Heathens

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

Chapter 56 (v.1) - Chapter 56

Submitted: December 21, 2017

Reads: 76

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Submitted: December 21, 2017

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Jeremiah


Sand. Sand in his mouth. Sand in his eyes. Sand in his pants. It came out of him as he stood, it came into him with each sweeping foot step that shook up dust. He was with the boy, Bartholomew. And they were somewhere. Somewhere they never had the benefit of thinking. For if they thought, even for just a moment, they would have realized they were doomed and that this effort (the large jog they broke into it in this very large desert) was for nothing. 

There were small pockets of dirt and green like cut up pieces of paradise. But nothing more, just desert and as Jeremiah fell to his knees, he realized, ash. The soot was in his mouth like two used briquettes had been stuffed into his cheeks.

“Now, if you’re going to die the least you could do is die somewhere away from me.” A voice said behind the two. He was coming up from a dune, his black tie was wrapped around his forehead, his blazer wrapped around his hips. 

“I'm only saying so because they’re coming. I know it, you know it. So it's best you start running.” This character was breathing loud, his voice sounded strained and broken.

“Ishmael.” He took a breath for each beat in the word. 

“I told you," Ishmael coughed "Call me Sam."

“Sam. Maybe we should slow down for the kid.”

“For the kid? Fuck the kid.” He walked over to Bartholomew who was on his side, sinking into the sloping sand. “Stand up. You hear me? Stand up or you're dead.”

“He’s not lazy.” Jeremiah pushed his hands down on the floor and lifted himself. “He's not stupid either. He's tired. We’ve been running for hours.”

"And I'll run for hours more so long as it gets me away from th-"

Sam put his finger up, in that school teacher disciplinary manner. He wanted to say something, to get at least a letter in. But stopped. His large brow pointed up, then behind him. They could hear the footsteps. He moved again. He heard them, from another direction. All around them, they all heard them, even the sand that shook and spilled downwards to them. 

They were quivering now. All of them. The child, the youth and the old man. It looked like a current of voltage had run through them. They might have been, considering how charged and edged they looked, how red their eyes were and how quickly their faces turned red with life as they ran. South, that's where they bolted. 

Jeremiah wanted to reflect, even in that intense jog of his. He wanted to think back to how it began, those purple hands, that otherworldly grasp, the boy and the two men that landed on that shore. How they hid in caves and now, how they ran for dear life.  Ran from the things that sounded like banshees and that stormed the lands with spears in their hands and the high shout of war. Those things, those things they ran from. As fast as he could. 

Bartholomew fell. He landed on his side. Sam ran past him, Jeremiah stopped, picked him up and put him, horizontal, on his shoulders like a log, stiff, lifeless. He could feel the faint breaths of the boy down his neck. They felt like whip lashes, and him, Jeremiah, the horse that burdened on with feet that sunk deeper and deeper. 

“Where are we running to?” Jeremiah asked in that strained desperate voice.

“Doesn’t matter. Just run.” Sam slowed to gasp.

He was right though. It didn’t matter. 

They were already caught and only making it harder.

Jeremiah stepped over a small creature. A bug or a plant? He couldn’t tell, only knew it was hard shelled and made a gushing sound as it flattened underneath his feet. It looked like a scorpion or a small spider perhaps, and it made him trip. Both the boy and Jeremiah, who fell and rolled downhill. It must have been fifteen meters of a tumble before they stopped. And when he awoke, with sleepy eyes and a dreadful hot flash across his face, he looked for Bartholomew. He was next to him, on his stomach, vomiting a bit. And Sam was ahead. Running for a bit before coming to the top of another dune. Then stopping all of a sudden, then collapsing on his knees and looking back at Jeremiah with wide eyes. 

Sam’s whole body fell, that scrawny bony body of his with the long neck that looked a bit crooked to the left. It all fell and crumpled.  He looked like a brooding vulture. Starved, a bit desperate.

Jeremiah crawled up to meet him. He came to the sight that made Sam fall. It made his jaw drop for a bit, made him drool too. There was a group of five men - No, not men. At least not anymore - Demons, perhaps that was the accurate word to call those looming figures. Eight feet tall, bulked, as if five large trees with armor had uprooted themselves. 

The group of five demons looked to the trio, from below the dune. They smiled, their teeth were jagged like a serrated knife. Their feet were webbed and their tails were forked and their tongues were long and frantic as they fell and dressed their lips wet.  They had no horns like Jeremiah had imagined in his childhood, no, they had spots of rotten flesh and giant black rings around their eyes and hair either that grew wildly in patches around their scalps. Their skins were sickly looking and they all looked spotted. Pasty white, diseased green. One of them was missing a jaw. The wound was still there, it had puss coming out off it that gave him the appearance of salivating. This jawless fiend pointed to the group. The other four moved on towards Jeremiah and company, their faded red skirts moved gently, their armor, not so much. 

They were legionnaires. Or at least they wore the decore, wore the pride too, as they stepped up with armored high chests. Their movements were slow, trained, careful. It made the three timid, it made them feel small.

Jeremiah could hear the metal clank. It sounded like war. Like the bashing of steel, the crushing of bone. 

He turned. The others that had chased them had arrived, one of them plucked Bartholomew from the neck of his shirt and dragged him, ripping the blue cotton a bit as they yanked him about and put him (Bartholomew) under their armpits. Jeremiah stood, he wanted to kick, to punch, to do anything. He was slapped down. He didn’t even feel it, it didn’t register as pain. That fist that brought down on his head, that broke his nose into two, that left him ringing on his left ear, it didn’t feel like anything but a strong pull. As if gravity had forced him down. It took a while for him to feel the blood of a bruised forehead, even longer for him to scream. A toothless scream that sounded more like a whistle. He saw his molars fall, he tried grabbing them but was pulled up. 

“Three more.” One of the demons said. A large tumor-like growth was on his neck, like an oversized Adam’s apple. He had a raspy voice.

“I wonder how long they’ll live.” Another said. This one had a helmet on and long red plumes that swayed left and right. That one had a soft voice and it made it easier for Jeremiah to sleep, at last, a dreamless sleep.

Sam watched them all. The unconscious bodies carried about, the pain and blood coming off of Jeremiah's face. It made him weak in the knees, it made him docile and he sat in the sand. He got the best treatment of all of them; a slap across the face, a nosebleed and a long bronze chain strapped around his waist. 

Sam looked down at his hands. There were no cuffs. He began to process the scenario, opportunity, the idea to run again. Run far away. His forehead began to sweat and he thought, on the third rattling of the chain to risk it all. He bit his lips, it was coming, that third rattle.  He brought his face up. 

His blood froze. 

For Sam gazed up to a sharp, devious smile and the hot breath and drool that caressed his face. He knew it then. Ah, it came to him! In that private fear, in those dark corners of his mind. It was all a statement. The chase, the beating, the imprisonment. It was all a mockery as if to say to him and to anyone else who dared, what chance do you really have? 

He looked back down, for whatever idea Ishmael "Sam" Johnson had that moment, died.


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