The whiskey wasn’t enough to get rid of that horrible taste Jacob Syre had in his mouth. He was shaken, tired and bleeding but he was still alive. Cheers to that. He took a second swallow; much larger than the first.
A deep breath and a long sigh. He was calming down. Now he was looking to the ground, the spot where he had just thrown up. He wiped his mouth with the dirty dirty rag that he kept tucked into his jeans. Calm, but not quite calm enough, he then swallowed what was left in the flask and tossed it away.
The whiskey was starting to do it’s magic and slowly he was getting his senses back. He knew that he had to act. He thought he had seen the mark and if all the rumors were true, then others would be there soon. He leaned forward letting his head rest against the wall for a moment longer.
The warehouse was abandoned, an old rusted out shell with nothing inside but broken machinery from a long forgotten era. Rats, roaches and other vermin ruled places like this. Jacob pushed back from the corner of the warehouse with his hands. He had to do something, anything except feel sorry for himself, so he walked back to where the dead man lay.
The smell of roses was in the air, emanating from the the rotting corpse. Jacob had been around death plenty. He, like everyone else, was used to death, but not like this. This man had died recently, but he appeared as if he had been there rotting for weeks.
Jacob had no understanding of things such as self defense or murder. No one taught those concepts in the world he was born into. There were no police. The dead and dying far outnumbered the living. People killed and were killed for scraps. The sick would collapse in streets, others would only stop to pick the pockets and leave the man to his fate. By comparison, Jacob was a decent person. He was raised by the last remnants of civilized humanity and having a man die by his hand was something he was unprepared for.
The man had attacked him but he could have managed to retreat unharmed, had he wanted. Instead he stayed and fought, like he would be rewarded for excepting the challenge, perhaps food or something he could trade for it at least. No, the truth was he had taken enough in his life and had been at the breaking point for a long, long time. He was glad when the man attacked him.
‘I should never of followed him in here in the first place. Did i really see it on him, was he marked? Oh blessed one let it not be there’, Jacob thought, as he knelt beside the man he had killed. He couldn’t remember why he had even followed the man. There must have been a reason, and not remembering just added to the strange sinking feeling Jacob felt.
“It was a stupid thing to do.”, He whispered to the corpse.
It looked human enough, as human as any other rotting piece of flesh that littered the city, but he wasn’t entirely sure that was the case. The rate of decomposition was as such that Jacob could see it happening. As if time was distorted and going by at ten times the normal speed. The stench of roses was getting stronger, almost unbearable. It had only been a minute or two since he had ran to the corner to be sick. This can’t be real, he thought.
It was a creature, not a man, Jacob decided. But that was not important at the moment. What was important was that he had to make sure of what he thought he had seen or else he might end up dead right next to the creature when the creatures friends arrived.
There was only a small pool of blood, most seemed to have evaporated, and that at least was something to be grateful. Jacob hated blood but he didn’t mind it so much right now, he just wanted to figure out the quickest way to get out of here, out of this mess, and back to his children.
The knife came out easy enough from it’s chest. He wondered if the blade would be a good enough tool to remove the mark if it really was there. Turning the body on it’s side was as difficult as Jacob thought. The thing must have weighed two hundred and fifty pounds or more, over a foot taller and much stronger than Jacob was.
When they were struggling Jacob was sure it would get the best of him. Then he caught a glimpse of a silver object embedded in his opponents neck. That was the first time Jacob was ever scared enough to pull out his grandfathers blade and use it. He screamed and thrust the blade into it’s mans chest. Never saying a word, it just smiled as it fell to the ground.
He reached down, turned the things head and then quickly pulled his hand away. He had never seen one before tonight but there was no doubt now, he had killed a marked man. Marked men, the damned, the overseers, the myth of Avalon, they went by many names and they were not supposed to exist.
He stood, slowly backing away. His instinct told him to run and never look back. His remaining senses urged him to leave and forget what had happened. Forget what he had seen. But he couldn’t. He knew the mark had to be removed if he was going to have a chance.
The mark was metallic, embedded into the base of the creatures neck. There were engraved markings on it that he couldn’t understand and below that something he could: 1357 P.A.
Jason’s voice, a memory, echoed in his mind.
“Sooner or later you might one day run into their kind and if you’re lucky enough to survive you’ll have to move fast. They never leave their dead behind. You be sure to remember that Jake, they will never leave their dead behind”
He wondered how the old man could predict his fate. “They never leave their dead behind”, He repeated out loud.
He purposefully walked to the body. Knife in hand and determined. He went to dig the mark from it’s neck. He paused, the blade was less than an inch away from digging into the creatures neck, it was at that moment when he heard the creak of the door and knew he was already too late.
Jacob quickly scanned the room for a weapon he could use to fight his way out, his small pocket knife would not be enough. If this was the end for him, fine, but he was going to take as many with him as he could. Not seeing anything useful he thought he might have a chance if he hid, perhaps they didn’t know he was there and could just lay low and wait until they left. He was thinking of his kids again. They were still young, their mother dead, he was all they had left. So he reluctantly crept away, leaving the mark still in place, quietly and quickly as he could, he backed into the deep shadows of the warehouse.
As he hid, he watched four figures casually walk in from the cool outside air into the warehouse, their shadows stretching in front of them. They stopped just inside the threshold. Not one of them spoke nor made any sound. They just stood there as if they were waiting for something to happen.
The withered dead man, the marked man, sat up, it’s eyes wide open with tears of blood streaming down it’s face. It croaked a strained laugh and then whispered a single word before falling back to the ground, dead again.
That word was directed at Jacob. He knew. The Word was “Marked” and it sent shivers down his spine.Share