The Cold Inside
By AL BRUNO III
Thursday January 26, 1995
The Monarchs’ wake spread out from Troy in a widening circle of darkness. Moving from the urban decay of the Imperial Hotel to wash over the nearby towns of Cohoes and Latham, it lapped greedily at the borders of cities of Schenectady and Albany. Newborns and elderly alike began to shudder and die in their beds. Birds fell smoldering from the sky and dogs bayed at the presence they felt pressing in. Water that reflected those looming shadows became stagnant, fish floating dead to the surface. The two aircraft circling the Albany Airport simply disappeared, lost forever. The control tower’s computers blinked nonsense, their radio receivers hissed with static. The Pilots final moments of screaming madness went unheard. Entropy bred within the darkness, robbing the world of technology, of cause and effect. Power grids shut down, backups failed; even matches sputtered and went out as though the very air was too thin for the flames to sustain themselves.
There was a final crash, a sound that made it seem as though the very night itself had been torn in half. For a moment it looked as though the dark clouds had parted and the stars were returning but the night sky had never been so scintillating and splintered. The temperature began to drop, the air became thick with mist as the Monarchs filled the sky. They loomed like mountains. They plucked greedily at the dazed little lives below them. Ebon tendrils tearing through the sky, ripping through houses and upending cars.
Nothing living could stand before the Monarchs’ hunger. The street and home Rich Head had grown up on was reduced to wreckage in a matter of moments. A swarm of shadowy limbs slithered across the Blessed Heart Academy’s campus, splintering the abandoned chapel and tossing the headstones from their gravesites. Shadows nested in the squat brick edifice primary school building, growing and roiling until they found physical shape and shattered the structure from within. From there the ebon tendrils spread out from beyond the campus, tearing through the nearby businesses and houses.
Most of the people trapped in the Monarchs’ path were crippled with terror, others went mad with recognition. These chosen few found each other across the darkened streets and joined their bloody hands to sing the Monarchs praises. The words they sang sounded like clicks and high pitched keening because they were never meant for any human tongue. Anyone else; be they curious or concerned that got too close to those chosen few was torn limb from limb.
Another mass of ebon tendrils descended upon the Carvale Home for the Elderly and Infirm- neither staff or patients were spared. When the building had been reduced to a ruin the earth gave way beneath it. The sinkhole spread from the main entrance to the loading dock, swallowing everything. Veins of darkness began to spread up from the bottom of the pit, they glittered like black rubies but they moved like living things.
The Monarchs continued to feed, their hunger remaking the world.