Lisa. Kyle sees to Sarah.

“THE PURITY IN WOMEN IS WHAT MAKES THEM ILL AS THEY NEAR ME. THEIR UNBORN CHILDREN SHRIVEL IN THEIR WOMB AT MY TOUCH. IT IS A TALENT.”

Eric stares at this vision of evil, looks away out of fear and revulsion. “Who are you?”

“I’VE BEEN CALLED MANY NAMES. I AM HE, THE BRINGER OF DEATH, THE GRIM REAPER, DEATH HIMSELF.”

“No.” Kyle shouts. He turns a shotgun on Death, a gauntleted hand grabs its barrel.

“DON’T ACT SO FOOLISH, MORTAL.” He yanks the weapon from him. “THIS TOY IS USELESS. WATCH AND BE WISE.”

The gun is used on a near by soldier, its face explodes.

“THEY ARE WEAK, MERE PUPPETS. THE SOULS OF DECEASED MORTALS. WHEN YOU DIE, YOU COME BEFORE ME, NOT GOD. I TAKE YOU TO HEAVEN OR HELL.” Death pumps the gun, places the barrel within the darkness of his faceplate. “NOW WATCH, AND LEARN THAT DEATH CANNOT BE KILLED SO EASY.”

A flash, explosion and laughter.

A hole is visible through the other side of the faceplate, it seals itself, as if it never happened.

“NOW YOU SEE, YOU CAN DO NOTHING TO STOP ME. DROP YOUR WEAPONS, AND FOLLOW ME.” He turns to his throne.

“Do it.” Eric looks at the group. “It’s our only chance now.” They drop their weapons to the floor.

“YES, YOUR ONLY CHANCE. NOW, ENTER THOSE VEHICLES.” He points to two futuristic cars. “THEY’RE YOUR ONLY CHANCE OF SURVIVING INSIDE.”

“Inside where?” Kyle asks.

“THE OTHER SIDE, OF COURSE. THROUGH THE VERY PORTAL YOU CREATED.”

“But the car will...”

“NO, PROFESSOR. THE CARS WILL REMAIN INTACT, MY POWER WILL SEE TO IT. THEIR FIRST TEST WOULD’VE ENDED IN FAILURE.” He laughs.

“I’m not going.” Lisa shouts. “I’m not.”

“You can go fuck yourself, Death.” Kyle grabs one of his shotguns from the floor, the others grab theirs as well.

“Run for one of the cars.” Eric shouts.

“VERY UNWISE, MORTALS. MY ARMY WILL DESTROY YOU.”

The demon army of stillness, awakens at their masters order.

“The car, run for the car.”

A shotgun blast, a demon jerks backward. Peacemakers spit hot lead. Eric blows a demon’s head off its shoulders. The girls wait at the car.

“YOU DAMN FOOLS.” Deaths eyes glow bright, blue mist floats from them. “YOU LET MORTALS BRING YOU DOWN? I’LL DESTROY THEM MYSELF.”

The men arrive at the car.

“How do we get in?” Eric shouts, searches for a handle. “There are no handles. Shit.”

“There’s no opening.” Lisa aids him in his search. “Open, damn it.” She shouts.

The car door opens into the air.

“It’s open.” She announces. “The door’s open.” They begin to pile in, fight off demons as they do, spent rounds clink to the floor.

“STOP.” Death roars.

He raises his hand, a black stream of power explodes from it. It streams towards the car.

Lisa begins to pull her leg inside, a beam grazes her leg, she screams as she pulls her leg into the car. Kyle slams the door shut.

“What happened, Lisa?” He asks. “My leg.” She gasps. He looks at her leg, groans in disgust. A small wound has appeared on her calf, it bubbles, seeps a black substance, smoke rises from her wound. She groans once, then faints. Demons slam against the steel of the car.

“Get us out of here.” Kyle shouts.

“How?” Eric stares at the dash, no ignition slot. “How do I start this thing?”

“Push a button.”

He pushes the first button to come to mind, a red one. The windshield lights up, targets appear, one in the left corner, another in the right. A computer voice announces: “weapon systems activated.”

Two joystick-like handles rise, one on Kyle’s side, and the other on Eric’s.

“Start the fucking car, Eric.”

The car roars to life, Eric stares at the lighted dash, bewildered at how it started. Kyle grabs his joystick, target on the windshield moves, he centers the target on Death.

“Punch it when I say, Eric.” Eric nods his head. Kyle pushes the button, a non-stop roar of machine gun fire, small explosions crackle all about Deaths armor.

“Punch it, Bro.”

Eric rams his foot on the accelerator, car peels rubber. Kyle holds the trigger in, the car rams Death at medium speed, he’s rolled over and left behind. The car just fits into the elevator, they yell in panic as the elevator makes its way to the surface, moving ever so slowly.

The doors open, the car tears into the night and exits the base safely.

Down below, Death stands to his feet, armor spotted with smoking holes. “NOW IT CAN TRULY BEGIN.” He laughs. The holes vanish, his remaining army collapse to the floor dead.

Chapter 13

The blood rain has stopped but the moon keeps its red color. Being dawn the blood begins to dry, the dead have begun to rot under the sun. They persist, walk as if truly alive. I guess when they say there’s no rest for the wicked, they mean it.

The opening of the portal has disrupted the natural balance of things, normal things, and earthly things. The norm is going to take a drastic turn for the worst. The end of the world is at hand. Are you ready, have you been saved?

Eric continues to drive, he’s rather tired. The car itself does something strange. As the morning sun begins to rise, it switches itself from petrol to solar power. The others have fallen asleep, except Kyle, whom stares at Lisa strangely. Her body trembles, she moans loudly.

“Uh, Eric? Something’s wrong with Lisa.” “What?” Eric turns to him. “Oh, yeah. It’s her leg.” “No. I think it’s more than her leg, Bro.”

“What are you saying?” “Just pull the car over.” “All right.” During the night, Kyle had given her an army blanket he had found in the car. That blanket is now wet, not with sweat, the car comes to a stop on the roadside. “Lisa...” Sarah sighs. She wants to go to her, Kyle stops her.

“Kyle?” She protests. “Why are you stopping me?” “I’m sorry, Sarah. But I don’t think that’s your sister anymore.” He explains. “What the hell are you talking about? That’s my sister.” She shouts.

She pulls the blanket away, screams, men step back, it’s not Lisa, and she no longer exists. It’s a muscular cocoon, purple veins, dangling slime, it jumps and squirms like a giant maggot.

“What’s happened to my sister? For Gods sake, what’s happened?”

Kyle holds her in his arms. “It must’ve been Deaths beam, when it struck her back at the hanger.” “Kill it.” Sarah cries. “If that’s my sister in there, I don’t want her to suffer.”

Before a trigger is squeezed, two thick, purple tentacles shoot at them. Eric and Kyle’s wrists are grabbed, their guns drop to the road. It burns, their wrists are being eaten away. A large gaping maw has appeared on the cocoon.

Sarah screams.

The tentacles pull them towards the fang filled mouth. Tom fires a bullet into the cocoon, green mucus-like fluid seeps from the wound, still the tentacles grip tight.

Fourteen more bullets, its grip falters, mouth ceases to gnaw hungrily. Tom drops his smoking rifle. Eric and his brother’s wrists are red and raw, dripping with colorless slime.

“Damn, this shit hurts.” Kyle groans, wiping his wrist on his coat.

The Professor covers the still creature, they return to the car. Eric instructs the car to start, pulls back onto the road.

“Hey?” Someone shouts.

“Did you hear that?” Kyle asks.

“Hear what?” Eric asks.

“Stop.” The voice again.

It came from the outside.

“Stop the car.” Kyle says.

He breaks, a shadow comes upon the passenger side window. Dried blood and mud makes the person unknown to them all. Kyle points a gun, opens the door.

“Fuck.” The person shields his face. “Don’t shoot, man.”

The voice is familiar. “Bob,” Tom looks. “Is that you, man?” “It’s me, man.”

The group is filled with joy.

“Bob.” He jumps from the car, hugs him. “You’re alive, man. You’re alive.”

“Whoa.” Bob smiles.

“I thought you were dead, man. How did survive?”

“When you drove off the stiffs had me. I lost my gun, but managed to find it.” “Did you waste them?” “No, the gun blew up in my hand.” He holds up his hand. “Lost three fingers in the deal.”

“Damn.” Tom shakes his head. “We’re sorry, man. We had no idea you were alive.”

“It’s okay. I’m here now, that’s what counts.” “It’s good to have you back, Tom.” Eric smiles. “It’s good to be back.”

