“Stay here,” came Toni’s forced words as she shouldered the van door, the handle of the screwdriver pointing down from her fingers, knuckles white as they balled tight in a fist. A huff of air pulled from my chest as the bells quietened with the slam of the door. Since when had she become so butch? A memory tugged. Her screamed accusations as I shrunk back. My voice through the tears, begging for her to believe she was the only one for me. Her hand across my face, the sting as the dream shattered in one swift movement. My silence as I stormed to my car, barely able to see the road through my anger, my sorrow. Not able to look her in the face as she pleaded through the window for me to come inside so she could show her remorse.
Now was not the time.
I drew a deep breath, shouldering my way out, surging forward towards the back of the blooded creature. Its wide shoulders, one crimson, one crisp white, blocked the view of all but the woman’s feet pinned with fear to the ground. Before Toni was around the front of the van, the air turned blue when she realised I was out, her voice sharpening to a command as I heaved at the creatures back, a chill running through my fingers as I pulled away.
The creature tripped, the nervous system not playing its part and it stumbled forward, catching its legs, knees hitting the ground with a crunch as bones shattered.
“What did I say?” came Toni’s booming voice. I turned, bile rising, face screwed.
“Excuse me?” I said as I took a step toward her. She started up, pushing herself taller, taking her eyes off the creature, widening at me with surprise as her brow furrowed.
“I said stay in the van,” she replied, drawing back a deep breath as she tried to look around me. I stepped in her way. This needed settling.
“Where do you get off ordering me around?” I said, trying to take a step forward, only to find my foot snagged. I looked down to see a hand wrapped around the heel of my shoe. “Fuck it,” I said and tried to turn, but the creature’s ice cold left hand clung around my ankle and I fell the ground, only just able to hold my hands out to slow the fall.
“Shit,” came Toni’s response and the stranger’s voice lit the background in a scream. Run for your life, I thought, but my head was too busy to let the words out, my focus fixed on kicking at its arm with my right, angling the heel as a weapon. I watched Toni trying to get around me to put whatever it was now out of any misery, but I was in the way, trying to turn to get control of my ankle so I could kick at its hand to stop its fingernails driving deep.
Eventually I got the angle I needed and Toni came around the other side. The hand let go of my heel, the other still around my ankle. A strange sensation. Cold, like plastic. Unnatural. It’s free hand grasped at the air in a claw, trying to get hold of Toni as she bobbed and weaved to place herself out of its reach, angling the screwdriver, fainting stabs in the air. I kicked at the hand, but the grip was too strong, the sensation in my foot faltering. A waft of smoke ran across my nostrils and I inhaled at the wrong time, sending my lungs into spasm.
“Oh shit.” It was Toni again and I looked up, pushing my eyes wide through the sting. My view ran blurred with moisture, but I could just about see and feel all too well, the heat rolling out from the raging fire engulfing the hut, flames licking at the canopy. I kicked again, watching as Toni stabbed, watching as she missed time after time, the creatures head moving too fast, snapping its teeth to grab at her flesh. Without warning the creature released my ankle, sending a flood of sensation back to my toes. The relief was short-lived as I watched its fingers take hold of Toni’s wrist, latching on with the other to her hand, the screwdriver falling to the floor, its sound unable to penetrate the chaos of the crackling inferno above our heads.
Guilt soon replaced the flush of pride as I took a step forward, bending at the waist to pick up the screwdriver. The wind changed direction and surrounded in smoke, my charge was beaten back by the burn. Guilt surged into panic as wood cracked close by in the flames and my vision exploded with light, embers bursting into view as a railway sleeper sized burning timber crashed to the ground right where Toni and the creature had been grappling.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.