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Last in Line

Last in Line by Ernesto Mora

 

Summary

The emergency broadcast alarm sounds off. I am disturbed, out of my sleep. But what’s more disturbing is what I now see on the screen. Could this be real? Is this some sort of hoax? I don’t know, but there’s something to the tone of the man’s voice, that is leaving me unsettled. I think I better take this seriously.

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I lay on my couch, slightly stirring from the ache that had accumulated in my neck from what I assume was a lousy sleeping position. The sound was at its least, irritating, but as my senses became more acute, the sound became more…desperate.

My irresponsibly powered on screen was midway through the Emergency Broadcast alarm that so often goes disregarded, and as my sight came into focus, I see the official seal of the Department of Homeland Security emblazoned across a blue velvet curtain, and just underneath that emblem, the expressionless man at the podiums’ credentials read;

Steven Chambers
Head of FEMA

“…and cannot corroborate the veracity of the Munich accounts…”.

He seemed stoic in his demeanor, but there was an unsettling quality to the tone of his voice, it seemed desperate and flustered.

“As of fourteen-hundred hours, local time, Munich has ceased its initial distress calls. All attempts at re-establishing a line with them, be it online or otherwise, has failed. But going back to your original question, at this time we are treating all rumors of a catastrophic event as just that…rumors.”

At saying ‘rumors’, Mr. Chambers, Head of FEMA, tensed up and shifted his leg from his right to his left, showing obvious body language of a liar.

“…but, in any event, as a precautionary measure, the President of the United States has issued a flight ban on all traffic to and from the U.S. and has implemented a complete lockdown of all major and minor airports nationwide, and many other countries are following suit.”

Unsettled, I sat up as the morning sun blinded me from the small openings on the side of the persians. I took a drink from the bottle of beer I had left to warm up on the coffee table during last night’s solo blowout, but something made me stop mid drink, a realization that felt like a ball of lead spontaneously materialized in the pit of my stomach. I sprang up from the couch, turned down the volume on Mr. Chambers, Head of FEMA, and slightly pivoted my head towards the direction of the window.

On any given day, even at random, the street is pulsating with the daily hustle and bustle typical for any mid-size city like Bachman Heights. If my waking stupor wasn’t hindering me too much, I calculate today should be Friday. Glancing at the muted monitor, I’m able to tell the time is 7:55 a.m., peak hours for the garbage truck to come down the street, menacingly close to the neighborhood parked cars, the sputtering and grinding of its transmission being many folks often rude morning call. From my third floor apartment, my living room windows provide quasi-balcony seats to the ever-unfolding drama that is daily life. Rooted midway between two busy avenues, my street is a considerable thoroughfare for the working-class to and from the business district to the North, and major transport hubs to the south. My neighbor directly below me was also oddly imperceivable. I haven’t had the pleasure of acquaintanceship given, what seems to be, their obvious lack of consideration when it comes to accepting the fact that not everyone in the building appreciates rap at odd hours, and at ear-murdering levels at that. Across the hall, a nice young couple and their kids are typically rushing out the door at this hour, him, on his way to morning classes where he’s studying for his bachelors in criminal justice before going to work at City Center Plaza’s Best Buy. She, dropping their 5 and 7-year-old girls to their kindergarten and 2nd grade classes respectively, before making her way to the Train Station where she’ll travel roughly 35 minutes to her day job in Windsor City, where she is in marketing, I know this because of their loud conversations in which they argue over the bills and discuss short and long-term plans.

But today, on this bright and seemingly common day, my ears pulsed with the lack of auditory diversity. No traffic, no commotion, no conversation, and listening even closer…no wind rustling the mid-spring leaves on the Queen Elizabeth Hedge Maples that intermittently line the sidewalks with shade, and the complete absence of the morning songs of the local birdlife.

Out of the corner of my eye, a splash of red on the monitor alerts me to it. Across the screen, and in an alarming hue of vivid red and yellow, the words, ‘EMERGENCY BROADCAST’ are sprawled. I turn the volume back up on the monitor just as it cuts to another suit standing at a podium with the same DHS emblem, this one’s face much, much sterner and perturbed.

“…do not make sudden movements, do not run, do not make loud noises, do not look directly into the black shade…”

Some form of interference scrambles the digital signal and temporarily distorts the image, occluding the audio as well…

“…stay in a straight line and face forward towards the light of the morning sun, evacuate immediately to your locally designated centers…”

Sporadic interference continues to distort the image and sounds, and on the bottom, I see the ticker tape with information.

BACHMAN HEIGHTS – LOCAL TRAIN STATION

Was this a joke? It just had to be some elaborate hoax perpetrated by local media, similar to Orson Wells’ 1938 panic inducing broadcast.

The monitor, amid bursts of sporadic interference, now shows the man at the podium being ushered away hurriedly by what I can only assume are secret service agents, the camera jostles upward towards the ceiling, likely being abandon by the cameraman, where the auditorium lights and their rigging are now coming into focus. The microphone still on, picks up on the last words audible before the feed is cut…

“Sir, the shade is moving this way.”

The Suits’ response, “Are my kids safe…”

I’m standing in front of the monitor, now displaying one of those quintessential ‘technical difficulties’ screens. The information whirling in my head, I drag my feet in a daze back towards the window.

“…do not make loud noises…”

The words of caution, that with them carried a tone of utter, and helpless seriousness, couldn’t help but reverberate over and over in my head. But what was standing out the most, and quite frankly, scaring the sobriety back into me as something else was scared out of me, namely, the shit, was the warning about looking at “the shade”.

The way the suit had worded it gave this ‘shade’ a sinister air to it. How could something so mundane as shade be a cause for such alarm. It is almost as if this lack of direct photons in a given area has suddenly become sentient.

Looking out into the street, a startling realization hits me that sends my heart down to my feet. On any normal day, I would be able to look and make out the shapes of the buildings shadows plastered on the walls and buildings across the street. I would be able to watch the trees cast their dancing shadows onto the asphalt below wherever there would be a maple tree lined up with an alleyway that ran from east to west, allowing the sun to zipper between the buildings and peek at what’s going on in my neck of the woods.

Not today, not on this perplexing morning. No, today the shapes cast by the shadows of the buildings on the eastern side of the street across to the edifices on the west side were distorted. Both the trees and the buildings shadows seemed to be fluxing, taking on an ephemeral sort of dance as they seemed to slip in and out of perceivable one second, to not at all there the next.

There was also something unnatural to the light of this morning. Looking at the sky towards the west, somewhere between 65 degrees above me to just over the roof of the building directly across from me at roughly 30 to 35 degrees, there was not a cloud in the typical morning azure sky. But from 65 degrees to directly over me, the sky was pitch black. Most unsettling is, there is no gradient from the lighter area of the sky towards the dark portion, no instance of gradual lightening. It’s as though some omnipotence drew a line directly and perfectly splitting day and night right above the city of Bachman Heights.

I snap my awe struck gaze back down to terrestrial levels. I realize that the monitor was now emitting an echoing feedback loop, similar to that feedback loop you get if you place your smartphone on speaker right next to the phone you’re calling at the moment. Someone had once told me that those were the sounds echoing off the satellites and into space, but that guy was a know-it-all dick.

“…do not make loud noises…”

I let off a hushed expletive and turned the monitor completely off. The comparable silence was dizzying. It was suddenly so quiet, I was able to hear the little hairs in my ear canal as they grew (know-it-all dick said that’s what that sound was). That’s when I heard them.

Up towards the north, as far as my street would allow me to see, before slightly curving about 700 meters away so as to break line-of-sight with my window, were hundreds of people walking southward, towards what I can only presume was the local train station hub.

