Short Story
                             Faceless
                                         By Gregory Cioffi


 A light pink bed-sheet was flung from the couch and hustled passed a
television set as a woman with blankets enveloped around her, rushed
upstairs.  The television, which was enclosed in an oak bureau, was tuned
into a local news channel.

 “Again, there is a mandatory evacuation for everyone south of Plainview
Highway.  Meteorologists are baffled and cannot explain the sudden weather
patterns that are forming to create what is predicted to be a level two
hurricane.  If you do not evacuate your homes, the military has already stated
they will not, I repeat will not, issue emergency rescue operations.  Power
authorities are predicting electricity could be out for up to two weeks.  This is
undoubtedly going to be a devastating act of nature.”   

 A teenage girl nonchalantly opened the refrigerator and grabbed a yogurt.  
She viciously opened the top seal and drops of the snack splattered upon the
granite counter.

 “Aren’t we supposed to be evacuating!?” the girl barked.

 A man in his late thirties shuffled downstairs and while unsuccessfully
searching for something, replied, “Where would we go?”

 “Aren’t there emergency centers?  Hospitals?  Schools?”

 “We’ll be fine, Irene.  Just make sure you pay extra close attention to your
little sister and brother.  They look up to you”

 “What are you looking for?”

 “My cell.”

 A voice from upstairs yelled, “It’s in the bedroom!”

 “Thank you!” the man responded.  He turned back to his daughter and said,
“Do me a favor.  Take some water bottles and bring them upstairs.”

 “Why not keep them cold?”

 “When the power goes out, the fridge won’t be much use.  Plus if anyone
gets thirsty in the middle of the night, they won’t have to come downstairs.”

 “We’re not all sleeping in the same room are we?”

 “We are.”

 “Can I stay with Samantha?  I don’t think her family left either.”

 “No.  Now get the water.”

 The family of five sat in a circle that consisted of sleeping bags and
comforters on the bedroom floor.  The small boy played with two action
figures while his youngest sister snuggled in the lap of her mother.  Irene
rested against a couch, unengaged.

 “What should we do?” asked the father in an upbeat tone.

 “Can we just watch T.V.?” asked Irene.

 “I guess we can.  Just not the news,” responded the mother.

 “Agreed,” concluded the younger daughter.

 The father picked up the remote and turned on the television.  He began
channel surfing until he landed upon a sitcom.

 “Leave this!  I like it!” said the mother.

 The family sat together, sharing a laugh while watching the lighthearted
show.  Suddenly the power went out, leaving them in absolute darkness.

 “What are we supposed to do now?” asked Irene in an annoyed tone.

 The father switched a flash light on, which only illuminated  his face, and
answered, “Say your prayers and go to sleep.”

                                         * * * * * * * * * *

 The father found himself in chains, shackled to the course terrain of a rock
wall.  He furiously attempted to move his arms and legs to no avail.  The
father came to a quick halt as he heard footsteps approaching in the dark.  A
figure walked up to him but his attributes remained shrouded in the shadows.

 “Who are you?  What do you want with me!?”   

 The being snarled and responded, “Security is an indispensable pillar of
human life and free men do not forfeit their security.  And so it is better to
return to the truth than to persist in error.  The wise man doesn’t squander
his security, wealth, and children for the sake of the liar in power.  So I tell
you in truth that your security is not in the hands of I or anyone else.  Your
security is in your own hands.”

 “What are you talking about!?”

 “You lay waste to your world.  So shall we lay waste.”

                                         * * * * * * * * * *

 The father sharply woke, his body drenched in perspiration as he could
hear the ferocious howling of the wind outside.  He felt around for his
flashlight and after locating it, switched it on.  He scanned the room and saw
his youngest daughter sprawled out across his wife.  His son lay beside him.  
He continued searching the room but did not see his daughter.  The father
crawled over to his sleeping spouse and gently shook her until she awoke.

 “Katrina, did Irene go back to her room?”

 “I don’t know baby, I was sleeping,” she groggily answered.

 “I’m just going to check.”
 
 The father entered the upstairs hallway, the flashlight being his only source
of light.

 “Irene?”

 The father opened his daughter’s door and shone the light on an empty
bed.  “Irene!?”  He walked back into the family room where everyone slept
and once again shook his wife to cognizance.

 “Irene isn’t in her room. “

 “What?  Did you check downstairs?”

 “I’m going to now.”

 “I’ll get up.”

 “No, it’s okay.  Go back to sleep.”

 “I can’t now.”

 As Katrina separated herself from her sleeping daughter, the father raced
out of the room and made his way downstairs.

 “Irene!  Are you downstairs?”

