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About Deviant Artist Member Aaron WeaverMale/United States Groups :iconi-am-gladius-dei: I-am-Gladius-Dei
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Gleaner Chronicles
Chapter 4

Town Hall Exit
Cheerilee stood next to the wooden door that led outside. The guards moved aside and she opened the door. Lukewarm winter sunshine flooded the tunnel. After hours underground, it was almost too bright. Everypony had to look away and wait until their eyes adjusted.

Margot wondered how dilated her pupils were.

Far said with excitement. "Once we get outside, follow me and gallop! There is not much that can catch a galloping pony. Well at least until we get to the Shatterleg Wastes." He stepped out into the street followed by Skybreeze.

Margot was behind her and the SHC brought up the rear.

Cheerilee waved and whispered, "Good Luck" as the shadow of the closing door covered her face.

Ponyville Ruins
The team galloped through a maze of buildings. Many of them were just shells with one or two intact walls. Margot thought she saw a unicorn pony skeleton in a doorway of a building but she was not sure. Who was that poor pony?

After a few minutes, the devastated town was behind them. Margot glanced at the grass in the new area, it was yellowish green. She figured that something was leeching the health out of it.

Nopony bothered to talk, galloping seemed to take all of their concentration.

One hour later, Far called for a break.
Margot was glad, her legs were starting to ache.

Far advised while looking around. "We are getting close to the Shatterleg Wastes and I want everypony to know what to do. The ground is uneven and filled with holes. I will tell you more when we get there. Be on the lookout for a crater."

A half hour later, the group looked down into a partial shadowed crater that seemed to go on forever.

Margot got a chill looking at the rough brown ground, low lying fog and shadows The smell of dry rotting flesh wafted up from the edge of the sunken area.

"My, what a charming place with such a lovely aroma," Skybreeze quipped.

Even the SHC had looks of dismay on their faces.

"How are we going to get down there?" Margot asked while checking out the sheer cliff walls on the sides.

Far said with confidence while he pointed into the crater. "There are rockfalls all over the place that will allow us to get to the crater floor. I will fly around and find them. Remember, I used to be with the supply caravans and they always managed to get through."

Shaking her head no, Apple Bloom said,"Except for nao."

Scootaloo asked with a smile. "Skybreeze, you learned all sorts of magic. Can't you teleport us down there?"

"Teleportation magic takes a lot of magical power and--" Skybreeze started to explain but was cut off by Sweetie Belle.

"You don't know that spell," Sweetie stated.

Far announced before taking off. "Hay! I am going to find a way down. Stay alert,"

For a few minutes, the SHC took a break and curled up in the yellowish grass. Margot and Skybreeze kept a wary eye open for threats.

Skybreeze walked up to Margot and pointed to the Shatterleg scenery with her left hoof. “I certainly will find traveling through that less than pleasant.”

Margot nodded yes.

This will be a nightmare to traverse even if nothing is chasing us. I do not want to think about running in that jumbled up hidden hole place. What would happen to me if I broke a leg?

The sun slowly sank in the west while shadows gathered in the Shatterleg before Far came back.
"Wake up Everypony! We need to move fast. I do not want to be at the edge of the Shatterleg at nightfall," Far trumpeted to the annoyance of the SHC who were enjoying a game of tag.

"This might sound strange but we will be better off in the Shatterleg than messing about at the edge," Far said.

Skybreeze asked with disbelief. "Really?"

“Would you like to run in the dark with steep cliffs at your back?” Far asked with an annoyed tone.

Skybreeze looked at the Shatterleg and back at Far.

"I figured that. Lets go!" Far said with excitement.

He led them to a steep incline made by several rockslides.

While Margot struggled down the steep incline, she imagined that it would be pretty difficult on two legs, she was having problems and she had four.

Eventually the group made it to the hard and rocky floor of the crater.

Far had the two unicorns, Sweetie and Skybreeze use their telekinesis to probe the ground ahead of them for holes.

Skybreeze probed the ground ahead of her and it was stable. Sweetie probed beyond Skybreeze's area and a pit revealed itself.

Margot walked up to see what happened. She thought she saw the gleam of bones down at the bottom.

After that, the lead ponies crept along.

"Ah will be glad to be out of here," Apple Bloom said while she looked around at the dead skeletal trees.

"I bet this place does not get any better when the sun goes down," Scootaloo said with a fearful voice.

"Hay, don't forget we got faith in Oonte! She will see us through! All of us!" Sweetie Belle crowed.

Margot watched as Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom did a high hoof. Nice.

Far looked around and said,"This looks like a good place to camp. Everypony stay together. Watches last four hours. I will take the first watch, Margot will take the second watch and so on down the line until morning."

The sun had set but there was enough light from the sky to see.

Scootaloo and Apple Bloom collected wood for the fire. Once they had a nice pile of branches, Skybreeze set it on fire using a spell.

Instead of feeling like they were in a wasteland surrounded by enemies, it felt like a camping trip.

Margot got to satisfy her curiosity about the food bars. They tasted like granola bars with dried grass. It sounded boring but the bars tasted pretty good. The ingredients meshed nicely and it was not too sweet.

