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I had never seen the surface before. I had merely heard stories from my father and his father, and he had heard stories from his father before him. It has been two days since the attack on my village, when everyone was slaughtered by those demons. One hundred, that’s how many years it has been since they came; The Voices.
What are the Voices you ask? They are destroyers, creators of chaos and destruction. They look like teenage girls with incomparable beauty and grace, but really they are monsters that eat the flesh of man. Voices are gifted with incredible powers; they can animate empty suits of armor, bend nature to their will, and even control minds with their songs.
The ball of light in the sky was setting. I took in the time to admire the scenery of this world, which was very different to my village underground, and there is no ceiling when I looked up, just an endless space of reds and oranges, and these puffy things that looked like pillows floating high above my head. This surface world was full of colors. I saw browns, blues, reds, yellows, and a variety of green plants, which I have never seen.
I remember how my father would always tell me about this world and its mysteries. My father was one of the village’s best hunters. He would go out fearlessly to the surface world and hunt for food. He was the only one in our village who killed a Howler, the beastly servants of the Voices. He was a great man and an even better father. Every so often he would bring me items that he found on his hunts. Books, sheets of metal, clothes, and some things that not even my grandfather knew about. I was the smartest kid in the village from all the reading material that was brought to me. God, how I miss him so much.
As I walked along this concrete road, I heard something, that sounded like running water. Then I found were it was coming from. Upon the hill in front of me was a large pool of water bigger than I had ever seen in my life. I ran down towards it in a hurry, and stopped at the edge.
I could see my own reflection in the pool. My dirty, dark brown hair and my golden brown eyes that shined in the light. My skin was covered in dirt and bruises, from my long journey. My cloak was tethered as well. Never before had I seen a brighter reflection of myself. The mirrors at the village were illuminated by candles and electric lanterns at best, so it was never too bright.
I removed my pouch, holster and cloak, and took a little break. I needed one, because I had been walking for two days now, with very little rest. I needed to find another village soon. I looked over to my holster and pulled out my .38 revolver, checking how much ammunition was in it. I had a full eight shots, and in the pouch was another eight shots, not much. I would have to ration it carefully, until I could find more. Damn those wolves who attacked me the night before. Other than that I had a short bladed shovel, that I read were once used by the United States Green Beret, About two day’s worth of bread and now a full canteen of water.
My greatest concern, however, was that I needed shelter. Howlers do their hunting at night, and they have the abilities of all great hunting predators, claws, sharpened teeth, heightened abilities and even nocturnal vision, which makes it very hard to travel at night. Howlers could be compared to werewolves. They were once men, who gave into the Voice’s control or a Voice simply favored them. Once transformed, they lost all sense of control of themselves. They are compelled to follow every command given to them by their master. Only men, however, can become Howlers. Women can be turned into Voices and are given the gift of eternal life.
I came upon a huge building about a mile away. The building was not the tallest, but the widest, and I have never seen anything like it. The walls were made of a gray stone mixed with white and the space around it was filled with various contraptions made of metal and four wheels, I think I read about them once, at least they fit the description that I read, I think they are called cars?
The light was fading, so I guess I would have to stay in that building for the night. I started to jog, because it was still a far distance away. When I got close enough, I found a sign that said “Mid Rivers Mall”. I had no idea what that meant, but I kept going until I found the entrance.
Boards of wood covered the front entrance, so I had to rip them off to get in. The lights were off inside so I grabbed my electric lantern out of my pouch and turned it on. The light illuminated the space around me and I was amazed by what I was now looking at. The whole area was filled with racks beyond racks of clothing, enough to clothe three of my villages, it was amazing. There were glass containers full of liquids of the most elegant of smells, I tried to taste them but they were horrible, I almost vomited when I did. There were pictures of gorgeous women all over, and pictures of kids playing with one another, it made me feel so longing for my friends who were now dead if only they could see this. I remember times back when I and my best friend would play as little kids. His name was Basch. We would play and run around with other children all the time, I would read him stories from the books Father would bring me. We were inseparable. Now he was dead, and I was all alone running for my life, just trying to survive as best as I could.
I stumbled upon what I think was the heart of the mall. It had two levels and appeared to be different than the other area I was in prior. The walls were a greenish color, and there was glass windowing on the ceiling showing all the lights in the sky. It was magnificent. They, along with the larger ball of light illuminated the area in the most beautiful manor. I saw shops lined up next to each other, like a marketplace of some sort, plants and vines were everywhere. Even some birds were flying around.
