Chapter One - The Awakening
It began the same every time.
The sign at the edge of town read ‘Welcome to Providence.” The sign itself was pristine white, the lettering painted in a vibrant golden color.
The houses on the street were quaint and welcoming. Night had fallen over the quiet street, lit dimly by the porch lights of several homes, spaced out with the sporadic street light. He found himself on this particular street each night he closed his eyes. He found himself stopped at the same house every time.
The house was pale blue with a white fence surrounding the yard. The door was white, the golden house number fixed firmly on a post. A red handprint stained the perfect door, the smear streaking down the front of it.
The screams filled the air. They rang in his ear and froze him in his tracks.
He bolted upright in his bed.
Drew Campbell pressed a hand to his sweaty face. He found himself panting, struggling to catch his breath. Sunlight crept through his window. He squinted, using his arm to block the light from his eyes. He groaned as he forced his legs to swing around the side of the bed. His feet touched the ground, forcing the exhaustion to ripple through his body.
He couldn’t see them, but he knew that the dark circles under his eyes were darker than they had been.
It had been a week of the Campbell family settling into their new home here in Providence, Maine. Third military base in the last four years. This time, his father was able to find them a house off of the base. He was thankful for that, the ability to go to a school without a bunch of fellow military brats.
He made his way into the bathroom and stopped for a moment, taking in his reflection in the mirror. He sighed, seeing the thick circles under his eyes having grown darker over night.
The dreams about his new hometown started months ago, even before his father had received his transfer assignment. They scared him, naturally, though it wasn’t long before he would realize just how terrifying they would actually become.
One week ago, the day his family had driven into their new home, the dream had become a reality. A family living just a few streets over was found murdered in their home. Slaughtered would seem to be a more appropriate word, just based on how the news described the scene. He shuddered at the thought of it.
His fingers lingered for a moment before turning on the faucet, allowing the cold water to pour out. A wave of uneasiness washed over him. Drew gasped, his hand clutching tightly around the edge of the sink. His eyes snapped shut, his breathing growing heavy. His fingers began to tingle the tighter his grip grew.
As quickly as the feeling came over him it was gone. His grip released from the sink just as he exhaled. His eyes opened slowly.
“What the hell…”
He stood in the mirror. His breathing was slowly getting back to normal.
His mother’s voice from downstairs snapped him back into reality. He cupped his hands, catching a small pool of water to splash across his face.
He quickly descended the staircase and stood in the kitchen doorway. His father and younger brother sat at the table while his mother served them pancakes from the frying pan.
“Well,” Marcus Campbell said with a small smirk as he lifted his coffee mug. “Look who finally decided to get out of bed.”
Drew half chuckled as he took his seat at the table. His mom had set a plate for him. Gwen Campbell came over from the stovetop and placed two pancakes from the pan down in front of him. She smiled warmly.
“Morning, sweetheart,” She planted a kiss atop his head.
Blake Campbell was face first in his plate of pancakes. The ten year old was mostly silent, sans the sounds of his loud chewing. Drew chuckled and shook his head. Blake was a chubby little kid. Not much unlike Drew when he was younger. His brother would grow out of it, eventually.
“Dad,” Drew said. “Can I borrow the car today?”
“Not today, kiddo,” Marcus shook his head. “I’ve got to get on the base and into my office. Make sure I’ve got everything set for Monday.”
Drew groaned. “I’ve got to get over to the dry cleaner before they close. I’ve got to pick up mine and Blake’s uniforms for school on Monday morning.”
Marcus shrugged. “Guess you’re riding your bike there.” Drew rolled his eyes.
“Make sure you stay away from Trinity,” Blake’s fork clanged against the table as it fell from his hand. “Unless you’re trying to find that murder cult.”
“Blake!” Gwen called from across the room.
“What?” Blake shrugged before taking a huge gulp from his glass of orange juice. “That’s what they’re saying killed those people.”
“And how would you know that?” Drew arched his eyebrow.
“I heard it on the news,” His younger brother scoffed. “Dad had it on the tv last night while I was pretending to read. Duh.”