"Who wants to tell ghost stories?" Scootaloo asked with a smile after they ate some of the food bars.

Far and Skybreeze exchanged glances.

"How about a story about the Train?" Scootaloo asked, her large purple eyes lit by orange firelight.

Sweetie and Apple Bloom moved closer in anticipation of a scary tale.

"I think that story might be too scary for young fillies. You will have more than enough problems sleeping," Far advised.

“This story could be too scary for older mares," Skybreeze whispered.

Apple Bloom still wanted a story,"How about one on the Headless Horse?"

Far shook his head no."I think we should get ready for sleep. There is a lot to do tomorrow. Margot will you take the first watch?"

"Sure but how will I know when four hours have passed?" Margot asked. How do these ponies keep track of time without watches?

"Don't worry, I can feel when its four hours. You will not be up all night," Far replied.

"You are no fun, Far," Scootaloo said sadly as she prepared to go to sleep.

"When we are in a safer place, I will tell you the story of the Train," Far offered.

Margot watched as the ponies went to sleep. The stars slowly wheeled in the dark blue sky while she stood guard. Other than the crackling of the fire and the occasional sound of a pony moving in its sleep, it was pretty quiet. Sometimes the wind would blow making the dead trees creak and claw at the sky.

After a while, Far came and relieved Margot. She curled up next to Skybreeze and went to sleep.
Dawn could not come fast enough for Margot. Her dreams were murky and filled with fear. A quick look around showed that the other ponies did not sleep any better.

Well, except for Far.

"Good Morning Trottingham!" Far crowed with a smile on his face.

Skybreeze grimaced at Far's good spirits while Margot had a stoic look on her face.

"Y'all ready for more adventuring?" Apple Bloom asked.

The wide smiles on her crusader counterpart's faces was a good enough answer. After a quick breakfast, the group was off.

The monotonous scenery changed from beige rock, dark brown leafless tree to grayish brown rock and dark brownish gray tree. The ponies slowly plodded through the almost monochromatic wasteland.

To relieve the boredom, Far told a story about the Train. "You asked about the Train. Now, I will tell you what I have heard. When the Gleaners started to attack Equestria, a bunch of ponies escaped Ponyville by taking the train. They planned to go to Canterlot. Halfway there, the train was attacked by gleaners and Foulshaper, a powerful gleaner lord. Foulshaper lives in the center of Stifle Swamp. In better times, that area was called Saddle Brook," Far paused to see if any pony wanted to know more.

"Come on Far, we wanna hear the rest!" Apple Bloom screamed.

"Foulshaper took some of the refugees and bound them to the train. Now its a half mechanical, half remnant monster that hungers for life and emotions. It stays near or on the tracks but sometimes it ranges far from them. Some nights if you listen closely, you can hear its whoo hoo scream," Far said with a nervous laugh.

"Simply dreadful. I doubt that anything like that is possible," Skybreeze said in a dismissive tone.

Margot said nothing, she has seen some strange things in her travels..

"Where did you hear this terrible story?" Skybreeze asked.

Far looked away and looked back at her,"I heard it from caravan leaders. They are not the sort to just make stuff up and say its real."

At that second, there was a scream of pain that seemed to come from a pony’s throat.

Everypony looked around to see what or who made the sound but the rocks and trees blocked their view.

Far pointed off to the west, "The sound is coming from there."

The group slowly followed Far. Margot hoped that they would get there in time to save somepony. Just around the bend, the group saw who was screaming. It was a buglike pony being chased by a greyish brown stumbling pony. One of the changeling's wings was bent at a strange angle.

"Changeling? Lets leave it to its fate," Skybreeze said with barely hidden hatred.

"No, its a pony too. We must save it!" Apple Bloom announced.

Far flew up and dive bombed the gray pony. It was no contest, he hit the enemy’s head with a hind hoof. With a loud crack, the undead pony’s head was crushed. The body collapsed to the ground.

"That is what Remnants look like," Far said as he hovered and then landed next to the group.

"Thank you for saving Nga'Devro," The hungry changeling said with gratitude.

Skybreeze looked away. Margot watched the changeling carefully. If it was not for them she would be back home and human.

"Mah name is Apple Bloom. Do ya'll need food and water, friend Nga'Devro?" Apple Bloom asked.

"Nga'Devro would be grateful for the smallest amount of food and water,"  Nga'Devro said while bowing.
Sweetie opened up her saddlebag and gave the poor changeling a food bar.

Nga'Devro used his telekinesis to pick up the bar. He nibbled on it.

The rest of the ponies introduced themselves except Skybreeze and Margot.

"Nga'Devro, can you tell me how you ended up here in this Celestia forsaken place?" Far asked.

"Nga'Devro will share all he knows," Nga'Devro replied while he ate. After a few bites, the bar was gone.

Margot noticed that the poor creature was almost skin and bones. It was probably a while before it had a good meal.

"Why are your people attacking malls?" Margot asked pointedly.

