Silas waited in the darkness.
It was an empty darkness, the kind that you would think to find at the end of the Earth, or at the beginning of something new. The rain fell violently, making a pitter-patter-pitter sound as it hit against the cobblestone paving. Silas wiped his forehead with the back of his hand, and it came away slippery with what could have been either rainwater or sweat. Beside him stood a man of less than twenty years, his pale face and equally pale hair a contrast to the darkness that enveloped the city. His name was Fyn, and he stood a little more than a centimetre apart from Silas. His hand rested on the butt of a small, black pistol no larger than the length of your index finger to your wrist. Together, the two men waited.
“Are ya sure they came down here?” Fyn asked quietly, tapping Silas lightly on the shoulder with his free hand. Silas raised a finger to silence him, and Fyn dipped back into the shadows as if he were never there to begin with.
In the distance, underneath the sound of rainfall and the heavy gales that now accompanied it, the sound of footsteps could be heard. It was rather quiet at first, and Silas strained to try and listen for the sound. The two men stood there silently for the entirety of two minutes, until suddenly Silas moved forwards with a swiftness that seemed entirely inhumane and pulled a loaded gun out of it’s holster at his side. Without a second thought, he pulled the trigger, and the creature in front of him fell to the floor.
Fyn emerged from the darkness and pulled up beside Silas, who stood over the body. The creature had eyes the colour of smoke, and pale pinkish skin that pulled tightly across its muscles. Its teeth were short and serrated, and looked as if they could bite through a strong metal post. Its nails were long and splintered, and covered in a brown crusty substance that could easily be identified as blood.
In the city, they called them the the Cracks.
At the moment, a deadly poison named strychnine was flooding through its' blood, causing it tremendous pain whilst it remained in a state of paralysis. Eventually, its blood pressure would lower, and the airways would close, resulting in death. After years of trial and error, this seemed to be the only effective method of killing them. And that was Silas’ job.
“Help me with the body,” said Silas, grabbing onto the Cracked one's arms as Fyn circled around and hauled its legs onto his shoulders with a hefty grunt. The two men began to walk, slowly at first as they grew accustomed to the creature’s weight, and then they started at a gentle jog when they got closer to the docks.
A ship that was no larger than a bungalow was waiting for them when they arrived at the docks. As Silas and Fyn approached, the men aboard the ship readied it to depart. Fyn struggled under the weight of the Cracked one, but he carried on until their feet met with the wooden floorboards of the ship, and put the creature down with an exasperated sigh.
“How many are there tonight?” Silas turned to one of the men, who was untying the ship from the dock. He turned around at the sound of Silas’ voice and looked him up and down with a gaze that in any other situation would have been deemed threatening.
“Twenty three,” replied the man. Silas looked behind him then, where he saw a pile of bodies about the width of both of his arms outstretched. Should they have been anything other than Cracked one's, he could have felt a twang of sorrow for the poor bodies stacked up on the ship. However, as he knew, these creatures had terrorised Shalom since the generations before him had built its foundations. It was only these men that kept the city safe now.
Silas sat on one of the benches at the edge of the small sailing ship and looked out at the city as the boat slowly started to drift away. It looked relatively small underneath the blanket of stars, but then again, everything did. From the ocean, he could see no light at all, barring the moon, which shone brightly over the city as if it were watching. Everything else remained dark.
“Get ready to tie up, lads!” Shouted one of the men from the far end of the ship. With one last look at the city, Silas arose from his seat and went to stand over beside Fyn, who was examining the bodies with somewhat of a fascination.
Silas tapped him on the shoulder, “We’re here.”
Ahead of them stood an island about three miles across in all directions. The trees were tall and green, with trunks so thick that the boat could pass through one of them. However, these big trees did nothing to hide the huge manor house that resided upon the island, belonging to a man named Abraham Ellsworth.
Abraham Ellsworth ran the facilities used to intricately study the anatomy of the Cracked, hoping to one-day find a way to communicate or eradicate them. Either of the options seemed plausible at this stage. Although never personally seeing them, Silas had heard that his labs were larger than the island alone, and some of them were so secretive that they were hidden underneath the depths of the ocean, where no man except for Doctor Ellsworth himself had ever been.
The ship began to slow as it approached the island’s dock. It was a rather small wooden thing that would not be practical to attend to a boat any bigger than the one they were aboard. Six of the men jumped up onto the dock and tied the boat, whilst the others stayed on deck and began to carelessly throw the bodies above them for the others to catch. Once all of the bodies were gone, the rest of the men climbed out, including Fyn and Silas. Once they were up, they made quick work of grabbing two bodies each and started to walk towards the manor house. Even at night it was easy to spot, and a cobblestone trail lit with lamps that looked like something out of a faerie tale led the way. In another situation the walk may have been pleasant, if not for the bodies on Silas’ shoulders.
The path was the length of about thirty metres, and when Silas finally reached the front door of the manor house, he hefted the bodies down with a big sigh. To be completely honest, the front door was something quite underwhelming compared to the rest of the house, but Silas expected that it was one of many entrances used to gain access.
After a couple of minutes, the rest of the men caught up with Silas and dropped the bodies that they were carrying in somewhat of a pile on top of Silas’.
“Shall we head back?” Asked Fyn, addressing nobody in particular. Silas nodded, knowing that Doctor Ellsworth wouldn’t come out personally to collect the bodies, and whoever did it was never to be seen anyway. Silas waved Fyn over, and they walked back to the ship in silence.
When he was sat on the ship, Silas looked out at the city again. Just behind it, he could see that colours of deep orange and pink painted the horizon. The city would be waking soon, and the smells of cinnamon would waft over the sea from the bakeries preparing the day’s fresh buns.
All the while, Silas sat watching the city with such a smile on his face that it could have seemed real. However, if you look closely, you will notice that the smile only formed on his lips. The corners of his eyes did not crinkle, and his eyes themselves did not sparkle with happiness. No, Silas sat on the ship, watching the city, hoping that one day he would witness the sunrise without such emptiness in his heart.