Murder cult. It would make sense that’s what they were calling it now. The symbols painted all over the walls in the victim's’ blood, the family seeming to be chosen at random. The whispers that they weren’t the only ones. “Yeah, well, I’m sure you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Whatever,” Blake rolled his eyes. “Mom and dad decided to move us to this murder town. We should be lucky that we’re not the next ones.”
“That’s enough,” Gwen called from across the kitchen. Marcus chuckled lightly and shook his head as he lifted the newspaper to read.
Blake picked up his knife and mimed slicing himself across the throat. Drew let out a small, exasperated groan. He crumpled up his napkin and hurled it across the table, hitting Blake right in his chest. Drew smirked. He slowly rose up, pushing his chair back from the table.
“Drew, you didn’t even touch your pancakes,” Gwen nodded towards the full plate.
“Oh..yeah…” Drew stopped himself before crossing the doorway once more. “Sorry mom, I’m not all that hungry. Didn’t sleep all that well last night. I, uh, I’ll be back soon!”
His pace was quick as he made his way out of the house, the front door closing tightly behind him. Blake shrugged and reached for his brother’s plate, only to have his mother’s hand come smacking down against his. He mumbled in pain quietly under his breath. Gwen smiled and picked up the plate from the table.
Drew held tight to the bundle of hangers as he exited the dry cleaners. He carefully draped the uniforms over his handlebars and mounted his bike once more. He reached into his pocket, checking the time on his phone. 10:30am. His final Saturday before he started school. This trip to the dry cleaner would probably be the most exciting thing he would do all day. He sighed, placing his feet on the pedals and took off towards home.
He always hated coming into the school year after it had already started. Even though he was often sure that it wouldn’t matter in the end. Drew tended to keep to himself. He wasn’t into playing sports like most kids his age.
Their new home was the same as any town they had moved to over the years. The difference this time is that they were actually living off of the base. Their parents had decided that Drew and Blake needed a chance at a semi-normal life. They found a house just ten minutes from the base that their father was assigned, enrolling them in one of the local schools instead. The school being a private school with uniforms and a hefty tuition. They had no problems affording it, however. Especially with their mother securing herself a job working directly under the headmaster.
He must not have been paying attention to where he was going. He stopped in his tracks, the road he found himself on not looking familiar to him. He tilted his head. That wasn’t right. He’d seen this road before. Never during the daytime; only at night while he slept.
Drew’s breathing quickened, his nostrils flaring outward. He felt his pulse racing; blood throbbed in his veins. He couldn’t explain it but something was drawing him to this street. Something was drawing him to that house. Fear washed over him. Everything in him was telling him that he needed to turn around, turn around and go home. He sat frozen, staring down the street.
His feet pushed down on the pedals, pushing himself towards a tree at the end of the road. He leaned his bike up against it, kicking out the kickstand for balance. He threw up the hood of his sweatshirt and took off running.
He recognized the house without the yellow police tape surrounding the yard. The pale blue color, the white fence tucked behind the yellow tape. He kept telling himself to turn around, to go back to his bicycle and ride home. He quickly glanced around quickly, ensuring that no one was watching. Nothing in sight. He held his breath and ducked under the police tape. He used his sleeve covered arm to push the fence open and crept into the yard.
The front door was open. He paused as his eyes fell on the front door. The bloody smeared handprint across the front. The hairs on the back of his neck prickled and stood on end. Drew shook his head and moved forward into the house.
An instant feeling of regret rippled through his body.
The living room would have seemed like a comfortable one, had it not been in the state that it was in. Chalk outlines of bodies littered the ground, pools of dried blood under them. A knot tied tightly in his stomach. He needed to leave. He spun on his heels, looking towards the door.
Adorned on the walls, a series of strange symbols painted in what looked to be dried blood. He dug into his pocket, pulling out his phone. The flash went off repeatedly, snapping several photos of them.
“I shouldn’t be here,” He mumbled to himself beneath his breath.
A screeching sound echoed through his ears. He froze in his tracks. Drew shook his head and took off running. He made his way out the door and took off running down the walkway. He leapt over the fence and over the police tape. His feet hit the pavement and he ran towards his bike.
The screech echoed again. Drew fought against all of his instincts and looked back. What he saw sent shivers down his spine.
