Unto The Night

Unto The Night
Amazon.com/ron koppelberger

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Unfurling A Struggle

Ron Koppelberger
Unfurling A Struggle
The mountain pass was strewn with the ancient stones of ghosts, in a clear remembrance of youth, vigor and sure constructs of forever; a forgotten dream of eternity, the outline of an ethereal footpath, decreed by the slow progression of tumble-down houses and ancient dwellings. The ruins bespoke of life, love and a hope for the morrow; they were a nascent moment of breath pledged pure and pristine and yet, here it lay in ruin and severed lineage.
He paused undaunted by the fear that threatened to swallow him, the great behemoth demon that had lain waste to the affairs of an entire town. He searched the rubble for bones, for clues, for the test of unfurled struggle. What fate had the denizens of Mountain Common met, a landslide, great geysers of mud, volcanoes and ash, what had brought the ghosts to their current specter.
He loosed the stone and mortar of a corner block. The building had been a public veranda, a place of worship and gathering. The stone slid away revealing an assortment of ancient possessions. A ruby and silver broach, was it ancient, it looked newer than the surrounding ruin. He touched the jewel and sighed , what dream he thought. The space of a few seconds passed and he saw the shadows commingle in the distant twilight, huge abeyances of dark silhouette.
Reaching into the open space revealed by the stone he touched the items secreted there. Forty years and a day, the items were brought to this place, stored away, hidden from use; by an abiding need to curtail the fates he knew, he realized the seal remained steadfast, a distant traveler to the stony mount, to the ruins of Mountain Common. The explorer had left the tokens of the future in order to bind the past, the possible fare of current futures. The objects had been placed in the stone corner as a bond, “I give this token in prayer and as a promise for our future.” he said aloud.
There were other items in the secret crevice, some old, some ancient, progressions meant to deter the shadows of desolation, the great gibbering madness of demons and destruction.
He slipped off his silver Rolex and the diamond ring binding his marriage, he was married to the task now, by the god’s and light, by the love of life and the dreams of a sunrise forever bright.
Later he would forget the moment of abiding taboo for the promise of an almost perfect future, nevertheless the fates remembered.

Primal Smoke

Ron Koppelberger
Primal Smoke
Waves of fog rolled across the sea of wheat, saffron in rows of undulating harmony, except for the fog. The sky was a thick cloud, impenetrable by the mists that churned and roiled above Rankin Whiskeys head. “Damn, it’s as thick as pea soup.” he said aloud to the empty field of white. Rankin pulled out a pocket watch, his grandfathers embossed with the scratches and tarnished lines of an ancient piece. It was 2:37 p.m. and there was no sign of the sun or the rich cobalt horizon.
In the distance a flock of crows screamed and squawked, faraway and forlorn with the rolling tide of white. Rankin turned and moved back retracing his steps to the front porch. Somewhere in the distance an owl hooted and Fern alsomes dogs barked, “Probably Nothin.” he said aloud to himself, “Probably Nothin.”. The tethers of a cautious farmer bound him to the front porch, he could have sworn he had heard something else, something long forgotten and alone with the fog. Maybe he was just being superstitious, “Probably nothing.” he said again in a whisper.
He had sensed that something was off balance in the yard but he wasn’t sure what. The moan, what about the moan, he had heard a moaning sound coming from the edge of the yard nearest the field. Standing on the worn wooden planks of the front porch he squinted into the fog toward the sound, there it was again, a moan, he knew it was someone moaning. Rankin rubbed his chin feeling the stubble against the tips of his fingers. There it was again, a moan. “Who’s there?” he shouted into the dense fog. The mists parted for an instant and Rankin saw a flash of red and blue. What’s that he thought, it had looked like the bloody face of a man, dressed in blue coveralls.
