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The Lurkers In The Light [CRE2017]

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posted on Jun, 1 2017 @ 11:05 PM
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Their shadows were getting short. It was time to hide again. When the sun was high in the sky, that was when the things would attack. They were silent in the air. Silent and horrifying. And big. Very big. And since that day they stopped reflecting light there was no point in even trying to look for them any more. You just hid and hoped for the best.

Jeremy found a small rock outcropping that would have to do. He had used it before but not with this many people. It was just big enough for all of them to fit under. A couple of back packs would have to be outside but they could scrape up enough sand to cover them. The only thing left was their tracks which were faint in the hard dry ground. Jeremy hoped they were faint enough.

The five of them sat quietly under the rock, slowly roasting. The little bit of shade did nothing to squelch the sweltering mid day heat. It was somewhere between 110F and 115F. It was always hot this time of year. And with so much of the atmosphere stripped off by the CME waves the radiation was severe.

Jeremy stood a three inch long stone on end at the edge of the sunlit area beside him. It had no shadow. The sun was directly overhead. If they were going to attack, it would be now. While he stared at the small stone it was suddenly cast into a large shadow that covered the whole rock outcropping. One of the things was directly over head, just hanging there. Did it know they were there? How could it know? Jeremy racked his brain trying to figure out what was happening. Laura pointed to the edge of the pile of sand covering one of the backpacks. Part of a metal ring was shining like a beacon in the sunlight. Jeremy thought about scooping up a handful of sand and tossing it on the ring when a harpoon like rod slammed into the ground and lifted the backpack up when it withdrew. Two more times the harpoon came down slamming into the ground near the rock without hitting anything. Quietly they sat waiting. It seemed to take forever but finally the shadow moved away. Slowly at first, then with dizzying speed, and it was gone.

Was it sitting, watching, waiting for them to make a move? How long would they have to wait until it was safe? Reaching the cave before nightfall was the plan. As dangerous as the open fields were during the daytime was nothing compared to the night. During the day the Lurkers were somewhere overhead, waiting for something to move so they could swoop down and snatch it up. But they always put themselves between the Sun and their prey. At least you had a chance if you saw their shadow. Apart from the Lurkers, about the only other thing that moved by day besides humans were the Boar Scorpions. Large mutated scorpions with boar-like tusks and voracious appetites. Some of them grew to be eight to ten feet long, pincer to tip of tail. The only good thing about them was their shiny black bodies were easy to see on the parched sandy earth. At night all the creatures that lived underground came out to hunt. The Cave was the only safe place left. Once it was cleared of creatures, that is. Many men had been lost that first day of fighting but it was worth it. Without the safe harbor of the Cave it was unlikely any of them would be alive today.

Jeremy knew the Cave was less than five miles away but progress would be slow in the heat of the afternoon. By sundown the smaller creatures would be stirring. Or swarming, as was more often the case. That meant they only had a few hours to make the last leg of their journey. Jeremy crawled out from under the rock slowly, looking for any sign of trouble. Craig followed behind him heading for the other buried back pack. A soft clicking noise alerted Jeremy to the danger, but just seconds too late. Jeremy turned to Craig just in time to see the scorpion's tail burst through the front of his chest. Craig was lifted lifeless over the scorpion's head as it turned to face Jeremy. The boom of a Mossberg sent pieces of carapace flashing through the air followed by gobs of putrid goo. Craig's body landed with a thud, the scorpion's tail still protruding from his chest. Katherine stood nearby, the Mossberg in her hands, staring at Craig's lifeless body. She and Craig had become closer during the journey from the Island to the Cave. Jeremy had seen them on the Island walking along the beach together. It reminded him of what life was like before the solar storms.

The solar storms. Jeremy remembered the news broadcasts that day. They started off warning of possible electrical grid disruptions and CME's that could interfere with satellite service. It was well into the solar storm before anyone noticed the space ships. That was their preferred method of attack. Put themselves between the sun and their prey. They were in our atmosphere before anyone even noticed they were coming. Thousands of them, slicing through the air at terrifying speeds. It seemed like the human race was done for when someone realized they never attacked at night. It was only speculation, but the best idea anyone came up with was that coming from the Sun as they did, they needed the Sun to survive. They could not live even short periods without it. They stayed forever on the sunlit side of the Earth, giving periodic reprieve to those who dwelt below.

Continued...
edit on 1-6-2017 by Vroomfondel because: (no reason given)




posted on Jun, 1 2017 @ 11:06 PM
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“We should bury him,” Katherine said knowing what the answer would be.

“We don't have enough time.” Jeremy answered. “The ground is too hard to dig in and there was barely enough sand to scrape together to bury the backpacks. I'm sorry, but we have to keep moving.”

