Barbarians of Steamy Springs Episode 1: Vacation Plans
Posted by Universal Shift
They never saw the raiders coming, nor did they expect the plague that came in their wake.
The skull-faced marauders fell on the village, striking them from the mountain that had nestled and protected it for centuries. The villagers had looked upon the mountain with reverence and now death fell upon them like an avalanche from the very mountain that had given them sustenance.
The wild men came, their skulls gleaming whitely where their faces should be, adorned with parts and pieces of their victims. A necklace of ears here, jerkins sewn from human flesh there. Everywhere trophies of slaughter and gore that the raiders only added to as they tore through the village, hacking and slashing anything that shrieked or moved. The reavers left the village smoldering in its own ashes and returned to the mountain, great plumes of smoke rising high above the mountain peak.
The survivors (those not killed or taken as slaves) dug themselves from the rubble and looked upon the devastation with tear-streaked faces. But their reason for tears was only beginning. Three days after they buried their dead, the plague came.
It claimed the dead first. Eating away at their flesh until only a hideous skeletal visage remained. Possessed with a sinister new life and an insatiable hunger for bloodshed, they dug their way to freedom and forced the survivors to barricade themselves in the town hall. The next to fall were the sick and wounded. Whatever condition they suffered from worsened exponentially, killing them within a week and transforming them in the process. Having no other recourse, the healthy villagers that survived threw out the remaining sick and injured and cowered in corners, awaiting starvation.
“I’m telling you, it’s the perfect getaway spot,” Infinity Jones insisted to his companions. “Hot springs. Mountain air. Pristine surroundings. Exactly what an over-stressed, newly-wedded couple needs.”
“If I want to get away, I set sail from the harbor,” grumbled the Pirate Prince Perfidious. “All this stable earth beneath my feet makes me nauseous.”
Jones laughed. “Spoken like a true scourge of the seas! But seriously. It’s awesome. And it’s home to the famous Haunted Vino Basement. You’ve heard of it, I’m sure. Supposedly the poltergeist activity makes the vino better.”
“I’d rather not have vino tainted by spirits,” snapped the Pirate Prince.
“Come on, husband,” cooed Mistress G to Perfidious. “Infinity speaks truth. I’ve been there myself. It’s beautiful. Serene. Very Zen. And the vino is simply otherworldly.”
“As you like it. How much farther?”
“It’s just over those hills. Nestled against the mountain. Near that giant plume of smoke.” Infinity pointed. “See?”
“Steam from your hot springs?” asked Perfidious sarcastically.
“Most probably. It is the steamy season after all,” said Infinity cheerily, but his face was clouded with worry.
They rode into town the next day. Infinity wept at the sight. The pristine village had been reduced to ashes and cinders. Smoke filled the air, thick enough to choke the life from the living.
“Charming,” sneered Perfidious between coughs.
“Is anyone alive?” called Infinity.
Somewhere in the cloud of smoke, rocks slid and tumbled.
“Careful,” warned the Pirate Prince, drawing his blade, “Could be scavengers.”
“Human or animal?” asked Mistress G.
“It doesn’t matter. They are scavengers. One in the same.”
Humanoid shapes appeared in the smoke moving toward the trio with a deliberate but jerky gait.
“Why are they walking like that?” asked Mistress G.
“I’ve walked like that a few times,” admitted Jones, “Usually after a long night at the pub.”
“Well they would have something to drink about,” joked Perfidious, “What with their village being naught but smoke and cinders.”
“Hullo, good folk,” called Jones. “Can you tell us what happened here?”
“Rooooo….” Answered the shambling form in the forefront that was almost in sight.
“I said, ‘Ho there!’” Infinity reasserted. “What’s the deal?”
“Ruuuhhhhh,” answered the villager then stepped into view. His head was devoid of flesh, his eyes replaced with pitch black orbs, swirling with a sinuous and sinister motion. Flesh hung from the rest of his body, most of it looking to flee the horror it was attached to.
The sight caused the horses to rear up, spilling their riders on the ground before they broke and fled into the mountains.
Infinity and Mistress G leapt up at the ready, but Perfidious was too slow.
The skeleton-headed monster fell on him, gnashing at the frantic prince with his terrible teeth. Perfidious held the monster back, throwing it off and sustaining only minor scratches.
Jones rushed over and ran the abomination through, but to his horror, it didn’t die.
“Look!” yelled Mistress G and pointed.
A whole crowd of shambling monsters was limping toward the prone travelers. Nobody needed to be told to run. They did it instinctively. Fleeing the monstrosities without direction, only trying to find safety. They checked every door along their path. All were locked or filled with more of the walking dead. The crowd’s numbers swelled and they closed in on the adventurers with deliberate determination.
“How are we to kill these things if they refused to die?” wondered Perfidious. His face was flushed and beads of sweat collected on his brow like a crown.
“We don’t kill them,” said Infinity, pulling a barble (a glass marble) from his pouch and setting it at his feet. Closing his eyes he chanted,
“Now that I find myself in trouble, secure me and mine in this hamster bubble.”
Energy flashed and the orb grew to do just that. The trio was encased in a large glass bubble just as the horde broke through the smoke.
“How long with this hold?” asked Mistress G above the din of the frustrated and howling skull-faces flailing futiley against the glass barrier.
Jones shrugged. “Until they get tired and leave or we run out of air. Whichever comes first.”
“The dead don’t tire,” wheezed Perfidious. He looked feverish, his scratches and cuts oozing green puss.
“My love! Are you alright?”
“I’m fine,” he reassured his wife. “Just…a…scratch,” he wheezed and collapsed against the bubble.
“Jones! Help him,” pleaded Mistress G. “I think he’s dying.”
“I can’t help him here. We have to move and find safety.” Jones nodded in the direction of the town hall. “That’ll be the most fortified place in the whole village. We can hole up in there.”
Mistress G reluctantly agreed and together they began the slow journey, rolling the glass ball toward safety. The horde stayed on them the entire time, never relenting. Some of the abominations were caught beneath the orb and having their skulls crushed, didn’t rise again.
As they approached the town hall, the door opened and six pairs of eyes peeked out.
“Survivors!” cheered Infinity and redoubled his efforts.
They rolled the glass ball to a stop at the door. Gore streaked down the sphere in thick rivulets.
“How do we get out?” snapped Mistress G. “I don’t want to get any skeleton in my hair.”
“Watch and be amazed,” said Jones theatrically. He traced a person-sized rectangle on the glass facing the door, finishing with a small circle, acting as a crude doorknob. He opened the glass door and knocked politely on the door. “Excuse me, good folk. Would you please let us in? As you may know, the village is beset with ruffians.”
The door opened swiftly and the three amigos were rushed inside. Once secure, Jones let his magic slip and there was an audible pop followed by the sound of numerous thumps and splatters—like obese rain falling.
About Universal ShiftI am the Sonata Unusual. I coat myself with some obtuse angle too far below zero to become any warmer. I create motivation, activate schemas, moisten gardens with scents of natural honeydew. Construct this meaning, you sleepy flock. Silence your singing—despairing contortions out of tune. Shatter the brittle butterfly glass with your hideous wailing. I am born of my god’s imagination. When I die I shall meet him. For there are many things to discuss over tea…or scotch.
Posted on April 14, 2012, in Author, Fiction, writing and tagged adventure, barbarian, barbarians, Comedy, fantasy, humor, Realm of Possibility, Sci-fi, short story, spring, Zombie. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.