He thought back for a moment to the curse, it couldn’t be. The curse had been Cross Corners answer to all of the strange happenings that go with any small town. The Curse, they had blamed Leonora Hapscans pregnancy on the curse and a myriad of other incidents that had gone without explanation in Cross Corners. There it was again, his face in the fog bright red and torn to reveal bone and muscle. Was he seeing things? Was this the curse come to life. He heard the moan again then silence, an eternity of silence and waiting. “show yourself ghost!” he knew it was just a ghost, it had to be.
About two years earlier two men from Castings International had come into town. They had been unwelcome visitors and the town had challenged them to get their asses out of the Cross, but they had persisted wanting to buy up the fields of wheat that made up the terrain of Cross Corners.
Evan Wigstan had said that they were trespassing on his property when he shot them both dead and no one in town had questioned it, but things started happening after that. The local sheriff had been killed in a multiple car pile up a week later and Angel Contern had hung himself the following Tuesday. The local bar and grill burned down two months later and the next years crop had been a bust for the first time in seventy years. The credited all of these things to a curse poor old Evan and his hot temper.
There it was again, a moaning sound then heavy plodding footsteps through the yard. “What do ya want?” he shouted into the thick fog. The answer came back in the form of a gravely rasp.
“We want yer property Rankin, we want yer property and what belongs to us is for us to take!” The figure in blue overalls moved into view.
Rankin gasped, his face was a leaking series of torn flesh, bleeding and leaking the graveyards rot. The front of his overalls were stained a bright red and maroon, trails of intestine lay in tangled heaps about his feet. “We Want what is ours Rankin and we aim to take it by force if need be!” Rankin inhaled a deep breath of air, sour and full of decay. “We aim to take what rightfully belongs to us!” The other man moved into view and Rankin screamed. His face had been blown almost completely away and a tiny spurt of blood spayed from what was left of his jawbone as he pointed at Rankin, “What is our, what is ours Rankin!” sounded more like “aaaahhhhaaat ith ourrssssss.” as his shattered jaw moved at an angle.
Rankin stepped back and fumbled for the doorknob, “Yer only ghosts, yer only ghosts!” he said as panic began to overwhelm him. The door fell open behind him and he stumbled backward into the house, “Yer only ghosts!”
The two men moved up onto the porch after Rankin, “What is ours Rankin, What is ours Rankin!” Rankin slammed the door shut in the first mans face. Looking down to the edge of the door he saw a small knot of intestine closed in the door frame. “Oh Jesus god!” he gasped. The door smashed inward and the two stumbled in grabbing Rankin by the hair and hauling him out into the rows of wheat.
The next day they found Rankin on a pole in the midst of his wheat, waves of saffron and clear blue skies calling out gods name. He had been tied to the pole and his eyes were missing, as if he had seen something too terrible to convey. The coroner for Cross corners noted the blood on Rankings cloths as an unusual happenstance. Other than his eyes he was free of wounds. They had tested the blood at the labs in town and it had come back as belonging to something that had been dead a long time.
Ultimately they gave credit to the curse and the ghosts that seemed to haunt Cross Corners.

As He Prayed

As He Prayed
Ron Koppelberger
App 1900 Words
Stone Rare stood on the precipice. The moon base was deserted and the only signs of life were the silent rush of air that filled the dome overhead and the screams of the undead population. The edge of the open vista standing before him was long and pointed to the distant sun, a twilight in moon phase. The raised Dias glowed a bright fiery red and the tendrils of light that spread out from around the platform stretched into the dust and open plaza below.
He looked down into the valley and prayed, there were tattered remnants of what had once been human shambling and shuffling across the dusty plaza walk. They moaned and moved closer, he was safe for now yet alone in his human mortality, except for the virus.
Stone continued to pray as the plaza filled with the damaged remains of what had been the moon bases population, destroyed, leaking blood and viscera, eyes sunken and purposeful to the allegiance of need, wont, wild fury and desire. They craved the human experience, the flesh of what was not dead, what stayed close to the bosom of god. Perhaps it was because they were cursed by the virus or maybe they were in the silent grasp of a more powerful force, something dark and evil.