Jeremy didn't like the idea of leaving Craig's body out in the open either. But he had to be realistic. If they stayed long enough to bury Craig they all might need burying. If there was anything left to bury. Already their shadows were beginning to stretch behind them. It was time to get moving. Jeremy was to give himself the grim task of gathering Craig's belongings when he noticed the other man in their group, Randy, going through Craig's pockets. As he watched, Craig's body shifted in an unnatural way and the tip of the scorpion's tail grazed Randy's arm. Randy withdrew quickly, but not before getting a small scrape about an inch long. Randy gasped as he clutched at his arm, looking at Jeremy for answers with a stunned expression. Jeremy could only hope that no poison entered the wound. Everyone had heard about the torturous pain of scorpion venom that would lead to madness, then death. All they could do now was wait.

At Jeremy's urging they continued their trek to the Cave. The plodding of their feet on the hardened soil was occasionally interrupted by sobbing. Jeremy turned expecting to see Katherine but found Randy instead. Tears streaked his dust covered cheeks. Jeremy knew what he must be thinking. He was thinking the same thing. Laura, the last member of their party, was watching Randy very carefully. She had seen first hand how fast the venom could work.

As the Sun started to reach for the horizon Jeremy wondered if they would make it in time. Then, as if on queue, the Mound appeared in the distance. The Mound housed the entrance to the Cave, a vast open expanse that seemed to go on endlessly underground. Though it appeared they were going to make it in time, Jeremy urged the others to pick up the pace just to be safe. He noticed Laura was paying particularly close attention to Randy. Red streaks were moving up his arm from the wound he received from the scorpion. Randy grimaced in pain but remained silent, his eyes darting back and forth from Laura to Jeremy. Laura held a Ruger Redhawk in her hands and kept it pointed in Randy's direction. She wasn't taking any chances.

For a moment it seemed like they would finish their journey in peace when Randy, beating his temples with his fists, stepped toward Laura shouting, “Kill me! Please, kill me!” Laura complied.


“Hey, you made it!” One of the guards at the Cave entrance greeted Jeremy.

“Three out of five anyway...” Jeremy replied looking distant. He felt as if he had failed though there was nothing he could have done to save either of the men who had died. He was beginning to wonder if he was the right man for the job. Escorting people from the Island to the Cave was dangerous work. Many had been lost along the way. Mass migration was tried only once. They were decimated. The Lurkers had a field day and suffered no losses in the process. No, it had to be small groups, easily hidden. Safety in numbers was not always the rule of thumb.

Jeremy dropped the two women off with a group of people who helped newcomers assimilate to life in the Cave before heading to his alcove. They thanked him for his efforts and he smiled in return but he felt their kind words were undeserved. In his heart, he felt as though he had failed.

In the familiar surroundings of his home Jeremy started to unwind as he lay in his bed. It wasn't long before sleep crept in with him. He barely had time to wriggle into a comfortable position before drifting into slumber. His mind still wound tight Jeremy found his sleep filled with visions of the days events. Yet, even in his exhausted state, he sensed something was amiss. Moments before the claxons sounded Jeremy's eyes popped open and he sat upright in bed. The alarm rang out meaning one of two things: either the Cave was under attack by the Lurkers, or, the bugs had found a new way in. Jeremy burst from his alcove to see people running toward the deeper end of the Cave and instinctively ran the other way. As he neared the Cave entrance he heard the shouts and commotion. In a bizarre twist of their normal behavior the bugs were trying a direct assault on the Cave entrance. Experience had taught the Dwellers, the people who lived in the Cave, that the guards were up to the task. This seemed different however and Jeremy went to see why.

As he neared the Cave entrance Jeremy saw something swoop down, grab one of the guards, and then fly off, the man screaming as he disappeared from sight. Other guards lay on the ground motionless. Other Dwellers were grabbing weapons and fighting as best they could but it seemed as though the battle was turning against them. One of the flame throwers kept near the entrance to the Cave launched a burst of flames out the mouth of the Cave sending the bugs scurrying. A second burst from the flame thrower on the other side of the entrance was rewarded with similar results. Jeremy noticed that the bugs were not leaving. They only retreated far enough to be out of the reach of the flame throwers. The bugs weren't that smart. Something was definitely wrong, but what?. The bugs in the center of the arc around the entrance to the Cave moved slightly farther back and a giant wasp slowly lowered into the vacated space. It hung motionless in the air save for the beating of it's wings for a moment before landing. It stood still, just staring at Jeremy. For all the world it looked as if it was about to speak. Jeremy stared back into the black eyes of the wasp wondering what it was thinking. One of the men moved to pick up a weapon near his feet. The wasp twitched rapidly for a few seconds and the bugs started to advance in the mans direction. Jeremy realized with stunned fascination that the wasp was controlling the other bugs! Enough of this, he thought. “Light it up!” Jeremy shouted and the flame throwers covered the wasp in flames, its fragile wings disappearing in a flash leaving the body of the massive creature on the ground to be roasted alive. This time the bugs scurried away as fast as they could. It seemed as though they had little interest in the fight with their leader in flames.