Confusion covered Nga'Devro's face,"What is a mall?"

Even Far looked confused.

Margot asked with more anger,"Several of your people had bombs and they killed several people in a mall!"

"Nga'Devro has not been back to the Hive. When the Love pony caused my brothers and sisters to be cast away, I decided not to go back to the Hive. I wanted to get my own emotions. I do not know what was happening in the Hive," Nga'Devro explained.

"So you have been roaming around Equestria and draining ponies?" Skybreeze asked with a tone of voice that promised violence.

Far stepped between the changeling and the angry unicorn.

Skybreeze started to charge up her horn. 

Nga'Devro's horn started to glow greenly.

Margot saw a bright blue flash and Skybreeze toppled over in the grayish brown dirt.
"Is she?" Margot asked.

"No, she is just resting. Oonte will not tolerate ponies fighting each other," Sweetie Belle said in a serious tone of voice.

"Nga'Devro, you must promise not to steal emotions from ponies anymore," Scootaloo said while walking up to the surprised changeling.

"Nga'Devro thinks you are asking for a difficult thing. It might be--" The changeling was interrupted by a blue glow that covered his body. He fell to his knees.

Margot watched as a blue glowing Scootaloo stepped back from the changeling.

She also slumped to the ground.

Sweetie and Apple Bloom ran up to Scootaloo's unconscious body.

The changeling stood up. The nice ponies had fed him but he was still hungry for a tasty emotion. When the orange  pegasus filly walked up to him and cast a spell on him, the hunger faded and then was gone. Nga'Devro remembered the terrible things he had done to feed his desire for emotions, now he was free.

"Nga'Devro is filled with unbounded gratitude for what you have done. My life is yours,"  Nga'Devro said.

"Fine, we can discuss that later. Can you tell me what you saw when you entered the Shatterleg?" Far asked while glancing at Skybreeze and Scootaloo.

Both of them were still lying on the ground.

“By the way, that is Skybreeze and that is Margot,” Far said and pointed to Skybreeze and Margot.

"Before Nga'Devro's right wing was bent, he saw mostly that,"  Nga'Devro waved a hoof at the scenery.
"Later on, Nga'Devro saw a caravan of Remnants. Some were pulling carts while others had saddlebags. I think they were carrying supplies," Nga'Devro explained.

"Too bad for those ponies but the supplies could be still useful. We need to get those supplies," Far asserted.

Skybreeze opened her eyes and got up.

Apple Bloom left Scootaloo's side and walked between Margot and Skybreeze.

"Y'all know that the changeling Nga'Devro is under our protection," Apple Bloom said while looking Margot and Skybreeze in the eye.

"Fine but I still need to know why changelings are attacking my world," Margot said pointedly.

"The Prophetess will have the answer," Apple Bloom replied.

"If you wake up with no emotions, it is upon your head. Keep the misbegotten spawn away from me! If it attacks, I will not step aside," Skybreeze said with menace in her voice.

"Enough! We have supplies to get. Nga'Devro will you help us recover the supplies?" Far asked.

"Yes,"  Nga'Devro replied and pointed to the north east.

“Why should we bother about these supplies? We have a mission to do,” Skybreeze opined.

“I know but at least if we know where they are, we can send someone back to get them,” Far answered.

“There is a chance that the supplies may be ruined,” Margot suggested.

Far looked down and thought a bit.
“The both of you have made good points but Cheerilee and Lower Canterlot need to know what happened. That summoned food will not last forever. We will need a new caravan for Ponyville,” Far replied with some vehemence then he looked up..

Margot replied,”Sounds good but we need to be careful.”

“Nga'Devro needs help with his bent wing, will someone help me?” Nga'Devro said and grimaced in pain.

Far looked at the changeling’s bent wing with a puzzled look on his face.

“What do I have do?” Far asked.

“Nga'Devro needs your help in bending my wing back to its former shape,” Nga'Devro replied.

Sweetie moved in closer to watch.

Far grabbed the wing in his hooves and twisted it up to the right, Nga'Devro shrieked in pain.
“Nga'Devro thanks you. The pain will fade slowly,” The changeling said with gratitude.

The group set out to find out the status of the missing supply caravan. Sweetie Belle took a break from probing and Nga'Devro took over for her.

It was late in the afternoon when the group found the supply caravan, well, what was left. Nga'Devro gave them good instructions so the group was able to get close enough to study the Remnants. The group hid behind a small pile of rocks and trees while the Remnants wandered aimlessly in front of them.

To Skybreeze’s chagrin, the wind shifted and brought the smell of dry dead flesh to their noses.

“That is definitely a foul stench,” Skybreeze complained.

“I think they are beyond caring,” Margot replied.

Unlike the first time, Margot had a bit more time to study Remnants. These ponies looked like they were put in a freeze dryer. Most of their fur was gone or converted to a grayish brown color. They were just stumbling around when something changed.

All of the Remnants stood still then they raised their heads.

“Manure! The wind must’ve shifted,” Far exclaimed.

