Authors: G. Wells Taylor
Tags: #angel, #apocalypse, #armageddon, #assassins, #demons, #devils, #horror fiction, #murder, #mystery fiction, #undead, #vampire, #zombie
The Apocalypse Trilogy: Book Two
G. Wells Taylor
Copyright 2009 by G. Wells Taylor
All rights reserved.
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Edited by Julia C. Moulton
Cover Design by G. Wells Taylor
For my sisters
Alphabetically: Kelley, Kerry and Wendy
1 – Assassin
An Angel was going to die. The idea caused
the man on the road to smile—a rare smile cruelly cut into hard,
pitiless features. The Angel would die quickly. It was a pity that
it had to be so fast. But surprise was necessary. It was essential.
He knew he was lucky to have that much of an edge and speed was the
only way to maintain it. Their supernatural abilities allowed no
margin for error. But the idea of killing one slowly appealed to
him—to kill an Angel and take his time doing it. He smiled again
thinking about what it would be like to get a knife and take one
apart. See what all the fuss was about.
Miles to the west, his car was parked
permanently on the soft shoulder. The Pontiac’s twenty-year-old
engine had cracked in two. He had taken one look under the hood and
grabbed his packs to start the long walk to the City. There was
nothing he could do about it. He was not that kind of mechanic.
But an Angel was going to die. That was
something. Two hours had passed, and the idea had kept him focused
on the march.
Fuck the car
. It was common for people to
drive them into the ground only to purchase another rebuilt junker
when it was necessary. He’d done it more times than he could
remember. Automotive parts designed to last in the old counting
could not keep up to people who did not age in a time of endless
rain and decay.
Money wasn’t a problem. He carried enough in
pocket to buy a new vehicle right off the lot. But why bother? They
all fell apart eventually. It didn’t matter how much money you
spent. Time got them in the end, like it got everything.
But he wouldn’t buy another vehicle just yet.
There were too many variables to justify the expense. He had only
trusted his abandoned car because it drew little attention. But
this was now and the future was then. He was close enough to the
City of Light to walk, so he’d walk. And once there, who knew? Cars
were more common than strangers buying them. Until he completed his
contract anonymity was his greatest ally.
Don’t let them see you coming
was the first rule of the business he was in. The second was to
have a backup plan and backup plans cost money. Beneath his Kevlar
vest was a nylon money belt containing forty thousand in cash and
about the same in gems for special purchases. Printed money
wouldn’t always buy you what you wanted in the circles he traveled.
And it seemed that people with apparently ageless bodies identified
with the permanence of diamonds and gems—
The belt held enough for bribes, transport
and emergencies. He had plenty more, but with the chaos that yawned
around what was left of humanity, the traveler knew that a place
you left might not be there when you returned. The remains of
civilization were on the verge of riot and dissolution.
Occasionally fear would manifest and burn one of the dying cities
or towns that remained. The man on the road didn’t care about the
social costs; he just understood that his many money stashes could
be consumed by the madness; so carrying a small fortune had become
a habit. And he was the safest bank he knew.
He snarled up at the rumbling overcast as he
marched along the road—then stumbled. The broken pavement beneath
his boots had heaved in places torn by cycles of frost, and
undercut by incessant rain. Scowling, he dropped back into his
steady, rhythmic pace. The black canvas bags were heavy hanging
across his muscular shoulders, but they did not impede him. The
mild annoyance of the gun barrels and ammunition thudding against
his kidneys did more to reassure than irritate.
The City was not far off. He’d get there by
sundown. The last hill he crested had given him a bleak view of its
monolithic skyline and the Eastern Sea beyond. The distance did not
concern him, since he welcomed any sort of physical challenge. In
his Spartan philosophy he could never be hard or strong enough.
Besides, if he grew bored with the walk, he could flag down a
passing motorist and either hitch a ride or buy the vehicle
outright with a bullet—there were still travelers despite the
rigors of the road. In fact, the latter mode of transportation
would allow him to enter the slow tempest of the City without
making a ripple. And he wouldn’t have to make conversation.
But the walk would do for now. It allowed him
to step outside his life for a time and do something simple—it was
the closest he ever got to carefree, and he could never be
carefree. There was no rush. Again the distant thunder made him
look up at the clouds. He shrugged knowing he’d packed an overcoat
in the smaller of the two bags.
! His boots scuffed against the
pavement, almost muffled the sound. And then:
The traveler threw his bags and dropped to a
knee. A .9 mm automatic jumped lightly in his sinewy hand; its
muzzle scanned the dark brush at the side of the road. Dim light
from the overcast showed ugly gray weeds—the brittle shafts
quivering, rattling sporadically as the gun ran over their varied
surfaces searching a target.
Then the traveler hissed with disgust, turned
the pistol up and slipped it away. A woman’s hand twitched and
convulsed its way out of the dead brush. The skin was torn off it
from the severed wrist all the way up the broken thumb—worms or
beetles crawled in the swollen red meat on its palm. The knuckles
clicked hollowly as it moved.
The man walked to his bags, hefted them, and
resumed his trek without another glance at the hideous thing that
scuttled farther onto the road behind him. The traveler let his
mind move onto more prosaic concerns. He could reach the City
inside two hours—if he didn’t buy a car first.
And an Angel would die soon after.
