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Never Forget - 14 Hours, and 28 Minutes

by MaybeAndrew


Two days, Eleven hours, and Thirty-two minutes

That's how long it's been since I last saw a Whisperer.

Two years six months, and four days

That's how long since I saw my father.

Fourteen hours and twenty-eight more minutes until I could see Jimmy again. 14 hours until I could see anyone for that matter. 

I closed my stopwatch and peered out the building window. The street was quiet. The sun was rising distantly, and its sunlight streamed over the road, reflecting off of the snow and making it sparkle. I remembered a time when snow meant Christmas, sledding with Jimmy, and fun.

A time before.

But now it was September, and the snow was everywhere. I scanned the street for any sign of movement. The buildings on the far side were dark. Half of them partly collapsed in. That's what had become of Seattle, a bunch of icy abandoned buildings. A bird swooped down and landed on a pile of snow - at one point, it had been an abandoned car. But after three years of snow and no movement, you'd have to use a pickaxe to get back to the car at the bottom.

But I liked to think of them as cars, best not forget. I scanned the road over once more, hitched up my rifle, backpack, and molotov cocktails on my belt, and made my way downstairs.

Once again, downstairs is a bit of a misnomer, the stairs in this old grocery store had long since collapsed, so I just climbed down a rope I had set up the day before. But once again, I didn't believe in forgetting. Dad never forgot mom, so I don't plan on forgetting him either.

My boots crunched in as I marched down the road. Passing the old gas station I smiled. "If only fuel was that easy to get these days," I muttered. It was nice to hear a voice, even if it was mine. 

Trying to ignore the cold biting the end of my nose and ears, I pulled my coat around me and truged up the road. As I reached the top of the hill, I saw it. There it was, the reason I had left Camp. A large fuel tank truck, sitting atop the hill. The tribe was running out of fuel, so a team had been tasked with mining this out and pulling it back. They had gotten most of the way done when a bunch of Whisperers showed up, so they had to get out.

It had been my job to come back and see if they were gone. Being 18, healthy, and determined, I had a lot of responsibilities in the tribe. Many of the other hated leaving the protection of the fire and the tribe. I didn't mind. Just like dad had left to provide for the family, it was my responsibility to leave and provide for the tribe, and most of all, for Jimmy, since dad couldn't anymore. So I had left the tribe on my own to see if the coast was clear. 

It had seemed it was.

Glancing over at the pile of ashes by the minimart across the street, I remembered not to trust what seemed anymore. One had still been here, as if positioned as a guard. Pumping it full of bullets I then burned it for good measure. But it had been too late. I had heard its whispers and seen its third eye. My three-day quarantine had begun then.

I placed my gloved hand on the ladder up to the top of the truck. Something shifted in the distance, a slight sound. "Not again," I mumbled and closed my eyes to listen. I could hear the wind blowing the snow around my feet, the distant ocean... but there it was!

It wasn't a Whisperer. It was something else - something moving.

Quickly climbing the tank and mounting the top, I fell onto my knees for stability. I slung the rifle off my shoulder and scanned around.

Much of the city could be seen from this vantage point. I was on one of the tall seven hills of the city. I remember learning in 4th grade that during the ice age, glaciers had carved out these large hills that defined the cities geography.

That's back when the ice age was a fun idea of history, in the same category dinosaurs, and cavemen, and the pyramids. But now that my fingers are numb every day and I hadn't seen the sun in months, the ice age became a bit more of a modern problem. But the ancient past was no longer fun in general, now that we knew what it had bred.

I could see nothing moving over the extensive landscape, but I felt as if a magnet drew my eye to the old brick tower directly down the hill. It looked flimsy and like too much of a push could bring it down. I tore my eyes from it.. it made me feel dirty for some reason, like a little spike of candy in my brain, so I looked out to the sea.

The sea, too, had lost its glamor. It used to mean the beach and fishing with dad. That water was now the source of that enemy.

I remember seeing it on the news when I was fifteen, that because of global warming, a new type of life was flourishing at the depths of the sea. Something was changing.

But then that life turned out to be The Eye. A god of a forgotten, terrible past. He rose up out of that sea, the same sea that had turned us from brine-eating bacteria to backboned animals. It had been the womb of humanity, the warm wet place we grew, but in the end, it wasn't really ours. We were parasites because it was His. The Eye. Scientists believe It had probably been left there long ago, like an egg. Life had maybe even come from it. But The Eye hatched, and that probably would have been the end of it.

