The envoys had not returned.
Impatient with waiting, he eventually prepared for a journey. Not a particular long journey it was true. The old colony of Providence was no more than a spit away from the city of Consequence. He had read in the old tomes, that the colony was intended to be an alternative for those that had tired of the perpetual political upheaval that seemed to plague the city, Given the parties involved, he was sure that to the more peace loving among the population, it would have been tiresome.
A range of mountains separated the two. And looking at the maps, Providence had started out with all the resources. A natural harbour. Agricultural land that was ripe for the tilling. The right climate. The right amount of rainfall. Hope. Countless of volunteers enthusiastic for a new start. So what had happened? He was about to find out.
The Blood God was in his chambers slipping into some weatherproof gear when the door opened and Brigitte appeared at the door.
Brigitte was as pale as her kin, with the same Nordic references – white blonde hair pulled back into a tail, which accentuated the angular nature of high cheekbones and lengthened an already high brow. It was a style that he disliked. It made her beautiful features appear harsh and pinched. He disguised the scowl by shrugging on a snow jacket.
“Going somewhere Brother?” she asks as she saunters into his room. Eyes the same icy blue hue as her kin glanced at the clothing lain out neatly on the bed.
“The envoys haven’t returned” is his answer. Her eyes widen at this piece of information and suddenly that lazy disinterest that is her usual expression is gone from her face and replacing it- shrewd intelligence and attentiveness.
“You are going? Are you mad?” she asks as she becomes more animated.
“Quite possibly dear Sister” he says with a wan smile as he slides feet into strong walking boots and perches upon the edge of the bed to lace them up while he continues to speak. “It’s the forgotten colony. Out of sight and out of mind. Since the big boom, aren’t you at least a little bit curious as to what has been happening there all these years?”
They looked out over the peninsula, with the moon rising behind them. It was cold- colder than Consequence. A prevailing wind blusters its way inland, bringing the chill of the ocean with it. It appeared that Providence had been built in what should have been an ideal place. Sheltered by a archipelago of islands, or perhaps shallow rock reefs. It was certainly too cool for coral. The fishing would have been plentiful. From the coast, where a thriving town should have been- was a desolation.
The Geiger counter that Brigitte held in her hand had been steadily increasing in the frequency of flashes. A glance at the flashing red light that was almost constantly glowing, and a signal to bump the volume indicated that the steady stream of clicks had become a whine.
“Well- that answers that at least” Anders comments, play acting at taking in a lungful of the poisoned air as though it would taste all the more sweeter knowing the particle rate was through the roof.
A scrap of filthy paper tumbled across the ground behind them and caught upon the ankle of Brigitte. The Blood God crouches down to sweep it free and turns to view the script upon it.
“HEAR YE, HEAR YE! A whole new world awaits you in the colony of Providence. There you will find riches, fame, fortune, and freedom to create your own, brand new society, with your own rules and laws.” *
Brigitte peers curiously over his shoulder to read and then gives a snort of cynical laughter.
“Fortune and riches?” she repeats with an incredulous tone looking at the hole in the distance that must have been ground zero. “How very like Hellifyno! Always promising- rarely delivering”
“Now now” replies Anders with an admonishment. “Hardly the fault of these good people now was it?” pursing his lips into a moue of disapproval while he looks out over what would have once been a fertile plain and a harbour that would have been bristling with the masts of a fishing fleet.
In the distance- in amongst the ruins- there was movement. He had that feeling of being watched ever since they crested the ridge that would give them plain view to the land below. Perhaps now was the time. Anders slowly raises his hands, signifying they are unarmed and Brigitte, unaware, asks “Anders- what are you doing? Always so dramatic!”
The sound of movement behind them soon makes it evident why. Brigitte turns in time to see three creatures coming up behind them with firearms, the clunking of the respective chambers being filled.
“Oh” says Brigitte with resignation and she too raises her hands, but the expression of horror on her face forces Anders to turn to face them.
Before him were three ragged monstrosities. People yes- human- absolutely- he could tell by the strong scent of vitae that made his nostrils prickle with anticipation, but not looking like any he had ever seen hanging around the Blue Moon Tavern.
The two men were twisted beyond recognition. Grey flesh stretching over a skeleton that had been misshapen into a vision of absolute freakish abnormality. Hunch backed and twisted spines. One had just one eye, flesh grown over a socket that had never developed. Where his nose should be was just two weeping slits. Lips did not appear to be able to close and was spread in a rictus that exposed shattered and blackened teeth.
The other had a face misshapen with bulbous tumours that protruded from brow and cheekbones and jaw. This one was without lips entirely and his mouth was twisted upwards and to the side as though effected by palsy. Two eyes, bright with intelligence stared out from this cancerous mess.
The female was particularly heartbreaking as it appeared that she had been spared the malformed skeletons that had affected the others, but as she turned to face the two trespassers, it was clear that the increased radiation had not left her unsullied. Her face was split, an angry open cleft that started at her chin and separated the halves of her face before it drifted up into her palate and beyond, exposing the mechanics of the muscles of her jaw and the jagged angulation of grotesque teeth, dragging the flesh like twisted fabric into one nostril.
The cleft was open an inch, perhaps two- indicating that the neural tube had not adhered when she was just a foetus in utero. Through the rags, in a line from her throat could see the bulging of more tumours. In her right hand was an ancient revolver pointing at his chest. Her left arm was missing and from the sleeveless ragged shift she wears, was seen a malformed hand protruding straight from her shoulder. She would have been quite beautiful if not for these mutations.
“Are you armed?” asks a female voice in his head, he was sure was not spoken out loud. The men just stare at him with pure hatred in their eyes.
“No” he answers with his voice, as Brigitte looks to Anders strangely. It was clear the thoughts were not for general broadcast. Anders smiles. Despite the hatred, he also detects fear- and hunger. He knows all about hunger.
“Are you here to kill us?” the voice once more, alluringly gentle and very feminine.
Anders watches them carefully. He could of course disarm them in a trice, before they had been able to blink. Moved at such a speed that they would have been dead before they realised he was no longer their prisoner. But he wanted to see what they would do. Plug them both? Perhaps that is what had happened to his envoys. “One Eye” licked his lips- was he salivating? Oh he knew that look! Feral and famished.
“I’m here to save you” responds Anders in his usual suave and lazy drawl. “Take me to your leader”
- Reference- A Ghost Of Herself. April 2017.