In front of this massive pilgrimage, was a uniformed officer, with the insignia of our local police department. On his face, I could see the look of stress and uncertainty. It had a quality that only helped to make the event seem that much more desperate, it was a look of grief and fear. We make eye contact briefly as he parades this desperate march past my building, but in that brief locking of eyes, he conveys a million words. He then unceremoniously places his index finger to his puckered lips in the universal sign for ‘hush’ towards me, before facing forward and continuing on their way, neatly in file one at a time as a kindergarten teacher might take her brood to the auditorium through the elementary school halls. Were the situation not as imminent, it may have been comedic.

I watch the multitude of faces pass by, each as distraught as the last, each with their own once normal as can be lives marred by these…events. But was that even the proper title for what was going on?

Some of the men and women were sobbing quietly, others appeared stoic, like the look on the face of a soldier on his sophomore tour of duty, after the loud noises and explosions were no longer novel occurrences. Some of the adults carried their children with them, I suppose not wanting them to slow down the stride, albeit meticulous and drawn out, while others clasped hands with their children at their side. Some of the children seemed to not be in the particular company of any adult, their look of mortified confusion etched into my memory. Many seemed to be attempting to get service on their smartphones, holding their devices into the air as if to appease the satellite gods, I’m sure to no avail. This gathering stretched beyond my line of sight to the north and seemed unending. Face after face with little change in somberness from one to the next, I’m sure each one had a story to tell, and I am just one in the seemingly thousands that were making their way to Bachman Heights Train Station on my street this morning, fleeing from the unknown calamity that has urged the government to declare a state of emergency.

The sense of dread and anxiety stirred in the air, and coupled with the unnaturalness of the almost absolute quiet, it sent a chill down my spine.

I glance over to the entrance door with the events of the past 15 minutes racing through my head. I waste no more time and grab my wallet, phone and keys. Stepping out into the hallway with the noise of my door’s rusty hinges shattering the thin glass of silence of my building. I quickly insert the key into the bolt and turn the lock one last time. It briefly gives me a sense of normalcy, but then I think to myself how perhaps this action is obsolete given the circumstances. A momentary lapse of bewildering anxiety mixed with a tinge of sadness waves over me, as I make my way downstairs.

I step out into the coolness of the morning shade, whether the shade is compliments of Mother Nature or something less natural is debatable at this point. Looking north at street level, the line of refugees seems even denser. I look up at the sky, still taken agape by the stark line of night and day above me, this ‘missing’ piece of sky is truly unsettling and I can’t help but feel like we’ll all just ‘fall’ up into this void above us and be consumed by this foreboding inky firmament. I recall what the suit warned us not to do;

“…do not make sudden movements, do not run, do not make loud noises, do not look directly into the black shade…”

I quickly avert my gaze from the sky back down to terrestrial levels and quietly curse myself for having broken one of these last minute commandments. I look back across the street at the line of citizens headed for what we all hope is a safe haven from whatever this was, and now see a second uniformed officer walking parallel to the civilians sort of ushering folks to stay in a straight and orderly line. Now that I had a closer look, and as I focused as far north as I could, I realize that every hundred feet or so is a uniformed officer playing the usher of sorts to the crowd. On my side of the street, interspersed at about the same rate, are a handful of uniformed officers going in and out of buildings, I only assume, to get anyone not aware of the situation out in a safe and quiet manner.

A soft hand grabs me by the shoulder and slightly startles me. I turn to face a young female officer, possibly in her early twenties, quietly placing her index finger in front of her lips:

“Sir…”

she begins in a very hushed tone, soft, but assertive, I envisioned a stern preschool teacher reprimanding a noisy child during nap time.

“…you must make your way to the back of the line but do so very, very quietly…”

she has yet to release her grasp on my shoulder as she informs me which only makes me understand that she clearly wants me to pay careful attention to all that she says.

“…if you have a phone, turn the volume all the way down and do not put it on vibrate, don’t look up at the sky for too long, do not engage in conversation with anyone else on line…”

The young (and very pretty) officer’s name was Valdes, badge number 3-076. She had the most alluring big brown eyes, skin (by what I could feel on the side of my neck as her hands still rested on my shoulders) as soft and smooth to the touch as silk. She wore makeup, but only the amount allowed by guidelines in her profession, but her natural beauty was evident through that thin veneer of artificiality. Her skin tone was olive in nature and her scent, a mixture of perfume, and a very rough morning at work, was alluringly pleasant. She had a slight accent that denoted her Hispanic ethnicity and as I stared at her mouth I noticed her beautifully shaped full lips. I thought to myself how silly, the world as we know it in disarray, and here I was transfixed to a beautiful woman in a dangerous situation.

“…the others on the line have already been instructed the same, so it is very important that you listen to the following as well, for your safety and the safety of the other civilians…once in the back of the line, if you think you hear your name, or someone is calling you, do not listen to that voice and keep facing forward, I repeat, everyone in line is instructed not to speak for the sake of safety, do not engage in discourse.”

At giving me the last and obviously memorized instruction, I felt her hand squeeze at my shoulder.

“Now get across the street quietly.”

A newly formed sense of dread washed over me. Whatever was going on, whatever had caused Munich and God knows how many other cities around the world to suddenly drop off the face of the Earth, was apparently stimulated by sounds. I wanted to ask questions, but I could tell that they would go unanswered as I would be told to be quiet. My mind spun with those questions not asked;

-What are we dealing with?
-Why are the phenomena triggered by sound?
-What the holy fuck was happening to the sky?
-And what happens when we reach the train station?

As I get to the other side of the street, the Ushers/Policemen quietly direct me to the north and towards the back of the line. There are already some people ahead of me making their way as well, I figure these are some of my neighbors that have just joined the march to the train station and were clearly ushered out before me.

As I’m making my way north, past the faces in the crowd going south, the level of despair is more apparent across the faces. Some women with their mascara running down their face as they quietly sobbed, grown men, reduced to whimpering and shaking masses amid all the uncertainty. I made a ghastly observation just then. Parents of newborns and infants placing their hands over their children’s mouth, the muffled cries barely audible underneath the smothering hands momentarily amplified as, not wanting to suffocate their children, they release their hands from their tiny faces to allow them to breathe. To say the least, I was dismayed at the sight of this, but could feel no disgust, as whatever was happening would surely be a far worse fate. The faces in the crowd don’t so much as make a small glance at me, too overwhelmed at the current reality of the situation.

I’m momentarily snapped back to reality by a tap on my shoulder. My neighbor from across the hallway, amid a veil a tears streaming down his face, quietly asks if I had seen his wife and children. I somberly nod my head no as he turns to face forward again, an even more pained look now on his face. I feel a knot in my heart grow as all I can do is watch as this man’s world falls apart, both figuratively and literally seemingly, in the span of a few seconds. I press on towards the end of the line, the muffled sounds of hundreds upon hundreds of light footsteps are nearly all I can hear as the new found quiet allows the sound to reverberate off the walls uninterrupted. I pass by one of the alleyways that dichotomize my street in an east/west section and am even more unsettled by the sight.

Towards the east and through this particular alleyway, on any other occasion on any given morning, I would be looking over towards the sun peeking between the buildings luminously, but what caught my eye and sent a chill down my spine was that the sun seemed to palpitate at a rather slow interval. I’ve heard that minor occlusions are frequently happening as the photons travel literally through space to our eyes, but those are said to be almost impossible to detect, if not entirely, by the naked eye. On this day, as I stare towards the sun, though we are warned against it, it’s as stark and contrast as flickering the light switch on and off at a deliberate pace. The corona around the sun was all but absent, its once dominant place in the clear morning sky no longer flooded by the vibrant rays that would burn your eyes if stared at for too long. No, I find myself in awe at this flickering celestial body, disturbed two-fold by the fact that it didn’t strain my eyes to stare at it, and how it would turn into an inky sphere momentarily as it pulsated.

I snap my focus back ahead of me and towards the multitude walking towards and past me. I try to shake the image of the black sun from my mind but it’s of no use. These strange events are beginning to take their toll.

“Am I dead?…Is this hell?”

The thought was fleeting, but it left its mark. Had I died at some point last night?

“Yesterday is vivid in my recollection, so I must’ve been ‘alive’ then… right?”

