A Grace of Dawn

This my first flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig’s blog. You had to use a random title generator and this is what I got.

A Grace of Dawn

The world was in darkness.

The parasites had stopped the sun, feasting on the bright energy of the orb in the sky. That was when the four survivors appeared out of the desert. Three of them were struggling to carry a stretcher on which a fourth man was dying. The woman carrying the front of the stretcher noticed the young man staring at them from his cabin.

“Help us!” She cried, “Please!” She begged. The young man thought for a moment. He would help. He hurried across the dusty ground to where they had halted. He spoke to the woman:

“We must move quickly, it isn’t safe in the darkness.”

“We know,” she replied darkly.

With that, they desperately hurried towards the cabin and once inside, the young man barred the door to keep out the darkness.

“Put him down by the fireplace,” he told them.

“Thank you stranger,” the woman said, looking at him, “you didn’t have to help us, why?”

“You came from where the creatures went and you needed help,” he told her, nodding at the fireplace where the other two men were fighting to save the dying man, “who are you people?”

“That’s a long story,” she said, “and none of it joyful.”

The woman was named Alera, the two men were Karn and Mort and the dying man was Enzo. They had been eight at the start, Rahar, Strickland, Dern and Hattie Enzo, the dying man, had been their leader and their job had been to go into the parasites’ cavern and restart the sun.

“A fool’s hope,” Karn spoke gruffly, the first time since they had arrived, “we didn’t have a chance.” Mort grunted in agreement.

“A convict’s chance,” Alera berated him, “don’t forget that. You see, we were prisoners slated for execution and we were offered a way out: if we completed a task, then our crimes would be forgiven.” She spoke almost proudly, as if not ashamed that she had been sentenced to death, “but you haven’t told us your name stranger, what is it?”

“Daven,” the young man replied shortly.

“Well Daven, we were halfway into the parasites’ cavern, flaming torches lighting our path, when we reached three tunnels. That was when everything began to go wrong. Enzo, Karn and Strickland were all for going down the middle tunnel, Dern and Mort wanted to take the left one, whilst Rahar and me wanted to go right. Hattie didn’t seem to care much. The argument got louder and louder, and that was our mistake.” Alera paused briefly, looking over at Karn and Mort still struggling to save the dying Enzo. “Our arguing attracted the parasites. They came from the tunnel behind us; obviously we had missed a turning. They flew out of the tunnel screaming like the marauders you get out here.” Daven knew all about marauders, they had killed his mother and father.

“Their teeth and claws were razor-sharp. Hattie didn’t stand a chance. She was stood at the back of our group, and they devoured her. Alive. I can still hear her screams now. Chaos broke out. We ran down the tunnels we’d wanted. Rahar and me ran down the right-hand tunnel, we hadn’t got far when a parasite sprang from a crevice; biting and clawing. The parasite was screaming and Rahar was screaming. I did the only thing I could think of. I thrust the torch into the monster’s face and it screamed, this time in agony; shrivelling into a sizzling pool on the floor and I held Rahar as she died. I picked up the torch and carried on running where I came to a junction where I met Mort.” She looked over at the fireplace, “how’s Enzo doing?” She asked dreading the response.

“Better than he should be, considering…” Karn replied, pausing to pick up another bandage and place over a wound on Enzo’s arm. “He’s dying though, there ain’t nothing we can do to stop that now.” He sighed.

“He was a good man,” Mort added gruffly, “he shouldn’t have done it!”

“All too true Mort, all too true,” Alera agreed sadly, “when I met Mort, he told me what had happened. He and Dern had run down the left tunnel and Dern was grabbed from above. Mort heard a shuffling behind him; he turned around and saw a crippled parasite on the floor. Waving the torch, it recoiled in fear and Mort shoved the torch into the parasite and it bubbled and died. He ran on down the tunnel where he met me. We agreed to keep on running. The mission and that,” she paused, spat and continued. “We reached a control room where we found Enzo, Karn and Strickland.” She gestured at Karn and Enzo. “Strickland was guarding the door while Enzo and Karn were looking at a generator in the centre of the room. We heard Karn telling Enzo that he couldn’t do it, that he would die. Enzo told him there wasn’t a choice, that this would be the only chance to stop the parasites. Just then the parasites broke through the door that Strickland was guarding. They engulfed him and whilst our attention was drawn, Enzo leapt into the generator. All hell broke loose. The parasites fled, Mort and Karn pulled Enzo out of the generator and we fled too; the ceiling was collapsing. We followed the parasites out of the cavern and into the night, where they flew off. Beaten. And we made our way here.” She stopped, looking over at Enzo, who had begun coughing.

“Beaten,” he coughed, “but not defeated. Until they are, we are not free of their evil. They must be stopped.” He spoke, looking at Daven. “You must destroy these monsters. Will you swear it?

“On my life, I swear to defeat the parasites.” But Enzo did not hear it, he was dead.

Walking with his new companions, Daven felt the grace of dawn touch his face. The grace of dawn would light their path.

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2 Responses to A Grace of Dawn

  1. Interesting concept! I did think there were a few too many names/characters for such a short piece, but it was well-paced and easy to follow the action and dialogue. Good luck with your next flash fiction!

    • jcooleac says:

      I know what you mean; I struggled with cutting the word count down after I finished typing. There were 1222 words so I did the best I could. I’ve still got the original one though, and I’m playing around with that in an attempt to lengthen it and make it a decent read.
      Cheers, you too! I had a quick read of your latest flash fiction, and the way you finished it got me hooked!

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