The End: Story Two
Prelude to the Darkness

By: David K. Montoya

I was completely bewildered—I had no idea that an Unlucky could become pregnant. Then again, it did make sense that even though they become "Zombie–like," the creatures were still physically alive. Even in the most primal state of mind, the desire to mate still remained.

I stood there for a while longer, my mind wandering with thoughts like, what would the newborn child look like ?

The female Unlucky bellowed out in pain, and within seconds, I heard cries of what I could only describe as horrifying. The squeal of a baby Unlucky rang through the woods. From where I was standing, I was able to witness the entire thing. The newborn looked like a miniature version of its elders. The child was born an Unlucky; doomed to roam the world as a blood lusting beast until the end of its days.

What I saw next turned my stomach, as I witnessed an unbelievable act of savagery. No sooner had the mother birthed her demonic offspring, than the surrounding others quickly snatched the child away. I heard the sound of flesh ripping as the placenta was forced from her body. One of the other creatures grabbed the afterbirth and tried to pull it away, but because it was still connected to the umbilical cord of the baby, the monster was only able to take a few steps.

Each Unlucky pulled on their respective ends turning the situation into a full on tug–o–war! The winner would receive their meal for that day. More of the demons joined in on opposite sides. With the major stress added to the center of the cord, it snapped in the middle. As the ends split apart it showered all of the combatants with the dark tarry blood that was held inside.

Before I realized what was happening, the newborn had become nothing more than a bloody pile of bones, and the pack of Unluckys turned their attention toward the female. It tried to fight the others off, but the six creatures were too powerful, and like its child, quickly became a mutilated carcass.

While they fed on the female, I began to fire my weapon—it was that hatred from before. I did not understand what was going on that made me so upset, but all I could think of was, I needed to kill them !

Which I did. Before any of them realized what was happening, their brains were splattered across the woods. And even though they were all dead , the anger, as well as the desire to kill still raged inside me! I walked over to each creature and checked to see if any were still alive. Finally coming upon the sixth beast, I could tell it was not yet completely deceased.

After that things got fuzzy for me. I clearly recall taking my knife out and checking if it still had an edge to it. But after that, everything was a complete blank. Though trying to think back on it, I get an image of the bloody monster howling in pain.

#

When I got back to the camp, I found everyone was still fast asleep. Sitting next to the campfire, my shin started to ache. When I pulled up my pant leg, I noticed that my skin had become dry and discolored. The physical changes had begun; soon I would become one of those demons.

Maybe it would be for the best—I had become tired and my determination had slowly started to dissipate. For the first time, I truly felt alone. Even though there were people around me, I was by myself. Everyone kept to themselves and patronized me, just to keep me happy.

Guess it would be fitting if I was to change into an Unlucky survivor. To be truthful, I would be glad when it ended and was completely finished. I hoped we would be in Haven by then, because without me, I didn't think they could work together to make it there.

My thoughts ran away from me, as I pondered on what things would be like if I were to die before reaching Haven. A feel of dread came over me as I fully realized that it was my responsibility to get them there. I knew that time was not on my side, though I wondered why Richard's transformation happened much quicker than my own.

Just about that time, the Professor came up to me. He told me to go get some rest, that he would stand watch for a while, at least until one of the others got up. I tried to tell him that I was fine and for him to go back to sleep, but the only thing that came out of my mouth was, "…All right. "

As I walked over to where he had been sleeping, I told the Professor that in the morning I was going to try and drive straight through, until we were all the way out of Corpseland. He agreed that would be a good, as well as a safe idea, but we needed to do something with the broken glass on the SUV. Whoever was sitting next to the window would be vulnerable to an attack by Unluckys.

I told him that we would take a look at it in the morning, as I adjusted myself into the sleeping bag. 'It was quite comfortable,' was my last thought before I fell fast asleep.

#

That morning when I woke up, the first thing I noticed was that I was alone. Putting my boots on as fast as I could, I hurried away from the site to see if I could find the others. Only a few steps into the brush, I stopped dead in my tracks when a thought came to me.

Slowly I turned around to face the campsite. As I did, my stomach turned into a knot when I realized that the SUV was gone ! Walking up to were it had been parked, I saw the tire tracks leading away from the camp. Feeling abandoned and somewhat overwhelmed, I lowered myself to the ground until I was sitting next to the tracks.

