Homecoming

Posted: January 24, 2013 in End of Times, Fiction

Second story apartment. Not as bad as third for moving furniture. Safer than first for break-ins. The breezeway light flickered. She clutched her keys in her hand to stop them from jingling. Slipped out of her shoes. Moved as quietly as she was able. The watcher heard nothing but the wind and the thumping of her own heart as she slid the key into her deadbolt lock. It gave a scrape and a thunk as she twisted the key, and the door popped open.

Her apartment was dark, but she kept it clean so she didn’t need light to move through it. She pressed the door shut, locked it. She let out a sigh, turned on the living room light. She made a bee-line for the bathroom, pulling off her shirt as she went. She dropped her backpack in the hallway, her bloody and torn shirt next to it. She didn’t dare look in the mirror; she wasn’t vain, but she knew she was a mess. She opened the cabinet, dumped her first aid kit onto the counter.

A few minutes and a lot of bloody gauze later, she had coated her arm in antibiotic and bound up the wounds. She needed stitches. But more: she needed to get the red star away from whatever it was that was after it. She stepped out of the bathroom, headed for her bedroom. The lights flickered again. The watcher tasted copper. Once is coincidence…

She grabbed the first shirt she could reach in her closet, pulled it frantically over her head. She stuffed her feet into her running shoes. Grabbed her coat. There was a thump at the front door. She jumped, stifled a scream. Maybe it was the neighbors coming home. Yeah, right. She bent double, hands shaking, tying her laces as fast as she could. One done. Boom. The front door again. Crackling. The deadbolt was pushing out of the doorframe. “Shitshitshitshit,” she breathed. She skipped tying her left shoe. Ran into the hall, scooped up her bag, shouldered it.

Boom, crunch, crackle, wham. The front door exploded inward, doorknob punching a hole in the wall, splinters flying. A silhouette, man-shaped, stood there for a second, hissing. She ran past, into the kitchen. The demon followed. It scooped up an end table, threw it at her. Missed. The furniture shattered against the wall. The woman lunged, latched onto the knife block on the countertop. Pulled the biggest handle, a serrated carving knife. She turned to go on the offensive. Too late. The beast was on her.

The thing shoved her backward. She bounced off the wall, slumped to the floor. Her vision was a sea of black. The demon slowly came back into focus. “Giiiiiiivvvvvveee,” it hissed. She gasped. It talked! She thought of the dead security guard. She had studied the End Wars. These things did not do prisoners, or mercy. It loomed over her.

Protect it, the apparition had said.

She was no warrior. On the other hand, she did have this big-ass knife… The beast reached for her. Fast as lightning, she reversed her grip on the blade and stabbed it into the floor. Right through the demon’s foot. It howled, an airhorn blast of pain, reared back. She doubled her knees to her chest, kicked the thing in the groin with both feet. The knife served as an anchor for the monster – it slammed into the countertop, simultaneously clearing the path out of the kitchen. The watcher rolled forward. Scrambled past the beast. It howled again. She risked a glance back. The thing ripped its foot free of the floor and turned to her again.

Her hand closed on the former leg of her end table. She kept it as she lunged to her feet.

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