Butterfingers (a prelude)

      “Brandon, I told you very carefully: hold the GrimHolde with the utmost care and DON’T break it. And what did you do?”
      The 9 year old boy sniffled. “I dropped the GrimHolde and broke it.”
      “And what did I say would happen if it broke?” His mother asked.
      “It would unleash a… a…”
      “Abominable Hellstorm,” she enunciated.
      “Abomimbul Hellsurm.”
      “…close enough.”
      “Brand, you’re such a jerk!” Samantha yelled at her brother.
             Mia looked around at the deserted city. The charred remnants of civilization dotted the landscape, burnt husks of cars, charred bodies, broken glass littering the ground like a deadly gravel. She and her children were the only survivors they had seen since the Hell Storm had begun, a vortex of fire and gnashing teeth that had laid waste to the city. From the vortex had born spectral shades of the most foul and unimaginable forms, creatures and phantasms that she didn’t want to remember. But then, as suddenly as it had begun, the invasion had ended. One man had somehow managed to catch the storm and all of its denizens in a small, red glass bottle. He, whom had introduced himself only as Alan, had entrusted the GrimHolde to her family before succumbing to mortal wounds.
      But all for naught seemingly after her son had dropped the vessel. The young boy sobbed amidst the red shards and Mia knew the toll the disaster had taken on him, on all of them. She dropped to her knees and drew her son to her. She reached out and pulled her daughter into the embrace.
      “It’s OK, pal. Shh sh sh,” she whispered. “I know it was an accident.”
      “How long do we have til the monsters come back, Mom?” Samantha asked.
      “Let’s not worry about that right now,” Mia said. “We need to find shelter.”
      “I’m sorry! He kept distracting me and – and talking to me and I j-just s-slipped!” Brandon wailed.
      Mia shushed her son again, not wanting to ask him for the moment just whom had been talking to the boy. A wind began to pick up, rustling discarded papers and waste around the street.
      “Oh shit, here we go again!” Samantha said.
      “What did I say about-“
      Mia never finished her sentence. The children only glimpsed their mother a moment longer before the pale winged monstrosity wrapped its bristly, hairy arms around her waist and hauled her into the sky. The children screamed for her and she screamed back as she disappeared over the office building to their right. With a last ditch effort, Mia hauled her knapsack off of her shoulder and hurled it down to her children. They would need whatever supplies lie within.
      Sam pulled her brother close.
      “What do we do now?” He asked. “Its all my fault!”
       “No, it’s not, Noodlehead,” she comforted.
      She bent down and rummaged through the pack. Medical supplies, some food and water, a single can of soda… a walkie talkie? She thumbed it on, discovering only static. A brass bell. Weird. And… a book. An odd, musty looking tome bound in crackling leather. She opened it but scarcely had time to glance within as the wind picked up and a familiar sulfuric stench permeated the air.
      “Where do we go?” Brandon yelled over the increasing wind.
      “To our meeting place! C’mon!” She yelled grabbing her two years junior brother by the hand.
      Brandon scooped up the shattered pieces of the GrimHolde and dumped them in the pack.
      The children dashed off down the street as the vortex began to form behind them. They raced forth seeking sanctuary and the young boy afforded a glance behind him at the forthcoming atrocities.
“Oh shit!” He hollered.
She didn’t bother to correct him. They simply continued to run.

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