The sweet scents soured quickly when the hot stench rose with the scavengers and harrowing gusts.
The chocolate box idylls peeled apart and were infested with the same gut wrenching hum as the now festering cityscapes.
Aimless husks wandered the gulch streets, unhinged and clinging by the fingernails to the last shred of sanity.
Into the cross hatched poisoned skies, bereaved ash plumes smudged the blue, seeping into a smoke mottled horizon.
Orphaned vehicles, smashed and bloodied, sat pining for their masters. Their radios hissing and crackling the last call into the ether before dead air.
When silence fell, it was the tree in the abandoned forest. It made no sound and had no impact.
Everything was already dead.
It was the fourth day after the silence that the infected humans began to regain consciousness. They gasped first, coughing up the stagnant phlegm and juices that had begun to coagulate in their lungs and chest and swollen throats. The iridescent eyes opened to take in the glorious colours of the night and their tongues, shrivelled to burned offal, offered no form of communication.
Then came the thirst.
The exasperating craving for live blood. The warm bitter metallic syrup that flowed in live veins, pumped by a live heart and filled with the umami of terror.
They wandered the endless highways and byways at night until the dawn spat needles of molten dread at their grotesque forms. Their new consciousness had gathered that the sun was a patient and deadly enemy, reducing to scarlet ash any exposed flesh.
Through their night eyes they were beautiful alabaster stingrays that glided gracefully in unnatural gravity. Their hands and feet stiffened to black tipped talons and all but two long, deep yellow fangs resided in their vesicle ridden mouths.
If monsters had filled the dark thoughts of humanity from creation, then they had become their worst nightmares.
After the twelfth night, the new breed of altered species became a pack. This was quickly followed by the pecking order.
The strongest bite, the harshest scream, the fastest movements and the fiercest thirst became the leader.
It was one night later that she named herself after a challenge to her leadership.
She was Bequestia and she was the new domination.
Her pack, who had outwitted the first light eradication, grew around her in their voracious and hypnotic night swim. Street after street was lit with the full moon shine of their skin. Into the broken buildings they flew and settled on the resilient alive ones. Their long chilled fangs would puncture tough leather clothes and the drinking caused their glorious eyes to bulge with crimson succulence.
In the silence, in the hush that was after a lullaby, the squeal was not unlike a mouse skewered on the fangs of a tarantula. The limbs would flail, spasms forced joints to crack and arch and spines to pop and lurch in the draining death throes.
Finally, the limp exsanguinated corpse stared in open-mouthed terror at the blood drunk hunter. But even monsters show the dead mercy and their long black talons gently shut the eyelids with a solemn touch.
This was their way of lowering the shutters on the soul and a mark that this one was empty of beautiful liquid life.
In two months Bequestia and her five silhouettes had cleared the parched city and the hinterland. Huge carcasses of beached sea dead filled the air with a rancid stench that blew kisses into the city like a nostalgic lover.
As they stood on the shoreline looking across to the immune lands, their craving for blood flew through their bodies as locusts had done in the crop fields before the sky poison.
Rising slowly over the stagnant boiling waters, the six Reivers headed towards the resonant heartbeats held inside the fortress of the immune lands.
Beneath them the waters cast only reflections of a hot, red moon and the chemical lattice trails carved into its awful orbit.
Original written work by Richard Bell
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