A series of hellish looking creatures circled in the air. They were bird-like, their bodies covered in rotting feathers. Their beaks were mangled, their eyes beady and red. They screeched once more dove towards him. Drew threw his arms up to shield his head. Gnarled claws struck across his body, ripping into fabric of his sleeves.
He cried out in pain as he felt the claws graze across his flesh. He threw out his arms, swatting at the hellish creatures. They screeched as they continued their attack.
Drew took a hard left and continued running, rushing into the woods. He felt the leaves crunching beneath his feet as he ran faster. The Harpy creatures screeched. They dove towards him and began to peck and claw at him. One of the claws got stuck in one of the rips in his sweatshirt, pulling at him. Drew was forced to the ground. He turned himself around, staring one of the creatures right in the eye. Terror flicked and glinted in Drew’s eyes.
He struggled to unzip the front of his hoodie and ripped it from his body. The Harpy cried out into the air. Drew forced his foot in the center of the creature’s chest and kicked. It went stumbling backwards.
Drew struggled to get himself to his feet. More of the Harpies came closing in. Drew shuffled across the ground, keeping himself low. His hand grazed over something hard and he clutched tight onto it. He swung the stick and smacked one of them in the side. A loud cracking sound filled the air as the stick snapped in half.
“Oh crap,” Drew’s voice was shaking.
He scurried back some more, only to find his back pressing against a tree. His breathing quickened as the creatures slowly began to close in on him. He said a silent prayer. One of the Harpies drew in closer to him. Hot breath blew from the nostrils of the creature, blowing into Drew’s face. He turned his head and gritted his teeth.
Drew tilted his head back and cried out in a mix of pain and surprise. His eyes snapped open, their normal blue-green color now pulsing red. His right hand gripped over his left wrist and squeezed tight. He rapidly blinked his eyes, they slowly returned to their normal color. He glanced down at his left wrist in shock.
An intricate design travelled from his wrist and down across his knuckles and into his fingertips. The design continued upwards, stopping at his elbow. It burned into his skin and pulsed with a deep red color. Drew’s fear flashed over his eyes. The Harpy stumbled back, rejoining the remainder of the pack. As they grouped together, Drew managed to force himself to his feet.
The Harpies screeched and closed their ranks, circling around to block any hope of escape. Drew slowed his breathing, embracing the pain and burn engrossing his left arm. He slowly raised it up, a burst of flames shooting out from his palm. The blast shot out, forcing the Harpy creatures backwards. They stood and stared, what seemed to be confusion washing over their beady eyes.
Drew’s own eyes widened in shock. “What the hell…”
He didn’t have time to think. The creatures cried out into the air and charging forward. Drew threw both of his arms to his side, torrents of flame shooting from his hands. The flames traveled upward, scorching the ends of his t-shirt. Instinct took over and he charged forward.
His hand shot outward, a torrent of flames pouring out. One of the Harpy creatures dodged, the flames just singeing the tips of it’s feathers. It screeched in pain and changed directions, turning to charge headon at Drew. He shot his hand out once more, a torrent of flames ripping from his hands and blasting the creature in the chest.
Drew curled his right hand into a tight fist and swung his arm, a fiery fist striking across the beak of another of the creatures. He leapt upward and planted a kick in the chest of a third. Using the moment from the kick, Drew flipped backwards through the air, landing firmly on his feet.
“Holy crap!” He cheered himself.
His arms shot outward once more, bursts of flames shooting outward. The Harpies screeched out in pain, the flames engulfing their bodies. The smell of burning flesh filled Drew’s nostrils and made his stomach turn. He ignored the smell and continued firing out the bursts of flames, the creatures falling one by one.
Exhaustion threatened his, fatigue overcoming his arms. They grew heavier to hold up, but Drew fought to keep them raised. The final remaining Harpy took advantage of this and charged for an attack. It lashed out with it’s claw and slashed, tearing at the fabric of his shirt. With another slash, the creature cut into his arm. Blood trickled from the wound.
Drew cried out in pain. His knuckles cracked as he balled up his fist. With a loud cry, he landed a solid punch square in the beak of the creature. A crack, followed by the pained screech of the creature. It stumbled backwards and fell to the ground.
