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I’m pulling taters when I hear the bell and the rhyme starts pounding in my head. I scatter the haul as my legs take off of their own accord, carrying me with them.

Run, run, run,
The snuffymen come!
No time to hide
Just dive inside
Down the flows
Dim the glows

Their ears give them away. They might be behind a hedge, but the ears stick up above, all mirror shiny like the hubcaps on Uncle Tap’s old truck. Seeing ears ahead, I drop and roll under the hedge on my left, then cut across the maize field beyond, heading for the second grate. It’s open! I dive through and pause to make sure it ratchets quietly shut. No need to attract attention from what’s under them ears.

Run, run, run,
The snuffymen come!
Behind the hosties
Dodge the ghosties
They want your heat –
Be quick on your feet

I drop torches into their water cans as I run past. Ahead I can hear people trying to be silent as they scoot round the maze of server machines. Behind me, the darkness fills with a scary silence. I reach the machine stacks; there’s nothing to do about Laura, caught by the cooling-wights. I slip by easily as they’ve clustered about her body, soaking up the last of her life. Must remember to light a candle for her if I make it.

Run, run, run,
The snuffymen come!
Round the scrap
Through the trap
Cemetery stones
Under the bones

It’s a short corridor from the stacks to the piles. I have to slow down as the scrap has sticky-outy bits and jagged edges. Just as I reach the far side of the junkyard, I hear the cooling-wights scream. They fear snuffymen because they can’t steal their heat and snuffymen can do for them. The rhyme thunders in my ears, louder than ever.

Run, run, run,
The snuffymen come!
Pop a lid
Like she bid
In with the dead
To save our heads.

I dive into the chute and hope I got the right one. I plunge left, then right, then slam down with a ‘whumpf’ into a pile of old softs. Scrambling out of mouldy sheets and shirts, I hear chute-flaps banging. Snuffymen always hit the flaps to make sure we haven’t left traps. They never remember we criss-cross this end of all but one chute with cheesewire.
Out of the laundry dump, down the tunnel and into the necropolis. Headstones and crypts as far as the eye can see – and my underground eyes can see a long way. I hurdle three crypts and swing past a tombstone topped by a statue of a screaming angel with one wing missing. Two over, one back. A big, old grave topped by black stone. I slap its surface as I wince: Snuffymen screams are horrid.
The cold stone lifts along one edge and I wriggle into the dark, helped by the dozen hands pulling at me. The ratchet rattles as it’s released and we curl about each other as the lid drops and silence comes back.
“Breen, you made it!”
“Did too, Ella. Laura got chilled, let me pass easy.”
“Candle for her tomorrows, then.”
“Aye.”
“Time to pray?”
“Make it short, Ella.”
She starts and we whisper along, sounding like leaves in a churchyard on an autumn wind.
“Snuffymen, snuffymen, can’t get us today.
Snuffymen, snuffymen, take your nets away.
Snuffymen, snuffymen, we’ll not be your kill.
Someday, snuffymen, our kin will do you ill.”
My third tale for February on 365tomorrows. A personal view of a tomorrow I'd rather not be part of, to be honest.
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Daily Deviation

Given 2017-03-22
Run Run Run by Rafellin Beware those snuffymen! ( Featured by BeccaJS )
:iconchainedoombaby:
chainedoombaby Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2017   Artisan Crafter
There's a good beat to this. The tempo to running feet, quick of breath, an almost panic. Fantastic pace.

I enjoyed reading this.
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:iconrafellin:
Rafellin Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2017  Professional Writer
Thank you for the high praise.
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:iconerlenmeyerkat:
ErlenmeyerKat Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Congratulations on the DD!
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:iconrafellin:
Rafellin Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2017  Professional Writer
Thank you!
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:iconleonca:
Leonca Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Very eerie. The rhyme gives the world a great sense of depth. Good job. =)
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:iconrafellin:
Rafellin Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2017  Professional Writer
Thank you.
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:iconinvader-zim42:
invader-zim42 Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2017
Ooh, nice.  Sounds like something out of some sort of action-horror dream (or maybe I just have weird dreams).  Have you written anything else for this setting?

Just wondering, what exactly are the snuffymen supposed to be?  Judging from the description of ears sticking out above a hedge, I'm picturing something like a demonic rabbit, but I know I'm probably way off.
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:iconrafellin:
Rafellin Featured By Owner Edited Mar 23, 2017  Professional Writer
This is it for this future setting so far.

But, as you asked, here's a thought-stream on 'em:

(NB: This was how it started, generations ago. At the time of the story, it has become a way of life to the point where a nursery rhyme is the traditional way of teaching children about the dangers of snuffymen raids. What exactly the society within the 'utopias' looks like is anyone's guess.)

Snuffymen were human. In a world where people are the only thing that grows anywhere, the legions of the 'unlucky' are cheap labour, experimental subjects, and spares. Humans living outside the 'utopias' (riffing on the original definition of the term: 'no-place', and spicing with echoes of Soylent Green) are culled for organs, stem cells, amusement, or slavery as whim and profit dictate. These are the drives behind the snuffymen: sentenced (usually) to hunt human prey turned semi-feral (in their eyes), they are togged up to be scary, and equipped to back their appearance. They are fanatical - failure, in any form, means death if they are lucky, or exile to join those they used to hunt. (Senior snuffymen are always chosen from amongst the volunteers - with all the psychoses that implies.)

The ears are very much 'big bunny', and are artificial - the visible 'antenna array' of a broad-spectrum, low-granularity sensor suite. Their suits add to the animalistic appearance, being 'furred' with field generator spines, allowing the suit to sustain a defensive forcefield about 18mm from its surface, when activated. The suits are, of course, armoured, and bulked out with energy packs, generators, medical injectors and water supplies. Their weapons look clumsy, being bulky and bladed (think bayonet stuck on a pair of Desert Eagles taped together), but are powerful, variable payload, and solid enough to be used as clubs or rams without impairing their function.

tl;dr  - Pseudo-demonic rabbit dudes and dudettes from a dystopia HQ 'burrow' is not far off. :D
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:iconsrsmith:
SRSmith Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2017   Writer
Congratulations on a well deserved DD!
:)
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:iconrafellin:
Rafellin Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2017  Professional Writer
Cheers, guv.
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:icontheolivethief14:
theolivethief14 Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2017  Student General Artist
There's just enough context to assume meaning to all of the slang you threw in; I love it.
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:iconrafellin:
Rafellin Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2017  Professional Writer
It's great when it actually works. :)

Thank you.
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:iconkillersprinkles:
killersprinkles Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2017  Hobbyist Artist
I loved this it's so cool!!!! Great job!!
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:iconrafellin:
Rafellin Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2017  Professional Writer
Thank you!
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:iconcatluvr2:
catluvr2 Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, that's really creepy. Good thing I like that sort of thing!
Congrats on the DD! :+favlove:
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:iconrafellin:
Rafellin Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2017  Professional Writer
Still recovering from the surprise.

Thank you. There is more creepy scattered amongst my tales. Do read a few more.
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