by Victoria M. Roark © 2002

The sky grew ominous, the waters dark. The sun was setting. Cole closed, or felt he had close his eyes to the beautiful site. The sunset, the thing that had drew him to this demoniac place.

They would be coming soon. The crystal that kept them alive would not emerge for another day, the man from his dream had told him so.

Cole was not like the others; he didnít feed on flesh. He couldnít, and they knew it. They could smell him. They could smell the stench of his soul, a good and pure soul. They hungered for it.

If he could just hold out one more day, he could overcome the power of the undead.

Cole stood on the bank of the murky water, and peered at the reflection of a man he hardly recognized. His flesh was rotting. His once bright blue eyes that had once been full of life, were now just dull and pale organs. His skull was beginning to show through the multitude of the eroding arteries, muscles and skin that once was. He was becoming one of them.

He jumped suddenly, as the sound penetrated what remained of his ears. It was time. They were up. The clanking and rattling of the bones assured him of that. They would be having their ritual soon. Then they would hunt him.

Cole strained hard to see across the glistening tranquil blackness of the water. His vision was becoming blurred, but his senses more keen. He knew where they were, just beyond the ridge, beneath the setting sun.

Durk was the one he feared. He was the one closest to capturing Cole the first night. The others were slow, but Durk had the advantage. He had the bike. The bike that Cole had brought here. The bike that Cole had stupidly forgotten in his rush to try and escape.

There would be no need to worry about hindsight now, he had to run, and he would have to hide, and God forbid he would have to drink the water. Water that was blackened by their souls, flavored by their blood, and rotted flesh. The same water that fed the crystal and gave it power, the water that would keep him alive one more night.

Cole knelt down to scoop up the liquid that would devour his remaining flesh and drank. Oh, the pain. It was excruciating, as if acid was feeling every little pour he had left.

"Jump in," the man had told him.

"I canít," Cole replied.

"You must."

"I will die."

"You will die if you donít."

Cole knew it would be quicker, but the pain was too much to sustain. The erosion of ones flesh peeling from the body times ten, was neither appealing, nor a realistic thought for him at that time. It had been fear of the unknown, and fear of dying that had kept him from jumping.

Now, the time had come, it was too late. He would never be able to return home. This was his home now. He had become one of them, one of the undead. His mortal self had been consumed by the darken water. The shell of the man he once was, gone.

He could smell Durk and the others. He smelt the marrow that filled their frames, and held them strong.

Cole would hunt them; he would start with the leader, Durk. He would fight him, and rule this place he once feared. He would protect the crystal, the others, the water. He would control it all.

x x x

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