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The Weeper (my short story)

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  • The Weeper (my short story)

    The Weeper
    By Adam Emery

    The package was on schedule, but this gave Arkos no peace.

    He didn't know what was in the package; he didn't much care. He had long ago stifled his curiosity, for it could be greatly dangerous. He cared only to deliver this obscenely expensive package to its destination, and receive his payment.

    And what a payment it would be! When he had received the offer, he had refused to believe it. The proposed payment was absurdly generous, and the transportation of the package was simple and straightforward.

    Or, rather, it had appeared to be simple and straightforward. Apparently somebody else knew what was in the package, and, unlike Arkos, they did indeed care. They cared very much.

    Arkos and his men were being tracked.

    Whoever they were, they were good. Arkos was also good, but he was not certain that he was good enough. They were gaining ground, and they did not appear to care that Arkos knew it. They intended to catch Arkos and his men before they arrived at Altair, and Arkos was afraid of what was going to happen when they did.

    He and his men were well armed, of course, but neither did this give Arkos any peace. Their trackers were most tenacious, and if they did, in fact, know what was in the package, it followed that they were aware of the enormous price that had been put on it.

    Consequently, they would know to expect armed guards; yet they were not slowed by this knowledge in the slightest. Indeed, Arkos did not know how they were gaining ground so quickly. It troubled him greatly.

    Still, they had no choice but to continue. Aside from the enticing reward that awaited their success, the price on their heads would exceed even that, should they abandon the delivery.

    Arkos did not know who was following them, but he valued his chances with the package far more than he valued them without it.

    “Hellius!” Arkos called to his second-in-command. “Rouse the men; we have a great deal of ground ahead of us.” Dawn had not yet come, but they had many miles yet to cover. They had been rising earlier and earlier in efforts to maintain their lead on their hunters.

    They did not appear to have been successful.

    “Hellius, bring me the package also. I think it’s time we find out what its significance is.”

    Arkos was breaking his contract, but he did not care. If the contents of the package could give him some clue as to the identity, and abilities, of their trackers, then he was perfectly willing to violate the terms of his contract. He expected his employer to value a successful delivery similarly. Forgiveness, it’s been said, is cheaper than permission. Particularly when the need is dire.

    Hellius finished rousing the other six men in Arkos’ squad, and brought Arkos the package.

    The package was in a surprisingly small case, and was of course locked. Arkos could probably have picked the lock with little or no evidence of his tampering, but he did not have the time. Brute force would suffice quite nicely.

    Arkos set the case on a large rock, and pulled a hatchet from one of the saddlebags. The lock proved to be surprisingly sturdy, but even the most expensive lock would eventually give way.

    Arkos opened the case. “What foolishness is this?” he said. This could not be a jest, for the third-payment they had received in advance was certainly not.
    What was in the package was not money; it was not anything of value at all, as far as Arkos could tell. It was merely four small bottles of a clear liquid.

    Arkos was no fool, and he was by no means ignorant of the various…substances that could be obtained, to alter one’s mind. He had even trafficked in several of them, for a time. But what he was looking at was nothing like any of the substances he had dealt with, or otherwise had knowledge of.

    But what else could it be?

    Hellius had finished his preparations and now stood by Arkos, staring in puzzlement at the contents of the package. “What is that?”

    Arkos did not like being kept ignorant when it was his skin at stake. His employer had hidden information from him that could prove to be the end of him. His employer had put not only Arkos and all of his men at great risk, but he had also put this ridiculous delivery in jeopardy.

    “I do not know,” Arkos said through tightly clenched jaws. He abruptly slammed the case shut. “And I do not care. We will deliver it, as promised, and we will get paid, as promised. This…box and its stupid contents will soon be someone else’s problem.”

    Arkos was right, but not in the way he had hoped.

    They’d made good ground that day. It had long passed sundown, and only exhaustion from a hard day’s travel forced them to stop. This was not the first leg of their journey, after all, and they had some distance yet to go. And if their trackers were to catch them before they had covered that distance, well…they would need the strength to fight.

