Storm of Blood and Darkness

The loud crash of sudden thunder in the distance makes me a little jumpy, but that's normal. I've always hated storms since I was a kid, and the one that's coming only convinces me that I was right to. I'm no where near a window, but I know that outside the light of the noon day sun is being gobbled up by the approaching darkness of the coming storm. I knew this before I even heard the thunder…just this overwhelming sense of apprehension increasing the closer the storm approaches.

As I sit here in the empty and lonely house waiting for my wife and son to return home to me, I wonder not for the first time what will happen when they get here? I don't really have high hopes for a happy reunion, all things considered, but keep hope alive and all that, right? Thinking of their eventual return has got me fighting back tears…can you believe that crap? Christ, if my pops could see me now, crying like a little bitch, he'd slap sixteen different shades of piss out of me!

But I can't help it. I miss my son so damned much its killing me, and I hate the way I left things with my wife before she ran off. I didn't mean to hit her, I swear! I'm not an abusive man by nature, but that night she needed to have some sense knocked into her…she was being hysterical and I had to do something to stop her from leaving. But the storm disagrees with me, voicing its opinion vehemently with a huge thunderclap that rattles the house to the foundation, letting me know its almost here...

I guess I need to start at the beginning, with the storms. No one knows exactly what they are, where they came from, or how they were even possible. After the first few verified reports from the many areas that were hit by them? No one really gave a damn. They were all too busy being terrified. The first storm hit somewhere in France near Paris, and then more of the deadly storms spread all across Europe in very short time, leaving pain, misery and chaos in their wake. They then made their way in all directions of the compass simultaneously, like a great dark octopus reaching out with all its limbs to envelope something and smother it. No one in America really believed the frantic and insane sounding reports of terror caused by the phenomenon from around the globe, not until it hit the states. Even then, no one really thought it possible, to be honest...not till it happened to them.

Like I didn't until it happened to me.

We were just coming back from my son's elementary school's little street festival…me, my wife Maggie and our little boy Bobby. It was a beautiful typical sunny July afternoon in small town suburbia. We were only a few blocks away from home, enjoying our short walk and our precious family time. My wife was jokingly teasing me about the prize stuffed animal I couldn't win for her back at the festival and we were all having a great big laugh about it when the BOOM! of the thunder exploded in the near distance.

The three of us turned in the direction of it almost in unison and were shocked to see a massive bank of black storm clouds, rapidly coming from the north and heading straight in our direction. Now let me be clear on this, so there's no misunderstanding; when I say 'massive', I mean like saying the entirety of the Great Wall of China with the old Berlin Wall added on is massive, all right? I'll never forget it…this God awful gigantic cloud bank stretched across almost all of the damned horizon, as far as I could see.

And black? Christ…it blacked out the sun completely, you hear me? Freaking completely! Streetlights came on at the encroaching darkness and instantly seemed to vanish before our eyes. Angry dark red lightning flashed in the wall of billowing and swirling clouds and just looking at it in any one spot for too long actually hurt my eyes, something about the absolute...wrongness of it all.

I was mesmerized by it all until I heard little Bobby start to cry and Maggie yelling that we needed to get home immediately, pulling on my arm to emphasize the point. I scooped up my seven year old little man and started to run towards home, almost tripping once when the deafening thunder shook the very ground underneath us. I didn't know why at the time, but it felt like we were running for our very lives, not just get out of bad weather. It felt like the air around us was somehow heavier and slowing us down. The air was also getting colder as a foul smelling wind blew around us, stinging our noses and eyes with its sickly sweet stench that was mixed with something I could almost swear was sulfur.

We were almost home, only a block and a half away when the storm was suddenly overhead of us. The chilly, dark red colored rain splashed hard on my face and my arms left bare by my once white short sleeve shirt, my last Father's day gift. The oily liquid, just a little thicker then water, made my skin crawl and my very soul feel somehow tainted just from the simple contact from it. Then the incredible sound wave of a deafening crack of doom knocked us off our feet and down onto the sidewalk, announcing that the race home was over and time was up.

And then the entire world around us went jet onyx black as the shadow of the storm clouds consumed us.

Maggie called out to me and Bobby in a shrill panic filled voice. I stood up and tried to gauge where she was in the darkness, but the sound around us was distorted by the strange shadowy rain. It was like being on the worst acid trip of your life, making it difficult to tell exactly where any sounds were coming from, except the thunder. I tried to calm my little man down, telling him daddy had him and there was nothing to be scared of, we were going to be fine…but children are surprisingly empathetic, you know? So he wasn't buying my line of crap and continued to bawl his eyes out in fear, the drenched shivering little kid clinging to me for dear life and nearly choking me in the process.

