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Heroes of Silvermoon, Chapter 1: The Cultist & Chapter 2: Arena Games

I recently switched jobs (from editing to coding! Woo hoo!), and possibly my only disappointment in doing so is leaving the first D&D gr...

Friday, October 16, 2015

Short Story: The Offering

My workplace had a scary short story contest, and this was my submission. This is probably the shortest piece I've ever finished—we were limited to 600 words. It was a challenge to let it fit, too; I had to try four or five times to cut out all the details I usually like to put in. I thought about making a longer version, but I doubt I'll ever get around to it.
Anyway, the obvious influence was Cloverfield, and Attack on Titan may have inspired me too... basically I tried to think of what scared me most in media (it's not much, I've realized), and I came up with large-scale, unpreventable destruction. I ended up winning an Honorable Mention for "Best Psychological Thrill"! Enjoy!

The Offering
by Austin Ballard

Here I am at the moss-draped cave, on the edge of a cliff overlooking the bay. My journey is over, but I’m not relieved or scared. Just angry.
I just had to take that elevator the day of the Landing. The day the Monster came with its hordes of Parasites that harvested every man, woman, and child as food for their master.
Everyone but me, who was stuck in a stupid elevator the moment the Monster landed. There was a tremor, the lights went out, there was the scrabbling of insectoid legs and screaming, then silence.
Eventually, a power surge—the last that would ever happen—got me out of the elevator doors into the new world the Monster had created. It was a world of holes in windows and cars and bits of bloody cloth snagged on the glass, and smears of gore all leading toward the center of the city, where the Monster had landed.
Its Parasites had hunted well, and when every living thing in the city was devoured, it shuffled its massive, scaly bulk away through the rubble, its Parasites following it like a million ants.
From the roof of a Chinese restaurant, I watched it feast and shuffle away. I cried and raked my hair, waiting for the Parasites to fetch me as well, but they never did. They left me alone to watch the Monster crumple buildings and defecate out human bones in the carnage behind it.
It took me a day or so to realize that I would never wake up from this nightmare. I was alone. Carly, Mom, the kids—all gone.  I didn’t dare check if they had survived. No one else had, and I didn’t want to risk seeing their blood.
I kept waiting for someone to come—the Army maybe, or a helicopter from another city, but no one ever did. Maybe other Monsters ate everyone else in the world, but even if not, I am alone here. Dark supermarkets have sustained me for two weeks, but I’m done. I can’t stand it anymore.
I could never be the one to end my own life. So I followed the trail of clean white bones here, to the Monster’s cave, to let it finish the job it so inconsiderately botched. Maybe letting it eat me will send me to the same hell my family went to.
I keep expecting oblivion to come in a violent flash, but the cave is quiet… and the Monster’s gargantuan bulk is still.
The Monster… is dead.
Its Parasites sit idly circling on the cave walls, their brains empty now that their hive mind is silent. The Monster has gorged itself on humanity and now lies rotting in its cave, swollen with earthly disease.
I walk out to the edge of the cliff and watch the sun set over the rocky bay. I’m not tired anymore. I’m not going to sleep another night. That wretched Monster had to leave me alive, of all people. Anyone else would have made the best of it, but not me. I can’t.
I turn around to face the cave, and tell myself that it’s a roller coaster—that it’ll be over soon; that one last decision is keeping me from the rush of my life. Then, in a moment when no thoughts are in my head, I leap.
There is a rush. There is no scrabbling, however. All around me is air, and there is nothing to scrabble at, try as I might.
There is screaming, however. And I know, in a few short seconds, there will be silence.

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