Day 10 – Chapter 9 – 13

            All he could think was that they weren’t supposed to die here.  This wasn’t right, it wasn’t their time.  J.T. held Carolyn tight against his chest, teeth grating at the shrieking sound.  The creature that leapt at them hit something solid, then rebounded, claws scraping against the sidewalk.  It hissed, low and threatening, glaring at them with red and gold glinting in its marble-like eyes.
            I don’t know what it hit, but I’m glad it did.  He glanced at Drew.  Maybe it was something he’d done?
            A gray mist started rising all around them, cold, cloying, carrying the scent of dirt, dying flowers, and freshly cut grass.  J.T.’s skin prickled and he held Carolyn tighter against him.
            “Now what?”  He muttered.
            The mist closed around them, feeling momentarily more like a shield and embrace than sudden weather.  Carolyn stiffened and Drew’s eyes popped open as the mist thickened around them to impenetrable gray-white.
            “What is this?”  Carolyn gasped quietly, fingers digging into J.T.’s arm.
            A shrieking, keening sound echoed through the mist, lancing through them down to the very marrow of their bones.  They all heard a wet, crunching sound to their left, followed by a roar that cut off abruptly, as if sliced by a knife.
            The image of a bone-white face swam up out of the mist in front of J.T.  Washed-out lips parted and a voice whispered, “Run.”
            He didn’t recognize the fact right away, but he knew the voice.  Constance Baile.  They’d done the greenshows last year together, when he’d played Othello and Titus Andronicus and Caesar.  He sucked in a breath.
            Constance was dead.  They’d found her body that first day and buried her with the rest, at one end of the trench nearest to the theatre.
            “Run,” the voice repeated, a little more urgently, then the face disappeared into the mist.
            J.T.’s heart started again.  He spun, bringing Carolyn around with him, shouting hoarsely to Drew.  “Move!”
            Carolyn stumbled the first few steps, gasping in pain, and J.T. scooped her up and threw her across his shoulder.  She started to protest, then went silent as their footsteps pounded over the pavement, the mist thickening behind them into mottled gray and black even as it thinned ahead.  The shadow creatures howled in frustration and rage.  The wind-shriek sound died away as they made it to the base of the clocktower, the mist clinging to them only in bare tendrils.
            “What was that?”  Drew gasped, half hunching over with hands on his knees to catch his breath as J.T. let Carolyn down on the lawn beyond the clocktower.
            “I don’t know.”  J.T. shook his head.  “I really don’t know and I’m not really sure I want to find out.”
            An angry sound echoed from the dip they’d fled from.
            Shit.
            “I think we need to keep running,” Carolyn said, grasping J.T.’s arm again.  Her gaze flicked toward Drew, who’d straightened at the sound.  “Will we be safe if we make it to the others?”
            “I think so.”
            J.T. looked back at the mist behind them, which twisted and roiled, flashes of shadow and red sometimes visible at the edges.  “Let’s move.”
            They’d run about four steps before something shot upward out of the mist, black and red and howling angrily.  The mist seemed to shriek and J.T.’s heart slammed against his ribs.
            What the hell is all of this?  The mist, the monsters?  It’s like we’ve stumbled into a real-life LARP with killer special effects.
            The angry howl of the shadow creature came closer and he quit sparing the time to think, he just ran.
            They might have gone too far around, looping up around the shattered buildings along the campus’s main drag rather than trying to cut between ruins and the ravine to get back to the camp.  The creature was gaining on them, launching on updrafts, ink-black wings spread against the sky.
            The mist was chasing, too, spreading in wisps and tendrils, but the creature stayed well above its reach.
            J.T. could’ve sworn that he saw faces in the mist, angry, screaming.
            Hunting, like the shadow-creature chasing them.
            They rounded the corner of fallen Mackinac Hall, Drew scrambling over the edge of the rubble and almost falling.  J.T. grabbed his arm and pulled him straight again as he ran past, Carolyn still gripping his other hand.
            The creature behind bellowed wordlessly, almost in challenge, the sound echoing off trees and ruins.
            “Almost there,” Drew panted.