I shake the thought almost immediately. Of course, I hadn’t died last night, what was happening was very real. It’s just the coping mechanism in humans wasn’t designed for something this…aberrant…this deviated from the norm. I feel as though I could go insane at the very thought of what I have been witnessing up until this point.

“What about a more earthly explanation? Was this some sort of EMP attack from a hostile government?” If so, how?”

“Of course it isn’t, what kind of technology exists that could make the sun pulse like it was, and not to mention the dichotomized day/night sky directly above and the fluxing shadows, and…the missing people.”

There’s no way around it, whatever this is that’s happening, has never been seen or heard of before. We were not to look at the sky for prolonged periods, for God’s sake, we can’t even make loud noises, now if all this put together is the result of a man-made strike, conventional or not, then it’s certainly technology I couldn’t even dream of. No, whatever this is, I’m living through it right now and it has no precedent, this is going to be in future history books for sure.

I continue my quietly hurried pace towards the end of the line, ushered ahead by uniformed police officers at every 2-300 yards or so. The faces, all the faces in the crowd have the same defeated, exasperated and hopeless gleam in their eyes, some stare at me back, their look telling me all I need to know, while the others purposely averted their gaze away from me. There isn’t much more to the end of the line.

“Finally…” I mutter under my breath.

At the end of the line was one last officer, P.O. Dizenzo badge 3-052, who brandished a 12 gauge shotgun. He reminded me a bit of Tony Danza in his younger days on ‘Who’s The Boss’ if Tony Danza had male pattern baldness in his mid-thirties and looked like he was well known at the local donut shops. I look at the weapon closely and realize it isn’t loaded, as the chamber is ajar revealing it to be empty. He sees that I notice and, to my astonishment, a quick smile flashes across his face, though momentarily.

“No loud noises…” he whispers to me, “It just makes me feel safer to hold.” He has the typical Northeastern Italian wiseguy accent going.

I nod my head to him as he directs me in front of him and right behind a young woman in line. He continues to whisper,

“You’ve been instructed by the evacuating officer into the protocol of this formation. You’re the last in line, as such you are to maintain composure and avoid endangering the rest of the formation, if you are compromised, you are expected to avoid compromising the others. The National Guard has enacted martial law and we are currently under their orders to evacuate all who we can from the city to the train station within an hour where an evacuation has been staged and transports are on standby. Do you understand these directives given by the United States Army sir?”

I must look like a kid on his first day of school because the officer simply nods his head for me. I feel overwhelmed by the quick barrage of information and it was evident, apparently, as the officer follows up without so much as a response from me.

“Ok, face forward and keep quiet.”

“Wait,” I whispered without looking back towards the officer, “does anyone know what’s happening?”

The officer’s response was in the coldest tone possible, I feel like this wasn’t the first time he’s been asked this today.

“No.”

“What is the evacuation plan once we’re at the station?”

“I don’t know.”

I feel myself getting irritated with his lack of compliance.

“Well, then what the fuck do you know?”

I tense up as I expect him to place me in handcuffs and leave me chained to a stop sign, but to my relief, he simply states,

“All I know is what the sarge told me, what he told us…” He motions to his brothers and sisters in blue, “…the military is here, at the station ready to evac everyone, whether they’ve got first class accommodations with all the trimmings waiting for everyone, or they’re going to squeeze as many of us into a cart and lock the door behind us is anyone’s guess,” he wipes some sweat from his brow using a small kerchief he then neatly replaces back into his uniform pants pocket, “The only certain thing is, whatever’s happening has got most of the world spooked, and evacs are going on worldwide as we speak, and as soon as we get to the train station, I’m changing to my civvy clothes and cramming into one of those carts right behind you, I don’t get paid enough for this level of shit.”

He takes a deep breath and exhales the exhalation of a man who has accepted his decisions, he continues, this time even more quietly, an air of secrecy behind his words,

“Before the comms went offline, command mentioned that everyone south of us had been evacuated, south as in south of the state, but the damndest thing you know…”He leans in slightly closer, enough to make me uncomfortable, enough to smell the odor of alcohol on his breath, “right before we completely lost the signal, we started getting encrypted radio chatter, you know those errant signals that interfere with some frequencies, they were coming in in bursts in all kinds of frickin’ languages..” At the word frickin’ I feel cold spittle on the back of my neck, disgust stands the hairs on my neck, “…then one transmission came in English and was all like, ‘hey, don’t be scared, disregard your leaders this is just a hoax blah blah blah’…” His penchant for sarcasm was unwelcome, especially at a time like this. He continued, “you know, something like that…but you want to know what really scared the shit out of me? It was the voice, the voice coming through the radio was too calm and sounded… I don’t know…hollow…”

I find myself deeply intrigued by this mysterious radio chatter so when he lightly pats my back, I’m startled and feel my body momentarily tense up.

“Anyway, I thought everyone on this side of town was already at the evac point, what happened? Did you sleep through the end of the world buddy?”

He let out a soft chuckle that would warrant a quick jab to the face were it any other occasion (and were he not a cop), but the thought gave way to resentment.

No one in my building that was there at the time had bothered to check on me, the asshole downstairs neighbor had evacuated and was too busy saving his own hide to warn me.

“Prick.”

The young woman in front of me is frantically trying to get service on her phone, between whimpers and expletives she raises her phone towards the sky, but just momentarily as I’m sure she thinks about the warnings against looking towards the sky. I see on her left ring finger an engagement ring and assume it’s her fiance she is trying to contact, as she seems to be alone on the line. She is no older than her early to mid-twenties and feels a pang of pity as I imagine her wedding plans quickly darkening like the morning around us.

‘Is it getting darker?’

In the span of time from looking towards the alleyway to just now, no more than 15 minutes, the day has gotten significantly more opaque. The gloom on this morning resembled the evening dusk of summertime except for the fact that it was no later than 9 a.m., and the odd phenomenon occurring with the sky itself. Amidst the line of evacuees, whimpers and moans can be heard interspersed. A gasp is heard not too far ahead of me and the commotion drew my attention and the attention of some of the individuals within proximity. Towards the eastern sky, the sun continued to pulsate and dance visibly to the naked eye. The fluctuations had become more apparent and draped the earth in alternating night and day within seconds of each other. In the period of darkness, the stars would be visible and in the moments the sun shone again, they would vanish instantly only to reappear again in the pseudo-night sky.

A man a few dozen people in front of me lets out a pathetic moan as he points down an alleyway and towards the eastern sky. On the horizon, roughly at 15 degrees up is what can only be described as complete blackness. It’s as though the horizon has ceased to exist from yesterday to this moment, there are no lights nor stars permeating from this atramentous void in the distance. The realization is made more unbearable by the fact that, as the sun acted as a strobe light, seemingly turning itself on and off again, the void-like horizon that was only distinguishable in the few moments we had light seemed to expand and draw nearer.

I’m unable to remove my gaze from this impending nothingness and make a startling realization. This horizon was expanding, and as it drew nearer and nearer the land itself, the streets, the light posts, the buildings, everything in its path, seemed to fall off the edge of the Earth, seemed to be consumed by absolute darkness. The sun stops pulsating, and all at once, we are thrown into complete nightfall.

Complete silence, the entire line comes to a complete halt. Those who are in possession of phones turn on the flashlight features, others huddle close to them seemingly fearful of the dark. All the adults reverted back to that same childhood fear of the unknown peril that hides in the shadows, and among the sparse light offered by the phones in this blackest of nights I feel anyone has ever seen, we are all as vulnerable as we once were as children as well.

Officer Dizenzo sparks a road flare engulfing the area in an orange-red hue of light, now brighter than anything else. The sizzling sound of the flare is deafening in this vacuum of shock induced silence, as no one dares take another step, too petrified by the uncertainty of the moment. Whispers among the crowd can be heard, seeming to pick up in frenzy as the inevitability of the situation is becoming more and more apparent and as some in the crowd began to loudly hush those they feel are compromising everyone’s safety by initiating interrogative dialogue.

