Good morning all.
So here were are again, on a potentially cold and wet day. Yesterday I posted Part One of the short story, The Day the world died. Click here to recap on yesterdays story, which is imperative as today’s follows on from there. This is potentially the final part. I enjoyed writing it and I hope that you all enjoy reading it.
Please let me know what you think.
THE DAY THE WORLD DIED – THE MESSENGER
Daniel Chadwick brushed the corpse of an elderly man off the park bench and sat down.It had been a gruelling sixty nine days for Daniel, hopping from place to place, jump starting vehicles, avoiding riots and fights. His feet were blistered and bruised, his skin cracked and his eyes barely open. If it was not for the familiar voice, Daniel Chadwick would have been more than happy to pass out there and then. That is what eighty days without sleep does to a man like Daniel.
“You can’t be giving up already, Dan the man. You still have a day until we reach the finish line and the world turns to dust.”
Daniel sighed, opening his eyes and allowing his head fall to the side. The Messenger stood away from the bench, standing tall in his grey three piece suit and hair slicked to the side, patting a cigarette against the palm of his hand. “Budge over will you.”
Daniel used the remaining energy to get close to the corner allowing the Messenger to settle down. The man lit his cigarette with a zippo, flicked it shut and exhaled a billow of smoke. “I don’t really have much praise for mankind, they are a worthless race that destroyed the principles of what Earth was designed for. They all complained that there was no reason to live, some searching for the meaning of life whilst others wasted their days on futile activities. But the one thing I do commend them for, are these cancer sticks. The pleasure I gain from one of these things is immense.”
“I have never seen the appeal myself,” Daniel said.
The Messenger chuckled and eyed Daniel from head to toe and back again. “Well, aren’t you a disgrace to your cause. I had been hearing through the channels that you were burnt out, but boy, I didn’t realise you would be like this. Just so happens for you, I have brought supplies.”
Daniel knew the Messenger too well, and the supplies he spoke of wouldn’t come without a price, no matter how tiny it was. “What do you want?”
The Messenger pulled out a notebook and pencil, flicked it open to the page he wanted and mumbled to himself as he ran over them. He moved his pencil over the names, ticking a certain few, taking breaks to inhale smoke, and then settling down with his arm over Daniel. “Can you believe some of the Hossum Clan are betting on worlds for this?”
“I am not surprised. They like a good gamble and their worlds are nothing.”
“And this,” The Messenger said reaching out towards the emptiness of the broken down city, “is something?”
Daniel refused to respond and knew the Messenger would get a kick out of it. Daniel had a tendency to know which arguments to concede and which ones to fight. This wasn’t a fighting moment. “You want my number?”
“Oh, as you offered Dan the man, that would be so kind.” The Messenger offered a faint smile and a wink.
It was pitiful, Daniel Chadwick understood that, but he could only wish for the others to fail as he did. “Thirty nine.”
The Messenger almost choked on his smoke. “Thirty nine in seventy days?”
“What did the others make?”
The Messenger regained his composure, stubbed out the remnants of his cigarette and looked over his notepad. “Only three made worse than you. Desiree made thirteen, Paulius fifteen and Angel Eyes thirty eight. Denne made fifty collections whilst Granger achieved sixty eight.”
There were some that surprised Daniel Chadwick. Angel Eyes he assumed would have reached a high number whilst Granger would usually be last. The times had changed. Despite the revelations, there was only one name Daniel was waiting to hear about, and the Messenger would wait until last for that.
“Chaddox?” The Messenger interrupted. “I was waiting for your temptation to break.”
“Three thousand and eighty four.”
Daniel Chadwick felt his jaw open. That was a ridiculous number in such a short space of time. There would be no way for Daniel Chadwick to capture that amount in less than twenty four hours. “Is he winning?”
“Oh no Dan the man, he has won. That is why I am here. I did not come out from the kindness of my heart. The Big Guy sent me. The collection process has officially ended. You came forth from bottom. Congratulations.”
Daniel shifted in his seat, using the last of his energy to look the Messenger in the eyes. “What do you want?”
“I don’t want anything. I am here to hand over the location coordinates for your final destination. The Big Guy wants his pretty little soldiers to have front row seats to the end of the world. You will be able to watch it end in fantastic fashion. Then once everything has done its thing and wilted away, corroded or crumbled, Phase Two will commence.”
Daniel understood that he would be required to witness the end of the world. It was a learning opportunity for him, something he had never been a part of before but something that would also pain him to see. The last part of the sentence was something he didn’t expect.
“Yes. He did tell you about Phase two, didn’t he?”
The blank expression on Daniel Chadwick’s face must have told the story. The Messengers jovial face lighted up, with a huge grin creasing across that if it reached out any further, it would have been from ear to ear. “Oh dear. I knew you were the least favourite of the Big Guy’s little soldiers, but I never knew he despised you this much. Whatever you did in your past life with him must have really pissed him off.”
Daniel Chadwick remembered the reason why he was loathed not just the by the Leader, but by the followers as well. It was something that Daniel did not care much for. He knew he stood up for the greater good and had never regretted it. “Something like that. So what is it?”
“Apologises, but a messenger can only pass on so much. The rest is in the written word.” The Messenger removed a rectangle envelope from his inner jacket pocket and handed it over to Daniel. “On the front are all the coordinates you require. The envelope cannot be opened. It is bound by a locking spell. As soon as the world has died, the envelope will open and your destiny will await. Until then, sort yourself out.”
