Prologue

series-coverEveryone fears the undead. It used to be dying was the worst thing that could happen to someone. Falling to the great beyond. But death has been dethroned. Now mankind’s biggest threat is to be caught in-between. To lose your soul and be forced to roam the earth, murdering and feeding on others just to survive.

To be marked by Cain.

The mark itself isn’t so bad. It starts like a rash, a small black blotch of skin discoloration that appears on the upper part of your forearm just before the elbow crease. The problem is what comes with the mark.

Cainnes.

It starts with a fever that won’t go away. Your body burns up, but your mind says you’re cold. It doesn’t matter how many layers of clothes you put on, how high you put up your thermostat, or how hot a shower you take, your brain still thinks you’re freezing to death.

I once saw a guy throw his hands into a bonfire he built to try and warm them up. He just sat there, teeth chattering and body shivering as his flesh melted off his bones.

I can still hear him laughing.

After the fever come the shakes. Followed by uncontrollable vomiting. Although the symptoms only last about a week, victims of Cainnes look dead much earlier than when they actually fall. They burn out, and their body disintegrates. Only the Mark remains. It creeps further down the arm, growing and spreading as Cain overtakes you.

Then you die.

But not forever. Cain isn’t even merciful enough to leave you to rest in peace.

It wakes you.

Except you aren’t really you anymore. You’re an empty shell, a distorted husk of who you used to be. Your mind is gone, your spirit too. All that’s left is an animated corpse consumed by hunger. A hunger that can’t be sated. So you roam. Forever. Trying to appease the pain that has seized your body, to soothe the hunger that drives you. But you can’t. Still, you try.

How do I know?

I’m one of them.

At least, my body is. My spirit? Who knows. The only thing I really remember is giving up and going to sleep, tired of fighting Cain. But then I woke, tethered to my undead form as it hunted. To be honest, I don’t even remember that very well anymore. The longer I’m here, the more I forget. Like I’m losing myself. Again. And I don’t know what to do about it.

What I do know is this: my body is Marked; fallen to Cainnes while my soul is here, in the ether. I’m stuck in between, trying to figure out what I did to deserve this and how the hell I can get out.

Thing is, I don’t know if there is anything I can do. But I plan to find out. Because I can’t live, or un-live, like this any longer.

My name is Callum, and I’m still here.

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