“Lets get going, I’m not half as far away from the base as I’d like to be. I want to make sure Death has no clue where we are.”

Their lost group member returns, they embark towards an unknown destination. Where do you go when you know the world’s dying?

Chapter 15

Death has returned to his world, for one purpose, to make contact with him. The most unholy of unholy, the creator of all that’s evil and wicked in our world.

“MESPHISTO?” He shouts.

Swirling red and purple entities give no reply.

“MESPHISTO, I CALL ON YOUR AID.” His voice echoes.

A black form floats down to him.

“Why do you disturb the Master?” The shadow hisses.

“HE KNOWS MY REASON.”

“He knows, yes.” A mad snicker escapes the red-eyed phantasm. “But do you think he cares? Do you?”

“OF COURSE YOU FOOL. HE TOLD ME TO READY THE MORTAL WORLD FOR HIS COMING.”

“Very well, follow me.”

An opening appears in the dull gray ground, flames jut high into the air, screams, moans of agony, endless pain, escape the opening. They drop into the hole, flames of red, blue, purple, and green spread everywhere, blood crawls down the cavern walls. Human organs and limbs lie scattered about, foul odor of decay and shit mingle with stale air.

They come to the end of the cave, there’s a large, towering, room, below, a boiling lake of lava. Perched everywhere the eye can see, thousands of demons, each with it own distinct feature. Some eat upon the flesh of a sinner, others mingle in a crude sex orgy. The lava below filled with screams and moans of souls, thousands more float around the caverns of hell, and each sings their song of eternal torment.

In the middle of it all, seated in a massive throne, is Mesphisto. His wingspan spreads to each end of the cavern, head a multitude of horns, like the crown of a king. His eyes, any color he wishes them to be, they change a multitude of colors. Jaw filled with razor teeth, body of a human, bones on the outside, wears no flesh.

“COME FORWARD.”

A thousand demons take flight, perch behind their master.

There’s no real way for him to come forward. If he does so, he’ll fall into the lava. A massive spire of flame shoots up from the lava, creates a walkway for him.

“COME FORWARD.”

Death walks towards his Master.

“YOU’VE FAILED ME, SERVANT.”

“I KNOW, MASTER.” Death bows. “I HAVE FURTHER NEED OF YOUR POWER. THESE WALKING STIFFS ARE USELESS TO ME.”

He explains.

Mesphisto puts a hand to his chin in thought. “HMMM... AN ARMY YOU MAY HAVE. I WILL USE MY POWERS TO COME THROUGH THE PORTAL MYSELF. IT’LL TAKE SOME TIME, THERE WILL BE SIGNS TO WATCH FOR.” He points. “YOUR PUNISHMENT WILL COME ANOTHER DAY. NOW GO, BEFORE I CHANGE MY MIND.

Death leaves hell, followed by one hundred demons.

Eric stops the car. “Shit.” Stares at a line of unmoving cars in their path. All know what to expect within the cars.

“Go around.” Kyle says. “Yeah.”

He backs the car up.

“Oh shit.” Kyle points. “There are a lot of stiffs up ahead.” Thirty stiffs head for the car. “Weapons system up.” Eric says.

Joysticks and windshield targets rise.

“Weapons system activated.” The car repeats. “Lets rock and roll.” Kyle shouts, grabs a control stick. The bullets cause cadavers to explode. Through the spray of bullets, fifteen get their hands on the car. The cars glass cannot be broken, super hard Plexiglas. Ports on either of the cars sides, enable them to aim their weapons out. The cars rocked violently back and forth. Gunfire erupts one after another, all stops. The gunfire, the rocking. Something else is happening. They hear an ear-piercing shriek.

Quicker than their eyes can see, something rips the stiffs to chunks of bloody meat.

“What the fuck?” Eric says.

One of the demons land. Eric sees the horrid, evil face, its leathery wings. A demon in flight strikes the cars side, Plexiglas cracks and spider web patterns form. One more strike on that window and its history.

WHAM, another hit.

Not on the side of danger. Kyle grips the weapon control. The target system is fast, the demons are faster. Still, he pulls the trigger button, car in front of them fills with holes. Another bursts in a ball of flame. He then notices a second button. He pushes it, target on the windshield blinks rapid.

“Heat seeking missile away.” The computer announces.

Flash of the launched missile illuminates the cars insides.

A screech, explosion of innards and sinew. A demon has been killed. Eric slams his foot down on the gas, swerves the many cars. They’re pursued, car gains speed quickly.

Fifty miles per hour.

The demon matches this speed.

One hundred miles per hour.

The demons fall behind.

One hundred and fifty miles per hour.

The demons are far behind. Eric takes no chances, the cars top speed is one hundred and seventy-five miles per hour. Something appears in the middle of the road ahead, he slams on the breaks. “No,” Tom shouts. “It’s, Death.”

He releases the break. slams his foot on the gas. Grabs the weapons control. “I want to see how he likes a rocket up his ass.”

Death doesn’t move. A missile strikes him in his chest. A yell escapes his mouth. Pieces of his body litter the road. A shout of happiness falls from Kyle’s lips. They fly pass the scattered armor.

As they pass, Death’s body re-forms.

He halts his demons. Turns to the fleeing car. “THIS ISN’T OVER MORTALS.” He growls.

Chapter 16

As the sun fades, the car switches back to petrol. Roadside sign lets them know they’re entering the city of, New Castle. A large shopping mall off to

Eric’s left. A red traffic light beckons a stop. He ignores the signal. Enters the malls parking lot.

It’s oddly deserted, not a car in sight. All the stores are lit. Kmart, Sparkle, every last one. He parks by the doors of Sparkle. Leans back with a sigh.

“You okay, Bro?”

“I’ve been looking in the store.” He says. “And there’s nothing inside, no one.”

“No people, no stiffs, nothing.” The Professor adds. “Oh, there’s something.” Kyle smiles. “What’s that?” Eric questions. “Food and drink, man.” He smiles. “Food and drink, and it’s free.”

“He’s right, you know?” Bob says. “Lets go.” Tom heads for the door. “Wait a minute, guys. So we haven’t seen a soul. That doesn’t mean it’s safe.” Eric explains. They hesitate.

“Here,” Eric hands Tom a gun. “Take this.” “You mean?” Bob asks. “Of course we’re going in. I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”

“All right.” Kyle asks the door to open. It opens slowly. “Lets go.” He steps into the chilly air.

“Lets go in slow.” The stores doors slide open. Air conditioned inside the same as outside. Not the faintest sound. It’s odd, it’s more than that.

It’ s unnatural.

“Lets eat.” Kyle runs off into the store. The two MPs follow. “I said, slowly.” Eric smiles. Sarah laughs. He looks at her. “What?” She smiles. “It’s not funny, Sarah. We really don’t know if this place is safe or not.” His smile fades. “I’m sorry about your sister.”

Kyle runs up to them. Two bags of chips, a six pack of Coke in hand. “Oh... sorry.” He says. “For what?” “You want some chips?” He holds the bag out. “Sour cream and cheddar.”

“No. I think Sarah and I would like to eat some real food.” He looks at her. “Care to join me at the Deli?” He holds out his hand.

“Sure, Mister Johnson.” She takes his hand. “I’d be glad too.”

They walk off, hand in hand. “He gets all the girls,” Kyle groans. He feels Sarah tremble as he holds her hand. “Can I ask you a question, Eric?” “Sure.” He stops her. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine. It’s just, is all this really happening? It can’t be real, it can’t.” “As much as I’d like to tell you it’s just a dream, I can’t. It’s real enough. We’ll make it through whatever comes up.” He touches her chin. “I promise you.”

“I know I’m being foolish about this.” She sighs. “No. You’re not being foolish at all. Let’s forget about it for now. Lets go eat.” “Okay.”

They continue down the aisle. They round the corner. She runs back up the aisle, screaming. Eric gags, turns away.

The inside of the meat display is lined with severed heads. Each in various stages of decay. Each one moves with life. Mouths open and close, eyes blink. One vomits black substance all over the glass.

“What’s going on, Bro?” Kyle approaches. He doesn’t answer, just points.

“Awww... shit.” Kyle moans in disgust. He fires upon the display.

It shatters in a thousand pieces. Tom and Bob soon join in. Till the heads are nothing but splattered memories.

“I wonder where the bodies are?” Kyle asks. Tom looks to the ceiling. Kyle jumps out of the path of the man's vomit. “What the hell, man?” He shouts.

“Look up.” Bob says.

He looks up. Bodies hang from meat hooks. Meat hooks that shouldn’t be where they are. Blood and gore drips from the feet of each corpse. Ones stomach is split open. Its intestines hang free.