Scattered around him, the smouldering bodies of the other creatures. Drew blinked his eyes and looked down at his hands. Had he done that himself? He couldn’t believe it.
The tattoo on his left arm that had suddenly appeared had faded away, now an almost pale red color that was barely visible to his eye.
He looked down at his shirt, burn marks and slashes. The cut on his right arm was still slowly trickling blood. He had no idea how he was going to explain any of this to his mother. He released an exhausted sigh and turned on his heels. He stopped and glanced back, the smouldering bodies of the creatures having already turned to ash. The final one, the Harpy with the now broken beak, was nowhere to be seen.
Drew didn’t have the time to wait and see if it had gotten back up and was ready for round two. Nor was he sure how to summon the fire once again if the creature was ready for another fight. Despite the aches in his body, he took off running. He found his bike was still where he had left it, entirely undisturbed. He mounted it and peddled faster than he ever had.
Lucky for him, no one had seen him enter the house. His father was already gone for the morning at the base. His mother was outside in her new garden, prepping it for planting for the coming spring. Blake was fixed in front of the television in the family room, his eyes glued to the video game he was playing. Drew threw the uniforms over one of the kitchen chairs and bolted upstairs. He slammed the bathroom door shut and stripped down. He balled the shirt and pants up, making a mental note for himself to discard of them discreetly.
He climbed into the shower and allowed the hot water to pour over his body. The bottom of the shower ran red as the blood from his arm mixed with the water. He sighed. He pressed his head against the shower wall.
The water at his feet ran clear again. He looked at his arms. The wound had stopped bleeding. The faint red design on his arm had almost completely faded away. Drew had to squint to see any remaining traces of it. He pressed his hand to his face and rubbed his eyes. He needed to get some sleep. His body cried for it.
He turned off the shower and grabbed the towel hanging on the rack. He quickly dried himself off. He wrapped the towel around his waist and darted across the hall to his bedroom. He fell forward, nearly collapsing onto his bed.
Sleep came almost instantaneously.
The dream started out as it always had. The sign, the street, the house, the scream.
This time was different. It felt different. Instead of freezing in his tracks, Drew found himself pressing onward. He made his way up the walkway of the house, the one he had travelled just before his encounter with the horrendous Harpy creatures.
He froze in the doorway and instantly regretted this journey. He willed himself to wake up, to unsee this horrid vision, but he stayed planted in this dream. This was the most he had ever seen. In the months before they had moved to Providence, he never made it passed the walkway. He wished for nothing more than that now.
The man and woman were middle aged, not much older than his own parents were. Their two children couldn’t have been much older than he was; late teens to early twenties if he had to guess. Their bodies were spread across the floor in a circle, each of them facing upward. Their eyes were permanently open, frozen in their final moments of fear. Each had a thin slit across their throat, as well as a deep puncture wound bleeding through their stomachs.
Drew gasped in horror and clasped his hand over his lips. He spun on his heels and went to run. What he saw stopped him.
The man was smartly dressed in a suit and tie, his dark hair perfectly coiffed and unmoving. His brown eyes were cold and staring daggers into Drew’s soul. The teenager could feel his breathing starting to quicken. The man seemed to have simply ignored Drew and continued on his way through the door.
Drew blinked his eyes rapidly. The man appeared to look right through him.
The man grimaced, realizing he was standing in a puddle of blood. He rolled his eyes and wiped his shoe against the father’s shirt.
“Careful brother,” A voice spoke from the doorway. “Wouldn’t want to get those fancy shoes all messy.”
A beautiful young woman tilted her head to the side and smirked. She pulled tight on the collar of her leather jacket as she made her way back into the room. Blood covered her hands.
“Sansa,” The man spoke. “I see you and Ramiel found a way to keep yourselves busy. Couldn’t save any for me though, could you?”
The young woman snickered. She shook her head. “You had known the plan all along, Vaako. Perhaps if you hadn’t wasted so much time on choosing a host, you’d have made it for all the fun.”
“This body suits you, brother,” A third voice spoke from the hall.
Another man entered, dressed in all black. His eyes were colder than the others. His bloody hands clutched tightly to a blood soaked knife. A sinister smile was drawn across his face. “Tell me, where is your beautiful wife?”