2 – Dawn at Night
The forever child had a hard time following
orders though the reckless bravado that started her current
adventure had long ago departed. Swagger was fine to get things
going but tended to dissolve the farther she got from safety. That
left behind was a small and trembling child of over a hundred
years, but a child at heart with a child’s store of emotion and
anxiety and imagination. She looked to be five years of age, no
more—pixie-like, cute with curly brown hair and big round chestnut
eyes that peeked over soft and downy cheeks. Dawn was terrified and
she was in deep shit.
Her grownup friend Mr. Jay wanted her to stay
in the hideout while he was away on business. But she took his
concern as a command, and rebelled against it. The first few
minutes of her escape were thrilling—she usually had to go about
disguised or hidden—but it was dark, and the neighborhood was
shadowy and quiet enough for her to take the chance.
Almost all forever children like her had been
rounded up in the first fifty years following the Change. Authority
insisted it was for their own protection but rumors spoke a grimmer
tale of science experiments and worse. Other kids that escaped the
government were caught by evil men who made them do evil and
grownup things—still others in the cities lived a life in hiding:
always running in a world that was after them. So sprinting through
the shadowed puddles in a mist of rain—droplets spattering her bare
calves—was exhilarating in its first few innocent moments, before
the truth hit home.
She moved quickly through the trash-strewn
alley re-tracing her steps, fully aware of the danger. Her child’s
body held too few defenses to justify wandering the streets of the
City of Light at night—especially on its lowest level, Zero. A
quick scan of the familiar damp walls told her that she was close
to safety but Dawn was too frightened to breathe a sigh of relief
A scream rang along the alley and the forever
girl froze in her tracks. Her loose fitting jumper hung close and
damp about her shoulders. The night was wet as they all were. She
cast her head left and right. Preternaturally youthful ears scanned
along the rain soaked bricks seeking the source of the noise.
“Dawn,” she whispered in a voice that far
exceeded her youthful looks. “Now you’re fucked!
Another scream echoed through the night. Her
perceptions focused on a dark alley that cut across the one she
“None of your business, this…” Her voice’s
tone was deep with experience. “Get back to the hideout—NOW!”
But she ignored the warning and ran in the
direction of the sound. Her small form wriggled inside her jumper
alternately stooping at the shoulders, hands clasping worriedly
over her round belly. Quietly she cautioned repetitively breathing,
“No.” Head lowered she dropped into the mouth of the alley as a
scream echoed again. “Mr. Jay…” Her voice changed momentarily
now—had become dewy, nascent. “You’re going to kill me.” She ran
breathlessly—all forty pounds of her flitted through the shadows
like a dream.
Dawn made no noise as she skidded to a stop
in the puddles. Her approach and abrupt halt made no impact on the
three people silhouetted ahead of her. In the dim light of a dying
streetlight she saw they struggled with a fourth person.
“Come on, bitch!” A gruff voice crossed the
distance. “It’s over quick! Well, first times are…” There was the
sound of a slap. “At least with them bastards. Me, I’m hard to
satisfy. I’m a real lover!” All three men laughed.
A woman screamed again. The fuzzy hairs on
Dawn’s limbs stood on end. The men were Rapers for sure. And Mr.
Jay had always told her that the worst in the world were Rapers
because they killed without killing. She couldn’t quite understand
how they did that, but she trusted Mr. Jay. With her friend firmly
in mind, she crouched behind a pile of rubbish, working her fingers
into the conglomerate muck and stone. The woman’s shriek was
followed by a harsh impact like she’d been hit.
Dawn studied the men. All three looked the
way she thought Rapers would but these ones also were sick and
worse. The biggest had yellowish skin on his round fat belly that
was blotchy with purple marks. His companions were thin and wasted
enough to be dead men. Their hollow-featured heads looked like
skulls. Quickly she guessed she could outrun all of them. Her
youthful eyes looked for the woman now—hidden in shadow and covered
by the body of a thin man. There was another scream. Rapers are the
worst. She’d seen pictures and books. But her retarded sexuality
did not understand the true horror that they represented. Dawn was
sure that getting stuck in the body with a knife or a spear or a
bullet would be much worse.
Rapers kill without killing
She clawed a hard jumble of stone from the
refuse, stood and flung the missile at the biggest man, Yellowskin,
who stood thirty feet from her.
A muffled thump. “Augh! What the fuck!”
Yellowskin’s voice was loud and angry. Dawn crouched low in the
shadow of a crumpled garbage can.
“What happen, Jimmy?” A different man’s
voice—hollow and wheezing.
“Something fucking hit me!” Dawn heard feet
scuff the wet ground. “Over there.” More scuffling. “No you hold
the bitch. Maybe she got a friend over there.”
Dawn’s heart was pounding. She clasped a hand
over it to quell the sound; with the other she lifted a stone.
“Forget it! Fucking city’s crumbling. Came
from up there…” The other skinny man growled from the darkness.
“Hurry or I poke the bitch first.”
“Yeah, hold on,” snarled Yellowskin. “I do
her first.” More scuffling feet and the woman screamed again.
Dawn rose quickly, arm cocked to let the
missile fly but one of the thin men had crept close during the
talk, stood a yard away, leering.
“There you are!” he hissed then ducked, and
yelped as the rock bounced off his shoulder blade. Dawn leapt over
a tumble of refuse, but slipped on something soft. Hard, rough
hands were on her. One clamped around her arm, the other pinched
high up her leg.
“I got it, Jimmy!” Dawn was lifted kicking
and snarling. “Look!” Every muscle in her body flashed and struck.