Grab n' Go Gasworks

Grab n' Go Gasworks

A Chapter by Idiotekque
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Open 24/7. No dogs allowed ...

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Chapter Three

 

The moon hung high overhead, illuminating the ravaged landscape. A colder tone prevailed now as the dust gradually cleared from the sky. We had set up camp on the outskirts of the city, out of the danger area apparently. That was fine by me; I’d seen enough action for a week, let alone a day.

 

The trip through the city was relatively uneventful, but that wasn’t to say it was easy. Most of the roads weren’t accessible, overtaken by debris, fallen buildings, and general chaos. Whether we had to climb, navigate through buildings just to make it to the next block, or trudge through sandbanks that made up much of our footing, it was made all the more difficult by our fallen comrade. Jane and Alyssa had found his body in their search, and it was only right to give the man a proper burial. As was explained to me, a grave would be looted in days within the city, so we brought him with us. We buried him on the outskirts as the moon rose, they all said their farewells, and we moved on.

 

With night came some rest. No cliché campfire on the plains, it was hot enough even after nightfall, and we were still too close to the city to risk sending any other Scabs a smoke signal. Instead we found an old gas station to spend the remainder of the night. Whatever supplies it once had were long gone; the shelves of the mini-mart were bare, picked clean ages ago. Still, the building was intact and made for a nice place to lay our heads down.  Tyr nodded off pretty quick while Jane and Tavis cleared the area and took first watch, but somehow I wasn’t tired. Big surprise, I had a long nap.

 

“Hey.” Alyssa’s voice pulled me from my thoughts. “Do you mind?”

 

“No, of course.” I was laying flat on the counter, so I sat up to give her some space.

 

The two of us sat in silence for awhile. She was tough, but she looked tired. I’m sure everyone was, but this was their life. It was going to take some getting used to"assuming I stayed alive long enough.

 

“It’s all pretty confusing, isn’t it?” She spoke finally. “Falling into all this all of the sudden, I mean.”

 

I looked towards her out of the corner of my eye. “You could say that.”

 

I was the newbie to all of this, but she was still a kid. So was Tavis, not to mention Tyr. Even Jane didn’t look a day over twenty-eight. They didn’t deserve to be fighting for their lives. No one did.

 

“Well, a lot has changed since you’ve been… asleep.” She chose the word carefully. It was hard to know what to call it. “To be honest I didn’t even know those stasis things existed before today. You were lucky.”

 

I couldn’t help but chuckle at that one. “Maybe. I haven’t quite decided how lucky any of us are. Is everyday this exciting?”

 

The girl shrugged, leaning back and staring up at missing tiles in the ceiling.

 

“I get it. You wanna survive, you need to scavenge. The choicer the area, the more of those scroungey b******s there are, right?” I turned towards her. The downtime was nice, I needed answers.

 

“Pretty much. The three of us have been running with Jane for awhile now…” She seemed to trail off in thought. “A year and a half, two? I’m not sure anymore.”

 

“She certainly seems to be on top of things.” I leaned back as well, trying to get comfortable on the hard countertop. “Taught you guys a thing or two, huh?”

 

Alyssa nodded, looking out a broken window towards Jane and Tavis outside. “We were with some other kids far to the east. It was rough, a lot of us didn’t make it.” She seemed to travel back to a darker time, but shrugged and forced out a small chuckle instead of feeding into the memory. “We got lucky.”

 

“Well then, looks like we got one thing in common, don’t we?”

 

She laughed a little, turning towards me. “Sure, you aren’t too bad. We’ve just gotta do something about that beard"”

 

Bam"Jane burst through the front doors. The expression on her face was all business, there was danger, and it was here. I was on my feet before Alyssa.

 

“Inyx beasts.” The woman stated in the stone cold tone she used when it was time to fight. “Wake Tyr.”

 

“I’m up.” Tyr’s small voice sounded out from the far side of the store.

 

Jane was already back outside. Looking to Alyssa’s face, I could see the fear. What the hell was an Inyx? I had a feeling that I wasn’t going to like this. Alyssa had already thrown her flak vest on and was loading her rifle. The world had gone to pot and these people were already laying their lives down for me. A stranger. As selfless as it was, deep inside, I didn’t like it.