“What now? What the hell do we do now?” One man can be heard as he uses sotto voce among the desperate coterie of evacuees and continues; “God-damn-it! Officer’s, what now?!”

Among the diaspora of Bachman Heighters, the tension begins to mount, the voice from within that screams for self-preservation as it seizes control of the most basic civil courtesies in even the most altruistic among us begin to vocalize in the form of growing tension among the mass. Men rudely hush women and children, mother’s sternly condemning the crying children, the hands that moments ago carefully muffled newborn mouths to acquiescence now desperately stifle unassuming mouths. Hushes and condemnation fill the starless impetuous night.

“Lady shut that God-damn baby the hell up!” Vile rhetoric from a few yards in front of me as an infant begins to sob, surely not used to the darkness at such a young age.

“That’s a fucking baby you asshole, what do you want her to do?!” Another voice in the void comes to the child’s defense.

“That baby is going to get us killed!” A third voice’s loud whisper chimes into the conversation.

“Mommy! Are we going to die!?” A child, no more than 5 or 6 just a few rows in front of me turned to her mother and, with the sincere look of a chastised and remorseful puppy on her face, begins to sob loudly as well.

All at once, the crowd stirs into a loud whisper-frenzy of expletives and finger pointing. Children can be heard crying as the adults deflect blame off one another. Some men threaten physical violence, grabbing at each other by the lapels of their coats and collars on their polos. Officer Dizenzo, meanwhile, is desperately trying to calm his section of the line down, stepping in between shoves and dirty looks. I wonder if the entire march has fallen into such a schism.

“Stop it! Stop it I said!” Dizenzo looks comical, like one of the three stooges, as he’s being tossed back and forth between two sparring hot-heads.

“If you two supposed grown men don’t cut this shit out right now, I swear to God I’ll put a bullet in your legs and leave you here if it’s what I have to do to save the rest of us that want to get out of this God-forsaken city!” It was the young and pretty officer, Valdes, badge 3-076. She was making her way back up the line trying her best to calm the sudden discord down. Her face, though young and damn near flawless, showed obvious signs of stress and fatigue, which in turn, makes me feel she wasn’t speaking facetiously about pumping a cap into their ass. She’s effective, and the tail-end section once again simmers down to a low murmur of disharmony and uncertainty.

“Cut this shit out immediately…”, she gives the men the no nonsense stare down, she turns to Dizenzo, who is giving the two guys a menacing look after having been tossed around like softball, “the lieutenant wants us to maintain order and keep pressing on, we’re a mile-and-a-half of the station and there’s no contingency plan for anything so there’s not much of a choice.”

Dizenzo nods affirmatively pick the road flare back up off the ground (having dropped it in the tussle) and motions for everyone to form the line back up. The line slowly begins to move again in the direction of the station as the wave of compliance finally reaches us all the way in the back.

“Here we go, face forward and for God’s sake move quie-”

Dizenzo is interrupted mid-sentence. Everyone once again stops in their tracks, uncertainty reinvigorated. The officer’s radios up the line can be heard crackling with static and in the dim lights of the phones, their silhouettes can be seen tussling with them to shut them off. Some of the people on the line can be heard reprimanding the officers and imploring them to keep quiet, others are heard crying softly at a fate unknown and now made more terrifying by this impromptu midnight.

Dizenzo takes a few steps forward. “What the hell is going on with the radios?”

The radio on Dizenzo’s shoulder mounted unit cracks into life with a frightening cackle of static and feedback, apparently having neglected to turn the radio off after losing comms earlier. Dizenzo frantically tries to turn it off but is unable to, as the static crescendos into an unsettling pitch that evokes thoughts of being attacked by whatever we were supposed to avoid loud noises for.

“God damn it!” Dizenzo unfurls in a loud whisper barely audible over the now possessed radio.

He snatches the unit from his utility belt and snags the cord from the epaulette of his shirt and flings the unit as far as he can back towards where we were a few seconds ago. We are standing still, our lungs stiller yet, as we listen to the pollution of sounds coming from the radios now strewn along the street with Dizenzo’s radio somewhere in the darkness behind us.

From the darkness the radios cease their bombardment all at once as suddenly as they had begun them, the only sounds now being the road flare with its orange-red hue, and the occasional muffled whimper-cry of men, women and children alike.

Officer Valdes walks back to Dizenzo again. “What the hell was that? I thought we lost all comms and channels.”

Dizenzo, looking just as perplexed just shrugs his shoulders slowly. “We did…maybe some sort of electrical interference caused by this blackout?” I can tell by the look on his face that not even he believes this to be plausible.

“This isn’t a blackout Vinny, and an electrical interference would need some sort of current to interfere, everything’s dead out here, it’s pitch black.” Officer Dizenzo, Vinny, looks at Valdes with concern. “You and I both know these radios were dead and now all our radios flip on at once?”

“Maybe someone opened up comms again?” Vinny struggles to sound convinced with that one as well.

“Vin, who would be at central right now in this darkness? Besides, we evacuated everyone North of here and back towards HQ, so no one can be back in the comms room dialing through channels right now.”

I imagined, in the darkness of this eve, through the desolate streets of this evacuated city now veiled in absolute black, past the now imperceivable buildings that once pulsed with daily activity and held within its walls the daily lives of faceless thousands, now no more than a husk abandoned in a hurry and left to sink in the murky twilight, I pictured the lonely alleyways and byways, as in my memory I trekked back through the city, past the school haunted by the echoes of children’s laughter and voices, now hushed by the ever-dark atrophy of light. I traveled back past the parks with their playgrounds now left behind in miserable loneliness, and past city hall, with its windows and offices surely occluded in a well of darkness so deep, so as to never let even memories escape from their walls. In my mind I walked up to the steps of the police station and stood at its open front door, the inside a foreboding hue of nothingness so dense, it was nearly palpable, and inside the confines of this once secure building, deep in the bowels of its basement, near its holding cells shut in perpetual night and through its empty hallways reverberating the sounds of solitude, was a presence laying in wait, cognizant of its quarry meddling not too far from its den and astray from its pack. It was waiting, patient, calculating, the taste of its catch mocking its lips as it snarled alone, in the pit of this now umbrous and rended city. The thought sends a shiver down my spine and although we’ve no idea what was happening, I’m disturbed by the vividness and idiosyncrasies I attributed to this event, it gave it a sentient-like quality that left me uneasy.

“…do not be afraid of the dark…it is safe to speak to us…”

From the empty void behind us, beyond the reach of the lights mercifully illuminating the area immediately around us, and in the direction, Dizenzo had thrown his unit, came this sweetly alluring soft voice that melodied every word in the sentence. It was both distant and beside you at once, calm yet agitated in the same breath. It intoned soothing quality but somehow managed to perplex. It made my heart sink.

Dizenzo turns back to try (in vain) to illuminate as far back towards the source of this voice with the flare. “What in the-”

“…we mean no harm…we are YAHWEH*bzzzt*JESUS*bzzzt*ALLAH*bzzzt*GOD!…”

This voice in the dark, this calming and simultaneously alarming articulation was coming from what seems to be the radio Dizenzo disposed of, the radio seemingly changing channels between the eerily rapid annunciations of religious nomenclatures makes this evident. There is also a new distinguishable quality to this…voice…it sounds hollow, almost disembodied as if there were a multitude of different vocal chords with their own distinctive pitches speaking clearly simultaneously. It is rather disturbing, specifically so, when it pronounces ‘God’ it took on a rather angered tone.

Valdes grabs Dizenzo by his sleeve and motions with a nod of the head for him not to go towards the voice on the radio. “Vinny, are you crazy?!”

