The World We Live In
Fires burned above the hill that led towards the city. Fires burned in the streets. The city sat complacently – its many roads strung out like the individual strands of a spider’s web, woven with care and finesse. Calls echoed in the city – howling, mournful cries of the kind that seek to chill the heart. They undulated across the winds, across the lake, and across the streets containing them.
A great masterpiece of archaic architecture and modern combined; the city lay in the middle of a forty-mile across lake. Towers, looking like the fingers of great giants that had been buried in the waters long ago, now sought to climb out. It sat on a great island made of stone, long since hewn by traffic and design into a flat land. Grey-green banners rustled in the wind, flags with dragons and mice and even men fluttered their snow-chilled fabrics brilliantly against the sky. A sheen of ice and powder caressed each one like a misty blanket. Cars and trucks and even a tank sat discarded in the streets, while people made their way around them – some running in terror, others walking behind them smiling and talking while watching their flight. Some sat in the cars until a red splat erupted at their windows. Others laughed calmly and stripped themselves to the skin while lying down – spread-eagled – on the snow. These arched their necks forward and waited while the ever-accumulating snow began to color their bodies.
Cold blew against the towers, whistling through the stone masts like a bird’s song. And then the howls replied, and the chorus between the two became horror. Footsteps and a distinct clicking sounded on the roads, some cries of course – both human and inhuman – replicated the sounds of battle. There was much blood in the street – especially where the rift creatures stalked prey. Guns were slowly losing reliability and yet humans had found a way to congregate.
In the middle of a vast clearing, a casino on one side – it’s glass shattered in a kaleidoscopic fashion – and an old, high-class restaurant on the other (where festering corpses sat at eternal dinner) people milled about holding themselves tightly while bound with any kind of skin one could imagine – and yes, even a few had nothing to ward the winter, but that had no bearing on them here. Far above, reaching into the sky like a beacon, stood the old government seat – some bodies still hung from the balconies dripping viscera onto the pure snow – others had fallen and now lay next to the tower which had claimed their lives. A few still struggled to press their innards back into their body cavity, knowing that gravity would eventually win. In some cases, the viscera hung to the ground below – and such was the idea – for if you feed the pack with one piece of your whole, the other pieces survive, or so the book said.
Despite this, the people who stood around laughed and talked and joked and jested with each other like old friends. Smiles and food abounded for them, fires of great height stood at the barrier between the bridge and the casino. But for why they had come here – despite the fact that the monsters still prowled undeterred by the warm fires; despite the frozen, harsh terrain; despite having to – at the end of the night – make a trek into the outermost country across the twenty-two mile bridge that led to a hazardous freedom; one pockmarked with holes and beasts – that is where this story begins, and it begins simply – like all great and terrifying things – with man and his mistakes.