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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins

Chapter 18

The screams of the living had fallen silent hours ago, now it was merely the occasional shriek of the undead or the sound of tearing flesh that permeated the mission walls. Father Santiago sat in one of the pews closest to the pulpit, one hand caressing his rosary beads, the other absently patting the gun hidden deep within his robes. He watched the few remaining people under his care either pace the floor uncontrollably or lose themselves in an endless retinue of prayer. Father Santiago himself prayed for some sort of answer, but he knew deep down inside that one wasn't coming. Hell on Earth had come, and there was no salvation for a sinner like him.

They were all in the main chamber of the church, the front doors locked tight. Enrico had over seen the barricading of the door and windows, having pushed rows of empty pews in the way to block the door. Still he looked at the few remaining people with him. Maria and Pedro, the washerwoman and the stable boy. They both had worked for the parish for many years, helping out the church. Maria did their laundry and often helped make meals in exchange for room and board in a small shack on the parish property. Pedro was her son and tended to the small flock of animals on the church grounds. His father had been killed running with a band of outlaws and had led to the duo's adoption by the church.

Lastly were the two junior members of the church staff. Father Ruiz was the elder of the two, though still nearly 15 years Enrico's junior. Earnest and heartfelt, Enrico could see the guilt of leaving the others out to die was weighing heavily on his shoulders. Brother Romero was the youngest of their order, fresh to the parish and on his first mission. He was the most rattled, huddled in front of the effigy of Christ, offering the Lord's prayer over and over.

At first Enrico had tried to bolster their spirits with words and prayers, but after a while, the screams were just to loud and they all fell silent. Enrico finally got up and went upstairs, determined to look out the window and gauge how bad the epidemic outside had gotten. When they first had barricaded the doors, Enrico had watched from the seond floor window. After the first few minutes, he had turned away and kept others from looking, the sights he had seen were even worse than what he had envisioned during the war. Now that the screams had long been silent, he had decided on another look. He told his small clan his intention, and went upstairs, nervously patting the only sign of reassurance he had, the pistol.

He slowly pushed open the window, peeking out. Blood and eviscerated remains lay strewn about the courtyard area. Enrico choked the taste of bile back down his throat. Still, he didn't see any of the creatures on this side of building. Enrico used the few moments he had alone and pulled the gun out from beneath his robes. He held it in his hands, trying to subdue the images of the last time he had held a gun. The images of men's faces staring blankly back at him, their eyes glossy and devoid of life, with him holding the smoking barrel. Still, knowing what lay outside, the even fresher memories of the horrors he had seen just hours earlier over wrought those old images. Pictures of men and women, changed and mutated into some sort of creature, eating the flesh and entrails of the living. Even now, he felt a cold shiver run down his spine.

"FATHER ENRICO! Where did you get that gun!"

Enrico turned around, his head flush with sweat, and saw Father Ruiz looking at him. He still held the gun in his hand, unable to answer. He looked at the gun and to Ruiz, whose dark complexion was a mask of worry and astonishment. Unfortunately for both Father Ruiz and Enrico, there was no time to answer, as the sounds of splintering wood downstairs were accentuated by the screams of Maria. The creatures were breaking through the barricade. Hell would wait no longer.

End of Line.

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