Dizenzo simply looks at Valdes with the look that says it all, the same quintessential look that any foolhardy Hollywood would-be hero gives to the eye candy damsel-in-distress before venturing into what surely always ends up being his untimely death. “Jess…relax ok. I’m just going to grab my radio back, it’s probably some nut job we left behind and they went all religious-psycho on us and now they’ve found the comms room and are looking for help…” Officer Valdes sure doesn’t look convinced.

Against her better judgment, she let’s go of his sleeve as Vinny cautiously makes his way towards the source of the transmission sounds. I look on as his flare sheds light onto the sidewalk and portions of buildings as he stealthily (as stealthily as a 290-pound Italian can) makes his way through the darkness. The red-orange dancing light causes the shadows of all the objects to canter wildly on the backdrops they land on, giving them almost a life-like characteristic. Some of the shadows seem to menacingly contort and bend towards Dizenzo in a frivolous attempt to ensnare him and do with him only they know what. Dizenzo seems to stop for a moment to listen out for something, but at this distance, roughly 25 meters off, I am unable to make out anything he may have heard. He briefly looks back towards Valdes, who in turn stands motionless, awestruck with anticipation, the wrinkles on her brow indicative of what she may be thinking.

Dizenzo’s flare dies out suddenly, Valdes let’s out a short gasp just under her breath, “come on you idiot, you have another flare on your waste, turn it on…” The last words in her sentence are drawn and convey urgency, her body language is uncomfortable and I’m able to tell she is experiencing sheer panic. It’s that police camaraderie you hear about, the ‘brotherhood’ that is created among peers who, day in and day out, watch your back as you watch theirs. It is through this seeming symbiosis, through this bond, that you can tell Valdes is vicariously experiencing the terror that Dizenzo must be experiencing himself at this moment. Sparks from Dizenzo trying to light the flare intermittently cast luminance and shadows where Dizenzo is now standing. He seems to be unable to light the flare and his desperation is translated into the frenzied pace at which the sparks jump to life as quickly as they are snuffed out.

“…shit shit shit…” you hear Dizenzo panicking and cursing the day they manufactured that piece of shit flare from even that distance, keeping quiet obviously flew out the window the second Dizenzo became terror stricken.

Valdes has had enough of this anticipation and makes a beeline sprint towards Dizenzo’s beacon of light in the ocean of black. “Hold on Vinny, don’t make any noises!” Valdes loudly whispers towards her fellow officer as she holds up her smartphone’s flashlight feature up over her head in a vain attempt to illuminate anything more than a few feet in front of her. Her steps are hesitant, but she maintains a hurried stride towards Dizenzo, adrenaline and the instinct to protect her loved ones being the driving force into the fray. Sparks continue to intermittently explode to life as an ongoing attempt at the flares continues. Valdes’ flashlight is no more than a floating light, cavorting its way towards those sparks. It’s almost artful. If I’m able to peel away the foreboding nature of this situation, it looks like a theatrical display between two lights, dancing their way to each other in this miasma of despair, and with this ‘perfect-were-it-not-creepy-as-hell’ velvety black backdrop, the intensity of those lights seem to glow phenomenally bright. Surely, what a spectacle that would be.

The phone’s light finally gets over to where the sparks are emanating from. Even in this near absolute quiet of this sleeping city indecorously blanketed in silence and shade, Valdes and Dizenzo are inaudible if they are exchanging words. The light from the phone continues to move about slightly, perhaps swinging with Valdes’ hand motions is all I can assume, and it appears Dizenzo has ceased trying to spark the flare. The light on the phone momentarily shuts off.

“Shit…”, Dizenzo is heard saying, clearly loud enough to be heard from my position. “Get the light back on!” Desperation perceivable in his quivering scream.

“It won’t come back on Vin, I can’t see anything…”. The clattering of Valdes’ phone falling to the ground can be heard, “FUCK, I DROPPED IT…WH-WHERE IS IT?” Desperation and raw terror gave way to hubris, as Valdes was now more than just whispering.

Besides me, as the drama unfolded before our eyes, everyone held their breath in an anxious display of anticipation. Among the faint glow of the few phones that were still mercifully shedding light on us, I could see the looks on faces. Dismay. No one would dare move, however, not even me. Dizenzo and Valdez may as well have been on a deserted island.

“DAMMIT, USE YOUR FLASHLIGHT!” Dizenzo now too is beginning to panic loudly.

“I. DON’T. HAVE. IT! IT’S ON MY UTILITY BELT BACK AT THE PRECINCT!” Her response was marred with resentment, both at Dizenzo for yelling at her, and at herself for not having had the prudence to bring the flashlights.

Somewhere in the darkness, nearer to the two officers, the sound of transmission static interrupts the stillness. Dizenzo and Valdes, Vinny and Jess, are now quiet and with the lack of lighting, I lose track of their approximation. The static continues to emanate through the inky gloom. If Vinny and Jess are speaking, they must be whispering again, perhaps fearful of the static. I can only imagine being stranded in the dark as some odd radio transmission is broadcasting near you, a broadcast that, if given all the details, should be impossible at this moment in time. This aberration, the static on the radios, slight and mundane as it may be, as it can be, is enough to cast doubt on the nature of intent of whoever…whatever, may be responsible.

*pssshh-click*

The static sounds from the radio die completely out. For a few moments, in the absolute silence now, I feel something coming towards us. The same feeling you get when you stumble around in the dark at night and maneuver your way to the bathroom, avoiding all perils such as chairs end-tables and walls and somehow, it’s possible to feel when the furniture is nearby. Only, this wasn’t inanimate. I feel the hairs on my arms stand, I tense up and, too petrified to move, hold my breath and try to swallow my saliva, which seems now impossible. I have this dread wash over me, and it’s as though my mind is convinced that something is coming for us at this moment, but my body has yet to comply. I picture whatever this entity is, is snaking towards us, as nimble as a breeze, from the comms room at the precinct, rushing through the hallways past the holding cells and up to the front entrance. I sense desperation and fury. I envision this thing bursting through the front door of the police station and dashing past city hall without so much as a sound, this entity being ephemeral, wispy, in my mind. I get a feeling of inevitability as I feel it going past the parks through the playgrounds in absolute darkness, this being having evolved in this kind of environment from an absolute lack of illumination. In my mind, it’s now quickly passing by the school district as it torpedoes to us, sensing our fears. Speeding past the alleyways and the dark husks for buildings as it stops momentarily when it sees us, even through this murky black fog, and charges directly at Vinny and Jess. My eyes are snapped back open as this being makes contact with the two officers. I listen intently…nothing.

All at once, from what I can hear, every radio unit that was in possession of law enforcement springs into life, the familiar *click-psshh* of them turning on piercing the quiet. Everyone is standing in complete silence, the events unfolding to a muted crowd. I remember to breathe again as I feel the burning in my lungs and do so through my nose, struggling to remain as quiet as I can be.

The air is suddenly bombarded with the contradicting sounds of soothing music being transmitted through the radios strewn all around us and resting in random unknown places. This, coupled with the proximity to buildings and walls, gives them an acoustic quality of echoing surround sound, which in the dark, completely bereft of our sense of sight, is somewhat dizzying.

Johnny McEvoys’ 1977 “Connemara” cradle song now flows through the radios all at once.

“ wings of the wind o’er the dark rolling deep, angels are coming to watch o’er thy sleep, angels are coming to watch over thee, so list’ to the wind coming o’er the sea…”

The song, once calming and meant to ease children to sleep, in this setting has an adverse effect. It is a chilling selection to be played at this time and as it echoes through the darkness and into our ears, I can’t help but be timorous and long for sunlight.

“…Hear the wind blow love, hear the wind blow, lean your head over, and hear the wind blow, wings of the night, may your fury be crossed, may no one who’s dear to our island be lost…”

The lullaby continues to pierce at my strongest of resolve, what was going on? Why was this playing? It seemed somewhat cruel, somewhat sadistic like we were being mocked before our fall. I picture a cat toying with its catch before tearing it apart.

