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PART 1: Prologue

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His heart was banging so loudly in his chest that it seemed whatever was on the other end of the long hallway would be able to hear it. His breath was heavy and hoarse as he inhaled and exhaled quickly through his nose trying, unsuccessfully, to be quiet. His eyes were wide and his face as pale as if he'd been drained of blood.

He leaned against the wall and listened.

Absolute silence.

If there was a fly, he'd be able to clearly hear the beating of its wings.

Startled, he stood there, a gun in his trembling right hand, staring at the end of the hallway. He was in a hotel. Red, carpeted floor, white walls, and dark wooden doors.

Moving away from the wall, his gaze still glued to the end of the hall, he waited as if waiting for something hideous, or Lucifer himself, to come out from around the corner and pounce on him. He hadn't aimed his pistol in that direction. He was holding it despite knowing that the bullets would fail to save him from the horrendous creatures that dwelled in this hotel. Not only in here, they were everywhere; the city was loaded with them. Just one view of them was enough to suck the last ray of hope from a man.

The man was in his late fifties, potbellied with graying hair, and short, wearing a light brown coat.

It was late November, so it was cold outside. Although the heating didn't work in the hotel, he was sweating and gasping for air.

For a moment, he held his breath and looked back. He could see nothing and nobody, but a strange feeling started to creep over him, telling him to run, as fast as he could. Something was closing in on him from the direction he had just come. He shivered as a chill ran up his back.

He took a step, his legs shaky, and the floor creaked beneath his feet. He glanced back again, fearfully. A sharp wind arose from the far end of the hallway, whipping into him. This was it. He knew for sure the terrifying creatures had found him again.

He spun around and dashed ahead.

In the absolute silence, only the sound of his footfalls could be heard as the sound seemed to reflect off the walls and amplify. His lungs labored furiously, attempting to keep up with the demands of his pounding heart, the freezing cold air burning his lungs. He feared his trembling legs would betray him at any second and send him crashing to the floor.

Every now and again, he glanced back over his shoulder, his eyes wide and full of dread, expecting, at any moment, one of those creatures, or demons as he thought of them, to strike. The wind ruffled his hair, blowing it into his eyes. He brushed it back and looked ahead. In another ten yards, he'd reach the end of the hallway and enter the lobby.

As if on cue, a big puff of cloud loomed into view. It filled the hallway like water filling a tunnel.

As he came to a screeching halt, his heart seemed to stop and his blood froze in his veins. The fog had a human shape; hands, legs, and even a head. The horrified man focused on a pair of cold, black eyes in a snow-white face. He knew what it was; he'd seen the demons wandering the empty streets before. Unfortunately, they'd found him and had come after him to drag him into Hell. He didn't try to shoot the demon, well aware that the bullet would fly right through it. He reached for the door to his right and turned the handle.

The man threw himself into the next room, adrenaline rushing through his veins. In less than a second, he fixated on a window across the room. Frantically, he slammed the door and darted ahead.

Once he reached the window, he grabbed a nearby chair, turned his face away, and smashed the window with it. The glass shattered as he hurtled headlong through it. The impact of hitting the ground wasn't too bad since he was on the ground floor.

Bits of glass rained down on him. He scrambled over the ground and tried to stand up, still gripping the gun tightly, although he didn't know why he'd kept holding it. It would kill humans, animals, anything that lived, but not those human-shaped fogs.

Once on his feet, he threw a quick glance at his hands. The cuts on them were superficial, not a big deal. So he took a deep breath and started off at a run.

As far from the hotel as possible, he kept telling himself as he ran. He didn't look up, well aware he wouldn't see sunlight. He knew he'd see nothing but a weird dome overhead that had covered the city a week ago, bringing forth those creepy demons along with it.

For over seven days, he'd been surviving in this new world that anyone would call Hell. Two days ago, he'd seen the first demon. He'd gone out to gather some supplies and that day, he'd gone farther than ever before, hoping he'd find other survivors like him, his brother, and his nephew.

That was when he'd spotted a puff of fog that flew along a street an inch above the asphalt. He had been in a store filling a bag with food when he'd spotted a human-sized fog. Not believing his eyes, he had approached the window to take a better look. It had been something he'd seen only in horror movies.

He had fled from the demons, but not for long. They'd tracked him down. They'd come for his soul.

He reached the corner and saw the parking lot. There were, at least, twenty dead cars parked there greeting him mournfully. It was dangerous to step into an opening, but he didn't have much of a choice.

As far from the hotel as possible.

The man didn't stop and entered the lot. He wasn't young anymore. His lungs began to complain; his weight was too heavy for his legs to carry. He was well aware that he wasn't anything other than a walking corpse. His life would be over in a few minutes, maybe even in a few seconds.

With these terrifying thoughts, the man reached the middle of the parking lot and stopped abruptly.

From every side, human-shaped fogs entered the lot and huddled around him. He counted seven of them. As he glanced back, two more loomed into view.

This is it, the man thought. He could run to the hotel entrance, but not before the demons caught him. They were extremely fast, especially in such a flat outdoor area. Indoors he had a better chance of avoiding them because they couldn't walk through walls and doors.

The fogs started closing in on him, the circle narrowing with every passing second. With a terrified look on his face, the man watched them approach, mentally counting the last seconds of his life. Hope had abandoned him since he had fled his room. There was no place for hope here among the demons. His aim had been to get as far from the hotel as possible to give a chance to the ones who were still in the hotel. But he'd failed. The farthest he'd been able to make it was outside the hotel and to the parking lot.

"I won't give myself to you, you fucking demons," the man bawled and put the gun to his head.

The human-shaped fogs stood glued to the spot, their big hideous eyes fixated on the man in the middle of them. None of them had a mouth, so they couldn't make a sound, much less speak. They waited.

The man ran his eyes over them. A slight smile curled his lips as he squeezed them shut.

"God bless me," he hissed under his breath, as he winced in pain—soul pain.

He sucked in a huge breath—his last ever.

He pulled the trigger.


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