The hungry enemies walked toward the hidden ponies. No more wandering now, the Remnants knew where to go now.
Margot noticed that three of the enemy still pulled supply carts while the other ones had full saddlebags. Maybe Far is right?

“Skybreeze, Nga'Devro and Sweetie Belle get ready to use your magic to put these things down!” Far said as he prepared to take off.Before he had a chance to take off, Far was hit by a blast of green energy from a Remnant unicorn that knocked him over.

Margot glanced at Far’s twitching body. I wish I could do something for him.

Skybreeze charged up her horn and blasted two of the enemy off of their hooves.

Sweetie used her telekinesis to grab small rocks to fling at the enemy. If they were fighting normal ponies, she would have knocked out some of them but the Remnants shrugged off the attacks.

Covered with a blue glow, Apple Bloom strode out to the Remnants. The creatures fired bursts of green energy at her but her shield blocked the shots.

Scootaloo followed closely behind with her own shield.

Sweetie Belle fired blasts of blue energy at the enemies from her horn. The Remnants recoiled from the shots like they were harmful.

Nga'Devro also fired away at the creatures too.

Margot wanted to help but she could not do any magic. A quick glance showed that Far had recovered from being hit but was tangled up in a grayish brown thicket.

“Margot, help me!” Far screamed.

Margot walked up to the thicket. How do I move this stuff without hands? Reluctantly, she put her mouth on one branch and pulled back the branch until it snapped off. The branch tasted sour like old regrets. Then Margot went for another nasty tasting branch and broke that one off too.

Far climbed out of his woody prison.

Margot noticed two bleeding scratches on his flanks.

He followed Margot’s gaze, “Don’t worry about that, I am fine.”
Far sprang into the darkening sky.

I have to help! Margot stood on her hind legs to try to do a martial arts move but she lost her balance. Her head hit a rock. Before she fell into darkness, Margot wondered what was going on back on Earth. Did Mark survive the explosion?
Hooves Hands Claws

Chapter 8

Golden Morning's Flashback:
Demon Realm Test

WHOOSH! Every two minutes, a dragon head would belch orange and red flames across a uneven ebony walkway. That was what Goldie had been hearing while she was fighting the succubi earlier. It had crossed her mind to cast a spell that would protect her from the flames but then she dismissed that idea. It would reduce her power for offensive spells. I will just rely a bit more on my speed and being careful, she thought.

There were three more dragon heads spewing flames at different intervals than the first one. Behind the last one, a group of imps and her objective waited. All she had to do was grab the golden lantern and the test was over.

An extra large imp was also waiting for her too. This creature was much taller than a normal imp, at least four times taller. Unlike the other imps who were looking in all directions, the big imp looked right back at Goldie while it clutched a cruel wooden club with metal stakes sticking out of it. She had no doubts that being hit would leave a nasty mark on her yellow coat.

Brightstar does not skimp on the testing does he? I am going to prove that I am a unicorn and not an earth pony with a horn!

The big imp with a club was smart enough not to walk in front of the dragons while they were shooting flames. Goldie sat back and thought a bit while her stomach started to growl. Where is a Hoofpotle Grill when you need one?

Then Goldie remembered the name of the type of imp that carried a nasty club, it was called a Taskmaster. A vicious grin covered her yellow furred face for a moment. She had a task for that creature, it involved being dead. This was one lesson that Goldie would delight in teaching.

There was probably a good chance that once she stepped out on that walkway, something nasty would show up. Several peaceful ideas crossed her mind, stuff like rushing in and grabbing the objective or using her telekinesis to get the objective but deep down, Goldie just wanted to kill demons.

After thinking for a few minutes, Goldie had a plan.

She carefully waited until the dragons stopped blasting and passed by them. There was just one left. She had no intention of getting closer to the imps. Let them come to her through the burning flames and get hurt. That part worked fine. Four imps ran at her and got burned. They just died in the flames with a squeal. Goldie cast several demon killing spells through the flames to keep the shaman busy. So far, her plan was working.

The four imps were reanimated by the shaman and ran at Goldie with renewed hatred and hunger. To make things worst, several succubi appeared. Great. Now things are going to suck. She backed up close to the third dragon, just not close enough to get burned. Goldie was close enough to feel the heat though. A quick flick of telekinesis sent two imps over the side. Goodbye suckers! The succubi were playing it safe by spreading out. She managed to hit one with a fireball.

The area was starting to fill with red and blue succubi spells.

Goldie backed up close to the second dragon head. She had to kill the remaining two imps twice. The last time they were out of the range of the shaman and they did not respawn. She took some time to sweep the bodies over the edge of the walkway.

Goldie cast two demon killing spells at two of her flying enemies but both missed. The area was getting filled with red and blue glowing spheres.

The dragon head behind her belched again and Goldie grabbed the flames with her magic and flung them at the two succubi. They burst into flames then fell down into the darkness screaming. Yes, would you like some Succubus Fries with that order?

The shaman and the big demon were left for Goldie to deal with. She carefully walked past the flaming heads and was in the platform area with the shaman and his big friend. Goldie wished she had some warpaint to put on her face but it was not that kind of party.