“…blow the wind gently, come be the foam, shine the light brightly to guide them back home, hear the wind blow love, hear the wind blow, lean your head over and hear the wind blow…”

Nausea washes over me, I feel the urge to retch. I hold fast and calm myself down, was I feeling something around my legs? For a second, it felt like a warm breeze wrapped itself around my pant leg, an airy wisp of a tentacle. That feeling was vapid and quickly fleeting and I didn’t feel it anymore. Some voices in the crowd gasped and whimpered more so. “There’s something on my leg!” one man cried out, “it’s crawling on my foot mommy!” a child cried out from somewhere as well. Panic took hold as some people in the crowd began to wail loudly. “Oh my God, OH MY GOD, I FEEL IT TOO! WHAT IS THAT!?”

“…the cottacks are sailing, way out in the blue, laden with herring of silvery hue, silver the herring, and silver the sea, and soon there’ll be silver for baby and me, hear the wind blow love, hear the wind blow, lean your head over, and hear the wind blow…”

The lullaby ended and washed the night with the sounds of static once again. The crowd, now beyond reassurance, was in full panic, but could not move. I assume fear had taken hold of all our voluntary movement. All at once, the lights from every single phone shut off, screams were heard from the crowd as far as my perception of sound could distinguish.

“Do not fear us…we can show you the beauty in the dark…we are Mother*bzzzt*Father*bzzt*Sister*bzzt*Brother*bzzt*FAMILY!”

The disembodied, hollow voice was back on the radio again, going through the same rapid nomenclatures and nuances for family titles this time. This thing was clearly trying to make us complacent, but to what end? Why was it desperately trying to convey warmth and familiarity? Creepy, I thought of the man offering candy to children from his van.

“Do not be afraid of the night…we will show you where it’s always dark…and safe…”

The voice as before, soothing yet unnerving, calm yet fervent, carried a message of…salvation? Could we trust this with what was going on? Was it here to save us from this event? Or was it the cause of it? The uncertainty and my lack of knowledge on whatever the voice was, would not allow me to yield any trust to it.

“Vincent…” The voice now took on a new characteristic. It was the singular voice of a sweet sounding woman, it was almost human. “…why won’t you come to mother?

“What…the…fuck!?” Dizenzo is heard exclaiming from a distance as the sounds of glass shattering and car panels being hit with something rather large fill the air. He screams in a manner that causes me to lose my breath, they are the screams of pain and terror interspersed with choking, gurgling sounds from his direction. A loud final thud can be heard, similar to a head bouncing off the concrete, and at once, Dizenzo is no longer heard struggling.

“OH, MY GOD…VIN-!!!” Valdes let’s out her scream that is cut short. I hear her choking gasps coming from the emptiness in front of me and what sounds like a sickening, tightening squeeze on her flesh. Between chokes and gasps, Valdes is trying to mutter something. “Ru-…*GASP*RUN!” she manages to get that warning out before I hear her neck snap and what sounds like her body hit the pavement. I regain control of my legs, snap out of the semi-trance state, turn to everyone and yell: “TRAIN STATION, RUN!”

Hundreds of hurried footsteps falling all at once with the screams of terror and panic began making their way south towards the station. In the complete darkness, I could hear as people ran into posts, buildings, cars and each other. I heard as people on the ground begged to be helped up as people trampled over them, the sounds of children crying snuffed out suddenly. In a veil of panic and tears, I reached out in front of me, trying not to run into anyone or anything as I relied on memory and instinct in which direction to move.

“What is that!” I heard from somewhere in the commotion, “GET IT OFF OF ME!!!” The woman’s voice was one second in front of me and the next, her screams are hovering over me and traveling back in the opposite direction. She had been flung away with ease by something, it’s strength evident in the way it tossed Vinny, Jess, and now this lady like a rag doll. I’m not sure, but I think I heard her body landed about 30 yards behind me on a car…30 yards!

I continue in the direction I pray will eventually lead to the train station stepping over and on what I assume are people, but they aren’t making noises anymore, I’m stepping over and onto the dead among us. Screams and the sounds of death are all around me, tears are streaming down my face as I fear the worst, especially for the children. The newly perceived aroma now hits my senses, it is coppery in nature, blood. Beneath my feet, I’m losing traction on a viscous liquid and immediately am aware what it is…”oh my God…” I mutter under my rapid breaths. Little by little, the cacophony of screams and cries is diminishing as less and less of us are alive, like some twisted survival game show. What prize was in it for the last survivor? An all expense paid trip to the Bahamas? A brand new car, with functioning, LED headlights so I could see through this shit? Or, an unenviable death rife with the knowledge that no one is going to make it, that this is where your life story ends with no acclaims and no epitaph, no mourning, and no wake. The knowledge that you’re the last one and this thing can and more than likely will, take its time dispatching you, basking in the final kill with nothing but time on its hands.

I continue on, as carefully as I can until I can only hear the disturbing sounds of agony at a distance. I have made my way from almost everyone. I no longer smell the telltale scent of coppery blood and can feel no liquid beneath my feet. I stop momentarily, needing to compose myself. The sweat and tears now stung my eyes, but only swiped away at it briefly, as eyesight was of no use anyway. My heart is throbbing in my chest as I feel for a stoop to sit down on, though against my better judgment. I find a stoop, feeling the rails on the side as I carefully lift my feet to feel for the incline of the steps. I sit down, fold my arms on my knees, and rest my face in my arms.

I sob quietly, the faces of everyone, men, women, and children lapping over and over in my mind. Just earlier, I looked into the eyes of some of these people, frightened, but very much full of life. The children, innocent masses that deserved far better than a gloomy grave in the middle of the street, under the blackened sun. The families, torn apart by this awful tragedy. The faces of my neighbor across the hall, family now etched in fine detail in my mind, as through remembrance I pay my respects. I think of the normalcy that once was, the daily activity from the mundane to the complex, and how the littlest of things had always been taken for granted. Tears run down my folded arms, their warmth inexplicably languishing. These things, these little moments that would once have meant nothing, now, in their last moments meant everything to me.

A warm breeze caresses the back of my head. I’m startled and can’t move as the light wisp trails from the back of my head down towards the back of my neck, then over my upper back. I want to cry out, but I know it’s of no use anymore, I’ve given up. What was the point of trying to survive anymore if we are plunged into eternal night, everyone I love is likely dead and hope is now simply a word once used to convey something that no longer belonged to this reality.

The warmth travels to the front of my body, traveling like an evanescent anaconda wrapping all around my body.

“Do not be afraid…” the voice is coming from all around me now, no more need for radio.

“It is warm there…in the night…there is love…” I feel this force tightening now around my chest arms and legs. I offer no resistance, I’m tired and alone.

“We want to love you…we are love*gurgle*compassion*gurgle*sympathy*gurgle*sorrow*gurgle*ANGER*gurgle*HATE!…”

The nomenclatures for emotions are recited by different pitched voices each, growing sequentially in intensity as it spouts ‘anger’ and ‘hate’.

“I don’t care anymore…” I speak to the night, “…take me with them, take me to where you’ve sent my people.”

The tentacles of warm wind constrict around me, slowly leeching my vitality from me. Little specks of stars and bright spots adorn my eyesight as I struggle to breathe, I feel the strangulation around my neck now, as the feeling of pins and needles takes over my extremities. I think to myself that this embrace actually feels warm, and I imagine a strong hug from a family member long unseen. The warmth is now consuming my entire body as in my last seconds I think of my family, of my friends that I hold dear to me. I resent the instances in which I’ve wasted my time with trivial anger towards some of my closest relatives, and wish I had had more time.

I remember my father, the time he ran and chased me through the park as we played a silly game of tag, him purposely slowing down so as to allow me to get away from him with ease. I hear the sounds from that day as vividly as if they were happening at this moment, my laughter and his, the birds singing in their nest above us in the trees, as the wind gently swayed the leaves and they emitted that familiar swishing sound in the breeze. Those were good days…those were good days.

