Chapter One: The Last Light of the Dying Day

As the late summer sun dipped behind the ruined buildings of a rotting city, two hooded figures darted into the jaws of a shadowy alley. The sudden blackness blinded Ana-Maria and she reached out to her sister to steady herself. Once her eyes adjusted, Ana-Maria surveyed the treacherous side street.

A narrow tunnel of bricks collapsed into blackness before the two women. Piles of human filth steamed as the air cooled, casting wispy shadows against faded brick walls. The sweet biting aroma of trash and shit wafted past Ana-Maria and she dry swallowed a ball of vomit. Even though the air was still warm, Ana-Maria shivered for the third time in minutes.

“Marchesca, I can’t feel my fingers.”

“Be quiet! Do you want to find food or do you want to be food?” Marchesca rasped as she dug her fingers into the soft flesh of Ana-Maria’s shivering arm. “Don’t you think I’m just as cold and hungry as you? Now shut your mouth and keep looking.”

Ana-Maria cowered to the older woman. She wasn’t sure if Marchesca was cautioning or threatening her. Either way, Ana-Maria knew it unwise to upset her sister. She tried to twist out of her sister’s grasp but Marchesca shook her again, as if to reiterate the gravity of their communal plight. Marchesca shoved the younger woman away and turned back to rifling through trash.

Ana-Maria ventured farther into the alley, pawing through refuse, searching for any kind of scrap or morsel. If the women could find one or two food containers, up to whole teaspoons of life-giving nectar might be scrounged and scraped out. But stealth was essential to their search; there were other dangers beyond simply going hungry.

After the malignant sun set, all manner of predators slithered out from their daylight lairs. Some marauded in gangs while others wandered solo. They hid in shadows and waited for hapless victims to stumble unfortunately into ambush. Even in a petite, under-nourished female nearly three liters of warm blood pulsed through a network of veins. Two women spread between three Drinkers could yield over two liters per; a good meal on a bad day. Ana-Maria and her sister were hoping to find mere ounces.

Ana-Maria’s teeth chattered again so she bit down hard on her shirt sleeve. She turned back to her side of the darkening alley but couldn’t focus; cold and hunger were beginning to strangle her. The air after sundown was a calm seventy five degrees but her malnourished and diseased body was beginning to shut down. Limbs became numb lead and dangled from Ana-Maria’s emaciated frame.

Suddenly Marchesca froze.

“A.M., get over here!” Marchesca hissed. “I think I heard something.” She reached out for her sister’s arm but Ana-Maria evaded her grasp. Before Ana-Maria could take cover, a single, shifty shadow shuffled from behind a dumpster farther down the alleyway.

“You have good ears girl. I wouldn’t mind having a nibble on those lobes,” a raspy voice coughed.

“Fuck off, snake!” Ana-Maria spit. “We were here first. Get lost or die.”

“How impolite. There’s surely enough here to go around. I’m willing to share,” the serpentine figure sniveled. Out of the belly of the alley, two Drinkers stumbled from behind dumpsters and two more rose from under piles of rubbish.

Marchesca turned to Ana-Maria. “Back away slowly,” she whispered. “When you get to the street, run.” The two women began their retreat toward the better lit boulevard.

“Where are you off to so soon?” cackled a wicked sneer from behind the sisters. The two women spun in time to see another shadow slip from blackness into the gray of dusk, blotting out the alley mouth.

Ana-Maria froze in choking cold terror. She eyed the circling pack of flesh-eaters and doom crushed her heart. Scores of jagged edged teeth shimmered from underneath shadow. Evil gleamed in a dozen ravenous eyes. There was no escape, no hope of living. Death was moments away, sauntering ever closer. Ana-Maria’s only remaining hope lay in the possibility of a quick end, but even that seemed unlikely.

Marchesca however, wasn’t going down without a fight. She darted across the open space and ripped the lid off a garbage can and brandished it like a shield. Her eyes darted from one gaunt assailant to the next, trying to pick out the weakest, easiest target. If she was going down, so was at least one of them.

“You girlies look hungry but I think we’ll be the ones feasting tonight,” one of the Drinkers cackled.

“Run!” Marchesca screamed as she shoved her sister toward the street then dove at her attackers.

Ana-Maria’s body slammed onto unforgiving concrete. The brittle bones in the young woman’s arm shattered. She screamed as waves of fire clawed up her arm. Gargled screams echoed off the alley walls, reverberating back in a cacophony of death.

Warm wetness splattered Ana-Maria’s face and the scent of hot iron slammed her nostrils. The tactile contact of the liquid was electric. The world deafened around her. Muffled echoes of carnage tickled her ears but suffocated in the bludgeoning of her own heartbeat. She frantically wiped her face with her good hand and greedily sucked her fingers clean.

As the last echoes of butchery faded, silence swelled in Ana-Maria’s terrified ears. She lay on her back and clutched her wrecked arm to her shaking chest. Hot salt blurred her eyes and her lungs forgot how to breathe. A massive shadow loomed over her broken, reposed frame. She waited impatiently for the end, but the end never arrived…

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2 Responses to “Chapter One: The Last Light of the Dying Day”

  1. how exciting! 😮 I sure hope you’ll keep writing! 😀 x

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