1am, November 1st
“Officer Hobs is that you?” shouted the reporter as he searched his pockets for anything to take a note with on the scraps of paper in his hand.
Hobs turned and rolled his eyes “Its two in the morning, I’m freezing out here all by myself and apart from what you can see without a flashlight and the fact I’m standing where a really large house use to be standing, how can I possibly help you Mckenzie?” he answered in a slightly sarcastic tone as he began to walk over to where Mckenzie stood.
Hobs waited as the reporter finally produced a pen from his jacket pocket, “Very funny Hobs, ha ha bet you’re the life of the party. I only asked as I didn’t see your car around but I heard your call out on the radio” joked Mckenzie back at him as he spoke out aloud as he began to write. “So, it’s November 1st, A.M., there are people still out at parties or at least staggering back home from them, which is where I should be SO, what can you tell me about what happened here,” he finally asked, his pen hovering anxiously over the notepad.
Hobs sighed “For your record, we have ourselves a little mystery to solve and it would be better if you didn’t write anything until we know what were dealing with, plus the fact of what its got to do with you? Don’t you report for the paper in the next town.”
The reporter was amused by the latter fact “The same as it’s got to do with you, officer who also comes from the same town. Don’t you find it strange that there’s no one here, in the entire village?”
The officer turned to look back over his shoulder, the village was empty with doors open, windows broken and some, but very few, lights still left on, as if everyone had either run away at the same time or simply disappeared in a single night.
Turning the other way Hobs looked over the remains of what should have been a mansion. Apart from the light of the full moon creeping from behind a cloud, the whole floor area was aglow with orange embers scattered about the ground like glitter.
Hobs turned his gaze back to the reporter “I don’t know what happened here, but apart from being sent to find out what occurred you’re the first person I’ve seen.”
Mckenzie stepped forward to look at the glowing embers more closely.
“What are these?” he asked Hobs.
“I don’t know,” he replied in a slightly hesitant manner “but I wouldn’t touch it if I were you” he warned. Mckenzie seemed oblivious to the last comment as he crept ever closer to one of the fragments and reached out to pick one up.
The ember felt warm in his hand and gave off a bright orange radiance. The reporter inspected the piece closer, holding it between his fingers “You know it looks like burning wood but it feels smooth like a pebble, as if it was petrified, weird just, weird.”
As he looked at it further he noticed the glow had spread into the tips of his fingers, he seemed transfixed as his skin burned but without pain, going from red to black and charred, but still he looked on. The burning had now taken his hand over as his skin cracked. The glow seemed to spread through charred channels the way molten lava would creep across the ground. The burning travelled onward under Mckenzies clothes appearing again from his shirt collar and moving through his body, slowly roasting him alive but still without the pain of heat, he was transfixed and unable to break his grasp. He looked over at the officer as if in disbelief as the final wave started to work its way up his neck and over his head. In the last few moments he turned his gaze back to the ember, not realizing it has fallen to the floor as his hand turned to ash. The look of panic fills his eyes as he looks upon officer Hobs who just stood watching as a gentle breeze blows and Mckenzie, silently screaming, slowly drifts away like paper ash would in the wind.
Hobs walked over to the spot where Mckenzie had been standing. Two burn marks were scorched into the grass where his shoes had been minutes earlier. Bending slightly Hobs reached out to pick up the same ember, and, with a brief pause, grabs it. Hobs looks back at the spot on the floor, flicking the ember into the air with his thumb like a penny, “I told you not to touch it, but people just don’t listen.”
Picking up more of the larger pieces he presses them hard into his hand to create one larger quartz shaped shard. Examining it closely he holds the ember shard up, the glow now lighting his face. Staring intensely, his gaze is interrupted by movement on the next hillside. He looks over peering through the moonlit night at a formation of standing stones only to see the figure of a young woman staring back at him. She takes a few steps back after noticing that’s she’s being watched, she turns with a flash of light, a cat is now in her place which runs off into the cover of night.
Again Hobs smiles a wry grin. Suddenly from behind him comes a noise, this time the drum of helicopter blades beating the air. The clouds swirl in the downdraft as two more helicopters turn their spotlights on the officer, who quickly drops the large shard.
Several security detail, all dressed in body armour with weapons surround him screaming at him, “Drop to your knees and hands in the air, NOW, NOW,” Hobs stares back, unnerved by what is taking place as he slowly lowers to his knees and places his hands behind his head. Watching patiently he observes a third helicopter land as what seems to be a research team disembark. With white suits and full head gear they begin setting about with long claws on handles to collect the orange ember shards one at a time. The main research scientist makes his way over to the circle of security. Reaching down with his gloved hand, he picks up the large ember by the side of the officer. Like a radio speaker the voice from the man inside the masked suit speaks.
“I’ll get this bagged up with the rest of the science team, the rest of you secure the area and…” he pauses as if making a decision.
“Bag him and bring him with us.”
Hobs looks around as, from behind him, one of the security team takes the butt of his gun and knocks him out.
The sun breaks over the horizon in a golden blaze of light. Loading the unconscious officer aboard, the helicopters lift from the ground and scatter back into the safety of the night. The grounds of the old mansion house are left clear of any dangerous remains. The light of the new day reveals the devastation in the village. The sunlight showed the one thing left behind from the scene that the darkness had hidden. The light glares off bare metal, a lone police car lies on it side, crumpled from its fall down the hillside behind the mansion’s grounds. From amongst the shadows, smashed glass and torn metal, lies the bloodied hand of the officer formally know as Hobs.