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The Demon of the Wastes

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The demon of the wastes
It stalked across the wasteland, the wind whipping up dust devils all around It as It advanced on the ancient scrapyard. Outside the gate two ancient cars sat on either side of the entrance, their empty headlights glaring angrily at It like the darkened sockets of old skulls. The worn out chain-link fence was bulging in multiple places, struggling to hold all of the pieces of torn metal and broken glass inside the yard. Inside the entrance one could see the towers of broken and sheared metal, forming lethal, jagged walls of detritus dividing the various rusted out hulks and artifacts from a past world. Cars stood stacked up on top of each other, forming grotesque obelisks of deteriorating metal. Some of the vehicles did not appear as though they had been gutted yet. This was good, as It would need parts to repair some things soon. It paused at the entrance, massive columns of vehicles towering on either side, and flexed Its gloved hands, the black metal of Its claws seeming to absorb the light and hold it captive as they gleamed. Then it plunged into this temple of decay.
Some called It the Demon. Others claimed It was the Archangel of Death himself, sent by God to purge the Wasteland of all those who had escaped the nuclear fires of Armageddon. Still others claimed It was just a madman, hiding behind his cloak and mask and that his incredible strength and speed were nothing more than the product of exaggerated urban myths. There weren’t many of the last ones anymore. They had been the first to underestimate It, and in doing so had made themselves excellent examples. It was the Bogeyman of Post-Apocalyptia. Parents told stories of it to scare their children and grown men dreaded spotting Its silhouette from across the Wastes. It didn’t care what they called It. So long as they stayed out of Its way, It didn’t care about them at all. It didn’t know why it wandered this empty place. It had no purpose and so it kept walking aimlessly across the flat desert.
The corridor continued for some time before emptying out into a large open yard. It looked to be about fifty yards long and wide, serving as a barren junction of five of these strange halls of rusted metal. Several cars were strewn about the yard, many of them resting either on the ground or on stone blocks, their tires having been stolen or worn down years ago. As It was observing the yard from the passageway, a loud screeching noise tore through the dusty calm of the yard, alerting It to the car that had been dropped behind It, sealing off the way back to the gate. It had sensed them long before then. As It approached the end of the passage the first one came out from behind the last car on its right, swinging a large metal wrench at Its head. It caught the club with Its left hand while burying the claws on Its right deep into the man’s throat. His eyes bugged out of his head as blood frothed over his lips and flowed freely down his neck. Its claws had just grazed his neck when the doors on one of the cars in the middle of the yard flew open as two more enemies appeared, using the doors as cover while they aimed their crossbows. It spun as they fired, keeping hold of the man’s throat, using him as a fleshy shield. The two bolts made a sick crunching noise as they plunged into the man’s back. It tossed aside the corpse-to-be as it advanced on the two behind the car. It closed the thirty yards between them almost instantaneously. The two men had compound, quick loading crossbows, but they still weren’t fast enough. It placed one monstrous foot against the grill of the car and roughly shoved it back, using the open doors to knock the two men to the ground. It quickly raised both fists and brought them crashing down on the hood of the car, forcing the car down and pulverizing the cinderblocks the car’s axels rested on. As the car crashed to the ground the two men suddenly found themselves pinned to the ground by the very doors they had hoped to use for cover. Then It leapt up onto the hood of the car and released Its blades from their arm mounts, sinking them deep into the crossbowmen’s chests. A sharp crack approximately seventy degrees to Its right and a sharp buzzing past the right side of Its head alerted it to the shooter sixty yards away inside the wreck of an old bus. The woman was rapidly working the bolt to reload her rifle, but it was futile. It quickly drew a throwing knife and sent it flying across the distance in the same fluid motion. The small blade winked as it flew through where the windshield would have been and shot through her eye socket and up into her brain, killing her instantly as she slumped next to her rifle.

