Reaching Skyward by Drew Nicks


 
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The sun rose high and bright over the town of Berkley, bringing warmth and lengthening shadows to the wheat fields surrounding the town. With the rising of the sun came the crowing of the cock and a beginning to the ministrations of the day.

One man had been awake and hard at work before the rest of the town rose to join him. His name was Liam Blackshire, and he was something of the town philosopher. Devoutly Catholic, he always wished to find better ways to hold communion with the Lord. He had made it his mission to speak directly to God himself. That morning, as the sun crested the horizon, he had finally formulated his plan. In a flash, he gathered his materials and dashed through his front door.

Liam Blackshire, panting and red-faced, stood before the home of Ian Danforth. Blackshire beat heavily upon the door until Danforth, still in his pajamas, opened the door wide. In a flurry of passionate words, Blackshire explained his plan to the bald pated town architect. While Danforth began as a skeptic, soon Blackshire’s enthusiasm grew and grew. When the philosopher finished, he had the architect totally on his side. After Danforth dressed, both men ran along cobblestoned streets to receive approval from the Mayor.

While the day began clean, clouds the color of adipocere slowly crept across the sun.

Blackshire and Danforth arrived at the Mayor’s residence in short order. They knocked furiously on the door until the aged oak door opened and the ancient man who was the Mayor greeted the breathless duo. They explained the plan to the mayor, and he agreed wholeheartedly. The Mayor knew his time was drawing near, and he wished to speak with God before he shuffled from this mortal coil. The three began to draft plans in the mayor’s study.

The plan Blackshire had formulated revolved around the simplest idea: The town would construct a tower to heaven. What else would bring one closer to God?

By the early afternoon, the plans were finalized and construction was to begin the following day.


After five months, the tower was completed, and only 545 men had lost their lives to its construction. All for a greater cause, Blackshire had said, as they were now speaking with God before the others.

Blackshire, Danforth, and the Mayor gazed up to the top of the tower which had disappeared into the inky black sky. The three set forth towards the stairwell. Blackshire and Danforth aided the Mayor in climbing, as he had grown increasingly decrepit in recent months.

From the ground, the townsfolk of Berkley saw the three men disappear into the blackness surrounding the structure. They watched excitedly from their positions surrounding it, awaiting good tidings: They too wished for a happiness that only the Lord could provide.

But just as soon, to their horror, two shapes began to fall back down towards the earth. Two shapes who would later be identified as Danforth and the Mayor. And they weren't alone. Winged creatures followed their descent.

The townsfolk screamed and ran for their homes, but they could not run quickly enough. Within minutes, desolation took hold.

Inside the stairwell, in a fit of desperation, Blackshire began to question the decisions that had brought him to this moment—his mad insistence on building the tower. On speaking to God. On doing the impossible. He put his teary face into his palms.

But sharp talons came swiftly—far more quickly than answers ever had—and they lifted him skyward.

 

DREW NICKS is a writer of short horror and weird fiction. His works have been published by Hellbound Books, Gehenna and Hinnom Books, Oscillate Wildly Press, Vaughan Street Doubles, The Ghastling, and others. He currently resides in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.