The demons eyed her with malice. She eyed them back with an equal amount. Goldie knew it was either them or her. I will make damn sure its them, Goldie resolved.

Chapter 1

The hovering blackish gray asteroid attracted the interest of the city below it. Philadelphia was one of many cities with a possible threat hanging over their heads like a sword. The folks in the Prime Cuts butcher shop had their eyes on other matters also.

Prime Cuts looked like any other butcher shop that was doing well. Fully stocked shelves in the front, A white counter displaying choice cuts of meat and in the back, a place where the meat was prepared.

Right now, gray haired and blue eyed, Saul Gerstner, the owner, was trying to get a customer to add some beef franks to her order. He leaned over the white counter.

“Come on Rita, you will not regret buying these beef franks,” Saul urged.

“They sound like a good deal but...” Rita Hernandez demurred.

Saul smiled. “Ya know what? You can try them next time. I will still give you the discount.”

Vernon Johnson, Saul's black butcher, listened to the exchange when he came out of the new walk in freezer. He remembered how Saul made a fuss about the dual filter  air filtration system.

Three months ago

“Vern, this new freezer will help us make more money. The dual filter system should keep the germs out. The UV lights on the inside will kill any germs that come in when the door is opened. When I start aging meat we are going to make a fortune!” Saul said while his eyes were already seeing the money roll in.

“Too bad Morty is not here to see this. It sounds like a great idea,” Vernon replied.

Morty Gerstner was Saul's brother. Morty thought a lot but spoke less. When he did say something, it was usually right on target. Vernon owed Morty a huge debt of gratitude because he taught Vernon all he knew about being a butcher.

Morty died of throat cancer while Vernon was still serving in the Army. Vernon was out on a mission at the time. When he got back, it was too late for him to go to the funeral. He sent his condolences using a telegram. If Saul was a bit more tech savvy, Vernon could have skyped or sent an email.

Saul sighed. “Yeah, he would have said something interesting...”

3:40 pm
When Vernon checked up front, he heard from Saul that Rita had bought the franks. They were tasty, he remembered eating them for several dinners and lunches.

“Oh shi, crap, the asteroid has split open and some sort of black mist or smoke is coming out of it. The mist or smoke is heading for the Earth's surface,” The radio squawked.

That gave Vernon a chill. He just knew this was not good news. After thinking a bit, Vernon figured the freezer was the best place. It had filters and was made of steel. They would have to turn off the refrigeration though.

“Saul, we gotta get in the freezer!” Vernon screamed while he walked out of the back room.

“What? Why?” Saul screamed back.

“Some stuff is coming out of the asteroid. I heard it on the radio. We gotta get in before its too late!” Vernon replied.

Saul checked up front to see if he could warn Rita but she was gone. Vernon's idea seemed pretty weird but Saul had worked with Vernon since he was a kid. When he was much younger, Vernon did some stupid stuff but who was perfect at that age?

Saul smiled at some of the antics he did when he was much younger. Compared to him, Vernon was an angel. To be honest, if they had switched parents, Saul would have had a tender butt. He shook his head to concentrate on the present. It just took him a few seconds to lock the store's front door.

When Saul reached the backroom, he saw Vernon grab some knives.

There was an announcement from the radio, it advised people to stay in their homes.

Brown eyes met blue eyes.

“Did you turn off the cooler?” Saul asked.

“Yeah. I have these knives so we can step out with some weapons,” Vernon replied.

“How long should we stay inside?” Saul asked with fear.

Vernon shrugged. “I don't know. Lets see what happens in two hours. We will step out and look.”

Saul nodded yes. He grabbed the radio.

The two men walked into the freezer and locked the door.

When the freezer door closed, it sounded like a coffin lid to Vernon. It sounded so final, like they were not going to get out or maybe the world they once knew was already dead.


A black mist fell upon the city. It covered the streets and anyone that was on them too. Silence filled the city.

6:00 pm

Around four fifteen, the announcer on the radio fell down. The radio went silent.

They had spent two hours in the freezer wrapped up in their fears. Nobody wanted to eat anything either. At least there was some light inside, it would have been harder to be in the cold darkness filled with fear.

The freezer was cold but both men could take it for two hours, they had sweaters under their white aprons. Vernon's apron had some red on it though.

“Come on Vernon, we are acting like scaredy school girls. When we get out, the streets will be full of traffic,” Saul said with hope in his voice.

Vernon just looked at Saul. Images of zombies and aliens rampaging through the city filled his mind. It seemed to him that Saul was saying pure fiction.

Saul checked his watch. “Its six now, lets get out and see what happened.”

He opened the door of the freezer.

Vernon looked over his shoulder while he clutched a knife. Other than the black dust on the floor, nothing had changed.

Saul looked down in disgust. “Look at this stuff. I will have to do some sweeping!” He started to walk toward the brooms in the corner but Vernon grabbed his arm.

“No. Lets see what is going on outside. Sweeping can wait. Zombies are attracted to sound,” Vernon whispered.