Continued...



posted on Jun, 1 2017 @ 11:07 PM
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“Bright.”

Even though his eyes were closed, the light seemed too bright. He felt weightless, and floating. Slowly moving toward the light. Shapes. And buzzing. The light wasn't hurting as much and the shapes were starting to look familiar. The buzzing slowly resolved into speaking.

“I think he's back!” “Hey Jeremy, do me a favor. The next time you see a bee hive, leave it the hell alone!”

Jeremy recognized the voice of his friend Mike.

“That last bug knocked a rock loose at the top of the entrance and it landed smack on your head.” Mike, who was the closest thing to a doctor at the Cave, tended to the lump on Jeremy's head as he spoke. “Leave it to you to pick a fight with killer bees.”

Jeremy knew Mike was joking but the idea that this too was his fault felt heavy on his shoulders. Jeremy sat up on the side of his bed and blinked a few times to clear his head. “How many?”

“Twelve,” Mike answered.

Fourteen, Jeremy thought, including the two on the march that day. That was too damn many. And it wasn't just today, it was every day.

“Enough of this!” We can't sit here getting picked off like this day after day. We have to do something. Jeremy was thinking of the narrow tunnel. There were numerous tunnels all throughout the Cave, most of which had already been explored. One tunnel, barely large enough for a person to fit through, had not been looked at yet. It was thought to be too dangerous and although it did seem to have air moving through it periodically no one knew if it opened to something larger or narrowed to the point it was useless to them.

Jeremy decided to address the Elder Council, the leaders of the Dwellers.

“We need three more trips to the Island to bring the remaining people here. I and two others will do that as soon as possible. While we are doing that I would like someone to explore the narrow tunnel. Lets hope when the last people get here we all have someplace safe to go. We are going to collapse that tunnel, either to stop anything from coming through, or, to stop anything from following us.”

All three groups returned from the Island over the next few days. Jeremy's group was the last to arrive.

“Well, what did I miss?” Jeremy knew Mike had some news to tell.

“The narrow tunnel lived up to its name, but we were able to get a man through an opening at the other end. It leads to a giant chamber, ten times the size of this one, with an open face to the ocean. There is a fresh water stream, plenty of vegetation, tons of sea life, and not a bug in sight. From the sound of it, we may never have to set foot outside again.”

“So this is it – the beginning of our new world, our new way of life.”

The end.



posted on Jun, 2 2017 @ 06:31 AM
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a reply to: Vroomfondel

Hi Vroomfondel!

That was a long read, and I wasn't sure if there would be a happy ending...I love happy endings, lol.
I was not disappointed.

Great story, glad they made it to their "new world and new life".

S&F
jacy



posted on Jun, 6 2017 @ 03:42 PM
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Really well written, Vroom. I look forward to your entries each contest.



posted on Jun, 8 2017 @ 06:49 AM
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Vroomfondel

Solar storms, killer bugs, impossible odds...and you succeeded in finding a way to keep the human race alive. It was a good story full of adventure. Was a neat idea to make the bugs follow the Earths day/night cycle. Only being able to stay in the sun.

Nicely done!

thanks,
blend57



posted on Jun, 8 2017 @ 08:46 PM
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a reply to: jacygirl

Thank you!

Yeah, this was a bit long but the last few were just one page and I wanted to sink my teeth into something. I wanted to actually take at least enough time to develop characters a bit, maybe some interplay. It was fun. :-)



posted on Jun, 8 2017 @ 08:47 PM
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a reply to: PrairieShepherd

Thank you!

I like yours too - some really great writing.



posted on Jun, 17 2017 @ 06:47 PM
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Normally I wouldn't read such a long entry, but it was such a good story and had me at the edge of my seat, I stuck with it and am glad I did. Great story Vroom!



posted on Jun, 23 2017 @ 12:13 PM
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a reply to: blend57

Thank you very much!



posted on Jun, 23 2017 @ 12:13 PM
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a reply to: Night Star

Thank you very much! I appreciate that you thought it worth the time.



posted on Jun, 23 2017 @ 05:18 PM
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a reply to: Vroomfondel

Beaut mate. Great story.

Kind regards,

bally





posted on Jun, 26 2017 @ 11:49 AM
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a reply to: bally001

Thank you kind Sir. It is much appreciated. :-)



posted on Jun, 28 2017 @ 06:23 PM
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a reply to: Vroomfondel
Excellent!






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