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Authors: Deston Munden

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Dusk Territories: Always Burning

BOOK: Dusk Territories: Always Burning
11.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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To all the friends and family that dealt with all my nonsense and whining.

To all those stayed up late at night to read my work before the release.

And to you, the fans, for giving me a chance.

 

 

 

 

 

Always Burning

Book 1 of the Dusk Territories Trilogy

By: D.J. Munden

 

 

Contents

 

 

Book I of Dusk Territories

 

  1. Long Way from Home
  2. Devil’s Cigarette
  3. Experiment
  4. Cold Snap
  5. Trust Me or Trust Nobody
  6. The Incubus’ Sleep
  7. Fifty
  8. Premise
  9. Mangroves and Pine Straw
  10. Bloodstain
  11. Blood Pour
  12. The Break
  13. Dawn
  14. The Countdown
  15. Lure
  16. We Aren’t Dead Yet
  17. Death by Thirst
  18. Endgame

 

Epilogue

 

 

 

 

 

1

“Long Way from Home”

“Listen, son. It’s a long way from what you called “home”. No one can claim that word anymore.”

 

Cold, that’s the word that described his entire body. It was a frigid, unforgiving feeling that settled in his gut, his lungs, his heart, even his sluggish thoughts. Everything felt frozen, and he was the center. He, David Graham, was at the core of all darkness. Did he know how he got there? No. But, somehow and unknowingly, he made it into the maws of devils and lived.

He opened his eyes. There were only shades
around him. Thin blades of light showered in from the cracks in what Graham assumed to be the roof. He tried to follow the illuminations with his eyes, hoping
that it would give him some insight.
No. Nothing
, he thought, gritting his teeth. All he could see was shapeless forms and deeper shadows the further he looked through the ruins. As much as he tried to keep calm, nothing was making sense. His mind fumbled through his thoughts messily.
Where am I?

Panic was an enemy, he knew. The moment that a person moved in fear was the instant they died. So, he had to act. To answer any question,
he had to move.

The first few seconds were the toughest. He tried to move freely, but his legs were pinned down. Graham squirmed underneath what he assumed was concrete rubble. His limbs oddly held no pain, nor did he truly feel them at all. He lied there motionless, thinking Kingsto scream for help. But, a part of him knew that he was alone. There was no need to scream for help that would never come. It was just a waste of energy. His training as a Marine taught him to conserve your energy, harness it, and keep calm.
Take one step at a time, Corporal. You made it this far doing just that
.

Before long, he was taking large strides to move his body. The more that he moved, the stiffer his entire body felt. Every bone in his body cracked and churned as though they needed to be oiled
. Graham tried hard to ignore it, even make use of it.
The stiffness in his body allowed some painless movement. Majority of his body didn’t register
the obvious damage. He could only describe the feeling as if he was put under some powerful numbing medicine.
Get yourself together, David,
he urged himself.

Graham started with the smaller pieces first, building his way to the larger slabs. His fingers dug into the cracks, lifting the debris to peel layer after layer. He had to be careful. One false move could send the entire mountain of rocks into a landslide. It was a miracle that he was still alive; it would be a shame if he killed himself on the act of self-rescue. Piece by piece, he exposed more and more of his body. Hip, thighs, knees, shin, and finally his feet were free. He dragged himself out; using the strength of his upper body in fear his legs might be paralyzed.

Oddly, they weren’t.

Sitting in the dark, he felt his legs move. Felt may have not been the correct word. Hell. He didn’t feel anything fully at this point. But he saw them move on his accord; even sensed an odd reception
of feeling…but not quite. His head ached as he tried to process that, to no avail.

Instead, he sprawled himself against the floor, breathing for the first time in what felt like ages. The very air tasted stale, reeking of years of rot and blood. Graham let his mind wander free, trying to recall anything that came to mind. His name was Corporal David Bryan Graham of the United States Marine Corp. Good. He remembered his name and what he did. He was stationed at Camp Lejeune, not even a week after he just returned from his deployment overseas in the Middle East. That he knew for certain. Before or after that was a blur. He didn’t know the reason he was there nor what had happened to get him in this predicament.

But, he could assume that he was still
at
the North Carolina Marine Base or…what’s left of it. With that thought, he took in his surroundings again. This time, he gave a little more leeway than when he first woke up. His sight had adjusted to the darkness. From what he could see, he was in the armory. The southern portion of it, however, had been buried underneath rubble that faced him. He could still see the gun racks lined up on the side of the east, lockers on the west. A table sat behind him, lying in such a way to provide makeshift cover. “A firefight,” he said, aloud. There was no other way to interpret that. Somehow, a fight had started in the base.

Curiosity now eclipsed his better judgment. He had to know why. But first, he had to find out whether or not he could walk.
Starting slow,
Graham pulled himself up, using the table’s top as leverage. He heard an odd crack in his legs as he stood on them. Standing, it felt as though he had no bodyweight at all. Maybe, he had been out for days…maybe a month in some odd twist of fate. That would explain how his body withered, but maybe not how it survived. He shook the thought away.

He took baby steps, as he walked around the table. At first, he kept his eyes on the ground. The tilted floor was cracked, covered in dust. Moss and weeds crept through the crevices, almost the length of his shin. Despite pushing the thoughts away, he knew that this wasn’t something that happened over a few days or a month. Graham knew he was out a long time.

