I see now why they are called the Lunatic Posse. They are all raving psychopaths. They strut and stumble. I’m reminded of clumsy birds, the way their heads move, their limbs. All yelling a jumble of words that don’t fit together, with the occasional cuss thrown in. All mindless and starving. And fast. Meeting one you could survive if you were faster. We wouldn’t stand a chance against a pack of 50.
He notices finally, able to see through the floorboards that we are truly stuck. We have cover, the walls of the blind hide our existence from the monsters outside. There are small holes in the wood that we can see distances. And The Door.
It bothers, niggling at the back of my mind like a rat in a trap. It follows me. I can hear the voices again. Calling my name. Siren Song. His hand is on mine and I look away, to find my own grasping the handle to the trap door. I’m afraid, and he sees it.
Above us the birds resting in the branches startle. They fly in a flurry of wings. There is a sound, a not-there sound. My bones and teeth are vibrating. I press my eye to the rifle hole and draw back quickly. Impossible. My mind reels slightly and I press again to the view happening outside our box.
The Door is ajar, just slightly. It wavers in the breeze, the air putrid with the scent of unwashed bodies and infection. They are, after all, essentially human. He shifts behind me, movement barely a whisper, yet a glare at him. I watch as he presses the side of his face to the rifle hole closest to him and see him cringe, biting his lip and clenching his fists. He understands now. Damn. Crying again.
My teeth are vibrating. My whole face feels as though my skull and jaw were trying to escape the confines of my skin. Hard to breathe. I pull back quickly and huddle close to him, dragging his ear down so that my lips are nearly touching it. I tell him we are trapped. And we can’t move. Breathe little, no noise. That I don’t know how long we will be here. He tries to pull away but I hold him closer, my fists clenched in his light jacket, and hold his eyes. There can be no misconceptions or misunderstandings. Like it or not, we may die here.
That not-there sound is there, hanging in the thick air like a blanket. I can almost see it. It shimmers in the light like heat on the summer highway. The Door is open more now. One of The Posse is standing in front of it. Yelling it’s nonsense at it and stabbing its finger in the air, its tip touching its wood each time. I feel his hand on my shoulder, squeezing gently and I jerk in response, shrugging it off. He does it again. This time feels like urgency and I glance over. He points to his eyes, then down.
There is a member of The Posse directly below us. Staring at us. I force my breath to slow. They can hear us, our blood rushing in our veins. Maybe our Aliveness, our humanity. It holds my stare, its mouth moving silently, forming words that make no sense. And walks away. I watch as it moves out of view, and look up to stare at my companion. He is confused as well. I shift slightly to press my eye against the wood wall, tracking the progress of this strange harbinger. The Lunatic Posse. They are Lunatics. Even to the way they shuffle when they walk. This pack is different, or maybe the lack of proper incentive has put them into a hibernation of sorts.
The Door slams shut, the noise an explosion that sends another, though further away, ruckus of birds into the air. I watch as the pack freezes, and each head turns in unison towards the house that I had blown up, the flames still ravaging the hull. They move into the shadows, several hiding behind the Door itself. That’s when I see them. A group, 10 or more, creeping along the road that lead to the house. There is no way we can save them. No means of escape for them. And no way for us to avoid having to watch what comes next. I motion with my hand for my companion to come closer. A tough lesson to have to learn. But he still doesn’t understand. I’ve watched him staring off into the distance, towards the river, eyes far away. Calculating his chances. 99 to 1, not in his favor. I’ve seen them kill
The group is coming towards our little copse, their voices carrying on the wind to us. Small snippets of conversations. The sound of normalcy. The Posse hears them too, some crouching lower like animals about to spring on their prey. The one that saw us is back. Standing underneath our blind and staring up at me. Its muttering words that almost make sense. Go. There. Run. Soon. She points towards the river, at the break in the trees. A hard fast run, with luck on our side, would take us there in minutes. If we could get past these things. I nod, and she wanders off again, a little deeper into the shadows.
The group are standing by The Door, their excited voices ringing in the silence. Don’t they notice the unnatural quiet? Not even the crickets are chirping. One touches The Door, his hand stained the bright red of a freshly spilled blood. He looks at it, curious but not afraid. My companion shakes my shoulder, pointing to the shadows. The Creatures are coming closer, smiling too big smiles on lips that stretch too far and split, spilling a flood of gore from their mouths. Its nothing I’ve ever seen before and I’m too horrified to even scream.
In an instant they are on the group, all converging as one on the hapless travellers that came upon this horror show. There is no sounds but for the sound of body parts being torn apart. My companion throws open the trap door and jumps down, motioning me to come, NOW. I do. I jump and land on my feet, running towards the river without looking back. I can’t look back. Freedom is close, I can hear it, feel it with every impact my feet make on the ground. Fence ahead. I can leap it. I’m not stopping. I hear moment behind me. It could be one of the Posse. It could be my companion. I’ll look after the fence. Made it.
I turn and see my companion leap the fence as well. I feel relief, and fear. They must be still feeding. I see no Lunatic anywhere around. We pant as we walk, trying to gain back some air so that if we must run, we can. I hear voices at the riverside, and glance at my companion quickly. He is unnerved as well. He takes my hand, squeezes hard, and picks up the pace. I have to follow. He still holds my hand.
There is noise behind us, slight, just a rustle but it sets my teeth on edge. It won’t be long now. They will notice. They always do. The river’s edge is visible now. There are men along the beach, all nervous and heavily armed. I hesitate, pulling back slightly. My companion looks back at me, stopping to pull me to him, and smiles into my eyes. The men notice us. I’m afraid, almost ready to take my chances with the Lunatic Posse, when I am pulled forward. Joyful, yet muted shouts reach us and my companion releases me, running to them as a brother would. These are his brothers.
My companion salutes his….friend…Brother…superior? My train of thought is interrupted by shrieks of rage and cursing. We’ve been found out. I run towards them, screaming to get us out of here. They are coming. I’m thrown into the boat, as the rest of the men jump in and rev the engine to life. The boats pull too slowly from the shore as the Lunatic Posse overrun the short hill leads to the river.
I watch as we pull away, speeding upriver away from danger, for now. Everything is in slow motion, and I turn to watch the shore. They stand there, their voices irate, just far enough from the reach of the water. They don’t like water. I hear the name Evan, and turn to the conversation. My companion sits beside me, his hand out and looking at me expectantly. His name is Evan. I shake his hand, offering my own.
“My name is Kiara. Nice to meet you…”
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