I couldn't believe that they had left without me. My thoughts moved to how I had been behaving of late. Was it so bad that my own family would abandon me out here alone, in Corpseland? I wondered if it was because Renee told everyone that I was changing, and out of fear, they all deserted me.

Getting back to my feet, I slowly started my way up the path, following the mud tracks on the concrete left by the SUV's tires. The tracks were dry with no moisture in the clumps, which meant they had left some time ago. As I walked along the trail, my thoughts shifted from abandonment to possible abduction.

What if they were forced to leave the campsite? But why didn't I hear anything? Perhaps, I was so deeply asleep that I slept through the entire thing! After all, I have been known to sleep through several earthquakes, and even one tornado, when I was younger and living in the south.

I realized that my pace had become a full on sprint! Rushing forward, I could feet the anger rising inside me. A slight tingle ran up my spine at the thought of killing once more. I was ready and willing at that moment—then I found them, with what looked like the SUV.

As I walked up to the vehicle, I confirmed to myself that it was in fact our SUV. But now there were one quarter inch, thick metal plates welded to the outside of the window, with a foot wide slot cut out, which appeared to be just enough of an opening to stick the barrel of a gun through and maneuver it back and forth. Going to the front of the SUV, I saw that the windshield had been replaced with several of the plates, put together to make one large panel that covered the entire area. The opening was about the same dimension as the ones on the side, but the cutout section stretched across the entire length of the metal.

Another thing I noticed was the makeshift spears had been removed and were replaced with two large plates put together in a "V" shape, which covered the grill and lower bumper; it made the front of the SUV look like an arrowhead. Attached to the metal sheets were spikes that looked to be crafted from the left over scraps. while further down, I noticed that a clearance was created for the headlights.

Everyone was looking at me with rather proud smiles. Walking around to the passenger's side, I found my son kneeling down, welding the last metal plates into place. He turned and looked up at me. Standing, Michael shut off the torch and came over.

He asked me if I liked the modifications that were made to the SUV. I wanted to know how it was done, and where did all of the materials come from?

Michael told me that he and Richard had done the welding, though all of the major parts were completed by my brother. I had forgotten that before his grandfather got sick, he taught Mike how to spot weld; something that I never quite got a hold on.

My son explained that Richard had awakened before everyone and wandered off inside the plant. As he walked around, he came across an area that was never finished, with piles of metal lying around. He also found a full oxygen tank.

He headed back to camp, and by the time Rich got there, everyone was up and around—except me, apparently. After telling the gang about the materials that he had found, it was agreed upon that they would use their findings to improve the condition of the SUV.

So, they had souped up the vehicle. It was now ready for the Unluckys and our journey through the heart of Corpseland. Mike went on to say that it was his idea to let me sleep, because I did not get much sleep during the last few days. He apologized if he had worried me, which caused me to laugh out loud. I told him that I wasn't concerned, though everyone knew that was a bold faced lie.

I should have figured my son would never have left me behind; he's a good kid, and I should have known better. Michael handed me the keys, but I gave them back and told him to take the wheel for a while.

We all once again piled into the SUV, but it had a different feeling inside. It was dark and very hot, enough though I could feel the cool air coming from the air conditioning vents. I checked the gas gauge, which read that we were full—Mike must have topped off the tank earlier. I knew we could go about one hundred eighty miles on the amount of gas we had. Even though we were averaging around twenty–five miles to the gallon, because the air conditioning was on, I knew our average would drop to about eighteen miles a gallon. But we would be out of Corpseland by then, and besides, we still had a full drum of gas tucked away in the back of the SUV.

In a matter of seconds the inside of the vehicle was nice and cool. I leaned over and took a glance at the gauges; they looked good and nothing was overheating. I told Michael to get back on the interstate and follow it straight up until we hit Ely, the heart of Corpseland.

He gave me a smile and told me everything would be all right, and I knew it would be. My son was completely capable of handling matters behind the wheel. Feeling quite relaxed, I leaned back into my seat, allowing the cold air to blow on my face. With one last thought, I told Mike to wake me once we got there.

To be continued…

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