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Rated: ASR · Fiction · Dark · #2284652
fist chapter of the start of my new novel
A flash of lightning cracked across the sky, illuminating the crowd that had gathered outside Whitechapel. Erik was standing among them, two bodies from the front. He, too, was waiting, but with a reluctance not shared by the rest of the group. The rain battered down harder than he had seen it for a long time, forming large puddles mixed with mud and dirt on the ground. An unexpected clap of thunder made several people jump in fright. Some were stood praying, most just stood in silence, staring at the floor.

Eric tugged at his jacket, pulling it tighter. His attempts to keep warm were futile, however, as the skies seemed adamant that he be chilled to the very bone.

"I thought you'd be inside," A girl whispered in his ear.

"I was told to wait out here with the rest of you," Erik replied.

"Erik Colte, waiting in the rain with the rest of us," her laugh was stifled by another crack of lightning cutting across the sky. It lit her face for just long enough to see the brilliant shimmer of her blue eyes and ginger hair.

"Lucille Walters, town comedian," Erik replied.

"You know me too well," she grinned. "I pride myself on bringing comedy to the entire town."

Erik sighed. "I could use a good laugh right about now."

"I'm sure everything will be fine."

"It's more the aftermath that I'm worried about. The crying from mother, the anger from father. This is the tenth time in twelve years."

"This could be the last time," Lucille said.

"It's not going to work," Erik rolled his eyes. "If things were getting back to normal, don't you think we would have heard something by now?"

Lucille shook her head. "There are rumours."

"I've heard the rumours. Complete bullshit is what they are."

"A city, filled with children. Mothers able to procreate. That is the dream, isn't it?"

"Yeah, that's all it is. A dream."

"So cynicle aren't you Mr Colte."

Erik cocked his head to one side. "Mr Colte is my father. It doesn't sound right to me."

Lucille let out a giggle. "It makes you sound old."

"I'm not getting any younger," Erik said just the door to the chapel burst open, casting a flickering light across the crowd of people.

The silhouette of Erik's father, Darryl Colte, filled the doorway, accompanied by two, expressionless guards in faded green fatigues standing either side of him.

A few seconds passed, and in those few seconds, Erik's heart sank. He knew the expression on his father's face all too well. It was the expression of another failed attempt, but there was something else in his eyes. An emptiness etched into every line on his skin that Erik had never seen before. It wasn't just the look of failure on his father's face, not this time. He looked like he had truly lost hope.

"Something's different," Erik said to Lucille who was standing now with her head bowed to the floor.

"How can you tell?"

"I just know."

His father stumbled forwards out of the doorway into a gust of wind and rain that whipped at his long brown hair. He took a sharp intake of breath, then dropped to his knees.

"People of Maine!" His deep voice cut through the air as another crack of lightning split the sky and the low growl of thunder rumbled across the rooftops. "I'm afraid we have failed you once more. There will be no new life on this night. The scourge is still upon us. But we must not give up hope. We must continue strong, for the sake of our children that are yet to be born. For the sake of humanity that is withered and dying. We will not give up hope. We must atone for our sins, only when we reach true purity will God bestow the gift of new life upon us once more."

Several people in the crowd wailed in dismay. One man standing close to Erik burst into tears. Others shrugged their shoulders, as if they knew the outcome, and began to filter through the mass of people towards home. One by one, the people started to leave the town square. None of them spoke, they all just trudged away into the darkness, and within minutes the there were only five people standing on the steps to Whitechapel. Erik, Ericks father Darryl, Lucille, and the two sombre looking guards.

Erik ascended the stone steps. As he got closer to his father, the knot that had built in his stomach got tighter and tighter. Something was different this time. He could see it etched into every line on his father's face. He gripped Lucille' hand tight, and dragged her forwards along with him.

"Father," he said. "Is everything okay?"

The old man looked up at him. Erik couldn't tell if he was crying or if the water covering his face was just the rain, but his eyes were stained red. There were spatters of blood on the front of his jacket and up one sleeve. He looked like a man who had lost hope. Broken and withered. A shadow of his former self.

"let's get you inside Mr Colte," Lucille let go of Ericks hand and placed it on his father's shoulder.

Darryl nodded and stood on shaking legs.