***********************************************************************************************************

Epilogue

48 Hours Later:

The earth sits silent, as it greets the morning hours on the horizon, somewhere on the outskirts of Washington D.C.

The streets are barren as the light of the dying sun, in all its futility, strains to herald in the new day. The once potent countenance of the sun that once brightly adorned the terra firma with its warmth and radiance, is now no more than a dying star on the blackened sky. It has begun its inevitable expansion into the orbit of, and consumed mercury, as its core has died out, and hydrogen is no longer being converted into helium.

The only sounds out on the streets are those of the frigid winds that now trek the globe, the temperatures have plummeted globally over the last 48 hrs to an average temperature of -200 degrees Fahrenheit as convection has been greatly weakened. This will eventually make way to the complete immolation of our once home as the Red Giant continues to consume all in its path in the emptiness of space, but for now, while the Earth is still here, still exists:

Through the streets of the U.S. Capitol, underneath the white blanket of frozen precipitation that has fallen in record numbers over the last two days (had there been anyone keeping track of such trivialities anymore) are the remnants of a once great civilization. The testament to their greatness evident through the many great feats that now lay in desolation underneath the cold.

Their engineering prowess displayed in the many vehicles that once transported their kind to and from their daily duties carried out with due diligence. Some of these mechanical structures even suggest that they had the capability of flight, though greatly limited by interstellar standards.

Many monuments display the characteristics that the dwellers of this planet had, features that enabled them to survive for countless millennia as the dominant species on this water-rich planet.

There are great structures of glass and stone, presumably where they once dwelled, shelter that had evolved into commodious luxury, as the species became less reliant on the tools for survival, and more prone to the materialistic.

They were birthed, coddled in their infancy and into young childhood. They attended institutions of higher learning when they reached the appropriate age, where once they obtained the adequate amount of mentorship, they were seen off into the force that kept the species moving. They married, themselves bearing children, grew old, and eventually died off.

They held ceremonies for those that died off. Many would gather around their inert vessel, recount memories they had of the deceased, some emitting liquid from their optic apertures in a gesture of solidarity and melancholy. They would then ensepulcher the vessel, where a marker would designate details of the defunct corpse. They had a relatively short life span…and a relatively short existence as a whole…

********************************************************************

EVALUATED INTELLIGENCE. REPORT CLASSIFIED:
———————————————————————————————-
Department of Homeland Security
———————————————————————————————-

DOI: (u)1102
REQS: Steven Chambers, FEMA

Source:
United States Naval Observatory, Washington D.C. in collaboration with Apache Point Observatory, New Mexico

Summary:

After initial findings by Apache Point Observatory based out of Sunspot, New Mexico, recommendation for further evaluation of organism to be conducted by joint collaboration of —— and —— at facility ——.

Findings:

After unfortunate loss of life of —— and ——- when initiating first contact with extraterrestrial organism, we were able to successfully communicate using ——-. Organism now known to be from planetary system hosted by multiple proximal stars in the —— sector. Through use of —— we were able to determine this sample to be a part of a larger single-celled organism that shares a common, highly evolved, highly intelligent hive-mind similar to ant colonies but with the organism displaying irregular physical qualities not substantiated by anything on record. Organism, if attached to the now deceased larger portion exhibits —— and the ability to partially —— which we believe it can’t display these traits to their fullest potential due to the weakened state of this particular organism as a whole. Organism feeds through process similar to photosynthesis of native flora, with the exception that this process is carried out on a massively larger scale as organism used convection radiation of proximal stars as “food”. It is this reason why it is believed their very own dependence on said sustenance eventually degraded the stars prematurely, exasperating the effects of a collapsing star in their own star system. Upon further communication via ——, this particular organism “told” us that their home planet had experienced a catastrophic event when the death of their largest proximal star, known to us here by classification at Apache Point Observatory as ——, and subsequent collapse of ——, caused a massive black hole to consume their planet. The fall into the black hole has allowed a certain type of evolution to beset these organisms in the form of ——, allowing rapid traversal of space and time. Organism warned of more to come, as this particular one was sent as a “scout”. Communications ceased at approximately ——, as species went into shock, emitted a focal burst of gamma killing —–, and expired. Gamma believed to be signal for the rest. No further findings.

Conclusion:

It is through these findings that we conclude this to be an imminent danger to the sovereignty of The United States. We do not fully understand the organism and what their intentions might be, therefore we must react with prudence and good measure. The Joint Chiefs of Staff will convene with the President at ——, where Operation Black March and it’s parameters will begin implementation. Please refer to attached documents for your role Mr. Chambers.

Threat Level:
Alpha-1: Red

Throes of Passion

Your eyes have spoken such disdain
amidst the berth that we have lain
the silken flesh porcelain
scented petals from within.

The poesy without word
from lips claret unfurled
such passion in the midst of throe
and breathless strewn among the woe.

Lay we now dipped in the ink of our eyes
into the pools of acquiescence, our demise
I press my soul up against yours
I wilt away into the gloomy core
the rhythm in my heart no more…

Copyright © Ernesto Mora@ThePOEMHOME All Rights Reserved.

The Unwilling King

I sat one eve, on a throne of flesh and bone that with every
breath from lung, agony it sung
I placed my ear upon the flesh, so moving was the intonation,
the cadenza of damnation
I spoke into the black abyss, quandaries so noetic, in tongue so
forked, duplicitous heretic
And from the throne were insipid whisper, on my skin
tormentous burn, and there sat I intrigued and taciturn

From the gloom just beyond my waking dream, came a figure
so serene, a silhouette that bled the morning sun
Ink that spilled from its hooves as it traipsed among the tombs,
scribed apostasy onto the knolls and tremble did the moon
And there sat I, my chest split upon the altared hassock, and
the claret miasma dancing forth from my rended cicatrice

A song of woe, miserable sorrow, followed this silhouette,
enthralled to his very heels
And gaze did I, into the atrament, the shade, the very saturnine
mist, the veil upon the faceless And my eyes did weep, cerise were my tears
and black was my fear
Such woe to sit upon that cathedral and stare into oblivion, the
lack of clemency on the burning brow, such pleas are cast onto
the deaf ear, and the lament is sweet muse to the composer
Now the figure, who cast the firmament black, stood before
me on that seat upon the misery.

And such was it that his countenance I saw, amidst his fetid
cloak, and on his crown wore he a corona, indecorous with
putrescent flora, and quarried upon the wilted petals were the
souls of the wicked.

He spake in archaic tongue, yet on every word that forth from
the umbra came, my staccato heart did caveat
Within his every breath, heard I the melody of perdition, such
that from my flesh came disdain upon the wicked abomination
before me.

The wails from the void so mournful and dressed in brooding
attire, clawed at my skin and cried for salvation
Adorned sits the king, upon once gilded throne, sovereign is
his blackened land, dessicated harvest that feeds none
The eve, long has it favored my presence as the dawn has died
on the horizon and the hymn has never ceased its intonation
Sat I upon that throne once, and with the plague came this gift,
the rot upon the chair is I, and my kingdom will have no end.

The Ferryman Doth Come

On Sunday through the witching hours, the midnight mass bells tolled.
Yet pews were empty and windows shuttered, no genuflection at the doors.
The altar stood bare, no widowed veils, litany was not intoned,
hymns did not permeate the starless night, no vicar spoke from leather tomes.

And I alone in this lonely void, trepid among the graves cold stones,
wept against the apathy on the pillars whittled from brittle bone.
Amidst the silhouettes was I derided, the epitaphs disremembered me,
the iron gates within the winds, whistled sacrilegious melody,
and from within the softened soil came impious discourtesy.

The ferryman doth come, two pence upon my eyes, one oar in Acheron, one oar in Cocytus.
The ferryman doth come, two pence upon my eyes, the bells toll the price for hell’s toll, two pence for my demise.

