Diablo® III

One of Many [Short Story]

One of Many

You really don’t appreciate sunlight until you cannot find it. It’s been a dozen days since the dark cloud blotted out the sky, coating our farms in thick soot that wouldn’t come off with even the most determined of scrubbing. Looking back, it’s almost comical how the warnings of what would come were ignored. Jami, the teenage son of Maen the farmer thought about these early days of darkness as he clutched onto the shattered pitchfork handle in his hands. Curled up in a ball, Jami tried not to make a sound, even as the slow creeping steps pounded down the dead corn stalks around the overturned work cart.

After a few days without sun, the cold winds moved in. The first night was so cold that the crops froze and animals left out in the elements were crippled with frostbite. Families who hadn’t fled to the coast were trapped in their dwellings for another day before it let up enough to venture out. Jami’s father, along with many other farmers on the periphery of the town, was quick to take advantage of the lull in the storm and bring in supplies. The grain and corn storehouses were largely intact, and Maen brought back as much to the farm house as would fit in the tiny dwelling. When that was done, Jami joined his father on a walk to the nearest neighbor.

The pairing didn’t make it more than a few hundred feet from their cottage before they heard the first screams. The shrieking of pure terror pierced the air and sent the both of them to their knees. From the direction of the neighbor’s farm, Jami could barely make out what looked like people walking into the neighbor’s cottage and crawling through the broken windows. The screams were coming from within the building, but the wind seemed to carry them right to Jami’s ears. Grabbing him roughly, Maen began to drag Jami back towards their home. They made it about half way back before they noticed the men coming out of the frozen and tattered fields.

It’s a strange to consider an invading army of men the best case scenario. However, we weren’t so lucky as we saw what was coming for us. Jami nearly lost his footing as the closest came into view. Putrid grey flesh hung from the creature’s bones as it lurched out of the field. Out in the open, the farmer and his son could see it had at one time been a man, however there was no mistaking that the torn and missing chunks of flesh were not part of anything that could be considered alive. As Jami and his father ran, dodging the grasping bone fingers of one of the attackers, several more burst from the ground, spraying soil and rock in all directions. The collection of charred and cracked bones reached up, curling around Maen’s ankle, pulling him to the ground.

Jami fell roughly to the ground as his father held onto the boy’s hand tightly. Maen screamed in terror as more boney claws burst up around him, pinning him to the ground. The walking creature fell upon Maen, clawing and tearing as Jami struggled to get to his feet. Forced to leave his father behind, Jami ran for the safety of the cottage. Dodging left and right, Jami did his best to avoid the rapidly closing numbers. Twenty feet from the door, then fifteen, safety seemed almost within reach. If it hadn’t been for the handle of a pitchfork sticking out of the family’s work wagon, he’d have made it. Tumbling head over heels, Jami slammed into the corner of the wagon, knocking it over on top of him. The panicked teen curled up into a ball, clutching that pitchfork, handle, and waited for the inevitable.

The next few moments seemed to last an eternity. Instead of a cold hand smashing through the wagon and grabbing him, the whole right side of the wagon was instantly encased in a thick coating of ice. The blast of cold was so powerful that it shattered the rest of the wagon, leaving Jami staring up at the dark sky.

In that moment he thought to himself, “I wonder if the sun was shining up above the smoke…”
Edited by Iridium on 10/13/2011 11:17 PM PDT
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“Get up and run you fool!” a female voice shattered Jami’s moment of introspection. Standing just a few yards away, a young woman who couldn’t possibly be more than 16 or 17 stood in the middle of a patch of frozen ground. She growled at Jami again, even as she leaned forward and struck out with a wand, letting loose a brilliant blue lightning that caused the hair on Jami’s head to stand on end. The crackling bolt ripped through the air infront of the girl, slicing through one of the walking undead. The horrible creature buckled under the impact of the arcane energy, leaving behind a crumpled burning pile.

Jami scrambled to his feet and backs towards his home, the whole time watching as the woman moved deftly through the area in front of the cottage. Reaching the door, Jami pounded on the heavy wood while screaming out for his mother. Not getting a response, he turned and watched as the young wizard filled the air with lightning and missiles of arcane energy. When it seemed as though she was about to be surrounded by several of the undead attackers, she muttered a few words and instantly disappeared, only to reappear in a flash right in front of Jami. She looked back at him, her face showing the desperation of the situation.

Undead scrambled towards the small cottage. Their empty eyes glared at the two terrified souls. Several dozen in number now, they showed no fear of the power which had just knocked down a half dozen of them a few moments before. The wizard took a deep breath, then leapt back into the fray, stopping within arm’s reach of several rotting corpses and crying out, a shockwave of energy tossing the mass of rotting creatures back into the ruined crops. Striking out with both hands, the wizard electrocuted two more undead, dropping them to the ground before running into the gap she just created.

The door behind Jami suddenly opened, causing him to stumble back into the cottage interior. Scrambling to his feet, Jami scanned the room for his mother. What he saw instead was a scene of unmitigated terror. Crouched over the body of his mom was the embodiment of Jami’s worst childhood nightmares. The blazing crimson eyes of the red-skinned creature cut through him like a knife. The little devil growled menacingly, brandishing a crude bone knife stained with blood. Jami looked back, hoping to see the wizard in the doorway, a moment away from saving him once again with her magical powers. Instead, he was greeted with the heartbreaking sight of the young woman, wounded and exhausted, disappear just as a group of undead encircled her. Unfortunately, she reappeared at the edge of the ruined crops, just as a hand reached out to grab her long black hair. With a terrifying shriek, the brave wizard was pulled into the field, out of Jami’s view. Turning back to his mother’s body, Jami’s breath was taken from him as he sat face to face with the demon. The little creature was waiting for his victim’s full attention.
Edited by Iridium on 10/15/2011 12:43 PM PDT
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I wished I had found these earlier. I really enjoy your style of writing, you're an excellent story teller!
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