Somehow, I pried my boy off of me, and made him hold onto my leg and not let go, something the poor kid had no problem at all doing. I then fished in my pocket for my sterling silver lighter, my fingertips grazing across the words 'To my one true unbreakable habit' that Maggie had engraved on it before she gave it to me for our sixth wedding anniversary. I flicked it open, praying I had enough fluid left in it to be of use. I was rewarded with fire that I jealousy guarded by cupping my hand around it and turning the flame to as high as it would go. Almost burning my fingers with the substantial lighter flame, I still only managed to illuminate about maybe half a yard at the most in front of me.

Thankfully that was enough to make my way to Maggie, who was still kneeling on the ground, screaming for me and Bobby. Finally reunited with his mother, I handed Bobby off to her and stood looking around us, trying to make out if we were heading the right way with my meager little circle of light. The darkness was oppressive and almost absolute, not allowing me to see very much around us...but I thought I saw someone or something moving just outside of the boundaries of my light, circling us like old TV natives around the wagon train. I took my wife's hand tightly and yelled over the storm to come on as I moved towards where I hoped the house was. Hell, at that time any house would do as long as it got us out of the horrible storm.

We made our way slowly through the unusual and very disturbing deluge, holding onto each other and feeling for mailboxes to help guide us home, and then Maggie screamed loudly. I pulled her close and asked her what was wrong and she told me that something had brushed across her leg, something big. I told her that it had to be the Martin's over-sized dog, who was some kind of wolf hybrid or something, but she insisted that it wasn't Peaches…it was bigger. I was about to dismiss it all as just her mind playing tricks on her when something brushed against my bare arm. I then realized she was right, it was bigger than the wolf-dog Peaches. I also realized something else to my surprise and trepidation; I didn't feel fur. I felt skin.

Before I could say anything, a huge bolt of red lightning erupted from the sky, causing a very intense crimson light to briefly light the neighborhood up like my darkroom at the office. This light let me see that we were almost home, only about four houses away from shelter from the storm. And then we also saw the…the things that had circled us, and while I know Maggie and Bobby screamed in fright, I believe I may have screamed as well.

The abominations that surrounded us, that were once human like me and my family, ranged in shape, size, age, and sex, but they all had certain things in common with each other; their clothing were all tattered and stained ruby red. They also all had awful looking ashen gray skin that was covered with multiple painful looking wounds, scratches and bites, with flesh and even bone showing in some cases. I also saw that all their hair, those that had some, was tangled and wild looking, and they all had long, sharp discolored talons. I then noticed the faces and immediately wish I hadn't. The faces also had that major car accident victim looking skin with dark lips that dribbled a strange black fluid from its sides and bared their mouthful of large and rather impressively sharp shark like teeth as they screeched and hissed at us.

The absolute worst feature of the ruined faces that leered at us had to be the eyes that were entirely jet black, no whites anywhere to be found, and they also seeped that black liquid from them like tears of the damned. While their uniform grisly appearance was certainly scary enough and filled us with dread, it was nothing compared to the mind numbing terror that we felt as we recognized some of our neighbors as the creatures now devoid of humanity encircling us…and they were covered in blood.

They were still howling and shrieking at us, the sounds of it filled with sheer insanity. In my head , however, I heard them speaking to me as they once were, when they were normal. In my mind, I could see and hear Sandy, the teenage freckle face little girl that Maggie and I would hire to baby-sit Bobby for us, talk about how much she enjoyed watching my son. Now I barely recognized the twisted remains of her face, full of madness, as she darted in and out of my circle of light. Mister Cohen, the once quiet friendly man who stayed down the street from us and always had a kind word to say suddenly moved into the light and made a grabbing motion at me, which I pulled away from.

Then more of them came closer to the light for me to make out, snarling viciously while trying to get a hold of my family and I. Mrs. Peters the middle-aged divorcee, Ernie the neighborhood juvenile delinquent, Carol my wife's best friend, Father Thomas from the church and more…all grasped and clawed for us as they tried to drag my family and myself into their fold of mad men and women. But none of them entered fully into the circle of light, none daring to completely cross over the boundaries of the sputtering glow, something I was extremely grateful for.

Another intense flash of red lightning lit the dark world up and showed that even more of the creatures had shown up, familiar faces and strangers full of dark emotions and thoughts, to join the ones that currently assailed us. It also showed that we were so close to our house, our source of protection and hopefully salvation. I pushed aside the raw fear that threatened to drown me by concentrating solely on the survival of my precious family and began to continue to move forward towards where I knew my house to be.