Our ancestors knew it was coming. Every religion has its Ragnarok. Every religion knows we're just visitors, and our time soon comes. At their core, all religions do is prepare us for the end. But we were stubborn, and like a good parasite, we lashed out against our host.

It rose up, and so did our missiles.

A strike of 25 nuclear bombs sent The Eye back to the sea from which He came. We would not surrender to our fate gently.

I stopped. There it was again, the sound. I stood up. Before I could pinpoint it, it was drowned out by another - whispering. The sound of a human breath being pushed through a human mouth but spurred on by an inhuman power. Even at hundreds of yards away, it could be heard distinctly, so close that you might expect the breath on your ear. The words were unrecognizable, in a powerful, terrible language of antiquity.

I dropped back to my knees and quickly put my ear coverings on. They had become crucial after the Whisperers had come. To hear a whisperer for too long was to see the third eye, and to see the eye meant corruption. As the coverings slipped over my ears, the sounds of the world faded until all I could hear was my own pulse.

I turned in circles, using the sights of my shotgun to scan the streets. I found it, making its way up a hill, walking with its perfect robotic motions.

A Whisperer.

It had been a woman. She had been wearing jeans and a winter coat when they'd got her, but her eyes were the perfect white of the Whisperer's, and her lips were moving with the distinct rolling mumble of a Whisperer.

And the walk, the perfect robotic motions, the head never looking down at the street, staying on me, never pausing, just the slow and eternal march forward.

Many of the others don't like to think about the fact these had been people not too long ago. But dad never forgot the corpse we buried had once been my mother, so I didn't plan on forgetting who these had been either. Despite whatever had corrupted either of them - Cancer or Eye.

I lined up my sights, listening to my heartbeat in my ears and the sound of my jaw creaking. I fired, and the sound vibrated through me and past my sound protection to sound like a low rumble, like the sound of something making a splash while underwater.

Rumble

Rumble

Rumble.

The first two shots missed, the third caught the Whisperer in its shoulder, the fourth in the chest, the fifth in the head, and it came down.

I shot the body on the ground twice more and then scanned around.

No others. I hadn't seen the Eye. Taking off my ear protection, I listened intently. There were no whispers.

I considered getting down and burning her body too, that was the only way you could know you'd gotten rid of one for sure. But I only had so much fuel.

The 12 hours began to slip by, I didn't have much to do, so I just sat and watched. I paid attention to my breathing. Trying to ignore the cold as I wandered through memories of warmer days, days before the Whisperers.

Upon occasion, I would have to stop daydreaming to check my symptoms.

"It's already been two and a half days," I muttered hoarsely. "You probably would have already experienced the symptoms if you were going to. You're fine." Fear was for myself was mostly dead these days, entirely usurped by fear for Jimmy. He was only 12. He didn't deserve any of this.

The atomic bombs Cast the Eye back down, but they also caused an atomic ice age. All of the stuff thrown into the atmosphere from the bombs blocked the sun's light and caused the planet to cool down. Crops failed, livestock died, and people froze. Billions died of starvation, drought, and even more died from the violence that came from those two. We thought that was the price we paid to destroy The Eye... if only we had been right. We had only slowed Them.

It first sent the Tsunamis, which hit Japan, China, Korea, and Hawaii. Killing nearly a million, and then the Whisperers came. At first, we thought it was just people getting violent and insane because of the lack of resources, but we soon realized this was a pandemic. The time in hospitals with those in the early stages made us realize these people were under the control of The Eye. That's what they saw. If a Whisperer got close enough to you and you heard its Eldritch mutterings, you would then see its third eye upon its forehead. You were infected. Once infected, you had three days before your mind and body submit, or win. Varies symptoms show that it's coming, but they usually knew, you could feel His presence, they told us who was claiming them, that's how we realized it was him, they knew. But once the first three days of battle are over, you are either a Whisperer or no longer contagious.

I had seen the eye two days, nine hours, and forty-two minutes ago now. I only had four hours and eighteen minutes until I knew if I'd won or not. I ate my rations, dried meats, fruits, and seaweed.

I hate seaweed.

I heard the sound again and looked around. It was vibrating, like a machine. I peered out; it was coming from somewhere in front of me. But then it was covered up by the sound of the wind that started up. The air was freezing and cut straight to my core.