“This is some sick shit.”

The bodies sway back and forth.

“I’m going to toss my cookies.” Kyle groans.

He vomits on a Pepto-Bismol display. The sign states: “Upset stomach got you feeling down?”

“Where’s, Sarah?” Eric asks. “She must be with the Professor. He’s at the front of the store.” Tom replies.

“Lets get the hell out of here.”

They make their way to the storefront. Indeed, Sarah is with the Professor. They stop before exiting.

“Wait a minute.” Eric holds them inside. “Don’t exit the store just yet.”

“Why?” Kyle asks. “I want to get the hell out of here.”

“Look at the sky.” He points.

The sky is green. There is no wind at all. The first drop sizzles to the concrete. Then it begins to pour. Yet it drips ever so slow. It’s like no rain

they’ve ever seen. “What is it now?” Sarah asks. “I don’t know.” Eric replies. “It looks like some kind of slime.” He bends. Slides some across his finger. Finds his skin begins to burn. It’s like acid. “Owww... the shit burns.”

“Wipe it off.”

“Would you look at this shit.” Tom points to the car.

It dissolves into a puddle of molten metal. Anything in the rain that is metal melts.

It seems to have little affect on structures made of brick. Lucky for them the supermarket is constructed out of brick.

“Now what do we do?” Bob asks.

“We wait till it stops.” Eric says.

“How long is that?” Kyle asks.

Back at the Deli department. The swaying bodies do a little more than hang. Where heads once were, thick stalk-like necks rip through. At the end of each stalk is a head. A head like a Venus fly trap plant. Teeth are long and metallic. They drop to the floor, head for the front of the store, heads snapping at the air.

Click—clack, click—clack, click—clack.

At the front of the store, those of the group spot a distortion in from of them. Death appears before them. Ninety-nine demons; land behind him. All are unaffected by the acid downpour. The clacking sound comes up behind them. They turn to see the strange new stiffs upon them.

“CUTE, HUH?” Death asks.

“As ugly as” your fucking momma.” Kyle shouts. kingdom come. The Professor takes two more out.

Blows the first stiff to

“THAT’S WHERE YOU’RE WRONG BOY. MY MOMMA IS MUCH, MUCH UGLIER.” He laughs.

Eric is bitten by one of the stiffs. Bobs forty-four makes ease out of it. Death destroys the final stiff himself.

“VERY IMPRESSIVE, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,” Death claps. “IMPRESSIVE, INDEED. BUT, DURING THE FRAY, DID YOU NOT FORGET SOMEONE?” He holds Sarah in his arms.

“N000.” Eric shouts. “Are you all right, Sarah?” “Let her go ya dead fuck.” Kyle aims his shotgun.” YOU’RE FORGETTING SOMETHING ELSE.” He looks to the sky. “THE RAIN DEAR BOYS. IT’S MELTING STEEL, WHY ISN’T IT MELTING HER FLESH?”

“Why?” Eric asks.

“BECAUSE I’M PROTECTING HER. FOR ONE REASON ONLY.” “What do you want from us?”

“I WANT YOU TO MAKE ANOTHER PORTAL UNIT.”

“And if we refuse?” Kyle asks.

“THIS CAN HAPPEN.” He releases Sarah. She screams. Her body smokes as the rain begins to eat her flesh. “Okay.” Eric shouts. “We’ll do it.”

“GOOD.” He pushes her to safety. “THEN SHE’LL LIVE ANOTHER DAY.”

“Are you all right?” Eric looks her over. “Are you?” He rants.

Death enters the building. Stands next to Eric. “DROP YOUR WEAPONS, BOY. YOU KNOW THEY ARE OF NO USE TO YOU. MY ARMY CAN TEAR YOU TO SHREDS IN SECONDS.” He says in Eric’s ear. “SURRENDER TO ME. LIVE OR DIE, IT’S THAT SIMPLE.” The smell of brimstone and decay drift’s from Death’s body. Eric stares into his electric blue eyes. “DON’T TRY MY PATIENCE, IT’S ETERNAL, YOU CAN’T WIN, ERIC. YOUR WORLD IS OURS NOW.”

“Drop your weapons.”

“What?” Kyle protests. “Are you crazy?” A demon growls in his face.

“Damn, demon.” He waves the smell away. “You ever hear of a breath mint?”

“Kyle.” Eric shouts. “Drop your weapons.” Kyle growls. Slams his shotguns to the floor. The rest follow his lead. The demons carry the weapons out into the rain. The weapons melt into small puddles.

“NOW, LETS BEGIN WORKING ON THAT NEW PORTAL.” He waves his hand. His army departs. Two demons remain behind. “Where will we get the materials?” Death waves his hand. “THEY SHALL BE PROVIDED.” All they need appears before them.

“Well, Kyle.” He looks at his Brother. “It looks like we have no choice. Professor, if you’d like to aid us?”

“Of course, Eric.”

They gather the pieces.

“THERE’S A PERFECT SOURCE OF POWER AT THE REAR OF THE STORE. CONTINUE, GENTLEMEN.” Death points the way in. Two demons push them along.

“Back the fuck off, lizard man.” Kyle shouts.

“Death,” Professor Reid speaks. “May I ask you a logical question?”

“BUT OF COURSE, PROFESSOR. ASK AWAY.”

“Why do you have need for another unit?”

“GOOD QUESTION. THE FIRST PORTAL ENABLED ME TO ENTER YOUR WORLD. MY POWER IS LIMITED, MY ARMY IS WEAK AND PATHETIC. WITH THE ADDED POWER OF A SECOND UNIT, MY MASTER CAN THEN ENTER YOUR WORLD.

“Who is your Master?”

“HIS NAME IS MESPHISTO. MORTALS KNOW HIM BY THE NAME, SATAN.”

The Brothers are in awe.

“There you have it then.” The Professor laughs. YOURLSELF.”

“EXPLAIN

“You wonder why we resist you. As irrational as all this is. You expect six Christian believers in the power of God, help you bring Satan into this world? You can go to hell.”

“SO THAT’S THE WAY IT’S GOING TO BE, IS IT? WELL, SO BE IT THEN. MY MASTER IS ALLREADY ON HIS WAY.

IT WOULD’VE MADE HIS TRIP A LOT EASIER IF YOU WOULD’VE BUILT THE SECOND UNIT. NOW I MUST END YOUR WORTHLESS LIVES.” His eyes blaze.

Bob rams him with a shoulder block. The demons advance on him. “Run.” He shouts. “Run, damn it. Save yourselves.” Tom starts to rush to his friends aid. Kyle stops him.

“No.” He struggles. “Let me go. He’s my friend. Let me go.”

The acid rain has stopped. They run as fast as their feet will carry them. Halfway to the main road. They’re halted by a horrible scream. Tom knows it has to be his friend. “Where do we run?” Sarah shouts.

“Keep following this road.”

The Super Market building explodes in a ball of black fire. The force of the explosion reaches them. Lifts them off their feet. They slam to the hard road. They recover fast, continue to run.

They stop. Why?

Fifty or more stiffs lumber in their direction. Death and his two demons float above in a stationary position. One demon holds Bobs head.

“LEAVE THEM.” He laughs. “THE DEAD WILL TAKE CARE OF THEM. LET’S RETURN TO THE PORTAL.”

“Where do we run?” Kyle trembles. “There are far too many of them to fight.”

“The High School.” Eric points. “Head for the High School.” They find the front doors locked. “Shit.” Eric kicks the door. “Shit,” Another kick. A final hard kick. “Look out.” Kyle says. He throws a large rock through the window. “We’ll go in through the window.” He smiles. “You first, Sarah.” Eric helps her through. “You all right?” “I’m fine.” They enter one after the other.

“Lets bar the doors.” Eric rushes over to a Coke machine. “Come on, help me.”

With Tom and Kyle’s help. They slide the machine across the doorway. “What next?” Kyle pants.

“We should look for a back way out.” “We shouldn’t want to get out. We just got here.”

“The stiffs will be worried about getting in the front door. We can then head out back to safety.” Eric explains.

The stiffs begin to bang on the door.

“Lets go.” Kyle says. Pushes aside his doubt. They run down the long hall. A boy and three girls jump in front of them. The boy holds a butcher knife. One of the girls holds an axe.

“Who the hell are you people?” The boy shouts. From the look on the boys face. Eric knows he’ll use the knife. It appears to have already been used. “My names, Eric Johnson. We mean you no harm. We just want to get out of here.”

“Why are you running?”

“To get away from the fifty stiffs ramming the front door.” Kyle replies. “Good enough reason?”

“Fifty more?” The boy’s eyes widen.

