A Song to the Ghosts

Hey all, I’ve not written in a little while but I was desperate to get this out to everyone. I was working on a post apocalyptic book series a few months back but I wanted to write a few shorts just to create the world in which it’s set as it mixes classic post apocalyptic settings with the monstrous mystery of H.P Lovecraft. If that sounds interesting to you have a little look at my first short story and enjoy

 

A Song to the Ghosts – A Far World Story

The song played it’s scratchy symphony to the few patrons who were having no business with the three Big-dogs who had just entered with entitled cockiness. In all respect they pretty much owned the place and Lee knew that, no matter if her name was above the door or not. The mayor would have backed her up if he had not been lay in the middle of the street with vultures pecking at his sticky, dry innards. Everyone was under strict orders not to move or bury his corpse, unless they wanted to be sent out to the rough sands for the monsters to get them.

Lee focused her gaze on them with her one good eye, hoping they would not see her fear in it as she stood still. Harv was in charge today so he was the one to step forward with his missing tooth grin. He took a seat at the bar as his two companions Falk and Turner stayed in their place. He put his hands on the bar interlocking his fingers as he looked up at her.

A glass of your best, Please” he said although the last part was so forced and she could tell it was a word he never normally used. She hesitated for just a moment before taking a glass and reaching up for the dusty bottle on the top shelf, the stuff no one could normally afford. She could feel their eyes on the frame of her behind and the sounds they made only clarified her sense, feeling somewhat disgusted she turned quickly to pour the dark brown liquid into the glass. She left the bottle with him and took a step back crossing her arms. Harv just looked at her for a long moment before taking his drink.

Thanks Beautiful” he grinned before downing the drink. His statement stung her more than anything could. It was not the first time he called her it and every time he did it hurt and made her feel sick. She was considered very beautiful once. She had been a cute kid who grew up to be a rather stunning young woman who caught everyone’s eye back in the day. Days before massacre that left fifty dead and years of dwindling population to the point only about a hundred people were left but Ash’s dictator ways took care of that leaving only twenty or so people left, the oldies who actually awaited death but too scared to do it by their own hand. The massacre left her face badly scarred that she could no longer see the beautiful young woman any more, she was long dead. Beautiful? Yeah once maybe but now it hurts her more than being told flat out she is ugly.

I paid two weeks ago” she said “I have another two weeks to go, that was the deal” watching his hands, making sure they do not reach for the cannon on his hip as she would not have time to grab the short two barrels under the bar. His eyes locked with her one eye and snagged the fear that was there.

Things are changing” he grinned “Now it’s going to be once a week”

ONCE A WEEK?!” she was actually shocked, the monthly was doing enough damage and this change would see her gone for sure “But I don’t make enough to pay that”

Better find a way soon” he said looking down at his glass as he poured himself another, she was watching him drink away any money she would be lucky to make, not that anyone would be able to afford that anyway.

It’s not possible, what I give you only leaves me with enough to eat a few days in the week anyway, I’ll starve” she said almost pleading feeling the tear starting to roll.

Well i’m sure if you do some accounting and think of a fair price” Harv said looking back to her “you could rent out that sweet axe wound between your legs to these fine fellows” he gestured to the old, long-dead men who paid no attention to what was happening. They just sat minding their own business, some even hoping they would be shot dead to perhaps frighten Lee into submission.

Fuck you” she spat before the fear could come back and tell her that that was not a smart move, but the bullet that struck the bottle just past her left ear got there first. She stood as stiff as pole looking down the smoking barrel and saw Harv was no longer smiling. The music had stopped just as a couple of the old men made their move out, the ones who maybe still wanted to leave anyway.

