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                       An Unkind of Undead  
                                 
By Matthew Senkowski

The scent of blood carries gently along the night winds of the forest.  Alike so
many nights prior when packs of ravenous wolves would come upon a bear.  
Tonight, a predator stalks an inhuman prey, an injured couple by the wafts of
wounds about their faces, stomachs and necks.  They struggle desperately
through the moonlight to find some way out of the endless darkness.

The rusty iron bitterness gathers at the bases of their throats.  A taste of such
wretched and awful memories from the countless nights of stalking, or maybe it
only seemed like that.  Innocent victims uttering their last and final words
towards the nights sky.  From so many mouths all through eternity.  Two
people attempting to escape something much more dangerous than
themselves.

Moonlight their only guide.  Thoughts of bloodshed betray them as fear
ensnares their minds and shrieks echo behind them.  A woman hangs bloodied
and beaten around a severed tree stump, hanging from the arm of a man.  Yet
from the look of his brow he appears unlike any other human being ever
could.  A mass of wrinkles and long hair, yet distinctly youthful and energetic.  

A finger nail comes to the curl of a wrist and tears at the branch of a tree.  The
couple propels forwards, staggering helplessly amidst the shadows and
encompassing darkness.  The two breath deeply.  Their hearts beat at
unbelievable rhythms.  Eyes crimson patches of fury.

“I can’t believe it.  There has never been a nightmare worse than this.” said the
man.

“It killed them Vascus.”  

“Silence Lucinia.”

The two try and walk.  One step before the other.  A steady motion to find a
pathway out of this wide spreading wood.  Their eyes adjust to the depth of
nothing.  Teeth gritting bitterly with wounds fresh from a slaughter.  “I’m
improving.” said the woman.  Vascus replied, “Be silent.”

Lucinia is careful not to touch any tree branches.  Hands contemptibly blood
soaked, but it is her own tissue, gashes and tears from a force greater than
her own, she thought it impossible something could do this.  Vascus tore a limb
from a tree, a wrist sized article of Hazelnut, waving the object as though a toy
and leaving it behind.  An amusement for their last vestiges of mortality,
Lucinia thought to smile from his sweetness.

She licked her lips and sensed with her ears, harkening deeper into the forest
than any other human being could ever listen.  Something, anything to reveal
their stalker.  Any sign that their party members survived, but no, a shriek,
Lucinia and Vascus recognized Tretois their friend and ally calling out his last
call.

The two realize themselves as victims.  Hunters and bloodthirsty killers secretly
surging outwards into the night.  They sought far out within this patch of
mountain forest to find a posse of wandering families, towards the scents of
the fires and the distant voices amidst the thick and burgeoning summer air.  
Vascus and Lucinia were desperate to stalk some form of prey and now a
worse thing is stalking them,

“We must feed.” said Vascus peeling hair from his face.

“I can’t smell anything, it struck me across my mouth.” she said.

Vascus set Lucinia against a tree to get a better look at her.  His eyes travel
past her silky smooth face and further through the darkness of night.  He
attempts to locate something anything for their feeding but the scent is lost.  
Trapped at the heart of a labyrinthine forest.

“We must leave.  We can’t stay here any longer.” she said.

“Be silent.”

The quietness of the woods carries further and deeper than even their hyper-
sensitive ears could hear.  Not a single heartbeat or scent to follow.  Vascus
considered abandoning Lucinia and possibly furthering his chances of
escape.  Her eyes appear alike blackened slits drawing downwards to the
Earthy firmament below.

“You will be safe.”

She slung from his forearm.  Weeping at the state of herself.  Beaten by an
inhuman monster.  Something so barren and unheard of, a vampire herself
would cling to even the most desperate forms of life for survival.  A monster of
unparalleled force.  “What do you think it was?” she said.

They sat and came to terms of their previous hours searching through the
darkening stone platforms and the ancient Algonquin Maples for some
possibilities of a fire and company for the night, and perhaps a meal, but the
group of vampires sought to a much more horrifying conclusion.

Vascus and Lucinia had seen a campfire with no people at all surrounding it.  
They led their group of predators closer to the embers.  Ready to destroy the
camp sight and feed immediately as though hunters pillaging through an
eternal darkness.  The tight knit group could only revel at the smells of burning
hickory wood and musky dampness with not a single person at all around them
anywhere and then the posse came to a sight of something much more
powerfully dangerous, a grey figure standing amidst the shadows.  A slayer
much more fierce, thicker hided, and angrier than any other simian life form
could possibly imagine.

“I don’t know what it was.”

