His head could be seen over the wall. It stayed there, completely stationary, almost as if it were floating, immovable amongst steam and smoke; a flesh covered face with barely any skin, and a strange network of visible bones across terrifying, empty features.
No one moved, as though time itself had stopped to regard the strange beast staring over the top of the wall. No one said anything; what was there to be said? What amount of alliteration, of allegory, of simile or metaphor could describe the sheer brink of the moment, the sense of terror mixed in with awe that froze the very blood of every sentient being across the district?
It was staring over the top of the wall.
"AAAHHH!" a woman screamed in the distance, and the cry was taken up by hundreds, thousands, as both men and women screamed in absolute terror. They fled in absolute panic, directionless and confused: towards home, towards the military base, towards the north wall in hopes of safety and shelter, towards family members and friends. Children were trampled mercilessly, objects of seeming value were discarded with utmost ease, and all the while, humanity screamed a desperate cry.
The gate that had held the titans at bay for more than a century was obliterated into wreckage and debris that scattered into the town, creating more chaos and destruction. People were smashed into unrecognizable chunks of meat by falling boulders, buildings were demolished by even larger pieces of the gate, and all the while that face looked over the top of the wall, still absolutely terrifying in appearance, only now it seemed to the panicked below as though it were smiling at the utopia that it had destroyed almost laughably easily: with a simple kick.
Bells were rung in the distance, with echoing shouts of "The titans! The titans!" ringing throughout the district. "Head north, behind the wall! Flee!" the shouts came, and amidst the chaos some small shred of reason was found, and the citizens began to run north in a messy, general swarm. Soldiers, bearing the intertwined Roses of the Wall Garrison, were dispatched into the field, attempting to usher the people to safety in a more orderly and efficient manner, whilst simultaneously shaking in their boots.
Stomp. Stomp. Stomp.
The sound that the soldiers had imagined, and dreaded.
Stomp. Stomp. Stomp.
The citizens could not comprehend it after years of peace; they had never seen or contemplated what could make such a loud yet bone chilling sound.
STOMP. STOMP. STOMP.
The titans were here.
Ranging from three meters to fifteen meters, they possessed the facial physiques of the ugliest humans alive; skin taut and pale, with faces diverse yet all equally strange and blood-curdling. They marched deeper and deeper into the city, leaving nothing but pieces of corpses in their wake, the blood of previous victims stained across their teeth and faces, seeking to satisfy an insatiable hunger, the hunger for human flesh.
A young girl's horrified scream came, high-pitched and loud before it was silenced forever, replaced by the soft sound of blood splattering. A man ran through the street, tears pouring down his face with his mouth wide open, unable to produce even the smallest squeak from fear, before a large hand grabbed him from above the buildings. Soldiers, once comfortable and drunk, once easy-going and confident, either fled, praying that their time had not come, or attempted to fight the titans in a vain stab at bravery. Both the former and the latter met with the same fate.
On that fateful day, humanity was reminded of the feeling of being caged, of living like birds: unable to escape from their chains. To live in constant terror of something that sought to devour, an unstoppable force that could never be sated; on that day, humanity remembered.
Peace was only respite.
My first tribute to the Japanese Manga, Attack on Titan.