There was no way out. I was trapped and surrounded by them. My hiding spot was the enclosed back-end of a burnt out truck. I was doing my best to not make any noise. I tried peeking out to see what hell I was facing.
My hiding spot was sitting in a dead-end alleyway across from my destination, a small, unmarked 2 story warehouse nestled into the middle of this forgotten town in the Australian outback. Somewhere inside was the source of the beacon I had found telling me there was someone else alive. Too bad I would never make it inside.
Perched on the edge of the roof was a shrieker, its black eyes wide and alert. It had to have mutated from some predatory bird. Hunched over, it stood at about 2 feet tall, and resembled a giant testicle with a head, but when it spotted its prey, it stretched out to about 5 feet tall and looked like a buzzard from hell. It would throw its head back and let out the most ear shattering scream, alerting any nearby Cursed and drawing more into the area.
The shrieker was scanning the area, searching for me. I had managed to lose it long enough to hide by cutting through an old gas station and jumping in here, but it knew I was close. To make a bad situation deadlier, its screams had attracted half a dozen nearby Brutes, the deadliest of the Cursed.
I don’t know what they once were, but they were large, fast, and deadly. When they were hunting, they walked on their back legs making them stand between 6 and 7 feet tall, their clawed feet barely making a noise as they clacked quietly against the pavement. Their backs were hunched and their heads were low against their chests as they lumbered slowly around looking for their next victim. When they spotted their next meal, they would drop down on all fours and be off like a bullet, their speed completely contradicting their size. Their teeth and claws were rotted and razor-sharp and able to gouge steel. And 6 of them were standing in my way.
The Brutes have a hard time looking up because of the way their spines push their heads down, so they were unaware of the shrieker on the roof. I knew the only way to make it out alive was to draw their attention to it somehow, but if the shrieker sees me, it would lure the brutes to me and fly off, waiting to pick at whats left of me.
I moved slowly toward the cab of the truck, making as little noise as possible. When I reached the window into the cab, I peered back, making sure the shrieker couldn’t see me as I began climbing awkwardly through the opening.
I sat in the cab of the truck, looking fo something I could use. On the passenger floor was a toolbox. I lifted it into the seat next to me and opened it, the locks making a quiet *click* that made me jump in the silence that surrounded me. I looked into it and found the basics: screwdriver, wrenches, ratchet. In the bottom was a tuning fork. I smiled and pulled it out. I pulled my pack from my back and reached in to find the surgical tourniquet I had found at the depot. Tying it to each side of the tuning fork, I pulled on it at the center, setting the knots. I put my makeshift slingshot in my pack and replaced it on my back. I then started crawling out the busted windshield.
My feet hit the pavement in front of the truck with a quiet thud, and I crouched down in front of it. I peeked around the side, looking toward the road. The shrieker was still on his perch, scanning the environment for me. The brutes were still pacing around the street, their heads low against their chests. I scanned the ground for rocks I could use as my silent projectiles. I grabbed one up and removed my slingshot. I centered it on the rubber and took aim on the shrieker. The rock went wild and dropped rapidly, bouncing off the side of the tin below my target with a loud CLANG!! But it did the trick.
The brutes heads snapped up in unison, all their eyes focusing on the shrieker. They let out haunting growls and howls that echoed in my ears as they charged toward the warehouse, searching for a way to get at their new target. The shrieker rose up, flapping its wings wildly but remaining on the roof, small terrified noises escaping its beak. One of the brutes found the fire escape and began charging toward the roof, desperate to make a meal out of the featherless monster, which was too focused on the five below to realize what was about to happen. The brute reached the roof and charged the shrieker as it tried to take off. The brute grabbed its leg and pulled it down, tearing at it with its teeth and claws. The shrieker screamed in pain as the rest of the brutes started climbing the fire escape to join in on the feast. The shrieker let out its final scream as the warehouse doors swung closed behind me.
All roads lead here. After everything I had been through, watching my family die, losing everything I had ever loved, everything I had worked for, this was the last chance I had to find another human alive. I scanned the warehouse, which was filled with all kinds of junk. It had obviously been used as storage before the bombs. I looked past all the rows of junk and clutter toward the back wall and a lonely door that stood there. I moved slowly, listening for any sign of movement or noise, the grip of my shotgun held firmly in my grasp. I reached the door, a single ‘keep out’ sign dangling loosely on it. I tried the handle and found it locked.
I turned back to the warehouse, grabbing the heaviest thing I could find, having come too far and survived too much to let a locked door stop me now. I slammed it hard down on the handle, breaking it clean off the door, and I stepped inside.
The room inside was dark and small, a single computer sitting on a desk. I hit the power and the screen came to life. A single action was on the screen that read lift control. I clicked on the only option and the entire room jolted downward. I waited until it came to a halt and a new door appeared. I opened it and stepped into metal hallway that echoed every little noise. I walked slowly down and approached another bulkhead that was identical to the one under Carlyle. I turned the lock and pushed open the door.
On the other side was a room similar to the other I had found, except this one had branching hallways leading to other sections of the bunker. I took a couple of steps forward and stopped suddenly at the noise that came from behind me: the cocking of a hammer on a pistol.
I stopped dead in my tracks, waiting. Then I heard something i hadn’t heard in 5 years: a voice. It was music to my ears…
TO BE CONTINUED…?