    As Arkos and the other men lay down to sleep, leaving two men awake to stand guard, Arkos comforted himself with the knowledge that they had seen no evidence of their trackers that day, and that the package was safely hidden.

    Arkos awoke to sounds of chaos, and death.

    Long experience had taught him to wake and arm himself quickly, and this he did. Strangely, though, he could see no evidence of violence. Their camp appeared to be empty, save himself, and what scattered equipment he could see in the dark.

    But though he could not see the violence, he could hear it.

    He heard screams: horrible screams. They didn’t sound familiar, but he knew that this mattered very little. When faced with his death, a man can—and will—make sounds that he had never before been capable of making.

    Still, the screams were horrifying. The sound reminded him of his younger brother, when, as a child, he would cry out at night in utter terror of the dark, unseen things in his dreams. Strangely, upon waking, Arkos’ brother remembered none of it: neither his horrific screams, nor the evil things of his imagination that had sparked them.

    But these screams were from no child, and the screamer was in terror of no dream.

    But Arkos heard yet another sound; this one even stranger. He heard weeping. But this was not the weeping of one who grieved, no…this was far more horrible.
    It was weeping, of that he was certain, but it was not alone. It was intermixed with screams of rage, and laughter. Sick, maniacal laughter. One moment the weeper would sound no more malevolent than a grieving mother; the next, he—it?—would cry out in a foul rage; then, he would laugh that malicious, evil laugh, sounding like no laugh Arkos had ever heard. Like a spoiled young child who bullied his playmates purely for the twisted pleasure that such torment gave him, perhaps. Though this was far worse.

    All the while, the weeping continued. Even during the screams of rage, and the mad laughter.

    Was this their tracker? How could this be?

    The screams of terror continued, while the weeper, Arkos guessed, chased the fleeing screamer.

    Then, there was a final mad laugh, a peculiar crunch and thud sound, and the screaming stopped.

    But the weeping continued. And it was growing closer.

    To his shame, Arkos realized that he had been motionless that whole time; motionless with curiosity, but mostly with fear. Some…thing out there was reaping death and destruction, laughing and weeping as it did so, and it was coming his way.

    Arkos stumbled to the edge of their camp, his grip on his sword growing ever tighter.

    He’d been wrong about the camp. It wasn’t empty.

    Arkos knew almost instantly whose body lay before him. Though the head was missing, as was most of an arm, the armor was too distinctive to be mistaken for any other.

    “Hellius, my friend,” Arkos whispered, even as he remembered that the weeping one was growing ever closer. He stepped over the body of his friend and comrade, and made to run for his life into the darkness. That package could rot in the ground. He cared to finish his mission no longer.

    Something stopped him, though. Something more horrible than the screams of terror, the mad weeping and laughter, and even the grotesque and defiled body of his friend.

    The weeper spoke.

    “Arkos...” it seemed to whisper, though Arkos was sure that some distance yet lay between them. It sounded like someone horribly ill, yet it was half…sung. Like a nightmarish lullaby. Still the weeping continued. The weeping never stopped.

    “Arkos, I need the Tears. Where are the Tears, Arkos?”

    The second time the thing spoke, though no less horrible than the first, freed Arkos of his motionless terror. He ran.

    His fear was so great that it took many strides for the thing’s mention of tears to mean anything to him.

    “You’re running!” the horrible singsong voice of the weeper continued, sounding no less ill, mad and perverse than before, but now somehow sounding…jubilant. Like a child who had just received his favorite toy. “I like them better when they run.”

    Arkos was sore and exhausted from many days of hard travel and worry, but a man can find great reserves of strength when he is chased by a demon such as this.

    The weeping continued, and if it was possible, it was even more horrible now that it was hunting Arkos. And that the weeper knew his name.

    “Where are the Tears, Arkos?” the voice was angry now, and the weeping continued. “Where are the Tears?!” The last word was screamed in an animalistic rage, and was immediately followed by a few more seconds of that infernal, incessant weeping, and another shriek of utter fury.