Stone turned from the platform and made his way back into the complex, he had his Rambler, a laser gun, powerful and ready for the undead meandering the depths of the station. His face wore days of stubble and he rubbed his check, chapped and sore from the dry air in the station, the humidifiers weren’t working right. He prayed again, a miracle was what he needed.
Pushing open the door to lavatory A he went to the wash basin and splashed some warm water onto his face, something moved in the last bathroom stall. He looked close to the floor and saw a pair of ankles, pants around them next to the porcelain base of the toilet. Two hands, flesh mottled and reddish crept down and pulled the waistband of the pants up. He looked into the mirror again, his eyes were lined weary and old, he felt old. The stall door banged open and a man shuffled out with some effort. He was bluish and his lips were bulled taunt in a snarl. He could tell the man had been one of the bases technicians, he had died recently.
Stone moved backward and away from the man, he was slow and unable to manipulate his shamble into a run. As the lavatory door shut tightly behind him he looked into the dim light of the hallway toward the rows of security lockers.
The goal was to find the main lab, locked and behind a security veil, then with an antidote, what he hoped was, the antidote in hand, he would make his way to the launch station where the small craft waited for flights to earth. He knew there was a chance they had gone home infected, the virus active and waiting for the unsuspecting population of the planet. The cure he thought with a touch of hope, a brief moment of approaching sunshine. He knew they had a vaccine, the problem was the lab techs had all died and behind locked vaults.
He went to the lockers in the long hall and tried a few. Locked and several hanging open with the remnants of what had been a normal existence. A sound from the darkness of the shadowy hallway, the sound of approaching bodies, and screams, there were a crowd of them, bloodied torn and decaying in the confines of the moon base. Stone paused for a moment, turning toward them, he fired a few shots from the Rambler toward the ceiling panels overhead. The tiles collapsed to the floor in a heap of tangled framework and plastic tile. It would slow them down.
He moved back down the hall and turned left toward the science labs, lockers lined this part of the base as well. For a moment he considered the virus and how it had come to be, what had they been aiming for. Fields popped into his mind. Fields had been the last living person he had talked to. One minute he had been sleeping and the next he was yelling and thrashing with angry need. Stone had placed a single shot to Fields head and finally he had ceased to move. He had cried and mourned the loss because he knew he was alone with the undead.
The shadows stretched in fuzzy rows confined mostly by the steel doors to the labs. Stone thought for a moment, the coming winter, cold lonely and dead yet shambling, aching for the warmth of new blood…food, all they wanted was a taste, a taste left for the undead and here he was pulsing with life and, he considered, the will to survive, the will to get home and away from the nightmare. Stone pulled out the key card and moved closer to the locked doors of the science lab. There was a narrow metal gash in the left hand side of the door, carefully he pushed the card into the slot. He prayed, would it work; near the end of the hall plopping wet and methodical, a leaky faucet, the sound of a water balloon making contact with a hard surface. The figure was standing then falling face forward, up and down inches at a time with each fall. Its legs were broken and the shambling gate was more like a lunge as the dead man fell over and over again.
The door hummed and opened for stone, his prayers had been answered. Slipping inside he pressed a green button on the wall and the door slid shut.
The lab was empty except for the rows of metal cages and test tubes lining the counter; there was an observation room lined with red smeared glass and behind a half dozen peering faces, licking at the glass, tapping for weak spots , he turned away from the taboo to the far side of the room, Salvation. The refrigeration unit was working, he could see the yellow flashing light above the door. Stone moved to the refrigeration unit and pulled open the heavy double doors. Inside were an array of plastic bottles and syringes filled with the vaccine. What a tragedy, they had never had the time to use it.
Stone grabbed one of the syringes, the liquid inside was clear and pure looking. Rolling up his sleeve he inserted the needle into his arm and injected the clear substance labeled X-243 into his arm. His arm tingled from the injection as he sighed with relief. There were several portable freezer packs on the shelf and he loaded them up with the syringes. Strapping them across his shoulders he made his way back to the entrance.