The two of them were from a distant past and always an eternity away from
their next mortal heartbeat.  They could only feel fear of the coming morning
when sunlight would do greater damage than any forest stalking marauder
ever could.

“We can slay it.” she said.

“We need to feed.”

“But I feel we can slay it.  We can do it.”

A scream of such guttural ferocity that the two wanderers take a brief pause to
listen.  The trees envelope the two and shut away any of the stars above.  The
shriek carries on and impacts against the stone hills beyond.  Vascus and
Lucinia had never heard anything like it before.  It was the sound of something
in pain, the call of violence, and most definitely a force of power and resolve
beyond their own.  A call to attract them.

The two hasten their footsteps faster and wander along a trail of dips and
curves.  They balance rigidly and limp down a hilly plain while using an air of
caution.  Vascus set his shoe tip within the ground and turned immediately
leftwards.  Lucinia followed his direction and showed little to no concern for
their surroundings.

They could hear a creek and the two follow the sounds of water as it flows
fluidly through a channel of stones and soil.  Barely aware of the pitch black
darkness surrounding them.  They continue to walk along a pathway atop the
precipice of a ravine.  Their fingers tear through the dense layers of tree
branches until they find a patch of moss.  The green powdery substance
crumbles at their feet and they continue further towards the splashing sounds.  
They could see a stream of flowing water below them.

The snap of a twig and all of the silence becomes deafening.  Their attentions
turn to one another.  Examining every subtle object surrounding them.  All of
the things that they could both see and hear, and then they knew that their
predator could not be far away.

Their steps were both quick and agile.  Hers were the steps of a woman whom
hid a dark and desperate nature, the look of somebody ready to strike at all
times.  His motion could be so powerful that the knowledge of movement would
become absent and instinct would take over.  A flash of thoughtless speed and
Vascus let go of Lucinia.  His foot could sense a crumbling of moss from
underneath and he could not help but leer at an eventual descent.

Vascus fell through the air and he collides with a diagonal rock face.  The
limbs and branches do not support him and are not strong enough to grasp
hold of.  His feet and back both roll across the loose soil of the ravine and he
came to a quick and painful halt.

Screams of such primal rage and Lucinia could only listen from atop the ravine
peak.  She descended towards the agony.  Unsure of where she was going
within the shadows.  The pitch black darkness envelopes every single object
surrounding them and the time for morning could not be too far away.

She could hear him close by.  The struggles of his body becomes much more
realistic with every solemn movement.  At a stable balance upon ground level,
Lucinia could see the vague outline of Vascus draping overtop a decaying tree
trunk.  As she approaches closer, a jagged protuberance seems to have burst
through his chest, “Oh Vascus.”

“Be silent.”

His scant and single breaths are quickly repetitive.  The object protruding from
his left shoulder blade is a broken tree limb and Lucinia is unsure if he has the
strength to remove it himself, “Remain still.” she said and stumbled closer to
him.

She places her hands on him while watching his face carefully.  She could
sense his pain and notices that his feet are not touching the ground.  Arms
limp and with a rigid posture.  Lucinia held tightly around his neck and reached
carefully to the center of his back.  His body propped rigidly upwards.  Her wrist
smashed through the tree branch and his body slid to the ground.

Lucinia took hold of his shirt and thrust him against a tree where both of them
stand with a focus to remove the branch.  Her fingers curl around the wooden
base, feet secure and steady against the ground.  His eyes close tightly.  The
limb is thrust from his shoulder and he falls to his knees.  His scream is the
kind they would only hear once.  The blood smelled something purer than any
other scent on Earth.  Vascus knelt and prayed to calm his nerves.

“I am the prey tonight.  That monster is responsible for our deaths.”

“It isn’t over yet.”

Her hand ran through his hair with a clutch to his collar.  She propped Vascus
to his feet and they both stood together for a moment thinking about the wafts
of their own victim-hood.  The majesty of their forms as superior and dominant
beings over every other creature in the world, except tonight where deep within
these woods there is a greater kind of predator.  The scent of their blood
reminds them of a mortal worry, “We must prepare.” she said.

“It is stalking us.”

“Yes.”

Their pace becomes faster.  Instinctually they know that the eastern front lies
behind as their bodies propel westwards with a desperate need to escape.  
The sun could only be an hour or so away at this point and with a struggle to
see through the tree branches, a tremendous stone hill awaits nearby, but
perhaps not close enough.

Their thoughts become drawn to an inevitable conflict of some form or
another.  They possess cognizance of the nosferatu, their own kind, and what
it must be like for a monster such as the one pursuing them, how it feels and
what it thinks.

“I remember Lucinia.” Vascus took a breath, “I remember a story, my father
told me, and it happened in these woods.”