The Messenger threw a packet of pills on Daniel’s lap, gave him a nod and stood. A click of the fingers later, the form of The Messenger dissolved leaving the backdrop of an abandoned city. Daniel Chadwick had no other choice but to take the tablets and heal his wounds.
Daniel Chadwick reached his destination thirty minutes before the world would die. As he walked the woodlands, the streets and villages, dead bodies filled the land, with not one breathing person in sight. All humans had parted from the world, their souls leaving the human shells behind. Death lingered more profusely in the air and in some sections the smell was intolerable.
His destination was a village street. Houses, shops and trees stood tall either side of him with a few cars abandoned along the pavement. He stopped at the centre point of the street which was broken up by a small playing area with a shrubbery area and a few swings. Daniel had regained his energy from the supplements the Messenger had provided but it did little to improve his mood.
He had a kinship with Earth and was the longest serving resident of his kind on the planet. He had become fond of the humans, the animals and the quirks each individual brought with them. There were many things he would never understand and many more things he would miss.
Daniel adjusted the trilby on his head and stood waiting for the end to come. His internal clock told him that in less than a minute it would all be over. He anticipated big things to come and feared for what Phase Two would bring. His stomach rolled over and his lips twitched. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he thought of the beauty the land once held. There was nothing to do but wish for everything to be reverted. His clock told him that the minute passed. There was no saviour. He waited.
There was nothing but silence. It remained like that for five minutes. Then he noticed the shrubbery in the play area beside him start to dissolve. Flakes and embers of the plantation faded away. The trees were next. The branches and leaves shrivelled as if they were plastic and had been caught alight. The trees folded in on themselves and wilted away into nothingness. The blue skies above turned into grey clouds with cracks forming in the atmosphere.
The buildings surrounding him deteriorated quickly. The base of the structures eroded leaving nothing as a support. The houses and shops flaked away in a beautiful array of colours before dissipating into thin air as the vehicles in the street were swallowed up by the ground. Then there was nothing but wasteland. Earth reminded him of the desert, nothing but soil and hardened ground for miles. Everything had been removed from the world.
Daniel knew this wasn’t over. He still had the people he had claimed. All was not lost. There would be life in the future but when that would take place was still a mystery. The claimed were guaranteed to live on in a better world, somewhere alien to them and as far from Earth as possible. That notion held him together.
The envelope had remained in his pocket the whole time and at the last moment remembered the words of the Messenger. He removed it and held it in his hands waiting for the seal to be broken. A warm sensation touched his fingers as the envelope caught on fire. In seconds it had burnt away to ashes. He could do nothing but stare at it. The earth below him shook, causing a tremor to shimmer across the land. He kept his balance, turning on the spot and stopping the moment he saw Lezerues, the Big Guy.
“Any good soldier would bow to their General, their leader, their master,” Lezerues boomed.
The figure stood at seven feet tall with nothing but muscle encasing him. His skin was pale red, his face and bald head tattooed with symbols and ancient patterns. His eyeballs were white with no pupils and his attire was chain mail body armour. Lezerues was the highest warrior and overall ruler and he would never let anyone forget it.
“I bow to only those I respect. Unfortunately, all mirrors have been removed.”
Lezerues laughed, his monstrous pitch echoed all around. “The only reason I keep you alive is for your humour.”
Daniel Chadwick knew the real reason why he was alive and Lezerues reluctance to maim him. “You’re welcome.”
“Enough,” the Big Guy screamed. “The Messenger completed his role well, handing you the letter and sending you packing here. Like a good soldier you should be and I needed to bring the news in person. What do you think will happen now?”
“We move on to the next planet?”
“If it was only that easy, Daniel. I have waited long and hard to gain the upper hand over you, and then I realised the loophole.” Daniel did not understand or like the way the conversation was heading. He felt his life draining from him with every word Lezerues spoke. “Your immortality will soon be over and the mortal life short lived.”
Lezerues looked around the vacant area and grinned. “This will be your settlement. You and your thirty nine followers. From the soil and ashes, you will resurrect the world in your vision. Build a fort, a castle, a town or a city. The choice will be yours.
“Each of your kind holds the same power. Settlements have been handpicked and in close proximity. This world was chosen as the platform, as a new beginning. Your chosen candidates were picked to become your soldiers. The war is about to commence.”
The realisation of the words was as swift as a hard blow. Daniel felt as if he had been winded. The world obliterated, billions of lives lost for the sake of his death. “You want us to go to war?”
“Yes, but not only war. I want them to obliterate you and I will be watching from my throne. Your death will be my greatest accomplishment. And when Chaddox destroys all settlements, the world will be his. He will be my equal.”
“You’re a sadistic fool.”
“Yes, Daniel, I am. I may have it wrong though. You may win…no, no you won’t.”
A light engulfed Lezerues and then he vanished. Daniel couldn’t breathe. He dropped to his knees, tilted back and screamed. The roar echoed high above so the gods of the skies could hear him. Lezerues was a bitter individual and the hatred for him grew stronger. Daniel Chadwick may have been handed a death sentence with the rest of the world. But where one story ends, another must begin. He would fight for the many lives lost at the hands of Lezerues. He would erect a formidable land.
If he was to die, then he would be taking Chaddox and Lezerues down with him. No matter what would happen his life would never be the same again.