Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The Hungering Fog

The Hungering Fog

A Tale of Fanged Horror

Seamus King

    A heavy grey hung over the city. No one was quite certain where the smog ended and the fog began, just that it was everywhere and clung to everything like a burial shroud. Its omnipresent gloom stifled both sound and light... and something hungry stalked within the dark.  The wet, clammy footsteps could be heard clearly, even through the endless mist.

    The hairs on the back of his neck rose on end. He turned down a sidestreet, hurrying down a narrow alley to the boulevard on the other side, hoping to both shake the thing he knew pursued him. He hoped against hope that it would shy away from the yellow light of the street lamps.

    His hopes fell to dust. The lamps' sickly glow barely cut through the endless looming grey. His heart pounded in his ears. He knew it was still coming. He could sense it, an oppressive hunger lurking in the fog that had set its will upon him. He turned and ran, faster and faster, legs churning until they burned and his breath tasted like blood in his mouth. He stumbled into memorial square, the small round park only three blocks down from the harbor. Long abandoned, forgotten, and neglected, ringed round by blocks with Greek names carved into them, a nine-foot statue of a woman stood alone on a pedestal at the park's center. The smooth white polish of its elegant marble was now a distant memory; a decades-thick membrane of grime and dirt clung to its stone like a rotted glove. He didn't know who it was; some woman in white robes, holding a mask in one hand and a knife in the other. The expression on her face was all but lost under the soot left by the lurking smog, but it seemed haughty, unforgiving, and utterly cold.

    His heart still pounding, he turned to look behind him, narrowing his eyes in an attempt to pierce the obscuring grey veil. He heard nothing except the distant call of gulls circling the harbor in search of easy food. Nothing came out of the fog, and while the sense of endless, seeking hunger still pressed its cold fingers into the back of his neck, and his mouth still tasted of old pennies, his heart began to slow, his shallow, gasping breath started to come easier. He took off his hat and ran his fingers through his slick, oiled black hair, and turned to look at the statue.

    The creature crouching at its base leapt at him, and as its claws ripped into his shoulder and its shark-like teeth tore out his throat, he thought he heard a distant chorus of women's voices rise in haunting song.

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