The factory was a mess: The machines and computers were long since unused, most of them covered in a sheet of dust and cobwebs. The only sign of life were the diseased and dead bodies of the former workers, and the rats.
A rather fat rat scurried out of a hole in the wall. A diseased riser, a woman by the looks of it, pounced on it. It shrieked and wriggled in her tight grasp, she licked her lumpy, chapped lips and sunk her teeth into the rat, silencing it. A hand lay on her shoulder.
"Save your appetite Margaret" The owner of the hand said "We'll find some bodies soon"
The riser, Margaret, groaned and dropped the rat, crawling away to find another one. The stranger picked it up, ripped it's stomach open and stuffed his face with its warm, slimy guts, slurping it down like spaghetti. The stranger was about 6 feet tall, dressed in various shades of grey, grey straps were wrapped around his chest and arms, large leather flaps were attached to his arms, giving the impression of wings. He had dark brown hair and blood red eyes. A purple bruise crept across his jaw line and near the corner of his mouth. He wasn't alive, but he wasn't dead or diseased. His name was William, William Harsting But The Wardens called him their kind Halfways. He and his friend called them "Halfies"
"Ugh" A voice behind him spat "You frickin' vulure..."
William smirked and turned around. Biting off the rat's head and crunching it like a hard candy, feeling the warm brains squish into his mouth, between his teeth.
"S'not being a vulture when it's the only food available" He walked towards his insulter. She was sitting behind a fallen support beam, her knees tucked into her chest. She was eating a can of nectarines, She held up her half eaten can.
"What about this?"
"That's crap food"
"It's real food!"
"No. The living ones, The Pures are real food now" He sat himself next to her, She scooted away. The girl had dark chocolate colored hair, a light tan and dark brown eyes that seemed to sparkle even when she was angry. She was wearing a leotard with thick black straps and dark orange shorts. The number 10 was written on one of the thighs. Her name was Danielle.
"Those things are people!" Danielle said as she spooned some nectarines into her mouth "Not food for you and the other Sickos here"
William smiled "Y'know...one of those "Sickos" is the father-"
"Shut up! We don't know yet...! Not for sure..."
"So there's a chance"
"Ugh...just don't talk to me..."
"Am I interrupting something...?"
The two teenagers turned around only to see a tall woman looming over them. She was around 40. Like William, she had red eyes, but she had platinum blonde hair and pale pinkish skin. She was smiling, but it looked about as friendly as a snake. Blood was dribbling down her mouth. Danielle scoffed.
"What do you want Tess?" She asked bitterly. The woman, Tess, frowned then shook her head. Almost everyone was afraid of Tess. She was the groups Seamstress, making all of their clothes and patching up their old ones. She herself was a Halfy. They found her when she was being chased by Risers. She was bit on the tongue by her diseased husband, her children and brother had already left by then. She managed to sew the wound shut, but her mouth always bled when she spoke.
"That's 'Mom' to you Young lady" Tess said. Danielle rolled her eyes and scoffed.
"You're not my mother anymore..." She grumbled. Tess rolled her eyes and glared at her bitterly. But she ignored her former daughter and turned her attention to William.
"Darius and Nex want you in the Throne room" She informed him "Fallon is waiting for you"
William's heart jumped and his stomach flipped. Nex and Darius were their leaders. They were the very first Halfies. If they called someone to see them, it usually meant they were in big trouble.
William opened the door to the throne room. Inside, he was met with another boy inside. He was wearing different shades of grey; all spotted with different shades of dried blood. He was deathly pale with bloodshot eyes and red scars on his face, mirroring whiskers. He had a nasty looking bruise on his neck and was missing his right eyelid, the skin around it was rotten and infected. A bandage was tightly wrapped around his thigh. His name was Fallon.
In front of Fallon were two older men. One of them was dangerously thin and had slicked back black hair and almost paper white skin. a deep scar ran from the point of his widows peak to in between his eyes. He had two similar scars running through his eyes, one of them missing, and two smaller ones across his face and on the corners of his mouth. He reminded William of the Joker, or Jeff the Killer, more like it. The thing that scared William the most was that underneath his blood-free clothes, he had a deep, bloody, infected wound that went from his collar-bone down to above his crotch.
