They’d heard the screaming while they were on their way back from the nursery and orchards across the road, but they hadn’t quite realized what it was until they got nearer. That’s when Tala and Greg had started to run, leaving the rest to follow behind them.
Tala had asked him what he thought it was and all he’d been able to say was that he thought it was bad. Now, his heart in his throat and chest aching from lack of breath, he knew it was bad, looking at the carnage laid out before them.
J.T. stood, facing off against one of the largest creatures still standing. Something tugged at the back of Greg’s brain. There was something familiar about the creature, as if he’d seen it before in a picture, or maybe a dream.
“They look like something out of a horror movie,” Tala panted next to him as they both got their bearings.
“You can see them?” He asked, looking at her in surprise. Thought she was still blind to it all.
“They’re tearing our friends apart and that’s all you have to say to me?” Tala’s voice came as a growl as she straightened fully.
Another shotgun blast echoed off the trees and shattered buildings. Greg winced, then blinked as he saw the effect the blast had on one of the creatures. Skin boiled away to black bones, which splintered and putrefied even before his eyes. The creature went down, screaming and twitching before it went silent and very, very still.
What the hell is in that shot? His heart was back in his throat again, pounding away.
It took a moment to realize that Tala wasn’t next to him anymore. She’d rushed up to the nearest creature and clothes-lined it with an outstretched arm. She must have caught it off-balance, because it toppled with a snarl. Tala kept running, moving fast toward a knot of fallen people.
A quick head-count revealed that seven of the people they’d left behind were still standing, and one of those was Angie. Not good. Really, really not good. Percentages are not good at all. At least one stack of furniture had been reduced to kindling over near where J.T. stood.
“Professor!” Carolyn shouted.
“To your left, get down!”
Greg glanced left just in time to see a Grey barreling in his direction. He dove, twisting sideways to avoid landing on his broken arm, and tucked around the injured limb and rolled. The Grey wheeled a few feet beyond where he’d been standing and hissed at him, getting ready for another run.
The second time, Greg was ready. It came at him and he kept his crouch until the last possible moment, turning his shoulder to catch the Grey where he thought its ribs should be. He straightened quickly, grasping one of the thing’s flailing limbs, and tossed it with as much strength as he could manage with leverage and one arm. The thing went flying into two of its fellows and they went down in a heap.
“What happened?” He shouted to anyone who could answer.
“Don’t know!” Carolyn shouted back. “Leah disappeared, people went looking, and then as we’re all comin’ back, these things showed up!”
“A little help over here, guys!” J.T. shouted. One of the shadow-creatures had him half bent over backwards, its claws gripping the claymore in J.T.’s hands. He was holding his ground, but not for long.
Carolyn swore and started running toward him, but she never made it there. The strange mists surged and screamed, wrapping around all of them and swallowing them whole.
Want to help support Awakenings?
Want to chip in to support Awakenings? Buy Erin a coffee through ko-fi and fuel her creativity with a little caffeine.
Want to help support all of Erin’s writing endeavors?
Thank you to my supporters!
Thank you to all of my supporters at Patreon, especially Karen L. Klitzke and Brandon!
Where we’re listed