000. Prologue - The Woman

Wednesday, early October, 06:39

She knew the pattern of highways and back roads in this countryside like she knew the pattern of freckles on her arm. It was surprising then, that the chestnut-haired woman crossing the railroad tracks did not notice the unmistakable smell of death lingering in the air today.

It was dawn, and everything was still. Only the distant sounds of birds chirping could be heard as the woman danced quietly along the rusted tracks. She was too old to be partaking in such a silly, childish, and not to mention dangerous activity, but in all her early morning walks she'd never been hit yet. In fact, she hardly ever saw trains at this time of day. For all she knew, they mostly ran at night.

Today was different, though.

She paused as a sharp noise cut the air. It seemed to come from the woods in the distance - two long whistles followed by a short whistle, then one final long note. She leapt off the tracks, her sneakers crunching against the gravel. The sound became louder and clearer as the woman made her way to a grassy patch nearby, clutching her backpack close to her, watching and waiting from a safe distance for the train to come and pass.

The train came into sight with a loud clanking tattoo. Coal-carrying freight trains, she noted immediately. She stood stock-still as the cars whipped past, stirring the sleepy morning air into a whirlwind smelling of dust and diesel. The woman covered her mouth. It would be several minutes before the dust could settle.

Finally the last car trundled past, and the ground stopped vibrating beneath her feet. She removed her hand from her face, and gagged soon after. Something didn't smell right.

Against her better judgement, the freckled woman followed the smell. It seemed to have been stirred up in the wake of the train, and became stronger in the direction it had traveled. She faintly recognized it from the recesses of her memory. Once, when she was an adolescent, she had visited her terminally ill grandmother in the hospice. The odour was striking. She could clearly recall the pungent, not quite putrid scent, permeating and heavy, and strangely sweet at the same time. It was the organic perfume of decay, and she was smelling it again for the first time in fifteen years.

She paused outside a thicket's entrance. She was in the nearby woods, just 200 feet away from the spot where she first noticed the smell, and here it was stronger than ever. Adjusting her grip around her backpack, she took a deep breath and plunged through the wall of bramble. She expected a dead deer, body grotesquely bloated from the heat of the Indian summer, cut up and discarded from poachers, perhaps. Despite the overpowering stench, she couldn't have anticipated that she would stumble upon a pile of dead human bodies.

And nobody came to help when she screamed.

A/N: Alright, so this is the prologue to my first longfic! It's the biggest (and most complex) writing project I've ever undertaken, so I'm a little nervous, honestly. Here's hoping I don't fudge it up too much!

Anyway, how was the prologue? I think it sets the story up nicely, though half of the story won't be anywhere near as gory (see, I'm not a total sadist!).

As a note of interest, the title for this monster came about when I was listening to the song "Salvation" by Citizen Cope. Mostly because I suck at coming up with titles, but also because I think the message of that song relates to this story, in a way. At least, the way I interpret it.

Next chapter will be something different! And please, no flames :(