The night was pervasive as they trotted at a speed quick enough not to get trampled and swift
enough to give the illusion of safety along the trek when the herd was being picked off like sheep to
wolves. They didn’t know exactly what it was they were running from, they just knew they had to get
from the vessel to a structure lying just up ahead, but beyond the security of safety. The shelter was
large, metal, and gray, the remanence of an abandoned garage. The survivors of the hoard were
ushered through its doorway, just big enough for one person, but challenged by many. Those with guns
formed a path, staving off what attack they could.
The raging forces against them howled and screeched as the small family was ushered in, a few
among the untold, but the shelter offered little to mute the tormenting sounds of the ambush beyond.
The room they entered was lit and large, rows of old metal shelving lining the silver walls and resting on
concrete floors. People huddled against the walls being pounded and scratched by whatever beasts had
chosen them as their next victims; people sat in circles covering their ears as tears wet the ground
between their feet. The air was musk with fear, but the true word for it was terror.
Desperation resounded through the calls of the living, pleading through the unflagging, lost on
the offering to their pursuers until a slam was heard and the sound of shuffling intensified. Suddenly the
air was hushed outside, and the inside followed suit. The masses stared up at the ceiling straining to see
through the barrier, to better know what was taking place outside; but the escaping moans of the
suffering distracted from any false ability to do so.
With the fantasy of safety obtained, quietly people were shown to places to rest to the best of
their abilities. The small family was shown to a room mostly barren aside from a stripped mattress,
dusted on the ground. The child among them only saw the bed as he crawled, spent from emotions too
strong for such a small being, to sleep, to escape, to pretend. But the parents only took notice of the
large three paned window stretched along the far wall.
The murk beyond was thick and dotted by light, only bright enough to make out its direct
surroundings, which offered little in the ways of sight. They stood motionless in the closed doorway,
their predicament unknown by those on the other side of the door. If it had been noticed surely the
soldiers would have patched this hole in their delusion of repose. Instead there it was, a portal
unprotected to the horrors beyond. The pair couldn’t see their pursuers, or if there even was any, but
they knew to keep quiet and remain in the dark. Eventually, exhausted too from their experiences, they
crawled into bed on either side of their dozing child.
Soon after the woman pulled out a phone with a dimly lit screen and low battery to know the
time, but the screen was too dark to make out any of the numbers, so absent mindedly she turned the
brightness up. The man yowled and pressed the phone against her chest as the screen lit up the room,
staunching the light, but it was too late. The forces outside had gathered nearby and were back up in
arms at the alert joining in chorus. The creatures pinged themselves off the window, attempting to
break the glass and devour those seeking refuge inside.
The couple were on their feet witnessing the barrage against them helplessly, hoping beyond
prayers that the glass held. As they drew near the window, ready to shield their child from anything that
made its way in, the assault stopped. The beasts changed their tactic and perched upon the windowsill
outside. Sitting still the two could clearly see what they were up against, and their horror grew with
every breath, and every inch they saw.
What they observed was a large creature that had leathery wings spread open as their long,
finger-like claws gripped the glass, the points of them digging and leaving marks as they held steady.
Their bodies were thick and furred, and their legs short but spindly. The true crime of the abomination
was its mangled face, contorted with human like qualities but twitching like an animal on the prowl. The
hue of the bubbled faces were pink and purple housing eyes that were blackened, hungry, angry, and
depthless. The opposing sides stared at each other a moment, assessing, anticipating, contemplating.
Then their winged hands worked around hinges, turning the nobs, cracking open the windows.
Instantly the spell was broken, and the couple lunged to close and lock the windows again,
severing tiny hands from their owners, being rewarded with the shrill cries of their enemies suffering.
The trove retreated to nearby trees, hanging from their feet calculating their next attempt. With the
withdraw, the adrenaline supply also drained and they returned to their places on the mattress. But rest
was not on the schedule for the night, as the monsters tried time and again to infiltrate the sad excuse
for a stronghold.
As the two maintained their frontlines at the window the child woke and cried continuously with
weariness and panic. There was no comfort to be offered though because the only source of comfort
was busied with the preservation of life.
Then, during a lull of the onslaught, a long-haired black lab scratched at the windowpane.
Without thought the man swung open the biggest window, and the dog, previously hunched with its tail
between its legs and ears drawn back darted quickly as its four paws would hurdling into the room, but
the pace wasn’t quick enough as several of the monstrosities made their way in through the opening as
well, making quick work of their intentions inside. Young, too young, agonized screams filled their ears,
piercing and failing; deep growls and sharp snaps quickly silenced too.
The parents stared with dread at the scene, circled by the beasts, bathed in the blood that
splattered and saturated the once white mattress. Fur and skin and remains were strewn along the
surface, resting in patterns they did not belong. Among what was left, was the once bright, laughing,
smiling, curious, and adventurous child. Now with a pale, marble-like, lifeless, gaping, stained face that
belonged to nothing more than the air it was attached to.
Gawking at what was now never to be, tears swelled with depression and defeat that blurred
the visions of the lost. Instantaneously hearts broke and will drifted with the realization of all the “I love
you’ s” that were never to be and arms that were never to comfort again, that wish they had only a few
moments before, now outstretched to the empty and cold space afront them. The few seconds they had
left seemed to last three lifetimes as they were slaughtered, seeing only the face of the child they once
had before the disaster rocked the earth, tormented only by the pain that they could not protect the
only thing that was left of theirs.