The Rage: Part 9


I’m going to die. This is going to be my last night on this planet. Topi drags me into the shadow of the warehouse. It’s like water to a man on fire. But they’re still coming. I can hear them.

We’re both going to die.

Then darkness. All encompassing, pure and unconstrained darkness. Topi pulls me forward and I stumble. I have never felt so helpless.

“What’s happening?”

“Keep moving!”

The slimmest sliver of light creeps into my vision. I am not blind. I am not dead. I force myself to breathe. We keep moving. Topi leads.

Of all of us, Topi is the most resourceful. He makes gifts for us when we need encouragement, tokens for us to remember those we’ve lost and all manner of makeshift survival equipment. He made paper flowers for Anna one time. I don’t remember the last time I saw proper flowers.

Topi’s solution is such an obvious one that I wonder why I couldn’t think of it. I shouldn’t have panicked. I look down at my feet, still illuminated by the dying daylight. Above us, Topi’s blanket is shielding us from the sun. We shuffle forwards, looking for somewhere safe to wait.

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The Rage: Part 8


Flies swarm out. Maggots writhe on the floor. And the stench… I’m sick as I slam shut the door. Topi covers his nose and points to the other exit.

“Do we try this one?”

Metal scrapes on the concrete floor at the far side. The man is breaking through the barricade. I tell Topi that we have no choice, if we want to survive. He pushes the bar and cool air flows into the room.

Outside, dusk is falling, but it won’t be dark for another hour. And I can hear them screaming.

Topi grabs my hand and together, we run. We are blind in the light. I don’t know where he’s heading. I don’t know if he has a plan. Emilia and Miro have fallen behind. Dark figures loom about us. Ragers.

I swear. We have no weapons. We have no defence. Topi pulls me through a gap in the fence. The wire cuts my arm. The Ragers turn as one. They smell it.

Already, my skin is burning. We need shelter. We need it fast.

This is the first time I’ve feared death. I’m surprised it won’t be the Rage.

The sun will turn me to ash.

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The Rage: Part 7


“Barricade it!”

The image is burned into my eyes. The falling object was humanoid with sun-bleached hair and dark, tanned skin. I couldn’t tell if he was one of them or one of us and it doesn’t really matter; we have to block that door.

Topi and I pull shelving units across the floor, hoping to keep them out for longer. Miro isn’t helping. We shout at him, but he doesn’t move from Emilia’s side. We move another shelf. That’s three. That’s all we can manage before the door is pulled open; it hinges on the other side.

“There’s only one way out of that room,” comes the voice from the outside, gruff and deep. Every word sounds like a curse; he’s infected.

“Come on. We have to go.” I pull Miro’s shoulder just as Emilia is sick at my feet. “Leave her!”

Miro shakes his head. “She’s not one of them. She’s not ill.”

“We’re not alone here. We have to go.”

Topi and I hurry to the far end. There are two doors. I push my ear to the one on the right and Topi takes the one on the left.

“This one is silent,” I say.


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The Rage: Part 6


My heart is pounding. My lungs are raw. I slip my hand into Topi’s. Miro has always looked after us and Emilia has always been his favourite. He will keep her safe. I know he will.

The footsteps cross the roof again. Something else hits the side of the building. The footsteps go back. There’s a shout from outside. It’s not just screaming. It’s words. Someone else is out there. Someone like us.

“Run.” Topi sits up, suddenly alert. “We need to run.”

“I don’t know where Miro and Emilia are.”

“Doesn’t matter. You know that.” He shakes his head. “You shouldn’t still be in here.”

We listen at every door for sounds of movement on the other side. As Topi pulls open a silent door, I see them, Miro and Emilia. Emilia is on all fours and Miro is holding her hair and rubbing her back. When he sees me, he puts his arm around her shoulder and pulls her to her feet.

Topi is through the door first, then Miro with Emilia and I’m last. When I pull the door, the light flares and I hear shearing metal. Something falls through the roof as the door slams.

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The Rage: Part 5


Sometimes, you can hear them howling. I think they’re getting closer. We need to pack up and move on before Topi wastes away. When we first arrived, I filled my bag with supplies, expecting to leave at any moment. I’m still ready to go.

The others… I don’t think they want to leave. Topi doesn’t care and Miro and Emilia like the space. They’re always away together in some far corner of the building, whispering or giggling. They’ve been happier since we came here. I don’t remember the last time I saw Emilia smile. I don’t want her to stop.

There are noises outside. Someone else is out there. The daylight is fading. Our smoke and fire must have attracted attention. I try to get Topi to stand; I call out for Emilia and Miro. Something hits the steel shell of the building. They heard me.

I pull Topi behind a stack of shelves and find something to use to defend us. The noise is moving. Whatever is out there, it’s climbing the building. A shadow passes over the gap in the roof, travelling with the footsteps. It’s above us. If it gets in… I shout again.

“Miro! Emilia!”


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The Rage: Part 4


There is a gap in the warehouse roof. In the day, it creates a wide beam of light separating one half of the warehouse from the other. We sleep on the side away from the food. If anyone gets in, we might be safer.

