The Dark Horde

By Brewin

Thriller, Paranormal, Horror

Paperback, eBook

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920
6 mins

DAY ONE, 9th April 1989

His mind struggled...

His boot tapped the floor, his teeth gnawed his nails. Finally, with a great sigh, he made his decision. The other two players were relieved: their patience had already washed away with the amber fluid of a slab of beers.

“Faaarm,” Barney announced, placing a single ‘F’ chip alongside the word ‘ARM’ on the worn scrabble board.

‘Farm’ was all he could think of. It was this place where he lived alone and all that he owned. Here he was host to Frank, his twenty-four year-old son and Henry, a mate of Frank’s whom they hadn’t seen much of since he moved down to Melbourne five years ago. Barney’s ute had broken down during the week, so it was welcome relief to have visitors, although Henry’s visit this evening was a surprise.

Barney rose to go to the toilet, leaving the others to have their turns. That was when the doorbell rang, singing its merry ding-dong tune that had always irritated Barney.

“Who the bloody hell is that?” he said. “It’s bloody quarter past twelve!”

Henry and Frank looked up a moment, but showed no sign of moving. Already out of his chair, Barney grumbled, “I’ll get it.” He dragged himself over to the door.

Henry tried different combinations of letters on the board, striving through intoxication to determine which would score him the most points. Frank leaned against the fireplace by the window, drinking homemade whisky and coke because there was no beer left. He seemed oblivious to all except his drink and something out of the window.

Barney’s voice drifted down the corridor, “What the fuck?”

Then there was a ripping sound followed by a dull splatter.

Henry and Frank both looked up and heard the morbid resonance of something snapping. Then a huge, hairy, dogfaced figure stepped into the lounge, its upright two-and-a-half metre frame stooped against the ceiling, Barney’s decapitated head hanging by the hair from one of its twenty-centimetre rakes for claws. It glared at them with red, hate-filled eyes the shape of swollen slits, as its bloodied snout curled to reveal a chaotic array of sharpened teeth. The beast tossed the severed head onto the scrabble table, scattering the pieces over the wooden floor.

Frank stumbled drunkenly to scoop a plumb-axe by the fireplace, but Henry could still see reality through a haze of alcohol and knew that this beast meant only death. The creature stood in the doorway to block that exit, so he retreated into the liquor cellar via the trapdoor by the opposite wall. The beast ignored him, its attention upon Frank with deadly fixation.

Frank leaned against the brick wall of the house with one hand, as he fumbled to ready his weapon in the other.

Wish I wasn’t so pissed.

The beast strode forward, hurling aside the table in its path with a flick of its wrists. A curdled mixture of blood and saliva dripped from its wolfish snout in long ropes.

It grinned.

Frank let out a desperate scream as he swung the axe at the creature’s neck, but his swing was stopped short, as the beast effortlessly caught the blade in its hand.

The beast tore the axe from Frank’s grip and whilst it still held the blade, smashed him over the head with the wooden haft. The blow’s incredible strength drew a shock of blood and sent Frank sprawling to the ground.

The room spinning before him, Frank fought to control his senses. Then he was lifted by his shirt-back. His vision struggling into clarity, he saw dagger-teeth bared to rip his throat out.

Frank lunged at his attacker with two gouging fingers. Determination steered his aim into those piercing red orbs that regarded him with lust to kill. He felt his fingers rushing past their soft flesh as the beast roared in pain and fury. Instinctively, it covered its wounded eyes and Frank slipped free.

He sprinted out of the front door and into the empty driveway, crazy with terror, frantic to remember where he had parked his car. His eyes struggling to pierce night’s blanket, he followed a dark outline of trees around a corner...

Tears welled in his eyes when he spotted his ‘baby’ ahead.

Panting, he ran to the door of his big orange Kingswood, fumbling for the keys in his pocket.

He had always been proud of his ‘73 Holden HQ Kingswood. He loved the way her big V8 engine gave a throaty roar when he plunged the accelerator pedal. He loved the adrenalin rush of sitting at the helm of this mighty beast, the speed and power she possessed and being her master. He took great pains to ensure that his baby was always running perfectly and hated to see her get dirty.

He flung open the car door and stumbled in. Cursing at his intoxicated state, he groped with key in hand for the ignition. His bleeding head ached as he fought to steady his aim. At last there was the satisfying grating of metal interfaces, as he stabbed the key into the keyhole. Praying for salvation, he turned the key and slammed the accelerator pedal. Tears of relief washed his cheeks as the engine stuttered into life and unleashed a rich roar of firing cylinders.

Then came the sound of galloping footsteps...

Suddenly the creature appeared. Frank watched in horror as it leapt a full ten or more metres onto the windscreen, smashing it on impact with its sharp talons. Frank’s lips parted to scream, as glass sprayed throughout the car. Then bloodstained hands like blades pierced his throat and tore it out.

