Chapter 1 – Calling Grey by Jeremy Binns
Chapter 1 – Calling Grey by Jeremy Binns
Thank you for taking time to read the next installment. If you haven’t read the previous entry, you’ll definitely want to do that first. Thanks again, and I hope you enjoy Grey by Jeremy Binns
Grey slowly began his ascent in the dark stairwell of the office building. Somewhere above, the roof had begun to leak giving the stairwell an mildewed odor. He inhaled the musty and dank stale air as he quietly rounded the first landing.
There was a small rectangular window in the second floor doorway which allowed just enough light for his exceptional eyesight to make out the shadowy steps without needing to use his flashlight.
He glanced through the window to see that the second floor was not untouched in quiet and abandoned array as the first floor had been. Grey thought that probably someone had been working late up here on the night this town was overrun. Two of the exterior windows were broken and the blinds hung off to the sides in a twisted and torn heap. The broken glass laying on the interior floor told him that they had likely been the entrance point for at least two of the beasts.
Portions of the office were still in order, but there was a large chaotic pathway from the windows into a corner. Along the path, chairs were overturned. Office clutter was strewn around the floor, and most of the cubicle walls were disjointed and toppled along with a variety of other office furniture that had been thrown out of the way as the creatures rushed their prey.
As he looked into the corner, it was all too obvious that whoever had been in this room that night had died in that very corner. He could see dark faded patterns on the walls, on the ceilings, on computer monitors, and everywhere in that corner. Contained in the brutal carnage of the scene was a malevolent account of the attack which told the same story he had read in the morbid aftermath of countless rooms in countless buildings throughout his life. Death art, was the way they described it in some places. In the cities, he had even seen it for sale from time to time in the wealthy sectors.
Scavengers would leave the cities in heavily armed caravans and pillage the remains of the overrun towns and communities. Mostly they would bring back clothing, food, or supplies, but some of them would bring back the remains from scenes like this one. Curtains, doors, wallpaper, carpet, or any other furnishings that were stained with the indelible story of someone’s last moment of humanity.
The wealthy class of the city would decorate sections of their lavish homes with these remains.
The aesthetic was lost on Grey, and when he once caught site of a pink blanket in a merchant’s store, the sight made him physically ill as he looked at the reddish-brown blossom that covered one side of the aged fabric. Even now, remembering it gave him pause as he allowed the overwhelming wave of heaviness pass through him. For someone whose life had been so heavily marked with bloodshed and battle, his powerful heart often seemed to be made of something delicate and fragile that could at any moment and with the slightest disturbance crumble into a thousand irreparable pieces.
He often wept when he was alone. He wept for those whose lives had been cut short by the creatures. He wept for the futures they wouldn’t have. He wept for the destruction that this plague of death had blanketed a once world with.
He remembered the dark night of his sister’s death. He sat in the corner of her room and wept with such deep wrenching pain that it felt as though his own soul were being ripped from his body by an unseen and cruel hand. He wanted so badly to lash out at this unseen enemy. To scream violently, to let his blades fly with the rage of love bereaved. He wanted to abolish this enemy just as he had slain its dark disciples. But this foe, this death which was the very ending of life itself, was the one enemy that could never be touched with the steel of his swords.
So for Gray all of these obscene objects, these displays of death art as they were called, were blatant proclamations of the depravity that had taken hold of the remnants of what had once been such a magnificent race. Perhaps it was appropriate though, because for many inhabitants of the city, they had only their human appearance to distinguish them from the grotesque creatures they would one day become.
In the wealthy areas of the city, it seemed as though there was no higher purpose. There was no greater good. Each person was entirely consumed with their own desires. Each one lived only to gratify their most basic desires. And while they didn’t feed directly on the flesh of their neighbors. They would steal, kill, use, and enslave them without hesitation if it meant they would enjoy an extra moment of pleasure, gain possession one more object, or somehow elevate their own self importance and power. No, they didn’t directly feast on them, but they did consume one another. They, like the beasts outside the city perimeter, were the carrions, living and breathing only in the most abstract sense.
Grey avoided the cities when he could. When he faced the creatures, there was no question of their motives. There was no deception in their black eyes. There was no uncertainty of their desires. They were purely evil.
