Friday, November 27, 2015

Flash Fiction #174 --Escaping Somewhere Else, Part 9: Shelter

I couldn't see anything of the person who was draped in cloth and walking with an economy of movement that hid everything.  I carried Edmond.  He said nothing. 
Something small leapt and bit my finger.  I yelped, shaking it off. The thing hit the ground with a metallic click and I stomped with the foot still wearing a shoe.  I felt an unnatural welling of pleasure at the destruction.
"We best go quickly," she said.  "Once they get the scent of blood, they'll swarm."
Edmond made a soft whimpering sound.
I kept my curses to myself.  We were moving at a good pace, but even so, the biters were getting closer and louder.  Then something howled, not nearly far enough away.
My quiet companion turned and I caught a glimpse of pale skin beneath the hood but nothing more.  Vampire?  Should I look around for a stake?  Why the hell didn't someone warn me of all the things I needed in Elsewhere -- and other places.  I needed to talk to Maggie.
My guide kept going and I followed, hoping somehow that my friends would find me.  Hoping they were safe.
She stopped and shoved aside a boulder that was either not as heavy as it looked or she had exceptional strength.  I was betting on the second, to be honest.  Things had gone that way for me lately.
"Down. Inside,  quick."
I looked over the edge and saw the glow of light and stairs leading downward.  Edmond shifted to my drape himself across my shoulders.  I glanced at the woman, but she stared behind us.  Something howled.  Biters clicked.  Down looked like a good idea.
Right until she gave a shout and shoved me.
I tumbled.  Edmond yowled and launched himself from my shoulder before he went under me.  I feared I would break my neck, but I managed to roll and only got more bruises on top of other bruises.  I got to my feet and spun, ready to go at my attacker --
She held tight to a door and tried to pull it into place while something with long claws tried to yank the door open.  I scrambled back up the stairs to help her, grabbing the covering -- metal, the first I'd seen here -- and yanked it along the track over the opening.  Our combined weight smashed the thing's fingers.  The creature howled and pulled back in haste and we got the door into place.  She shoved  metal rods over it and then wrapped an iron chain around everything and secured it all with a lock.
"Well, we won't be going out that way any time soon," she said, sounding remarkably calm.  "Are you and your cat okay?  Sorry I had to shove, but that ugly was going to come in right behind us otherwise."
"I'm fine," I said.  I looked around in haste and found Edmond disappearing down a hall.  I almost called him back.  "And I'm sure Edmond is fine.  I saw him walk away."
"I hope he is careful," she said as we started down the stairs.  I still couldn't see her face.  "We try to keep the tunnels clear down here, but things get in."
She finally pulled back the hood of her cloak.  Pale skin, gray eyes, auburn hair, maybe twenty-five or so: normal, I thought, though I was starting to have trouble deciding how to define normal.
"I assume you fell into this lovely land, too?" she asked as we reached the bottom of the stairs.  Boxes and crates sat against the walls.  Supplies?
"More or less," I answered.  I considered saying nothing more, but saw no reason to mistrust her with a little more information.  "I came with two other friends, but that creature in the wind caught me."
"You are lucky to have gotten away," she said and waved her hand to the tunnel on the right.  Edmond had gone left, which I didn't like much, but I said nothing.  I did wish he had gone on ahead of me, though, so I had a little warning.
That would have helped when I walked into the room filled with. . . .
Many, many things, all of them alive, and all of them turning to look at me.
"What did you bring for dinner, Beth?"
I swear my heart stopped.
"No good hunting tonight," she said a moment later and walked on.  "A Mad Wind, Clickers and some other nasties were out there.  This is --" 
She turned to me.  I was almost able to breathe and talk again.
"Mark," I said with a nod of my head to the things.
"Mark," she said.  "There's bread and cheese, maybe a bit of soup left, if you want some.  Go ahead and find a place.  Oh and people?  There is a cat in the tunnels.  Do try not to scare the poor little thing."
I thought about Edmond being called a 'poor little thing' and went over to the sideboard, taking a piece of warm bread, soft cheese and a cup of water.  Should I eat?  Should I not eat?
Beth sat down by me.  "You look a bit frazzled, kid."
"Mark," I corrected, but then I smiled.   She had saved me.  "Sorry.  I'm worried about my friends.  And, nothing personal, but I really just want to find the door and get back out of here."
"If you find a door, you let us know, eh?" someone said down the table.  I thought it might be the big, lean, white-furred creature with long ears who looked like a Harvey, the invisible rabbit, made real.  Except for the very sharp teeth that could tear a hand off.  "Some of us would be happy to get out of this hole."
"We go out and look sometimes."  Beth played with her bread.  "Especially when the days are longer and we have time to get back to cover.  But we don't have much magic --"
"I do," I said.
All eating stopped. I had their attention now.

To Be Continued. . . .

