niños de sueño

July 30, 2008
The dead rust-colored leaves drifted into hemps along the old cracked sidewalk. Like some twisted autumn snow, they fell, adding to the scene of lonely desolation that was the city. Houses and buildings covered with wooden planks, Do-Not-Enter signs littered their front yards, cars sat in the streets, gathering rust, waiting for their masters to turn the key and bring them to life. Their masters never came back though. No one ever came back. A city with a population of around fifty-five thousand was now down to a few hundred nomadic families and with each passing day that number grew even smaller. School had been cancelled not long ago, after about half of the city was taken, jobs soon followed. The families that where still around were forced to scavenge for what they needed, tearing boards off houses and taking whatever they found, knowing the owners would never be back.

A leaf blown onto the sidewalk crunched under Christian’s boot. The crisp autumn air whipped his face. Christian huddled into his paid scarf and continued walking back to his house. He was lucky that his parents still let him go outside by himself, but they were sensible people and allowed him to go out if he returned before night. Anyone who was still out by night never came back. Christian walked past the bus stop where he used to catch the bus to school. He could barely see the original advertisements under the multicolored posters stuck to the plexiglas. Half the posters promised a solution was on its way and that we would win, the other half said that this was the Judgment Day and that only the sinners would be taken away. Christian had started to believe them until the priest and bishop were stolen in the night.

Christian walked to the corner of an intersection, he was only two blocks from his house now. He stopped and looked both ways, and then chucked to himself. Even in a time of genocide and despair those little habits persisted. Christian continued down the road passing empty houses in disrepair and bleak storefronts collecting dust. He made a quick stop in the drugstore to grab a carton of cigarettes. He lit one and smoked as he continued down the road. His parents stopped caring whether he smoked or not, it didn’t seem that important nowadays.

One block from his house now. Mr. Sanderson was out in his yard working on what he claimed to be an inter-dimensional gate. In Christian’s eyes it looked like several cars parts welded unto half-a-dozen shopping carts. Christen still had an hour left before he was supposed to be at the house so he slumped down beside a tree in Mr. Sanderson’s yard and watched him work.

“So Mr. Sanderson, what is your latest theory of why the Morphi have chosen us to steal?” teased Christian, who was studying the darkening sky.

“I am still of sane mind, boy, do not mock me. And I have told you before not to call them by such slang. Call them the Tezcatlipoca. They like that,” said Mr. Sanderson from under his welding hood.

“Yes, yes, I have heard of your extraordinary escape before.” Mr. Sanderson was the only one in the town to escape the night demons and he believed it was because he called them the Tezcatlipoca. “Whatever, you say old man,” said Christian as he flicked his cigarette butt into the street and settled into the curve in the tree.

Mr. Sanderson shook his head and when back to his welding. Christian closed his eyes and listened as the metal sputtered and crackled. And then he drifted away.

Christian’s world was shaking. He opened his eyes and almost punched Mr. Sanderson in his face with his flailing arms. Mr. Sanderson was saying something but he couldn’t make it out in his stupor. The sun had already fallen behind the mountains and night was fast descending on the city.

As the world started to make more sense he heard Mr. Sanderson say, “ Los niños de sueño Vienen.” Christian saw him pointing at the sky.

The night sky was moving as the Morphi began to descend unto the wasteland city. Christian stumbled to his feet and began running to his house. Mr. Sanderson stood in his yard until he saw Christian enter his house and then he gathered up his welding equipment and went into his own house to retire.

Christian burst into his house and slammed the door shut, locking the blots as well. His mother peeked out of the kitchen when she heard the door slam.

“Cutting it a little close tonight, aren’t we?” said his mother as she continued to cut the vegetables for diner..

“Yeah, I know. I fell asleep in Mr. Sanderson’s yard. Sorry,” sighed Christian, slumped against the door, catching his breath.

“Come in and sit down, diner’s ready,” called his father from the dining room.

Christian walked in and sat down on a wobbly chair across the little table from his father. His mother entered the room with a plate of canned sausage and a plate of carrots and cucumbers. Most uncanned goods were gone since shipments stopped arriving, but their family was lucky enough to have a small garden out back. Christian’s mother sat down and the three of them joined hands, bowed their heads, and his father leading them in prayer.

“Dear Lord, thank you for another meal in this time of hardship. We thank You that our family is still together and strong. We know that there must be a plan for what is happening and we trust in Your guidance. Please lead my family and I into a brighter and better tomorrow. Amen.”

They let go of each other and began to eat. Banshee-like shrieks rang out as the Morphi claimed their victims. Every time a shriek rand out Christian’s mother winced, she had always been terribly afraid of that sound. They ate in silence. More and more screams rang through the night. Fourteen……. Nineteen……… Twenty-Three ……….. Thirty-One………Thirty-Eight.

Tears rolled down Christian’s mothers face and his father closed his eyes and grimaced with every scream.

“Can’t they die in quiet?” his father said aloud to no one in particular.

Christian’s mother began sobbing and covered her eyes with a napkin.

Christen sat looking at the two of them, thinking nothing at all, numb to the pain-filled howls.

And then the fireplace exploded.

The force of the explosion caused Christian’s father to slam into the opposite wall of the kitchen and fall unconscious. His mother was thrown off her chair unto the ground. A brick from the chimney struck Christian in the head causing him to tumble to the ground as he began to lose consciousness. A misty black tendril shoot out of the busted chimney and wrapped itself around Christians waist, dragging him across the floor to the broken fireplace. Christian’s mother watched as the tendril dragged Christian across the floor toward the busted fireplace. She began to scream Christian’s name as she wrestled herself up from the floor. She ran to the kitchen, grabbed a knife, and lunged at Christian. She grabbed hold of her son and began to hack at the mist that was dragging him away. The knife simply phased through the creature and clanged against the stone flooring.

Christian’s mother began to scream for help as tears cascaded down her face. The tendril began to push her away from her son, but she held on, screaming and stabbing. But she lost her grip as it began to drag him up the chimney. She screamed as she watched her only son being dragged up and away from her. She crawled into the broken fireplace and began to jump in hope of catching her son’s hand, but it was too late, he was too far away. She cried and screamed and thrashed, but nothing brought him closer.

Christian watched as his mother screamed for him. He was slipping in and out of consciousness. And he remembered………. playing kickball with Sarah in spring……….……. failing his midterm science test ……….. planting flowers in his mother’s garden….…... his father explaining how to do sudoku ………….. rust colored plants…………………… inter-dimensional travel ……… los niños de sueño ……… canned sausage…..…. we trust in Your guidance ………………….. can’t they die in quiet………….…………. those little habits …………. Tezcatlipoca.

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