Saul took another look at the brooms before deciding to leave them alone for now.

“Why are you whispering? Maybe you should be watching more classy and educational shows! The stuff you watch rots the brain,” Saul suggested.

Vernon smiled for a second then it slid into a frown.

The men carefully walked up front through the black dust on the floor. The stuff did not crunch underfoot, it felt soft.

Saul wanted to whisper now too, the normally noisy street was quiet. Nothing moved outside, that gave Saul a chill. It was unnatural to him.

Vernon looked at Saul while he unlocked the door. They both carefully stepped outside.

The black dust on the ground muffled their steps. Small grayish white patches of furry stuff were mixed up with larger furry mats on the sidewalks.

“Is that what happened to the birds and the people?” Saul asked with fear.

Vernon did not want to look at the patches, it was just too disgusting. He turned his attention to the street. Cars had stopped in the middle of the street. Most of the cars had the furry stuff covering the windows. One car's door was cracked and greyish white filaments had spread to the ground.

“Vern, this stuff looks like what you get on wet old bread,” Saul said.

“Yeah, um, Saul we need to do something,” Vernon said.

“What?” Saul asked while looking at Vernon.

“Come with me Saul to my apartment. After I get my supplies, we will leave the city-”

Saul interrupted him. “And go where?”

“I think things should be better outside the city.” Vernon said while looking around for any signs of life.

“You know I was going to the Opera tomorrow night but I guess the Fat Lady has sung for almost everyone,” Saul said sadly.

“Maybe not everyone, that is why I want to get my guns.” Vernon said.

“You have guns? Wait, I don't want to know. I don't like that no one has come out of the buildings yet,” Saul said while looking at the silent red brick and glass buildings across the street.

Vernon looked up and wondered too. Somebody could be looking down at them but he doubted that. No curtains were moving, this was not that type of neighborhood in which it stayed quiet like this.

“Vern, do you think its that black dust?” Saul asked.

Saul thought about going home but he did not really have anything he wanted to bring with him. They had similar builds so he could wear Vernon's clothes. Also the idea of that black dreck or dust or whatever all over his apartment would be too much to take.

Vernon shrugged.

Saul followed Vernon as they walked up the street.

7:00 pm

The sun was starting to set and Saul's fears began to increase. The idea of stumbling around in the dark and touching one of the furry mounds frightened him. He knew that the streetlights would work but Saul acknowledged that he was getting tired of the whole affair.

Vernon clutched his butcher knife and went into execute mission mode. His focus was getting his friend Saul and himself home without incident. Everything else can be thought about once they got there.

Vernon's apartment was in a brownstone obsessed with security. The front door and the door into the lobby both needed different keys. Vernon lived alone so he could not call someone to open the doors.

While Vernon looked through his jangling keychain for the right key, Saul appraised Vernon's building.

“No bad. I like that they lock the doors. It keeps the riff raff out,” Saul stated.

“Maybe this time it keeps them in?” Vernon replied.

He looked back at Saul.

Saul turned and watched the empty street.

Vernon opened the first door and paused in front of the second one.

“Do you see anything?” Saul asked while trying to see around Vernon.

“I don't see anybody,” Vernon said. It did make him uncomfortable to see the black dust on the floor though.

“When we get inside, do not touch anything with the black stuff on it. I bet you the railing is covered.” Vernon said.

Saul just looked around. He just wanted to curl up and sleep somewhere.

“What floor are you on?” Saul asked.

“Sixth,” Vernon replied.

Saul just sighed. The idea of going up six flights of stairs without holding on to the railing to steady himself seemed torturous. His sense of balance was not very good.

“Saul, if you have problems going up the stairs. I can help you,” Vernon offered.

“OK, lets do this,” Saul said grimly.

They were between the fourth and fifth floor when they heard a door open upstairs. A few seconds later, something or somebody was walking downstairs toward them.

Vernon clutched his knife and waited.

Saul pressed himself against the cold white wall.

What came around the corner was human if you looked from the neck of the grimy t-shirt down. Strange lumps in the wrong places did make the creature less human. From the neck up to the brow, it still looked somewhat human. The face looked like it had been twisted though. At the top of the creature's head, its brains had ballooned into four large greyish pink flaps. The force of the expanding brain matter had broken through the skull and the edges of the skull were still seeping blood.

The creature whispered,”Are you joined?” while it looked down at Vernon and Saul. A second later, it ran down the stairs at them.

Vernon ducked when the creature spat a black liquid at him then he shoved the knife into its head.

Even with a knife sticking out of its head like an unicorn horn, the enemy tried to spit again at Vernon.

He pushed the knife deeper and the enemy's body stiffened and then relaxed.

When Vernon pulled out the knife, it was covered in a blackish green substance. The body of the creature rolled bonelessly down the stairs and almost hit Saul.

“Lets get upstairs and into my apartment before more of those show up,” Vernon suggested.

“Yeah, yeah, lets go,” Saul replied.

The sight of the strange creature bothered him.

Vernon used his apron to wipe off the knife then he threw the dirty cloth over the railing.

