tagErotic HorrorFimbul Samhain

Fimbul Samhain

byMSTarot©

It was a planet-hunting satellite Kepler that first spotted what killed humanity.

The space observatory was going about its normal day, floating around looking at things too distant to be believed, when it noticed the patch of stars it was looking at had dimmed. Now that was something that Kepler was specifically built to detect. Only it was not one star or two that had dimmed because a planet passed in front of them, but that whole region of the sky.

Flash went a stream of ones and zeros to LASP in Boulder, Colorado. By nightfall the debate was on as to what this phenomenon was. Computer glitch being the highest potential suspect. So by the next morning the whole works was under the collective thumbs of several diagnostic technicians, who went after it with tender mercies.

Nope. No computer problem, that was their answer a week later.

But by then you didn't need Kepler, any observatory with a ground-based telescope linked to a computer that could calculate luminosity, past and present, could see it.

Anyway, all of this happened in the fall of 2014 and the world was far more concerned with the state of Kardashian marriages and who touched who's tits than what was going on out in space. Hell, I didn't even first hear of it till a year later, and by then everyone was concerned with who was going to be the next president and was it, hopefully, not going to be Trump or Hillary.

The dimming was dust.

Now apparently astronomers had known that our sun was approaching an area of the Milky Way that has a substantially heavier amount of cosmic dust than the area of space it's currently passing through. They didn't, however, feel the need to alert the public, since it will be something like the year 12,000AD before we get there. No need to get out the super Swiffers just yet.

But have you ever watched a fog bank forming? Ever seen those fingerlike tendrils that lead the way? Spooky things, huh. Almost alive in how they flow across the landscape, right?

Well, this darkening of the stars was the same thing. A tendril of dust and it had snaked its way into our solar system. You could judge its progress when the outer planets dimmed, then vanished behind a veil of interstellar dust.

The world leaders got involved then. Of course.

Nothing to fear, nothing but a bit of dust, nothing to worry your poor heads about, just go back to sleep our lulled citizens; let us worry your futures. Watch the football game, open your Christmas presents. Pay your taxes. We have your best interests in mind. Oh look, something shiny!

Then came the Summer of Frost.

Now in a few places in some states a mild frost in summer is nothing unusual. But Key West, Florida is not one of those places or states. There were crops being destroyed by those morning frosts all across the country. Everything susceptible to even minor cold went first, of course, then the hardier crops.

Then trees.

Not the fruit on them, the whole tree. With their branches full of summer sap and their leaves at their greenest they simply could not take the cold that summer. Then there was heavy snow on the ground, by the fall equinox, all the way to Louisiana.

It's late October now. The dust is between the Earth and the Sun. And our planet is plowing through it like a car through too deep water.

Welcome to my frozen hell.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

I knew this was going to be my last trip into town. The roads were testing even my driving skills and I was used to frozen roads from my years driving for Seax-Trucking Inc. Oh, the snow plows and sand trucks were still hitting the roads, but the number of roads they could keep clear seemed to be shrinking. And, given that trend, I knew I was making my last supply run this cold, chilly October morning.

Not that I had much hope of finding anything left.

The Walmart had been empty for weeks, and the small grocery stores had soon followed. Which is just as well, their roofs had all collapsed under the weight of snow. Now there was more of a flea market type set up at the high school. People would trade goods for food, or whatever was needed. Bartering had become the norm again.

I trade firewood. Almost bars of gold nowadays.

I swerved and slammed on the horn as a huge deer ran out onto the road in front of me. As I slid to a stop, a second came from the same direction.

Grabbing my .30-30 Winchester off the gun rack, I opened the door to try to see if I could get off a quick shot and maybe get some meat on the table.

I swung the rifle at the third deer to appear, tracked it through the scope, and was creeping back on the trigger, when I heard the thunder. Looking back through the white blanketed trees, I saw not one or two but hundreds of deer coming at me! And not just deer. Running right in the middle of them was a large black bear sow and her two, not much smaller, cubs.

For a moment I thought they were what had this herd of deer running but no....

There was a huge shadow running behind all of them.

As I watched, gun held steady but forgotten, the mother bear turned and reared up. She gave a chuffing huff, dropped back down and charged the oncoming shadow. The sow tried to bite and slap at the same time.