While in the cities, he saw the suffering inflicted on the masses of the population who were reduced to servitude in order to survive. As the epidemic grew in the beginning, the safe cities were flooded with refugees seeking safety, refuge, and most importantly a serum house. Initially, the result was nearly as disastrous as that which was inflicted by the beasts themselves.
In the creature attacks, death was brutal. It was violent and savage, but it was quick. In the overcrowded and disorganized cities, the death was often marked by a prolonged agony. Many of the refugees slowly starved to death while others died of exposure and disease. In this environment crime and violence soared out of control.
It was out of this desperation there arose a new totalitarian government. Originally praised as the saviors of humanity, the government began as the individuals and corporations who were the overseers of the serum houses. With the frequent mob outbreaks at the houses as the sick tried to force their way in for treatment the overseers began to establish a military presence which was also praised for its ability to maintain order in the chaotic city. To further protect the citizens, they gathered the food for distribution. In less than a year, these forces merged and organized to form the Benevolence Corporation and quickly emerged as the de facto governing authority.
As their power became more absolute, they did provide a measure of order and protection from the outbreak, but the cost to the citizens was staggering The masses were enslaved and forced into servile labor just to receive the most basic necessities to survive. Those who refused were banished from the cities and refused access to the government controlled serum houses.
Without the safety of the city, many died within days. Life outside the cities was not impossible, but for the unprepared and uninformed it was a merciless death sentence.
The creatures were always everywhere and no where at the same time. A person could go days or weeks without encountering one, and then meet dozens in one day. They roamed everywhere throughout the landscape in their perpetual hunt for their human prey. Sometimes they wandered in solitary stealth and other times in devastating packs.
In addition to the beasts, there were also raiders. It was extremely difficult to find food and water, and most significantly, there were no government serum houses. There were rogue communities that had makeshift hospitals and serum houses, but these were few in number and nearly impossible to find by chance.
Grey despised the leaders. They possessed such power to do so much good, and yet they lived in a removed luxury and profited greatly from the pandemic. In his mind, they were the parasitic counterpart of the creatures. The government did nothing of any significance to diminish the threat of the beasts outside the city walls because the creatures kept the people inside the city perimeter under their control. So instead of fighting them, they merely maintained a calculated margin of safety between the wickedness outside and the corruption inside.
Grey’s thoughts returned to the scene in front of him as he surveyed the rest of the 2nd floor office through the window. It was vacant, and he already knew that his destination lay floors above him still.
Earlier in the day, when had first noticed the movement in the upper floor while riding through the town, he heard the familiar calling to go. The office was the tallest structure in the small community, and he counted eight levels as he stepped through the broken glass remnants of the front entrance.
One floor later, and with the calling still beckoning him to the 8th floor, he gripped the rail with one hand and the handle of a sword with the other as he once again began his ascent. At the next landing, he came to a large pile of debris. It was an overturned heap of metal hairs that looked like they had at one time been stacked neatly on the landing. The pile was too large to step over, and moving them silently was an obvious impossibility. The building did have an elevator, but with no power, it sat at the first floor with doors open gathering dust with the rest of that space. So with no other option, he reached for the first chair.
As soon as he took hold of the cold metal leg of the first chair, the pile shifted and unleashed a small landslide. The cacophony of clanging chairs cascading down the stairwell echoed loudly and reverberated throughout the shaft. Before the avalanche of metal had stopped, he heard the screeching of the creatures.
The noise had fully revealed his location, and now they were coming to greet him. And they were coming fast.
Thank you for reading Chapter 1 of – Grey by Jeremy Binns
If you enjoyed the chapter, and if you haven’t already read the introduction, you should probably do that now. Honestly, you should have done that before you read chapter one. That’s why they’re called introductions, but I suppose I can’t judge too harshly. I never read them either.
There are a few important details in the intro though that you don’t want to miss.
Like I said at the end of the intro. My goal is to get a chapter up at least every other week. I think if you’ll leave me a comment, it would be a big motivator for me to try getting them cranked out sooner.
Seriously though, thanks for reading this. My hopes are to have it published at its completion, and your reading it encourages me that it’s not a pipe dream.
Blessings, – Jeremy