Stone grabbed the Rambler from his waistband and prepared to shoot his way back down the long dark corridor. He pressed the green button again and the door slid open with a whoosh. The hall smelled terrible, all decay and coppery as he let the shadows close in around him again. The crowd at the end of the hall was bigger now and they were screaming as they bumped into one another, otherwise they hadn’t made it as far as the science labs.
He had to make it to the docking bay, one floor down from him. Maybe he could avoid the crowd. He turned left into the darkness as he headed for the stairwell at the end of the hall.
He was burning the breach between what was real, what was nightmare and what had become real as he stepped across the torn and broken remains of several lab workers, for a moment he had spotted movement, there wasn’t much left of them the others had eaten them nearly to the bone yet tiny groans came from one of them, in that moment he cursed the scientists and what they had done, he had to make it back to earth. He knew there was a chance the others had been infected, they needed the vaccine and he needed to be away from this god forsaken hell.
Yanking at the green metal door near the end of the hall he peered into the darkness of the stairwell, Silence and the distant echo of the stations air control units. He stepped in and felt his way to the rail near the stairs. Cautiously he made his way down the two flights of stairs to the launch deck.
Light crept in from the corners of the door and he tugged at the handle. The door moved a couple of inches outward as it bumped up against something. Looking through the crack in the door he spotted the problem, there was a body directly in front of the door. He pushed harder and the body sat up and screamed wildly. Stone pulled out the Rambler and poked it through the door at the thrashing figure. He fired a few quick bursts and the dead man lay still.
A nascent moment of breath stole over him and he felt energized, he would make it, to earth, with the cure. He hoped for the morrow with a passionate intensity, the struggle would be worth it, he had to make it. Another pulse of energy overwhelmed him and he pushed the door open wide to the space port and the loading dock.
He paused for a moment to pick something up out of the floor, a broach, silver and ancient etchings, it opened and a picture of a young eager couple stared out at him. He closed the broach clasp and placed the jewel in his pocket.
There were three ships at dock and another three that had managed to escape. Stone walked up the boarding ramp into one of the ships. He closed the ramp behind him and made his way to the control area. Purveyors of revolution and space travel had never foreseen this situation. He rolled open the port doors and looked through the bay window into the cool dark confines of space. There were a few dozen bodies spinning lazy circles around the entrance, weightless and unseeing. He fired the main engine and the rocket roared to life. The coordinates would be preset for earth all he had to do was launch.
The child in him was thrilled with the legend in myth, space travel and home away from the awful horror of the moon base, “Do you own what belongs to the heart of desire and eternal rest, scarlet tears and the love of another day for tomorrow will be with the help of our breath.” he said aloud as the rocket launched into space for earth.
The starlit sky called the heavens and the hope that Stone felt was overwhelming, but what if. They had gone on infected, what if the vaccine had never made it to earth, what if? He looked forward to the approaching earth and a shiver of fear ran down the length of his body. A new frontier, he had to hope and he did have two freezer packs filled with the vaccine. “What lay before the temple in seasons of chance and change, an alm and a prayer for mankind, a prayer for mankind.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Chase

Ron Koppelberger
The Chase
He was running and the blood pouring from beneath his left foot squished in rhythm to his tennis shoes pounding the pavement. The 300 pound demon ran after him with the intentions of a grim whisper, all blood and wrath. He had conjured the pot bellied behemoth from the darkest depths of hell, “All gone to the wind and chance, bring him forth and let him dance!” he had said in sibilant tones of expectation.
Now he was running from the grotesque figure of the winged demon, it was purplish red and covered in leaking leasions; it’s eyes he thought, those damn eyes, it had gold colored corneas and bright red accents surrounding the whites of it‘s eyes, it’s appearance was horrible, arcane and madness.