“What’s your name?”

“My name’s, Jason. This is my sister, Rachel. Her friends Alyssa and Jennifer.” “Okay, Jason. Is there a back door out of here?”

“No.” He shakes his head. “Only a side door that leads to the football field.” “It’ll have to do.” He grabs Jason by the arm. He resists. “Lets go.” “You mean, you’ll take us?” He smiles. “You’ll take us with you?”

“Of course. we can’t leave you here to die.”

As they run for the door. Kyle notices the two girls hang close to him. He likes it a lot. This door is also locked. with a chain and pad lock.

“Now what?” Jason asks.

“No more window breaking. Give me your axe, Jennifer.” The axe is given.

“All right.” He raises it over his head. “Stand clear.” One hack, two, the third hack sends the chain rattling to the floor. Jason shoves the door open. Eric pulls him back inside.

“Let me check first.”

He pokes his head out the door.

Nothing. He can still hear them banging at the front door. Across the dark field he can see a Kentucky Fried Chicken, beyond that a Long John Silvers. He pulls his head back inside.

“It looks safe to me. But lets take it slow. First, we’ll run across the football field. Rest at Kentucky Fried Chicken, then Long John Silvers.”

“Why don’t we just eat while we’re there?” Kyle joshes.

“Lets get going.” They begin to run. At the fifty...The thirty... At the twentyyard line, the stiffs notice them. Like rabid animals in frenzy, they charge after them.

“Oh shit. It looks as if the opposing team has found us out.” Kyle notes. They run even faster. Eric jumps over a line of bushes. His foot is snagged on a hidden fence. He lands on his face. “Awww... shit.” He groans.

Kyle leaps but is also caught by the fence.

The others make the jump without hassle.

“I busted my ass.” Kyle cries. “Get moving, get moving.” Eric grabs his Brothers arm. Lifts him off the ground. “They’re not far behind.”

But in reality, the stiffs are quite far still. They don’t stop for rest at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Nor do they stop at Long John Silvers. They do however stop at a brick fire station.

“Brick.” Eric says.

“Yeah,” Kyle says. “It’s something they build buildings with. What about it?”

“Don’t you remember? During the rain of acid only things made of metal melted.”

“Yeah. I mean, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Long John Silvers are no longer open for business.” Kyle smiles. “Think about it, Bro. There may be a car in this station we can use.”

“Let’s check it out.”

They search for a way inside. It’s not around front. They find a side door. In a stroke of good luck it’s not locked. Both fire trucks are gone. A fire Chief’s Chevy Blazer remains. As they enter, he doesn’t move from the seat in the Blazer. Doesn’t turn their direction.

“There’s a stiff in there.” Kyle says.

Eric edges his way to the driver’s side. Still it makes no move. He stares into the window.

The body is severely burned by the one element the man had fought for twenty years. His eyes are burned out, charred sockets stare straight ahead.

This is no zombie, never had been.

The Fire Chief had been injured. Bitten by one of them. He knew his fate. He would die and return to eat the flesh of the living. He was God faring man, saying a prayer for forgiveness.

He poured gasoline over his body, lit a match and burst into flames.

Eric looks at the group.

“Nothing to worry about here.” He smiles. “This ones not alive.” He opens the Blazers door. Skeletal remains fall from the blackened seat. Brittle remains explode into dust at his feet. He jumps away from the dust cloud. The seat is charred to its springs. The steering wheel half melted, but usable.

“I ‘m glad he was dead.” Kyle comments.

Jennifer and Alyssa grip his arms. He smiles.

“Will it run?” Jason asks.

“Only one way of finding out.”

He enters the blazer. Springs dig into his back. The keys are in the ignition. The truck starts immediately.

“Well, all right.” Jason smiles.

Kyle pushes a red button on the wall. An alarm rings aloud.

“Turn it off, Kyle. You’re going to let the stiffs know where we are.”

The garage door begins to open.

“Everyone in the truck. We’re out of here.” They pile into the Blazer. Eric doesn’t wait for the door to open fully. The top of the truck scrapes across the raising door. Where they’re headed they have no idea. All they know is they’re safe.

For the moment...

Chapter 19

They race down the dark street. The girls are asleep in back.

“Where are we heading now, Bro?”

“I’m not sure. Jason knows this city better than we do.” He looks at him. “Are there any places we can get weapons?”

“Possibly... as you pass Cascade Park, right there, take a left at the V.F.W. Follow the road some, to your lefts there’s an armory.”

Eric follows Jason’s every direction. He notices a blockade with road flares ahead. He sees no one.

“What now?” He sighs.

He stops the Blazer. Two dead soldiers hang over the sawhorse barrier. The rain must’ve got them. The heap of metal behind them their truck.

“Go around.” Kyle says.

“I can’t, there’s an open sewer drain on my side.” “Go through it then.” The bumper pushes the sawhorse over.

They hear the crunch of bone and wood as the truck rolls it over. Eric spots a large parking lot. It appears to have once been filled with trucks or other military equipment. Heaps of molten metal occupy the spaces now. The armory itself is made out of brick.

He stops the Blazer near the front door.

“Lets head inside.”

Kyle looks at both girls. They cuddle close to him. “You go ahead, Bro.” He smiles. “I’ll stay here and protect the girls.” “Protect them with what, your looks?” Sarah comments.

“Heh-heh, you’re funny. maybe you can protect them with your fist of fury.”

“If you don’t mind, Kyle? I would like my friends with me.” Rachel says.

“I understand.” He growls. “I’ll wake them.” He shakes them both gently. Jennifer moans. Alyssa’s eyes flash open. “What... what’s wrong?” She asks.

“Nothing’s wrong.” He smiles. “We’re making a pit stop is all.” Jennifer’s grip tightens around his waist. Alyssa steps from the truck.

“Let go, man.” Eric barks. He looks at Jennifer, so beautiful. “Jennifer?” He says softly.

She moans again. Her breathing becomes rapid.

“Jennifer?” “No.” She squirms. “Please, no.” She gasps. “It’s okay, Jennifer. It’s me, Kyle. You’re safe.” “Kyle?” She looks, into his eyes.

“Yes. You’re safe now.” Tears flow down her cheeks. “I’m safe.” She smiles. “You sure are. and so are Rachel and Jason, and Alyssa. You’re all safe.” “Hold me.” She embraces him. “Don’t ever leave me.” “Don’t worry, Jennifer. I’ll never leave your side. I promise you this.” He holds her face. “I promise.”

He slides from the truck. “Come on.” He holds out his hand for her. She accepts his gesture.

“Is everything all right, Kyle?” Eric asks.

“Everything’s fine.”

“Good, I’m glad. Now can we head inside?”

Alyssa, approaches Kyle. Her head is down. She appears sad. “What’s wrong, Alyssa?” “Will you protect me as well, Kyle?” She pouts. Jennifer grabs his hand. “Of course.” Jennifer gives her a dirty look. As she takes his other hand. “Oh, boy.” He rolls his eyes.

The Armory door is open.

“This isn’t a good sign.” Eric says.

“Kyle?” A1yssa sighs. “Kyle?” Jennifer smiles. This is something he hadn’t planned on. They’re both very beautiful. Now they’re fighting over him.

They enter the building. A sign on the wall shows their location. “It says the weapons are on the bottom floor.” Eric looks at the map. “Tom, check the stairwell.”

He walks to the edge of the stairs. Turns to the group with a thumbs up.

They walk down the stairs slow. They enter a large room. No weapons are visible. Kyle spots a vault door ahead. “I’ll bet we find some weapons in here.” He escapes the grasp of the girls. He turns the vault crank. It clicks. He pulls the handle. The door opens. His eyes grow wide in delight. M-16’s, M-60’s, grenade launchers, a flame thrower, they’ve hit the jackpot.

“We’ve hit the jackpot, people.” He shouts.

He grabs an M-16 with an attached grenade launcher and another one for his shoulder. Eric gathers the very same. As does Jason, Tom, and Jennifer each pick up a grenade launcher.

“Be careful with that, Jennifer.” Kyle cautions. “Can you show me how it works?” She begs. Alyssa holds an M-16. “Kyle, show me how to fire this.” She asks.

“Later, right now we need to find ammunition.” He walks to the stairs. “I’m going to check the wall map again. See where this place stores its ammo.”

“I’m coming.” Alyssa adds. “Me too.” Jennifer says. “No,” He waves them off. “You stay here with the others.” He looks at Tom. “Why don’t you come with me, Tom?” “Sure, man.”

They stop at the map.

