The disease comes suddenly, without warning, and without mercy. It is an airborne germ that enters the human system through the respiratory tract. Through the capillaries of the lungs it enters the bloodstream, immediately attacking the brain. Its presence in the human body is marked by bleeding through the capillaries in the face; the capillaries rupture, causing bleeding through the nose, eyes, and ears. In the brain, the germ attacks and destroys the cortex; in the process, the victim becomes ridden with dementia and hysteria before slipping into a deep coma. Over a period of three days, the germ exponentially replicates in the brain, gaining the power and prominence to stimulate the brain stem. The victims come out of their comas, though now they are only shells of what they once were: personality, emotions, and thoughts are absent. All that is left is what appears to be a human being, though it is a mindless body, an organism of primal instincts and impulses, driven by an insatiable hunger and a thirst for survival, clinically insane. They are murderous fiends who only come out at night. They are not the “living dead”; rather, they are, simply, sick humans—sick beyond deliverance.
This third and final installment of “Dwellers of the Night” follows the journey of several men and women towards a safe-haven in the west. The journey will be met with tragedy, despair, and above all, hope.
The dark-walkers eyes explore the boy, and drool drips from a half-opened mouth. Anthony smiles: “Hello, Professor.” The calmness in his voice frightens him. Another dark-walker comes up along his other side, grabs him by the shoulder. Anthony doesn’t resist, just closes his eyes. He sees Karen and Amanda standing together, smiling at him, memories flashing from the back of his tortured mind. The dark-walkers thrust him into the pool, and he submerges under the stagnant rainwater. He opens his mouth; water runs between his teeth; he takes a deep breath; water fills his lungs; his legs and limbs kick in automatic motion, struggling for breath. The dark-walkers thrust their heads under the water and begin feasting on his flesh. In a few moments his blood turns the pool’s water red and his arms and legs cease their kicking and thrashing. A new-come dark-walker grabs the boy’s wrist in its hands and sinks its teeth into his soft flesh; its teeth gnaw upon the tendon, and Anthonys dead fingers twitch, betraying the silenced heart within the prison of the boy’s ribs.