Hell On Earth, a short story by asmith78. Date added: 2012-04-01. Times viewed: 619.
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- Intro: In the future, the survival of the human race is under threat...
We were miles away from any civilization, it was dark but, worst of all, the rain was coming. Two minutes and seventeen seconds away, according to the ranacidmeter. Fifteen, fourteen, thirteen. We needed to find some sort of shelter, any shelter at all; and fast. I beckoned at Ryan to start running again. Three, two one… zero. Two minutes. We set off at as fast a pace as we could both manage – the air was becoming denser, closer, and harder to breathe. Everything had got worse since the storm. We were two of just sixteen thousand and fifty four humans left. In one minute and forty seconds that was likely to change. The light was ever decreasing, and all I could see were tree carcasses, soil and mist. The air was beginning to sting my flesh.
However, the acid rain wasn’t all Ryan and I were worried about: ‘The Men’ roamed free during the night; whatever the weather, as they had developed a natural immunity to the rain – in fact, it seemed to have had the opposite effect on them. Put simply, they couldn’t die, and they only ate meat; and there wasn’t much of that around at the moment. I didn’t want to be their dinner. There had been stories spreading round about certain ‘cases’ when some unlucky humans - seeing as everyone tries to stick with at least one other person, as you need someone else to watch your back in these times – came across a bunch of ‘Men’. I do not need much of an imagination to think what happened to them. Lots of swearing, shouting and screaming would be involved; and lots of blood. Ryan and I are two survivors who haven’t had a meeting with those abominations yet; or been unfortunate enough to have been outside with one second left on the timer of the ranacidmeter with no shelter anywhere near us. We were two of the lucky ones. That is if we are lucky: forever running and hiding, foraging and watching is not living. It is not even close to how life should be. It is hell.
One minute and twelve seconds to go, and I was getting a stitch. I could see that Ryan was struggling as well. I stopped and looked round, hoping, pleading, begging for there to be somewhere with a roof nearby. I squinted my eyes. Something had caught my attention; I swear I could see something up ahead, about a hundred metres or so ahead. But, in this ever decreasing light, it was hard to tell – it could even be my imagination. Ryan had seen it too; it must be real. He looked at me, and a smile spread across his face for the first time in a long while. Forty eight seconds. We ran. We sprinted as fast as our tired legs could carry us towards the structure. That was when I noticed the first few droplets of rain. No. Impossible. It can’t be raining yet – the ranacidmeter was never wrong, ever. We still had forty seconds left! One droplet of the lethal acid touched my skin and, holy shit, it burned. I could feel it eating away through the layers of my skin, and devouring the muscle and tissue beneath. Please stop, my nerves screamed at me, stop. Fuck!
Looking back up, I nearly ran into the wall of the building. It seemed to be a unit from the war. Another drop fell onto my arm. I cried out in pain, anger and frustration – when would this end? How long would we have to go on for, running like this? Why? We… Ryan. Where was he? He had disappeared; I couldn’t see him, he must have found an entrance to the building… or he might have… no, it wasn’t even worth thinking about. No. A third, fourth drop found their way onto my skin. My God, the pain. And I couldn’t do anything about it; there was no cure, and if I tried to rub it off it would just start to attack my hand as well. I kept on walking around the building, looking for an entrance and, to my disbelief, I found one. I went through and, well, I couldn’t see a thing.
However, I could smell. There was a very strong odour in here, and I didn’t like it. It smelt of… sweat, and dirt, and… people. But surely, this couldn’t be. “Ryan?” I whispered out into the darkness. I suddenly registered a snuffling, whimpering sound coming from the far corner. “Ryan, is that you? Please let it be you.”
“Yes, it’s me. But stop, don’t come any closer. Just walk away. Go. Leave.” What the hell was happening? “Ryan, what the fuck is going on?” this time I got an answer – a two worded answer, but an answer nonetheless, and it was certainly all I needed. He simply said: “They’re here.” I now knew. I now had a decision to make – one I didn’t like one bit. There were two options, although both would end up with the same result: which way did I want to be eaten alive? By the acid rain outside, that was probably pouring down by now, which would melt my skin, burrow down through all of my veins, organs and nerves, or by the cannibals in this very room that would awaken as soon as the sun set, and would chew on my arms, my legs, rip out my ligaments and veins until I bled to death. To be honest, neither of these seemed to outclass each other, or one seem more attractive than the other… unless if I stayed near the exit of the building then The Men would probably eat Ryan first, and if that took long enough, then the rain might stop before they finished and I might just be able to make a quick getaway into the night. But the ranacidmeter says that the rain will last for another thirteen minutes…
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