I suppose, back Then, this place must have supplied a supermarket. I don’t really remember supermarkets. Mother and father used to take me once a week, but I was never allowed to touch anything. It was where they bought food. I hated them Then, but now they’re rare and precious. Most have been raided.

This is just as good though. The shelves contain all kinds of things that are difficult to find now – soap, bottled water, firelighters. Many of the items we find in the apartment buildings have perished. Some houses have these white boxes called refrigerators. You should never open them; they are full of rot and decay.

I sit beside Topi, passing him a can of warm beans and fork. I suppose now Anna is gone, Topi will be my partner, if he survives until we are safe. I suppose that makes it my responsibility to keep him alive.

“Please eat something, Topi.”

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The Rage: Part 3


The other survivors are just like us. They trust no one. And to them, we are just like the Ragers, as likely to kill them as they are us. We left Anna and her attacker behind, finding somewhere new to set up camp.

Topi will be next. Since we lost Anna, he has been like a shell. He didn’t even smile when we found the warehouse, somehow untouched by other survivors. Shelves upon shelves of canned and dried foods greeted us. I felt like a fox in a chicken coop. Not that anyone has seen a chicken in years.

We will stay here until we are found. The food here will keep us fed until we die and there are no bodies, human or otherwise, if you ignore the rats and the flies. It’s a safe bet that no one but us has been here since Then.

We light a fire in a corner of the building, fuelled by broken pallets, books and alcohol. It’s not often we get hot food. Fires attract attention. Miro and Emilia say they used to have hot food every day. They speak of ‘power’ which could heat whole buildings. It just sounds dangerous.

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The Rage: Part 2


We have rules. In those stories our parents told, people lived together, shared food and helped those in need. Now, those things will get you killed. That is why it took Anna and not us. We do not share fresh food or any drinks. We do not trust strangers. We don’t settle.

Night is coming. I squint against the blazing sun as I look through a crack in the curtains. Anna’s hands bleed as she pounds on the door, leaving thick, black streaks like oil down the wood. The Rage dulls her pain.

Topi moves the other side of the curtain and sighs. He knows we can do nothing for her and that we must leave her behind, but he doesn’t want to. Anna pauses, spinning as if to face us, as if she knows we are here. She looks up, but she can’t see us; the sun burned out her eyes days ago. Topi holds his breath.

Then she falls. A spear protrudes from her chest. She screams, clawing at the metal, struggling to right herself. Topi and I push ourselves against the glass, searching for her attacker, but seeing nothing in the light. I turn away, my eyes streaming. Someone is out there. Someone is fighting back.

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The Rage

Our parents told us stories of when the cities were filled with people. They talked about how they would wait until dawn to go out, then dash from building to building, feeling the burn of the sun on their skin. Not now. Not since the Rage.

They said it started in a bar called Solarlios. There was poison in the drinks, but it didn’t kill those who drank it. It changed them, filled them with a rage so unquenchable that they destroy everything in their path. And it made them stronger.

Now, the cities are empty. The whole country is empty. We live where we can, in the shells of old buildings, not quite destroyed by Ragers and in armoured compounds in expanses of nothingness. We eat what we can find. We sleep in shifts.

When it began and our parents first began to run, there were forty people in our community. Now there are four. Some, we lost. Some, we left behind. Last week, the Rage took Anna. She’s still out there. We can hear her, tearing at the boarded windows of the building across the street. Screaming.

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No one went outside at night. No one but Vesper. Spectres roamed the streets after sunset, deadly to all who came into contact with them. Vesper liked the night and the ghosts had ruined it for him. Since they had risen from the river, there was nothing to do; no bars opened and people dared not open their doors past dusk.

Vesper stalked the apparitions from the rooftops, following their purposeless tracks around the city. Their outlines were humanoid, but they seemed incapable of communication. Twice, they had followed him up staircases, but ladders were beyond them and when he had leapt from the roof of one building to the next, they had fallen, leaving a shimmering, fibrous mass on the pavement.

By sunrise, most returned to the river, melting into its depths. Some oozed into the storm drains. Vesper set traps, blocking their exits from alleyways and watching them burst into tendrils of smoke when the sunlight sliced through them. It had given him the idea for the Sunblade, a device more impressive by name than by appearance, simply a metal bar with two strips of ultra-violet light running down its length. However, its efficiency as a deterrent to the spectres couldn’t be disputed; one touch from the Sunblade and they were smoke.

He jumped onto the moss-covered roof of a warehouse which dominated the docks, abandoned since the spectres arose, but a good place to hunt them. A group of the creatures caught his attention, drifting in and out of the building through a crack in the door, their forms merging and dividing. The roof below Vesper’s feet gave an unearthly creak, sending them into a frenzy, their smoky outlines obscuring the walls as they searched for a way to reach him. He stepped away from the edge, the creak turning into a crack. A vibration beneath his feet made him jump but too late as the panel he was standing on shattered, sending him crashing into the trusses below.

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