Lucille led them both into the warm glow of the chapel. The guards slammed the door shut behind them and stood straight either side of it with straight backs and pale faces. Neither of them spoke, they just stared straight ahead into nothing.

They passed through the main hall of the chapel, which had high ceilings and black and white tiled marble floors. The walls were painted white and had several statues of various different saints protruding from them. A wooden altar sat at the front under a huge golden crucifix with a carving of Christ spread across it.

Ericks father stumbled between the rows of chairs and slumped himself down at a wooden, medium-sized grand piano residing just to the left of the altar. He placed a set of shaking fingers to the keys and pressed down as hard as he could, causing the sweet sound of music to reverberate off of every corner of the hall.

"I remember when your mother first played to me," Darryl said, as his hands moved skilfully across the keys. "I remember sitting right there in that seat with my mouth wide open in awe."

"What has happened?" Erik asked. He clutched at his chest as his heart suddenly started to pound in his ears.

"I thought I could play better than most. I considered myself an expert, until I met her," he said, ignoring his words as his fingers flourished and twisted in front of him, playing an arrangement Erik did not recognize. "She could make this thing sing like the gods themselves had possessed her. She was far better than I ever hoped to be, and I loved her for it. I could sit here listening to her create music all day if she let me."

"Where is she," Erik shouted now above the sound of the piano.

Suddenly his father stopped playing, casting an eerie silence over the hall. He looked over at his son and real tears now started streaming down his face. "She's gone, my son."

Ericks heart sank. He stumbled backwards as his legs suddenly became weak. He gripped onto the closest chair for support and clutched his chest, fighting back a flood of pain and grief that threatened to burst from the front of his face.

"I don't believe you," his voice came out in a low, hoarse whisper. His mouth had suddenly gone so dry he could barely speak. "What have you done?"

"We tried to save her, but she lost too much blood," Darryl was speaking between sobs now. "I couldn't save her, and god took her away from us."

"I don't believe you," Erik repeated. "I want to see her, where is she?"

His father stared at him for a second, then pointed to a doorway at the back of the hall.

"Erik don't," Lucille reached out to grip his arm, but she was too slow. He dodged around her and bounded across the hall to the doorway. Within seconds, he burst into the back room and came to a dead stop in front of a white sheet spattered with blood. Two mounds protruded from its centre.

It took a few seconds for Erik to realize what he was looking at. He stood staring at the bloodstained sheet for what felt like hours, but in reality it was only seconds. He couldn't believe his eyes, he didn't want to believe his eyes.

"Breath, Erik," Lucille called from beside him. Her voice sounded far away, like she was at the end of a very long tunnel shouting at the top of her lungs.

Just as he felt he was about to explode he sucked in a long gasp of air, and turned in the doorway to face his father who was now slumped backwards in his seat staring at the ceiling.

"You did this!" Erik stepped towards him. His fists were clenched. His face was red, and his eyes were glowing in pure rage. "You did this to her!"

Darryl looked at him through streaming tears. "God did this to us, my son. We have sinned beyond measure, and this is his punishment for us. He has taken the gift of life, and now my sweet, dearest Eleanor."

"Don't blame him, this is your doing," Erik screamed, and before he knew what he was doing he flung himself at his father. His fist crunched the side of the old man's head, knocking him sideways off the chair. He landed on the floor with a grunt.

"Erik stop!" Lucille wailed from behind him, but Erik was no longer in this world. His mind was filled with such a rage that he couldn't control himself.

"It isn't enough that the world is on the brink of collapse, you had to take her away from us as well!" He raised a foot and brought it crashing down into his father's stomach. He didn't know how many times he kicked him, but it wasn't nearly enough before strong hands gripped either side of him, yanking him backwards.

"Get off me," Erik struggled against the two guards. "I told him mother was too old. I told him this ridiculous crusade would kill her, and I was right."

"God has taken her," His father groaned.

"God hasn't taken her, you have!" Erik snarled. "All she wanted to do was make you happy, and now she is dead!"

He tugged at the guards, breaking free of one of them. The other had such a grip it felt like his arm was in a vice.

"Stop him," one of them shouted.

A sharp pain suddenly exploded in the back of his head. Erik crashed forwards onto the marble floor, knocked out cold as day with one blow to the back of the head.
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