by Daniel Bettac

The sun shone down on naked earth, abandoned and destructed buildings and blankened skeletons. Wild dogs strode along the streets, hunting for the big rats living among the ruins. Broken windows looked like the dark eyes of unknown monsters. Most frightening above all was that there were no signs of humans living in the city. Relics of cars everywhere, houses burned down a long time before, never reerected, never even looted. It was a bad place for humans to live. It had been a big city before the war, at a time its name was New York.

A loud cry disrupted the silence, coming out of the dark deepness of a lost soul, telling of cruel and evil things. Suddenly it stopped. No one had heard it except a single person.
He seemed to have traveled a long time. Dust covered his dark robe that hid his figure completely. The heavy backpack with a big sword fixed on it made him look like an adventurer or maybe a knight of old times; the impression marred only by the big shotgun he held in his hands. He had been living in a world of danger for many years. Slowly he turned around, listening for the echoes hauling trough the ruins. Again the cry rang out. Now he had realized the direction it came from and started furtively to sneak near it. All the time covered by broken walls, cars or even by shadows he came closer to the source of the screams.
There were two persons kneeling down beside an idol with a cruel looking face, big tusks, little eyes, the body of a lion, wings like an eagle and heavy claws. There was a big wooden cross placed in front of the idol with a dying woman nailed to it. Without causing any reaction she started to cry again.
Some seconds later a soft mumbling started and then became louder and louder. A person enwrapped in rags, the face hidden by a cowl and carrying a big burning candle appeared and walked towards the cross. There were many other creatures following, hard to call them human beings. Their clothes, if they wore any, were dirty. Festering wounds and cancer covered their skin. The person in front of this procession raised its left hand and the mumbling stopped. The cowl was put down by a second move of the hand and the face of a very beautiful woman appeared. Long blond hair surrounded a face with soft skin, high cheek bones and blue eyes, but they did not betray any emotions. She raised the candle in her hands and shouted some spells at the idol. Then she walked to the cross and tried to flame it.
A shot rang and her face exploded in pieces of bones, brain and blood.
With two more shots the adventurer killed the two persons kneeling beside the cross. He had appeared from behind the corner of a ruin and now he walked nearer with his shotgun pointed at the procession. "No movement", he shouted while he examined the woman on the cross. It was too late to help her. The cries she uttered were the only signs of consciousness in her body. Her eyes were sightless and it wasn't possible for the man to talk to her. Because of her terrible wounds there was no chance to save her life so he made a fast decision and blew her head off, but in the next moment he knew he had made a mistake.

As if the last shot had broken some chains holding them the idolaters started walking toward the adventurer. They shouted and threw stones. Without launching he fired two shots at them but as he tried to fire next there was no ammunition left. Screaming because of their pains' three or four of them sank to the earth. Regardless of them the others continued on their way. He tried to reach for his sword but there were hands holding, fists pushing and feet kicking him. He hadn't any chance to escape. The last thing he saw was a young boy holding a hammer and some nails who was pointing to the cross.