The Army

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: October 31, 2016

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Submitted: October 31, 2016

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The Army.

 

It is dark outside, unusually so. There must be thick and heavy cloud as there is not even a star to be seen. It is quiet too, silent and still. You almost begin to feel like you are being wrapped up tight in a blanket of blackness. It is not an unpleasant feeling, but still you find it unnerving.

 

Your eyes are drawn to a faint glow that suddenly appears on the side of the mountain. And why wouldn’t they be? There is, after all, absolutely nothing else to see. It is only a very slight glow, off-white in color. As you focus on it it seems to be brightening, growing stronger in both intensity and size. You realize it must be heading in your direction but it is still a long way off. Curiously it starts to vanish, almost as though it is being devoured from the front.

 

You shake your head at that piece of foolish imagery. It is nothing more than headlights and the vehicle is now passing along the forest road where all light would be blotted out by that thick and extensive covering of trees.

 

It is getting colder. You should go inside. You register the fall in temperature but you actually feel warmer than than you have done for days. The hug of that blackness is hard to relinquish as it promises warmth and safety. You will stay outside for a while longer just to enjoy that added sense of security. No one will notice that you are not there.

 

The glow is beginning to reappear; much, much nearer now. It is an eerie light, cold – almost like the flames of a thousand candles with all the heat removed. It no longer appears like any headlights you have ever seen before. You try to look away, to focus your eyes on something else, but you are still in darkness and your eyes just seem to seek it out. Like a moth to a flame you cannot help but be drawn towards it.

 

There is a very slight noise now, breaking through that silence. A beat, a rhythm, slow and strong. And fainter still some sort of rattling, a clattering. The noise is still a long way off but does seem to be getting louder. You find yourself lifting your feet in time with those beats – left, right, left, right. It comes to you then just what you are listening to; a slow and steady march.

 

For the first time you begin to feel panic. Something is not right and you know that you should not be standing here. You want to turn, to run away; but now the blanket that before was so comforting is now holding you firmly in place. It is holding you prisoner and no matter how hard you struggle it does not allow you even an inch of movement.

 

Even in your state of fear your feet continue to march – left, right, left, right. The beat is much louder now, its reverberations travel right through you. Drum beats, hoof beats, marching feet; but no voices, no animal snorts, no breathing sounds of any sort.

 

And just as you hear the approach is so near, the clouds split apart to expose that moon, a round blue-white disc in the sky. The moon-glow illuminates the parade of which you have become a captive spectator to, and it is a sight that chills you to the bone.

 

Skeleton drummers march in the lead, beating their drums of tautened flesh with sticks that are really long bones. Some of the skeletons are ancient with weathered and discoloured bone, while others still retains remnants of flesh, muscle, tattered cloth. Their heads face forwards and the clattering of their bones adds to the rhythm of the beat. You are too shocked to count straight, too scared to move even if you were able to. About twenty drummers, you would guess, but know it could really be anything from four to one hundred.

 

Far more terrifying than those drummers are the horses and riders that follow them. The horses are all just bone with varying amounts of flesh remaining. Those empty holes that were once eyes and nostrils still seem to have the ability to sense things. The horse nearest to you tosses its head, it’s ghostly mane spreading out with the movement. The riders sit, tall and proud, some with rusted crowns balanced on their skulls. You can see swords, battered and broken, but still looking lethal. You have to fight hard against the urge to gag when you realise that what is holding those swords in place is strips of sinew.

 

Why can’t you run? Why can’t you hide? Nobody should be forced to stand and witness something so horrifying – so supernatural – but still you remain, held firmly in place and unable to make any sort of movement.

 

How many horses? Again, you don’t have a clue. You had been so terrified by the appearance of the riders and horses that you failed to notice the hounds that were loping along beside them. These are the picture of alertness. How they manage to sense what is around them you could not guess but that is the impression they give you. And one is peeling away from the march and heading straight towards you.

 

The hound stops, its skeletal nose just an inch away from your hand. You know that if it had a normal face its nostrils would be twitching like mad. Your eyes are drawn to its hollow ribcage, just an empty space where all the organs should be. Its jaw drops as though it is about to howl and you find yourself silently begging, pleading, for it to just turn away.

 

And it does! A feeling of intense relief washes over you but that does not last long, for here come the infantry. Row upon row of marching skeletons, some tall, some short, all carrying some kind of weapon. For the first time it hits you just how many ages this army of the dead encompasses. The weapons range from axes to picks, from daggers to swords, from pistols to sub-machine guns. Some of the weapons look as though they would not stand up to just a puff of wind, they are so rotted and damaged; while others are still almost new, shiny and perfect apart from a few spatters of what you hope is mud but fear is blood, here and there.

 

And finally more drummers, still steadily banging out that same steady rhythmic beat that you now realise you have continued to march to. As the last of them passes, you are almost certain that the one closest to you turns his head and grins.

 

The clouds reform and blot out the moon. It feels almost as though it has acted as a spotlight for a show. The glow from the army is still visible, moving off into the distance. You watch for as long as you can. When the shivering starts you realise that the blanket has gone; it is no longer protecting you, no longer holding you hostage. You are no longer being compelled to march.

 

You feel as though you have aged by a thousand years, the effort to move is now so great. Slowly, step by step, you make your way indoors. The stairs have never before felt steeper than they do at this moment. You fall into bed, not bothering to remove your clothes. As your teeth chatter beneath your quilt the last thought you are conscious of is to wonder if you will ever feel warm again.


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