I waved my little pocket lighter around me in the pouring evil storm, trying to protect the all important flame while holding the pack of monstrosities at bay. My wife bravely clutched our son to her chest, swatting away greedy snatching talons that reached for them while yelling at the attackers to leave our child alone. We were close…so close. My heart swelled with hope…we were going to make it to our personal sanctuary and safely ride out this damnable storm. Then another clap of thunder ruptured the air, the spirit breaking sonic boom causing a gust of wind that cruelly extinguished our life saving flame and throwing us back into the unnatural darkness once more.

What happened next was once a simple nightmare of mine. Its something I'm sure every young father with his first and only child has had before, unfortunately in my case made all too real. I couldn't see anything in the primal pitch-blackness of the storm as I tried to re-ignite the flame of my lighter, but I heard it all happen…every last soul shattering moment of it. I heard Maggie scream for one of the creatures to let go, first demanding it and then pleading for it to release her. I started to move to help her but I was swarmed by the mob of lunatics, attempting to ensnare and claw at me, ripping away cloth and flesh. I could feel my blood flowing from deep wounds but I didn't care, I fought like a mad man myself to get to my beloved wife's side.

Then the dark was pierced by a scream so full of fear and anguish that for a moment I thought Maggie was fatally wounded, but I realized it was something much worse to her when I heard her scream 'BOBBY, NOOO!!' at the top of her lungs, followed by a gut wrenching wail of 'Mommy! Daddy! Help meeeeee!' My heart filled with dread and panic when I heard this, making me struggle even more ferociously to reach my family, but there were so many of those evil things grasping me and slashing at me and trying to bite me that I didn't think I was going to make it...and then suddenly I was free, nothing and no one held on to me at all.

The suddenness of my release caused me to stumble towards Maggie, who desperately grabbed onto me while yelling to me that they took Bobby from her. Another blinding ruby colored bolt splashed the shadow landscape with its needed light and to our utter despair we saw that no one was around us at all. The crowd of dangerously insane creatures had vanished and took our child with them to God only knows where, and he was all alone and scared…if he was even still alive.

My mind reeled at that possibility, making me feel sick to my stomach and on the verge of throwing up, but I recovered…I had to for my child. Maggie and I yelled out for our son and begged for him to answer us, hearing nothing in return but the howling winds and the fall of the unclean feeling rain around us. I finally got the lighter going again and saw my wife look at me, her eyes as big as saucers and wide with alarm and worry. Her once perfect long raven colored hair was a mess with some places showing that entire chunks of scalp and hair had been ripped off her head in the previous attack. Her once flawless skin, now showing more of it because her blue blouse had been mostly shredded off her to almost just her bra, was now marred with many bruises and cuts that showed she had fought savagely to protect Bobby, but was just vastly out numbered.

I told her that what we needed to do was get home, grab some light sources more powerful then my measly lighter and increase our odds of finding our boy in this dark. And I thought I had almost convinced her to come with me, regardless how forcefully her maternal instincts were telling her to not wait and find her baby immediately…until it happened. Somewhere out in the almost infinite darkness of the storm from hell, above all the wind and rain, we heard it. Faintly, very faintly, we heard it. We heard Bobby crying, calling to us.

"Mommy? Daddy? Come help me, please…" He said in a soft, pain filled voice that chilled me. "Its so cold here…I'm so scared. Why won't you come help me, Mommy?"

Lightning erased the dark again and several houses up the street in the direction of the heart of the storm we saw our boy standing there, bathed in the eerie blood red light and holding out his arms for us to come get him. Maggie threw her hands to her mouth as she choked back tears of joy and relief and began to rush forward to him, but I reached out to restrain her. She looked at me, stunned by my actions, and demanded that I let her go get her son. I told her to wait, something was wrong with all of it and it didn't feel right at all, but she wasn't listening.

She fought like a trapped wildcat to get loose and run to what she thought was our child, crying and screaming curses at me that I had never heard come out of her mouth at me in all of our years of marriage. She was out of control, about to foolishly rush headlong into a dangerous situation that we had just barely survived, and I did the only thing I could think of to bring her to her senses. At a rather strange bit of timing, another apocalyptic sounding thunder clap echoed in the darkness as I, for the first time ever since meeting Maggie at the start of junior high school, slapped her.

The slap did indeed stop her struggling, although I now know it was the shock of me striking her instead of coming around to seeing reason. Regardless, I released her and began telling her to take the lighter and go to the house for the flashlights so we could go check see if it was really our child. I'll never know if she was going to do as I said because Bobby's voice, soft and tortured, somehow still managed to cut through the roar of the storm.

"Mommy? Where are you? I'm here waiting for you! Please come get me, Mommy! Don't you love me anymore? No, please don't bite me...NOOOOOO!!"

