The Plague of Abaddon

“Lucy, don’t meet him tonight,” Sissy begged, clasping her sister’s hand and pulling her away from the door. Lucy looked at her younger sister. Sissy was only younger by a year, but it looked more like it was five years. Her sleeping cap hid her dark curls, but even the dim candlelight couldn’t hide the worry in her eyes. “I don’t like him . . . he scares me. He’s destruction. I think he’s Abaddon.”

“Oh, Sissy, don’t be silly,” Lucy said, patting her sister gently on the shoulder. She pried Sissy’s worried fingers from her wrist and turned toward the door.

abaddon“I’m not being silly!” Sissy insisted, her whisper shrill. Though she didn’t want Lucy to go, she also didn’t want to wake her parents.

Lucy threw the cloak around her shoulders and sighed. “You are being silly. There’s nothing to worry about Luke.”

“There’s everything to worry about Luke. I’ve had visions,” Sissy confessed. The pleading in her eyes was too much for Lucy to bear. She closed her eyes so she didn’t have to see her sister begging.

Here we go with her visions again, Lucy thought. “Sissy,” she said, opening her eyes once more. “I know you believe what you see when you go into fits, but I don’t. And don’t talk about them so openly. You know what the townsfolk would do if they heard you.”

“But you wouldn’t do that,” Sissy confided. “If you’re not going to believe me, at least take this.” Sissy pulled a silver dagger from the pocket of her dressing robe.

“Where on earth did you get that?” Lucy wondered, staring down at the ornate silver blade. The hilt was made of bone, and while Lucy wanted to believe it was part of a deer antler, she couldn’t convince herself. The hilt had a nice smooth handle, but the end of the hilt looked more like tangled roots than actual bone . . . it hadn’t been carved that way.

“It’s Father’s,” Sissy said.

“This is ridiculous. I can’t take this. I won’t be long, Luke just wants to show me something,” Lucy said.

“In the graveyard!” Sissy argued.

“Yes, that’s where we meet . . . it’s the only place people won’t see us if they look out their windows. Besides, he’s not a werewolf, silver won’t work on him.” Lucy tried to hand the dagger back to her sister.

“Silver works on a lot of things,” Sissy said, pushing Lucy’s hand away. “I’m not taking no for an answer. Either you take the dagger, or I wake mom and dad.”

“Fine!” Lucy said. She slipped the dagger into the pocket of her cloak. She patted Sissy on the shoulder once more because the look of worry in her sister’s dark eyes bothered Lucy. She didn’t believe her sister’s visions, but she couldn’t help feeling worried by the look on her sister’s face.

What if she’s right? Lucy wondered. It was a silly thought, and she pushed it from her mind as she silently closed the door behind her.

It was a chilly night for late Summer. Lucy could see her breath in the air, but at least the muddy ground was mostly solid, and walking the dark streets of the little town of Ander was easy. She crossed the road and trudged along a side street that took her out behind the tavern and to the churchyard. It was late enough that people were no longer out and about, but not so late that the occasional flickering light of houses didn’t illuminate the night.

The graveyard sat behind the stone church. The waxing moon was high, but the covering of trees that grew along the perimeter of the graveyard cast the church and surrounding lands in shadow. She could just barely make out the figure of Luke standing near the back of the graveyard. His back was to her, and he was staring out into the forest that bordered the town.

“Be careful,” Luke cautioned. “There are open graves.

Why are there open graves? Lucy wondered, but she was at such a heightened state of excitement that she could barely speak. Her body quivered uncontrollably as cold spread through her. She was anxious to be near Luke, to feel his energy, to feel the way her body yearned toward his like two lodestones pulling one to another. But at the same time her body quivered in fear. Fear of what her sister had warned of, fear of the graveyard and fear as to why there were open graves.

She picked her way across the soft grass. Despite the chill that hardened the muddy streets in Ander, the chill seemed to do little for the mossy ground of the graveyard. Lucy always worried that she would step wrong and be sucked down into a grave to rest with the bones of a long dead villager.

abaddon

image from BoxHeadStudio

As Lucy neared Luke, she heard rustling in the depths of the open graves. She took a moment to observe the graves. There were five of them, the five nearest Luke. Peering down into the closest one, Lucy didn’t see a bottom. She shivered.