But they tried to vaccinate against it, that was silly really, it wasn't a virus of the body, but of the mind. The only thing close to a cure we found was fire, Whisperers hate fire, and it's the only way to kill them for sure. If you don't burn them, they might rise like tormented puppets, yanked by the strings of The Eye. Fire was the only way to cut those strings. So with the three-day quarantine and fire, we began to be able to fight back, and after the pandemic claimed a couple of billion more, it began to even out. So many had died now of starvation, fighting, or the cold. But we could now survive in small groups off of what's left, using lines of torches to keep the Whispers back.

That's why we needed this oil so bad; the fires were the only way to keep the tribe safe from the hoards of Whispers. The relentless Whisperers, with their hive mind, coming in droves, waiting for any opening. Any chance to come inside. To get us. To get Jimmy. Fire was the only thing standing between Jimmy and them.

A light blinking from a tower a mile away shook me from my thoughts.

All clear?

I ruffled around in my backpack and pulled out my flashlight. I checked my stopwatch, 1 hour until the end of the quarantine. I was showing no symptoms, and no Whisperers had been seen or heard since that first one.

All clear, quarantine ends in 1 hour. I blinked back.

Sounds good. We'll start coming over.

I set down my flashlight, then heard it. The Whispering, but this time, it was a plurality of voices, of throats, all coming.

*

*

*

Part two linked on the side ==============>


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Sun Sep 05, 2021 12:08 am
Valkyria wrote a review...



Hello MaybeAndrew. Happy Review Month!

Valkyria leaving a review here for the checklist challenge!

So, let's get to it:

First of all, this is a really exciting story with a great premise! I'm a big fan of the post apocalyptic genre, so this sucked me in and kept me engaged until the ending. So many novels in this genre are similar, but you have a unique premise that makes it your own.

Two days, Eleven hours, and Thirty-two minutes

That's how long it's been since I last saw a Whisperer.


This is a great beginning to hook readers in. I immediately want to know what a Whisperer is.

Fourteen hours and twenty-eight more minutes until I could see Jimmy again. 14 hours until I could see anyone for that matter.


Now, you've got the readers asking questions. Why is the narrator staying away from Jimmy (I'm assuming his brother) and everyone else.

A time before.


I love this short paragraph, although I wonder if it would be more effective if it was only one word: "Before."

But then that life turned out to be The Eye. A god of a forgotten, terrible past. He rose up out of that sea, the same sea that had turned us from brine-eating bacteria to backboned animals. It had been the womb of humanity, the warm wet place we grew, but in the end, it wasn't really ours. We were parasites because it was His. The Eye. Scientists believe It had probably been left there long ago, like an egg. Life had maybe even come from it. But The Eye hatched, and that probably would have been the end of it.


The Eye reminds me of Cthulu. I hope I spelled its name right.

It first sent the Tsunamis, which hit Japan, China, Korea, and Hawaii. Killing nearly a million, and then the Whisperers came. At first, we thought it was just people getting violent and insane because of the lack of resources, but we soon realized this was a pandemic. The time in hospitals with those in the early stages made us realize these people were under the control of The Eye. That's what they saw. If a Whisperer got close enough to you and you heard its Eldritch mutterings, you would then see its third eye upon its forehead. You were infected. Once infected, you had three days before your mind and body submit, or win. Varies symptoms show that it's coming, but they usually knew, you could feel His presence, they told us who was claiming them, that's how we realized it was him, they knew. But once the first three days of battle are over, you are either a Whisperer or no longer contagious.


This also reminds me of The Fifth Wave and Bird Box.

That's why we needed this oil so bad; the fires were the only way to keep the tribe safe from the hoards of Whispers. The relentless Whisperers, with their hive mind, coming in droves, waiting for any opening. Any chance to come inside. To get us. To get Jimmy. Fire was the only thing standing between Jimmy and them.


It'd be too bad if they ran out of oil. Is this a problem the narrator and his tribe will need to overcome?

I set down my flashlight, then heard it. The Whispering, but this time, it was a plurality of voices, of throats, all coming.


No, not a cliffhanger! But, this is a great ending!

Overall, this is a really intriguing story that I'm interested to see what happens next. I'm definitely going to read the second part!




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Fri Sep 03, 2021 6:23 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi MaybeAndrew,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

This was an extremely exciting story with a great narrative structure that alternated between the present and the past. It read well though and thought it was always great tied into the story the way you switched between the two ways. You got a very good overview of the situation through the first few paragraphs without going into too much detail and you were able to engage with the narrator.