She was knocked ten feet away and tumbled like a child's discarded teddy bear! Then the shadow was upon her again.

Only then did I see it for what it was. A wolf! But a wolf far too large to be believed. He towered over the bear and when he attached it was brutal to watch. He savaged the beer like a terrier dog would a rat. Catching her in its tremendous jaws and shaking her.

I felt my body begin to quake then. It was responding to fear that my mind was too in shock to even register as a danger yet. I was a few hundred feet from a predator that was killing another normally dangerous predator as easily as I could have killed a helpless kitten.

Then it began to devour the bear with it still half-alive.

Easing back into my truck I debated choices. Try to shoot this thing. This wolf? But I was in no way sure that my .30-30 would bring it down. Against a deer or that bear it would have been effective. But that wolf?

And what do I do if it doesn't kill it? A wounded animal is always worse and one that size is too terrible to even contemplate.

Then the decision was taken away from me. A large stag horn deer, part of the still fleeing past herd, went too close and the wolf instinctively left his dinner to go after running prey.

My heart was in my chest till the wolf was out of my sight. It took me far too long to make myself shift my truck back into gear and continue into town.

Where no one believed me. Believed what I said I had seen. Not a single one.

** ** ** ** ** ** **

The load of firewood I had taken to town and traded had gained me a fifty pound bag of flour, cornmeal, and a hundred pounds of whole, uncut, oatmeal. I had tried to bargain for two big burlap bags of potatoes, something my fire wood should have easily gotten, but by now even semi-perishable food was going for incredible prices. Insane prices! They wanted the whole load of wood for the potatoes alone.

As I drove back home I pondered loading up another truckload of my woodpile and going back, right quick like, for those before they were gone. But then I gave that idea up. The road ahead was disappearing under a white blanket. By the time I got home and reloaded I would never make it back to town. And if I did I wouldn't make it home, not tonight, or maybe ever.

Then any such stupid decisions were taken away. Finding an injured woman, walking naked in the snow down the middle of the road, will do that to you. I came far too close to adding to her injuries, by running her over. I skidded to a stop in the snow, and then hopped out with my coat already flying off me to wrap her up in.

"Miss?"

She did not look up at all, not when I called out to her, nor when I got to her and wrapped her pale-bluish body in my jacket. She was covered in dirt and had easily a dozen wounds weeping red gore. I tried again to talk to her, but got no response. She let me guide her into my truck, but offered no more response. I debated turning the heater up more, but then remembered it was already maxed out. From behind the driver side seat I took an old blanket, that I keep there just in case, and covered her bare legs.

An intricate dark blue tattoo running down her side drew my eyes, but I didn't take the time to gawk. She was hurt and I had nothing in the truck to treat her wounds. My house was closer than the hospital, and a sudden worsening of the growing whiteout conditions decided without doubt my course. Better her at my place, with my first aid kit, than us stranded on the side of the road trying to get her through this to the hospital.

It was the right choice. By the time I reached my mile long driveway up into the woods, it was only the snow-laden overhanging branches that kept the road clear enough for me to pass.

I had to carry her inside.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

My estimate of a dozen wounds was low by about a dozen. She had injuries on top of injuries.

Getting the silent woman into the bathroom, I used washrags to clean the frozen mud, dried blood and dead leaves from her skin. To my horror, I began to doubt coming here. She needed a hospital emergency room. Several places I was trying to bandage, on the fly, needed stitched or dermal stapled. My three years in the Corps told me that much. I had been through enough first aid training to get her bleeding under control but these were horrible looking wounds, and the chance of infection was really high given the dirt and mud I had removed from them.

She had given not even a single whimper throughout the whole time I was cleaning her wounds. I knew, based on the serious amount of tattooing she had, that this woman had a high threshold for pain, but to not even once show any pain, with me all but scrubbing at open flesh? Shock was a definite possibility.

Then she looked up at me. Her eyes were calm, as if she was unconcerned with either her injuries or her nudity.

"Parlez-vouse francais?"

Here voice washed over me like a sing song of warmth. I leaned back from her in surprise, not just at the French but at the velvety tones.