You will do as we tell you” He said still pointing the hand cannon at her face “If you just can’t do it then maybe Ash will find a way for you to make the money back over in Gatlin, and I don’t think you want to see what they do to females there” he smiled again, this time it was much more sinister “And just to make it sink in that this is not just false promises…the boys and I will give you a little demo”

Lee was grabbed suddenly, she had not noticed they had moved from behind Harv, Turner had grabbed her by the right bicep and Falk was hopping the bar to get to her other side. She gasped and struggled but they were far too strong for her as they hoisted her onto the bar, pinning her shoulder so hard it felt like they were trying to crush her. She tried to kick but her feet were getting nowhere near them and they just laughed off her efforts, seeing it was no use she calmed herself just as Harv got off his took his hunting knife out of his it’s sheeve. It’s shine was almost hypnotising as it caught the light. He brought the point under her chin as she tried to slow down her breathing as if the slightest movement would cause the knife to puncture her skin. The cold steel shocked her has though it was hooked up to a battery and all she could do was stare up at grinning devils that hovered over her.

She felt when Harv put the blade under her ratty, brown shirt and slid it up as if he was opening a box, the light tearing noise made her guts react and she nearly threw up when he opened it up exposing her still firm breasts to the other drooling dogs. One of them began sucking hungrily on her nipple as Harv sadistically teased the other with the cold steel. She finally broke and began to cry and wish they would just get this over with or even better kill her first, they might like that idea better.

The music came back on clear as day, nothing skipping or cutting out, it was perfect. Harv looked over at the jukebox and took a step back. The other two let go of her and joined him giving her time to roll away and cover herself up. He was facing the window with the mid afternoon sun blasting through, only his shape could be seen as he pressed the button, scrolling through the selection of music the jukebox had on offer. He was maybe too calm for this kind of situation, a woman on the verge of rape and three armed men behind him like he had experienced it before, perhaps use to worse situations. The machine made a wurring sound as he electronically flicked the pages with the button.

I think you better get out of here friend” Harv said “you may not want to see what is about to happen”

The stranger just went on browsing without a care in the world, the three men looked at each other in bewilderment. Lee could now see it was the stranger who had come in just ten minutes before they arrived. She didn’t see his face but he put a note on the table and said only “Cold”. The only cold drinks places severed was soft drinks as canned alcohol was rare. He took his drink and sat around the corner in silence.

Hey cunt head!” Falk barked at him “you’ve got five seconds to hit the road before we make a meal out of you”

Lee saw the sun shining in front of him as though it was made to make him glow, like an angel or a knight. She had gotten used to the idea that good samaritains were long gone but the shining sun gave her hope. He was not going anywhere and she knew that.

I think this filth…” Turner started before the deep voice of the stranger cut him off.

Only one of two things are going to happen” he started “One of them being quite pleasant, you and your men get out, leave the lady be and don’t come back, she owes nothing”

The men were ready, watching his movements like Hawks but he made no sudden gesture at all, but still hands close to guns was the best way to be.

Or;” the stranger went on “I can stain the floor boards with your blood and leave you alive just long enough to feel everything and wish it would end”

The three men laughed, no one would say such crazy things to soldiers in Ash’s army as it would be seen as an instant death sentence. He had clearly been drinking a long time today and the best thing for him would be to drag him outside and put a bullet in the back of his head. Harv gestured to Falk to do the honours. He walked forward still belly laughing as he reach his hand up to grab the drunkard by his shoulder. He saw a flash and suddenly felt cold. The stranger was now facing him and all Falk could see was his eyes and his right arm slightly extended pointing down. In his hand was machete with blood dripping from the blade, the tip pointed to hand wearing a familiar glove. He could not scream when be looked at the stump of his wrist which hand long dark streams of blood flowing out. He looked back up into the eyes of his redeemer before he passed out through shock.

Harv and Turner stood not believe what they had just seen, the stranger moved fluidly with great speed. When Falk’s body hit the deck and started to shake the stranger fixed his eyes on Turner and then Harv. Turner’s hand twitched as he hesitated to reach for his gun but the stranger angled his head just slightly as a warning. He reached fast but not fast enough as the stranger’s free arm came up and pointed directly at his head unleashing one single round into the middle of his face. Harv saw the back of Turner’s head open up like a rose in bloom as his face was sprayed with blood. The lifeless body hit with a hollow thud and Harv wondered why he could not reach for his gun, his hand was still intact, the fingers twitching madly but the shock would not allow him to move. The stranger was upon him casting a shadow as he looked into the calm eyes. The stangers turned to look down at Lee who tried not to look back, he noticed a small trickle of crimson on her neck before looking back at Harv who was paralysed.

