Fool’s Hand: Part VI

The Corrupted attack the safeguard

Fool's Hand: Part VI

BURKE BISCHOFF

Baethan felt his subconscious being placed into the mind of a priest who was leading a large group of survivors towards their safe haven.

The group of survivors was trudging along a twisting, narrow path that dropped off on both sides to the roaring waters of the ocean below. Before them was an elevated peninsula, upon which loomed an old and cracked concrete wall.

On different points on top of the wall, armed sentries were keeping watch on the procession. A soldier was collecting medical papers from each survivor and checking their bodies for symptoms of Corruption before letting them through a single gate.

“The same thing is happening everywhere else, right?” Baethan called out to Charisma.

“Yes, child,” Charisma said. “As we speak, people are coming together, seeking sanctuary from His illness, whether it be in prisons like this one, military bases or castles. They are using whatever is available to them.”

“As long as they don’t give up on themselves and protect each other, they’ll be OK, right?” Baethan said.

Charisma did not answer.

“Charisma?” he said again.

Baethan suddenly heard a crescendo of screams coming from behind him. When the priest he inhabited looked back toward the procession of survivors, Baethan could see the source of the noise.

The crowd was beginning to fray. The people at the back were shoving the ones in front of them, spurred by some terror that Baethan could not yet see; some of the survivors were tumbling off the side of the path as they were pushed and trampled.

The priest stood frozen as members of the crowd tried to scale the gate. Baethan felt the priest’s heart drumming against his chest – the survivors were piling on each other, the lucky ones falling off the sides of the path, while the others reached the top of the wall, only to be shot by the sentries.

“What’s happening back there?” Baethan cried.

“Hold a moment, child, and you will get your answers,” Charisma said.

Baethan felt his subconscious being torn from the priest and transferred into the mind of a soldier on top of the wall. The soldier was looking at the far end of the pathway, where a titanic mob of shadowy forms was pushing against the back of the crowd.

The soldiers were firing their guns into the swarm of Corrupted, but no matter how many bullets they fired, the beings would not stop moving forward. Survivors continued to topple off the path while others smashed against the gate.

“There are too many of them!” one soldier screamed, firing another bullet into the crowd. “They just won’t stay down!”

The soldier housing Baethan’s subconscious saw as The Corrupted began to scale the wall, hooking their sharp claws into the wall’s cracks. He could clearly see their horrific forms – their limbs were stretched, their mouths black and empty, opened wide but not uttering a single sound. Their faces were distorted and twitching, but something in their red eyes was vaguely human, familiar…

“We can’t wait any longer!” the soldier shouted. “Lock up the gate! We have to keep these things out at any cost!”

“There are still some people outside the gate, sir!” another sentry called. “I think there are a few children out there as well. It looks they got hurt when the crowd was trying to get in. Should we go down there to help them, sir?”

“We can’t,” the soldier said. “Those monsters are coming at us too quickly and those people are too far out to save. We have to close the gate, now!”

“No!” Baethan exclaimed inside the soldier’s mind, hoping his voice could be heard. “You can’t do this. You’re a soldier! You have to help them!”

But the gates of the prison had already begun to close.

Burke Bischoff can be reached at [email protected]