Past the Witching Hour
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Silvia watched the alert repeat on the television.

She had known this was coming and had already prepped for the worst. There were some perks of living next to an air force base after all. Everyone, including her husband, had been deployed a few weeks ago. Well. Former husband. She assumed as much. The jig was up, after all - he wouldn't be returning.

"Momma?"

Silvia turned her attention away from the television to look at the grubby little hand pulling at her shirt corner. She smacked it away. The child, hardly more than a toddler, stumbled back, but kept its ugly teal eyes trained on her.

"Momma - the TV - make bad noise."

It only ever dared to touch her if it was scared. She sat down on the corner of her bed, ignoring it. She just had to get knocked up by that fucking mortician, didn't she? What a plan that was, scamming him out of child support money. How was she supposed to know he had connections to the military, and thus told her now ex husband? With this fucking catastrophe or whatever the hell the alert was going on about, she wouldn't be getting support from either of them now. She wondered if either of them had died, could she get life insurance out of that-?

"Momma!"

The thing - god - it was trying to climb into her lap. With a shove of her knee she sent the toddler sprawling to the floor. A twinge of regret tickled her chest as she watched the child struggle to get up, but she pushed it away. I do not want it. She reminded herself. Nothing good ever comes from a child.

"Go play outside." She said curtly, taking her mind off of what she just did. "It's a nice day out today. I have things to do."

"Okay momma."

Silvia watched to make sure it left the house, not bothering to help it as it struggled to put on its coat, then its shoes, then open the trailer door. As the door shut behind it, she hoped that it wouldn't come back.


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Elnur stood in the forest, staring through the tree branches at the sky above. Everything was quiet - no hum of the earth, calling of the birds, trickle of the stream - just silence. The world was still, holding its breath as the sky danced above. Great, colorful streaks of blue and gold, chasing across the sky and making their way to the stars above.

"The Keeper opened the gates. Limbo is going to be busy for the coming years."

Elnur didn't turn to look as the giant moose came to stand beside him, but he did offer a hand out to gently pat it on the shoulder. It snorted at him, but didn't push him away. The lights above illuminated the trees in a freezing grasp, and sent a shiver down their spines. It was not the aurora dancing above them, but rather, souls of the dead heading to processing. The apocalypse had begun.

"It seems it has. Wonder what it'll do now."

There was a pause between the two. Elnur could feel the muscles tense in the moose's shoulder, the gentle ripple as it thought about what was going on. He gently pat it a few times before returning his hand to his side.

"Will you return to the humans?"

They both knew the answer. Of course Elnur would. He started life as a human, and could still easily pass as one. Deep within him was a need to protect them, to do what was ethical, to try and save them from a mess they couldn't get out of on their own.

"Eventually. They won't be able to deal with the entities that come through with the corruption. Unless I do something, it'll continue to spread, and allow more entities to enter this world. It'll be over for them, for us, if that happens."

The moose snorted again, stamping its hoof into the soft earth below. Elnur finally turned to look at it.

"It is not your obligation to. You can stay here, where I raised you. You will be safe here."

"I know. But someone needs to help them. You know the other deities won't. They'll treat this as a field day."

"That is true. They are already sending things from their worlds here now that the veil is being torn down."

The moose lifted its great head to look among the forest. Various spirits were emerging from the woods for the first time, taking physical forms as they moved from the Breezeway to reality. They nodded their respects to their deity, and joined them in looking up at the sky. Things were peaceful, here, at the moment at least, but the moose didn't relax. It hid it well, but after all these years Elnur could tell.

"I will miss you, when you go. But I will not try to stop you."

It said finally, butting its head into Elnur's shoulder. Elnur smiled, and gave it one last pat on the head, before returning his gaze to the sky. He had a lot of work to get done.

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