Silence reigned as It surveyed the battlefield from Its perch atop the car. These raiders had been far better equipped than they had been experienced if such a weak and obvious trap was the best they could do. As it examined the bodies for useful items, it noticed recently dried blood on the sleeves of the two men under the car. The age of the blood meant that their kill was probably only a few days old and that probably meant it was nearby. And a raider camp would mean supplies, maybe even some tools. With this new objective, it set out to explore the junkyard.
It didn’t take long to find them.
The raiders must have stumbled across this small group in the night and attacked them. The men appeared to have been shot in the back and then finished execution style, killing them relatively quickly. The women had not been so lucky. The slaughter was reflected on Its mask like a mirror as it looked around. before. It spotted Its objective in a few seconds. It walked over, removed the hand still holding onto the box’s handle, and opened it. It dug through the tools, looking for the one that matched the image in its head.
“Daddy?”
It whirled around, Its claws flexed and at the ready. Had it missed one? It was sure It had killed all of the hostiles in the yard. Instead of an enemy however, Its eyes settled on a little girl standing next to one of the male bodies. She was holding its hand as liquid flowed from her eyes.
“Please get up Daddy, I hid just like you told me to, so please get up now.” She said as she shook the corpses hand. She was holding a patchwork doll in the other hand and its head wobbled wildly as she shook the body’s arm. It slowly approached her, claws slightly relaxed but still at the ready. She was so engrossed with the body that she didn’t notice Its presence until It was right behind her. She turned around as the It loomed massively over her, Its shadow completely consuming her. She craned her neck back to look up at Its blank mask.
“Can you fix him?” she asked. She looked past it and must have seen the open toolbox with the tools splayed everywhere. “You were looking in the tools, so you must know how to fix things. Can you fix my Daddy?” It stood immobile, confused. Why did this girl want It to repair a dead body? It didn’t understand. The human was not a machine. Mere skill with tools could do nothing for the human now. Besides, It was not made to heal, It was made to kill. Suddenly the flow of liquid coming from her cheeks increased and she ran off, dropping her doll behind her as she ran deeper into the wreckage of the scrapyard. It stood motionless for a moment looking after her before remembering Its purpose for being there and quickly set to Its repairs.
A few minutes later, with all of Its parts properly serviced and back in working order, It placed some of the tools in the pockets of Its massive long coat and rose to leave the yard. As It turned It noticed the doll lying next to the body of the man. The girl still had not returned. It walked over to the doll and knelt down, picking up the curious object with Its bloodstained claws. It barely managed to avoid shredding the doll with Its talons as It raised the doll to better examine it. The toy was mostly intact, though its makeshift clothes had obviously come from various curtains and blankets. Most curious of all was the head. It was a small, white, orb with red stitching in strange patterns around the outside. The toy had some string glued on top and a pair of clear beads glued in line with each other. It knelt there for a while, motionless as the tiny clear beads held It in their empty gaze. Eventually It rose and began to stalk through the junkyard, the doll’s arm hanging out of the pocket of Its coat.

It didn’t take long to find her. There wasn’t much wind with all of the cars and metal sheets providing massive windblocks, so her tracks in the sand stood out like the neon signs in that town near the junkyard. The girl’s eyes appeared to have stopped leaking and she was curled up inside an old piece of a large cement cylinder. It approached one end and crouched down, going to one knee before bending so that it could see inside, filling the entire end of the cylinder in the process. The sudden lack of light startled the girl as her head snapped up.
“Daddy?” she asked, her eyes lighting for an instant before dying in her distorted reflection in Its mask. Her face crumpled and her eyes began to leak again. Before they could truly leak in earnest, It reached into Its cloak and drew out the curious toy. It reached Its arm deep into the pipe as It held out the doll. The girl looked at the doll as it sat in its bladed throne before wiping her eyes and taking the doll from Its hand. She sat still and stared at the doll while It watched her. After a moment she crawled down the chute towards It. She stopped at the lip of the pipe and sat there, her legs dangling off the edge, not even close to touching the ground.
“My Daddy made this for me.” She said as she held up the doll. “But now he won’t get up to play with me.” She looked down as she asked, “You can’t fix him can you?”
It simply stared back, the mask revealing nothing.
“I didn’t think so.” She replied, her sad eyes still focused on the ground in front of her. They stayed like that for a few minutes, the little girl inside the small tunnel with the Demon on one knee in front of her as a gentle breeze blew up tiny dust evils around them. For a long time the only sounds to be heard were the rustling of Its cloak in the breeze and muted sounds of the doll as the girl fiddled with its arms Suddenly she leapt out and wrapped both hands around Its neck. It jerked back, Its claws instinctively flying up to remove the object clinging to its throat
“Will you be my new Daddy?”
The claws stopped mere centimeters from the back of her neck. The question had barely been more than a whisper.
“I saw you fight the people who hurt Mommy and Daddy. You’re strong enough that no one could ever hurt you. Will you please be my new Daddy and stay with me forever?”
Time itself refused to move as it waited for the answer. The little girl clung determinedly to Its neck as It stood there frozen and silent. Then, slowly, the massive cloaked arms that had been ready to tear her apart engulfed the child as the Demon knelt back down, hunching over her so that her feet could touch the ground, her entire body swallowed by the dark coat around Its shoulders.
“Thank you, Daddy.” She whispered as her eyes began to leak again.
Daddy, It liked that.



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