“According to this, the ammo’s outside in a brick building.” He walks to the edge of the stairs. “Hey, Eric? We’re heading out, ammo’s in a brick shed there.” “Okay, Kyle.” Eric’s voice returns. “We’ll be up in a minute. Load the Blazer with ammo, will ya?” “No problem.” They head out. “Okay, Tom. There’s the shed.” “Yeah. But I’m almost sure the two stiffs around it aren’t going to be friendly.”

“Damn, I didn’t see them.” The stiffs are large soldiers. “Man, they’re big.” Tom says. “I wish this M-I6 was loaded.“ Well, it is.” “What do you mean it is?” “It always has been.” “It has a clip in it.”

“Why the hell didn’t you tell me?”

“You never asked.”

“Oh, man.” Kyle gives him look of disbelief. “I don’t believe you. Now, load your weapon so we can get rid of our little problem.” He clicks home the first of many bullets. Walks towards the shed. Tom’s foot hits a rock. He falls to the earth. Smashes his head against another rock. The stiffs head their direction. Kyle lets loose with the machine gun. They convulse as bullets rip through their decayed forms.

“Tom, wake up, man.”

He doesn’t move, the stiffs grow close. “Fuck,” He shouts. “You don’t die easy.” He pulls the trigger. Gets nothing but a hollow click. “Oh shit.” He stares at the gun. “No bullets.” He races over to Tom. The largest of the stiffs tackles him to the grass. “Get off me you big fucking gorilla.”

The other stiff grabs Tom by the head. Bites into it.A spray of blood through the air. A weak cry.

“You fucking bastard.” He struggles with the stiff. “You killed, Tom.”

The tread of many feet. A foot collides with the face of the stiff on Kyle. The others have come to the rescue.

“Eric,” Kyle shouts. “The guns have a full clip. Use it.”

The stiff growls, leaps for Eric. Alyssa’s gun spews rapid death. Eric dives for the dirt. The stiff’s head explodes. The other continues its feast on Tom. Eric spots this. The man had been his friend. It never should’ve ended like this for him. He stands to his feet. Walks over to the stiff. Aims the gun at its head. “Eat this you mother-fucker.” The head burst like a ripe watermelon dropped from a ten-story window. He’s splashed with blood and brain matter. He doesn’t release the trigger till the clip is empty.

“Kyle...” Jennifer yells. Races over to him. “Are you all right?” She hugs. him. “I was so worried, are you hurt?”

“Calm down, Jennifer. I’m fine.”

“Everyone stay here.” Eric says. “I’m going to bring the blazer down.” He walks up the small hill.

“Rachel, how’s, Alyssa?” Kyle asks.

“A bit shaken, she’ll be all right.”

Kyle uses the butt of the M-I6 to knock the pad lock off the shed.

“Not so loud, Kyle.” The Professor says. “Do you wish for more stiffs to hear us?”

“Professor Reid... after all this time you finally say something.”

“Yes. All this has really caught up with me. There really hasn’t been much to say.”

“Here comes, Eric.” Jason announces.

The Blazer edges its way down the hill. Kyle enters the shed. Lifts a heavy metal box. Opens it. It’s loaded with M-16 clips. “There’s more inside, grab boxes like these. And one large box.”

They gather boxes. The Professor and Kyle lift a large box out containing thirty carefully packed grenades. The Blazer stops. Kyle opens the back. Takes the boxes as they’re handed to him.

“Keep four clips on you at all times.”

They distribute the clips amongst each other. “Now, we head back.”

Chapter 20

Death returned to the portal hours ago. His Master still not close to entering our plane of existence. He knows the mortals have lived. He also knows they’re heading his direction. With his Master between the realms, he can speak to him anytime he wishes.

“MESPHISTO. THEY COME FOR ME. THEIR FRIENDSHIP AND LOVE CAN DESTROY ME. SEND ME ONE OF THE DARK BEINGS, SO THAT IT MAY DESTROY THEM.” Death begs.

“I HEAR YOU MY FOLLOWER. I SHALL SEND YOU A DARK BEING. IT’S SOMETIME BEFORE I CAN FULLY MANIFEST ON THIS PLANE.” Mesphisto rumbles.

“THANK YOU, MASTER.” Death bows. “WHEN MAY I EXPECT THE DARK BEING TO ARRIVE?”

“EXPECT IT WITHIN THE HOUR.”

“VERY GOOD, MASTER.”

Chapter 21

Eric is worse, his face is ghostly white. His eyes have sunk into their sockets. The creature’s bite must be causing his sickness.

“You okay, Bro?”

“I feel like shit, Kyle. My muscles are killing me. It’s like they want to break free from my body.”

“Check if he has a fever, Professor.”

“My, God, Kyle.” He checks his head. “He’s not burning up, he’s freezing.” “He’s deathly cold. We should get him to a Hospital.” “No.” Eric cries. “We’ve got to close the portal.” His back arches. “Owww... Jesus.”

“What’s wrong with him?” Rachel asks.

The Professor rips Eric’s shirt open. “Here’s the bite, Oh, God.” He gasps.

“What is it?” Kyle asks.

“Yes, What is it?” Eric wonders.

“Stop the truck, Kyle. I have to take a closer look at his wound.” He pulls the truck to the roadside.

“Can you get out on your own, Eric?” The Professor asks. “Yeah, yeah I can.”

Kyle jumps from the truck. Races to Eric’s side, helps him out. “Okay, Bro. Take it easy, it’s alright.” “Get him closer to a streetlight.” He walks his Brother over to brighter light.

“Sit him down.” Eric groans as he sits. “Take his shirt off, Kyle.”

He unbuttons his bother’s shirt. Slides it off. This can’t be happening. Not to his bother. The wound has opened itself. It starts from his shoulder and runs down his chest. Numerous black veins trail the flesh around the wound. They pulse with unholy evil. Like a virus that has sought to infect this man.

“What’s happening to him?” Kyle shouts~.

“What’s wrong with me, Professor?” Eric groans.

“I believe it’s the bite, Eric. When that creature bit you at the store, it infected you with its evil. I also believe these black veins are draining your human blood.” He points at them. “There’s even a chance they’re eating at your soul. I’m sorry to say, Eric. But I’m afraid you’ll be one of them soon.”

“No... that’s not true.” Kyle shouts. “It can’t be true.” “I’m sorry, Kyle. I’m afraid it’s true.” “He’s right, Bro.” Eric grabs his brother’s arm. “I can feel the evil in me, turning me into a demon.” He arches in terrible pain. “God it hurts.”

“Help him, Professor.” Kyle grabs onto the man. “You have to do something, Professor.”

“It’s too late for that now, Kyle.”

“There has to be something we can do.” “I know something we can do.” Black liquid pours from Eric’s mouth. His voice is that of demons. He screams. Fangs knock normal teeth from their place. Everyone backs away. He hunches over violently. Wide slits open in a spray down his back. Something pulls from the slits. “Kill me.” He roars. Wings pull from the slits. Veins and muscle strands snap. His eyes glow red. “Kill me, damn it.” He roars. “I want to kill you all. And I will, if you don’t kill me.” His wings spread wide. Professor Reid points his gun at him.

“Nooo.” Kyle shouts. Smacks the Professor’s aim away from his brother. Eric charges the Professor. Smacks Kyle away. Lifts the Professor off his feet.

“Eric... no.” He gasps.

“Forgive me, Professor.”

A clawed hand enters the Professors chest. He gags, coughs, blood shoots from his mouth. “I...(cough) I... forgive.” His heart is pulled free. The body is dropped to the road.

“I’m sorry, Bro.” Kyle aims at his Brother. “I’m sorry.” A red tear trickles down Eric’s cheek. Kyle pulls the trigger. Eric’s body convulses. Bullets enter every vital point in his body. An explosion of blood on each impact. A hollow click, the gun is empty. Eric continues for his tear-choked brother. He fumbles with a fresh clip. He clicks it home, fires. More blood

mixed with hunks of flesh. Eric falls, convulses once, and lies still. Kyle returns to the Blazer. Tears, blood, streak his worn features. He enters the truck without a word. All within feel his loss.

“Lets go kick Death’s ass.” He turns to the group. “My Brother and friends need avenged.” He shouts. Then like a tree in a hurricane force. He falls. Lies his head on the steering wheel. Jennifer places a comforting hand on his back. “It’ll be okay.” She cries. “It’ll be fine.”

“I know, Jennifer.” He looks at her. “I had to kill him.” A wave of emotion flows over him. “But he was my brother.” “You want me to drive, Kyle?” Jason asks. “Would you, man?”

“Sure.” They exchange seats. “You get in back and take it easy.”

