This wasn’t what Emilio had envisioned when he joined the Mexican military. He was crammed in the back of the truck with twenty other soldiers bumping over uneven road in a remote mountain region near Heroica Guymas.
“What the fuck are we doing out here again?” He asked, reaching into his pocket for a pack of cigarettes.
“Supposed to be some kind of gang violence they say. Probably some fucking drug cartel or another would be my guess.” Said John, he insisted on being called ‘John’ instead of ‘Juan’ as though having worked for a few years in the United States somehow qualified him for an American pronunciation.
“How long does this trip take? It’s almost sundown and we’ve been sitting in this damn truck all day.” As Emilio spoke, the truck lurched to a halt, horn sounding repeatedly. He could hear the driver yelling something. Out of boredom, he stood up and shouldered his rifle. “I’ll go check it out.”
He hopped out of the truck, grabbing the canvas that covered the back of the duce and a half vehicle he had been riding in to steady himself. Walking up to the front, he could clearly hear the stream of profanity coming from the driver’s window.
“Get the fuck out of the goddamn road you stupid piece of dog shit! What the hell is wrong with you stupid bitch?” The horn blared again.
Emilio looked in front of the truck and saw a woman in ragged clothes sitting with her back to the vehicle, rocking slowly back and forth. Her hair hung in a matted mess halfway down her back, she appeared to be wearing a night dress.
“Hey there, are you OK?” He asked, starting to walk towards her. Once he got closer, he could smell her. She was rank; like she had rolled in rotting chicken fat.
“Lady, you need to get out of the road.” He said, circling around to get in front of her. Emilio stopped in shock, the look on his face must have reflected his disgust because the abuse spouting from the truck ceased. The woman’s eyes were sunk into her head and a sickly milky white color. Her mouth was open and her teeth were broken at harsh angles. In her hands she held the bottom half of what used to be a human leg, the shoe and sock still on the foot. The rest was mostly clear of flesh except for a couple of lumps.
“What the FUCK is going on?” He brought his rifle up to his shoulder, watching in disbelieving horror as she tore one of those bloody chunks of human flesh from the bone with her teeth, chewing in silent pleasure. A gunshot from the truck snapped him out of his shocked state.
“Emilio get your fucking ASS back here!” John yelled, he and several other soldiers were standing next to the truck, firing shot after shot at something over Emilio’s shoulder. He glanced behind himself, there were perhaps twenty or thirty shuffling forms coming down the road. Some were walking on legs that ended just above the ankle. Some had missing arms. All had the same sunken eyes that the woman in front of him had.
The woman in front of him. Where the hell did she go? The leg was laying on the ground, completely stripped of meat. Emilio could faintly hear the screams of fear and anger from his comrades. He could smell the thing’s carrion breath and feel it on the back of his neck. There was no way anything could move that fast. No way. He trembled, unable to move his body unable to take his eyes from the beauty of the sunset, refusing to acknowledge what was happening to him.
A whistling sound followed by a wet thunk made him glance left by reflex. There was a bright silver knife with a handle wrapped in para-cord seeming to hover over his shoulder. Thunk thunk thunk, it was joined by three exactly like it. The creature behind him slowly fell over, four knives making a neat diamond shape, forehead, each eye and right in the mouth.
“You’re lucky. This one was blind and cigarette smoke confuses their sense of smell.” A stunning woman with white blonde hair stepped out of the jungle, one of those silver knives in either hand and a bandolier with dozens more falling across her chest. She looked back the way she had come and yelled in English, “Ren! Let’s go before those goddamn cowards come back!”
Emilio realized every one of the soldiers in his company had abandoned him. There was a flicker of motion and another woman emerged from the trees, her camouflage clad body and long dark hair blending with the shadows. “The sun’s almost down Svenka. Give me a few minutes.” Her voice sounded tired.
“Have you looked down the trail? We don’t have a few fucking minutes.”
“There aren’t any who can manage Power are there?”
“No but they can RUN! Jesus Fuck, can you hurry? I don’t fancy becoming dinner.”
The creatures down the trail as one turned to look at them. The ones that could began running; not like humans at all but a gracelessly hurling themselves forward with massive leaps. Emilio remembered his rifle and started firing but it didn’t seem to do anything but put holes in them.
“Fine fine.” There was a sigh, “It’s harder when the sun is out.” Emilio watched the woman in the shadows stood straight and spread her arms wide as though she was imitating the crucifixion. He blinked in confusion, she had wings. Wings of fire and light.
“You’ll want to close your eyes.” The white haired woman had her back to the dark haired one, looking down the road at the approaching creatures with her arms folded. He noted idly that she was wearing a pair of dark sunglasses.
For an instant, the entire world seemed to hold its breath. Then there was a flash of light that made the sun seem dim. A section of the jungle in a perfect circle pattern no longer existed. The figures on the road were simply not there anymore, trees alongside the trail ended a few feet from the ground as though sliced with some impossibly large razor blade.
“Are you OK?” Emilio realized the white haired woman was talking to him. “Did any of them touch you?”
“What is happening? Who are you?” He asked, too bewildered to answer her question.
“The men you were called in to support are all dead. The people they were called in to assist are all dead. It’s the apocalypse Emilio and we are a pair of Horsemen gone rogue.” Her nose wrinkled like a hound scenting, “I can tell they didn’t touch you, the smell of carrion isn’t coming from you at all.”
“I need a favor from you Emilio.” The sun had dropped behind the horizon, its rays barely shining enough light to see by and the woman in black had silently moved to stand next to him. “I’m tired and I can’t afford to be exhausted here. You might be the last human I see for quite some time.”
“What do you mean?” He asked, remembering the wings, the light, the destruction. His rifle hung limply in his hands, forgotten again. She looked into his eyes and he stared back into hers, unable to look away. Those dark orbs of hers seemed to expand to fill his vision. “How do you know my name?” He whispered.
She put her arms around him, “Shhhhh, it’s going to be OK Emilio.” He never felt her teeth pierce his neck.