The metal claw dug through the creature’s bright white shirt as Cassie drove home a high swinging blow. Its features unchanging as it staggered back against her push to free the bar from its flesh. I turned away, screwdriver out, the shaft pointing down from my fist, ready as I ever would be to defend us against the other animal about to appear from around the corner. It wasn’t the first time I’d wished I’d taken time to find a bigger weapon. Cassie’s shoulders knocked at my back and I turned, watching the end of her swing, pulling the prongs from beneath its skin. My eyes caught on the back door and its brass handle, all of a sudden fixed on why neither of us had tried it.
Cold in my grip, I held the handle hard like my life depended on what happened in the next few seconds, but as it pivoted, the door swung open. I stood in disbelief for longer than a moment. My breath fell away and I eventually turned, still without saying a word. My hand leapt forward to Cassie at my back, just in time to pull her out of the arch of a sweeping clawed attack. I yanked so hard she tripped backwards over the concrete step, the air rushing out of her lungs as I struggled to lessen her fall. Still, I dragged her further in, only letting go to leap back to the door, pushing it closed with my shoulder, pulling back a split second before it could slam.
We still had a chance. The creature was the other side, his hands batting useless against the glass.
I dropped to the floor with my back at the door, leaning hard in case it gained sentience and pushed the handle. Cassie had the right idea and scurried up against the kitchen counter, staying low. Together we listened to each other’s breath and the excited thud, thud, thud of beech against once human flesh. Listened to the satisfying crack of bone against concrete, our eyes fixed hard on each other. I broke away for a moment, checking the lock, but found it empty. There was no key in the door.
The thing was down, at rest again. This time as it should be. Permanently.
The one who’d done the deed was not. He was still on the opposite side of the thin wood door and all he need do was push the handle.
My eyes darted around the room. We were in a modern, open plan kitchen, a breakfast bar at my side, tall stools not so far away. Across all but one wall were dark, granite doored cupboards. I couldn’t tell any more, was too low to see if there was anything of use on the counter tops. A long knife, or a cleaver sat in a knife block, my preference. Still I’d have to get in quick, get in quietly, like the SAS, minus the years of training.
I heard footsteps, feet scuffing on the concrete behind. Cassie’s eyes told me she saw shadows moving closer. There was no time to form a plan, to figure out the best course of action. Slowly moving from my butt to my knees, I watched Cassie roll from where I’d let her fall and was walking on all fours, scrabbling with me at her back to the carpeted hallway.
The hall was bright and I continued to the follow, to take her lead as she rose to her feet, jogging across the short gap to the stairs, carefully lowering her feet to each step as she rose. With my first step from the ground floor I heard a smash of glass and leapt up higher, pushing her on. She’d heard the sound too, the twinkling of the glass to the tiled floor from what we knew was the business end of the baseball bat raking on the rectangle of glass.
We were up the stairs and in the front bedroom, the floor creaking wild with each step as we took in the straight edged double bed in the centre. A wardrobe ran across the far wall and a door tucked in the opposite corner. A call came from outside, but we couldn’t get the detail. The skin head replied. He was in the house, his bat dragging along the worktops, knocking whatever had been in its path according to the constant shatter.
“Give us a hand, we’ve hit the jackpot.”
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Reading out of sequence? Why? Here’s Chapter One