Saul just listened for the sound of opening doors.

Finally, they were at the quiet as a tomb sixth floor. The whole building was silent. No TV noises or voices.

Saul did not have to be asked to keep an eye out for threats. He nervously watched the three other closed doors and the stairs.

Vernon unlocked the locks and looked down the dark hall. The setting sun filled the living room with red orange light.

“Saul go into the living room and don't touch anything. I bet the black stuff is on every flat surface,” Vernon said while he walked into the apartment. He waited for Saul to walk past him.

Saul continued with his hands clenched at his sides. He headed into the living room.

After that, Vernon locked all of the locks then he took a few minutes to verify that they were locked. He wanted to make sure that what they met on the staircase was not going to sneak into his apartment.

Vernon went into the kitchen to find a way to clean his apartment.

Both men froze as a door on the sixth floor opened and footsteps were heard walking
around. A few seconds later, the footsteps headed downstairs. Then two other doors opened too. Footsteps moved to the stairs.

Vernon went into the living room, Saul was still just standing in the middle of the room.

“What was that?” Saul asked with fear in his eyes.

Vernon looked at Saul and recognized his condition, he had seen it when doing missions in Iraq. The poor man was going to snap soon unless he got some rest.

“Saul, you gotta relax. Why don't you sit down? As long as you do not touch the black stuff you should be OK,” Vernon said calmly.

“I am going to use the vacuum cleaner and get this dust up. After that we should be fine,” Vernon said.

“Vacuum cleaners are too noisy. Can you clean up quietly? Noise could attract them,” Saul said while shivering a bit.

“Sure Saul, I think I can do this. I will clean up this area so you have a place to rest. After that, I will clean up the kitchen so I can fix something to eat,” Vernon said slowly like he was talking to an excitable child.

It took a few minutes for Vernon to brush the black dust off of everything in the living room. After that, he motioned to Saul to sit on the couch.

Saul sat gingerly on the couch like he was expecting it to explode underneath him. The look of panic faded away from his eyes. Vernon handed Saul the remote for the TV then he went into the kitchen.

Saul breathed a sigh of relief, the creepy black stuff was gone. He could relax now and check out Vernon's living room. Saul could tell that Vernon had an interest in landscapes. There were two above the flatscreen TV. Both of them looked interesting. Saul turned on the TV and went through the channels.

It was a futile search. Nothing was on except for emergency broadcast messages. They warned people to stay inside and to stay away from the black dust. Saul's eyes found a dvd player. Maybe Vernon has something to watch, Saul thought.

“Vern, can I check out your DVDs? ” Saul asked politely.

“Yeah,” Vernon replied while sweeping out the kitchen.

Vernon's video collection was a disappointing mix of horror movies, war movies and porn. There was also a Time-Life documentary on Vietnam. Saul put the DVD in the player. It was OK until they showed burned bodies of some villagers. Saul did not like that but he needed something to get his mind off the day's events. Other than that Saul got into the movie until Vernon gave him a sandwich on a plate for dinner. He paused the movie and went into the kitchen.

“What are we going to do tomorrow?” Saul asked before taking a bite out of his roast beef sandwich. It could have chicken or even just cardboard, he just was not interested in eating anything. Saul just wanted to sleep and get away from reality.

“We are going to leave the city before those things come for us. I figure we could head for Chedds Ford or any of the suburb towns. Maybe the black stuff did not fall so heavily there,” Vernon replied with a hopeful voice.

“Do you think we have a chance?” Saul asked.

“Yes. Those things on our floor left to go somewhere. Maybe they will come back here? Eventually our supplies here will run out anyway. The power grid will eventually fail and this apartment will lose power. I don't like the idea of scavenging with those floppy brain things walking around. There might be worse things in the city too,” Vernon said.

Saul looked down and did not say anything.

After dinner was done, Vernon cleaned up his bedroom and the guest room. Saul would get the guest bedroom.

“At 5 am, I will get up and fix breakfast and we will need to leave soon. Try to get some rest,” Vernon said and smiled.

Saul nodded and walked into the bedroom.

It was around 11 pm before Vernon was done with packing two dufflebags with supplies. He collapsed onto his bed with a tired groan.

Saul's Dream

Beep. Beep. Beep. The heart monitor kept a steady beat as Saul kept vigil on his dying brother. Morty could not even speak anymore, the cancer had ravaged his throat and he was on a morphine drip for the pain. Saul did not remember if it was sunny or cloudy outside, all he cared about was his poor brother lying in the hospital bed.

Morty made a wet coughing noise. Saul watched quietly as his brother opened his eyes. Something about that made Saul nervous. Morty started to hum as Saul's unease grew. The tune was strange, he did not recognize it.

In a flash, Morty changed into a flappy brain creature that Saul saw earlier. The creature sang a wordless song that invited Saul to join. Saul shook his head in denial and screamed.


He found himself lying in a bed in an unfamiliar place. Fear started to rise up in him before Saul remembered where he was. The rest of the night was spent thinking of the future. He really wondered if they had one.