You made the lady bleed…” was all he said before he sliced between Harv’s legs with the long blade he put there when he got to him, Harv hardly noticed until he heard the blood drumming on the floorboards, then the pain settled in. His hands clamped straight to his area, pants torn and fingers trying to hold the skin together but the cut was too deep and blood was trickling out of him fast. He fell to his knees whining as he looked up into the eyes of the stranger who was unravelling the shall from around his head. He saw the face of a young man, not a teen but the stubble on his face but someone much younger than him. The eyes were a deep grey and his eye brows seemed naturally angry. His sun-kissed skin was clean and almost unmarked apart from the scar running from the bottom of his eye down his cheek. He didn’t have time to take in much more than that as his sight was fading and his body was getting weaker as he slumped to his side onto the grown unable to make much more than a low whine as he lay bleeding out.

Lee stood up against the bar, too scared to make any movement as she saw how fast this stranger could be, all she could do was watch him and hope his temper had calmed a bit. He turned to look at her and she almost gasped at the sight of him, half fear and the other awe. He was handsome and young, she had not laid her eyes on someone with features as clear and clean as his in a long time. The stranger looked her up and down a moment and took a step towards her which made her jump. He changed his approach, sinking down and showing the palms of his hands to her, his face softened.

Hey, it’s okay i’m not going to harm you” he said as he moved slowly to the bar taking off his backpack and putting it on the surface, their eyes fully connected. Lee kept the two parts of her shirt held together tight as he took folded fabric from his pack, it was a t-shirt, brown but very clean, it had printing on it; “Pink Floyd”. A shirt such as this is worth a lot of money to buyers, whatelse could he possible have in there? She thought then cleared it. He’s trying to help you, be thankful He hooped it over her neck and pulled it down, allowing her to strip out of her ruined garment without hassle or even trying to get a look at her because his eyes were on hers the whole time.

That’s much better right?” he said with a small smile which was not forced in anyway, it was the smile which everyone had lost over the years, the smile of a good person.

I can’t take this from you, this is worth food and water which I don’t have much of…”

No”

I have little money but you can take it..” she babbled feeling a tear rolling.

Absolutly not” he protested quietly

Please, please PLEASE! Let me repay you” she sobbed

There was a long silence, the last two old men were making their move to leave this time, but the strangers gaze on them told them to stay put, so they did.

There is something you can do to repay me” he smiled

Lee hesitated and looked around a little before moving her hands to slowly take off the shirt he had put on her.

no no no, not like that” he said laughing a little bit “How about you fix us both a drink and we will talk?”

They sat and talked, Lee told the stranger everything, From life restarting, to the massacre all the way to new days. He listened intently not asking any questions as he sipped on the same tipple Harv greedily downed. She had cried a little bit having unearthed memories she had forgotten but they all had to be told. The stranger asked for his favour, which was to rebuild what was destroyed, make a stand against Ash and his army, survive and prosper, that was all he wanted.

Just tell them that there is hope if you stand together, you may have troubles but if you fight back then you will bothered less” he told her. She nodded, not thinking it was a hopeless idea because she knew fine well that she could do it, Bringing the people back from the caves might be a job but it’s the only way. She had it in her, she used to so she can have it once more.

I’ll be coming back here one day, quite soon, I would like to come back to a change” He said softly but the old men could even hear him and they seemed to agree, nodding and grunting with feeble yet fierce determination.

Gather your men, gather your weapons, rebuild and fight back” was all he said before he stood up leaving a single coin on the table. He went over to the bar taking pencil and paper from his pack as Lee joined him watching as he wrote and drew. The symbol was a sword with with a skull right on the hilt, the writing said simply we are the rising.

I want you to make a sign and put it up high for all to see, this should make them second guess coming here” he said handing her the paper, as she gazed upon it the stranger went through the pocked of the said and laid their offerings on the bar, money and quite a pretty amount of it. He did not take any for himself.

you can start your new life by burying your falling leader and…doing what you will with the filth” he said gesturing to the dead bodies before he left. Lee wanted to call him back but knew he had to leave, she stood in the door way and watched him head west, over the hill.

I love you stranger…” was all she could whisper as he disappeared.

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