Whispers In The Dark
by Andrew Marinus
So the guy we found under the stairs starts screaming and when Roger shakes him it doesn’t help, and when Roger slaps him it doesn’t help, and when Roger beats the shit out of him he *still* doesn’t quiet down, so we leave him there on the floor. Maybe he’s Seen, maybe he hasn’t, it comes down to the same — don’t wanna be truckin’ with someone who can’t keep their mind from spilling out of their mouth.
It’s getting to be around three-thirty, near enough to twilight that this’ll be our last street-cross for the night. It’s been an unproductive five hours; the part of the city we’re in’s got mostly just office buildings and parking garages — not much food to be found. Still, Allen found a few bags of chips left behind by a raided vending machine, so that’s something. As we get ready to head outside, we split up the chips equally between us, so that if only one of us makes it, their fair share will be with them, and not with a gibbering lunatic or a fleshless corpse. Just before Roger opens the door, Allen puts on his facemask. I leave my eyes uncovered, figuring the darkness’ll be enough. Maybe this makes me less crazy than him.
The blackness outside is mercifully total; clouds have smothered whatever light the moon might be able to provide. We head out, turn East, and get into formation: me on the left; Allen on the right; Roger in the middle; about a metre between each of us. We start walking. Between each step we freeze for about five seconds, listening. It rarely helps, listening, but each of us can remember at least one time when it’s saved someone, so we keep doing it. Mostly what we hear is the low night breeze and, every few minutes or so, screams or laughter off in the distance. When it’s laughter, it goes on for quite awhile before stopping.
When it’s screams, it cuts off pretty quick.
It’s been less than a month since… *since*, leave it at that… and I’ve already started to forget what it looked like outside during the day. Right now, the three of us are walking across a four-lane street between two office buildings, I guess, but it’s hard to imagine the open streets and the twenty-storey towers like you used to be able to *see* them. Nowadays, “the streets” are just the blackness around you, the clapping of your shoes on the road, and the smell of cold pavement.
Twenty steps across the void between buildings, I actually *hear* something, a kind of low rasp, like a dying asthmatic, and I whisper: