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Dusk fell slowly, which was a good thing. Corin needed every available second to get inside. Staying out after the sun fell was not safe--it usually meant death. As Corin ran through the empty streets of yet another barren town, he wondered how much longer he could hold out. He wondered how much longer he could convince himself it was worth it to keep running, to keep looking, to keep hoping. Corin wondered if it wouldn't be easier to just lie down and die.
Easier, yes. Less painful, probably not, he thought as he rounded a corner and saw what he was looking for. Corin pushed open the heavy wooden doors to the church and slid inside as quietly as he could. He closed the doors behind him just as quietly and sighed heavily. It seemed like every day was getting harder and harder to find a safe house for the night. Of course, if he had just stayed put to begin with...
You would be dead, just like the rest of them, Corin thought miserably.
He walked deeper into the church, trying his best to ignore the dead bodies scattered about the aisles and pews in various stages of decay. Corin would never get used to the smell, and he guessed few people ever did. How could they?
Without even thinking, Corin genuflected before the altar, opened his worn backpack and began to eat his meager meal of slightly moldy bread and warm water. With any luck he would find wine hidden somewhere in the rectory, but Corin didn't get his hopes up. Through the stained glass windows of the church, he watched the last dim rays of sunlight slip below the horizon. Soon, he thought, the shades will come out.
Corin quickly finished his dinner, then took a candle from the altar, lighting it with amatch from his backpack. When the guttering flame finally caught, Corin allowed himself a brief look around the church. Sunrise wasn't for another nine hours, but there was no way to be sure of that anymore either. Ever since the world changed, nothing was what it should be. The only constants left now were food, water, and death. Without the first two, the third would come calling.
A soft scratching sound met his ears and Corin moved back toward the altar. For some strange reason, the shades feared the church, but were drawn to it just the same, or at least drawn to him. They also hated light of any kind, yet found it irresistible. Contradictions. Like all of God's creatures, the shades were filled with contradictions.
The scratching stopped, only to start up again, this time with another set of claws joining in. It was going to be a long night, but they all were now. Ever since the world changed, every night was long and every day was longer. Of course, everyone knew the world was changing, but no one knew what the changed world would be like afterward. Most people never had to worry about it--and maybe that was a blessing.