He goes to the arms of the girls. Jennifer puts an arm around him. Alyssa does the same. No dirty looks are exchanged this time.

“Where’s this base, Kyle?” Jason asks.

“Keep going straight. You’ll know it when you see it.”

He falls asleep leaning on Jennifer’s shoulder. Alyssa feels a little bit of anger. Maybe it’s for the best. Yes, it’s good they’re together.

Chapter 22

The sun loses the battle. The red moon wants its place on the horizon. Yet the sun is stubborn. It remains in the sky with the moon as its partner.

“Guys... wake up. Look at this weird shit.” Jason says. He stops the truck. They wake to an odd sight.

“What’s going on here?” Kyle asks. “The sun and moon sharing the sky at the same time?” Something happens, in the center of the two heavenly bodies. A dark circle appears. “What’s that?” Jason points.

“It looks like another small planet.” Alyssa says. “That’s no planet.” Kyle says. “It’s heading this way. “No it’s not, Kyle.” Jason replies.

“Move the fuck over.” Kyle shoves Jason from the drivers seat. “It’s moving this way... and fast.” He stomps on the accelerator. It’s the massive, dark being Death requested. It strikes earth with the force of an earthquake. The Blazer topples on its side. They are slammed around like rag dolls.

The beast roars. Near-by buildings tremble with its power. Its head is as large as a hot air balloon. It stands fifty feet tall with a mouth like a cave opening, with rows of jagged rock as its teeth. It can see everything. Surrounding its head are red eyes. Its body is like that of a small demon. It walks on skeletal legs, thickly entwined with red muscle. Its ribs and internal organs are exposed. It stares at the toppled Blazer. Dark liquid leaks from its mouth. Kyle notices this.

“Everyone out of the truck.” He shouts. Kicks the windshield out. “Grab some ammo... quick.”

They grab what they can quickly and exit the truck even quicker. The dark being roars and spits a massive stream of black liquid. The Blazer and most of the street explode into the largest fire ball the world will ever see. The force of the explosion carries them twenty feet into the air.

Jennifer’s arm snaps as she lands. Kyle lands next to her. His face slashed deeply. The others fall hard, yet manage to escape serious injury.

“Jennifer?” He spots her. “Jennifer... are you all right?” She lies on her stomach. “My arms broken, Kyle.” She looks at him. “It hurts like hell.” “Roll over, honey. Let me see your arm.” She rolls over slow. He sees the exposed bone. Good thing he was a Boy Scout. He’ll have to reset it. “I have to reset your arm. It’s going to hurt like a son of a bitch.” He hands her a clip. “When it hurts…bite down on this.” “Get it over with.”

“Remember... bite down hard.”

He takes the arm. She closes her eyes. Bites on the clip. He slides the bone back into place. He sees the pain on her contorted face. Sweat covers her delicate features. He searches around with his eyes. He needs a splint. He spots two perfect branches. He grabs the branches. Takes his shirt off. Finishes the splint in two minutes. Like a good little Scout. “Come on... get up. She gets to her feet. Plants a kiss on his lips.

“Whoa... what was that for?” He smiles.

“If you love someone, you show them.”

“Lets get to the others.”

They lie not far from them. Like thunder, the creature’s footsteps head in their direction.

“Wake up.” He shouts. “wake up.”

“Wha…what happened?” Jason groans.

Jason jumps to his feet. Lets loose with his M-16. The creature doesn’t feel the small bullets. Kyle launches a grenade.

PHOOMP.

A small explosion takes out some of the beast’s chest. Pieces of bone and flesh fly everywhere. The beast falls to the earth with a roar, but springs back to its feet.

“Run.” Kyle shouts. “It’s not dead.” He loads another grenade.

“Keep running.” He turns, aims.

PHOOMP.

It misses, explodes in front of the being. It points a clawed finger at Kyle.

A tentacle shoots from its fingertip. Kyle turns to run. It wraps around his waist. “Help.” He shouts. Kyle is pulled toward the beast. They stop running. Jason shoots his grenade launcher.

PHOOMP.

The creature’s arm is blown off. Kyle falls to the ground. The tentacle stops pulling. But it begins to tighten its grip. “It’s tightening.” He coughs.

Jennifer rushes to his aid.

“What should I do?” She asks. “Shoo...(hack) Shoo...” He gasps. “What about your shoe?”

“Shoot it.” He forces out his remaining breath. She aims at the tentacle. Pulls the trigger.

The tentacle splits in two. The creature’s blood sprays her face. She screams and drops the gun. He is freed from the creature’s grasp. Several of the creatures eyes burst as Kyle lets loose with his gun.

PHOOMP.

A grenade from Rachel’s gun blows half the creatures face off. It falls once again. Its blood creates a crimson pool.

“This is our last piece of ammunition.” He loads the final grenade. “We have to get to the truck for more.”

“I have one more clip.” Jason says.

“It doesn’t matter.” He aims. “Just do as I say, damn it.” PHOOMP.

The grenade explodes between the creature’s legs.

“Now.” Kyle shouts. “Head for the truck.”

They dash for the Blazer. The creature gets to its feet. Blood seeps from its maw. Rachel tumbles to the road. Jason stops to help his Sister. One of the beast’s eyes rises from its socket. Jets towards her like a missile. “Quick.” He tries to help her. “Get up, Sis.” The eye is upon them. Her chest explodes, covers him in her blood. He gasps in horror. Another eye missile is shot. He doesn’t flee. He embraces his Sister. His head bursts as it strikes him. “Noooo... you fucking bastard.” Kyle shouts. Races to their bodies. “I’m going to send you straight back to hell.”

The beast roars in victory.

PHOOMP.

This grenade is from Alyssa’s gun. The back of the beast explodes outward. The blazer explodes as an eye missile strikes it. Live rounds zip and zing about the area.

PHOOMP.

Jennifer manages to fire her own grenade. She drops the weapon in pain. The being’s head explodes. A wave of blood and thick black slime washes over them. Kyle pulls himself from a slimy bubble. “Oh, man,” he gasps. “Thank you, Lord.” Thank you, thank you.” He pulls Alyssa and Jennifer from the bloody mess.

“Awww”…Jennifer groans. “I couldn’t breath in that mess.” She wipes away strands of dangling slime.

“Is it dead?” Alyssa questions. “Did we do it?” He embraces her, puts out a hand to Jennifer. They hold each other. Remember friends they’ve made and lost.

Is the war over? Only time will tell.

At least the creature’s dead. Its body dissolved into a puddle of darkness and a foul smelling smoke drifts from it. The puddle and any trace of the creature vanishes.

“What the?”

“Good.” Jennifer smiles. “I’m glad that stuff’s off me.” “Yeah.” He looks at the flaming truck. “The problem is having no ammo. All I have is two clips.” “Here are three clips Kyle.” Alyssa hands them to him. “All right, Alyssa. These will help.”

“I have five grenades” Jennifer smiles. He kisses them both in joy. “I love you both. It’s not much, but it may be enough.”

The girls are happy.

“Don’t get too happy just yet. Death is going to be pissed in a major way. If we can sneak into the base before he finds us. We might be able to end all this madness.”

Chapter 23

Death tosses pieces of equipment. Roars in anger. “MY DARK BEING WAS DEFEATED BY MERE MORTALS. IT’S TIME MY ARMEY. WE WILL FIND THEM AND TEAR THEIR FLESH FROM THEIR BONES.”

“NO.” A voice booms from the portal. “YOU WILL REMAIN HERE. PROTECT THE PORTAL.” Mesphisto yells..

Death stops. Turns to the portal. Mesphisto’s head is visible. Glowing eyes, snout like a dragon, horns, six foot high rise in a plumage about his skull.

“BUT, MASTER? THESE MORTALS HAVE DEFEATED ONE OF YOUR MINIONS. KILLED MANY OF YOUR LOYAL FOLLOWERS.”

“THIS I KNOW... THEY WILL PAY DEARLY FOR THEIR DEFIANCE TO ME. BUT YOU MUST REMAIN HERE. YOU MUST PROTECT THE PORTAL DEVICE. THE MORTALS HEAD IN THIS DIRECTION AS WE SPEAK.” He blinks.

“WHAT OF MY ARMY?”

“THEY WILL RETURN TO HELL. THEY’RE MAKING IT DIFFICULT FOR ME TO APPEAR ON THIS PLANE. YOU MUST DESTROY THE MORTALS ON YOUR OWN. I CAN NO LONGER HELP YOU IN YOUR STRUGGLE.”

The demon army vanishes.

“BUT, MASTER...” Death begs. “I FEEL THEIR POWER, THEY CAN DEFEAT ME. THEY HAVE WEAPONS.“

“YOU DARE WHIMPER LIKE A PATHETIC FUCKING HUMAN.