"No. I don't speak French, sorry."

"English then." She swallowed. "I can manage words." She reached out and took my hand, brought it to her chest. "Bernadette."

Then she moved my hand to my chest and waited.

"Jonathan." I blinked at her, feeling suddenly at a loss. "Wilkes. Jonathan Wilkes."

She smiled and nodded. Then her head snapped around as if she heard a sound. She snarled, teeth bared and began to pant for breath.

"What is it?" I tried to listen, but all I heard was the howling of the wind. Outside the storm seemed to have doubled since I brought her inside. A true blizzard and it just hours before Halloween. The world was screwy.

Bernadette calmed slowly but was now shaking. At first I took it to be fear, but then began to think it was maybe adrenaline shakes.

"Are you alright?" I asked.

She looked at me and nodded. Her eyes never left mine.

"What do you know of the old times? The past they never write down."

Her question caught me off guard. As everything she seemed to do was doing, for that matter. "What do you mean?"

She stood up suddenly; letting the blanket I had enwrapped her with fall to the bathroom floor. Bernadette placed her fingertips on the blue-black tattooing that covered her back and sides in intricate designs. Celtic looking, but mixed with Native American themes. I saw the Thunderbird, and Coyote blended in knot-worked styles that held no beginnings and no endings.

She traced the patterns on her sides. Her hands drew my eyes and I found myself looking where courtesy said I should not look, but she did into seem to mind my eyes going to those normally hidden places. She was no small woman. Tall, as tall as myself in truth, but she not thin. Robust would have been a good description, all muscles and curves. However, those curves were a woman's curves and the femininity of her was intensely apparent. From large, dark, nearly-black nipples atop her large breasts, to a heavy thatch of wiry ebony hair where her thighs joined, she was defiantly all woman.

There was also a rawness to her, in a way that I could not define.

"I speak of forgotten times, forgotten things. When the world was young. What do you know of the truth of it?"

"Are we talking mythology or historically accurate history?" I was puzzled by her questions and could not help but keep my eyes from her as she caressed those tattoos. I grimaced when her fingers dragged smears of her blood into red on black patterns. "I really need to finish dressing your wounds."

"I saw my children torn to pieces tonight; do you really believe these simple cuts can even be felt by me? My pain is inside, White-man!" Her voice was a throaty snarl. "I could not even feel you, your hands touching me."

"I'm sorry." How do you respond to that? "What happened?"

"You saw. You watched it begin. I recognize your scent, from what I breathed in at that time. Though I saw you not."

That this woman might be mad came to me in that moment as she again struck that listening pose, her lips pulling back from her teeth in a hideous grin. I was about to speak when I heard it, what she was listening for.

A wolf, howling.

Far deeper and carrying upon the snow filled night in a way that it should not be able to, that unearthly sound came to me through the thick walls of my home.

"There, the sound of death. A hate from the old times. Filitarn."

The cadences of that word ran an odd shiver down my spine. As if some part of me recognized it and was suddenly more afraid than I had been before this moment.

"Filitarn?"

"So my first people named him." She turned and presented her left hip to me. There in braded knots was the image of a wolf. "Many were the times he story was told round the Nos Galan Gaeaf bonfires."

"The wolf I saw? The giant wolf."

She looked at me then cocked her head as if trying to make some judgment. Her eyes narrowed.

"These are a time of fools indeed if all the old ways have been so abandoned that Fenrir Vánagandr has been forgotten."

Again that shiver on my spine, but this time it felt a hundredfold worse. My breath was suddenly hard to draw, as if some great weight was upon my heart, sitting on my chest holding down my lungs. And then it became even worse.

The wolf howled again.

"He is hunting for me," she said, calm as an iced-over pond. "The blood of my children is in his mouth. My blood is in his mouth. My flesh is still between his teeth. He knows he did into kill me and he will let none live that have crossed his path." Bernadette took a long deep breath, her breasts rising and falling pulling my eyes to those dark, tattooed (?) ... nipples. "He will be coming here, Jonathan Wilkes. You will die."

That's a gut punch statement if there ever was one.

"So that wolf is coming here to kill ... me?"

