The Audience is Listening
I need to look on the bright side—I’ve not been eaten alive…yet—Jonathan Parks
Laughter—maniacal laughter. This is what Brody West hears as he sweeps Malak-esh behind his head, striking a charging zombie, before driving it forward again into the chest of another. The sound seems to be coming from everywhere, or perhaps it is only in his head. No one else—none of the zombies, or the soldiers fighting in vain for their lives—seems to hear it. Brody cannot block it out.
He uses his divine weapon as a focus for his power. Each time he strikes one of the rabid creatures, Brody discharges his power through the blade, igniting a white hot flame within the raging monsters that devours them from within in seconds. Each swipe of Malak-esh reduces another human monster to ash.
These plague victims resemble their former human selves only because they have the characteristic shape of men. Otherwise, they appear as monsters more than men. Their clothes are shredded, hanging as soiled and bloody ribbons upon their gaunt frames. Despite what flesh these ravenous creatures may have recently consumed, their hypermetabolism has burned the calories away, leaving them only with an insatiable appetite for prey. A hunger that knows no bounds drives them to kill everyone that crosses their paths.
Once a watcher from afar, Brody West has now become a warrior, entering the fray this horrifying plague has generated. Brody has killed these monsters before when necessary, but never has he faced so many. He strikes another down, and another, and another.
They come from every direction, relentless and unyielding. There is no notion of fear upon their faces. There is no sign of retreat, even when he raises Malak-esh to rend their flesh with white hot fire. Rather than flee at the danger, they rush forward and are cut down.
Sheer numbers continually force Brody to retreat. He can only engage so many at one time before leaping away. The trouble is open ground is rapidly becoming hard to find.
Throwing himself away again, before the onrushing ghouls can get hold of him, Brody lands upon one of the parked support vehicles. Only a moment ago, one of the soldiers had been attempting to hide inside, or at least barricade himself within. It didn’t last. Zombies crashed through the windows of the van, chasing him from the front of the vehicle into the rear compartment. There they had him.
Brody lands upon the roof of the van. Almost instantly, the tide of plague victims changes course to take up pursuit. They scrabble over one another like insects, attempting to be the first to reach him upon his perch.
Malak-esh shines with brilliant light each time he strikes down one of the horde, discharging its power through the victims, immolating them in seconds. The sword creates a strobe effect, illuminating the GCHQ building behind him, casting shadows of grizzled forms with reaching hands upon the walls. Still, Brody realizes his efforts here outside the building are not doing much good. The soldiers in the courtyard are already dead, or dying, and his great grandchildren await him inside. He had hoped to stay the tide of zombies from gaining access to the flying saucer-shaped building, but it doesn’t look like he or anyone else will be able to stop them.
Yet, the laughter in his head only increases with his efforts.
“Bravo!” the voice shouts between bouts of cackling as Brody swings Malak-esh, dividing a raging man’s head from his body.
He wants to believe that it might be Black or Southresh, but either appearance would be impossible. Black’s host was destroyed back in the city of Trinity upon the spiritual plane before a terrible conflagration from the Lord destroyed it all. Southresh, also, was defeated and sent back to the angelic prison of Tartarus. His own Sadie had accomplished the task. Brody had not sensed the angel’s presence in the world even once since that time.
Of course, that only left one of the Fallen in the world; only one who had tormented him through the long years of his life. He had first come to Brody during his brief time as a penniless waif upon the streets of London over one hundred years before. His father had been murdered by two thugs attempting to rob them, and Brody had fled the scene in terror for his life. In his time of need he had no friends, no one who would give him the slightest help.
It was in the disguise of that good angel that Lucifer had first appeared to him, presenting gifts and seemingly good advice when he was at his lowest point and ready to receive any kindness. Not long after this, the angel appeared again just in time to save the life of Oliver James from an act his mentor believed might rid them of Black. Lucifer had also shown up within the angelic prison of Tartarus—again as that same seemingly good angel—to defend him and Oliver from the mad god himself, Southresh.
In all these things, Brody had been fooled by the arch-villain of the ages. It had not been until after Oliver sacrificed himself to imprisonment within Tartarus that it became clear who this good angel really was. Brody had eventually guessed at Lucifer’s identity, but he had possessed no way to defeat his adversary.
Now, Brody has not a single doubt in his mind as to Lucifer’s involvement in all that had transpired since that time—the Word of God being quite clear on his nature and his devices. In ways Brody has little specific information about, Lucifer has always been there, operating behind the scenes to bring about his malevolent ends upon him and his family. The events surrounding the rise and fall of the angel’s descendant progeny, Grayson Stone, have been only part of the whole matter.
This maniacal laughter now, as he fights for his life among a horde of ravenous plague victims, can only be Lucifer again, inserting himself into Brody’s life in order to cause him misery and pain. Decades of separation from all of those events and the descendant races themselves clearly has not erased his existence from the mind of the Devil himself. His old enemy is here, gloating with every kill or evasion Brody makes.
“Are you afraid to show yourself?” Brody growls, kicking away a horrid female creature scrabbling up the side of the van to the roof.
More snickering at his challenge. Then he hears the voice say, “Very well, since it pleases me.”
Lucifer appears then in multiple locations all around the makeshift compound. Brody’s gaze is drawn to the nearest first and then the rest, all while doing his best to fight off the raging horde dogging his movements about the crowded parking lot. Some of the apparitions—for he knows they are not all physical embodiments—laugh again at his predicament. Others shake their heads in mock pity.
In anger, Brody throws his arms outward, producing a kinetic bubble that explodes like a shockwave. Numerous bloodthirsty plague zombies are thrown into the air and across the blood-stained pavement. Several vehicles are pummeled with enough force to topple them onto their sides.
Those who remain little effected, however, surge toward him like floodwaters, relentless in their ferocity. Lucifer howls with laughter again. “You’ll have to be more creative than that, if you hope to survive this night, Mister West.”