YOU ARE ONE OF MY OWN. I SHALL GIVE YOU A WEAPON.”

A shimmering, blackness erupts beside Death. It appears. A black scythe, its cutting blade five feet long from shaft to point. He wraps his gauntleted hands around the instrument of doom. On his touch, the blade ignites with a black fire.

“CUT ONE OF THE MORTALS WITH ITS BLADE, BURN THEM WITH ITS BLACK FIRE. THAT MORTAL WILL SUFFER AS HIS INSIDES BOIL AND HIS FLESH DROPS FROM HIS WRITHING BONES.”

Mesphisto laughs.

“THANK YOU, MASTER. I WILL COLLECT THEIR BONES FOR THEE.”

“THERE’S ONE MORE THING, SERVANT. FAIL AND YOUR SUFFERING WILL BE GREAT.”

“YES, MASTER.” He rises from his knees. “I WILL NOT FAIL YOU.”

Chapter 24

Kyle returns to the College. They walked the mile and a half to get there. Now they sleep. They were chased by a number of stiffs. He wasted no ammo. They were easily out run.

A voice causes Kyle to jump. The voice is not in the area. It’s in his head. It’s an evil voice. It’s him, it’s Death. He sounds angry. Yet in a strange sort of way, he seems happy.

“YOU HAVE FOUGHT A WELL BATTLE FOR A MORTAL, KYLE. BUT I AM COMING FOR YOU AND JENNIFER.” AHHH... “I AM GOING TO RAPE THAT SWEET THING. I‘LL MAKE IT HURT.” “No.” He shouts.

“YES, BOY. I’LL KILL ALYSSA, SLOW, RIP HER PRETTY SKIN OFF, PIECE BY PIECE. I’M COMING FOR YOU ALL. I’M COMING, BOY.”

“Nooo.”

“What’s wrong, Kyle?” Jennifer tries to wake him. “Wake up. You’re having a bad dream.”

His eyes flash open. He yells.

“It’s okay.” She strokes his hair. “It was just a dream. Only a bad dream.” “A dream?” He asks. “That’s all.” She smiles.

“No.” He sits up. “It wasn’t a dream, Jennifer. It was his voice, Deaths voice.” He stands. “He’s coming for us, and he’s pissed.”

“It was just a dream. They can seem very real at times that’s all.” The opposite window explodes. Death jumps through.

“NO, SWEET JENNIFER. IT WASN’T JUST A DREAM.”

Kyle aims his gun.

PHOOMP!

The grenade strikes him in his chest.

The force sends him through a wall. “Run. Run.” They race for the front doors of the College. “Jump.” Kyle shouts. A jet of black flames rips the double doors to flaming pieces. Kyle reloads the grenade launcher.

PHOOMP.

The shot misses. The side of the College explodes.

“NICE TRY, KYLE. LETS TRY THIS ONE.” He grabs Alyssa. Kyle reloads number three. “I WOULDN’T DO THAT IF I YOU, KYLE. YOU WOULDN’T, WANT TO BLOW THIS PRETTY LITTLE THING TO PIECES, WOULD YOU?”

“Don’t fuck with me, Death.” He keeps his aim. “Let her go.”

“NOW, KYLE. THIS CAN BE SOLVED WITHOUT MORE BLOODSHED. I MEAN, THERE’S ALREADY BEEN TOO MUCH OF THAT.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“I SEE A DEAL AT HAND HERE, KYLE. DON’T YOU?”

“What kind of deal?”

“ARE YOU THAT DAMN STUPID? I GIVE YOU THE GIRL, YOU RETURN TO THE BASE WITH ME.”

“Why would you do a thing like that?”

“BECAUSE I’M A NATURALLY NICE DEMON. YOU CAN ALSO BUILD ANOTHER UNIT WHILE YOU’RE AT IT.”

“How the fuck do I benefit out of a deal like that?”

“TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH, YOU DON’T. ONLY ALYSSA BENEFITS BY KEEPING HER LIFE. AT LEAST YOU’LL KNOW SHE’S SAFE. SAFE, BUT ALONE.” He laughs.

“If I agree to your shitty deal. The girls come with me.”

“I DON’T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT. I HAVE NO USE FOR THEM.” He looks at Alyssa. “ONLY YOU DEAR BOY.”

“Okay.” He lowers his weapon. “I’ll go with you.”

“I THOUGHT YOU MIGHT.”

He pushes A1yssa at him.

“Don’t do it, Kyle.” She grabs him. “Don’t do it.”

“SHALL WE GO, THE LIMO AWAITS US.” Death points outside.

A black dragon awaits them.

They mount the winged beast. It takes to the air. Any other method of travel would’ve taken an hour. The dragon arrived at the base in fifteen minutes. It vanishes as they dismount. “SHALL WE?” The hanger door opens. “I HOPE YOU ENJOYED THE RIDE?”

They enter the hanger. Enter the elevator. The girls huddle close to Kyle. Brimstone and decay smell fills the small confines of the elevator. “FORGIVE MY HYGENE. I SELDOM TAKE A SHOWER, THE WATER’S ALWAYS TOO DAMN HOT.”

The elevator jerks to a stop. The opened doors reveal a much larger portal. A head protrudes from its center. Alyssa screams at the sight of it. Jennifer buries her face into Kyle’s chest. The head turns their direction.

“MASTER, I’VE BROUGHT YOU THE MORTALS. KYLE’S GOING TO BUILD A SECOND UNIT,” Death gloats.

“SO I SEE, WHY IS THE MALE STILL ARMED? GET HIS WEAPON YOU FOOL.”

Kyle aims. Death throws his scythe.

PHOOMP, CHINK, B000M.

The scythe strikes the grenade mid-air. Continues on its thrown path. Pins Kyle to the wall. “Fuck.” Kyle shouts. The girls rush to his aid. They’re knocked away by unseen force. A fist nails Kyle in his face. His nose sprays blood. “Bastard.”

“NO.” Death points. “YOU’RE THE BASTARD WHO TRIED TO GO BACK ON OUR LITTLE DEAL. THAT’S NOT NICE.”

Another harsh blow splits his lip.

“Leave him alone you monster.” Jennifer shouts. Tries to stop Death. She’s pushed away with ease.

“Don’t touch her you son of a bitch.”

“MY MOTHER IS A BITCH, KYLE. GOOD OBSERVATION.”

The scythe releases its hold. Returns to Death’s hand.

“NOW IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO GET TO WORK,.” Death says. “YOUR LIFE CAN EASILY BE SEVERED BY MY MINION, MORTAL. DO AS HE COMMANDS OR THE FEMALES WILL SUFFER FOR YOUR DEFIANCE.” Mesphisto says. “Damn you both to hell.” “HELL IS OUR HOME.” Death laughs. Mesphisto joins in. “ENOUGH WASTING TIME. GET TO WORK.” He points to a metal table. All the pieces are there. He approaches the table. “IF YOU FINISH QUICK, AND IT WORKS PROPERLY. I MAY PERMIT YOU TO LIVE.”

Kyle gains an idea. If he and his brother were able to build a unit to open a portal. It must be possible to build one that’ll close one. It’s taking a big risk. The unit can cause an inter-dimensional explosion. The explosion will destroy both planes of existence. It’s a risk that must be taken. He begins work on the unit.

“This is going to take at least three hours to finish.” He announces.

“TAKE ALL THE TIME YOU NEED. WE HAVE AN ETERNITY TO WAIT.”

Three hours pass, the unit is not yet finished. “I THOUGHT YOU SAID THREE HOURS?” “I thought that as well.”

“WHAT’S THE FUCKING HOLD UP?”

Kyle puts the final piece into place. The power unit. He inserts it backwards this time. The energy will be sucked inward, instead of out.

“It’s finished.” “TURN IT ON.”

“I can’t. It needs time to generate power.”

“DON’T FUCK WITH ME, KYLE.” Death grabs him by his shirt. “I’M NOT TO BE FUCKED WITH. TURN IT ON.” Kyle pushes the unit’s power on button. A red light blinks on and off. “WHAT IS THIS?” Death points to the light. “WHAT DOES THAT LIGHT MEAN?” “I told you. It needs time to charge.” “DAMN.” Death throws him to the floor. The girls go to him. “Are you all right?” Jennifer asks. “No problem.” “HOW LONG SHALL THIS POWER GAIN TAKE, MORTAL.” Mesphisto growls.

“Twenty-four hours.”

Death looks at his master.

“DON’T WORRY, SERVANT. WE CAN WAIT.”