Just a trick of the night, she thought. Still, the rustling and whispering clatter came from deep within the grave, she was sure of that.

“Have you heard of Abaddon?” Luke asked. The name chilled her to the bone. The same name Sissy had spoken of . . . the name she’d claimed belonged to Luke.

“Are you Abaddon?” Lucy asked. She phrased it like a joke, but part of her wasn’t joking at all.

“And if I were?” Luke asked.

Not the answer she was looking for. She fought the urge to back away from him, to run home and hide in her bed. She didn’t know the name well, only what she’d heard in church. She thought it meant destroyer. Why were there five graves though? If he was a destroyer, wouldn’t he have more than five graves to fill.

“The graves aren’t to fill,” Luke said, as if he could read her mind.

The warnings of her mother came to mind then.

“Don’t get mixed up with that one,” her mother had said. “No one knows where he comes from. He’s not from Ander.”

At the time Lucy had thought her mother was being silly. She was afraid of things that were new, things that were different. Luke was all of those. He never seemed to have any reason to fear, but now that name, Abaddon.

“What are the graves for then?” Lucy asked. She wanted to go to him, to lock her arm in his and stare out into the forest, but she couldn’t make herself move. She couldn’t go to him.

She felt the weight of the silver dagger in her cloak, and she fought the urge to think of the weapon. If she thought of it, then would he know? Had he read her mind before, or was it a lucky guess?

Luke turned to her. His hood was up, his face shadowed, but she could see his eyes. They glowed green in the darkness of his trappings.

“My plague,” he said.

Lucy tried to laugh, but nothing came out. A cold hand gripped her throat, only allowing the slightest breath through.

The rustling sounded louder. Something landed on Lucy’s face and she brushed it away. Before she could look to see what was on her hand, the rustling grew louder . . . loud enough to drown out all other noises and all thought from her mind. It was like dead reeds slapping and rubbing together in a gale. The sound was deafening. A cloud swarmed around her and she stumbled back, crying out, her arms over her face.

“My name is Abaddon,” Luke said. He was close to her now, his breath on her face. “And my time has come. The harvest . . . death and sickness. Locust.”

“No!” Lucy said, trying to step away from Abaddon, but he held her by the neck, not allowing her to move. His hand tightened around her throat, and she felt the weight of the silver dagger in her cloak.

She reached for it, dug her hand deep into the pocket until her hand clasped the smooth bone of the hilt. She felt the tangle of bone at the end of the hilt, the weight of the silver. It seemed to embolden her.

“My plague will feast, and your crops will wither,” he breathed into her ear.

Lucy looked into his eyes, wondering if she would see anything of Luke there . . . but they were empty, void of all humanity and filled with only power.

“All of your work, gone.” Abaddon sneered. “A plague of sickness and hunger on your town, and it will spread.”

Lucy took a wheezing breath and steadied herself. She gripped the dagger harder, and in one fluid motion she drove it up through his stomach. Abaddon dropped her and cried out. Smoke oozed from the wound, but Lucy wouldn’t rest with just a stomach wound. Before he could get his bearings, she drove the dagger straight through a glowing green eye.

Abaddon burst into darkness, smoke billowed up into the air with a scream that tore the night. A sudden burst of air drifted through the graveyard, scattering the smoke cloud that was Abaddon out into the forest.

Lucy turned, afraid of what the locust would do to their crops, but as she turned she saw them falling from the sky, raining down around the town. On shaky legs, she headed home, afraid that Luke or Abaddon, or whoever he was, would come for her from out of the darkness, but he didn’t come.

For the first time Lucy believed Sissy. She believed that the visions her sister gained when she went into fits were real. Lucy may have been the one who’d driven Abaddon from the town, but Sissy had been the one who’d saved them all.

Lucy walked home through the locust, dead on the ground.

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