Cursed Earth | Later -->

Chapter 1: Follow the sun.

My name is John, and I am hunted.

Hunted, meh – that makes it sound like something special. Maybe a half century ago, back when the Earth wasn't a cursed wasteland, it was. But nowadays, you're either hunted, or you're dead. Sometimes I wonder which is the less painful option.

It wasn't always like it is now. Mind you, I was born after the meteors fell, but even when I was a child, the world had more vitality. My parents were still alive back then. So were thousands of others in this city. Mom used to tell me sad tales about the days before the meteors, and before the war, when this place used to be called Syracuse. She said that more people lived here, then, and there were none of them.

She said they came, those damned beasts, just before I was born. At first people didn't believe it. Then they fought it. Then they died. This used to be a bustling city of hundreds of thousands. There might be three hundred of us here now, living like rats, running from building to building, hoping that those damn things won't find us. They used to kill at least one a night, but now it seems we can sometimes escape. I guess we're too meager a meal to waste the effort to kill. That's actually a comforting thought, in a way.

We could have done better if we tried, but most people can't. They catch the smell of danger and scatter pell-fucking-mell like so many damned lemmings. That's how the demons, that's what I call 'em, like it. People run, the little ones – alphas, my dad would say – come out of every bloody crack and herd 'em, right into the jaws of death. Some of the bigger ones, zetas and alpha-primes, wait for 'em there and mow them down, but some always get by. The deltas, big flying sonofabitches, get a few more, then as fast as they came the demons disappear. The people scatter, thinking it's safe, and they hide in the buildings, but it's never safe. Sometimes you get lucky. But, sometimes you don't. There's another demon, moves like a damn ninja, silent as an owl and half the time you can't even see the motherfuckers until they're eating your face. I swear those freaky bastards can move right through solid walls.

But anyway, like I said, if we wanted to, we could have survived. Look at me. Little old me. Well, OK, not so old. Old enough to call myself a man, anyway. I've been here for all my life, and my father died six years ago. The demons haven't gotten me yet, and I'll be damned if they will. I'm still in the old house, even, and I've got half a hundred notches on my belt, each of 'em a demon that'll never hurt anyone again.

Of course, I have Dad to thank for that. Dad used to hunt demons. Him and a few others, not nearly enough, used to patrol the city, killin' demons. He had his weapons and armor, and when he died, I inherited them. Or stole them. I don't really know how he'd see it, but I'd like to think that he'd want me to continue his fight. So that's what I've done. Not that it seems to make one fucking toodle-shit of difference. Nobody wants to live anymore. Most of the town's dead, or so scared they stopped being human long ago, and even the Earth doesn't seem to care anymore. Trees are dying, the sky is getting black, and sometimes the nights bring with them a horrible stinking fog that burns the skin and pits metal. To make it even worse, the power's gone too. Happened about a moon ago, and now the food supplies are running low. There's nothing to hunt, and not much to gather around here. Sooner or later, something's got to give. But it won't be me. If I meet my end, it'll be on the road, face-to-face, sword drawn – not cold, hungry and alone in this God-forsaken hellhole. Tomorrow I follow the sun.

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