            Just beyond the edge of camp, they passed through a wall of some kind, one that J.T. had never been aware of before.  It felt like he’d just run through a wall of water.  Whatever that was, that’s why Drew thinks we’ll be safe.
            He moved a few meters further, then spun around, letting go of Carolyn’s hand, turning back to look at the creature chasing them.  It kept coming, diving toward them.  J.T. tried to push Carolyn behind him.
            If Drew’s wrong, we’re as good as dead.
            The creature shrieked in pain as it crossed the point where J.T. had felt the wall, but instead of stopping, it crashed into the ground, skidding a little ways beyond it toward J.T., Carolyn, and Drew.
            “Dammit,” Drew cursed.
            “Carolyn, run,” J.T. whispered, not daring to look back.  “Get to the tent and get help, we’ll hold it here.”
            She never had time to move.  The thing was starting to pick itself up on the ground, hissing.  It was bleeding, though, red-black dripping down its face, from one wing, but it disappeared before it ever hit the ground.  It bared its teeth at the two men, growling.
            Then the mist came.  It swirled in, crossing the invisible line with little more than a shudder, then wrapped itself around the creature.  J.T. swore he saw its eyes widen for a brief moment, then the mist closed fully around it.  A howl started to rise, then cut off abruptly.  The mist was sucked backwards, like a backdraft in reverse, and the creature was gone, only the marks in the turf from its landing suggesting that it had even been there.
            “You’re not strong enough to fight this yet,” a voice whispered to J.T.  Constance’s voice again.
            A shudder ran through him.  Carolyn’s fingers slid into his.
            “Is it over?”  She whispered.
            J.T. shook his head a little.  “Maybe, for today, anyway.”  He swallowed hard, looking at her, then at Drew.  “What was it?”
            Drew looked back at him and shook his head slowly.  “We’ve got a lot to talk about.”
            Something tells me I was a lot happier when I was just believing in Marin and the others.
            Carolyn’s fingers tightened around his and she gave him a brave smile.  He smiled back.
            “Hey guys,” Leah said from behind them.  “Everything okay?”
            Drew looked at her and started to laugh before he shook his head and headed back into the tents.  Leah frowned, looking at Carolyn and J.T.
            “…what’s with him?”
            Carolyn smiled weakly.  “Everything’s fine, Leah.”  She squeezed J.T.’s hand.  “We missed lunch.  I’m going to go get something, okay?”
            “I’ll come with you,” J.T. said, then nodded to Leah.  “Be careful going for the water.”
            She grinned, nodding.  “Always.”
            He watched her walk away with her bucket.  The sun was shining again, through the clouds.  The mist was gone and all was quiet.  He took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly.  Carolyn tugged on his hand.
            “Coming,” he murmured, turning back toward the tent.  His fingers tightened around hers, and they headed back to the tent together.


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One Response to Day 10 – Chapter 9 – 13

  1. Never underestimate the power of spirits, because they never underestimate themselves.

    I hadn’t anticipated J.T. coming into his abilities quite yet, but it seemed like now was as good a time as any, and the circumstances worked out. Only two more installments before Chapter 9 is complete. Chapter 10 begins a week from today.

    I’m total fail with WeSeWriMo this year, but that’s okay. I had no way of anticipating that I’d get caught up in doing revisions on another project (check out Doc Says Rawr! for more info on that) or that my hours at the store would (finally) go up (though that might have had something to do with my looking at my boss and saying “I need X hours a week to pay the bills, ect.”). Then, of course, half the entries to Chapter 9 were longer than anticipated, so that didn’t help, either. That and a combination of other things definitely conspired against me to cause me to fail WeSeWriMo this year. But I’m done with excuses, I’m okay with the amount I wrote, give or take.

    Still haven’t much gotten to mucking around with the site’s CSS, though it’s on the “to-do” list for the week, along with lining up a few more updates so I don’t go completely insane due to writing (completely insane due to retail job = assured).

    See you all on Friday!

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