Henry, crouching in the darkness of the liquor cellar, heard the Kingswood start, the sound of smashing glass and then nothing but the engine idling... He guessed the rest. An eerie chill passed over him, shaking off the vestiges of insobriety.

Now he heard the slow squeal of the trapdoor opening. The sickening anticipation of death washed over him like a choking wave. He was cold. He was scared. He was alone. But he was armed.

The beast had an acute sense of smell, enabling it to smell the raw terror in the sweat of its quarry. The smell of this human was strong, indulging its senses with delectable wafts. Hungry for the kill, it gripped the wooden handle of the trapdoor and slowly teased it open. The shrieking cry of its hinges rang out, enhancing the fear of the cornered prey. A sharp shaft of light bore its way down an inclined ladder into the dusty air of the cellar. It entered, scraping its clawed feet across each wooded step with calculated intent to terrify... Two down, one to go.

As it reached the earthen floor, it heard the strange sound of an airborne object spinning towards it. Confused, it turned and was struck in the face by a flaming bottle. Glass splinters and burning alcohol ravaged its flesh. It fell to its knees in agony.

Henry moved away so as not to be seen, already arming another makeshift Molotov cocktail, glad that he had a lighter in his pocket.

The beast wrestled the fire that had taken a hold, its mind consumed by the agony of its sizzling skin. At last the flames were stifled, but the white pain remained and with it, the beast’s hatred. Gashes from the burning impact of the bottle had been worn by its claws into strips of smoking flesh that hung from its bleeding, blackened face. The air was thick with the pungent stench of burnt hair and flesh, confounding its ‘fear smell’, but it could still see and hear. Livid with hate, it would taste this mortal’s life on its lips and feast on its torment. Thrills of desire swept through the beast, urging it to the kill.

In quick succession, another two of these fiery weapons whirled towards it. It now knew better than to face these attacks and instead it leapt aside, easily dodging the bottles. With a shriek of smashing glass, they struck the racks laden with bottles behind it and erupted in flames.

As the flames began to spread, it quickly moved to safety, its footsteps covered by the hiss and splatter of burning wet bottle-racks. It manoeuvred into the silent cellar darkness behind its target, as the other end of the cellar resounded with the crash of shattering bottles. Having found temporary refuge from the fire, it felt again the burning pain of its flesh, becoming burning hatred that would only be appeased by the sweet taste of this mortal kill.

Through the light and fumes of the fire, Henry saw that the beast had recovered, but he had anticipated this...

Another alien sound assailed the beast’s ears: gushing liquid. It realised it was the sound of large casks emptying.

The potent liquid flowed across the floor, feeding the fire and carrying it throughout the cellar. Where the fire had started, entire racks were alight and rocked with explosions of glass, choking the air with dense smoke.

It detected rapid footsteps towards the ladder and acted swiftly.

Dizzy with fear and smoke, Henry dashed for the exit. Tripping onto the ladder in panic, he nearly completed his frantic ascent when the beast grabbed his ankle with such force that he heard a violent crack. He twisted on the rungs to slam his free foot into the mutilated face of the relentless demon and felt its snout crumble against his boot. Slipping on the wet floor, the creature fell backwards, but its grip remained on Henry’s ankle and he was wrenched from the ladder to the cellar floor with the beast. Together they crashed into a flaming rack in a rain of broken glass and burning wood.

Henry recovered to find himself under glowing beams searing the cotton jacket he wore. Adrenalin flooding his body, he scrambled free of the burning planks’ embrace to his feet, his ankle slipping out of the beast’s now-relaxed grip. The beast moved no more. The air stung with the fetor of burnt hair and flesh.

“Die, you fuck!” he spat at its blackened demonic visage. Horrified, he saw its head turn to fix on him and unleash an unearthly scream to drown the fury of the surrounding flames. Henry bolted for the ladder, wincing at the shots of pain in his ankle. As he ascended the ladder once more, the scream transformed into a deafening guttural roar.

He dived into the lounge, now thick with smoke and slammed the trapdoor. As he dragged a couch over the trapdoor, the chilling sound of laughter began to emanate from below.

The floorboards of the lounge grew hot with the flames below and the thick smoke almost overpowering, but Henry stayed to pile whatever heavy items he could, onto the couch. This demon, this beast that had killed his friends, this abomination from hell, must die.

He toppled the bookcase onto the couch first, then threw on an oversized TV and was dragging over the scrabble table when the trapdoor burst open. With disbelieving dread, Henry watched the beast easily force aside the obstructions and arise from the cellar: a bleeding, burning and mutilated machine of merciless destruction.

Unstoppable.

Weary, Henry ran to the front doorway of the burning house, only to see that three more of them were advancing up the driveway, blocking his only exit...

Grinning.

Oh shit.



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