    Arkos was running toward a small copse, hoping to find some refuge within. Anything to get away from the evil behind him.

    As he rounded the first tree, though, an open palm shot out from behind it, striking his chest with a mighty force, leaving him breathless, unarmed, and on his back on the ground.

    Then Arkos heard it—weeping. Much, much closer than ever before. How had it gotten so close? Had it struck him? Arkos was in a panic, because he could not breathe. He could not do anything.

    A figure stepped away from the tree, and it chuckled. Still, it wept. The thing—for though it looked like a man, it could be no man—bent down toward Arkos’ face and grinned. Arkos could not but look into the thing’s eyes, which were bloodshot and weeping. The irises were completely black. Tears streamed from the eyes in tremendous volume, some of which landed on Arkos. Then this…thing, this weeper, asked a question that chilled Arkos even more:

    “My friend asked for the Tears, Arkos. Where are the Tears?” This was not the same voice. The weeping was still there, but the ill-sound was…different. It sounded more controlled, more lucid. More dangerous, if such a thing was possible.

    Arkos’ lungs were still constricted, and breathing still would not come. But still he heard the approach behind him of the other.

    “Look! Look at the little mouse that we caught, eh?” The voice of the first one, ill and mad, continued. “But it hides something from us. Where are the Tears?” it screamed into Arkos’ face, throwing tears and spit all over him.

    The second weeper stood and said, sounding somehow calm through his mad weeping, “Give him a moment, brother. His breath seems to have left him.” He reached out a hand to calm the first weeper.

    The first weeper exploded with rage, throwing the other’s hand away, and said, “He has the Tears!” Each word was punctuated carefully, as though the first weeper were trying to explain something that the second could not understand.

    Arkos’ breath was returning, but he still lacked strength.

    The second weeper frowned, and, quicker than Arkos could even see, reached out a hand and grasped the first weeper’s throat. He whispered, haltingly and with scarcely concealed rage, “I said, give him a moment, brother.”

    Arkos’ breath had only just returned, but he judged this his time. He began to rise, and run for his life while these two things had their quarrel.

    But before he could rise the height of a boot, he felt a tremendous force on his shoulder, pinning him helplessly to the ground.

    “Ah! His breath has returned, I see.” The second weeper spoke, sounding ever controlled and measured, yet…hungry. The thing’s boot felt like an anvil on Arkos’ shoulder. The first weeper had backed away and Arkos could not easily see him.

    The second weeper leaned down, closer than before, letting his tears drip freely onto Arkos’ face, and said, “Your friends did not seem to know where you hid the Tears. Our tears are running out, Arkos. Make us cry.”

    Before he could even think, such was his fear, Arkos cried out, “They are buried near the tree to the south of the camp!” Arkos had never had patience for cowards, for men who would give up the information with which they had been entrusted simply because they felt a bit of pain. But it was not pain that he was afraid of. This was much more primal.

    “It’s buried twelve paces to the west of the tree. The tree!” He spoke quickly, with such eagerness that only a day ago would have disgusted him to his core.
    The weeper grinned, but the tears still flowed.

    Arkos heard movement above him. Through his fear and his growing sense of doom, he knew that the first weeper had left to verify his description.

    The terror was still there, but Arkos could think clearly enough, now, to know what awaited him. As soon as the words had left his mouth, his fate had been sealed. The fear had been too much, and now his life was forfeit.

    The weeping continued, but it was more subdued. Or was Arkos only hoping that it was?

    The boot left his shoulder and the second weeper spoke. “If only you knew, Arkos. If you knew what you carried, and its true value.” The weeper looked down at him. “The Tears will change everything, little man. Everything.”

  • #2
    I thought this story was pretty good. Better than anything I could write at least. :p
    "It's evolution; every time you invent something fool-proof, the world invents a better fool."

    "Preach the gospel, and if necessary use words." - Most likely St.Francis

    I find that evolution is the best proof of God.
    I support the :


    • #3
      Not bad.
      "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot

      "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

      My Personal Blog

      My Novella blog (Current Novella Begins on 7/25/14)

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