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by Justin Day


    As the warship moved away from the coast, it spit massive rounds of artillery shelling at the demonic killers on the shore.  They leapt after their attacker, their limited flying abilities landing some sputtering short of the ship.  Others were viciously ripped apart by the cannons.  I watched them hoping every one of those bastards felt a measure of the pain that she had felt when they took her.  The unwanted memory came unbidden to my mind.

    They had arrived in a huge mammoth.  The ship blazed a path in the snow, carrying colonists, holy men, and two uniformed people.  And evil.  The metal hatch swung down, connecting with the ground and forming a convenient little set of stairs.  The two uniforms came out first, settle foot on the cold, frozen ground.  Their breath steamed out of their mouths, mingling with the frozen air that stung their faces.

    The first uniform, a beautiful brunette Latino female, walked out looking for any signs of life.  The second, a blond male with a not-uncruel face, stood at the foot of the steps and called out to the female, "You find anything, Harper?"

    "Negative, " she replied.  "Go ahead and start unloading the civilians. I don't think the welcoming committee is coming."  She looked at the ruins of the town and the bloodstains in the snow pointedly.  She looked back at him.  "Riddell go," she commanded.

    Jack Riddell, a former U.S. Ranger, walked down the metal corridor towards the containment cells.  He shuddered involuntarily.  For some reason, he always felt like he was walking through a giant coffee can.  Jack stopped at the security pad and entered his code. The automatic door hummed faintly as it slid open.  He entered and started punching in codes on each pad, opening the containment cells that held the colonists.  Riddell passed by one cell containing a man, bound and restrained, his mask making him seem demonic.  He was forced to wear the mask to make sure he didn't eat anyone.  When Jack finished unloading the colonists, he went to the control panel and checked the fuel.  For some reason, there wasn't enough fuel to even lift off.  He noticed that the fuel was slowly but steadily moving down.  There must be a puncture in the fuel tank, he reasoned.  Jack decided to go tell Harper, but first the prisoner.  He made his way back to the containment cell to unlock the prisoner.

    Twenty-three counts of murder, twelve of them police officers.  Eleven were civilians.  Eleven counts of assault and battery, six were officers.  Jack went through the list of crimes in his mind.  Several horrbile accounts of cannibalism completed the list of charges brought against the man stiill in the last containment cell.  The prisoner, however, wasn't charged with the last crime. There wasn't any evidence.  Even  cuffed and bound as he was, Edward "The Ripper" Schlasbak gave Riddell the shivers.  Before he even reached the cell, he heard a resounding crash from the cargo hold at the bottom of the ship.

    Riddell raced through the ship towards the cargo hold, and the noise.  When he burst into the room, he blanched at the sickening sight before him.  Blood spattered the walls and pooled around the lower torso of one of the priests that had come with them.  The blood appeared black in the darkness.  Darkness?  Why weren't the lights on? Jack felt something move in the dark.  As he fumbled with his flashlight, the thing moved closer to him.  As he clicked the flashlight on, a face that should have been concealed behind a mask came into view.  The eyes seemed to glow in the darkness surrounding him.  "Schlasbak?" Jack said breathlessly.  "How did you get out? Did you do this?"

    "Sorry Jack," Edward "The Ripper" seemed to spit the words out.  "It wasn't me." Edward flashed a jagged, gleaming knife, as he stared eerily at Jack.  Jack reached down for his gun, only to find it gone.

    Stumbling backwards, Jack stammered, "Wait Schlasbak. I can help you. How long have you been locked up? Outside is a woman. I will distract the others while you have your fun. Can we have a deal?" Jack whipped out a stun-rod as he spoke. Edward slashed upwards, ripping into Jack's chest.  Riddell yelped and stumbled backwards.

    "Remember Jack, stay in the light."  The Ripper faded back into the darkness.  As Jack's flashlight flickered and died, something inhuman caught Jack and ripped him apart.

    Harper was becoming impatient.  Where was Jack?  She watched as someone walked out of the ship, but it wasn't Jack.  It was Schlasbak.  Unchained. Unmasked. Unbound.  "Jack is dead, Anita.  He tried to make a deal with didn't work out. I'll make a deal with you here.  I'll help you get out of this place alive, and in return, Edward "The Ripper" Schlasbak died out here." Wondering how he had known her name, she replied, "Why would I want to leave?"