Vernon's Dream

“Bravo One is down, repeat, Bravo One is down,” his headset crackled. Vernon found himself behind a smoking wreck of a red truck. Explosions shook the ground. He checked out his left side, half of a dead soldier lay there bleeding into the dirt a few yards away. On his right was a pile of burning vehicles.

Vernon ducked as bullets bounced off of his cover. A quick peek around the truck showed enemies. He could not say what they were, Vernon just knew they were going to get him.

He took another peek and fired a quick burst with his automatic rifle. Two of the enemy soldiers went down. More bullets hit the truck. Vernon knew he had to get out of there. The enemy was going to flank him. He could hear them scream out instructions in their guttural tongue.

Where is my squad, Vernon wondered. A mass of dark smoke rolled over the battlefield, the smoke made him cough. When he stopped coughing, there were three of the enemy in front of him. They looked like the thing he stabbed earlier.

The creature in the middle aimed its gun. The other two said in unison,”Join us.”
Vernon tried to pull the trigger of his gun only to realize he just had a crooked wooden stick in his hand. The creatures raised their guns and fired...

Vernon woke up screaming. After a few loud gasps, he stopped. His tired eyes looked up at his ceiling until hours later, it was time to get up.

It took a lot of time before Vernon felt ready to face the day.


Aaron Weaver
United States
Current Residence: Behind the Italian restaurant, next to dumpster.
Operating System: Windoze/Mac OS X
MP3 player of choice: Winamp
Skin of choice: My own skin
  • Mood: Joy
  • Listening to: Feral: Hungry
  • Reading: Game of Drones: Unsanctioned Flights
  • Watching: Skanky Hollow: Whore of Babylon
  • Playing: Army of Moo
  • Eating: Pomeranian Frites
  • Drinking: AppleJack Daniel's sipping sider
Here is a list for October of folks whose work I like.

These two artists do old school surrealism, one of my favorite art genres.

Whim 4 and 5 by danielramosruiz
gray landscape by danielramosruiz

Twenty Six by PHInomena
Imprints by PHInomena

Speedpaint- Light among Dark by Earthsong9405
Eclipse- Reunited with You by Earthsong9405

Ferrus Mane, Primare of the Xth Legion by Sanity-X
Space Mareine Trailer by Sanity-X

Love And Passion. by ChristopherPollari
Holy Crap. by ChristopherPollari

Where the Sidewalk Ends by markhosmer
House in Orange by markhosmer

Every picture is a story.
One of his works inspired a story for me.

Dark room by MichaelBrack
The mill by MichaelBrack

FATE mtep by fensterer
Abysmal Torment cover by fensterer

Summer Afternoon by Natan-Estivallet
Autumn Trees by Natan-Estivallet

Biomechanical Greenscape by artlmntl
Sentinel 00 by artlmntl

Vivaldi - Desktop by cogwurx
Bounce by cogwurx

Lingering Memories 1 by Nawaf-Alhmeli
Life Without A Soul by Nawaf-Alhmeli

Blue fire by Bernhoft
Finally by Bernhoft

Light After The Rain...90cmx90cm by glenox66
wattle tree's by glenox66

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TheSlimeKing Featured By Owner 2 days ago
Happy Birthday
MelanAnime Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Hobbyist Writer
Official Update: Deadline extended: December 30!!! (old deadline: November 30)

Purple Butterfly Divider by CherushiMetsumari
Let the contest begin!!!~ :DHello people from planet Earth Earthor from wherever the heck you are from! Finally I deicide to host a contest, with many prizes for 7 lucky ones. w00t!
The theme is way easy to guess:
Spotlight Draw my Original CharactersSpotlight

UPDATE: Point Right Deadline: December 30 (My contest won't end at November 30; you have more time) Point Left
Before i start with the rules and You talk too much! You talk too much! You talk too much!  lets take a look to what will make you, guys and gals, to enter my contest: the prizes!
:eager: by darkmoon3636

Purple Butterfly Divider by CherushiMetsumari
Now you have more time if you wish to submit an entry! :la: Read the rules carefully and if you have any questions, check the F.A.Q here: or ask me =P (Razz)
If you're waiting for the result, please be patient, it won't take another extension!

Good luck :hug:
TheSlimeKing Featured By Owner 5 days ago
Did you get my note?
sevenofeleven Featured By Owner 5 days ago
Sorry, thanks for the reminder.
I will bang on it tomorrow.
TheSlimeKing Featured By Owner 5 days ago
Thanks. I've been under a bit of stress lately and its been making me paranoid.
sevenofeleven Featured By Owner 5 days ago
I understand, you have a schedule and want this to be done as fast as possible.

I am waiting for folks to go over my Shyrim story and these folks have not done anything yet.
I don't want to post without a Fimfiction prereader going over it.
dawnrex15 Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Hobbyist Writer
Will you be able to work on it tomorrow?
sevenofeleven Featured By Owner 6 days ago
Its done.
dawnrex15 Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Hobbyist Writer
You finished all of part 2?
sevenofeleven Featured By Owner 5 days ago
(1 Reply)
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