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I wake up to wind howling outside. With eyes closed to block the burning dust, I grope around to find my goggles. I cover my nose and mouth with my sheets. Finally managing to find my goggles, I slip the strap over my head, and fit them to my eyes after dumping out whatever dust has settled in them. The goggles filter my world with yellow light. I wrap a bandana around my head, breathing almost freely now.
Getting up, I head out of my room that I share with my brother and into the kitchen, raising dust with each step. There’s nothing to eat until someone kills a chicken, or collects eggs. My job since I’m the first one up. I open the door and go to grab some eggs. When I come back in, pops is up.
“Morning.” I say.
He grunts in response. He’s never been big on words, but when he speaks, you better listen to him.
I split the eggs and put them in a pan. Soon everybody else is up, and ready to eat.. My brother finishes last, so he does the dishes. We all startle as a man suddenly pounds on our door.
“Someone’s been taken, help!” they say.
“Calm down, what happened? Can you explain a little bit more?” asks Pops.
“No time, just come with me.” the man says.
I recognize him as our neighbor John. We look at each other, and then follow him. We all raise tiny dust clouds as we walk. Arriving at a house, John knocks quietly. The door opens and we’re ushered inside to a house that looks like ours. A woman sits on a couch, crying. John goes to comfort her.
“This is Mary. She’s a good friend of mine, and her husband’s disappeared.
We’ve looked all over town, but found nothing.”
“You tried the next town over? ” said Pops.
“No, I don’t think he would go that far. He was just going to the barber shop. He said he’d come back in about an hour.” sobbed Mary.
“Well, I’m going to check the next town. Who wants to go with? We can go around and
everybody else if they want to help look. I’m sure they’re willing to help.” says Pops.
“I’ll go with you.” says John.
“Anybody else?” asks Pops.
Nobody answers, so he and John walk out the door. When they leave, the house is dead silent except for Mary sobbing. Mom says to go back to the house and to take my little brother with me. She’s going to stay here with Mary. I thank her and walk out the door with my brother. We get back home, and go to our room.
Pops arrives after dark, and arrives just in time for dinner. The wind howls outside, mixed with the whispering dust. Dinner goes by silently and we all fall asleep quickly that night.
Week 2: Of Terror
A new sound echoes in the night. A soft, low, whistle sound. I don’t recognize it, and I’m frozen in fear. I’m the only one awake. Scratching again, but at our window this time. Eyes wide, I wait. It stops, but the whistling sounds again, closer. I’m completely frozen in fear, and don’t move a muscle. It soon sounds again, farther off, and I relax. I nod off after what seems like forever.
The next morning, I’m the first one up. I walk out of my room and into a room full of dust almost up to my knees. The front door stands wide open. I check my parents room, and both of them are gone. There’s not even a single footprint. Just some strange lines in the dust, and even those are quickly fading as the dust fills them in.
I go back inside, and see that my brother is still there asleep. I make a quick decision and wake him up. It’s best he knows as soon as possible. He puts on his goggles and bandana and groggily gets out of bed.
“What is it big brother?”
“Mom and pops are gone.”
His eyes snap open.
“WHAT?” he screams.
He runs to see for himself. He goes to their room, and then runs past with tears in his eyes to look outside. Of course, he sees the same thing I did. He’s 11. He doesn’t deserve this. I coax him back inside, with tears drying on the inside of his goggles. I make breakfast, and we eat quickly. We’re both shaking, because we’re so scared, and extremely nervous. What’s going to happen to us? An idea springs into my head, and I tell David to pack some stuff. He does so quickly and quietly. We go to John, and tell him what happened.
“Can we stay with you until we find our parents?” I ask.
David looks at him hopefully.
“Of course you can. Anything for you guys. I’ve known y’all since you were little.” says
He ushers us inside and brings us to a spare room with a bed.
“Thank you John.” we both say.
“Sure guys. No problem.”
Another day passes, another fruitless search for Mary’s husband, and our parents. So much dust everywhere. The sun shines red, and the night is complete darkness. Days start to blur together as the dust comes in stronger. More people disappear and more searches start. The whole town starts buzzing, or at least what’s left of it. Someone suggests a massive search party, with the whole town going around looking anywhere and everywhere. The wind is screaming outside, shrieking across the roof, and rattling the windows. Without reason or warning, the wind stops, and so does the dust. It doesn’t settle fast, but it’s stopped blowing. After awhile, a man runs into the town square.
“I SAW IT! I SAW IT! I SAW WHAT’S TAKING THEM! I SAW IIIIIIIIIT!!!”
“Calm down! What did you see?!” asks the mayor.
“I saw what’s taking people sir!!!”
“Yes we get that, but what is it?”
“I...I...I don’t know.”
With that, the man collapses. The town doctor rushes to his side, and checks his pulse.
“Dead...of fright, I would presume.”
“This meeting is adjourned. We shall start a town-wide search together, immediately. This man will not have died for nothing, no matter how crazy he sounded.” says the mayor.
The rest of the day is devoted to searching. We’re all worn out. Night falls and so do we.
Week 3: Of Terror
Morning comes, with red light hazily shining through the windows. Screams can be heard from all over town. More people, gone. No traces. Another scream sounds, but more intensely. Something’s different. Another, and another. A town meeting is called. Many are giving reports of what they’ve seen to the mayor. I hear whispers of a 12 foot tall beast, skinny, to the point of being emaciated, and bloody. Almost no muscle. A bull’s skull for a head, but with black, pointed deer antlers, and needle-like teeth the size of daggers. I am terrified. So is my brother, and I’m trying desperately to appear calm for him. He grabs my hand, and I look down at him.
“Everything’s gonna be okay, alright David?”
“I promise. Don’t worry ‘bout a thing.”
“Okay. I believe you.”
Another search begins, but people are fervent, and frightened. We have no split groups this time. We all sleep together tonight. Although, tonight, it looks like not much sleeping will be going on. Everybody is awake well past midnight. At about 3 in the morning, me and a few other people are the only ones awake. I’m the only one left awake at 4. The whistling sounds again, but ignore it under the howling wind and whispering dust. At 5, I drift off into an eternal sleep.
A cloud of dust follows a car into the little town. Doors are open, windows shattered. The people inside the car look around uneasily and all look to the driver, telling him to floor it. The cloud that followed the car in, now follows it out. A strange entity watches the dust cloud disappear over the horizon. Red sunlight glints off its bleached skull, and fangs shine bloody in the dim light. Eyes dully glow, and follow the leaving car. Completely camouflaged in this dust, no one knows it’s there. The antlers are the only thing that could give it away, but nobody’s looking for something like that way out here. Dust and wind whistle across its emaciated frame, and cover it in orange. It disappears into the storm as the wind rises, and the skull turns on its bony neck towards the town once again. A quiet whispering voice chants in the wind,
“Mors, Obitus, Decessus.”