That was the final straw and I could see it in her face that she meant to go get her son, and anyone trying to stop her be damned. I learned this much to my regret as I reached out to restrain her again. She guessed what was coming and moved a bit quicker then me, kneeing me in the groin like her self-defense classes had taught her to do to any attacker. As I went down in a heap grasping myself in pain, I watched helplessly as the lighter fell into a puddle and allowed the darkness to reign once more. I struggled to find the lighter on the ground, managing to croak out my wife's name as she ran towards the figure up the street, but she couldn't possibly hear me in the storm…and even if she could, she wouldn't be dissuaded from reaching her child.

"Hold on Bobby, OK?" Maggie screamed somewhere in the black, her now hoarse voice getting further away by the second. "Mommy's coming, baby, Mommy's coming!"

Its true what they say, you know; that if you lose the use of one of your senses, the remaining ones become stronger. I guess that's why I heard something else mixed in with the sounds of the storm, my wife wailing as she went to our son and Bobby pleading for her. Very faintly, almost lost in the racket of the other noises was one other…the quiet sound of barely restrained growling, like a pack of savage predators anxiously anticipating their hapless prey. I realized it really was a trap and somehow made my way up to my feet, staggering in the direction my wife ran off to while yelling at her to stop, it wasn't our Bobby, not anymore.

Another bolt of evil electricity coursed through the dark world and the scarlet light showed my sobbing wife rushing to pick up our now ashy gray skinned son in shredded clothes. Her panic blinded her to the dangerous looking talons and big pure black eyes weeping ebony fluid he possessed, not to mention the shark teeth snarl. This is the last image I see before the dark returns and blinds me to all that happens next. I know what's coming and I run, blocking the pain my wife caused me making her escape.

I yell out to her, begging her to get away from the thing masquerading as our little boy. I can't even begin to describe the piercing scream my wife made somewhere in the dark. I've never heard a cry of such utter pain, fright and desolation like that before, and pray to never hear it ever again. And then the booming noise of the thunder came, like a bomb being set off right next to me, driving me to my knees and making me cover my ears and close my eyes…

…And then suddenly as it hit, its over. The rain, the wind, the shadows, the cloud mass…all vanished. Nothing is left of the storm except dead birds and other small animals, pools of dark red liquid all over the street and to my dismay pieces of the blood smeared tattered remains of my family's clothes. I look everywhere for some other trace of them, but find nothing. After returning home, I tried to call 911 to report them missing, but I couldn't get through till nearly midnight. I wasn't the only person missing loved ones, the tired sounding detective told me. My story was a near duplicate from so many other people around the city, around the state, around the nation and beyond. I then asked him if he thought I would ever see my family again, and he gave his brutally honest opinion; more then likely, no…I would never see them ever again.

Shows how much he knows. After talking to the police, I went online to study this phenomenon and learn about it. I found various theories about what the storms are, such as how some believe that the storms are the gathered sum of all of humanity's evil manifested into something dark and terrible. On the other hand, some split between it being the wrath of the Almighty, while others claim it's a piece of hell that has escaped to our world. A popular one is that the storms are just pure primordial chaos energies wrecking havoc on our reality. I don't know which is true, and really…does it matter? Not to me it didn't.

What mattered to me was what I learned sometimes happened after the storms passed. About how in some cases the victims came back, trying to take survivors back into the storms with them. Like the storm that is overhead right now. Somehow I know this is the storm where my family is coming back, and I don't know whether to laugh or cry about it. I hear the thunder crashing overhead, dust and tiny debris falling from the ceiling as the booms rattle my…sorry, our house, and I know from how the complete and total lack of light has just settled in that the time is near. I wonder what I'll say or do when they come back for me…God I miss them so damn much! I don't think I can bare being without them in my life…I'm strong, but not that strong, I don't think. No, I just don't see me being able to go through life without them…

…And the soft clawing at my door, two pairs of claws, lets me know I don't have to.

God forgive me, but I can't stop myself from following the strange different sounding yet still so familiar voice of Maggie's, and the ravenous sounds of my Bobby to the door. I don't think I could stop my trembling hands from unlocking the deadbolt on the door if I really tried. My heart freezes in my throat as I open the door and see the terrible corpse gray scarred beauty of the love of my life, and the wickedly hungry face of my boy, both snarling at me with mouthfuls of razor sharp teeth and their hands with the razor edged talons reaching out to me, to embrace me.

I tell myself its because they love me and missed me as much as I missed them.

I pray it will be quick.

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A/N: Reviews are welcomed and appreciated, and if possible returned! Thanks in advance - VM