Probably the most favorable thing about coming up to the surface was seeing the birds. I read about them all the time, how they flew all the time and did not have any cares, nor worries. I had always wanted to see them, and when I came to the surface I saw them in hundreds flying together in packs like little families traveling together.
I started to feel groggy after a little while of exploring so I looked for a good place to sleep. Wouldn’t you know it; I found a shop of beds that was very convenient. There was a metal gate that was halfway down, so I decided to close it. Better to be safe than sorry. I threw off my pouch and other gear and laid down upon the bed in the back of the shop. Before I knew it I was asleep.
I awoke to the bright morning light coming in, which was so serine, so calm, I could have really got used to that feeling. I gathered my things and got ready to keep traveling. Before any of that, however I wanted to have another look around at this mall. So I started walking around, this place seemed more magnificent during the day. Birds were flying around through broken windows on the ceiling. There were plants and flowers growing on vines wrapping around the place and out of the ground.
Everything seemed like a heaven on earth, that is until I saw what laid on the ground next to a shop called the “Panda Express”. A skeleton lay there it’s jaw wide and arms slung over like he or she had fallen before their death. I walked over and knelt beside them. This wasn’t the first skeleton I had seen since I had been on the surface. I had seen them by the dozens in the streets. I said a small prayer and kept moving. More than anything I saw shops and stands that sold clothes. Though there was one place that caught my attention, it was darker than the rest; machines were to the right side. In bright lettering it read “14 Cinema” above the main area. The ground was different, made of a softer material than the rest and had colorful pattern. A glass counter with many devices and boxes were inside the glass casing. There were two walkways on opposite side of the room. That’s when I heard noises coming from the hall on the right.
I immediately put my hand on my revolver, and was put high alert. I slowly walked towards the noise, and found myself at a metal door half opened, but when I stepped inside I was amazed. There was a wall blocking the rest of the room, but in front of me were giants, giants driving cars having laughs and moving around. I stood there struck at this unbelievable marvel. I started to walk towards it but then from the other side of the wall, I heard laughter, from the voices of that of women. I peered my head to see who it was; my heart was pounding in my chest. I could fee sweat from my brow, my hand was still gripped onto my gun. My suspicions were right; Voices.
There were three of them sitting next to each other. The main difference a person can see from a human and a voice was that their eyes glowed, and in this dark room all their eyes were like lanterns.
The one on the very right had a container of some sort on her lap, pulling out white flakes and shoving them into her mouth. Her skin was dark, her eyes glowed a golden yellow and her hair was black as the night. She did not look older than me, and I am only sixteen. All in all she looked like a beautiful teenager and I could see how they could have easily taken over this world.
The one on the left, she was smaller than her two allies. Her hair was dirt brown and her eyes glowed a menacing red, her facial features were soft and innocent with a light array of brown freckles on her cheeks.
The one on the middle made my heart sink. Because, I recognized her, from the day when my village was attacked, she was one of the voices from the attack.
I remember it clearly; I was hiding in the corner of one of the stands in the village. I covered myself in dirt to hide my smell. In front of me, my father lay dead. His body in a bloody heap, and right above him was her, the voice who I saw before me now.
Her features were different from her comrades, she had blond hair and glowing green eyes. Though she still looked like a teenager, there was this wicked aura around her that made the hairs on my neck stand up. I immediately hid behind the wall and slowly ran out of the dark area. I made my way for the exit.
When I came around the corner, heading back towards the heart of the mall, I came around a corner and right before me stood all three of the Voices, staring at me with a hunger in their eyes that put me into a panic.
“Well, Hanon you were right when, you said you smelled a human.” The voice with the golden eyes said as she made her approach slowly to me, her eyes locked to mine. I was frozen completely in fear.
“My nose never lies, Karon,” the blonde voice who had killed my father.
“So where did you come from, little boy?” Karon said, her voice having a eerie tone when she spoke.
I did not reply, I couldn’t do anything my body would not react to what I was telling it to do.
I was analyzing every part of the situation, the surroundings, the voices positioning and even what they were wearing, which was kind of bizarre, thinking about that actually calmed me a degree.
Karon was dressed in a tank top that covered only her breast area, and a long multicolored skirt.
Hanon was dressed in a mini-short, tank, with over shirt combo.
While the last girl wore a pants and T-shirt combo.
“I bet he came from that village we nailed the other day,” The third girl said.
“You’re probably right Daichiko,” Hanon said her eyes locked on me.
