Hellspawn – Part 19
Corporal Halbert watched the building from a distance, the place had lit up like a Christmas tree and the woman in the window he had been watching ran away. He had been eyeing this place up for weeks now, potential survivors of the hellspawn apocalypse resided there. He could have easily brought them in the moment he found the place but he wasn’t sure they’d be better off at camp Utopia. He knew they had an underground bunker of some sorts, most days he could only see two of them occupying the building; a cabin like structure. It was as if it had been built specifically for emergencies, as if the occupants expected this to happen. When there is suddenly more than two of them that come from seemingly nowhere it’s expected that they would have some sort of underground shelter, he guessed that’s where the woman was now. He had never got close enough to hear them talking so he knew nothing about them, from a distance they just looked like ordinary citizens trying to get to the next day, waiting for help.
They looked too peaceful here, he had orders to bring in any survivors they found immediately but he didn’t want to bring these in. They had made themselves a nice home here away from the masses of the hellspawn and to disturb them now may only shatter the little paradise they had going for them. The corporal sighed a little as he recollected how many men had died just for them to learn the name of their murderers, this wasn’t a war, it was a slaughter. He recomposed himself mentally and kept a closer eye on the place, no movement had stirred for a while now which was quite unusual. He was sure that the woman had not seen him. She had looked his way but he made sure to keep absolutely still, it was only when he moved forward that the whole place lit up bright red and she ran away like a deer caught in headlights. He decided to try and get a closer look, he slowly stood himself up and cautiously walked towards the cabin with his gun poised forward. He heard the click of a guns hammer behind him and cursed to himself, he had never been this clumsy. “Put the gun down.” It was the voice of an older man, the one the corporal had determined was the leader of the group. Halbert slowly put the gun on the floor with his other hand in the air.
“I don’t want any trouble, I’m just trying to help.” Corporal Halbert said cautiously, he would have to choose his words carefully.
“Who are you?” The man asked him, Halbert had turned around to see a shotgun being aimed at him and the other woman that lived here pointing a pistol at him.
“I am corporal Halbert of camp Utopia, on the lookout for survivors.” There was no time for details, they were exposed like sitting ducks out here in the open. Although the hellspawn seemed to make a habit of avoiding this place like the plague.
“Get in the cabin, try anything funny and you’re dead.” Halbert knew the man wouldn’t actually pull the trigger so easily, he had been watching them carefully and got a good image of their personalities. This man had been military at one point, maybe he still was. He would not however so easily pull the trigger on another human, then again he didn’t know how far this man would go to protect his own people.
“Grab the gun Julie.” Julie picked up the M4 and shouldered it, keeping her gun aimed at him at all times.
“You seem to know what you’re doing, are you a soldier too?” Halbert looked at the other man, he only nodded to that.
“Get inside, then we can talk.” He jabbed the gun towards Halbert, who quickened his step.
“May I know your name at least?”
“Patrick, and that’s my wife Julie.” Halbert nodded back without asking anymore questions, he didn’t want to aggravate the situation any more than necessary.
Patrick looked at the soldier in front of him, any other time this would be a much different confrontation, especially given that Patrick was only a private rank. Corporal Halbert was wearing forest camouflage with a military fatigue cap, he noticed he was also holstering a pistol with which Patrick only grimaced for forgetting about, he would have to not mention it and hope it doesn’t come up in conversation later. The corporal had a stern look about his face, like he had many years of service under his belt and anything less than a stern face was a sign of weakness. Patrick didn’t fault the man for being so easily caught, he didn’t know the area as well as he did nor did he know about their security system; probably.
Julie opened the back door of the cabin for both of the men and they walked in and through to the lounge where Daniel and Isabella were waiting. “Is it them? Is it the military?!” Patrick looked at Isabella and shook his head to tell her to calm down, he didn’t want the corporal to think they were desperate and therefore easily manipulated.
“I am the military yes.” Halbert said, who received a tap to his shoulder with a shotgun to tell him to sit down.
“What are you doing all the way out here?” Daniel asked. Patrick would have butted in with a different question, but that was something they needed to know.
“I’ve been looking for survivors, I come from a place called Camp Utopia. The hellspawn don’t know about it and its safe.”
Oh? Morteus had spoken up after what seemed like a few weeks, of course it had only been a few hours.
“It’s-” Patrick cleared his throat loudly to interrupt the corporal, he didn’t want him giving away the location of the camp only for Morteus and Azrael to hear.
“Don’t tell us where it is unless you value the lives of those that live there.” The corporal only grimaced at this.
“What are you talking about?” Patrick and Julie seemed slightly surprised by the corporals answer, were they the only ones with monsters in their heads? Perhaps it was a good idea to not tell the corporal, yet.
