I open my eyes slowly, ignoring the muck that has half submerged my body in the sinking mire that was once our great city. I claw my way free, ignoring the torn scraps of skin peeling off of my body as I scrabble up the foundation of an old tavern I used to frequent; now I live in the rubble like some utter street trash.
But that’s what we are now: street trash and monsters. Stooped low behind a section of wall, I shuffle over to a table that I’ve set up with a small shrine, muttering a small prayer as my day begins. Perhaps I’ll find food today?
I hear a scream in the distance, as well as the crumbling of another building. That sounds promising…
Turning, I scoop up the sword I’d scavenged and lope out onto the street, avoiding the craters of still-roiling sulfur that made this city as close to an inferno as possible. I jog around the impact craters, past others like me as they awaken to the sounds of the screams. If I move fast enough, I’ll hopefully be the first to get there.
Nobody came to our fair city anymore. Well, nobody sane that is. Heretics and worshipers of the devil flocked here, seeing it as a holy site for their profane rituals and horrid rites. I still have faith, though… I have faith that God will save us; let us leave the still-burning ruins of our city. For some reason, any and all who called Gomorrah home can’t leave this place… we start to choke and suffocate as the cool air of the open plains meets us. It’s as if we’ve become accustomed to the darkness that now envelops this land, cursed by God for its sins.
I leap over a small crater, knocking up some loose stone as I land. I bleat out in pain as one of the rocks causes me to twist my ankle, but I pay it no mind: I smell fresh food among the steamy haze of sulfur and brimstone… and it’s scared.
Squatting down in the road, behind the upper portion of a clay roof that was blasted into the street, I see them. A wagon being pulled by two oxen, with an older man in the bullock seat and four young men walking beside it. A woman sits next to the older man, cradling a young child against her chest. That makes my mouth water at the very thought… fresh child! How long had it been since I had a child to slate my hunger upon!
“I don’t know Ezekiel, this doesn’t seem right…” One of the men on foot said, looking up at the driver of the cart. “This is supposed to be Gomorrah, but nobodies here!”
“Yeah, and what’s with these craters? They have burning pitch in them or something…” Another man, this one carrying a sword in one hand, says. “How are we supposed to do trade with a city with nobody in it?”
“I don’t know!” Ezekiel says, pulling on the reins to make the oxen stop. He rubs his wrinkled brow, wiping away the sweat already forming on his face. “This isn’t right, not at all. The man said that this would be a good place to sell our wares!”
Man? I think to myself, rising slowly to have a better look at the group through the haze. What man? Who would send them to this god-forsaken pile of rubble, when there’s barely enough left to go around as it is!
“What’s that over there?” One of the men calls out, pointing in my direction. The haze of sulfuric clouds makes it difficult for anyone not used to them to see. “Hello? Can you help us?”
I clear my throat, coughing a bit to get my voice back. “I can be of some assistance; it’s just too hard to reach you. Come closer, leave your cart and skirt around the crater and I can give you directions.”
I can see in my peripheral vision several other survivors such as myself moving through the steaming clouds, their hooves clacking softly on the stone as they move to flank the group. One lets out a soft bleating noise as he crosses over some busted wooden boards, causing the men to look over to the side.
“I’m a shepherd, looking for his flock,” I say aloud as I move around a vent of sulfurous smoke roiling up from a small crater. “I was in the countryside, and my sheep ran into the city for some reason.”
“We can help you find them,” one of the men says, squinting to try and make out my form in the thick mist. A man to his right coughs, nearly retching at the scent of the air around him. I breathe deeply and smile.
“Where are you?” A third man calls out as they maneuver around the crater. Already I can see that Ezekiel has five of my brethren swarming his cart, muffling his screams with blades. The oxen will taste mighty fine after we’ve made a proper sacrifice of them.
