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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Music (03/08/07)

TITLE: Under the cover of Darkness
By Cristy Zinn


The fire crackled, waking Yurik from his drowsiness. He shook his head quickly and scanned the dark hillside. He could see nothing moving but the sickle moon gave little light to see by and the fire made the surrounding night even darker. He strained his eyes, watching. Nothing. There was always nothing and yet there was always someone watching, just in case. He was so tired of it – waiting for a danger that never presented itself.

He rubbed his eyes and reached for his flask. He was the last in a long line of watchmen, with a son who had no desire to continue the tradition. In his heart Yurik was relieved – this was no life, being a watcher for an elusive evil. Waiting for some ancient prophecy to be fulfilled. He was perfectly suited to his job because sitting and watching required no effort, especially since he never really believed the prophecy anyway. He recalled the words, “The evil will conquer us, overrun us and rule us for a time…” he could not think of the ending now but it didn’t matter. The “evil” would never come. It had not shown its face for hundreds of years and he doubted it ever would. The elders merely held the prophecy over the city because the fear it induced was useful to them, it gave them a certain amount of control.

Something moved out of the corner of his eye and Yurik’s hand moved instinctively for the rope that would pull the bell to sound the alarm. When he looked again there was nothing there, although the fire trembled slightly in a sudden gust of wind that brought with it a strange sound – a haunting melody. Yurik frowned and looked in the direction from which it was coming, into the distant darkness for anything that might be advancing.
Yurik thought how strange it was that darkness could change the face of the hillside so that it looked like another place. A place where evil could come from, while in the light of day it appeared innocent enough. He blinked. For a moment he thought he had seen the stars overhead disappear. Still he could not deny the sudden chill that washed over him.

Beyond the fire the darkness seemed to suddenly grow blacker and the light from the fire went dim before it exploded in a massive flame. Yurik jumped back and cried out when he saw a figure suddenly emerge from the thickened blackness, the melody accompanying her like a shroud. She was the most incredible creature he had ever seen and seemed to glow from within. She was ethereal to be sure and entirely inhuman from the liquid blueness of her skin and the fine mist that surrounded her but Yurik felt his knees buckle in the presence of such beauty. His mouth had gone dry and he felt unable to speak.

She smiled. He couldn’t be certain but for a moment it had seemed strangely malevolent. Now as he gazed at her, it seemed only gentle. The music, that seemed to come from her very skin, swelled and surrounded him. He felt warm all over, not the fire kind of warm but as if he had drunk a strong liquid that was running through his veins. All the time she smiled and he felt more captivated by the second.

He was so captivated that he did not notice that he had crumpled to the floor, or that he had no feeling in his arms and legs, or that her smile had corrupted and her beautiful skin was slowly pulling away to reveal ash and bile covered teeth. He simply sucked in the music while it slowly drained his life. She moved over him, towards the city gates and only then, when he could no longer see her face, did he panic. The blackness that she had come out of spread out over him like a coffin lid and he realised what she truly was – she was the evil they had been waiting for. He tried to cry out, tried to reach out for the rope but in the blackness he was mute and paralysed. As he lay there, hearing the music punctuated by harrowing screams from the city he remembered the rest of the prophecy:
“The evil will conquer us,
Overrun us and rule us for a time,
But in the end it will be defeated.
In the end it will be destroyed eternally.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Marita Vandertogt03/16/07
Powerful writing once again. You have an amazing ability to create an atmosphere that draws the reader in. Excellent job!
Julie Arduini03/16/07
Haunting, mesmerizing, powerful descriptions. Amazing way to use the theme. Great work!
Myrna Noyes03/16/07
Wow! What a well-written, chilling story on music used to corrupt and destroy! Your title sums up how evil always sneaks up on us, and your story portrayed its often subtle approach and its power to deceive so vividly! Excellent message in this highly creative piece! :)
Loren T. Lowery03/19/07
Great writing and an intriguing, if not dark, story about how evil can be so seductive.