"No. Fenrisúlfr is coming to try and kill me." She reached her hand over and lifted my chin. "But he will eat you because you are here."

I wanted to scream at the goose-one-my-grave feeling hearing her speak yet another old word. My very flesh seemed to creep. There was a feeling that if I listened to her say it just a bit slower I would understand what she had said. As If my very bones knew these old time words.

I was about to ask another stupid question when I heard my ham/CB radio squawking like a rum drunk duck.

~CQ, CQ, CQ! This is Straight-shooter, calling anyone in the range of my voice. Respond please, desperate situation! CQ, CQ, CQ! This is Straight-shooter, calling anyone in the range of my voice ...."

Leaving her for the moment, I went to the headset and mic.

"Bowman Station 175, this Archer, responding."

"JOHN!"

I pulled the headphone away from my ear as my old buddy Tim yelled like his wife was expecting another child.

"Yeah, affirmative."

"10-33! John, something unholy is going on in town! There have been people screaming for the last hour. Lots of gun fire too. Over."

Before I could respond I again had to yank the headphone away from my ear, but this time the sound that tried to break my ear drums was not a scream. Well, not a first. There was not so much a single noise but a clash of thunderous breaking, drumming noises, a deep growl and panicked cries of a woman, his wife Trisha. Then I distinctively heard four big pops that could only be Tim's .45! And then there was a second growl, much closer and ... the screaming started and a sound that I took to be the mic, on his end, being hit against something.

Then just static filled dead air.

"CQ?"

"This is the way of it for man. They ignore the things in the shadows till the shadows get hungry." Her voce was so close behind me it should have startled me, but I was still in shock from what I had just heard. "I'm needing to awaken you, Jonathan. The great night wolf is coming, and I am too injured to flee him. I need you to defend me. Please?"

"What? Awaken?" Suddenly it all hit me at one time. "Who the hell are you and what the hell is going on?"

She gave me a smile, took the useless head set from my hands and laid it back on the radio desk. Bernadette dropped to one knee and looked up at me. Her nudity again hit me hard, seeing a woman as beautiful--in her own way--as this looking up at me while naked.

"I'll tell you as it was told to me, but you have to believe as I did not." Her strong hands came to rest on my chair's arms and she turned me to face her, square on. "You have seen Fenrir Vánagandr with your eyes, as I did not till it was too late."

** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

I listened.

To her.

To the static from my headset.

To the distant howl of that wolf ... "thing" ... she called by so many names. Old names in Celtic, or Norse, and then French, and then in other languages. Native American words, various tribes from scattered lands. Rugaru, or some version of that name, dominating many tales.

The Great Wolf Spirit.

And, according to her, it was angry. Angry at mankind for things we had done in the distant past and this too soon winter had freed it from bonds that had been put on it in the old times by men that were as gods. Or, perhaps, by gods that were as men.

In either case the Lord of all Packs was freed to lope his way across the lands again. And all that man had made, our great weapons of destruction, were as child's toys when put against him. For he was of this world, but was not. He was from an older world as well, and since he was alive in both he could not die in either.

But he could be hurt.

And that was why she had come to this land. Come here seeking one that would be able to hurt the great wolf. Hurt, Fenrisúlfr. It had been done once before, in France. When she had been younger, she had seen this and seen the man that became more than a man to drive the fen walker away. She had then seen that man killed by his fellow men that could no longer look upon him changed as he was. They feared him as much as they had feared La Bête.

She too had fled from, Les Hubacs, terrified of others since she sensed in herself the same ability to change, to become more than mere human and the churchmen was hunting all such after the "Time of Fear" to give themselves purpose again.

The howl of the wolf, so terrible powerful--even at the distance of here to town--interrupted her story just as she was telling of taking ship to the Americas.

"His belly is full of man-flesh. Now Fenrir hunts for the sport of it, men taught him this. When they were as gods they hunted him for the sport of it. Chained him. Made sport of him, with dogs, as if he was a bull-at-the-bating." She stood up and began to move around the room, pacing with nervous, angry energy. "They knew his chains could not be broken by him, oh no, not by him. But let the sun dim, let summer never come, let the winter coming howling in too soon and those chains would grow brittle. Now he is loosed. He is loosed and only my kind will live."

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