    Five insect-like creatures burst out of the growing darkness, ripping into the colonists with giant pincers designed for killing.  Just as soon as they had appeared, they were gone.  Anita, one last surviving priest, and one last colonist looked around in shocked silence.  Three of the colonists and two of the priests were no more than 13 years old, and now they were dead.  

    Edward said, "That's why."

    "There should be a ship not far ahead," stated Harper. She hoped it was close because her flashlight wouldn't  last much longer.  "Yes, I can see it from here.  It is about half a mile," Edward whispered.  He didn't mention the thousands of monsters around them, tearing each other apart in their frenzy to feed.  They waited just out of the light, giving the humans a feeling of security.  

    Anita asked, "How can you see it in this pitch blackness?"  Edward was silent for a moment as he recalled his years spent in prison.  "After they told me I would never see the light of day again, I had the prison doctor give me new eyes. I needed to see who was trying to kill me each night. That is why my eyes glow in the dark."

    As he was talking, the ground gave way underneath him.  He fell in, catching hold of the edge of the hole.  Looking down, he saw hundreds of the creatures waiting for him to fall in the hold they had dug.  Waiting for their food.  Anita grabbed his huge arms and struggled to pull him up out of the hole.  The priest watched, saying nothing.  The remaining colonist looked as if she wanted to push Edward back in the hole.  Edward climbed out to the disappointment of the insect-like monsters below.  Edward wondered why she had not just left him to die and made a run for the ship.  He wondered if he would have abandoned her.  Without saying anything, they moved on at a run.

    They struggled up the last hill, towards where Edward has said the ship was.  Suddenly, one of the creatures jumped on the colonist, stabbing and ripping her body apart.  It turned towards Anita, looking for a new meal.  In front of it stepped Edward.  The creatures claws dove towards him, but he caught them, holding them away from with with effort.  "GET OUT OF HERE!" he yelled.  Muscles rippling, his knife drove into the creature's stomach.  He twisted, slashing the knife up and kept twisting in a full circle and slashing the knife across it's stomach. Its intestines fell out, released from the monsters gut.  "Didn't know who he was dealing with."  He looked up where the others had run while he was saving their lives.  He started after them, brandishing his knife fondly.

    Ten feet away from the ship, Edward's light went out.  One of the beasts dropped directly in front o him.  As the thing looked in his direction, Edward realized that it could only see with its peripheral vision.  He kept directly in front of it, moving left and right, swaying back and forth, in tandem with the beast's searching head.  Not finding it's prey, the monster turned away.  Edward turned away to go, just as another monster dropped down between the two, and both saw him.  The Ripper pulled out his knife and prepared himself.

    Harper had left the killer to fight the monsters.  Let evil fight evil, she thought.  She and the priest raced down to the ship and up the gangplank.  She stopped waiting for Edward.  "Come on, Anita!  He is dead!" the priest yelled.  A cry ripped into the night.  She left the priest and ran in the direction of the scream.  "Anita, come back!" the priest yelled.  He stared after her.  "Damn fool."

    Anita didn't find anyone near where the scream had come from.  she was about to turn back to the ship when her light went out.  The darkness moved with a groan.  "Edward?" she whispered fearfully.  He crawled into her vision.  She helped him up and hugged him close, glad that he was alive.  They clung to each other.  Her face blanched with surprise as she was stabbed through the chest.  They stood there clinging to each other, then she was ripped away by the monster that stabbed her. Edward stared helplessly after her.

    Out of the dark, Edward stumbled, blood gushing out of his shoulder and leg.  He stepped onto the ship, pulled up the gangplank, and looked at the priest.  "Let's get out of here," he said grimly.  Edward started up the ship and steered it away from the frozen land.  Not far away, he stopped the ship.  "What are you doing?" the priest cried.  He feared that maybe the criminal had changed his mind and would take them back to the land to die.  Edward replied calmly, "We can't leave...without saying goodbye."

    As the beasts blew up in front of me, I smiled.  I hoped they all burned in hell. I finally started the ship up again when no more creatures appeared.  I looked at the priest. "What should my name be now?" I asked.  He stared out the window, then spoke, "I suppose it shouldn't be Edward "The Ripper" Schlasbak anymore, should it?"  I grinned.  This trip would be better than my last.

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