None of the three Voices looked away from me. I don’t know if it was a scare tactic or maybe their predator like instincts. After a few seconds of silence, Karon gave me a seductive stare.
“Maybe we should let this one live. He looks pretty cute, and I am in need of a new Howler” Karon said rubbing her hands on my left shoulder.
I knew what this was, Voice seduction. They can compel men with weaker minds to do as they pleased. I could feel it working on me a little, because becoming a Howler was not sounding so bad so long as it was her. But I knew I could not let them win, not like this. I would rather die than become a servant to these animals.
Karon looked me in the eyes nearly a foot away from my face. She gave me a seductive smile, showing a pair of pearl white fangs. This was my chance, I reached for my shovel hidden under my cloak and unlatched the strap. In the blink of an eye, everything happened.
I swung my bladed shovel right into Karon’s head, splitting it right open. A array of brightly colored blue blood sprayed out, some of it landing on me staining my cloak. Then before I could give it a second thought, I shot Hanon and Daichiko in the torso area missing their hearts. Not that it would have mattered, A Voice only dies from a major head injury, like the one I had given Karon. However, it was still effective enough to knock both of them on the ground to recover.
As soon as they hit the ground, they instantly fell asleep. One thing that I was always taught in the village, Voices can withstand more damage or fatal injuries than humans, and if you give them a major injury they go to a crystal sleep to recover…….Quickly.
Wouldn’t you know it; as soon as their eyes were shut a blue crystal cocoon enveloped each one of them. I would only have few minutes at most to get out of here. The bullet wounds would not take too long to heal, while they were in crystal stasis. I ran as hard as I could, but I did not get very far.
From above I heard a menacing roar, which could of only meant one thing, a Howler.
Next thing I knew, a shadow appeared through the glass above and came crashing through, I had to cover my face from the shards now falling. Then standing on two legs right in front of me was a howler.
The beast had white fur all around its body. The face of that of an enlarged wolf mixed with a man’s body, it had glowing red eyes. It stood like a man, towering over me; it had to be at least eight feet tall. Its arms and legs were ripped and its body in perfect shape. Its hands were five times that of a normal man in size, and had claw-like nails.
The only thing that stood out of place was a necklace hanging above its neck; it was brown and wooden, with a red strap. It looked very familiar. After I focused on it, I realized why. That necklace had belonged to Basch, my best friend.
This beast was Basch, my long time companion and friend. One of the Voices must have turned him instead of killing him off like the rest of our village.
“Basch! Is that you?” I yelled “What did they do to you?”
Basch responded with a loud roar, and then charged after me. I hesitated to move which was my largest mistake. I was able to jump out of the way but Basch’s claws made contact with my stomach area giving me a few cuts, which felt like they were on fire.
I had to let go, this was no longer Basch. This was a slave of the Voices. The only way to save him was death. I looked at my surroundings, and right behind Basch was just what I needed, a shop full of weapons. I started to run straight at Basch, hoping I could dodge him, but that did not work out so well. Basch was too quick with his advance reflexes and swatted me like a fly.
The good thing, Basch swatted me into the corner of the shop, the bad thing, when he swatted me my revolver fell out of its holster and flew off somewhere out of the shop.
I got up as quickly as I could. Sharp pains were going through my back and stomach. But I was able to get over the counter, and Basch was now charging at me at full speed. I stood my ground waiting for the right time to spring my trap. If he did what I thought he was going to do my trap would work perfectly. First I threw a couple of shurikens at him, one hit him in his right eye, which would help me out even better. I had a broadsword on the ground hidden for my final attack.
Finally Basch leaped over the counter hoping to pounce on me, but while in mid air he could not block my sneak attack, I picked up the sword, and jammed it straight through his skull, letting the natural force of gravity do most of the work. Basch dropped dead instantly.
I sat down to gather my breath and composure completely forgetting about the Voices down the hall. Then I got up and yanked Basch’s necklace off of his neck and threw it in my pouch. I would never forget him.
As soon as I started to get up and leave I heard a high pitched scream, I had to cover my ears it was so loud. Then, in the blink of an eye, standing at end of the shop stood Hanon and Diachiko, with rage filled faces staring straight at me. Then Daichiko looked at the white ball of fur lumped over the counter, a feeling of shock and fury went over her face, then she started to run straight at me. I pulled a katana off the wall, and stood ready to fight, a fight I would surely lose with my life. Daichiko jumped on a nearby shelf and in the blink of a eye, her body was covered head to toe in blade like spikes sticking out of her skin, each blade was a different size.