Lucinia held tight to his right shoulder and they lurch at a hazardous pace.  
“He told me about a group of men, loggers, barren and lost faraway in these
woods and how they came upon an ancient settlement.” Vascus cringed from
the pain of his shoulder.  “One of them died, and some of the others became
weary.  A few of the men went missing and the survivors found some kind of an
elemental.  An ancient curse of the cannibals.” Vascus looked forward with
contemptibly dead eyes.  “It was a wendigo.”  

“A being greater than ourselves.” she said, unsure of how genuine her words
were.

“Its claws have pierced our skin. I’ve felt its teeth gnash against my wrist.”

“But we have injured it.  Maybe one of the others has fed from the thing,
perhaps that’s why it screamed.  Our kind might be greater.”

The two fathom their depths of consciousness and search their imaginations
for some kind of an explanation.  Both kinds of creatures, each with the
distinction of ravenous and relentless feeding on mankind.  Both previously
human beings, and now predators stalking an undead game.  Their goal, a
revelation of which victim is willing to submit their life to the just and greater
power.  The superiority of their unkindness.

They came upon a bushel of hedges.  From beyond the distant moon
reflective of the oncoming sun.  There was a calling of winds funnelling through
an open plain.  The grounds became open and weedy with fields of long grass
and further the plains collapse centrally into a dipping meadow.

Vascus and Lucinia ran towards the stone hills.  The jagged stone cliffs at the
far edge of their vision, and towards it they could sense a scent.  All was quiet
and the hills were nearby.  The scent was almost something of a shock.  
Embers, smoke, powder or some other form of fire and encampment.

Vascus grunted, “Stop.” for a moment before an immediate stop.  The two
stood at the fore of a gravestone, barely visible through the night air.  To the
right and left of it were others.  A mass of burned shrubs glows and blows
remnants of fire trails.  Dusted shadows filter through the clear night sky, and
the two could sense a marauder from behind them.

A crash of a breaking tree limb.  The wendigo stalked towards them, trampling
over the thick grey bushels, piles of yellow drying grass, and directly at them
with lips quivering.  The two stand and watch.  A grey hide of thick hairy mass
stalks towards them from over the plains of grass and bushes.

Huge jugular wounds peel and flap, an open wound of such contemptible
atrocity.  The last battle cry of an enraging creature.  It growled with all the
merciless agony of a ravenous beast.  Grasping hold of Vascus by the wrist,
and struck at the ear by Lucinia, it swung its arms with a mighty growl.  The two
crashed away dumbstruck, grasping at the ground and heaving away from the
unspeakable creature.

The morphing entity demonstrates a full force lycanthropic likeness.  It slashed
at the neck of Lucinia, she dodged away and the beast felt a gash within its
ribs.  Vascus had sunken his claws deep into the chest of the grey raging
monstrosity.

 Lucinia took hold of the thing, wrapped her fingers around its forehead and
wrenches her fingers through the peeling flaps of flesh.  Ripping away a
chunck of esophagus, the beast flung away from her, writhing and heaving.  
The creature died within a few short breaths.

They were desperate to reach the stone hills.  Desperate for some form of
solitude away from the encompassing sunlight.  They struggled over boulders,
clinging to the higher and lower rock-face edges.  At a firm stance upon a
rectangular block of stone. “That beast can not become like us, but perhaps
we can become like it.”

She looked at his scattering hair and black solemn eyes and if their survival
was truly worth continuing, she was unsure.  At the fore of a shadowy circular
entrance to a deep stretching catacomb, “It never bit me, and I killed it.” she
said.  Vascus turned his head and looked steadily into her eyes, the dark
fathomless recesses.  

“I’m no longer afraid of the sunlight, I have a new feeling.” Vascus looked out
upon the on-stretching sky.

Past Lucinia, Vascus could sense the day time, and feels welcome.  His feet
walk towards her lithe form at the crest of the chasm.  He could see more
closely into her eyes.  The two look into darkness, and merge into one final
idea.

“We can live now my love.”

“Yes, I want to.”

He took her hand and brought it to his lips, “Do you feel afraid of the light?”
Vascus said while looking into the black pools of her lifeless eyes.  

“Yes.” Lucinia groans with a hazardous breath.  The two stand at the crest of
an enveloping void.

Vascus held the hand of Lucinia and carefully placed it to his mouth.  With all
the powers of their nocturnal cycle they find the courage and ability to stand
near the limits of the cave.  By the sacrifice and submission of a supernatural
predator.  The two are at the end of a dark lifeless eternity.  Two lost and
lonely souls ready to discover a newfound respect for life.