THERE WILL BE NO MORNING

When Toth looked up to the darkening sky he wondered if the sun would ever make its appearance again. The grey clouds were thick and unyielding, a suffocating blanket of hazy gloom, and the complete absence of any wind allowed them to maintain their dominance in the sky.

A blood-red tear welled in Toth's eye and sizzled as it settled on his cheek. He was troubled. His responsibilities were great and many and the strain upon his mind that they created was annoying, even painful. How could he be expected to reach such lofty and unattainable duties?

True, he had been groomed for his destiny since the moment of his conception, but he still felt crushed by such heavy responsibilities. They would indeed prove to be difficult and wearisome tasks.

He stood up from his mighty throne and stretched his massive arms up to the sky. His long black hair flowed down to his knees, occasionally tangling itself in his arms. How it bothered him sometimes. He closed his eyes and let his thoughts drift back to better times. There were very few to recall, but he embraced each one nonetheless.

His hands clenched into fists and his many teeth ground together. The inner conflict that plagued him, that had since he was born, weakened his already fragile state of mind. Fear of what would become of him after his tasks had been completed. Fear of what his father would do when he arrived. Fear of what would become of the world should he succeed in his responsibilities.

Would he be discarded like yesterday's rubbish? Would he be pushed aside for stronger and more effective underlings? Perhaps not, but still the possibility remained. He knew deep down in his bleak and arid soul that he would not, could not, be disposed of. After all, he was his father's son, and thus retained his bloodline power.

A distant movement caught his eye.

Nearly two hundred miles away the 400-pound spider thing scurried through the brush. Its many legs worked in perfect unison as it swept aside smaller less important creatures, oblivious to their pain.

Toth watched it in detached horror, disgusted by its form. He noted how it was moving in his direction with its multiple eyes focusing directly on him, despite it being so far away.

Thoughts of fleeing entered Toth's mind, but were immediately ignored. He felt the power he commanded, it coursed through his veins, through his very darkened heart. He was more powerful than anything on Earth, and he knew it.

The spider thing was getting very close to where Toth stood. He could see its glistening fangs methodically clicking together, dripping a noxious cocktail of complex venom. Toth also noticed that it left a trail void of life in its wake, and the air around it blurred as if from intense heat.

Toth seated himself back on his throne, thinking of the arrival of his father. Surely his father would expect him to have fulfilled his destiny by the time he arrived. Nothing short of that would satisfy him. Only complete obedience was tolerated.

Fear and hatred boiled up inside of Toth, threatening eruption, promising to release itself. He cringed when he recalled his father's disciplinary actions in the past, brutal and unrelenting to the extreme.

The spider thing was only 50 yards away from where Toth sat. Its speed had increased with each step it took, reaching hundreds of miles per hour. Its horrible visage was focused only on Toth, its destination, and its mission.

The numerous jewels, generously sprinkled with the blood of innocents, weighed heavy on Toth's thick neck. His long black hair frequently intertwined with them, further hindering his ability to complete his destiny, but they were necessary so he tolerated them.

In a flash the spider thing was upon him, its head nervously gyrating as it squatted at his feet.

"Master," it hissed. "Preparations complete. The time is near. Your father's desires sent to strengthen your resolve. There will be no morning. There will be no morning."

Toth wished to kick the loathsome thing from his sight, but suppressed the urge.

"Very well creature," he boomed. "Be gone from my presence. The spider thing bowed its deformed head and scampered away.

Toth took a deep breath, relishing the cool crisp air. He would miss it after the transformation was complete. The thick, acidic atmosphere of his homeland never had agreed with him.

There were many things that weighed heavily on his mind. His forced destiny, the sickening creatures that groveled for his favor, even his name, or lack of one. 'Toth' had merely been a series of letters that had struck his fancy, so he had adopted them. His father had a name, too many to count as a matter of fact. But not him. He was forced to accept a label that meant nothing to him.

He leaned back into his throne and surveyed the landscape. Black plumes of smoke rose from all directions, filling the darkening sky with threatening doom. Trees caught fire and the ground rose and fell in heavy undulations, collapsing all that remained of nature's beauty. The wicked minions of his father began to spill out of the acrid ground by the thousands, each vying for dominance over the other. Toth sighed to himself as he watched the landscape contort for the arrival of his father.

In the far distance a great mound grew up from the ground, shaking off dead trees and rocks. It split wide open, revealing a fiery chasm, which spewed out blistering heat and radiation.

Toth watched in revulsion as his father rose from the center of the mound, a towering figure of evil and destruction, shrouded in scalding fire. The sheer evil that radiated from him was so great that Toth felt it even at a great distance, and was forced to shield his eyes from the horrid sight. The intense hatred he had fostered for centuries began to fester within his already troubled soul. Conflict had a firm grip on his black heart and simply refused to let go. He knew what was expected of him, but still resented it. More than once he entertained the notion of rebellion.

Judgment day sprayed into the sky from Toth's father's outstretched arms. Toth was supposed to raise his arms as well, thus completing the void which would consume the world, but he hesitated. His father, sensing his reluctance, immediately swung his sinister gaze at him.

"Young fool," he bellowed in a voice that shook the very ground. "Have I not bestowed upon your miserable carcass my desires? Do as I will!"

But Toth would not heed his father's command. He had grown strong, so strong that he felt confident enough to challenge his father's authority. He knew the time was right for change.

"I will not do as you wish my lord," he retorted. "Mankind deserves to flourish, despite their obvious inclinations towards their own destruction."

The rage that exploded from his father was unlike anything he had seen before. The very Earth shook with such force that the thousands of lesser creatures scurrying about tumbled to the ground as if made of cardboard. The sky deepened to an angry collage of swirling chaos. The air thickened with the stench of hatred and despair. The wind churned up into a vicious maelstrom of hurricane proportions.

But Toth stood firm for he had only the wrath of his father to fear. The lesser creatures slithering around posed no danger to his authority. He knew very well he could crush them all if he wished.

His father was upon him in an instant, teeth gnashing, talons slicing, a terrifying and deadly opponent determined on asserting his authority at any cost. Bloodlines meant little in Hell, and love meant even less.

Toth reared back and released his own fury, partly to protect himself, but mostly for his belief in mankind. The hatred and resentment for his father that he had been fostering fueled his power to defeat him. He knew he must win, for the alternative was too terrible to contemplate.

The two dark titans met head on, each unleashing their power, their anger, their emotions, in a gigantic melee of devastation. Both were fueled by their intense desire to overtake the other. Both were fully prepared to sacrifice all in order to win.

And throughout the world, totally unaware of the colossal battle taking place that would dictate the fate of the planet, slept mankind, ignorant in the belief that it controlled its own destiny.