Upon My Slumber, Layeth Hands

I awoke upon the midnight hours, and peered into the spinning void that lay just beyond the foot of my bed. Atramentous, figureless, as I adjusted myself from the sleeping vertigo. Strangling the words were that danced in my throat and deceitful echos intoned my ears. Had I just heard my name called? In the brief moments I realized I was stirred away from slumber, I swear I heard my name within that witching second.

The mystery, too much for my bravado, enveloped me in unease and stare into the gloom I could not. With heart departed from my chest, I slipped into the confines of the eiderdown and shut my eyes to the world beyond it.

But, there it was again. In my swaying into my cowardice I was afire with sound from the bed and was unable to truly transfix my hearing, but, my name…was I going mad? Had I not felt that low tremble, ebbing from the darkest corner of the room? And why is it so unsettling, my blood runs cold within.

I battle with every muscle and sinew, and manage to swallow my saliva, which by now was as a fist wrapped warmly around my neck. My eyes had adjusted, but just so that the flickering light sensations one notices in the dark, the ones within your eyes that seem illusory, ephemeral, but are very much yours, had abated in the slightest. Had I just witnessed a shadow reach from the corner? Or was it my adjusting vision playing ruses on my mind?

I flee to the shelter underneath the blanket, as bereft as it were. Truly, I must’ve seemed irrational, a grown man afraid of his shadow…only…twas not my shadow, and what if twas not a shadow at all?

The floorboard where I’d witnessed…something… reach out towards me, uttered a low growl-like utterance as the wood creaked. The reflex to scream only barely contained, I managed to call upon what was left of my manhood and call out into the darkness that sprawled out inside my room.

“Wh-who g-g-g-goes there?”…AHEM! I violently clear my throat only momentarily realizing the audacity behind that action, as within me I’m screaming to not be…seen?…by whatever was in my chamber (indeed, can it see me?).  Then I hear it. From that corner, so devoid of light, so lacking in explanation as to why I cannot shake the feeling that…something?…draws nearer. The sound is immediately recognizable as the dragging, if only for a sparse moment, of the wooden chaise that during the daylight would go unnoticed, having been seldom used much less noticed. But now…now that chair paints vivid drama in my mind. What sinister being looms in the corner next to that piece of furniture? A ghost, intent on haunting my sanity? Nay, for a ghost, being ethereal, should be incapable of moving furniture. Then what? What leers at me in the dark?

Try as I might, but I am unable to move for the lamp on the nightstand. Dread engulfs me with thoughts so visceral. If I reach out, will it grab me? And then what? What would it do to my flesh, to my skin? Is it capable of such feats as to cause seething pain upon me? The fear of my own blood holds my hands at bay.

Thump…That sound came from closer than the chaise now. Thump…yet a step closer still. I cease my breath and focus my ears, yet the air is silent as the midnight tombstones. So frightened am I that I don’t realize that I have clasped my hands over my mouth, and have failed to notice that I haven’t taken breath in too long to where I begin to swirl. I cry for fear of my life, for fear of the unknown. I must turn the light on. I find whatever slender comfort in the belief that light will vanquish this foe that invades my calm. However, I dare not remove any part of me from the comfort, albeit reasonably lacking, of the blanket.

Thump…This time I felt something hit the foot of my bed! Dear God! Please cast your smiting light upon this dark creature that tries to harm me! I instinctively curl my legs up and away from the foot of the bed.

I feel as something grabs the leg of my bed and sways slight movement into the frame. I can feel movement just beyond the comforter. My heart is tearing at my chest, mercy I implore. My mind, crazed, dances with frenzied images that flash before me. I wish to scream but my voice is not to be found. I clasp onto the blanket and pillow and bring it to my face for a false sense of comfort, but to no avail. I feel as vulnerable as the worm in the moments it helplessly falls from the beak of the mother bird and is unavoidably headed for the hungry mouths waiting.

And then…nothing. Moments passed like eons and the still air grew stale and warm under the blanket. After what felt like a lifetime all over, I grew restless of the warmth beneath my covers, and with the resolve of a man sentenced to death, I tore away the safety of the cover.

My eyes, having adjusted well to the dark by now, sensed nothing amiss from the corner, and nothing standing over me with a menacing snarl. Hands shaking, I reached for the lamp on the nightstand which, with what I could swear was the glorified singing of Angels, came on and dressed the room in recognition.

From the corner where the chaise once sat uninterrupted, unnoticed, I could see that indeed the chair had been disturbed. It was sitting in such fashion as to suggest someone kept vigil on me in my sleep, facing me in that most peculiar way. But, something else had caught my eye. The bedroom door was fully open. The door I customarily, nay, ritually close every night for fear of what I might see in the hallway in the dark. What foul being, sentient and sapient enough to know how to disturb my door and furniture, walked among my sleep tonight? The light awash the room has renewed my vigor and I jump from my bed to check my dwelling. I step into what felt like slippery wet warmth.

To my horror, at my feet lays my resemblance, my own doppelganger, but with one unsettling difference. My, double, lay with his throat slit and had amassed a pool of blood that now ran almost the entire span of my room. In (its?) final moments, I…or it, had clawed at the neckline in a vain attempt to subside the massive bleeding. A trail of vermilion life was clearly coming from the chaise, around the foot of my bed and up to where this…I, finally lay lifeless. And then clarity and confusion all at once.

I do not recall much from last night when I had decided to head to my chambers and read before going to bed. When had I finally turned the light off and gotten into bed? Why couldn’t I remember doing that? Try with all my strength, I couldn’t recall anything past reading from my book, and then immediately waking up to what I thought was my name being called in the dark.

Too much for me, I began to feel dizzy as the world spun in my head. I sat, exasperated at the confusion that defiled my innocent slumber. I began weeping due to confusion, due to frustration, due to being scared. And then I heard it again…

“…-nest…ernestooo…” The sound startled me out of my daze.

“…look and you will know…”

At that, what looked to be a projection of me was sitting on the chair. I, or rather my projection, was reading from a book. It was wearing the same clothes I had on yesterday, last night. The same crimson covered clothes on my double splayed on the floor, and the same I had on at that very moment. So transfixed into my book was I, that I hadn’t noticed a figure skulk into my room behind me, brandishing what appeared to be a straight razor, and swiftly rending my neck open as if a sacrifice at a blood-letting.

I watched in horror as I struggled with the immense pain that now was conveyed upon my own neckline. The burning agony and the surreal sensation as a curtain of your own silky blood rains down your neck to your chest, almost tickling you were it not for death’s steed quickly approaching. I watched as I dropped to the ground and clawed at the ground, trying to make my way to the phone on the nightstand. How my foot had caught on the chair’s leg momentarily, and dragged it for a few inches. How I reached for the legs on the bed for support after I had bumped my head into it. Agonizing inch by agonizing inch I had told myself to hold on…”Dear God, please…” I had been thinking, as speech was just gurgling and choking sounds by then.

I watched as my projection made it to where my body now lay, and take the exact same position as it, as if falling into its place and time. At that, I then saw what looked like my ghost rise out of my body and lay in bed, as though exhausted, and immediately fall asleep. Then, all at once, that ghostly figure of me in bed simply vanished.

Overwhelmed with grief, I could watch no longer. I wept at the realization. I had died last night in a most violent manner. Then I, as a ghost had went to sleep.

Then again from within my room, but nought seen by my eyes, I felt another presence. From this presence, I could only surmise, was the origin of my name being called in the dark.

“…it is nigh…your turn onto the saddle…”

As if from thin air, into my room galloped a most impressive steed. White as the first flakes atop the mountains tall as them as well. On its back rode a Lady, beautiful and nude, her skin almost as fair as the mount upon which she rode. Words poured from her but her lips did not part. Her voice, serenity itself, laid hands upon me and calmed my worried brow. I took her hand and she, with no effort, helped me onto the saddle.

One final look at my chambers and a tear rolled down my countenance. The lady looked over her shoulder back to me, and ‘twas all I needed to feel comfort again. My body, simply was and will now cease to be, a vessel I no longer needed.

We cantered away into blissful light, and all the former things were past…