The air was thick with coal dust and the distant thrum of machines.
The boys sat with their backs to me, none of them raising their heads or turning to look at me as I stepped into the room. They continued with their business of sorting, neither speaking nor looking at one another. Their labored breathing added a soft, rasping undercurrent to the machines, and I hated the Keeper all the more.
For a short time, I stood where I was, saying nothing, and doing the same. Finally, I walked up to the front of the room, turned around, and faced them.
Not a one of them looked at me, and I wondered how much abuse they had suffered to crush the curiosity within them.
“Boys,” I whispered.
The sound of my voice stilled their hands and stiffened their backs. Grimnir called to them in his own voice, and the boys looked up.
Their faces were filthy, their eyes wide. Chunks of coal fell from their hands, and they stared at me in disbelief. Lips moved, and at first, no sound came from them. Then, one small boy, his voice broke the stillness.
The others took up my name, first as a whisper, then as a chant. Their voices joined together, shook coal dust from the rafters.
“You cannot send them back,” Grimnir informed me. “They can only go forward as we do.”
“So long as they are not left behind,” I responded.
“No, that is not their fate,” the raven stated.
“Good.” I focused on the boys. “Rise up. You’re leaving with me.”
There was no hesitation, and they leaped to their feet.
“Show me the door, boys,” I told them, “it’s time for killing.”
The boys raced past me, and I followed, my name reverberating in the halls of Hell.
#horror #monsters #supernatural #death