 He raced into the basement and after finding nothing, quickly scattered back
up.  He paced over to the sliding glass doors that led to the backyard.  He
unlocked it and slid the door open.  He stepped out onto a wooden porch and
scanned the yard with his flashlight.  The commanding winds pushed him to
side to side.

 “Irene!”

 As he called out, a boisterous pop occurred and startled him.  He looked up
at a telephone pole and concluded a generator blew.  He stepped back inside
and locked the door as his wife bustled downstairs with her bathrobe on.

 “She’s not down here,” said the father.

 “She’s not upstairs either,” added Katrina as she reached for her car keys.

 “Where are you going?”

 “To find my daughter.  The phones are down and my cell has no service”

 “You have no idea where she is.  We’re in the middle of a storm and it’s only
going to get worse.”

 “I’m checking Samantha's house.  I heard her say she would rather be
there.”

 “I’m coming with you.”

 “No, stay with the kids.  Hopefully I won’t be long.”

 “This isn’t like her.”

 The wife, not knowing what to say, simply opened the front door and ran out.

 “Dammit!” snarled the father.  He abruptly felt a presence near him.  He
quickly turned to his right and held up his flashlight to see his two children at
the top of the staircase.  “Hey guys.  It’s okay.  Daddy’s coming back to bed
now.  Let me tuck you back in.”

 Katrina forcefully shoved her keys into the ignition and started the car.  She
turned her lights on, put the shifter in drive, and pulled away.  She opened
her window and repeatedly called out her daughter’s name.  She drove
sluggishly, attempting to see everything on the darkened road.  Katrina
beeped her horn repeatedly to alert anyone that she was approaching.  
Through squinting eyes she scanned the road until a tremendous tree up
ahead was tempestuously unearthed and flung into the middle of the street.

 She forcibly hit the breaks, causing her vehicle to let out a cacophonous
screech and swerve uncontrollably until halting.  Katrina panted heavily as
the tree now blocked her path.  From the corner of her eye, Katrina noticed
an abrupt movement to the right of her.  She rolled down her window.

 “Irene!?  Is that you!?”

 Katrina got out of the car and started walking towards the direction she
believed she saw something.  She jogged onto someone’s property and
noticed their wooden gate slamming back and forth from the wind.  She made
her way over to the gate and heard rustling from the other side.

 “Irene!?”

 Katrina opened the gate and walked through a narrow passageway on the
side of the house.  The wind became stronger and shadows comprised the
walkway. The path eventually emptied out into the homeowner's backward.  
The large trees swayed frenziedly and a chime jingled overwhelmingly.  She
saw a figure standing in the darkness against a wooden fence.

 “Who are you!?  Is that you Irene?  Let me know if that's you!  I'm not
kidding with you.”

 The figure did not move.  Katrina, feeling suddenly unsafe, took a step
backwards while not taking her eyes off the silhouette.  It continued to stay
perfectly still.  Katrina speedily turned around and took a step towards the
side walkway only to discover another shadowy figure standing in front of the
walkway.  Katrina's mouth opened in absolute fear but a single syllable could
not be uttered.

                                         * * * * * * * * * *

 The car door was left opened as the car just sat isolated in the middle of the
street.  An explosion erupted from the backyard of the house, which was
followed by complete silence.

 The father opened the front door and looked out into the street but did not
see his wife in sight.  He closed the door and walked back to the kitchen.

 “God dammit,” he muttered.

 The father paced back and forth until he heard footsteps coming from
upstairs.  He paused and kept his body absolutely still.

 “Daddy!” a soft voice whispered.

 The father looked at the top of the staircase to see his son.

 “What's wrong?”

 “I can't sleep!”

 “Is Sandy snoring again?” the father responded with a chuckle.

 The little boy shook his head and his father walked up the staircase and
picked him up.  He walked back down the stairs and into the kitchen.

 “Are you hungry?”

 “A little.”

 “What would you like?”

 “A cookie!”

 “Of course you do. How about some milk to go with it?”

 “Okay!”

 “Might as well use it before it spoils.”

 Sandy began tossing back and forth in her sleeping bag until she heard the
shriek of the door being opened.  She turned to see a shadowy figure in the
doorway.

 “Daddy?”

                                         * * * * * * * * * *

 “How about chocolate chip?”

 “Yea!”

 “Yea I like those to-”

 The father noticed a figure walk passed his sliding glass doors.  He
instinctively dropped the cookies and grabbed his son.

 “Come here!”

 With his child in his arms, he ran towards the staircase and as he traveled
up it, an explosion ruptured from the bedroom, catapulting the father harshly
to the floor on the lower level.  He quickly checked to see if his son was okay.  
The boy nodded and the father jolted up, off the ground.

 “Sandy!?”

 The father took a step onto the stairs to notice a blackened man at the end
of the upstairs hall.  The man began walking towards the father and son.