Hull Descry pulled the quick switchblade length from his breast pocket and turned to fight. It came, shaking and screaming in grunts and hums. Hull paused for a moment ducking the first swipe of it’s large glutinous arm. Jab then pull back, jab then pull back, he stabbed at the demons arm and mid section. The blade left red trails in the demons flesh otherwise it was undeterred by the slash of the blade. Blood sprayed in an uneven arc from beneath it’s arm spattering Hull with a thick viscous warmth.
Hull ran again wondering what he would do to deter the beast. The first rays of a morning sun lit the dense underbrush he was running through with spears of shadowy half-light. The woods were darkly thick nevertheless the edge of a giant orange sun filtered up against the gray horizon with the hope of a desperate man and the wont of a demon on the hunt.
Hull paused again as the underbrush crashed and broke with the sound of the approaching demon. Got to stop him he thought with an urgent passion, got to stop him. The thick mat of brush parted and the bleeding figure of the demon fell into the small space Hull was occupying. Picking up a large tree branch he swung in full tilt at the demons head. Crash and a slippery crunching sound issued from the monsters head as Hull made contact with the aberration. The monster blinked his eyes a few times and a thick yellow jell poured in around it’s eyes from the open wound on it’s head. “ARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!” it screamed through clenched teeth. Hull stood his ground and began chanting as he hoped for a reprieve.
“All in all, by the gods of the underworld end this pursuit and slay this demon scourge……….by the gods of the underworld slay this demon scourge!” He yelled into the early dawn chill.
The demon roared and grabbed at Hull. Hull pulled the knife from his pocket and swung, and swung, and swung. The gouts of blood that sprayed from the demon covered the ground and the aged crumbling leaves scattered there. Hulls tennis shoes became thick with the substance and dried leaves clung to his feet in sticky clumps. Still he swung and screamed “Be gone demon, be gone demon!” The creature grabbed for the knife and lost most of it’s fingers, plop, plop, the third and index finger fell to the ground, plop the thumb fell and Hull kept swinging. The scene was an ancient taboo, beast vs. Man, demon vs. Conjuror, life vs. Death. Hull chopped and screamed and the demon raged and raged. Hull fell to the ground swinging at the naked creatures ankles as he hoped to stagger it. The flesh parted with ease as the creature sagged to the ground unable to stand with it’s tendons severed.
“Be gone demon, be gone demon!” Hull screamed again at the thrashing figure of the beast. It rolled amongst the leaves as it began to smolder with the fires of perdition, thick black smoke roiled up from the ground where it’s blood poured and it’s flesh smoked in the gray light of a newly approaching dawn. Hull fell to his knees as the creature began to dissolve into the woodland floor, defining the chase as over and won by the likes of a human. Hull sighed and coughed a few times over the acrid smoke pouring up from the remnants of the demon.
The sky bled orange and the first rays of warmth lit the space in the woods between the demon and Hull, it wore on till the sky was a bright ruddy apex of light and new promise. Hull knew he had barely escaped with his life and that knowledge gave him hope, hope for a new day and a new way to live. He knew the beast and it had gone south, gone way south with the phantasms of a dreadful nightmare. The ground shook for a moment and a giant crack appeared in the ground next to hull who was kneeling in supplication to the gods that had rescued him from the demon. The crack crumbled open swallowing the rest of the demons figure and then something strange. The spots where the demons blood had pooled became beaded with new moisture and the pools of vicious liquid ran in runnels to the soil, into the soil almost as if a magnet were drawing the blood inward to the depths of hell.
In the end the only thing left of the demon was it’s odor and a few drops of blood on Hulls switchblade, they even dissipated until gone. The blood on his knife evaporated and the noxious odor disappeared only to be replaced by the scent of lilacs in bloom, lilacs and dandelion greens. Hull smiled for a moment and rubbed his eyes, it was over and he had survived the transgression, his transgression against god maybe. Once again he thanked the heavens for his health and stood making his way back to the land of the living and the comforts of what was important to most. The chase forgotten he prepared for his next adventure, TV and a cold beer.