A cold, salty breeze howls over the breaking waves of the Atlantic Ocean. The night was wearing thin, and the early gray light of dawn would be approaching soon, but not on this night. No, this night was to last, a perpetual darkness heralded by the shrill notes of the wind. For in its wake tumbled tumultuous thunderheads, their colors so dark and muted as if to appear the manifestation of the night itself. High, over the bay they came, silently stampeding across the sky. It cast it’s great, monstrous shadow of the city of New Windsor, its underbelly highlighted only by the dim glow of light and flame. It crackled out a thunderous roar, signaling the denizens of its arrival. A hollow, window shaking boom echoed through the city of glass and steel, through flesh and blood, and across the chaos that was still unfolding.
The gale plummeted downwards, twisting low through the buildings and whipping the conflagrations into a new frenzy. It swept its icy tendrils across the backs of those below, slithering between the press of bodies struggling for dominance. Past a failing barricade it went, the illuminating light of the street lamps washing pale faces sweating with desperation as the men in women in their uniforms fought a losing battle for their lives. Through the hysteria of sprinting, shrieking bodies, bloodied and batter from their war. They ran, head down against the wind, tumbling and crashing over one another like a vicious wave of fangs and claws, eager to get at the weaker life forms hiding behind their paltry barricades.
Between buildings and through shattered windows it raced, sending shivers down the spines of those in hiding. A mother cradling a small, weeping child, neither finding the comfort of sleep this night. Next to them a worn face, covered in soot choked back quiet sobs, torn between his sorrow and his fear of being too loud. A hundred faces, all gathered, all twisted with agony, ache, or defeat, gathered by a single purpose—To Hide. A man moaned in a drug induced sleep, one that the severe gashes on his back would prevent him from ever waking from. His worrisome girlfriend dabbed at her tears, the small flame of hope not yet extinguished in her. A grandfather gives up his meal to a young child, but his haggard face shows no optimism for the younger generation.
Through hallways and corridors it drifted, gathering itself once more outside before continuing its journey. It passed close to a blaze, stroking it with a tender caress and departing with a whirl of smoke and ash. From the other side of the crackling glow shadows prowled, some hunting like animals, others crouched over a meal. Some stood stock still, staring blankly at nothing in particular, waiting for something. A larger beast prowls through the narrow hall, its massive bulk scraping and tearing away at the walls. It let loose a growl, louder and more beastial than any creature known to man, and the wind gathered up the sounds and carried them off into the night.
As the wind flows, so too does the passage of time. All things are born, and all things die. History becomes legend, and legend becomes myth. Stories become tales, and build into epics. But all things, all things will turn to dust. It is the will of man to fight this cycle. And so, as the wind flows, so too does man struggle to shatter the bonds of time, and rewrite the threads of destiny. But as threads are revealed to the light, so too, do they become bathed in shadow. All things are achievable, and so too, are all costs.
Natalie sat perched upon a narrow ledge spanning the length of a wide, office window, her back set up against the wall. The potted plants that had once inhabited this space laid shattered on the floor, their earthy guts spread across the thin, blue carpet. She sat with one elbow braced against a propped up knee, her chin in her hand and her restless gaze staring down into the depths of the city below her. There was still plenty of light to see by, somehow, even though all of the smaller lights, like the office lights for instance, didn’t work. The streetlamps and other municipal lights down below were still going strong, at least there was that.
Her gaze swept out across the small cubicle space, pointedly ignoring the slick, black coating running the length of her forearms. Her eyes settled on the sleeping form of Makiah, who had collapsed from sheer exhaustion. Nat got up to place her black leather jacket over her, before giving a small, hysteric laugh as she studied the glowing cracks on Kia’s arms and around her eyes. A sad half-smile played at her lips, Nat doubted her sister would ever get cold again.
She slumped back down, fishing in the pocket of her jeans for a mostly crumpled cardboard package and placing an equally rumpled cigarette between her lips. The tiny glow of the lighter flame revealed the glossy blackness of her fingers, which caused Nat to sneer as she took in a slow drag. A soft vibration traveled through the building as she exhaled, her attention once more turned back to the outside world.
A store down below was on fire, the remains of its windows glittered from their scattered places in the street. Nat was only a few stories up, she figured less than ten as there hadn’t exactly been time to count, but she could make out the details below. Something strange was happening to her, she felt all-around sharper, as she watched the hordes of shadowy bodies below. Her eyes tracking the movements with ease, even if she couldn’t quite make out much detail. A squadron of, well, some sort of military battalion probably, was backpedaling down the street whilst unleashing an onslaught of death at the horde of those .. those things. There was a bright muzzle flash as what Nat figured was some sort of tank fired again, it’s projectile erupting in the street and scattering asphalt, dirt, and bodies through the air.
Her gaze was fixed on the scene below, one part abject horror, and the other morbid curiosity. The infected people were too fast, too relentless in their pursuit. Nat knew first hand they did not feel pain, or emotion, and they definitely did not tire. The hellish once-people plowed into the attacking group, and without any sort of grace they broke and ran: Just in time to witness more of their enemies flowing around the corners behind them like a crashing tide, trampling each other to get the defenders. Every sort of defense Nat had witnessed had been like this. ”There are just so fucking many of them,” she thought, ”And not enough of us.. Poor bastards.”.
