By Owen Quinn author of the Time Warriors and Zombie Blues
They came from a world torn apart in a time experiment. Their key to infinity became their death knell. The last survivors, huddled together in the Juggernaught, a military spacecraft, were led to Earth by a vision. Varran, a scientist that had cracked the secret of time travel and the man behind the destruction, had seen the future. Something was coming to consume creation itself and the last battlefield lay on a blue green planet in a system of nine; Earth.
Now they live among us, living by our laws and rules since the nineteenth century while Varran watches from above. They could be the lollipop man, your best friend, the banker or the old lady that watches the world from behind net curtains. They are waiting for the call to battle when darkness falls. Now Varran, the man who doesn’t age, along with Jacqueline, Jacke for short, Michael and Tyran, descendants of the Xereban race are the guardian angels of Earth. They don’t know when or what form the darkness will take but it is coming. Earth must be protected. They are the Time Warriors. These are their stories.
Winter had well and truly begun to rip away the last shreds of autumn, digging its ice cold claws into its fellow season like a dragging carcass. Wisps of mist crept along the forest land beyond the village like a mass of genies released from a million bottles. Winter had come and there was no putting the cap back on.
Like all graveyards across the world, this one seemed to take on an ominous mood beneath the overcast day. The biting cold made the headstones glisten with frost like mini galaxies. A baleful wind heaved across the land like a banshee wailing the loss of all the souls beneath it. Blackening shadows began to spread across the ground, filling the gaps between the graves like tar. Light melted slowly as if it had given up on life, mocked in its failing strength by the carrion crows that perched skeletal branches on the trees that lined the graveyard.
A shadow appeared from the side of the road where a car was parked on a grassy verge. It was overhung by a willow tree, its branches drooping over the wall like reaching hands. The dark figure pushed one of the large iron gates open. It creaked gratingly at his touch as if protesting his presence. The grass hissed under each step like water sizzling on a griddle. The man entered the graveyard, wrapped up against the chilled night air.
A yellow beam of light slit the darkness as he turned on a torch, an upright version that lit his way in the murky gloom. The last thing he needed was to fall and break a limb or crack his head open in this place. It was a fair walk even in daylight so travel by car was the usual method of getting to the cemetery for anyone.
He shivered but not from the cold. Some animal screamed somewhere from the fields beyond on a nocturnal hunt. Silent shadows swooped amid the trees, owls or bats he reasoned.
His leather shoes made little sound bar the occasional scuff on the hardened ground as he made his way purposefully amid the graves. His head was bowed and face was hidden by a black bowler hat that spawned new shadow. His long brown coat was buttoned tightly with only the glimpse of a white shirt and patterned tie showing from the upturned collar peeking from beneath the scarf wrapped round his neck. His black leather gloved left hand flexed involuntarily as he walked. He wasn’t even aware he was doing it. He felt his nose start to run in the cold and deftly wiped it with the back of his hand revealing a brown moustache cresting thick lips and a pointed dimpled chin.
He stopped before one headstone near the centre of the cemetery.
He said nothing but his slumped shoulders spoke volumes. He took off his hat, holding it reverently before him against his lower body. The light breeze ruffled his side parted brown hair.
He was a normal looking man, neither handsome nor ugly with green eyes. Those eyes did not shine with life like a normal person’s. Indeed they matched the weary look that etched his features. He just stood there staring at the words on the headstone. He was seeing another time, another place. If it had been darker, he could easily have been mistaken for one of the stone statues that held a silent vigil for the dead.
Dotted around the graveyard, they held their peace to allow mourners to grieve. If they could speak, they would tell tales of sorrow; of how grief had drawn so many lost souls to this place. This place was flooded with their tears. They knew how it got into your very soul and changed you forever. Grief broke the complacent belief that it always happens to someone else, opening human eyes as to just how fragile life is. All the angels could do was stand vigil and respect the dead.
The man sighed and raised his head, pursing his lips. He put his hat back on and turned to leave when something stopped him in his tracks.
He froze, eyes wide as he saw a glow flitter from amid the sentinel trees. The breeze shook their remaining leaves as if cowering before the thing that was emerging from between them.
The man stood in fascinated fear unable to believe what he was seeing. His heart screamed at him to run but his head wanted to know what he was seeing.
Was this what he had been waiting for since that day life changed? Was this the message confirming what he had been aware of but never truly mastered all his life? He watched in stupefied fascination as the light darted about and spun like a snake’s head on the hunt for a meal.
The sky was thick with dark clouds that battered across a weak moon making what he was seeing more vivid in the dark.
A deft emerald glow was coming from behind the line of dark gnarled trees. He could see the criss cross of branches illuminated as the light moved between the gaps and down around the trunks. It skimmed the back lying hedges making their normal green foliage turn into a deeper, sicklier colour. He thought for a moment the strange light was going to move away into the adjacent fields but he caught his breath as he saw it stop.
Maybe it’s a torch or a balloon he thought. Perhaps it was one of those Hollywood movie moguls filming some upcoming feature. The special effects were very life like if it was. That would also explain why it was moving independently of the breeze which was blowing north.
Peering closer he could see there was no movement down there plus the fact the land was too rough for people to tramp about making movies. He knew there was a deep ditch down there from his daylight visits. He was also aware the graveyard was lined with barbed wire fences that end because the fields were grazing land for cattle. The light was droning through the air as if searching.
The man swore it was showing intelligence. It paused as if thinking and a cold dread shivered the man’s spine. His throat tightened as the thing emerged from behind the trees into full view.
The vivid green light heaved through the branches in a ghostly cloud that coalesced into something new.
Hovering in midair was a sphere of green light, tendrils of energy writhing all around it. Sometimes they crackled in the air or flicked to touch headstones as it passed over them. He could see in its light that those lightning spurts left no burn marks on the trees or surrounding foliage. It was silent. The man cocked his head scarcely able to comprehend what he was seeing.
“My God,” he breathed unsure what to do. His fists were tight and his body tensed ready to run if necessary.
The orb grew a deeper sickly green throwing off various shades of green. The halo sizzled with a fierceness that seemed to reach into the man’s mind. In his head was the scream of a million wasps.
He began to shake. His face fell as the basketball sized sphere moved closer, turning in his direction. It carved a path through the dark with a spotlight green glow, its path illuminating the headstones on a course straight towards him.
The man cried out to the heavens for the Almighty to help him. It could only have come from Hell, some type of demon seeking to steal the souls of the dead from their eternal rest. He knew it was nothing holy. It didn’t fit in with anything he had read from the good book and it stirred a sharp fear in his gut.
As it approached, dark emotions stirred in his mind as if it were trying to reach inside him. Every instinct told him to run. Every fibre seemed to be on fire. He couldn’t move. His breath caught in his throat as he heard something in his head. It calmed him. Rising to his feet he stared at the sphere. Despite himself he reached a tentative hand out to it. There was something whispering to him. He stood gazing up at it as it hovered over him like a moon. His features were bathed in its emerald glow as tendrils of lightning touched his face. He shot his hand out as if to grab it but green fire consumed him in a frenzy. His body arched in agony. He screamed as it bore down on him. In a second, the graveyard went dark.
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