The other one was more gruesome looking: He had a belt with different hands tied onto it. Most of them fresh, but some of them were covered on gunk and maggots. around his neck and wrists were a slimy string of eyeballs, all different colors. He was wearing leather shoulder-patches made from human skin. Bandages were wrapped tightly around both of his arms up to his shoulders. He wore another necklace around his neck, the only thing not gruesome about his "armor". It was a small round object with strange symbols craved onto it. On his back, he wore an oxygen tank on his back with about a dozen more next to his throne, a tube was attached to his nose, allowing him to breathe correctly. He too was missing an eye.
Behind them were two huge bookshelves that were turned into cabinets. William didn't know what they put in those cabinets, and he wasn't sure he wanted to know.
"William" Darius said, not even looking at him "You decided to show up"
"Not like a really had a choice" William said. Darius raised an eyebrow.
"Not like a really had a choice sir"
"That's better... Now, you're probably wondering why we called you in hm?"
"A little bit sir..." Fallon replied. Darius didn't answer immediately. Instead he leaned forward, gripping the arms of his throne. He glared at both boys.
"Why are we here?" He asked them. Neither boy answered. When they took to long, Darius smacked his fist in this throne and stood up.
"Because we're beasts!" He exclaimed "We're living but we rot like the dead. We think like the living but eat what the minions eat! We're just halfway between dead and living"
"Halfies" Fallon murmured.
"Exactly. But survivors don't like any of us roaming around: Halfway, diseased, dead. It doesn't matter to them! They just think we're nothing more than little threats, like scabs on your arm"
"But there much more of us than them" Nex butted in "And Father and I have found a faster way to make them turn than just a bit or scratch... What is the one thing that keeps humans pure?"
Fallon and William looked at each other, neither of them had a clue what they were talking about.
"Souls!" Darius exclaimed "Human souls" He ripped off the necklace with the round object on it and showed it to the boys.
"See this? This is a Talisman. It can suck out the souls of any human, kills them immediately... Care for an example?"
The boys looked at each other. Example? Is that why they were called in?
"What do you mean?" Fallon asked. Nex stood up and walked to a door and opened it. A woman toppled out. She was tied up tightly, her mouth was covered by a muzzle, the type that were used for dogs. Nex took off the muzzle. She sucked in a lung full of air and screamed bloody murder, writhing like a snake.
"Let me go!" She screamed "Let me go you goddamn animals!" Nex muffled her insults with his hands.
"Shut up you!" He said "No one here can hear you anyways... Dad!"
Darius pressed the three symbols in the talisman, they glowed bright green. He pressed it against her forehead. Her thrashing became even more violent the second the talisman made contact with her. A second later her body stiffened, then vibrated, like she was being electrocuted.
Then she went limp.
Both boys watched in horror at the performance in front of them. Nex smiled and dragged her body next to his throne.
"Don't worry about her" He told them "She won't be turning anytime soon"
"So you see what it does?" Darius told the boys. They nodded.
"What do you want us to do with it?" William asked. Darius put the talisman in his hands.
"Remember that little group of survivors about half a mile north? Get them. They're the only group for miles; after them, we'll leave this place and take the others out. Understand?"
The boys nodded "Understand"
"Good. Now get out of our site and make yourselves useful"
The boys obliged immediately; they ran out of the room. Fallon tied the talisman around his neck as he ran. He ran out the door, William in his tail. He was almost out the door when he hesitated a bit. He turned around. The woman had finally turned. She was snarling and drooling. Nex had a foot pressed against her chest, pressing a large kitchen knife on her neck.
"Just out of curiosity..." He said "Who was that woman...?"
Nex sliced the woman's head off, grabbed it by the hair and handed it to Darius, who opened one of the cabinets. William couldn't believe his eyes: Inside those two cabinets were heads. All of them were stacked neatly ear to ear, Cheek to cheek. They were all in various stages of decay. Some of them used to be diseased, He could tell by the flaky rashes and the deflated boils. They were all snarling and wheezing; some of them starting to eat each other.
Darius placed her on the second shelf then carved a name under her.
Darius chuckled and patted Riana's cheek.