World War D

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: BoMoWriCha Prompts


Written for the BoMoWriCha challenge -- write a 2500 word story in a day, somehow including dragons.

Submitted: June 20, 2018

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Submitted: June 20, 2018

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World War D.

I didn’t even notice it, along with most of the world’s population. There was just a slight tremble in the ground all around the globe, everywhere, at exactly the same moment. It was so slight, so insignificant, that it was put down to a glitch in the seismographic equipment on a local level. The whole thing never even made the news, not until later, when more noticeable things began to occur.

For a long time it was nothing but rumbles, trembles; still, nothing dramatic or damaging. It was getting harder to believe in the glitch theory and as it continued, information leaked out. What sort of equipment glitch would be global? Especially when the equipment was not just of one make. It stretched the boundaries of belief that they were all going wrong, at the exact same time, in the exact same way. There had to be something going on beneath the Earth’s surface!

Then it became really obvious. The trembling was of sufficient intensity to make things fall off shelves. Anything light and loose that was balanced to stay in place would vibrate enough to send it toppling. Glass in windows rattled in a way that those who lived on busy streets and near railway lines were familiar. But this was a phenomena that was occurring anywhere and everywhere. Why weren’t they saying more about what was going on?

The people of the world were becoming nervous, me included. ‘They’, meaning the governments, along with perhaps the military, were covering something up. They had to be! Even with the increase in power of the trembles, the increase in frequency, the whole thing got hardly any coverage.

Well, that’s not true. The internet was full of it; theories of what was going on. It was the end of the world; the planet was about to implode, to explode. Aliens had landed in the sea and had made their way inland by tunnelling under ground. It was the result of fracking, disturbing the gases. Too much development had taken place on the world’s surface and the weight of it was causing the ground to de-stabilize.

Nothing was too outlandish and theory after theory was posted, each claiming to have scientific proof to back it up. The only constant point that they all shared was that there was some kind of conspiracy cover-up; and even the most rational person was finding it hard to disagree.

I can still remember the first time I spotted a crack. It was only small, could easily have been overlooked. It was jagged, zigzagging it’s way from one side of the street to another. It looked just like something had pressed hard underneath the tarmac.

Could the alien theory be right? No, I couldn’t quite allow myself to believe that; not yet, anyway.

By the end of the day that crack had widened. Nobody could miss it now, and it was wide enough for motorists to be nervous of crossing it. They had a bit of a problem though, as more and more of these cracks appeared, getting bigger and bigger.

You could still walk, provided you were careful exactly where you put your feet. But they couldn’t keep quiet now, could they? They’d have to let us in on what in hell was happening.

Of course there were those that took to the streets, preaching that Satan and his armies of demons were rising up from Hell itself. Turn to Jesus, he was the only chance. Some people believed them, these prophets of doom. Especially when the buildings began to tip and twist, with some walls separating, crumbling apart to bury those unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The heat was almost unbearable. Not coming from the sun in the sky but rising up from underneath the ground. Tarmac began to melt, and more and more places became too hot to walk upon. Some kind of gigantic earthquake, that’s what my mind was telling me. But if my mind was right, where was the magma?

They’ cut us off!

Television, radio, the internet, mobile phones; ‘they’ shut the whole lot down. How could they have possibly imagined that that action would calm anyone. ‘They’ knew something, and it was so bad that they were not prepared to share it with us. My only consolation was that they’d not be able to escape from it, not if it was global. Unless they had a way of leaving the planet.

The problem was where to go? Indoors you were in with a chance of the building collapsing with you inside. If it did not kill you, you’d be trapped, dependant on someone finding you and trying to dig you out. In the current state of chaos, how many would put themselves at risk to save a stranger.

Out on the streets, not only did you have the heat to contend with but a fissure could open, widen, swallow you up. Nowhere was safe for even the parks were splitting and heaving. Trees, suddenly finding their roots exposed, leaned and toppled, dragging up even more of the ground.

Of course there were the looters. Never ones to miss an opportunity to go after something, anything, even when they had nowhere safe to keep it. Most of us were like some kind of placid, mindless zombies. Not knowing what to do; what to think; where to go; and most of all, who to turn to, our minds seemed to shut down. I guess it was a case of wide-scale shock.

Then the smoke began to drift from the splits, not everywhere, but just in small areas. You’d think we’d draw away from it, keep our distance, but so many of us were dragged forward out of nothing but curiosity. We had to look, had to see. And those tiny flickers of flames that licked upwards ignited our own flames of panic.

Flames! The Earth must be burning up from inside. Rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, even the sea seemed to be the safest bet to our maddened minds. How would we get there?

There was a park near me, with a lake. I ran towards it along with many others. Some were crying, but most were too much in fear to be able to make any kind of noise at all. The water was hot. Not actually bubbling, boiling, but like stepping in to a too hot bath people withdrew.

A roaring sound and a flame shot straight upwards into the air, igniting the clothes of anyone and everyone who had failed to move away. With all of the screams, both of the burning and the witnesses, it was hard to make out the roar any more. It must just have been an escaping jet of gas, the raw of flames prevented from spreading out and instead being forced up.

Wishful thinking on my part for what happened next was so much worse than my worst fears. Claws about two feet long, attached to scaly toes gripped the edge of the fissure, followed by what looked like a jaw. And it was from inside that jaw-like thing that both roar and flame emerged.

Dragons!