Caught in his own thoughts, his worn-out combat boot tapped against an object. It startled him, like any other man. He looked to his left, where his boot still sat against the entity. “Fuck,” he shouted. It was a human head, mouth agape and filled to the brim with maggots. It still had decayed flesh on it, but a large portion was torn near the top, exposing the skull. Dark black hair, closely cropped to his crown was still intact, but covered in long, pink worms and thousands of maggots. Eyes—still surprisingly in their sockets—were lulled to the back of his head, only whites visible. Graham choked. He recognized the man, despite his uniform being reduced to mostly dust.

“Phillip…” Graham had known him as Private Phillip Kingsley, good kid, only nineteen. Kingsley was a member of his unit, and now dead.
Something’s wrong with this…something I can’t…

Completely frazzled, for the first time, his eyes searched the room wildly. There were more, bodies everywhere—bodies that he recognized. Andres, Hacke, Johnson, Bakes, Calder, Tabin, and Yamashiro lied in horrible positions, staring lifelessly at their Corporal with empty sockets. Fear gripped him, standing up in horror. He took a hard swallow as he stepped back. His entire unit, dead. His body froze. “What the hell is going on?” Graham said in a single breath. His mind raced through thoughts. What happened? Why was he alive? What was going on?

The Marine stood in anger and fear, fist clinched and mind confused. He ran his fingers through his hair.

If he didn’t know then, he knew now. Something went to hell.

He kept still, trying to gather his mind like any soldier that was surrounded by fallen comrades. He had to push on. It was a grim thought, one that no one wanted to cross their mind. But, he had to. He had to survive; even when his mind muddled and his heart….

Wait.

He pressed his palm against his heart. There was little to no heartbeat. Adrenaline and fear should have been rushing through his veins, not only his mind. Nothing, it was like…no that wasn’t possible. Graham shook his head violently, hoping that this was some horrid dream and he
was in the barracks. He wasn’t met with the luxury of waking up snuggly in his bunk. He banged his knuckles against his forehead in an ill attempt to reach his normal military tranquility, the stoniness that helped him lead fights. “David,” he told himself, now somewhat conscious of the gravel in his voice, “You need to get out here. You need to move.”

A gun, he would be safer and more himself with a gun. Instinctively, he hobbled towards for the weapon racks he spotted earlier. He tore the M16A2 from the wall, clipping a black strap to it for easier transportation later. In normal battle conditions, he would have preferred the M249 SAW in his grip. Right now, complaints and partialities were the least of his worries. The weapon was light, effective, and strong. Besides, in his current state of mind, he probably couldn’t handle anything more without drastically reducing his marksmanship.

Firmly holding the rifle in one hand, he continued to the lockers. These were usually were they kept the magazines and ammo, sometimes even grenades. Graham tugged at the first cache’s lock, but it wouldn’t budge. The rust from the hinges was coating it as though it was preparing the metal underneath for winter. The second however, moved a little easier. He grabbed his gun with both hands, slamming the butt into it. It shattered into two large fragments. He sighed. At least one thing was going
right
, if he could use that word loosely.

He swung the door open, revealing several lines of mags and even a few grenades. He stuffed as many into his camouflage pants as he could without being over encumbered. Lightness was movement, movement kept men alive. He helped himself to three grenades, placing them in a holster, and then around his waist. He wasn’t going to use them here, too risky. When things got hairy—from the looks of things, it might—he would have something to equalize this insanity.

A satisfying click resounded in the air as he loaded a mag from the shelf into his gun.

“Time to get out of this hell-hole,” Graham said gruffly.

He inhaled. He understood why the room stank of death. It
was
death. With a weary glance, he looked over his shoulder to see his dead comrades, his dead friends. “Damn it…”

With that he headed towards the first exit that he saw, dimly shimmering by the blades of lights on the reflective red sign. He touched the blue door’s handle, pressing it down. Maybe there were answers in here, maybe he would die out there.
Can’t chicken out now,
he supposed.

The corridor that he entered into was seemingly the main hall. Memory of the schematics of the place was pretty dim in his head. If he was lucky, he could find a map. If he was unlucky, Graham could be wandering for quite a lot of time in these empty halls. Luck hadn’t been quite the lady lately, so he hated his odds. He just needed to find a way out. By the looks of it though, half of the building was collapsed.

He grunted, looking at his surroundings with keen eyes. He couldn’t go west. That hallway was long gone, just a tower of broken debris that was primed to collapse. North from him was another blue door. It was probably to another armory. He played with the idea of going into that one and seeing what he could find. A part of him felt like he needed a tac vest, smokes, or even a flash. Ultimately though, he decided against it. It would only slow him down. So east it was.

M16A2 firmly in two hands now, Graham continued onward.
The corridor was lit a bit better than the weapon’s chamber. Reddish light filtered through thin fissures on the walls. Some of the glow shimmered in the distance, perhaps a product of a window of some sort. He grumbled. Those windows were mostly bullet proof or reinforced at best.
Escaping through there would be difficult and time consuming. The occasional showers of dirt from the ceiling meant that he didn’t have the time. Or that the building was running out of patience.

So, he had to do whatever he had to do quickly.

He forced himself into a jog, before easing himself into a full out sprint.
My legs are going to fail me,
he thought. They should’ve. The fact that he was standing was a miracle. But, they withstood the long corridor. The path was longer than he remembered with countless doors, endless tiles, and grey walls. Every so often he would look to a wall, craving for a directory. It wasn’t until a few minutes in that he found one that was remarkably intact, despite dried blood on its glass frame.
      

BOOK: Dusk Territories: Always Burning
11.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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