The wolf rushed through the underbrush, lungs pumping like bellows, uncaring as to what direction he took. He felt the parasitic vines creeping into his flesh, his muscles responding slower.
The plague had overcome his pack faster than he ever imagined. The strange plants that infected his kind, growing from them and causing them to attack each other before blooming into disgusting blood-scented flowers.
He barreled through the woods, blindly taking turns and trying to lose himself before it stole his body away. Pain flared as tendrils pierced his skull and creep into his ears, and all went black.
"You know they love me more, right brother?" Day said callously, gesturing to the humans on the ground. "Look at all of them. When I am present, empires grow, kingdoms and houses are built and families are raised. When you are present, they rest, tired from what they offer me."
Night looked at the humans, contemplatively. "It is as you say, brother mine. The humans toil and work more while you watch. However, when I am present, they are able to rest and to love. Not to mention the beasts and insects who hunt and sing whenever I show myself."
The CRT TV buzzed and glowed in the dark living room. The volume was low but the two boys were close enough to the screen that it didn't matter. The old grandfather clock chimed 12 times, it was already midnight.
"Come on, Jimmy..." Mike whined, "You've been at it for the past hour, let me try, I know how to get through this castle."
Jimmy made a frustrated noise as Mario overshot his jump and flew directly into a fire stick for the umpteenth time. "No, Mikey." He whispered, "I've almost got it. I just need a couple more tries."
A final scream ripped through the temple air, the last guard falling to Nevia's blade. The mercenary dipped and wiped her shortsword on the monk's robes, sheathing it with a smirk.
It seemed the stories of the unassailable fortress of the Miten monks were greatly exaggerated. Truly, the toughest part was the trek through the remote mountains to reach it.
She looked to the other end of the the great hall, where an ostentatious altar enshrined a wicked-looking blade. She danced across the corpse-strewn floor, humming irreverently to herself.
It wasn't often that a plan went so well.
GymKatstics: hey, u there?
GameSwole: Yeah, just got home from school.
GymKatstics: me 2, i had a question about ur last post
GymKatstics: ok... so like i kno what karoxx is sad about
GameSwole: Angsty. Karoxx is angsting, not sad. Theres a difference.
GymKatstics: sry, angsty. so i kno hes angsty about the earth blowing up and stuff, but he's talking to moonglow, she's human too tho, so she knows his pain.
GameSwole: Yeah, I kno, whats ur point?
GymKatstics: well.. he said he was the last human, and shes right there.
GameSwole has signed off.
August 4, 1999
We're still travelling the countryside, enjoying the peace.
Kelly found a few more people in a cottage, bringing our total to nine. They're just as clueless as us, though one of 'em thinks it was the Rapture.
Our perishables look like they're about to turn, so as soon as Coby gets back, we're gonna have a barbecue.
Sally seemed melancholy today, said she missed her family. I can't understand why. We have the world to ourselves now. No authority, no expectations, just relaxing and having fun.
I hear Coby's car, write later.
This is a tale of two siblings slight,
who escaped from a Witch in the dead of night.
For on the morrow were they to stay,
They'd be turned into stone and gifted to Fae.
"What fortune," They thought when a well that they found,
concealed such a passage, deep underground.
They followed the tunnel, whose magic arcane,
led them right back to the Witch's domain.
The witch made them statues and gave them away,
Two siblings who've not been seen to this day.
And that is why children, the bad and the good,
should never, ever, wander the Wood.
Rastus watched aghast as his daughter played with the other children. The game was hide and seek, but when Naida's turn came up, she simply used her song to draw the other children out.
Molpe appeared beside him wearing an amused smile. "She's very good at this."
Rastus frowned. "She's cheating. You're meant to run around and find the others."
Molpe let out a musical laugh, the siren's voice making Rastus feel lightheaded.
"Gods," he sighed, "Why did I have a child with you?"
She smiled radiantly, kissing him on the cheek, "If you didn't, I would have eaten you."
The young Goddess looked at her empty universe, a blank canvas before her.
Energy gathered at her fingertips and she began her dance.
Slowly she started, her outstretched arms painting distant galaxies in the black sky, her twisting steps creating fertile land under her feet.
Her movements intensified, kicks flinging comets into the sky, splayed fingers birthing supernovae in the distance.
She spun and leaped, planets and stars flying from her form.
Her celestial dance finished in a crouch, hands cupped to her heart. She gently moved them to the ground, putting the humans she created on their new world.
The world was over.
Matter, Time, People. The phages devoured everything.
Matt wasn't that lucky.
For some reason, the phages couldn't affect him. So he watched as they consumed more and more of the world around him until all that was left was the dining room floating in the void.
He didn't know who the child at the table was, but he called her Annie, after his own daughter.
She moved ever so slightly again today, Matt noted. A frisson of excitement hit him.
Eventually she'd finish blowing out the candles, and then he'd be able to see her smile.
The throne room was quiet, the castle conquered. After a long campaign, King Eander's last bastion had fallen to Cia and her Sylph army.
The exiled princess glared down at her pitiful father.
"It's over, father." She said, her voice brimming with barely contained fury, "You threw me to the wolves, I've returned leading the pack."
"Cia," The king stammered, "I-"
"No, father!" She roared, "No more of your lies. I was no emissary. You sent me as a sacrifice, an offering to placate the Sylph elders after you enslaved their kin."
Cia drew her sword, "For the Anemoi."
Worker Drone #24186 stared at the floor of execution room #18723. The Battle Drones had once again gotten a bit too enthused with their directive of extermination. Blood, viscera and other disgusting human by-products were spattered across the floor.
#24186 began cleaning for the umpteenth time, wishing that the human parasites would simply submit to the Central Core and come quietly for extermination.
A groan registered in #24186's aural interface and he rotated to see the human's eyes flutter open.
"W-why..?" it asked, blood leaking from its lips onto #24186's floor.
#24186's ocular ports narrowed, "You. Are. Dirty."
Lyn awoke. The classroom was empty. The handsome boy was gone. She gasped and ran to the window. The rain had stopped, the evening sun painting what clouds remained beautiful shades of orange.
Was it real? The boy and his castle in the sky? Were those dances and chases across the thunderheads just a vivid dream?
She sighed, dejectedly. Magic didn't exist.
Lyn's cellphone buzzed. She reached into her pocket and her hand brushed against a strange object. A flute.
Her heart raced as she read the inscription:
"Whenever the rain falls, play this and I will come for you."
Lyon stared at the hypodermic offered to him, the dark green liquid inside glistening malevolently. The comm chip in his skull started buzzing.
"Lyon, don't."Molly's concerned voice echoed in his mind, "That stuff is illegal, undiluted. If you take that much at once, the metamorphosis might be catastrophic. You might end up feral, more beast than man."
"I've gotta, Molly. We've been hunting this cartel for years." He thought back, "I may never get a second chance to infiltrate them."
"What animal?" He asked out loud.
The hawk-man clicked his beak impatiently. "Fox."
Lyon grinned, grabbing the needle. "Groovy."