Someone, or something, was hunting and was insatiable.
Aubrey carefully navigated the town square, eyeing the carnage, mindful to remain in the shadows. She had to make her way back to her temporary shelter. She hated these supply runs, the light was the one terrifying place to be. But everyone had to pull their weight to remain, so said Pete. Since it was his house that was currently being used, he had instated himself as leader. Never mind the fact that he was getting more of them killed than protecting. People left every day. She intended for herself to be in that number, scavenging any extra she could. But she couldn’t leave her little sister. She had to take Olivia with her and for that to happen, she had to ensure they had enough supplies for at least a couple of days. She was almost there.
Aubrey made it past the town square and down the streets to their shelter. She froze in shock, only one thing running in her mind, ‘No, no, no! Not Olivia! No, no, no!’
Every window was open to the daylight, door gaping open, hanging off its rusted hinges.
She crept around to the back door, the only usable door as the porch puts it in the shadows. Scrambling with her knife, she pulled it out, fully prepared to defend herself, though she wasn’t sure what good the knife could do. But it was better than going into the now lit shelter completely unprepared.
She eased into the shelter, coming to a stop at the end of the hallway when the shadows gave way to the sun. She pressed herself against the wall, heart pounding in her ears. As much as she wanted to, she didn’t dare call out for Olivia. She didn’t know what had happened here, or where Olivia was, if she was even still alive. But she didn’t dare make noise and attract attention if one of those things was around.
You were only safe so long as you stayed out of the light. No one could tell what it was that was killing everyone, no one could see it. From what they said on the news, you could just hear it. According to the hearsay, you heard a dark voice, whispering morbid things to you, telling you to do things, things you wouldn’t do under any normal circumstance. But you do. You pillage, you murder, you kill. And when you do, that’s when it strikes. When you obey its command, it feeds on you.
But so long as you remain in the dark, you can’t hear the whispers. Whatever it was, couldn’t reach beyond the light. Despite Hollywood horror stories of the past, it wasn’t the dark to be afraid of, it was the light.
And now, Aubrey was pinned in the hallway of what had once been a safe place, unsure of where her sister was or what had become of her.
But she couldn’t stay there forever, she had to know. She peered around the corner both ways, looking for a patch of shadows. She spotted one down the hall and no signs of anything out of place. She took a deep breath, clutched the knife tighter and nearly nerveless fingers, now stark white, and ran down the hall, blue eyes focused only on the dark. She made it safely, heart in her throat, wisps of brown hair sticking to her sweaty forehead.
Now she dared to make noise, before she got too deep into the cavernous house.
“Olivia! Olivia! Are you here!”
She daren’t speak louder than a hoarse whisper, well aware that Oliva might not hear her but neither would the creatures.
Fortunately for her nerves, it appeared Oliva wasn’t far as she heard, “Aubrey? Aubrey!”
A young child, same blue eyes and brown eyes peered out of what she remembered to be a closet down the hall.
Pulse quickening, Aubrey reached out a hand, “Olivia! Over here, quickly!”
The child darted out of the closet, down the hall, crashing into her sister, nearly knocking them both out of the small dark patch.
Now peering out of the closet was a pair of green eyes belonging to the one other person she trusted in the house.
“Ryder? What happened?”
He eased a little further out of the closet, more cautious than her sister.
“It’s not safe here. We need to go.”
Aubrey knew there wasn’t enough room in the patch for a 14 year old, a 16 year old and a 6 year old. And the patch would only get smaller as the sun reached high noon.
Holding Olivia’s hand tightly in her left, knife still in the other, she dashed back down the hall toward the exit hall, hearing light familiar footsteps behind her, Oliva barely hanging on. She stopped in the hall, Ryder nearly crashing into her, olive skin whiter than usual.
She took the moment to calm her heart now that they were safer in the larger shadows and Olivia was with her again.
She looked at Ryder, concerned, “What happened?”
He shook his head. “I’m not entirely certain. But shortly after you left on the supply run, Lydia came wandering into the kitchen.”
Olivia piped up, “She looked silly!”
Ryder’s lips twitched, “She was walking like she was drunk, as if she wasn’t paying attention to where she was going.”
Aubrey’s heart stuttered, Lydia had always been one of the more focused women, as likely to daydream during the day as Aubrey herself was likely to take off without Olivia.
Ryder continued his tale, “She started muttering about them, about how they needed our help, how we needed to help them. Before any of us realized what she was doing, she ripped down the comforter covering the French doors. Shortly after she did so, even as some of the others were scrambling to cover the odor back up, her eyes turned red, mouth foaming. Pete came storming in then, mouthing off about someone breaking the wood that had been covering the back window, letting in light. Didn’t we know how hard it had been for him to scavenge that wood, never mind the fact we’re all the ones that do the supply runs. Before he could continue, Lydia turned and jumped him, blood gushing from his neck shortly after. After that, I’m not sure what all happened. My only thought was getting to the bedroom in the back and getting Olivia and Mabel to safety.”
Aubrey interrupted, “Mabel?,” she peered around the corner, “We didn’t leave her, did we?”
Ryder shook his head, black hair falling loose from the ponytail he’d taken to keeping it in after it started growing out.
“She was too scared and took off down the hall, running for her mother. But Amalia had been in the kitchen. I don’t think anyone that stayed in the kitchen lasted long.”
Aubrey’s heart twisted, Mabel had only been 9, a couple of years older than Olivia.
She could see the guilt in Ryder’s green eyes, “I tried to stop her but she slipped out of my grasp.”
Aubrey took Ryder’s hand, giving it a tight squeeze, “It’s not your fault. She was too scared.”
The shadows remained in his eyes but he continued his narrative, “Light was beginning to fill the house so I took Olivia and closed us in the closet, figuring we could escape after dark. Screams and crashes sounded outside the door for what felt like hours. But I didn’t dare peek out even after all was quiet, especially after light started streaming in the crack between the door and the floor.”
Olivia piped up, “He took off his shirt and stuck it under the door.”
Ryder shrugged to Aubrey’s amused look, “I had to keep out hte light somehow and didn’t have time to grab anything else before I closed us in.”
Aubrey looked out the door she’d entered just 10 minutes earlier, “I think it may be safer to stay here until dark. The sun’s only getting higher, making shadows slimmer and slimmer.”
Ryder nodded and Oliva spoke up, “I’m hungry, Aubrey.”
Aubrey took the backpack off, “I have some food here. Not much without a heat source but something should tide us over until we can find another shelter.”
“Where will we go from here?”
“I don’t know, little sis, but we’ll stick together, no matter what, all three of us.”
Ryder was grateful she’d included him in that number.
Several hours later, the sun was past the horizon and to their good fortune, there was no moon that night and what stars there were appeared to be behind the cloudy night sky.
Backpack back on, Ryder with one now, having salvaged what supplies they could out of hte house, Aubrey led her little sister and Ryder out of what had been a shelter.
Aubrey and Ryder had spoken while Olivia had been napping earlier that afternoon. They had both heard rumors of a haven, a place where there was no creatures, plenty of food, water and heat. They didn’t know if they could make it, nor truly where it was. Aubrey had heard that it was out in the country of the city, down a river and that you followed the water. But Ryder had heard that it was downtown, in what had once been city hall. They’d debated before deciding that outside of the city was more logical. Even if it wasn’t there, less populated would be safer. These creatures seemed to only be where more people were congregated.
They didn’t know where they would be come morning but knew they couldn’t stay in the shattered building forever.
Someone, or something, was hunting and was insatiable.
‘Til Next Time!
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