 “Oh my God,” blurted out the father.

 Glass shattered as another mysterious figure broke the sliding glass door
and entered the house.  The father turned and ran towards the front door.  
He quickly opened it, still carrying his son.  He ran outside and down the
three steps to his walkway.  He darted across the grass and towards the
street but looked up to see numerous approaching bodies from every
direction.  He turned around and saw the figures exiting his house.  He tried
to run in a zig zag pattern but the beings encircled him.  He looked up to
notice their identical faceless heads.  Their faces contained no features: no
eyes, no noses, no mouths.  They were comprised of nothing but smooth,
characterless skin.  Taken back in horror, the father buried his son's face
deep into his shoulder.

 “Don't look, Nate! Don't look!”

 The nameless hellions, walking at a casual pace, surrounded the father and
Nate.  The father descended down, onto one knee.

 “Please, don't hurt us!  Please!”

 When the figures were practically on top of them, they ceased.  Not knowing
what to do, the father froze.

 “What do you want from us?  What did we do to you!?”

 Abruptly, a faceless man latched onto the father, gripping him with inhuman
might.  Within seconds the faceless being exploded followed by an
instantaneous implosion which extracted Nate and his father into a hazy
portal that dispersed immediately after their immersion.

 The father stood alone in a dark room lit only by scattered candles which
oozed blood from their wicks.

 “Where am I!?  Where is my son!?” the father demanded.

 A row of candles rapidly illuminated to reveal a throne.  Upon the throne sat
a large being, his upper body disguised in shadow.  The creature was not
human and contained demon like qualities as its feet seemed reminiscent of a
black hoof and its skin gleamed reddish in color.

 The demon gnarled, “To proceed, peace be upon he who follows this
guidance.”

 “Guidance?  What guidance!?  What do you want!?”

 “Should a man be blamed for defending his sanctuary?  Is defending
oneself and punishing the aggressor objectionable?  If it is such, then it is
unavoidable for us.”

 “Us?  Who are us!?  Who are you!?”

 “We are the broken; we are the beaten; we are the scarred.  We are the
dead who refuse to live in shackles.  Those who, unlike you, refuse to bow
down.”

 “Is that why you attacked us?  Because we're different!?”

 “No.  We fight you because we are free men who don't sleep under
oppression.  We want to restore freedom to our realm and just as you lay
waste to our world, so shall we lay waste to yours.  We shall continue this
policy in bleeding your world to the point of bankruptcy.  Bankruptcy of the
soul.”

 “We've offended you in some way.  The living has offended you.”

 “Those who align themselves with our enemy is our enemy on principal.  
You are now our enemies.  I will prove it matters not how many times you
clasp your hands, bow, or raise your hands to the sky.  You are worshiping a  
madman and therefore we attack you to open your own eyes.”

 “Not everyone is how you describe.”

 “There are those who are neutral.”

 “My family had nothing to do with you!  Where are they!?”

 “They are in your hands.”

 “What is that suppose to mean!?”

 “Their fate depends upon your actions from this point forward.  I will allow
you to return to the world of the living.  You will act in the best interest of the
faceless and you will be an agent of change.”

 “What the hell are you talking about!?

 “In conclusion, I tell you in truth that your security is not in the hands of your
leader.  Nor is it in the hands of me.  No, your security is in your own hands.  
And every soul who doesn't play with our security, has automatically
guaranteed its own security.”

 “Wait-!”

                                         * * * * * * * * * *

 The father awoke on his living room floor.  Still groggy, he slowly stood.  The
sun shone into the house through the drape covered-windows; it was
morning.  He could feel cuts and scrapes on his face and when he placed his
hand upon them, he was assured with stains of blood.  He looked around.  
The sliding glass door was shattered.  Silence encompassed the house.

 “Katrina? Sandy? Irene, Nate!?”

 No answers.  The father walked downstairs and after a few moments
returned with a shotgun.  He walked towards the front door until noticing a
framed picture of his family on the floor.  He gently picked it up and stared at
the image as a smile slowly came across his face.  He placed the picture on
the shelf it had fallen from and ran his fingers over it one last time.  He looked
towards the door, cocked his weapon, and headed out into the world.
To read other short stories,
click one of the titles below.
About Gregory Cioffi

His original play The
Letter was chosen and
produced as part of the
2010 Long Island Fringe
Festival and his next
play, The Interim was
selected to the 2011
New York City
International Fringe
Festival, the largest
theatre festival in North
America. Other original
plays that have been
produced include
“Death by Peanut
Butter” (Producers Club,
NYC) and Qualia: Origins
of the Undead. Recently,
two of his poems were
published as a part of a
poetry anthology
entitled Paumanok
Interwoven and his
short story The
Catacombs of Truth has
been published by Feral
Press.