The Cover of Darkness
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 1584
Thick black clouds with the texture and color of burnt marshmallows hung in the midday sky, causing a darkness to fall over the city like nightfall. Terry moved away from the window and headed to the bathroom to wash the sleep and grim from his bloodshot eyes. He didn’t know why he looked out the window as soon as he woke up, darkness covered the horizon like a blanket no matter what time of day it was. After five years, he still had not become use to the effects of the cataclysmic storm that changed the world.
Religious leaders said it was the Armageddon and they were living in the end times. They called the veil of darkness the cloud of sin. It circled the globe, covering every nation and continent and hiding the sun from mankind as though the light of the world had been taken from it.
Scientists said the atmosphere was the effect of greenhouse gases, caused by man’s pollution and decadent lifestyle. Either way you looked at it, man had brought it upon himself.
Terry pumped the water into the grim, mould-covered basin, and splashed the cool water on his face. He looked into the mirror, disgusted at his appearance. Five years after his wife and two sons died in the storm, Terry had let himself go. He stopped working out, started eating a diet of high fat, greasy take-away and began drinking and smoking excessively. His sick pack stomach was now nothing but a flabby sack of hot chips and Chico rolls. Walking up to his tenth floor unit took away his breath and made him sweat as if he had just run an Olympic marathon.
“You sad, sorry, sack of shit.” He growled at his image and punched the mirror. If he hadn’t installed a metal backed mirror, it would have smashed until his daily abuse.
Terry lifted the folds of fat on his gut and watched the waves in the mirror as they bounced and shook when he let go. He took the packet of Marlboros from the top of the medicine cabinet and lit the first of many for the day. Walking out to the kitchen, he tripped over a pile of dirty clothes, almost falling into the flat screen TV. Not that it would have mattered, the government took the news channels off air two years back after radical groups kept breaking into the stations and hijacking the news with their own agendas.
Terry rummaged through the pile of food encrusted plates and cups in the sink, giving up when he thought something smiled at him from the dark, deep recesses beneath the month old crockery. He resigned himself to having a liquid breakfast and took a long pull of Southern Comfort straight from the bottle.
Terry went back to the bedroom, bottle still in hand, and pulled his shoulder holster, ankle holster and utility belt on. The .44 Magnum revolver in the shoulder holster was very old school compare to the Beretta hanging from his belt, but it still packed a punch and helped him get out of many tight situations on the beat. He picked up his SPAZ12 Semi-Automatic Shotgun, headed to the stairs, and began the decent to the grueling working day.
“Top of the morning to you, sir.” The concierge said cheerfully as Terry walked through the main foyer.
“Mornin’, Charlie.” He replied.
Terry did not know how anyone could be cheerful with the planet over-run by winged creatures that looked like a cross between a human and a bat. With the constant darkness they roamed free, unabated and on a constant feeding frenzy with a taste for human flesh. The religious fanatics said they were demons, released onto mankind as punishment for their sins and years of living in sin. Scientists dismissed them as mutants, men infected by a virus that spread under the apocalyptic conditions of perpetual darkness and unbearable humidity.
Terry waited for the concierge to release the security door, and then walked out into the despair that had once been the main street of the bright and cheerful city of Brisbane. His squad car was parked directly in front of the building’s entrance. Surveying the sky for any flying threats, he made a dash to heavily armored vehicle, pulled the door open, jumped in and slammed the door shut behind him. The streets were clear of pedestrians, but littered with abandoned cars, trucks, buses and bikes. The government cleaned up the main roads after the storm, well kind of. They made clear paths down the centre of the streets but didn’t worry too much about the state of the sidewalks. As long as the police and army could maneuver their vehicles to and from where they needed to go nothing else seemed to matter. Civilians stayed indoors, apart from when they had to use the subway to get to work or anywhere else, they had permits to go. The only people allowed above ground now were those trying to clean up the streets and hunt down the demons, which were becoming harder to find. Either they were becoming smarter and better at hiding from the hunters or they were slowly dwindling in numbers.
Terry drove down the street, hung a left and was almost at the Central Police Centre when he heard an explosion and felt the ground shake beneath his armored car. A bright flash of searing white light exploded from a few streets ahead of Terry. He turned the scanner up to see if there were any reports floating around the priority channels. He pushed his foot to the floor and the squad car’s engine roared like an angered lion. As Terry approached the light, he saw it came from a squad car that was ripped in half around a light pole. The office lay in the middle of the road in an unnatural position with his torso folded over like a piece of hate mail tossed carelessly on the ground.
“Back-up required in sector A312. Officer down, I repeat officer down.” Terry yelled in to the radio.
He slammed his foot down on the break and grated the car out of gear with the harsh crunch of metal against metal.
“Dispatch calling Alpha Quattro. We have five squad cars on their way. Turn your vehicle cam on; all we are getting is sound back here.”
Terry flicked the switch and the four micro CCTV cameras flicked into life, sending headquarters visuals from each side of Terry’s squad car. A dozen of the winged demons surrounded the demolished police car, hissing and screeching at the body on the road. The largest of the demons moved forward in jerking and uncoordinated steps, like a baby learning how to walk. In the air, these creatures were almost graceful and nimble, but on the ground, the thick membrane behind their legs hindered their mobility.
Terry picked up the shotgun from the passenger seat and pumped a round into the chamber, ready to take a shot at the beast if it moved any closer to the injured officer. At the sound of the gun’s action, the demon turned and hissed at the vehicle, as though its breath were venomous and capable of melting away the armor plating.
“Get the hell away from him!” Terry yelled through the car’s pa.
Six of the other demons turned to face the squad car, as if just noticing Terry’s arrival. They slowly and awkwardly began to move towards Terry, hissing and screeching like primeval beasts. Terry pumped a round into the closest demon and it fell to the ground, holding what remained of its right arm and face with its left winged arm. Terry emptied his shotgun into the pack of hideous creatures, killing or critically injuring all six. He reloaded fresh shells into the searing hot chamber of shotgun. Four more of the demons approached the police car, blocking the leader from Terry’s view and clear shot. He could see the creature leaning over the prone body of the downed officer, its large reptilian fangs and forked tongue glistening in the fire light.
“Leave him alone, you bastard!”
Terry emptied his shotgun into the approaching pack, hitting three of them and killing them, but missing the fourth one. It was on top of the bonnet of his car before he had the chance to reload. He tossed the shotgun to the passenger seat and pulled out the .44 Magnum, ready to blow out the windscreen and hope that the reinforced mess screen covering it would remain secure to the vehicle.
Before he could pull the trigger, the demon was blown from the bonnet of his car by a shotgun blast. To his left, Terry heard the backup pumping rounds into the last of the demons. Before any shots could hit the leader, it flew straight up, darting quickly behind the cover of the adjacent building.
Terry quickly flung the door open and ran to the injured officer. He dry retched when he was the headless body and the trail left where the demon ripped the spine out when flying off.
“We’ve got problem, mate.” Chief Inspector Jones said, putting his hand on Terry’s shoulder.
“Not as bad as this guy’s I’ll bet.”
“Worse. The demons have been sighted in the underground network.”
“It appears that the pickings above ground have become too slim for the bastards. They have started venturing into the transportation network.”
“Great, the planet really has gone to Hell then.”
The Cover of Darkness
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