The thing that made me want to read the story was probably the title. It was promising and seemed like a kind of ticking sound that you could always hear behind you as you read on. It was definitely a great way to build in some kind of "uniqueness". It was always a kind of struggle, not only against these Whisperers, but also against yourself. It came across as bitterness, which you could hear out at times. The narration gave me the feeling of being part of an inner monologue and following the protagonist on his mission. It definitely left an impression.

This The Eye seems like a kind of Cthulhu to me. Together with this Whisperer and your descriptions it already gave me a kind of horror vibe. I really liked how you took the time to describe it, but not as if the reader didn't know, it sounded more like the protagonist was talking/thinking to himself, like he was always reciting some kind of mantra. I especially liked your connection with Ragnarok and what the religions have in common. A crude point and yet a welcome one to see the similarities rather than the differences. :D

In summary, I enjoyed the story. It had a good amount of suspense and horror, yet with a great breeze of lore. I found the storytelling very interesting and exciting without making the protagonist out to be some kind of hero or antihero.

Other points that stood out to me:

hitched up my Rifle, sack, and molotov cocktails on my belt, and made my way downstairs.

That gives me The Last of Us vibes. :D Oh, but I think, rifle has to be written in lower case.
I tore my eyes from it.. it made me feel dirty for some reason, like a little spike of candy in my brain, so I looked out to the sea.

Here is a dot missing.
No others. I hadn't seen the Eye

You should capitalise "the" here, because you've capitalised it all the times before and after.
Killing nearly a million,

Japan alone has a population of over 130 million, so I assume you meant to write billion here.


Have fun writing!



Mailice




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Fri Sep 03, 2021 12:08 am
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RealSadhours296 wrote a review...



This is such an interesting premise! Very, very unique! The Eye gives me Cthulhu vibes, and the infected whisperers give me birdbox vibes.

I noticed a few grammatical errors throughout your story, you might want to reread what you've written and clean up some of those errors a bit. I also wish you would have established the main character and their personality more. I know you're trying to world build, but I don't even think I know this character's name or gender.

I really liked how you gradually revealed the lore with the action however, and I just really love the uniqueness of this premise. You've done a good job setting your work apart.

Keep up the good work!




MaybeAndrew says...


Thanks so much for your review! I'm glad you picked up on the Cthulhu vibes, a lot of this story was inspired by Lovecraft.
Thank you for the review! I will be sure to edit those things. Honestly, I posted this after only one proofread, XD, so I'll reread it a couple times, and be sure to add some personality to the main charecter.



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Thu Sep 02, 2021 11:51 pm
mordax wrote a review...



Hey there, Mordax here for a review! Let's jump right in! I will sprinkle in suggestions, my thoughts, and what I liked throughout:

The street was quiet, the sun was rising distantly, its sunlight streamed over the street,

Now I might be completely wrong on this, but isn't the correct grammar: "The street was quiet, the sun war rising distantly, its sunlight streaming..." Maybe I'm completely wrong though, lol, I'm not great at grammar.

A bird landed on one of the abandoned cars. Well, now it just looked like a pile of snow, after 3 years of snow and no movement, you’d have to use a pickaxe to get back to the car at the bottom.

Here, I just suggest a bit of rewording. I was initially a bit confused because you say "abandoned car" so broken down, rusted vehicle comes to mind, but then describing it as a pile of snow switches up my perspective and disrupts the flow. I suggest describing it as a bird landing on a pile of snow, then go in to say that, "Well, it was actually a car, but after 3 years of accumulated snow... etc". Then the same information is conveyed while the reader can stay with the same image and flow that you have established.

Once again, downstairs is a bit of a misnomer, the staires in this old grocery store had long since collapsed, so I just climbed down a rope I had set up the day before. But once again, I didn’t believe in forgetting.

I really like this. This clinging to what once was. Not only does it connect with the mother, as you mentioned, but it also is very realistic. It is as though the character is clinging to civility in the face of becoming more akin to animals in what seems to be a post-apocalyptic time.