I did not let myself show any signs of fear in the face of this monster. Daichiko then leaped at me, doing a variation of spins and dancing, her entire body was like one huge weapon. I was dodging and parrying as best I could, but blades seemed to be coming at me from all direction, and I was forced to stay on the defense. I could feel pains coming from my body; some of her attacks were making contact with me. If I did not come up with a plan and soon I will be dead in the next few minutes. But then I found my miracle, the shelves. If I could just get her tangled in them I could go for the kill. All the shelves were behind her however, and she was not letting up on her attacks.
I then leaped into a summersault to my right and out of her way.
“Oh no you don’t,” Daichiko yelled as she threw out her arm to get me while I was on the ground.
I did a tuck and dodged the fatal blades of her arm. Then I ran straight for the shelf closest to me. She jumped straight over me and stood directly in my way, but kept going. I stopped and kicked her straight in an opening between blades in the middle of her chest causing her to stagger back and get caught up in the shelf just as I planned.
The blades sticking in her back got caught in the strange cardboard like substance in the back of the shelf and the ones sticking out of her arms and shoulders were caught in the metal bars and frames. I gripped my sword tightly in my hand.
“THIS IS FOR BASCH!” I yelled as I drove the blade straight between the vile woman’s eyes. Looks of fear frozen on her face as she gasped her last breath.
I pulled the sword out of Daichiko’s head “two down,” I said trying to sound tough, mostly to fool myself. Really I was shaking, both from fear and exhaustion.
The look on Hanon’s face was that of shock and anger. She stared at me intently; hours seemed to pass as neither one of us moved a muscle. Then Hanon made the first move.
Hanon let out a furious screech, which was so terrible I had to cover my ears. I saw glass shatter around me. I could feel a sharp pain in my head, and if this did not stop, either my head would explode (or at least it felt like it) or she would pin me down and have a chance for the kill. I was able to grab a shuriken from my pouch, my last one. The way I figured it she could not keep this up, unless she stood still and focused, so either my shuriken would hit her, or she would have to jump out of the way.
I threw the shuriken as hard as my body would let me; it went straight for her chest. As predicted, she jumped out of the way, and then I made my move. I charged straight at her with my katana in hand. Right when I was in range I swung. Hanon leaped back to dodge the attack. Then in her hand, a swirl of what seemed to be mist and water formed, then it manifested into a majestic dagger with a diamond tip, the hilt was golden and covered in strange markings. That is when I actually took a second to look at the blade in my hand; the blade itself was black and about three feet in length. The hilt was a small “X” design and the handle was a mix of black and red.
This time Hanon charged at me, and I parried and shoved her back. We kept coming at each other neither one of us giving an inch. All I could hear was heavy breathing and the sound of metal smacking.
Hanon and I parried one last time and held our blades locked together. We stared each other down. Her eyes looked that of a warrior who would never give up. Sweat beaded down her brow.
I could feel my body getting tired; I could not take much more. I had to end it quickly.
Hanon shoved my blade away and in the blink of an eye kicked me right in the gut which sent me flying a few feet back into the corner of the shop. Then I landed in a slump on the ground. My katana gone and nowhere to be seen, must have flown into the shop when I was kicked back. I felt something behind me though with my hands, and I grabbed it.
I had lost all my strength, I could not fight anymore. I watched as Hanon, made her approach to me. She knelt down in front of me, and then I felt a sharp pain in my chest. I grunted and looked down; Hanon’s knife was now stabbed into my chest just missing my heart.
“What a shame,” Hanon said pulling the knife out of me. I didn’t make more than a groan I did not even have the strength to yell. “You could of made a great Howler, but now I can’t let you live for what you have done here boy.”
Then there was a loud boom and silence I blinked when I heard the boom and when I opened my eyes I was smiling at the sight I saw. A look of complete shock on Hanon’s face as blood ran down her head.
Hanon looked down and saw what had got her. In my hand, was my revolver. Smoke was emanating from the barrel.
Hanon slowly dropped, her head lying on my knees, and then she was dead in seconds.
I laid my head back and looked at the sky through a window. I heard voices calling my name “Dante, Dante, Dante.” I recognized these voices; they were Basch’s, fathers and everyone else from my village. They were calling me back to a new home. I was now at peace; I closed my eyes and listened to the songs of the birds above, and drifted to my eternal sleep.