Fear

It took the children first. Few of them lasted the first week, fewer the next. It dug deep into their flesh and then suddenly, without warning, split apart their skin and ravaged its way out. It never once told us what it wanted or why it was here, but people came to their own conclusions. A punishment from god, a being from the astral plane, an incursion from foreign invaders. Some people figured it didn’t matter and kept silent, that or they died, either way they’re better off than the rest of us. My mother, now more wound than woman, has been in her bed for a week. She’s begun shaking in her sleep. I don’t think she’ll be with us tomorrow. It’s for the best.

The pit in the middle of town was once 3 yards deep, now it’s level. Its surface is as firm and as dense as stone, a grody pattern of rotting flesh and dirtied bone, flat from the endless stream of footsteps. Travellers fall victim to its spiteful smell long before it enters their eyesight, but locals notice little of the wicked stench when standing within the pit itself. A friend once said that if I closed my eyes and walked across the pit I wouldn’t notice a difference, he was absolutely right.

We were soldiers but a month ago, noble heroes, gods among men. We made our fathers and our children proud. Now we’re faced with an enemy we can’t strike down or outsmart, and we’re being shown for the cowards we are. When my son asks me why he wakes to indescribable pain, I have no choice but to tell him that I do not know. I fear for him. I fear that he won’t live to have a son of his own. I fear that this town will be met with invasion by sunrise. But most of all, I fear that the evil we left our homes to fight was nothing compared to the evil we carried home with us.

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