The world was dead and somehow, physics had followed it to the grave. Air would pop into sudden red blooms of fire, seemingly for no reason. People would be snatched up into the air and tossed into space at random. They’d disappear into the night, screaming. Worst of all was the people who were taken.
People would disappear completely, the air rushing in to fill the void they left, but they don’t stay gone.
Jack first experienced this truth in a late night of 24th spring since the world had dead. His wife had been taken. He’d been holding her as she cried. She’d seen a boy walking down a darkened hallway. The air swelled around him and burst. The boy fell to his knees with a sucking hole in the center of his chest. She carried him along to his weeping mother and then walking home in a daze. Jack clutched her close, pressing kiss across her brow and then she was gone, his arms folding in on themselves. Jack had heard of people coming back, but he’d written these reports off as fool’s tales of boogey men, not seeing the irony of not believing in anything in a world where reality was in flux.
Emily, his wife, came to him upon his wakening. He’d taken to an underground bunker made of steel and stone, with curvy ceilings and claustrophobic hallways. He wasn’t sure whether it was day or night and the hollow, yellow glow of electric light only served to disorient him further. His wife glided forward just a half inch off the ground and breathed in slow, shallow breaths which puffed the stink of sulfur. Jack curved away, his eyes growing to the size of dinner plates. She stopped short of him and cooed, her lips curling into the cruel smile of a predatory thing. Her eyes were glassy, empty. She looked as though she couldn’t see him and he gathered his courage and attempted to take advantage of this. He launched forward, attempting to move past her, but his shoulder slammed into the curve of her waistline. The flesh that made contact went numb. Jack scrambled forward through the bunker and out into the open night.
The obvious benefit of a enclosed space was that there was no danger of falling into space, what with a ceiling to caught you, should gravity fail. The clumsy solution to this issue was tethering oneself to something anchored while outside and only ever remaining outside when absolutely necessary. Jack could not benefit from a tether, as he was running in a blink terror.
Jack pumped his legs, unaware that he was not being chased. Emily hadn’t the need to chase, she was everywhere. When Jack finally took grasp of his senses and stopped beneath a skeletal willow, she was waiting patiently. She kept herself at a distance with her hands clasped before her as if she were posing for a picture. She was far enough that Jack wouldn’t flee, but close enough that Jack could clearly see the evil smile she held on her lips. Her eyes began to bleed black tears that swelled from ink to tar.
The air popped in the distance and the dry grass began to burn. Smoke was bellowing close to them both.
Jack’s eyes began to water as his situation became more apparent. As the smoke obscured Emily from Jack, he sensed her beside him.
“Never alone.” She whispered. The taken are never taken alone. She kissed him tenderly, her razor sharp fangs only cutting him a little. The two of them fell into the starry sky.
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