It's raining again. Hours of endless wet. I'm soaked through the bone and out the other side. I hate this place.
I've been searching around Berkeley Springs for hours now trying to find a safe spot to bed down out of weather. I don't trust the town walls. Too many noises. I'll never know when someone or something is getting too close. I thought I'd make my way north of town to a higher vantage point. That's when everything went upside down.
I heard it first well before I saw it. It was a roar. So much like a rocket or a jet engine I remember seeing in footage at 76. The rumble of the ground meant it was low. Too low. Crashing? It shot towards the south. Knowing it could be a payday for me I dropped cover and ran back the way I had come. "If I could find whatever this was I'd make a mint in scrap," I told myself.
I broke the limits of the south side of Berkeley just
as the sun was fully set. The object didn't leave much of a smoke trail, and come to think of it I never heard it land. Just as I was starting to feel like this was a total waste of time I looked around and realized something felt different.
It was dark. Too. Damned. Dark.
Like lights out in the basement dark. The rain was beating down all around me. The trees kept any light from the moon a total secret for only themselves. I suddenly felt alone. I wondered further south into the thickness of the black hoping for a payday. The further I went the more my skin crawled. I was plotting my next way point when I heard it. Footsteps. To the right. I drew down, but nothing was there.
On the left.
The longer I stood still the more I felt as if I were being surrounded by an unseen force. I didn't know how to rationalize it, really. I just wanted to run.
So I did.
I tried to run south, but in the dark who could tell? I stumbled around a few logs here and there and between the thunder rolls I could hear wind chimes just like the ones I found in Flatwoods. I headed towards the source of this welcoming tune, and I soon found myself at the base of a rocky outcrop with a cave offering safety from my own paranoia. I slowly ventured inside to weather the storm.
The further back into the cave I walked the more I could smell it. The smell of rot, of death. Someone inside was dead or worse. I had to quietly disable a few makeshift traps and made my way in. This had been a camp at some point. The had been long ago, however, and no one here was in the welcoming mood.
Ferals everywhere. They weren't much of a challenge, and I soon found myself alone with bodies of all kinds. There was something else here though. Something alive. Something alert. A twinge of toxic green gave it away ever so slightly. From the back of the cave I could hear the footsteps. The slinking, sliding footsteps of a Wendingo. Now it becomes clear what happened here. Now it's a real tragedy. I'd taken many a foe, and this one was to be one more.
I'm not sure what to say about it. Wasn't much of a fight. Also wasn't the reason my night wouldn't be getting better. The cave was rancid. It wasn't fit for habitation, and I didn't want that stink following me around afterwards. I didn't have much choice but to go back outside.
The storm hadn't let up. I decided I could make due with the cave entrance. There wasn't as much of an odor here, and I could actually get some sleep. Wouldn't you know it though as the rain returned to my ears so did the footsteps. Immediately I was torn between the rotten devil I knew, and the invisible one I didn't.
I laid still as a corpse for several minutes. The footsteps continued to surround me. Then I started hearing something more vocal. Chanting? Cackling? It was everywhere. Just out of reach. Slowly I ventured out into the black to find the source of this new sound. Like that of a hyena, but bigger. It sounded like a smart creature, and it sounded like it was laughing at me.
I got turned around several times. Every time I spun around on myself I heard it the other way. I couldn't find it, but it knew where to find me. That much I knew was true. Once again the chimes beckoned, and I heeded their call. I crawled up the side of the rocky cave entrance and curled up wedged into a crack in the stones. I must have passed out, because the next thing I knew it was daybreak and the rain had stopped.
I had been discovered in my slumber by a pack of very hungry, and very angry canines. As soon as they heard me stirring from the sleep the began running up both sides of the cave entrance. Slipping and sliding their way ever closer I began firing in defense of my own life. They were sturdy and agile and in their numbers a real challenge for my own skills especially before breakfast. One by one they took their mortal wounds as true champions of the fight. Blood from their high caliber wounds streaked down the rocks as they slid back to the dirt, painting a mosaic of carnage one might pay a hefty sum for at an art show.
I harvested what I could to cook away later and found my bearings. After all that running and panic I was only a few hundred yards from the road. I packed my bags tight and continued back north to my intended goal. I figured if there was any wreckage out here it wasn't worth the cost to my sanity. "Let some other crazy bastard have it," I reassured myself.
Even know I don't fully understand what happened that night. I do know that my stay in this area will be brief. Why do the most lovely locales always come at such a high price?
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