Red Mist

Some of the time, you can only doubt that there is anything looking out for you. After all, you have been stuck here for, well, longer than you can remember. And really, when it comes down to it, memory is all you have left. Well, memory and rage.

Can't forget the rage... that's what's kept you around this long, truth be told. Opening your eyes, you stare up from your nestled spot in the muck, the floating detritus within the water surrounding you making it difficult to see for more than a few feet. That's nothing new, and you have gotten used to it. But you can hear well from your spot in the pond, and what has your attention now is the kicking of feet.

And laughter. You hate laughter.

Heaving yourself up from the frigid grip the mud has over your, you look to your right and your left to see if the others have sensed it. You see their shadowy forms emerging from the muck as well, tangles of algae and mold sticking to them like a second skin. Peering up through the cloud of dirt, you see moonlight sparkling high above.

Memory flashes by in your mind, of a moonlit night on a patterned blanket, kissing your lover as you both lay together beneath the stars. But that was long ago, and the memory is gone in an instant, like the dirt clearing before you as you rise to stand. Reaching down, you take a firm grip of a verdigris rode handle, yanking it free from its spot in the silt: a nine-inch rusted knife, a tad dulled by the currents... but you'll make do.

You begin trudging through the water, slowly kicking up clouds of silt and sand as you lead several others towards the sounds of laughter, of splashing. For the first time in many moons, you feel something other than the numb cold and the boiling rage: Hunger. Hunger to stab, hunger to tear... most of all, and a hunger to kill.

A shadow flickers above you, forcing you to crane your head up to look with lidless eyes. Two shapely legs, their only cover a small triangular strip of pink cloth at the junction where they meet, tread water not ten feet above you. Another treaded next to the shapely legs, this one bearing longer, thicker calves with dark hair.

You feel the pressure of a hand on your shoulder (what’s left of it), and turn to look at another poor soul staring at you, pointing up with one hand, while another stood next to it motioning to interlock your fingers together. You nod slowly, pulling the knife up and slipping it between your teeth as you squat slowly, linking your rotten fingers together to form a step up for the others.

The first place a barefoot on your hands, and you heave up as he jumps, launching him through the water like a clumsy missile. He grabs onto the shapely legs and you hear a shriek. He bites into the inner thigh with his lipless beak, misting the water red with blood as he drags down the woman kicking and screaming. The hairy legs stop treading and disappear above the water, while the upper body of an attractive man appears, bubbles leaving his mouth as he catches sight of you and your cohorts.

You pull the knife from your teeth, turning to face the man as he begins to paddle deeper, trying to reach the rapidly sinking woman that your sibling is currently tearing into, using dirty fingers to pry open the wound on her leg as he bites into her hip. Another decaying form has jumped into the water and grabbed onto one of her thrashing feet, while two more crowds near it, waiting for a chance to get a piece of the girl.

The man swims towards the woman, screaming incoherently in the misty water. You take your chance, squatting down and launching yourself up, knife in hand. You collide with him, wrapping on arm around his midsection as you ram your knife into his lower gut. His screams are like the sweetest symphony to your ears and for a few blissful seconds, the rage subsides. Red mist flows around you, licking at your ragged flesh and bare bones, soothing away the numbness that has subsumed you, providing a flicker of warmth to your otherwise frozen void.

The man grabs you by the shoulders, one set of fingers slipping under your shoulder blade where he begins to tug, loosening your left arm. You reward him by pulling the knife free and driving it home a second time, this time into his thigh. More delicious warmth spills from his form, and the two of you begin to sink.

Others are swarming around you, their fleshless fingers scraping over his flesh, tearing long red lines into his chiseled form. Fewer and fewer bubbles are pouring from his mouth, and both arms are being pulled apart by five separate entities, their blunt teeth tearing into his fleshy bits and pulling away gobbets of meat, which they chew noisily.

The woman is dead, her form still. The seven or eight that have gathered around her are no longer eating her; no, they're dragging her deeper into the pond for a place to bury her, so she can join us. You look at the thrashing form of the man and for the briefest moment, feel something you can't remember feeling: sympathy.

And it is in that moment you watch his throat get torn out by a slimy skinned bald creature, creating a gaping wound that spews a torrent of warmth into the water around you.

You back away, lingering in the cloud of blood as the others drag the twitching body deeper into the darkness of the pond, deeper into his watery grave. You swing your arms around yourself, pulling what little warmth is left into your cold-wracked frame, enough that you can once again feel your skin tingle.

And for the first time in years, you feel alive... if only for an instant.

And just as quickly, the wave of frigid nothingness washes over you once more, rekindling your anger. You stand still, listening to others; others that you can stab, that you can tear, or rip, or eat! But you hear nothing, nothing but the clacking of bones from deeper in the pond, and the rippling water from above. Of fish swimming, and the long low croaks of the frogs on their lily pads.

And you seethed once more, walking slowly but surely back to your place in the mud. You drop to your knees, a cloud of murky water forming around you as you turn and settle into your aquatic tomb. You stab your knife next to your body, hilt deep in the silt. Slowly lying back, you cross your hands over your chest and stare up at the moon high above.

You wonder if it’s as cold out there as it is in here? And you wonder if you’ll ever be able to find out.


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