Friday, December 21, 2012

The War Before Christmas

Okay, not the most original title, I know. But it's what stuck in my head.

This is for Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge "War on Christmas"

Now, I know this is suppose to be 1000-words but I'm slightly over, around 1060. I did the best I could to cut it down but ran out of time.

Still, enjoy.
*
The Captain didn't know where the Enemy had come from. Never had and didn't really care. All he cared about was they had come to destroy the beacon.


"Move it, boys..."

"And girls."

"...we don't have much time until those shaggy brutes come back," the Captain shouted. "So move those boxes. Get those walls set up. We don't have much time."

Not a rousing speech, he knew, but his men didn't have much energy to spare. All of them were worn out, their once shining armor dented, scratched, and scuffed. But they just needed to hold out through the night.

"Captain!" The lookout yelled, pointing out beyond the perimeter.

No. Not yet.

Rushing to the lookout he leapt to the top of the barricade and peered into the darkness beyond the Beacon's light.

"Where?" The Captain asked, voice no more then a whisper.

"Just there."

To any not used to it the darkness was all encompassing, a wall of mat black blocking out everything outside the light. The Captain though quickly picked out the different shades of gray, the subtle shifting of shadows. The beasts were here.

"Get those barricades up now!" The Captain snapped, eyes never leaving the seething mass of shadows. "Archers, stand ready! Get to your post, boy," he told the lookout who nodded and ran along the top of the makeshift wall to where the archers gathered.

He saw the first of the beasts emerge from the blackness, the mange ridden black fur on their rangy forms seeming to absorb the light. They stayed at the edge of the Beacon's glow, pacing back and forth, growing in numbers until the horizon was a boiling mass of black and gray.


This would not be an easy night.

Out of the darkness, a single piercing shriek rose. It cut through the night air like glass through flesh, chilling their very bones. Another voice joined it, then another, and another, until a thousand throats were screaming their hate and fury.

Gritting his teeth as the cry tore at his ears the Captain drew his sword, the light flashing along the silvery blade. This was the moment. All the battles that came before meant nothing now. All that mattered was the blade in his hand, the men at his side, and the enemy before him.

Still screaming the dark horde exploded into the light, using their arms as much as their legs to hurtle themselves across the ground.

"Archers!" The Captain shouted. Golden bows were raised, strings drawn back to pointed ears. "Fire!"

As one a score of silver arrows arched into the air, the whisper of their passage lost among the thrum of the bows. Several beasts fell under the sparkling rain, disappearing in swirls of sooty smoke before they ever hit the ground. Yet more rush forward, filling the gaps. The bows thrummed over and over until the archers' quivers finally ran dry. But they'd bought needed time. The wall was complete. The rest of the Captain's men leapt to the top of it.

Swords, spears, daggers, and shields glittering in their hands they readied themselves, counting off the paces as the beasts drew closer.

A hundred, ninety, seventy-five, fifty. At twenty they leapt.

With a savage cry the defenders met them.

The first atop the wall met the flash of the Captain's sword, disappearing in a smoky puff before it could scream. All along the line smoke filled the air as weapons slashed and stabbed, and still they came; jumping and screaming, claws tore and teeth ripped at the defiant warriors, gouging and rending their once shining armor.

Despite their resolve the defenders were pushed back, falling to the sheer numbers of the horde.

Pushed to the edge they dug in their heels and redoubled their efforts. Forming into small groups they pushed back. Weapons weaving around each other the air soon became choked with smoke as both sides shouted and snarled and screamed. The beastly horde was relentless yet the warriors would not give another inch.

They could not win such a battle. And to lose meant the loss of the Beacon.

No matter what, the Captain would not let that happen.

Snatching up the shield of a fallen comrade the Captain charged, sword dancing through the enemy ranks and shield ringing as it deflected blow upon blow. Smoke billowed in his wake and blood flowed from his rent armor, but he didn't slow. Sword flying too fast to be seen the Captain moved from one end of the wall to the other, always appearing where the defense teetered closest to breaking.

The beasts continued to scale the walls and throw themselves at the defenders, but against the Captain's assault even their numbers could not prevail, and step-by-step his warriors drove them back. Though many thought it impossible the horde began to thin, their charge faltered.

Then to the defenders disbelief a bell-like tone rang from the Beacon. All along the wall and the fields beyond, the battle ceased and a wail of rage rose from the horde. As one the dark beasts turned and fled back into the inky blackness.

None of the watching warriors could believe it. Against such odds they should not have lasted an hour yet they had made it through the night.

They had won.

Numbly they looked to their Captain, eyes asking, begging, if it was true. Staring back he hopped down from the wall and walked to the Beacon. Touching the rough, dark, surface of the Beacon and with a rumbling crack it opened into a swirling portal of gold, silver, red, and green.

"Let's go home," the Captain murmured as the darkness started to burn away. In the distance thunder rumbled.



Hurrying down the stairs after his excited daughter, Harry smiled as she skidded to stop a in front of the Christmas tree, eyes wide with wonder at the pile of presents.

"Merry Christmas, Lucy," he murmured couching down by her.

"Merry Christmas, Daddy!" the little blond shouted, spinning around and throwing her arms around his neck. "Can I open my presents?" she asked, smiling from ear to ear.

"Sure, go ahead," he said, whincing at her squeal, and smiling as she dove at the stacks of brightly wrapped packages.

Though frowned in puzzlement a moment later, wondering who had arranged the presents into a little fortress around the brightly lit tree.

1 comment: