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 ZE's Vault - Days Beyond Dread 
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Post ZE's Vault - Days Beyond Dread • Posted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 12:54 pm
This is an old short story of mine that has taunted me for about 3 years now. I am Legend inspired me to write a story similar to it with my own twist, but I still have yet to get anything more done in the story since when I last left it. As far as I know, I may never finish it, but it will always hang around and who knows... maybe I'll finish it.

But I doubt it :P. Have a look at tell me what you think. It is unedited and lazily written, forgive mistakes as the writing level is rather low compared to my newer work. Enjoy.

-If I've already released this magically in another topic, please let me know :P-

Days beyond Dread

I.

He spun his trundle along the way, spreading the silent ripples of chilled night air behind him. The bruises of the dusk bitten sky were healing at the pass of every second; a solemn ring of rose light shone where the sun had once touched the horizon. It was the grandest hour of the day, when Mother Nature laid a bosom of sleep across Her creation and Father Time would observe His dark silence from above. Hugh would have given anything to have the rule of the twilight hour last for eternity. But just like everything else in his life, wishing would get him nowhere.

And it was through his constant wishing that he found himself in the abandoned street, alone, pushing a small rusted cart with all his belongings. In fact, the entire city was empty. Sunset was his only ‘feel good’ moment nowadays; he had always enjoyed it, even since he was a child. A vibrant, tall, and slightly socially awkward child with smouldering red hair; ‘a sight to see’ his parents would always say to those estranged relatives he would never meet…

Waves of nostalgia throttled his every thought now. One of the hardest things to forget had to be his spending the summer days running through the fields and forests his family owned. Those wide open spaces were gone now, bulldozed when the city bought up more area for the ever growing suburbs. What he would give to see them again… Nearly everyday he would walk to the prostitute littered street where his house had been, trying to steal back the good times from cold concrete. The street was a ghost of its former self now, black voids of forcibly bankrupt shops; the sins of a rotten city clinging to every piece of dirt.

It wasn’t time to start thinking about the past; Hugh had nearly lost it all focussing on what he had loved. Five years of this and he was only just starting to lose the sting of the reality of his new world. Frustration had turned from a mere nuisance to jeopardizing his life. If not for the cache of guitar music collecting dust in the back of his mind, the outdated ‘beautiful scenery’ calendars he collected on his day walks, and the company of worn out houses… he couldn’t bring himself to know what it could have been like. He probably would have been dead after the first week.

***

Half a decade may have passed, but the single vagabond, the only man, remembered the first day of this particular version of hell. The night previous he had returned from work in a stew of emotion, the deal with the D’Silva Company had gone belly up and all signs pointed to his incompetence at temporarily running the financial sector on his lonesome. Threats to his job were thrown left and right, his bosses and fellow employees harping and condemning him, all forgetting that without his presence there would have been a week deficit so large that the higher-ups would have *Navi* nickels.

Hugh still felt an empty throb of guilt when his mind wandered to that night whenever he felt loneliest. His wife, Laurie, had tried to curb his steamy disposition when he arrived home late and in fervour, but the bottled malevolence of the day blinded him from healing. By now he had forgotten what he had yelled in a long wind of anger, what he had called back down to pleas for the chance to repair what his day had done so great a job of mucking up. The heavy crack of a slammed door echoed in the back of his mind; Hugh went without his supper with wife and young daughter, he chose to rest, to attempt to fix a bad funk rotting in his heart. If he had known that was the last time he would ever be able to sit down, to look at his family, he would have behaved differently.

That was known as the ‘Historian’s Fallacy’, when people and philosophy actually mattered in the world. His sleep was restless, but deep enough not to know when Laurie came to bed. Yet, did she even after his outburst, the outburst he now treated as completely futile and unnecessary? If she hadn’t, there was nothing in her pretty soul to blame.

It was May 2nd, 2015 when Hugh awoke, exactly twenty-four hours after a terrible day at the company he helped keep afloat. The first thought of the day was still thick with distaste, running straight to how much he now seemed to pointlessly hate the bastards he worked with. He remembered groggily pulling himself out from a tangle of sheets and sauntering in a stupor of tiredness to the pasty white bathroom he primped himself out of each morning for ten years. A quick shave was in order but when the tap snapped off in his hand in a spray of bloody rust, his dream-like posture crumpled into morbid focus.

His house was rotten, holes stretching far and wide in the roof, the wilds of Mother Earth running rampant in every corner. Hugh recalled shaking his head furiously trying to watch everything turn to normal, the tap in his hand to reform into a hairbrush, yet none of that happened. In the cracked mirror he saw a perfectly normal face, the same one that wished him good night just recently. How could a night’s sleep turn the world on its end and leave him perfectly fine?