I walk out of the column of boiling sulfur, my fur ruffling around me as I step over the vent. I rear my head back and bleat loudly, earning a number of responsive bleats from all around. The men stare at me unabashedly, giving me a chance to lower my head and charge at them, blade held in both hands low and dragging along the ground.
I ram one man in the side with my head, my curved horns and thick skull allowing me to break him in a single blow. He flies off of me with a scream, hitting a crumbling pylon with a spine snapping howl. His friends look on in amazement as I slash up, spearing my sword into the first man hard enough to lift him off the ground. Hacking up blood, the grip on his sword goes limp enough for me to wrestle it away from him, pushing him to the side as I now face his last two friends.
“What in God’s name…? Demon!” The fourth man yells, earning a chorus of bleating laughter from my brothers and sisters of the fallen city.
Pulling my lip back in a snarl, I stomp forward, my hooves crushing stone beneath my weight as I move. My belt of skulls clatters ominously as I approach them, the small human sword in my hand ill-suited for my needs as a warrior.
“I am no demon… just a man cursed by God for his sins. Soon he will forgive us of our transgressions and we’ll all be able to leave this cursed land. But not today.”
Ezekiel finally lets out a wounded yelp, causing the two to turn for a split second as if they can see far enough to see the fat old man being eaten, or the woman and child being drug off for stock as slaves. I lunge forward, stabbing the only man who hasn’t said anything this entire time on the side of the neck, ripping with a ham-fisted tug that left him bleeding out in a wide spray of arterial delight that just made me laugh.
“Why? What have we done to deserve this?” The last man asks, turning to regard me as he backs up, his sword held in a defensive position.
I give him a look that I doubt he could recognize as loathing. “You come here, full of the glory of Yahweh, and you ask what you’ve done wrong? Gomorrah is a city best left alone friend, for those that live there are wicked in their ways. Isn’t that what you’ve been told, hmm?”
The man falters. “Yes, I mean, of course, everyone has heard of Gomorrah and Sodom’s rather wild parties.”
“We sinned, we sinned so badly that we were punished for it with raining sulfur and brimstone, by those of us surviving transforming into half man, half beast. We are the servants of the devil now, sin incarnate and of the living flesh. And you’ve made a poor choice in coming here.”
He doesn’t get to respond as a small boy, his horns barely even nubs at his temples and his fur still short and soft, spears him in the back with a pike, the bladed pole arm poking through the man’s tunic, which is rapidly turning red. The young one is breathing heavily, and I can tell that this is probably his first kill.
Good for him.
I grab the front of the tunic of the bleeding man and yank him off the pike, much to his agony, pulling him off his feet and close to my muzzle. “We will one day walk in the light of God once more… but we will keep any and all who come here from ever leaving as it is his will.”
And with that I end the young man’s life with a clamping of my jaws over his throat, my blunt teeth grinding away at tissue and veins as I yank back a mouthful of succulent meat, meat which I savor as I watch the young man struggle to breathe without a throat. I drop him unceremoniously to the ground for the young one, who pounces on him with wild abandon. Turning, I toss the small pig sticker aside and retrieve my blade from the coughing man I impaled with it.
Huh… surprised he’s still alive, I think to myself as I clop over to him, my tail swishing lightly behind me.
The man looks up at me, a rivulet of blood dribbling down past his cracked lips. “M-m-monster! Th-There is n-no place in h-h-heaven for a beast like you!”
Reaching down to grab him by the shoulder with one padded hand, and the hilt of my sword with the other, I stare deeply into his eyes.
“We’ll see, in the end,” I say before yanking my blade free, causing a torrent of blood and bile to spill out onto the street. His eyes grow dim as they stare back at me defiantly, his spirit departing before his features can soften.
“We’ll see…” I mutter once more before I lean in and begin my meal, eating what I can before my smaller brethren attempt to move in for a share of my kill. Before I begin tearing away strips of meat, I fold my hands in front of me and mutter a small prayer to the Lord, thanking him for this bounty.
Then I dine.