Sojourners in Shadow by Steven Beeho

Posted on Friday, July 26, 2013





Harbinger of my Doom

* * * *

“Wait here,” Lotus said before leaping into the fray, spinning his weapon; one blade beheading, the other slashing open a throat. He sprang high as the mutants fired their guns and one was shredded by the attacks of two others. Another cried out as a brain-maggot fell onto his shoulder. Lotus landed nimbly away from them. Now they were only three as the mutant crashed to the earth, eyes glazed, with the brain-maggot fixed on his neck. The others fired, machine guns rattling as they followed the harbinger, hopping from place to place as he came at them. He snapped his weapons apart and hurled one, the bayonet striking deep. He swung the semi-circular blade to carve a foe open, then twisted, ducked, kicked and swung again.

“Wow, you don’t take long in a fight, do you?” questioned Simon in amazement, looking over the fallen forms.

“That’s how harbingers fight, quick and sudden, never giving our enemies the chance to regroup,” Lotus explained, cleaning his blades on a corpse.

“Yeah, but most like to play with their prey once they’ve beaten them,” countered Simon. Lotus said nothing. Instead, he cut the straps of a backpack before tossing it over. Simon wrenched it open and his eyes lit up.

“Do you know how to fix this?” Lotus asked, moving to the jeep. Simon shook his head as he stuffed thick biscuits into his mouth. “Shame. I don’t think they did either, that’s why they were standing around. Are they from your city?”

“Doubtful,” Simon managed to say, still eating, death common to his eyes. These mutants were basically human, yet slightly disfigured; no doubt their ancestors had been transformed by living in a polluted area. Either way, they were no longer considered human. They were the hated, hate-filled enemy. Simon looted them of supplies and a gun. He watched as Lotus removed the brain-maggot, now bloated, and stored it for another time. “Is he alive?” he asked of the drained mutant.

“Just about. He won’t wake for hours, I suspect. Shall we spare him?" Despite how well he knew Lotus by now, Simon was still surprised at that question from a harbinger. “Without the jeep he won’t get far.”

“Then why not finish him?” asked Simon coldly, readying his gun.

“Not so keen to share out the mercy I have shown you?”

“Mutants wiped out my people.” Simon growled as he spoke.

“This mutant?” Lotus wondered, then went on as Simon made to respond. “Anyway, humans made mutants, that’s why they hate you. Some were experimented on, others created from nothing to fight and die for humanity, and their descendants still feel their bitterness.”

“We didn’t do that,” countered Simon, pointing to himself, referring to his particular group.

“And we don’t know whether he did anything to you.” Lotus kicked the unconscious fighter with a thin, three-toed foot. “Come, you’re acting like one of my clan. You should try better. If I can then you can.” He didn't seem to care for the mutant, he just simply detested murder.

“Help could come to him, we could face him again,” warned Simon as they began to leave the site.

“We should all try our best in what we seek to achieve,” was all Lotus said.

They walked for some time, watching out for further danger, but the vanquished group seemed to be a lone patrol. Eventually, the pair relaxed and they began to talk. Lotus liked to chat, Simon now knew, and, considering that harbingers enjoyed taunting their victims, it wasn't that surprising.

“Mutants caused a lot of this,” Simon was now saying, gesturing to their barren surroundings. “They let loose nuclear weapons to wipe out humans and make more of their own.”

“I have heard humans used them first,” Lotus answered casually, not wishing to offend but unconcerned if he did, assuming Simon had been raised on tales of the depravity of all non-human races. “Then again, many suspect the machines of letting loose; they don’t want any of us on this planet with them.”

“Yeah, everyone hates machines,” agreed Simon with a grim smile. “Of course, you monsters did more than your share. I’ve heard that dragons devoured cities and then nested on the remains.” Simon paused. “Did they?”

“I wouldn’t know, I’m thirty-two years old. Only dragons are immortal.”

“Thirty-two? You don’t look it.”

“We wear age well,” said Lotus with a grin on his smooth face. “As for dragons, I have heard similar tales. They were awesome beings, incredibly intelligent, supposedly indestructible, but never malicious.” Simon frowned. “I thought that would surprise you. Most of us supernatural beings you know as monsters are indeed wicked and murderous, but not all, and dragons weren’t the most terrible of all nightmares that so many say they were.”

“Then why did they cause such havoc?”

“Ever kicked over an ants’ nest or ruined the hiding place of rats? Dragons are so above the rest of us that we don’t register as friends or foes.”

“Is that why they left this world?” Simon had to wonder.

“No, they returned to the Shadow World because it was easier to exist in. Dragons are purely magical; huge, heavy beasts cannot fly or breathe fire, yet they did because of the unreal existence we came from. They lasted over a century here but had to go back, fortunately for us all.”

“So why don’t the rest of you piss off with them?” asked Simon, and received a glare. “If I can ask that?” he added meekly.

“We can’t,” Lotus stated. “The Shadow World was brought here and us with it, yet some part of it still exists separately, the darkest part, where the dragons went. How they did it no one knows. Only such power as they have could open a way, nothing else has. So we’re stuck with each other.”

Simon looked round at the dead land and dull sky.

“We probably deserve each other,” Simon noted. Lotus had to agree there.

* * * *

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Genre – Post- Apocalypse Sci-Fi

Rating – PG13

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