In the next paragraph as well as a lot of places in this story, you begin each sentence in a very similar way, and each sentence is then a similar length. It creates a rather repetitive flow that can feel redundant. For example, in succession:
I marched up the road...
I passed the old gas station...
I climbed the hill...
I reached the top of the hill

I suggest changing up the sentence structure to create more variance and smooth out the flow. This can also work to your advantage as you can then insert more description to set the scene. For example, "I marched up the road, my boots crunching in the snow. As I passed the old gas station, I stared into the familiar broken windows, having looted fuel and anything else of use. When I reached the steep hill I had to climb, I sighed, my breath puffing out before me... etc etc" whatever lol, you get the picture. Just varying the beginning of sentences and the length of said sentences.

My three-day quarantine had begun then.

Ooooh I'm intrigued... Zombie type?? More interesting???

now that we knew what had it had bred.

Do you mean: "now that we knew what it had bred" here?

I tore my eyes from it, looking at made me feel wrong for some reason, so I looked out at eyes to the sea.

Here, I suggest the fated "show don't tell" lol. Instead of saying "looking at it made me feel wrong", I suggest describing what this "wrong feeling" is. A shiver down the spine? Chills and goosebumps? The feeling like being watched?

But we were stubborn, and like a good parasite, we lashed out against our host.

Ooooh I love this. Often, humans are portrayed as fighting the parasite, not being it, so I love this so much.

I fired, and the sound vibrated through me and past my sound protection

Now, I'm not so experienced with guns but I have shot one, and I have to say this is super accurate to what it sounds and feels like, so props to you on that. One thing I do have to say though, is a shotgun is used for short range and typically isn't used so far away, as the bullet fragments and sprays rather than hitting at one point. So, I suggest changing the type of gun to a rifle as that would make more sense to be looking down sights and shooting atop a hill. Along with this, shotguns don't typically have clips so shooting up to 7 times in succession without reloading isn't quite plausible, but it would be with a rifle.

they might rise like tormented puppets, yanked by the strings of The Eye

Oooh this is gruesome, I love it.

I set down my flashlight, then heard it. The Whispering, but this time, it was a plurality of voices, of throats, all coming

Oooop cliffhanger!!

Ah, I like this story! I have to say, you labeled it a short story and as I don't know the ending, I guess I will see why, but I could definitely see this as a full novel. Great work!

Keep writing!

Mordax




MaybeAndrew says...


Thaaaaanks so much for the review! I will make sure to edit those things! On the gun thing, yeah, your right, I don't know a ton about guns, so thanks for pointing that out for me. And I agree with all of your other comments, I'll make sure to cut out and replace that sloppy writing.



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Thu Sep 02, 2021 10:47 pm
Stellarjay wrote a review...



Hello MaybeAndrew,
Let’s jump straight into it shall we?

Roses


I must say, this was really well written! (except for a few grammar mistakes, but I’ll get into those later.)
I must say, I enjoyed how the lore was revealed along with the action. It made it a lot more enjoyable and easier to read. Also going into the lore a bit more, that was a lot to unpack! Usually I have a hard time following along with characters, the plot and previous lore. As I’m writing this I still remember the Whisperers, The Eye and the man made Ice - age. I loved the idea of a deep sea creature/god being able to infest the minds of humans, making them go insane. It’s such an original idea. ANYWAYS, I am totally invested in the lore and story to come!

A strike of 25 nuclear bombs sent The Eye back to the sea from which He came.We would surrender to our fate gently.

The irony! XDDDD Chef’s kiss. (It could’ve also been a typo, but I don’t care lol)

Buds


The only advice I have for you is extremely nit-picky I know, but here we go anyways.
There were a few spelling mistakes here and there.
I had pumped if full of bullets and burned it for good measure.

I think you mean ‘it’ instead of if.

But the ancient past was no longer fun in general, now that we knew what had it had bred.

“What it had”

I tore my eyes from it, looking at made me feel wrong

“Looking at it”

I would also suggest a little more dialogue? Like just him talking to himself. It’ll make it more personal. Though that may be just completely out of character for him lol.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I will definitely be reading the next ones for sure! Plz tag me in them!! ALSO THE CLIFF HANGER! WHYYYYYY YOU GOTTA DO THIS TO ME?????
Anyways, I hope this review was helpful, if you have any questions feel free to ask. With that, have a great rest of your day and keep on writing!

- Stellarjay




MaybeAndrew says...


Thank you so much for your review Stellar!!!! I'll make sure to edit those things! And yes, that surrender gently thing was a typo, but I'm glad you liked it! XD




Just because you don't feel like a hero in your own story, doesn't mean you're not a hero in someone else's.
— Tenyo