Whiskers twitched and noses, cut, scarred and half frozen, lifted upward. Yet another gust of salty cold air whistled loudly as it thrust through a thousand cracked panes of glass and leaky door frames. The ship rose and sank upon the merciless sea as the smell of land wafted along the abandoned halls, through banquet halls and across the mountains of filth and half eaten carcasses of the occupant’s conveniently nutritious comrades. As one, they began to scurry about sniffing, ignoring the ravenous hunger that set them upon one another when they weren’t hiding or mating.
The long slender ship turned sideways to the reef as the dark moonlit surf slowly pushed it ashore. A bang, a crash, a dragging and shuddering could be heard for miles about had anyone ventured into the wintrous night air but none did. This was rural Devon. It was unnatural and considered unsafe to wander at night even in summer. Things lived in the dark, things whose motion was hidden by the roar if the sea. Things half believed like werewolves, black cats of immense size and appetite, vengeful spirits of Celts, Romans, Gauls. People slept unaware.
At precisely three in the morning, en masse, the hungry horde dove overboard as the ship, their home for most all of their lives, tore apart and sank below the waves. On shore, a few fought, a few lay down and died from exertion and most washed themselves, as rats do, before moving farther inland toward a nearby field encapsulated by rough hewn fencing and loose barbed wire. Stray cobs of corn were ignored as they walked, jogged, ran as one shiny black mob of death toward the nearby barn.
Dobson had not heard the shipwreck but his ears. Mmperked up at the soul wrenching sound of cattle being slaughtered by gnashing, tearing, burrowing rats. He strode into the darkness, flashlight in hand, as his wife stood at the doorway to their small home, frightened as her husband of oh so many years vanished into the night.
His screams rivalled those of the cattle.
It had begun.
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