Billy has lost count of the hours he’d been hiding out, the unchanging light not helping him to keep track of how long he’d been shivering behind the hedge.
Thing used to be so perfect, not long ago, back before the sun had disappeared. All he can see are thick clouds that ripple across the sky in angry waves, the soft dusk light all shadows and smoke and screaming.
Not that he’s heard much screaming in the last few hours. The backward-kneed demons no longer stalk the streets, yowling like cats in heat every time they came across a cowering human. No, instead the only vaguely human thing in Billy’s sightline are the crumpled bodies lying in the road, and they’d been cold before the sun had given way to constant night.
Billy is proud of his muscles, of being the strongest boy in the village by miles. Even with the glamour working its mojo on him, he’d do his crunches and weights until his arms and legs burned so that he had the best guns of anyone. But now, the time that he really needs them is the time when they fail him. However strong his legs might be, they tremble and shake so much that he can’t stand up. His hands open and close convulsively by themselves and even his traitorous eyebrow muscle ticks, jumping on its own until he wants to scream.
Despite his upbringing, favourite son of a popular family, Billy has felt fear before. When he’d lost his favourite stuffed demon, aged five, fear had spiked in his belly so hard that he’d been convinced he’d never sleep again. When Matt had dared him to jump off the cliff near the gate, icicles had spiked into his flesh as the ground had rushed up to meet him. (He’d broken a leg, which the cats fixed. But for a second, he was sure he’d mis-jumped and aimed straight for Hell itself.) Fear isn’t new to Billy. What’s new is the idea that fear can paralyze, fear isn’t just a shiver down his spine, a sinking of his stomach – it’s a blank in his mind that controls him, controls his conditioned muscles.
A noise snaps him out of his haze. Voices. Normal speaking voices. No screaming, no begging for lives or bargaining for souls (not that anyone in Crawemere had much hope there, blackened shrivelled husks of things), just the low murmur of a few people talking.
Billy listens to the crunching of shoes, biting his lip to control his breathing as they pass not two feet from him. He can’t see anything through the gloom, so he closes his eyes and sinks even deeper into the hedge. Whoever they are, whatever they want, everyone knows, everyone from Crawemere knows, once the sun has stopped shining, it’s the End of the World.
This is a short story for readers of ‘The Sulphur Diaries’. I’m involved in The Day the Sun Stopped Shining Blog Tour, and wanted to start today with a story. There’ll be more. I’ve already posted an interview, had a few interviews myself and there’s a competition below! Visit the full blog list to increase your chances of winning.
What language did ancient English magician John Dee ‘invent’? (He said Angels taught it to him.) I’ll give you a hint, they use it in TVs Supernatural.
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