That’s why they had gone up here. Following the silent flow of terrified people, before eventually securing themselves a cubicle. The once-people were attracted by noise, that much was obvious. Although Nat thought they couldn’t see so well, but she wasn’t about to test that theory. She could definitely be wrong. Spending the better part of a day running through hell itself didn’t leave a whole lot of time for detail. Nat looked down, realizing she had let her cigarette burn idly away, lost in her thoughts. A politely quiet sound came from behind Nat, somebody clearing their throat and obviously trying not to wake the other occupant.
Nat turned to look at them, or rather him, but he reeled back with wide eyes and his arms up. ”Problem Bro?” She asked, standing and doing her best to look imposing through the dimness.
“N-nah,” He stammered, Nat could tell he was around her age by the way he spoke, “Jus wonderin’ if you could spare a stoge man.”
Nat chuckled, waving him in and motioning towards her impromptu seating area, ”You looked like I was about to shank you or something,”
The guy flashed a grin, taking the offered cigarette as Nat took another for herself, one she fully intended to smoke this time. “Well, with the way you whipped your head around, I mean, it just didn’t seem none too friendly, ya know?” Nat studied him for a moment, whipped?, before a frown tugged down the corners of her mouth. ”Did I…?” she thought, but let it trail off instead, unwilling to pursue the implications further. The guy motioned towards Makiah, and the dull glow around her.
“She’s got it too ‘eh?” He asked with a shrug, producing his own lighter. For a brief moment Nat caught a good look at him; white collar shirt, nice looking charcoal pants with suspenders, glasses, and a knit, purple beret—A regular hipster.
”Got what?” Nat questioned suspiciously. If he tried anything..
“Dunno man, Whatever it is it ain’t like whatever’s out there, ya’ know? Ya’ll right by me, long as you don’t try nothin’ huh?”
”Right..” Nat murmured, casting a worried look at Makiah. It bothered her, not knowing whatever the fuck it was the was happening to her, to them.
“Sides’..” He said, following Nat’s gaze as he took a drag, “ ‘sa real pretty glow, don’tcha think?”
”I guess you’re right,” Nat said with a soft chuckle. Things were insane, but her frayed nerves were finally getting a rest. Having a rather normal conversation wasn’t so bad either, even if he was a smelly hipster—The thought made her smile. They sat in silence for a time, watching a world that seemed far away and distant, but also uncomfortably close, until the wind shifted and obscured their view with a column of smoke.
“Hey,” he said, breaking the silence, “You ain’t a bad gal, I appreciate the smoke. I figure this new world, heh, if we survive it will run like them movies and games do right? Off of trade and what not so here’s a tip, check the wifi networks on your phone and hook into the Net, it’s mad rad man.”
”The Net?” Nat asked, already reaching for her phone.
“Just check it out, best we got since the news went down.”
He gave a small wave, leaving the space and heading off towards.. Somewhere. Nat grimaced, realizing that no amount of holding the button to her phone was going to bring it back to life. She got up quietly, crouching over Makiah, who usually had a charge in her bag. Nat slipped the strap off of her shoulder, wrangling the scarf away from it and flinching as her fingers brushed across Kia’s hot skin. Her first instinct was to jump to the conclusion that Kiah had a Fever, but she remembered quicker this time, though it didn’t make her feel any better.
Nat took her place once more, sliding the prongs into the wall and awaiting the charging screen to show. And then she remembered another thing, domestic power was down. She cursed softly, moving once more and using every stealthy skill she’d picked up from old ninja movies to slip her sister’s phone from her pocket. [67%].
”Fucking long life bullshit,” she murmured, wincing at the bright glow stabbing her eyes as she drew the unlock pattern. Nat couldn’t help but smile back at the face of her sister in the background, dressed all the world like a hippie, complete with the crown of flowers and peace-sign made with her hand. She did as the guy instructed, never once finding it weird that neither of them had introduced themselves.
It didn’t take long to connect to a network under the name of SURVIVOR .net, though she’d never once heard of it before. She pulled open the web browser app on the phone, expecting to search around for some information when the page redirected to a.. Registration screen? Old school forum style, except it wasn’t asking for an e-mail. She signed herself up under the alias of Thrasher69 with a mischievous chuckle, but it worked.
She was redirected once more, and the her immediately caught a large font title at the top of a forum page, ”Where’s the sun at?!”, a post created by some dude under the guise of The_Savant. Nat glanced at the clock on the phone, realizing she had totally missed the time display on the lock screen. 9:38a.m, ”What the fuck?” she thought, glancing back out the window. That couldn’t be right.. It still looked like the dead of night out there. It wasn’t exactly pitch black, more like the kind of dimness that creates obscure pools of shadow, but it should definitely be light out. She settled back, pulling yet another cig out with a fully peaked interest now. This guy had been up to some sort of business throughout the day, even if most of his posts were less than half a day old. Another headline grabbed her eye, ”Feral Humans Everywhere?! WTF!. ”Grade B clickbait bro..” she mused, deciding she had a few hours to read whatever this gone was on about. It just occurred to her then, as she brought the blog post up, this guy was the internet.