“You never know where they might be listening, best to keep it quiet.” Halbert looked unconvinced.
“Ok,” he said, playing along with it. “We are looking for survivors, especially ones that can fight, like you.” He looked to Patrick and Daniel, only Daniel seemed surprised by this.
“Me?” Daniel asked. “I can’t fight, I’m just a kid!” The corporal shuffled in his seat looking uneasy.
“We need all we can get if we want a chance of fighting back for our planet.”
“What do you mean, all we can get? How is a high school kid going to make a difference to the army?” Patrick asked, he thought it was a lot of effort to come all the way out here for just two men.
“It’s just you, isn’t it?” Julie butted in, looking solemn. The corporal looked back to her with an uneasy look on his face.
“I’m sorry to tell you this, but yes.” The room let out a collective sound of surprised gasps, everyone began muttering amongst themselves over what he had just said, causing the loudest raucous the cabin had seen in years bar the sounds of a shotgun being fired multiple times just under a year ago. “Look,” the corporal said loudly, gathering everyone’s attention. “I know you’re all scared, but we have a plan.”
“How? How is it just you? Where’s the rest of you?” Julie asked becoming increasingly exasperated.
“The military is gone.” The corporal said to which everyone fell silent. Julie looked to Patrick who still had his gun pointed at the corporal, he put it down confident that the soldier in front of them seemed to be in a worse situation than them. Daniel stood up and started pacing up and down the hallway. The vault door had been hidden before they had gone out to capture the soldier, they couldn’t take any chances and wanted to know who this soldier was before they revealed everything to him.
“I knew it!” Daniel shouted pacing towards the corporal and jabbing a finger in his direction, he scraped his hair back with both his hands as his face turned into a desperate look. “What do we do now?!” He shouted and asked no-one in particular.
“H- He said he has a plan, what plan? Y- Your plan must be good if you’ve come all the way out here.” Isabella asked, seemingly as shook up as Daniel as she slipped over her own words as she put on a smile of desperation.
“Everyone calm down!” The corporal shouted with both his arms in the air, Patrick aimed his gun at the corporal again to which he just glanced back at, seemingly care-free. “That gun isn’t going to do you any good, bullets go straight through them.” Patrick put the gun down, it definitely wouldn’t do him any good shooting the corporal either.
“We know.” Patrick said matter of factly.
“You know? How? You’ve been out here since this began no?” The corporal asked, although it seemed suspicious as if he had realised what he was asking then quickly changed it to a question. Patrick tightened his grip on the shotgun.
“Yes, but we were attacked by one of them.” The corporal seemed genuinely surprised at this revelation, as if them being attacked by one of the things that had killed everyone else was surprising.
“Why are you surprised?” Patrick asked, eyeing Halbert up suspiciously. “Those things have been killing everyone left right and centre for almost a year now and you’re surprised one of them attacked us?” Halbert pursed his lips, perhaps he didn’t expect to be questioned like this so soon.
“I’ve been watching you.” He said sternly, as if it would somehow make it sound better. Everyone glared at him with quizzical looks, even Morteus seemed surprised.
Watching you? We would have found him and devoured him by now if that were the case. Patrick ignored Morteus as best he could, he didn’t want Halbert catching on.
“For how long?” Patrick asked, determined to get straight to the point.
“2 months.” Everyone gasped again.
“2 months?! Why?!” Patrick put the shotgun up again, Halbert was full of surprises.
“It’s nothing to worry about please, I just… I didn’t want to ruin your little paradise away from home that’s all, you seem better off here than we do at the camp.” Julie looked to Patrick, telling him it didn’t explain everything.
“So why now? Why reveal yourself to us now?” Patrick tried to look as intimidating as possible but Halbert didn’t seem phased by it.
“You found me, remember?”
“So why even observe us at all? Why not just leave us the first time you see us?” The outside fell silent as Halbert thought carefully about his answer, any wrong word and it could make this situation worse. Daniel had sat back down again although everyone else still seemed on edge over the news of the military being ‘gone’.
“I check up on you every now and then to make sure you’re still alive, I know you have a hidden bunker here somewhere and you must keep all your supplies down there. Of course I wasn’t just going to stroll in and take them from you.” Patrick tightened his grip once more but eventually relented and put the gun down again. A slight hint of relief could be seen in Halbert’s eyes. “There’s also the issue of no monsters going anywhere near you.” This piqued the interest of everyone.
“What do you mean?” Isabella asked who was now cuddled against Daniel for a feeling of safety.
“What? You think you’ve been lucky until now?” Halbert looked around the room as he said this.
“No,” Patrick said with a hint of anger, “I think we’ve been smart.” Halbert looked at him with a knowing look of approval.
