The final chapter of Chadpocalypse Book 1 is here! I do plan on returning to Book 2 later this year, but my next projects are going to be the final proofread of my novel, Whiteout, finishing the short story, Ghosting, and then the rewrite of Whiteout’s sequel, Downpour. Looking forward to sharing more from those projects as I progress. Thanks to everyone who has read through Chadpocalypse with me. It’s been a lot of fun.
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1:13 Pestilence – AKA When the Drugs Kicked In
Lightning cracked across the night sky and Chad felt a familiar tingling sensation run up his arm. Both Joe and James were ignoring him, caught up in some deep conversation about Hell on earth. Feeling slighted, Chad turned around to look out at the dimly-lit parking lot.
With no surprise, he found that it looked like just that, a normal, dimly-lit parking lot connecting a bar and a laundromat. The few lights there were buzzed incessantly atop their high metal poles, filling the air with constant low-level static. Above them, a bright moon had peaked out from between dark clouds to light the parking lot. To Chad, the sight was almost peaceful, that was, until the lights in the lot began to go out one by one.
There was a muted crackle as each bulb dimmed and faded to black. “Oh shit,” Chad whispered. He looked up at the clouds and found they had begun to swirl in an ominous funnel. A dull red light began to pulse in between them, as if they had become very hot. “Uh, guys?” Chad wasn’t sure if he was actually speaking, or just thinking very loudly. One thing was clear, the drugs had absolutely begun to kick in. Every hair on Chad’s arms stood straight up.
“So what kind of Hell on earth are we dealing with?” asked James to Joe.
“The biblical kind.” Joe motioned to his robes as if it should have been obvious.
A pitchfork of red lightning cracked out of the storm cloud, very nearly hitting Joe’s car. The pavement sizzled and sparked, glowing hot from where it had been struck. All three men jumped.
Joe made the sign of the cross over his chest. “That was close.” He looked morosely at his car. The front bumper still hung at an odd angle from where they had jousted the hellhound, and one of the tires had begun to sag. By any measure, it shouldn’t have been going anywhere unless it was a mechanic, or more likely, a junkyard.
James’s hand involuntarily moved to his stomach once more. “Way too close.”
Chad stared at the red crater that had formed where the lightning hit. The edges of his vision began to blur slightly. “Oh shit,” he repeated. Red light shone from the place the lightning had struck, similar to the crack in the diner when Mrs. B had been dragged away. He was about to try speaking again when a red cherub with a nasty grin sauntered around from behind his right leg.
“Howdy, Chad,” it said with the voice of a cartoon character.
Looking at it, Chad swore it even looked like a cartoon character. “Are you here about the apocalypse?” His heart raced and his mind soared, making it impossible to think of any better questions.
“Oh, certainly not.” The cherub folded its pudgy red arms and beat tiny wings pushing it into an uneasy flight. It stopped at a hover when it was level with Chad’s face. “I’m just a manifestation of that little pill you took earlier.” The cherub winked and made the motion of swallowing a pill of its own. “But I’m sure he has a thing or two to say about the end of times.” The cherub giggled with glee and pointed toward where the lightning had struck in the parking lot.
The red pit had continued to grow, unnoticed by the two men who were once again absorbed in conversation, and Chad, struggling to understand what he was seeing. A hand reached out from within the pit, scrabbling and small at first, but growing with every second. It transformed into a thick, corded, black claw. Its nails dug into the concrete, finding purchase and gripping tightly. A set of curved green horns rose from the pit.
“So biblical Hell on earth? What does that even look like?” asked James.
“Uh, kind of like that,” said Chad, pointing a shaky finger at the crater.
James and Joe paid him no heed.
Pestilence rose from the pit, no longer looking like a man in a polo t-shirt, but a massive winged demon with a green fire burning behind his eyes. He looked at the three of them hungrily, but upon noticing that two hadn’t even noticed him, a look of consternation crossed his face. He cleared his throat, but the sound was so deep that it sounded more like thunder than anything. Then, as if realizing an easy solution to a complex problem, Pestilence brought a massive clawed hand down on Joe’s car, causing it to explode in a glorious fireball.
“Oh what the fu—” Joe turned around and the words died in his throat. His mouth opened and closed, but no sound came out. Eventually he managed: “My car…”
James on the other hand was backing away from the beast quickly, eyes shooting from place to place, looking for escape options.
“Oooh, he sure is a big one, isn’t he?” said the cherub with a whistle.
“Yeah,” replied Chad. “Any ideas?”
“Who are you talking to?” asked Joe.
Chad shrugged and returned his attention to the cherub.
“You could try to bargain with him,” offered the cherub. “Demons do love their bargaining.”
“Never been much good at bargaining,” mumbled Chad, stepping forward toward pestilence beyond his will.
“Oh that’s right,” squealed the cherub in delight. “You show him what’s what!”
“Chad, what the fuck are you doing?” asked Joe.
Chad barely heard him. He looked up at the massive winged figure that was Pestilence. His immediate reaction was one of total and utter despair. Chad couldn’t have performed a run-of-the-mill exorcism, much less banish a fully-fledged demon, but as far as the drugs were concerned, he didn’t have many options.