1000 Words


Friday, November 20, 2015

Flash Fiction #173 --Escaping Somewhere Else, Part 8: Lost

I flew.  I didn't much like it.
Edmond had dug deeper into my jacket, which was good, despite the claws holding on to my shirt and skin.  We were moving through the air and I couldn't begin to tell how far we had gone already, but there was no lessening of the wind.  I went too close by walls that rose up into the sky, scraping a foot along one and losing a shoe.
And sometimes I could see a pair of huge, glowing eyes in the cloud, watching me.
Down.  I needed down.
The thing was coming closer.  A huge claw swept out and would have had us if I hadn't suddenly twisted and pushed downward, as though in water.  Swim -- one arm holding to Edmond, but still swim.  Dangerous -- I was soon down amid more of the buildings, but the wind had less strength here.  I swept down lower and aimed for a breach between two walls, and then swept to the right.  The wall blocked most of the wind.
We dropped.
It was only a few feet, but I landed hard on his side against a pile of bricks.  I hadn't the breath left to even moan.  Edmond didn't move and we laid their, silent and still, while something swept over head, yowling in anger and frustration.  Edmond shivered.  So did I.
Gradually the night came, cold and dark.  The wind had gone.  I listened, hoping for the sound of others.  Small things moved around them, but nothing large enough to be human.
"Safe," I whispered.
"There is no where safe," Edmond mumbled into my shirt.  "This place is insane.  None of it makes sense."
I gave a nod of agreement and finally started to sit up. Edmond popped his head out and looked around.  Then he pulled his head back in and made sounds that were probably cat curses.
"I have no idea where we are," I said.
"We're lost in hell."
"We need to get back to the others."  I started to stand, but everything ached.
"Not tonight, Mark," Edmond said.  "Wait until light.  Even I wouldn't go wandering around in the dark tonight.  We need light to see if we can spot anything.  And we need sleep. Flying was very tiring."
"We need to move at least a little away from here in case whatever that was comes back looking for us," I said.  I did manage to stand this time.  The loss of the shoe was going to be a problem.  The rocks everywhere hurt.  I cursed, too -- but I took us back through the breach in the walls and then off to the left a little.  I thought that had been the way we came.
I did not look up at the city, though I was grateful for the little bit of light it cast.  I concentrated on my footing, on the shadows, and kept thoughts of what hung over us to a minimum.  It was impossible not to have some thoughts -- Don't think about a pink elephant! -- because the mind just doesn't work that way.  I had to give myself other things to consider.
And those were enough to worry me.  Lost.  Injured, though not so much that I couldn't move.  Something out there, maybe hunting me.
"Is this far enough?" Edmond asked.  He was limping as well.
I would have kept walking, but that wasn't what we needed.  I grunted agreement and sat down on a fallen boulder.  "Sleep for a while, Edmond.  I'll stay awake."
He jumped up into my lap and made himself comfortable.  "This way I'll know if you fall asleep," he said.
I wanted to complain, but it was entirely reasonable.  Edmond, being a cat, had no trouble falling asleep, either.
I wasn't certain I would ever sleep again.  Everything, from the moment I had killed the monster Tommy Creston had become and all the way to this flying lesson.
I was angry.  I was furious.  I had done the right thing by taking care of the monster at home and all it had gotten me was a hellish amount of walking punctuated by things knocking me around.  Everything I knew about myself had changed.  I was a Protector, but so far that hadn't done us a lot of good.  It sure hadn't gotten me anything better and I was tired of it all.
"If you start growling, I'm going to go find somewhere else to sleep," Edmond said.  "Sit still."
I almost snapped at him, but I held that anger inside.
"That's better."
He went back to sleep.
The night stayed quiet, which I supposed was good.  I didn't hear so much as a breeze now.  I imagined nothing willingly moved out there tonight.  We each kept our silent vigils.
The world calmed.  I calmed.  Edmond slept.
And then I heard things coming.  Little things that grew louder, like the clicking of tiny metal teeth against stone.  The sound grated and I stood, my hands in fists.
"Leave me the hell alone!"
The clicking went silent.
"Well, okay," a woman said somewhere close by.  "I can leave.  But I really thought you might like to get to cover before the biters get here."
I spun.  The woman was standing by a window, faintly outlined by the light.  Dressed in black an gray, her face lost behind a huge cowl . . . She could have been there all along.
Edmond had backed up to me, but he didn't seem particularly upset.
"I'm sorry.  I didn't see you there," I said.  Friend?  Foe?
The clicking noise started up again.  Closer.  I automatically picked Edmond up.
"I think we better go," the woman said.  "Fast.  They're going to be hunting."
That didn't sound good at all.  I looked at Edmond.  He gave a little nod.  So I bowed my head to this stranger and followed her, limping over the stone.  Another adventure, I told myself.  Another adventure to survive.

To Be Continued. . . .

993 Words