“Goneril will be joining us shortly,” Vaako spoke. “In the meantime, we’ve got much to do. Father isn’t far behind us all, as we can assume.”
“Wonderful,” Sansa spoke. “In the meantime, brother, perhaps you’d like to do the honors?”
Vaako smiled. He blinked his eyes and Drew’s own eyes widened. Thick pools of black liquid seemed to swirl around his eye sockets, engulfing his eyes in a midnight hue. The other two followed suit, their own eyes blackening in the same way.
“What the hell…” Drew murmured to himself. He tried to run again, only to find his feet frozen to the ground.
Vaako crossed the room to the mother’s body. He looked down at her and shook his head. “Pity,” He smirked. “This one was quite lovely.”
He reached down and pressed his fingers into the wound on her stomach. Blood covered his fingers. The sight of this made Drew’s stomach turn. Vaako grinned as he placed his pointer finger against the wall, tracing out one of the strange symbols Drew had seen in the house.
“Father will be quite pleased,” He said to the other two. “Very well done.”
“Once father comes topside,” Ramiel toyed with the knife in his hand. “Shall we continue on this quest? I must say, I found it quite invigorating.”
“We have bigger plans than this.”
The voice came from the doorway and sent an instant chill down Drew’s spine. It sounded old, worn out and tired. He turned his head; the man he saw matched the voice almost perfectly. The man was old, silver hair and beard fixed on his head. In his right hand, he held onto a cane as a way to help him walk. Behind him, a much larger man stood, his body covered in a long black trench coat. The coat, however, did nothing to hide his bulging arm muscles.
“Lord Varys has arrived,” The brute spoke.
“Thank you, Manu,” The older man waved him off with his free hand. “I think my children should recognize their own father. Even in this form.”
Vaako stepped away from the wall and bowed his head. He slowly lowered himself to one knee. Sansa and Ramiel followed suit.
“Welcome, father,” Sansa said. “Ramiel and I have prepared the way for your return. Vaako, on the other hand…”
“Hold your tongue!” Vaako snapped his head towards her, only to be met with a sinister grin from the female.
“She’s not wrong,” Ramiel shrugged his shoulders. “You did just decide to show up.”
“Enough!” Varys slammed the butt of his cane against the floor. Doing so sent him into a horrible coughing fit, his old body trembling with each wet cough. The fit lasted for a few minutes before he cleared his throat.
“We have much to do,” Varys broke his silence. “Finish what you are doing. It is time that the humans know that we have come for them. Vaako, summon Goneril to this place immediately. She must be present for this as well. Get up! All of you!”
The three followed instruction and rose to their feet. They quickly went to work, each of them repeating Vaako’s steps before and dipping their fingers into the blood before tracing the hellish symbols across the walls. Varys stood and chuckled.
Drew’s feet were finally allowing him to move. Tears welled up in his eyes, witnessing this horror firsthand. Whoever these people were, they certainly could not be human. He needed to get out of there. And fast.
He took off running, ignoring the hulking brute known as Manu. He nearly flew across the walkway and into the street. He panted heavily as his feet slammed against the pavement. He wanted nothing more than to wake up. Nothing more than to be free of this.
“Run all you’d like, young one,” The voice forced Drew to stop running.
The sound of the cane hitting the pavement with each step came closer and closer. The old man was closing in on him. Drew snapped his eyes shut, telling himself over and over that this was just a dream. Just a dream and it was time for him to wake up. His eyes slowly opened as he felt the man’s hot breath on the back of his neck.
“You will fall like the rest of your pathetic kind,” Varys said as he slowly circled around, coming now face to face with Drew. “Humans are a disgrace. We are the true, perfect species. We will reign supreme over this wasteland.”
His lips curled into a sinister grin. Drew noticed that his eyes were solid black, just as the other three had been before. Varys released a slow chuckle, allowing that chuckle to build. The horrid sound resonated through Drew’s body as it echoed through the night air.
Drew woke up screaming. His face was buried deep in his pillow, muffling most of his scream. He forced himself up. Cold sweat dripped across his face and his body. His breathing came in short, quick pants as he struggled to regulate it.
A dull, throbbing pain shot through his left arm.
The tattoo had appeared once more, pulsing with a dark red light.