Countdown to Halloween Story Marathon (Story # 2).

by Brandon

Hey folks. The second story submitted to the Halloween Story Marathon comes from Jake Phillips.

Enjoy!

Sunset

By Jake Phillips

They ran. They ran as fast and hard as they ever had. At first, they ran hand in hand, but over time, they just concentrated on getting away.

The horrible sounds were fading as they outdistanced the creatures, but neither could stop. Sheer panic had stripped them of all reason, until they could only keep running.

Finally, after who knows how long, they slowed, came to a standstill.

She looked into his eyes. “They must have turned back by now.”

He replied, “No, not now, not ever. You know how they are. Once they spot you, they never stop until they get you.”

He tried to take in his surroundings in the fading light. “Their senses are sharper than ours. They use the darkness as a weapon. But it’s also our best hope. If we can find a place to hole up, they may pass us by. If we’re lucky, they might come across someone else.”

“You call that lucky? I wouldn’t wish this on anybody!”

“Look,” he said, frowning, “it’s a hard world, now, okay? We can’t save everyone. We’ll be lucky if we can save ourselves.”

He could see she was beginning to think clearly again; the fog of panic was lifting.

“You’re right, of course,” she sighed. “Where should we hide?”

He’d been thinking about that. “Well, I say we get in this old dumpster. The garbage should cover our scent.”

“You don’t think they can smell us?”

“I don’t know.” That was the maddening part. These things were everywhere, and yet there had been no time to learn anything useful about them. How do you flee, let alone fight, something you can’t understand?

He helped her into the large metal box, then clambered in beside her. The garbage was old; even the rats and bugs had moved on. But it might be safe enough.

Even in the rising darkness, he could sense her straining her senses, trying to do the impossible, trying to somehow feel the presence of their pursuers. He understood – he was doing the same thing.

They waited for a time that was no time, that seemed an eternity. Eventually, they relaxed. It seemed the mob had either moved on or, miraculously, given up.

“I don’t understand it!” she wailed. “Why do they do this? What do they want?”

“I’m not sure even they know the answer to that.” He had thought about this for some time, ever since the troubles began. “At the beginning, they were everywhere. It seemed like they would wipe us out. Eventually, we started to get the upper hand. It was all-out war, then. You’re lucky you missed it.”

“I don’t feel lucky.”

He patted her hand. “But it’s true. After awhile, you hardly ever saw more than one or two at a time, and they were easy to take care of. Then, I don’t know, something changed. Now, they’re starting to grow in numbers again, starting to come after us.”

“It’s not fair. They should just leave us alone. I don’t know what it was like when this big battle you always talk about happened, but now there’s so much open space. There’s room for all of us, if they’d just go off and do their own thing.”

“Never work,” he replied softly. “Ever since this thing started, both sides have always known it’s just a matter of us or them. It’s that simple. I’d like to think there could be some middle ground, but I don’t think we’re gonna get that chance.”

“What do you think they were even doing this far in?”

“I assume they’re hungry.”

She shuddered; he could feel it but not see it. It was full dark, now, inside and out. He understood. He had seen one of their feeding frenzies once before, and had run away as fast as he could.

He said, “I think” -

And then the night became flooded with light, pouring in around the edges of the dumpster lid. Before he could stop her, she shrieked. Well, he could hardly blame her. She was young. She’d never really known how bad they could be. She’d just accepted them as part of the world she knew.

It was over very quickly, which was a mercy. Their bodies were surrounded by the things they had tried hard to escape. One of the things spoke.

“Damn. They’re getting smarter all the time,” Joey muttered. He was pouring gasoline over the still forms.

Sam cocked his head. “Smarter? What do you mean?”

“They were scared of us.”

“Jesus Christ,” Sam chuckled. “They’d better be.”

Joey sighed, returned the gas can to the pickup. “They used to be mindless. They used to keep coming no matter what we did. You could kill ten of the sons of bitches and the next ten would keep coming.”

Thomas, the leader of the crew, stepped forward. “It doesn’t matter,” he said. “If they get smarter, we’ll just adapt. If they run, we’ll chase them. If they hide, we’ll flush them out. That’s our job. That’s what we were trained for.”

After he set the corpses ablaze, they loaded up and got ready to depart. Joey looked back from his seat in the truck bed as they rode, watching the light that was two less zombies grow smaller with distance.

“Maybe,” he said to himself, “but I swear, it seemed almost like they were communicating with each other.”

END

____________________________________________________

Book two of the Day Soldiers Trilogy is coming soon! It’s almost time to return to the war against the darkness.

 

You can get book one at Amazon for the kindle or in paperback, or you can pick it up for the Nook at Barnes & Noble.

 


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