The Destruction of Beautiful Things

"They give our Master a crown of thorns, why do we hope for a crown of roses?" - Martin Luther

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3. Chapter Two

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.

Whilst the rest of the city was sleeping, the two men were awake and alert. Their job was simple: collect the bodies of the dead and transport them across the ocean to a little island barely visible from the port. Whether the bodies were human or Cracks, it didn’t matter. Anything found dead was to be taken to the island before dawn, and right now the two men seemed to be having no such luck. With a sigh, Silas rubbed his temples and turned to face Fyn.

“Change of plan,” said Silas.

Fyn raised a groomed eyebrow, “What?”

Silas pulled his pistol out of its holster and flicked the safety off, “We can’t hang around all night waiting for the dead to come to us. They’re getting smarter, avoiding the traps we’ve laid out and taking the back alleys instead of the main roads. Walkie the others, see if they’ve got eyes on a horde.”

Fyn nodded and took out his walkie, “Anyone got eyes on a horde?”

There was a crackle, and then an answer. The voice was female.

“I do.”

Fyn handed the walkie over to Silas, who grinned as he spoke into the walkie, “Kenja, where are you?”

The female voice, Kenja, replied “I’m on a rooftop overlooking the town square. There’s a horde right below me.”

Silas replied, “We’ll be there in ten. Let us know if they start to move.”

“Will do boss.”

Silas and Fyn emerged out of the alley they were standing in onto one of the main streets. The cobblestones were slick with rain, and the rain seemed to never end. Silas only saw this as a good thing; the heavier the rain, the more noise that covered the sound of their footsteps. The rain seemed to throw off the Cracks, because wherever they were all they could hear was the sound of the rain hitting the cobblestones, masking any other sounds beneath it. It was the perfect weather, and yet Silas couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something awfully wrong.

“You okay?” Fyn asked, walking up beside him. Silas nodded, pulled twin daggers out of twin sheaths as his hip. They were approaching the town square now, and as he looked around at the rooftops surrounding the square, he saw Kenja. She was crouched on the edge of a rooftop overlooking the dais, her black hood up in a poor attempt to keep the rain from her hair. From his place on the ground, Silas was that she was armed with nothing but her walkie in one hand. Silas looked at her for a moment longer, admiring the curves of her body and how lovely it would be to rip her clothes off her on that very roof top and make love to her in the pouring rain.

“I can see you staring at me,” Silas jumped as the walkie talked in his hand.

Flushing, he replied, “I’m admiring the view. Want us to join you up there?”

Silas watched Kenja speak into her walkie from afar, “There’s no need. I’ll meet you on the ground and we’ll round them up. There’s about half a dozen below me.”

Silas put his thumb up in the air for her to see, and watched as she made her way back to whatever ladder or stairs she’d used to get up onto the roof. Fyn nudged his arm playfully.

“What?” Silas asked.

Fyn grinned, flashing a row of perfectly white teeth, “Come on, it’s no secret that you like her.”

Silas rolled his eyes and continued to make a slow walk over to Kenja, “Of course not. Everyone in the household can hear us fucking.”

Fyn looked at him, “I don’t mean like that. Everyone likes her like that. She’s hot, so I get it. In fact, I don’t blame you. But-“

Fyn didn’t have a chance to finish his sentence before Kenja appeared in front of them. From this close, even in the dark and even in the rain, she was unmistakably beautiful. Her hair was fair and tied in two plaits that were now drenched with rainwater. Her jawbone was sharp and her smile sharper, and as she walked up to Silas her green eyes cut right through him like a knife on bare flesh. Silas shivered.

“Hey,” Kenja said as she approached.

Fyn raised a hand in greeting, “Hi.”

Silas looked her up and down once, drinking in her figure and her face and everything else before settling his eyes on her own and saying, “Take us to the horde.”

Kenja turned on her heel, “Someone sounds happy.”

Silas and Fyn followed at her heel, and it only took a few turns before they were one back alley away from the town square. From there, Silas could see the Cracks. There was half a dozen as Kenja had said, all huddled together in a group just beside the dais. The rain covered the sound of their voices.

“Who wants to go first?” Kenja asked with a grin.

Silas smiled, raising his daggers in salute before slipping out of the alley and into the town square. The cobbles were blood stained, some of it being washed away by the rain and pooling at Silas’ feet as he moved around the fountain towards the horde. They hadn’t heard him, and for once Silas was thankful for the god-awful weather that masked his footsteps. As he got closer, Silas grabbed hold of one of the Cracks, plunging his knife into its neck and cringing as it fell, becoming a mess of tangled limbs. Silas motioned for Kenja and Fyn to join him, and stood deathly still as the Cracks turned towards the sudden noise. As soon as Kenja and Fyn were by his side, the town square turned into a bloody mess. Within minutes there were bodies everywhere, and the three of them were soaked in blood as black as night.

“Well that was fun,” said Kenja after a minute of silence.

Silas grimaced at the blood on his hands, “We should take the bodies to the boat.”

Fyn nodded and handed Silas the walkie. He turned the channel and then spoke into it, “We’ve got half a dozen bodies in the town square if anyone wants to lend a helping hand.”

He got a reply shortly afterwards, “Be there in 5.”

Silas couldn’t place who the voice belonged to, but they hung around anyway, waiting for any sign of the other members of their group. Finally, there was the faint sound of footfalls beneath the rain, and Silas spun to see Cedric walking towards them. He was tall – a lot taller than Silas – and his shoulders were broad and muscled. But the smile he flashed them as he walked their way showed him as anything but a killer.

Cedric whistled at the mass of bodies before him, “Whoa, somebody’s been busy.”

Kenja flashed him a grin, “You can thank me when you don’t get your ass kicked by Farouk.”

Farouk, who was better known as Eldridge Farouk, was one of the wealthiest merchants in the city. He was notoriously known for trading rare chemicals across to the Continent for use in the medical and science industry. However, what people didn’t know was that his largest sum of money comes from housing the city’s BodyBringers. There were strict rules under Farouk’s roof, and if you didn’t live up to the rules then you were out.

Cedric knelt and picked up one of the bodies, cringing as he flung it over his shoulder.

“They’re not going to carry themselves,” Cedric said, grabbing another one by the arm and dragging it behind him, leaving a trail of blood. Silas, Kenja and Fyn picked up their own bodies, and followed Cedric towards 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 Crack slung over his shoulder, but he carried on until their feet met with the wooden floorboards of the ship, and he dropped the creature with an exasperated sigh.

“How many have you guys collected tonight?” Silas turned to one of the men, Wesley, 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 Cracks, he could have felt a twang of sorrow for the poor bodies stacked up on the ship. However, as he knew, these creatures had terrorized Shalom since the generations before him had built its foundations. It was only the BodyBringer’s 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 them. 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 Cracks, 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 the bodies were gone, the rest of the men climbed out, including Fyn and Silas. Kenja stayed on the boat as usual, although Silas never knew (or dared to question) why. 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 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.

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