On a dark and stormy night, as the wind howled and shrieked like one facing a cruel, merciless death, lightning flashed above the building known only as "The Lab." It was a place for scientists to study the bodies of the dead, but it was rumored to be a place of terrible luck, for many accidents occurred to injure those who worked inside. Still, The Lab was never shut down, and continued to open its doors each morning to the scientists, who lived in the city who's outskirts The Lab lay upon.

None of the scientists (who worked well into the night each day) knew when they entered The Lab that morning that they were facing the beginning of the end.

No one knows for sure just what happened, but suddenly The Lab was filled with a sickly green, misty fog. 9 Bodies rose from the tables and devoured the helpless human scientists, whose screams were heard echoing through the city. A small girl watched from her bedroom window as the lights in the far off windows of The Lab flickered on and off three times. She heard the screams of the dieing and whimpered in fear, running to her parents for comfort, but they had none to offer. They, too, were shocked and horrified at the sounds.

And that night, the 9 living undead burst from The Lab and took to the streets. Within a day, there was nothing left of the city but a broken sign, too scratched and cracked to read. Soon it joined the rest in the unending quest to satisfy the 9's hunger.

However, they would never know satisfaction, for they were beyond it, too far gone to ever be filled. Word of them spread quickly, and every creature on Earth watched and waited in fear, knowing the hunt would never stop until everything and everyone had been taken. Their bloodthirsty reputation and ravenous appetite was precisely why they became known as The Bloody 9.

It took very little time... They worked quickly. Soon, what had once been a blue, green, and white planet became a dark and desolate place, void of life. The clouds turned pink, the sky turned gray, and the oceans themselves ran red with blood. And still, The Bloody 9 pressed forward. When there was nothing left for them to scavenge, they dug into the Earth itself, eating away at the crust and delving deeper and deeper. It got hotter and hotter all around them, but they could not feel it. The heat did nothing to stop them until the tunnel they had dug collapsed behind them, and trapped them just as they reached the Earth's core. Here, and only here, did their reign of terror finally subside. One by one, each of the 9 fell victim to starvation, and the hot core's magma took their bodies readily, glad to be rid of them.

For a while, all was still. Then a tiny hint of movement disturbed the peace, and the small girl crept from her hiding place underground, followed by her parents and a handful of neighbors. The hungry creatures had not thought to look carefully at or under the ground, and so they had been spared, protected by Mother Earth herself.

Hundreds of thousands of years later, the tale still lives on, but no one recognizes it as the truth. No longer can they believe that such a terrifying bloodshed ever occurred. And hundreds of thousands of years later, a young boy wandering through the woods stumbled upon the only trace left over from the tragedy.

For there, growing right where the entrance to the tunnel had once been, was a large, hideous tree, the bark gnarled and twisted and ashen in color. Its limbs were bone white, and it had only 9 leaves... Every one of them the reformed body of one of the 9. But they are at rest, and can no longer do any harm where they are at.

But, legend says that one day, the 9 will descend from the branches of the tree to continue their march. And when they do, we can only hope that enough of us will survive to begin again.

I am the girl that watched from the window. I am the girl that crept back to the surface. I am the girl whose spirit never passed over. And my spirit was what guided that boy to the tree, the Tree of Terror. And when The Bloody 9 return, I will be there to watch, and to do all I can to guide the living to safety.

I am the girl who remained.