Judgment Day: Part 31

 A new chapter.  And introducing a storyline I went back and added to flesh things out.  But, then, it got to be too much for me and I cried a little bit and then had a Lost in Space marathon.   The boy!  Take the boy!

———

March 22nd

The Messenger

The rains were gone and, with Martin breathless in the doorway, Daryl looked over to the office windows at a bright day outside, the wet forest still bare and wintry.

Martin leered and stepped over to the bed,  “Damn, D.  You get any?”

Molly frowned, disgusted, but there wasn’t much room to turn away.

Daryl sat up, thinking it was time to have a go at his friend, but he froze with his next words.

“We found something.” Martin whispered dramatically.

Daryl jerked, “What?”

“A car, out on the access road.  Just sitting there, idling away.  Spooky, eh Scooby?”

“Did you check it out?” Daryl asked, climbing out of the bed.  Molly watched them, but stayed under the covers.

Martin shook his head, “Empty.”

“But idling.”

Martin nodded, “But idling.”

“Someone’s here?”

“So we have a problem.”

Daryl stood, straightened his clothes, then found himself unsure of what to do next.

“Yeah,” Martin said, “This is a new situation.  We’re at a bit of a crossroads, here.  In the horror movies, we would split up and search the house, right?”

“We stick together.”  Daryl helped Molly stand, noticed that she was still shaky, and stood dumbly by the door.

“Your girl’s still down.” Martin cleared his throat, “Right,  Azizi’s in the great hall.”

They walked through the short corridor that opened onto the great hall and Daryl saw Azizi, dead center, sitting on a pile of crates with a vicious gun in his hands.  The direct approach – sit out in the open with weapons ready.  The door to the yard had been left open and Daryl considered making a run for it as Martin walked up to the crates, selected an assault weapon, and stood warily, looking around.

“What are they doing?”  Molly asked.  “Is someone really here?”

“We’ll find out later.”  He helped her to the side door and outside.  The insanity in the house was a little too thick for him.

It was a mild spring day on Sugarloaf Mountain.  A time for picnics, hiking, and peace.  The air was sharp and earthy from the rain and the sun was glittering through the trees onto the wet grass.  Even in this country setting, it was eerie not to see other people.  There weren’t any families out here, no cars zipping up the access road, the parking lot at the base of the mountain was visible and still empty except for the abandoned service vehicles.  The sense of a world frozen in evening rush hour 36 hours ago was still here, in the clear woods and air.

The one lane access road that wove around Strong Mansion and on up the mountain was empty, except for a Jeep Cherokee parked a few feet down slope, front wheels off the road and in a muddy ditch.  Exhaust rose in the morning air, the windows fogged up, the gentle purr of the engine audible in the quiet, haunted air.   The door had been opened.

“That’s bizarre.”

“Let’s go,”   Molly said.

Something moved and Daryl barely had time to turn as the shrubs at the far end of the muddy lawn parted.  A woman, silent, moved at a dead run, seemingly unaffected by the mud.  He pushed Molly away just as the woman hit him and they went spinning to the ground.  The woman pinned him down into the mud, then leaned close.  She wasn’t trying to kill him like the neighbor girl.  Instead, she grimaced and hissed, “Silent.  All silent.”

She stood, lifting Daryl with one hand, and spun him around so he was between she and Martin and Azizi who had just come through the door, weapons ready.

“A message!” she screamed.

Martin and Azizi weren’t listening, they fanned out.  Then there was a shot and the woman jerked, knocking Daryl down.  He turned, sitting in the mud, and stared at Molly who had the revolver in her hands.  The creature moved quickly, no time to nurse a wound.  It plowed into Molly and then used her as a shield.  All this before Martin and Azizi could even fire a shot.

“He has silenced my mind.  He has a message!”

“What the fuck is this?” martin asked, standing beside Daryl.

This certainly wasn’t how Daryl envisioned the middle of his workaday week.  He rose and cautiously inched forward,  spreading out around Molly and the creature.

The creature was a middle aged woman, her eyes getting more desperate as her enemies fanned out.  She screamed incoherently, then threw Molly away.  She looked sick – a sheen of sweat clinging to her body, her hair falling in dirty strands around her face.  She coughed, then fell back against a tree and closed her eyes, her face screwing up painfully as she tried to catch her breath.

Nobody else moved, the morning air filled with the woman’s breath and the sounds of the early spring forest after days of rain.  The boys moved closer just as Molly backed away, the four forming a semi-circle around the woman.

The woman spoke again, her voice scattering over stones, unnatural.  She stretched out her hand, palm upward, and opened her eyes.  “You’re here.  He said you’d be here.”

“Who said?” Martin asked, but the woman’s eyes fluttered and her head fell forward.  “Okay.  Let’s blast her.”

“Who said we’d be here?  What the hell is going on?”  Daryl stepped forward, but then inched back again.  The woman started coughing as she pulled herself up.  She shook her head and seemed to gain control.  “Silence in my mind.  He has done this to me.  Whittier.  Dr. Whittier.”

“What she say?” Molly asked.

“Whittier.  Hey, D, isn’t your dentist named Dr. Whittier?”

“What?  No.  Halsey.”

Molly blew down her nose, “Right, Daryl’s dentist is behind all this.”

Martin shook his head, “Blast her, kids.  Seriously.”

The woman spoke, staring hard at each of them in turn, “There has been a mistake.  A problem.  I have been sent to say this, against my will.  It is… I am compelled to deliver a message.”

“Go, then.”

“Bethesda.  Whittier is his prisoner.  Find him.”  Message delivered, the woman seemed to relax and regain all of her composure.  She drifted gracefully to the side.

“You know us?” Daryl asked the creature.

The woman’s eyes darted towards him, her smile never faltering.  The green of her irises fading like a Polaroid in reverse, turning into an ice blue, inhuman gaze.  “Of course we do.”

“What is ‘the Agreement’?” he asked.

“Like all creatures, we have rules to follow.”

“What the hell are you?”  Martin stepped forward.

“We are the Evolved.”

“And this…Whittier?” Daryl whispered.

“He attempts to change the course of evolution.  As do you.”

“We don’t want shit, lady.”

Martin cleared his throat, “Tell you what – you and Whittier and whoever can have the entire world except for Hawaii and we’ll go live there.  Cool?”

“Whittier is not with us.  He is yours.”

“Don’t know him.” Azizi said, “Are you sure you have the right group of last human survivors?  Maybe you’re looking for the O’Reilly’s down the block?”

“Whittier is part of the Agreement.  He has failed and, so, you have.  He has silenced me, poisoned me, all so I can come here.”

Molly spoke in a soft voice, but the creature’s gaze still snapped onto her.  “Tell us about this agreement.  Who made it?”

“I have delivered my message.  Now I am released of the obligation.  I will die in this terrible, poisoned silence.  I will – “

“Shut up, now.” Martin said.

The creature’s giant, shit-eating smile held no emotion at all as she cocked her head, then broke into a run towards Molly.

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