01 Feb The emergency alerts on the radio don’t make sense Final Part
“He’s one of them.”
“What are you talking about?”
“He’s the Excalibur guy! The guy who said they’re attracted to fire. He had a great big tattoo of a sword in a stone on his chest.”
“But he can’t be one of the ice shadows. We’re surrounded by fire.”
“He isn’t. He’s under the influence of one.” I stood up, and scanned the room.
Where had he gone?
Kendra was standing by the food table – arms crossed, leaning against the wall. But she was alone, and there was no trace of dear old Dad.
“Kendra! Where’s your dad?” I called, running up to her.
She shrugged. “No idea.”
“This is really important –”
“We think he may be compromised,” Daniel said, without any hesitation.
“What?!” she said. “No. Absolutely not.”
“Kendra, this is really important –”
The anger flared, and her voice grew to a shout. “I saved him. When I came in, he was going to look out the window – but I stopped him! Just in time!”
“Maybe he already looked out,” I said.
She hesitated. Fear flashed across her face. But then she shouted: “Stop making things up! My dad is fine! Absolutely fine!”
Daniel was pointing at the window.
Outside, the orange glow had faded. Where fires once stood, there were only dark shadows of ash. Over one of the remaining fires hovered a figure, holding something large and shiny.
Water splashed over the fire. It sputtered, sparked, and faded to nothing.
The shadows started to shift and swirl, racing closer to the house. One leapt forward, mouth stretching larger and larger by the second –
“They’re coming!” I shouted. “He put out the fires! They’re coming!”
In one, swooping motion, it engulfed Mark in black smoke.
As quickly as it happened, the smoke dissipated. Mark stood stiffly by the fire, his head hanging to one side. Then he began walking towards the house, his feet moving mechanically across the snow. They bounded after him, following him, their faces –
Daniel yanked the curtains shut.
The silence of the house grew to a roar of chaos. Footsteps thundered, plates crashed, people screamed.
And a strangely familiar sound joined the din –
Tap, tap, tap.
They were here.
And we were in chaos. Running, shoving, screaming. We were all going to die here, in this hut, if someone didn’t take the lead…
“Follow me!” I called out, into the pandemonium.
I raced to the basement door. The thumps of footsteps followed me, shaking the staircase.
The damp air blew over our faces, dusty and stale. Click. A lightbulb flicked on overhead, and we were all bathed in a dim, yellow glow.
“What’s the plan?” Daniel said to me.
“We’ll wait here until morning.” I took off my sweater, and hung it over the tiny window. “The storm will be gone, and the sun will be out.”
“Yeah, unless they get to us before then,” Kendra interjected. Her eyes were wet with tears; her voice shook. And why was her head tilted like that? “You saw what they did… to Dad…”
“Trust me,” I said. “This will work – I promise.”
But now others had overheard, and panic rippled across the room. “Tha’ woman is right,” someone called out, from the gray shadows of the basement. “If they get in upstairs, they’ll easily break down this ol’ door. And then, we’re trapped here, like pigs ready for slaughter.”
“They won’t break down the door. They can break through glass, sure – but not a solid wooden door.”
“Rebecca, if they can stop a car,” Daniel whispered, his face hidden in the shadows, “don’t you think they can break down a door?”
Another voice jumped in, coming from the silhouette of an old woman. Her back was strangely crooked, and her eyes glittered in the dim light. “We’re sitting ducks. We need to go back upstairs!”
“Yes! We have to go back upstairs –”
They must have seen the shadows.
All of them.
“We need to stay here! Don’t you get it?!” I screamed. “This is where we must be!”
A silence filled the room.
Then Kendra lifted her arm –
And pointed straight at me.
“She saw them, didn’t she?”
Daniel stared at me – tears welling in his eyes, glinting off the dim light. “I thought I pulled the curtain in time. But I – I must’ve been too late.”
Someone grabbed my arms. Another thrust my face under the light. Kendra bent over me, her face contorted in a frown.
“Her pupils aren’t contracting with the light. That means… I’m so sorry.”
I pulled and wriggled, trying to escape their grasp. “Let me go!” I cried. “Please, let me go!”
Click. The door opened. They hauled me upstairs. “Wait – where are you taking her?!” Daniel yelled. “You can’t do this! – There’s a way to break the trance, isn’t there? She did it with me! Took off my glasses, and –”
“Sure, if you wanna cut out her eyes so she ain’t seein’ no more,” the man holding me spat.
“Daniel! Don’t let them take me! Please –”
My eyes fluttered open.
Those men must’ve thrown me in the forest. And I’m here, in the darkness, with the ice shadows. My heart started to race. Am I one of them, now? A flitting, demonic shadow, with glittering white eyes?
No. Wait. The last thing I remember was someone talking about cutting my eyes out –
A sliver of light appeared. And the door creaked open.
“How are you feeling?”
“Daniel!” I tried to stand up –
“Sorry about that,” he said. I looked down; thick rope wrapped around my body, tying me to a chair. “They were going to throw you outside the house, but I – uh — persuaded them to lock you here instead.” He rubbed his knuckles.
“Is everyone okay?”
“Yeah. Except for Kendra’s dad.” He bent down, and began working on the knots. “The sun came up a few hours ago, and it looks like the shadows are gone.”
“But what about – everything –”
Kendra poked her head in. “The people want to talk to you,” she said to Daniel. “Oh, Rebecca! You’re okay!”
“I am,” I said, smiling at her. “Wait – what people?”
“Some official government-looking people. They drove in this morning, said they’ll be ‘cleansing’ the area. I think that black-haired woman is one of them.” The rope unraveled, and I stood. “They’re making us sign all kinds of forms, too. Saying we can’t talk to the press, and the like.”
“I don’t think I want to talk to anyone for a while.”
He laughed. “You and me both.”
Later that afternoon, we drove the six hours back home. We spent the rest of our honeymoon indoors – catching up on sleep, rest, and quality time. Life has been pretty uneventful since then, and we’ve been having a fantastic time.
Except that, sometimes –
I see two glittering eyes in the forest behind our house.
And I have the urge to open the door.