“Yes, you have.” He said, to which Patrick felt pride, even now it felt good to receive appraisal from a higher rank. “But you’ve also not had a single hellspawn stroll through here in the past 2 months, not that I’ve seen anyway.” The room fell silent again, everyone was just as surprised as each other. “Do you have any idea of how many of them there are out there? I even set up camp a mile away from you for my own protection on my scouting trips, the monsters stay to what seems to be a 2 mile radius away from your home. I want to know why. Judging by your looks I won’t be getting any answers from you.”
What?! Morteus shouted to which Patrick winced in surprise what trickery is this? How are you doing this?! I knew you weren’t THAT lucky Morteus being angry usually brought satisfaction to Patrick but this time he was just as confused as Morteus.
“What are you trying to say? That they just avoid this place entirely?” Daniel asked, who was now lounged back into the corner of the sofa with Isabella rested on him.
“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m trying to say. They just… walk around you. Seemingly unaware they are doing it.” Nobody said anything, they all just stared into empty space as they thought of what that meant for them. Would they all be dead by now if they didn’t have some invisible barrier protecting them? Why were they avoiding them?
Truth be told, we looked everywhere for you. You didn’t go far from your home do you really think we wouldn’t have found you by now? I only tell you this so that you know that we would have crushed your body long ago. Patrick felt Morteus recede into the shadows, he no longer wanted to be part of this conversation. He looked to Julie who seemed to be deep in thought as well most likely being talked at by Azrael.
“What happened to the military?” Julie asked snapping out of her stupor, probably to try and drain out the voice of Azrael.
“They’re all dead.” Halbert said unsurprisingly, it didn’t seem to affect everyone as much as it should have. Everyone already knew the answer.
“But… how? I know bullets don’t affect them but they have weaknesses, surely you must have figured them out?” Isabella asked, confused as to how the entirety of the world’s military had been wiped out.
“Of course we did, but by then most of us had been killed. We began to bomb cities after that, the most heavily populated areas. Sometimes we even used nukes, but it only made things worse. They seem to feed off heat and it only made them stronger, even one of them could wipe out an entire squad.” Patrick squinted, how could they be so reckless?
“They’re weak to the cold, you do know that right?” He asked quizzically.
“Yes, of course we know. The military didn’t develop many weapons that used freezing cold temperatures so we didn’t have the equipment to handle it, and by the time we found out how effective the cold is we were all dead. They cut out communications somehow so there was no way to share information with anyone that wasn’t within the immediate vicinity, by the time we got the radios working again it was too late. We are under the assumption that the rest of the world has suffered the same fate.” Halbert had kept a straight face during all of this. Anyone else would show at least some emotion telling that story.
“What’s the plan?” Patrick asked.
“Hmm?” Halbert had gone into a stupor for a few seconds before being snapped out of it. “Oh,” he said coming back to his senses. “We are in contact with an Arctic research station, and in two weeks we plan to move everyone there.”
“Two weeks? Why two weeks? How are you in contact with them?” Everyone had sat up now, knowing there was somewhere to go and be free of the monsters no matter how cold it was.
“I told you, we fixed our radio. They have a boat that waits offshore at the port of Churchill in Manitoba, we’ll be driving there once we have found enough vehicles and supplies.” Patrick wasn’t sure if he was hearing Halbert correctly, that was a long way out.
“Are you kidding me? How do you expect to get there? That’ll take at least a week! Not to mention all the hell… monsters everywhere you’ll be killed in a couple of days.” Halbert looked increasingly aggravated.
“Don’t you think I know that?! It’s all we have and that’s our plan, there are 100 of us so far including my wife and child and it’s the best we can do.” Patrick paced up and down the corridor, there had to be a better way. “Do you have a radio?” That caught Patrick off guard.
“A radio? Why? It doesn’t work.”
“I need to contact camp hope, let them know I’ve got 4 survivors to bring in. That is if you want any chance of getting out of here and getting to safety.”
“I’m in.” Isabella said almost immediately. Daniel chimed in as well. Julie looked to Patrick who looked back at her.
“What do you say honey? Ready to hit the road?” She looked at him with a thoughtful pause, they had always wanted to go explore the country together.
“We’re going crazy being cooped up here, it’ll do us some good.” Patrick knew it would do them the opposite of ‘some good’ but she was right, they were going crazy.
“Alright, that’s settled then, we’re in.”
Perfect. Patrick held his breath at the sudden voice of Morteus, Oh sorry, did I scare you? Don’t let me put you off, go on… you’ve got some packing to do. Patrick looked to Julie and they both gulped, both aware of their monster from hell counterparts talking to them.