Pestilence eyed him suspiciously as he approached.
“Hey, wasn’t there supposed to be something about fair play?” asked Chad, with more timidity than he would have liked.
Pestilence cocked his horned head to one side and let out a throaty laugh that sounded like it was being grated across sand paper. “Fair play?” he mocked. “It was fair play the second we told you the apocalypse was coming. As far as either side is concerned, what happens in the year leading up to that point is entirely open to interpretation.”
“Shit,” swore Chad. He was about to try bargaining when a small, clear vial of liquid flew in an arc from behind him.
“Oh no,” said the cherub. “That was a bad idea.”
The vial spun in the air and smashed on the Pestilence with a lazy sizzle.
“Holy water?” chuckled Pestilence. “Really, father?”
Chad looked behind him to see Joe looking rather sheepish and James cursing his stupidity. It felt nice to not be the one being berated for once.
“Well, I’m a busy man, might as well get this done with.” Pestilence held up a mighty clawed hand and summoned a glowing green ball of what appeared to be sludge. “It used to be so much easier when all I had to do was conjure a plague.” With an air that was almost casual, he lobbed the green ball at the three men.
It flew through the air, sputtering and sending acidic cascading to the ground as it went. Wherever they touched, the pavement eroded as though it were being eaten by a hungry rock giant. “I’d dodge to the right if I were you,” said the cherub, already fluttering out of the projectile’s way.
Chad threw himself to the side, narrowly avoiding a quick death. The ball sizzled past him and off to the right side of the bar, hitting one of the parking lot’s lone trees. From the base up, the wood deadened almost instantaneously. In a matter of seconds, the tree was white as a ghost and looked as though it had spent a year in the desert.
A drop of green landed on Joe’s robes, and where it touched, they spun away into nothing, leaving a wide tear.
“Jesus Christ!” yelled James, backing away.
“Really, boy?” Joe crossed himself again. “Now’s not the fucking time to take his name in vain. We need all the help we can get.”
Pestilence laughed again, causing the street lamps to shake in the concrete. “The lord is busy right now. Not like a drunk, an undead, and a waste of space are exactly on his good list anyway.”
“An undead?” asked Joe, turning to James.
“We can talk about it later,” he panted. “Let’s deal with this first.”
“Seems like we could use a bit of holy might,” offered the cherub to Chad, who was still staring breathless at their unbeatable opponent.
Pestilence was taking his time, gloating and conjuring another ball of death or god knows what.
Meanwhile, the parking lot had turned into an ancient battlefield for Chad. It appeared that the cherub was not going to be the only side effect of his little pill. Amber waves of grain spread out before him, starting as seeds, and growing to full stalks. A vibrant, white moon burst into the sky above him, shining bright light upon the hill. The hill sloped down towards Pestilence, where in a ring, everything had begun to wither and die.
“Holy might, huh? How are we supposed to get that?” Chad looked at his arm as armor began to assemble on it from thin air.
“Martyrdom is never a bad choice.” The cherub rested its head on a balled hand as if thinking it over. “Works most of the time, and if it doesn’t, you’ll never know.”
“Seems sort of like a one trick pony.” As he said it, a juggling pony appeared next to him on the field. He was about to ask it if it could do anything else, when Pestilence loosed another projectile. The pony gave a final snort and was immediately reduced to bones, and shortly after to ash. The juggling balls fell lightly to the ground and rolled toward Pestilence.
“You son of a bitch!” yelled Chad. “That pony was a national treasure!” The nervous feeling that accompanies a near death experience left Chad. Instead, he felt a warm tingling sensation that he interpreted as the lord speaking to him, and began to advance on Pestilence. “Pony, you will be avenged.” With the ill-guided confidence of one who thinks they have a god on their side, Chad ran forward toward Pestilence.
Pestilence looked down on him like he was an ant. “What’s this then?” he asked curiously.
As Chad ran, a holy sword appeared in his hand. He held it forward like a lance and let out a battle cry.
“Oh fuck yes!” yelled the cherub, mounting a tiny airborne warhorse and pulling out an M16 machine gun. “To WAR!”
Together, the two of them ran down the field toward the chuckling Pestilence, and before Chad had time to register what a colossally bad idea it was, he was leaping toward where he thought the creature’s heart might be. He flew through the air like a spear thrown by an Olympian. Pestilence’s only reaction was a shocked expression. Chad’s sword pierced the creature’s thick hide and there was a blinding explosion of white light.
Chad felt an uncomfortable sensation, like the skin was sliding off his bones. He saw nothing but a vast whiteness, and the cherub floating beside him, equally confused.
“Did it work?” he asked, or at least he thought he asked. The words never quite came out.
The cherub shrugged, and then, all at once, it was as if all the lights in the world just turned out.
End of Part I
Want to know more about Nick Ventner? Check out the first few chapters of Whiteout, the first in the Nick Ventner series! There’s also a short story featuring Nick, a lake monster, and a whole lot of chocolate. Links Below: