“Add Insult To Injury” is a series of short stories about a deeply troubled man. The goal of this particular set of stories is that each chapter will tell its own tale, and while they will all focus on the same main character the reader should be able to jump in and read whatever chapter they want. While some storylines will run through multiple stories they will be fully explained when they are relevant. Furthermore, I have the aim to tell the story from a viewpoint of a character that in no way could be described as a good person. But if you appreciate amoral characters like I do, I hope you can enjoy what comes next!
I can always see it in people’s eyes. Somewhere behind all that loathing and fear, there is always that spark of curiosity that continues to burn no matter the odds. The need to ask where and how and why. Sometimes I believe it is what makes us human. As I am one of the Corrupt, I have knowledge written across my ruined face. So very little is known about us, since most of us are dead now, but there is one thing which is guaranteed.
Only the Corrupt saw the End of the World first hand. We witnessed the Rendering as the earth split open and the Wicked spilled forth from the cracks like some storm of pure foulness. It sounds so simple, put like that. Like a game of pronouns made in an attempt to explain something so far beyond our comprehension.
And it was simple.
I have disappointed many with those words, yet lying has always been a vice that I perform poorly. So these days I often let the story remain untold. Less people kick up a fuss when a Corrupt simply refuses to speak with them, as they expect nothing but the worst from us, rather than when we tell them the truth. An acquaintance of mine was accused of lying once when he told just this story. They hanged him. It took him the best part of a month to die. I may have been able to save him, yet we were not good acquaintances.
So how did it all begin?
It was a normal day. The sky was neither clear nor particularly cloudy. I think it rained the night before. I know that the preachers claim that the End follow after days of storm and that people had grown increasingly mean and vile, yet I remember no such thing.
I herded old Savic’s sheep, which was something he would often hire me to do for I came cheaply as no one had a need for an arbalist now that the war was over and done with. Besides, I had always gotten along well with sheep, and Savic would often invite me in to share a bottle of rum after my shift was done. We would trade war stories long into the nights.
As I recall it, things were all out boring that day. The grass was plentiful and no sheep felt the need to wander off. My employer’s hounds, Ville and Ve, rested in the shadow of a great tree as their services were not required and I neglected to join them only because I had found a lamb too energetic for its mother, so I did the old woman a service and played with it.
What can I say? I am not the man anymore.
Anyway, as I were saying, I do not recall anything ominous that day. Everything was fine one moment, and then there was a pulse. On my more poetic days, I like to describe it as the lack of a pulse. Like if it had been the final beat of the world’s heart. But it passed over us as a pulse, and all things seized to move for a moment.
And then nothing was normal anymore.
The ground split open to display a glowing red chasm, deeper than the eye could see, and it swallowed half the herd as well as Savic’s hounds. There was a rumbling and then an explosion.
Those explosions, I learnt after the fact, happened at every such chasm, which as far as I know all sprang into being the same time. They killed almost everyone within an area of some hundred steps except some few, unfortunate souls like myself, who would then go on to become the Corrupt.
Did I see the black clouds pour forth from the cracks and into the sky? Did I witness the Wicked spew up across the land and twist and bend everything it touched? No. I had been rendered blissfully unaware at the climax of the eruption, and I am glad that I was, least I would most assuredly had gone mad. Assuming of course that I am not mad now.
I am not sure how long I lay there, splayed out across the brown, dead grass, yet I know that I awoke to the deepest agony that I had ever felt. I could not see for my eyes had been plucked from their sockets by the explosion, as had most of the skin on the right side of my face, giving me the horrid grimace which I bear today. My right arm and hand had withered into a state more resembling that of a skeleton than a man, yet I felt no loss of strength in the limb. Indeed, my sight soon returned to me, and I would later learn of the yellow, reptilian eyes I had gained, resting upon pools of blacks where my eyes should had been.
While I did not know by what I would be called until later, I suppose it is an apt name, for Corrupt is what I felt. Impure and foul thoughts played across my mind as I viewed the dead animals surrounding me. I think that the worst feeling was that I knew that I would have cared once, yet now my heart did not feel anything but empty, which my stomach also echoed.
I ate the lamb raw before I set out into this dead world, knowing that all had been changed, and all had become worse.