Dragons did not exist, never had done. Isn’t that what we had always been taught. They were creatures of myth and legend, no more real than unicorns and fairies. I couldn’t look away. A group of us, strangers, grabbed on to each other to form a huddled group and stood trembling as a head as big as my entire body emerged.

We needed to go, get moving. I started to move away, pulling others along with me. It was coming out, and when it did, going by the size of it’s head, it was going to tear the surrounding area apart. If we were not to fall in we had to get some distance.

I could feel it’s eyes upon me, us, watching as we fled. Let it stare! We headed to the ruins. Buildings that we believed could tumble no further seemed the best option. If we could find small gaps to crawl in to, ledges of what was once floors to crawl underneath, surely it would not be able to follow us. It would need space to open it’s massive jaw but there were still those dagger-like claws to fear.

As we ran I saw that there was not just one. How could there have been? The extent of the devastation was way to much for just a single creature to have caused. How many were already up in the sky? I could see at least three from where I was, and then there’s the one who is now flapping it’s wings, causing a gale that smells of sulphur.

It’s coming in low, and fast, even though it’s wings are beating slowly. I’m not going to make it, neither are the ones in front of me, the ones behind. “Hit the ground!” I scream out to as many as can hear me as I drop, flatten myself to the heated surface.

Some of them do, but the girl in front of me is too slow. I feel the talons scrape against my back but the girl in front of me has not dropped and those talons spear through her, back to front. It rises in to the air and lets out a screech of victory. It has made it’s first kill.

The rest of us make it in to the ruins and watch the beasts as they swoop and dive. How can a creature so big, so heavy, be able to fly so gracefully? We can see them, picking off more humans, but at a distance far enough for us not to see the details. Not like that girl, stabbed right through in front of me. Am I ever going to be able to get that image out of my mind?

Am I even going to survive long enough for it to matter?

I don’t know how long we’d been hiding there when the first sound of engines approached. Planes maybe? And there they are screaming across the sky, firing at the beasts.

What are their skins made of? The bullets seem to do them little damage, many bouncing off them without causing any injury at all. And those dragons – all they have to do is turn around and blast out their fiery breath. They can hardly miss with the large spray of flame, and the sky is lit up with the explosions of those jets instantly igniting.

All these fighter-pilots, with not a chance of surviving. It’s not going to take them long to figure out that as a means of attack it is completely futile. Then what? Even as that thought forms I can hear a rumble. Tanks, military vehicles, soldiers locked and loaded. Do they really think they’ll have any better chance than up in the sky?

And then my head is torn apart by the sounds the explosions, the roars and the screams. They are attracting the beasts nearer and near to out hiding place. Grabbing the arm of a guy not too far from me, I pull him across to the far side of the building. We’re in luck as there is a thick slab of concrete we can duck behind and shelter. If not for that we’d have been roasted alive.

The urge to scream, to go running out and waving my arms is overwhelming. Better maybe to get it over with quickly than to play this pointless game of cat and mouse. No sooner has that thought formed than I am knocked from my feet, sent flying by the explosion of the tank. I’m actually in the air for a few seconds before I land with some force against another chunk of concrete.

I’ve no idea how long I’m out for. The battle is all but over now. Those beasts swoop and dive, victorious, undefeatable. They chose to come out and fight and there can be no doubting that they have won.

Looking out over the ground I can see body after body. Some are burned through to the bone, others have been dropped from a great height to splatter, and others have been half-eaten. Humans have been put in their place. The most superior beings? Definitely not. We’ve been obliterated by a hatching of dragons.

I can only presume that similar events have been going on the world over. Is there anywhere left undamaged, still standing? Most of the people I was hiding with have gone, I don’t know where. Maybe it’s better like that, not knowing.

There are a few of us still. All filthy, hollow-eyed. We really do have the appearance of being nothing more than walking dead. Our minds, unable to cope any more, really are shutting down.

Then I notice something. No, maybe not. I must have imagined it.

No, there it is again. With no one to fight against, some of the dragons are starting to turn on others. It’s a horrible sight as they clash in the sky, rip and roar, lashing each other with flames. The screams are almost too much to bear on top of everything else.

I put my head against my knees, hands over my ears in a desperate attempt not to have to hear.

One falls. The massive beast plunges down to the ground, half in and half out of one of the craters they formed when erupting. It doesn’t move, not at all. It must be dead, for nothing could land with such force and survive.

The victor is lighting up the sky with a stream of smoke, already going off in search of another opponent. Once it’s selected it’s target the fighting begins again. They clearly have no loyalty to each other, not yet at least.

Is that going to prove to be the salvation of humanity. Are they going to defeat themselves? We did not make a dent on them, with all our superior technology and weapons. We didn’t even take one of them down, not here at least. Of course there could be other places where the dragons have taken a beating, but on second thoughts, their control over fire is going to have made that very unlikely.

Some of them seem to be heading back down under ground. That’s bad. That’s very bad! If they stay up there, picking each other off, that would be the end of it. Wouldn’t it? So the world would never be the same but things could recover at least in some way.

But if they are going to bury themselves away once more, will there be any point in even attempting to rebuild any kind of society. We’d never know when they were going to re-emerge. Powerless, that’s what we are, held to ransom by a future threat.

I don’t know what I’m going to do. Can I face the thought of carrying on? Will I go searching for somewhere scar free, somewhere where us survivors could perhaps restart? Only time will tell.

 

 

(2514words)

 


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