“What’s wrong with you two?” Halbert asked looking inquisitively at both of them.
“What?” Julie asked nervously, maybe a bit too much.
“I don’t know… something is wrong with you.”
“Nothing’s wrong, let’s just call your home and get out of here.” Patrick said in response. They all began moving about as Patrick and Halbert went down into the vault, the others started packing clothes and loading the jeep with as much food as they could. They would go to the camp site to retrieve the RV and bring it back to stock up on more food. Halbert fiddled about with the mechanics of the radio while Patrick made them both a cup of tea, as time went on Halbert became increasingly aggravated with the radio making comments on how it was an old piece of junk that shouldn’t even exist anymore, to which Patrick only shot confused looks at. After a few minutes the radio was finally working, although Halbert seemed increasingly hurried.
“Camp hope, come in Camp hope. This is Colonel Halbert, I have located four survivors and will be bringing them in for extraction. I repeat, I have located four survivors. Over” Halbert repeated this a few times over the radio pausing in between while waiting for a response. Extraction? Patrick thought, why would we need extracting? perhaps they had their own way of bringing survivors in.
“This is Camp hope, is that Colonel Halbert? Over.” A voice came over from the radio speaker that sounded like an old man.
“Roger, this is Colonel Halbert, how’s the camp holding up without me? Over.”
“Everything’s fine and dandy over here, Irene keeps asking for you, you coming home? Over.” No mention of the survivors which Patrick felt odd, surely that would be a priority in the conversation.
“Roger, I have found four survivors, I repeat four survivors. Should be able to keep them for two weeks. Over.” The atmosphere of the room had suddenly changed, something felt wrong. Patrick slowly reached for his pistol tucked into his back as Julie came down the stairs, she noticed what he was doing but said nothing.
“Would you like the beds made up for them?” Halbert looked to Patrick and Julie with a strange look.
“Negative, need to acquaint them with the other guests first. Over” Patrick tightened his hand on the grip of his pistol as Julie went back upstairs to retrieve the shotgun.
“What’s your eta? What is your location? Over.” Halbert gave them the exact coordinates of their location before Patrick could say anything, he pulled his pistol out and aimed it at Halberts head just as Julie had come back down with the shotgun.
“What the hell is going on?” Patrick asked with sweat visibly running down his forehead. Halbert put his hands up upon noticing a gun being pointed at him yet again.
“What? I just wanted to tell home to expect us that’s all.” Halberts way of speaking didn’t sound so sure and confident any more.
“Why would you need to tell them our exact location? How does that benefit anyone? If anything it would get everyone at your camp killed if one of those monsters heard you, they’d follow you right back to it yet you don’t even seem worried. Why is that?” Halbert pursed his lips, unable to come up with an answer quick enough so Patrick aimed his pistol higher.
“Look,” Halbert started, nothing good could come next. “The hellspawn know where we are. Of course they do, they know where everyone is and there numbers are easily in the billions. You think we survived based on sheer dumb luck too?” Halbert shot them both questioning looks, his voice sounding more desperate the more he spoke. “What did you do?” Patrick asked aggressively, Julie had the shotgun pointed at him as well after loading it full of shells.
“We- we made a deal.”
“A deal!? With them!?” Patrick shouted as he face grew red.
“Yes, they have us look for survivors and offer them as sacrifice. In return we get to live for another week for every two survivors we bring them, you were our ticket to the two weeks we needed.”
“Sacrifice?! Are you out of your mind?!” Julie kept glancing at Patrick, he seemed very on edge like he was a hairs breath away from pulling the trigger.
“Look… we just… I never wanted to give you up! But there’s no-one left… no one left to sacrifice. You looked so peaceful here… I never wanted to do this.”
“You’re disgusting.” Patrick said with hatred in his eyes, all he could see was red. “You’re worse than them… I would rather die than give up another human being to them!”
“I have a wife and kid… you know how it is, you’d do anything to protect your wife!” Halbert nodded to Julie who put on a confusing look. She knew that was the wrong thing to say.
“You’re right, I would.” Patrick pulled the trigger and watched as the bullet flew into Halberts skull and out the back of his head, sending blood and bone scattering around the bunker. “You’re relieved of your duty, Corporal.” He had never felt so angry in his life, he couldn’t believe what that man had just told him, they were sacrificing other humans? Other survivors? That was unforgiveable. Morteus was in his head, laughing uncontrollably as he enjoyed the spectacle unfold in front of him.
Knock knock Patrick, we’re coming for you!
Sorry this took so long, I was having a hard time thinking of how to write this part. I've also been busy most evenings and also writing my main novel when I can.
Come back later for Part 20, which will hopefully be much sooner than this part was!