Like any sane man he began to feel the statement rise into his consciousness, ‘this is all a dream’. The most lucid and life-like dream he could ever muster to imagine. Yet with a flurry of doubts screaming in his head, Hugh still ran through his house calling for his family, trying not to kill himself by falling through a splintered hole into the basement. No one called back. There was dead silence except for the too cheerful songs of seasonal birds drifting in from the outside. And it was in the outer world he then found himself; there was nothing, no cars, no lights, no people, a world filled with everything but humanity.

However, its taint could be seen for miles in every direction, the concrete jungle still strangling Nature’s attempt at taking back its property. Soon enough the stain of a city would be lost, but not in Hugh’s lifetime. Just Hugh’s lifetime…

The world was vibrant and still, but to the torn businessman, his was dead and in some bizarre way, it took him only an hour to believe it. If it were a dream, he never woke up.

***

What caused his world, everyone’s world to wither and die overnight, he would never know. The ridiculous circumstances he found himself in were so farfetched that there was no other way but to accept it as the truth. No one would be able to question his sanity now. The cart jarred against a sewer grate and the drifter was brought back into reality, cold tears lining his face in an even colder wind.

“Winter’s coming, God damn it.” Hugh’s drab voice was shaky, unused, cracking and ready to spirit away. He used to talk to himself often, just to keep away the maddening silence, but after two years of this dream world he gave up on working it out. Soon he would mute himself for good, keep himself as far away from keeping himself human. What a sight it would finally be when he croaked, the last man on Earth huddled in a ball, scared of life and suffering a broken heart and equally broken mind. What a great job he was doing, representing the feeble race he now dominated.

Some feeble race humanity truly was. Centuries of neglect of other life on the planet, centuries of engorging themselves with this false sense of superiority, building far and wide, up into the heavens, blasting giant balls of metal into dead space… Now look at the legacy they left behind; a middle aged, half-starved, smelling and putrid male within the rotting ancient streets of a seedy abode. Hugh certainly felt important in the flow of things.

The glass doors of the old business building returned a grimy reflection to his eyes. A red cap hiding curling red hair sat upon the man’s head, a battered black trench coat draped just over his thighs, ending upon the rattiest looking jeans he had ever seen. What a far cry from his original pre-CEO shaven look. Hugh sadly pushed the doors upon, glancing far into the dark recesses of turned over cubicles. The blazing rose light of the sun’s silhouette dabbled across every surface. He never appreciated pink so much in his life.

Shoving his cart off into the nearest corner, the slumped figure of the last man on Earth made way to the staircase, feeling the gusting winds of Death wailing from outside. Climbing higher and higher, passing floor after floor, he finally found himself at his destination. Today was an anniversary. Today he would Smoosh all the windows here, every single one. It was a new tradition on Hugh’s Planet, a way to show the malevolent God above that he was still a fighter and he wasn’t going to give up. At least it made sense in his torn consciousness.

But whenever he made it to the top of the business tower, the rounds would be all over… The spirit could only last so long, especially in a so called ‘firebrand’ like himself. Picking up the rusted crowbar from the cracked linoleum, Hugh allowed his mind freedom to remember all that he lost; it gave him the rage, the hatred to force his spindly arms to crash through the plate glass. Around the quiet city the song of a scarred man could be heard shattering down to the cold pavement.

When he finished, Hugh rubbed at his throat, his screaming into the unforgiving night air only helped him vent a fraction of his pain. The sweat on his brow was allowed to stick, before finishing for the night, he carried his crowbar up to the next floor, slamming it down vertically, making it break into the tile and jut out like a waiting weapon. It would be another random month that he would return, when his battle fell nearly silent.

His return to the ground floor was quick and without distraction. Pacing through the dark, Hugh found his makeshift bed and silently retired for the night, arms still throbbing from all the wide and forceful swing. The night brought him no way to hide from his past, distract him from thinking about all he loved and would never love again. This was his least favourite time of day. Until the pleasant sounds of a finely tuned guitar drifted from somewhere out in the darkness and a hauntingly familiar voice sang a solemn ballad. The man lulled Hugh to sleep.

Three years, and he had never met him.

---




II.

Whatever day the man had started singing, Hugh never knew. But whoever it was tantalized him every evening when he was just in the last legs of relaxation. How would he know that the poor vagabond was listening, even as far as looking for him in the beginning? The singer was a man Hugh both loved and hated. He was the last physical reason he had for living; the idea of someone else entering his life kept him a few more feet away from his suicidal edge a million times.

-Incomplete

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Post Re: ZE's Vault - Days Beyond Dread • Posted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 1:04 pm
Wow....ZE..you really have a talent for this. I like it :up:

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