By William j. seymour
Traveling Merchant Book Two
The people of Morninglight are a peaceful, God loving people. In a country torn by misery, war, and disease they remain true to their convictions and hide the secret that has kept them safe since the fall of the world.
But knowledge of their little miracle has reached beyond the borders of their town. Terrorized by men determined to take whatever is needed to survive in this world, the defenseless survivors of Morninglight have no other choice but to run or give up all they have ever worked for.
But some of those who remain are not willing to lose it all without a fight. Desperate to keep their world intact, they turn to a dark stranger and his disease-stricken companion.
Two against an army. The beliefs of an old world versus the realities of a new hell. A bargain will be made, and a price will be paid.
Revenge, Merchant. That monster back there took them all. Killed everyone. I want them dead. Every last stinking one of them. Let them rot on the ground. Leave them as food for the buzzards. Send them back to the hell they came from…
Welcoming fires point defiantly to the night, dancing beneath the moonlit sky. A gentle breeze sways the flickering flames and the smell here is fresh and dry. Giant ominous shadows, darkened cages of unbreakable walls and unclimbable roofs. A patchwork of quiet and emptiness.
But they are here. Their smell is too strong and sweet.
Moisture wets the tongue. A warm stream burns the skin and tastes of salt. Weak, bleeding feet drag across the cutting gravel. Heels are torn open. Toes are missing and stone cuts deep into flesh. Blood trails over thorns and dirt, soaking into the earth as quickly as it can leak from infected wounds.
A dog barks in the distance. Quick and short, the abrupt call echoes across the silent plains.
The cages do not stir. Small prickles of fire create eyes of bright pupils and dark irises in windows that watch as the stranger draws closer.
Hunger eats away at an empty stomach. Cravings that never go away. A mouth full of putrid acid. A tongue that is shriveled into a hollow husk. Flies buzz everywhere. Swatting at them does nothing. Eating one or a dozen does even less for the hunger that burns all the way to the crusty pants that scratch with every step.
Why do these irritate me so? Where did they come from?
Torn denim pulls at scaled flesh. Strings of fiber pierce as deep as needles against skin pulled tight against bone and muscle twisted into a thick cord and frayed tendons. Each step brings excruciating pain that wracks the body through brittle bones and clenching teeth.
Saliva drips from chapped lips.
The smell of fresh, untainted meat grows stronger.
No shadow moves, and no one hinders their progress. Anticipation grows. A small hiss escapes a scorched throat. The blocks of shadows and danger remain silent and yet the aroma of a meal is so close. A weak heart beats faster. Knuckles pop as bleeding fingers flex and tighten at the sight of fresh blood and warm meat dancing before blurry eyes.
There are so many of them!
A small voice nags at the back of the darkness, fighting the urges filled with the need to eat.
But there are so many! I will never be hungry again.
The dog barks again and this time it does not stop. Vile beasts. A symphony of calls and howls. An even less human growl escapes between chipped teeth and bleeding gums.
Little beasts taste of gristle and greasy fur. The whole meal cannot touch the starving pinch that only real food can quench.
More lights begin to push away the night.
Quickly now! Back into the darkness where the light cannot find us.
Voices carry easily in the night. Deep, strong voices. Filled with muscle and warm blood. No coughing or infection.
More saliva burns at dried sockets. So… much… food.
The light sways back and forth as the voices draw closer. First left, then right. Up and down. A hypnotizing yet burning thing. Fire that does not hurt but tears out the eyes. Must be avoided.
One of them speaks, and the other agrees. One so deep and strong, the other softer and full of youth.
Shadows retreat as the yellow glow of fire is almost upon us.
Inch back! Around the next corner!
There is no turning away. Food is so close. The voice falls on deaf ears as the sweet, salty smell of meat is almost within grasp. Little trembles shake the dirt beneath calloused feet.
The pain is gone. Glorious warmth runs through veins and muscles tense. Teeth itch nervously and the light is as bright as the sun. Eyes squint as the pain sears them. Dry skin cracks and bleeds.
More words come from the strong voices. No possible way to understand what they say.
FOOD! WE MUST HAVE FOOD!
The light explodes as broken, dirty hands stretch around the corner of the building. A high, shrill voice pierces the night. The shadows are so tall, and broad!
A vice like grip wraps around a starving mouth, jamming broken teeth into bloody gums. Hands cannot reach their prize. Scratching at the air, the shadows are too far away. Fear takes over. Mind runs in circles.
The ground cracks ribs and air hisses between tight fingers. The dark shadows behind the blinding sun do not run. A new monster sits atop as hard dirt grinds into the brittle bones between the shoulders.
“Shh, my child,” a soft voice whispers.
Words mean nothing. Gnawing with teeth and gums, the taste of salt is so sweet! The tongue hurts as it laps against the hand that squeezes tight. So…. gloriously… sweet!
The stranger sits upon the chest that wheezes and struggles. So much weight. Too much pressure. Flowers and sugar engulf and overpower the smell and taste of blood that fills this world. Breath is hard to take as bones crack beneath the weight of shadow and death.
“Calm. Take deep breaths, my long-lost child. This will take no more than a moment,” the voice continues.
White streams of light begin to break away from the swaying sun that blinds away the shadows that watch. Above the tiny lights of the sky fade into darkness as the world glows and brightens. Tiny ribbons swirl and dance in the calm night, carried by a will of their own as they take their time coming to the grip that pinches dried lips shut.
The light does not diminish. It grows brighter and the heat from the fire within begins to burn at the skin. At first it is comforting. Like a touch that cannot be remembered or the exhilarating sensation of that first bite into warm flesh, the heat works its way into cold muscles and bones. But it does not stop there.
Fire catches within the flesh and the smell of rot and decay sours the air. Bubbles pop and the rending of flesh sends geysers of blood into the light where it wraps around the streams of golden magic. Screams are muffled beneath the iron grip and nails break as they dig into the broken earth.
“That is it, my son. Let it take you away,” the voice soothes.
Searing hot embers erupt as eyes explode and bones turn to shrapnel. Every muscle cramps and the taste of blood chokes as lungs fill. The darkness is a comfort, a respite from the pain and the hunger but beneath the molten rays of light there is no solace to be found. Yellow fire consumes them all until the world itself has burnt itself out.
Other Books In Series
In a war-torn, fractured America, a lone man walks the desolate highway. Filled with the infected and the last unconnected remnants of society, he heads west carrying with him a single bag over his shoulder and the ghosts he has left in his wake.
Merchant is the first book in a story that will extend the breadth of America and leave in its wake a tale of destruction and redemption.