Another idea jumps into Kyle’s head. maybe he can cause a fight between Master and Servant.

“You know, I’ve been thinking of the possibilities of helping you, Mesphisto.”

“WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY, MORTAL?”

“YES, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?” Death shouts. Jennifer stares at Kyle. “What are you saying?” She asks.

“Trust me, honey.” He winks.

“EXPLAIN YOURSELF, MORTAL.”

“Well, as I see it. I’ve done all the real work bringing you across.” He looks at Death. “Hell, all your Servant’s done is kill my friends and bring me to you.”

Death rams a fist into Kyle’s face. Kicks his legs out from under him. He slams to the floor. “YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP. I THINK I’LL KILL YOUR ASS NOW.” The girls scream. He raises his scythe over his head. Brings it down in a wide arch. Finds it no longer in his hands.

“I DIDN’T TELL YOU TO KILL THE MORTAL.” Mesphisto shouts. “I WANT TO HEAR HIM OUT.”

“BUT, MASTER?”

“STILL YOUR TONGUE.”

“BUT.” “DO NOT ANGER ME, SERVANT.” Mesphisto’s eyes glow bright red. “TELL ME MORE, MORTAL.

“I’m just tired of this goody-good world. Get rid of asshole here.” He points at Death. “And we’ll rule this shit-ball of a planet together.”

“LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT MORTAL. YOU WISH FOR ME TO GET RID OF A VERY LOYAL SERVANT, AND ACCEPT YOU INTO MY ARMS ?”

“I’ll be loyal. I offer my soul.”

“OH...YOU LIE SO SWEETLY, MORTAL.”

“Lie... who said anything about lying?”

“MASTER, TRULY YOU DON’T BELIEVE HIM?” “IT MAY BE POSSIBLE, SERVANT. THROUGH OUT COUNTLESS CENTURIES MEN HAVE SOLD THEIR SOULS TO ME.

I ACCEPT THIS PLEDGL, ON ONE CONDITION, YOU TWO MUST FIGHT TO THE DEATH. WINNER TAKES ALL.” He laughs.

“THIS WILL BE CHILDS PLAY.” Death says.

“THERE’S ONE MORE THING.” Mesphisto says. “YOU’LL BE STRIPPED OF YOUR HELLISH POWERS DURING BATTLE, SERVANT. THE. MORTAL BASTARD MUST HAVE SOME ADVANTAGE.”

“WHAT?”

“YES SERVANT. I WILL STRIP YOU OF YOUR ARMOR AS WELL. The armor vanishes from Deaths body. The girls scream at his uncovered sight. He’s not the skeletal vision every human mind wishes to believe. That description of Death is the world’s ignorant creation. Before three humans the true Death is revealed. Black slime drips from his body. Black muscles entwine with red veins. He does have a polished skull.

His teeth are pointed and jagged. A true nightmare indeed. “YOU SHALL SOON LOOK LIKE ME, KYLE. AS I TEAR YOU LIMB FROM LIMB.” Death leaps on him. His choking hands cut off Kyle’s air. A wellplaced stomach blow from Kyle has no affect. He has to do something soon, or he’s history. He plants his knee between Deaths legs. at first nothing happens. A look of agony washes over his bony features. His grip loosens, his hands grab at his crotch. Kyle hits him in his jaw. Deaths head snaps sideways. “Owww, shit.” He holds his hand in pain. Deaths own punch lays him flat.

“THAT MUST’VE HURT AS WELL. RIGHT, KYLE?”

Kyle wipes blood from his lip.

“I’m going to fuck your bony ass up.”

“BRING IT ON.”

A kick slams into Kyle’s face. He’s lifted off his feet. Hurled against the far wall.

CRASH.

Sharp pain tears through his body. His ribs snap like twigs... He loses his breath. another kick slams into his gut. He hunches over, gags, and gasps for air. Droplets of blood fall from his open mouth. A double fisted blow flattens him.

“I TOLD YOU THIS WAS GOING TO BE EASY.”

Kyle spots the butt end of the severed M-16. Just a few feet in front of him. He has to get it. It’s his only chance. He crawls in its direction.

“WHAT’S THIS?” Death points. “THE FOOL CONTINUES TO STRUGGLE. WHERE ARE YOU GOING, KYLE?”

Halfway there another blow. He falls. Rises. Continues for the piece. It’s but an arms length away. Another blow, immense pain.

“GIVE UP, KYLE. YOU’VE LOST. YOU’RE TOO FUCKING WEAK TO TAKE ONE AS POWERFUL AS I.”

He grabs the piece. Swings upward. Clips Death in his knee. He wails, falls to the floor. Kyle gets to his feet. Death stands. Finds the butt of the gun slammed into his skull. A piece of bone breaks free. Blood spurts from the opening. Another blow to his skull. He collapses, grabbing his head. Blow after blow, in a nonstop rain of violence.

Cries of pain escape Death. The cries soon come to a halt. His face smashed into nothing but a bloody mixture of bone and ooze. The body collapses like a leaking balloon. putrid smoke drifts from the bubbling remains. He drops the gun piece to the floor.

“VERY IMPRESSIVE, MORTAL. YOU HAVE PROVEN YOURSELF ABLE TO BE MY SERVANT. WELCOME TO MY RANKS.

Kyle walks over to the new unit. The girls wish to join him. He waves them off. “You know, you can use your immeasurable Powers to bring the unit to maximum power.”

“I SHALL DO THIS. BUT REMEMBER, MORTAL. I’M THE MASTER AND YOU’RE THE SERVANT.”

Kyle bows with a hidden smile.

Two large beams of energy spring from Mesphisto’s eyes. Kyle rushes over to the girls. “Shield your eyes.” The beams strike the unit. A shower of red sparks. It reaches full power in an instant. “MORTAL, ACTIVATE THE UNIT. I TIRE OF THIS PLANE I’M STUCK IN.” “Yes, Master.” The unit is turned on. It hums with a different tone. A bright purple beam strikes the swirling black portal.

“WHAT... WHAT ‘S GOING ON?”

“You’re going back to hell, asshole.”

“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO THE UNIT? YOU FOOLISH DAMN MORTAL?”

“I’ve reversed its power flow.” He laughs. “This beams going to suck your portal all up. In doing so, it’ll close forever. All your evil will go with it, including your ugly ass.”

The unit begins its duty. The purple beam intertwines with the portal’s darkness. “NOOO... YOU’LL PAY MORTAL. I’LL TORMENT YOUR SOUL FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIVING DAYS...”

Kyle grabs the girls. Hauls them towards the elevator. “We have to get out of here.” Mesphisto roars. Tries to fight the unit’s power. The elevator door opens. It’s filled with stiffs.

Half the portal has been sucked into the unit. Yet something is wrong. The unit is smoking. With a final roar, Mesphisto is engulfed into the unit.

Kyle grabs the butt end of the M-16. Smashes the unit into hundreds of pieces. “Goodbye, fellows.” He looks at the stiffs.

They do not vanish.

“Any second now, right?” Jennifer asks. “That’s how it’s supposed to go.”

The stiffs continue for them.

“What do we do?” Alyssa cries. “We’re dead.” “Don’t freak on me now, girl. The car... the one we missed our first escape from here. Run for it.”

They dash for the car. Stiffs claw the air. Try to grab them. “Open door.” The door swings up. He shoves Jennifer inside.

“Kyle... help.” Alyssa pleads. “They’ve got me.”

He turns to her scream. He knows there’s nothing he can do to help her. There are far too many. They take her down into the quagmire of rotted flesh. Her screams soon stop. “You bastards.” He enters the car. Slams the door shut. “Bastards. Those no good bastards.” He cries.

“Where’s Alyssa?”

The stiffs bang on the car.

“She’s gone. They got her.”

He drives the car into the elevator. A stiff is cut in half by the closing doors. Jennifer cries in his arms. The doors open. He peels from the elevator. Turns the car to face the hanger. “Weapon system activate.” He looks at her. “You know something, Jennifer? I’ve just figured it out. We were able to send back the evil entities that had escaped from the portal itself. But the stiffs, the dead, they didn’t come through a portal. They’re all here until they’re permanently killed off.”

The cars guns erupt, missiles fire. The hanger explodes in a massive ball of fire. He leaves the area.

The war isn’t over.

It’s only begun.

Death cannot be killed.

How many years will it last?

Will mankind become extinct? Snuffed out by our own dead kind. Who knows how much of the world remains intact?

The nights grow darker, days longer.

He stares at the diminishing sun. Knows the answer to the burning question. Mankind will not give up. For strong will and dedication is what makes us great.

We will win this dead war.

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