 

“Stay with Tyr, let me help.” I grabbed the barrel of the firearm, locking eyes with her.

 

She didn’t budge; there was fire in her eyes. When trouble broke out, this girl was a warrior. She was laughing, relaxed, just a moment earlier. Now she was ready to take on anything. I half expected her to smash me upside the head with the butt of her rifle before marching out the door, but her gaze broke. She nodded, shoulders giving way to a deep breath as she looked towards Tyr.

 

That was the confirmation I needed. I let go, scrambling over to where I’d put my pistol, but she stopped me short.

 

“Take it. That thing’s just gonna make them angry.” I caught the rifle in both hands as she tossed it to me, crossing her arms and giving me a serious look. What was I getting myself into?

 

Before I could talk myself out of it, I was out the door and headed towards the old pumps outside. Tavis was crouched behind one and Jane was out a little further. Whatever these things were, the look on the man’s face was deadly serious. For a second I actually thought I saw a little bit of fear in those eyes, like Daddy had just told him that the Boogieman wasn’t so make-believe. Tavis didn’t seem like the type to scare easy. A chill went up my spine.

 

“What are you doing?” His brow creased as I slid up behind him.

 

“Alyssa’s with Tyr. What the hell are these things?” I tried to change the subject as quickly as possible. I knew he’d rather Alyssa was by his side if things got sketchy. It took him a moment, but he accepted it.

 

“I hardly know. All I’ve heard is ghost stories of this schett man.” He shook his head and bit at his lip, his knuckles going white as he gripped his weapon. “These things are mean, Janet’s said"”

 

“They’re here.” Jane’s tone was icy as she called out the firm warning. There was no time for explanations; there never was.

 

I could hardly make anything out, and it didn’t bolster my confidence any. There were noises; only furious sets of footfall. And breathing; heavy, ravenous breaths. Those gave me more than just chills. Dust had faded the light of the moon again, leaving us with almost zero visibility.

 

Tavis and Jane answered that question right on cue, hitting something on their rifles. Tactical flashlights, perfect. It only took me a second to find the switch. We were in business, but whatever was coming at us still wasn’t close enough to see. How in the world did she know they were coming from so far away? I familiarized myself with the feel of the gun the best I could and kept my eyes scanning the horizon.

 

“There!” I snapped, fixing the beam on a flash of movement ahead of us. I almost wish I hadn’t.

 

Whatever it was, it was quick, and big. It was roughly the size and shape of a bear, but nowhere near as bulky. It moved more like a canine, but it still didn’t look like either of them. It was dark, and it was still far away, but the way the light hit it confused me. It shifted and squirmed as it bolted towards us, yet it didn’t. I blinked twice, but it didn’t help. What was it?

 

“Time your shots carefully.” Jane commanded gravely. “Don’t take their size for granted, make it count…”

 

She had her game face on. Someone had a history with these things, and it wasn’t Tavis. I didn’t dare let it out of my sight. Unfortunately it wasn’t the only one"Jane and Tavis had spotted two more and now held them in their beams. I prayed there wasn’t a fourth.

 

“Yours is closest newbie…” Tavis spoke softly. I was getting tired of the nicknames; I really needed to figure the name issue out soon. “Go for it.”

 

I was half concealed behind a rusty gas pump, and I wasn’t sure why. As far as I knew, these things couldn’t shoot back, but all the same it granted me some kind of useless reassurance. I was done stalling though, it was getting close now and my trigger finger had been itching like hell. I let off a short burst, squinting through the muzzle flash. The thing kicked like a mother, but I kept it steady. The night played against contrast of the hot lead, the shots shining through darkness towards their target.

 

“What the?” I mouthed, looking on at the effect of my fire.

 

It jumped; it twisted and shifted wildly out of the way of the bullets, leaving only clouds of dust from the pads of its feet and the missed shots against the dirt. God it was fast"I’d never seen anything literally dodge bullets. I adjusted my aim as quickly as possible, continuing fire. It wasn’t far now, and I still couldn’t tell if my efforts were doing any good. Jane and Tavis had already opened up on their targets. I had to get it together.

 

I was running out of ground. It was time to try something new. If it wanted to dance, I was gonna make it dance. Instead of trying to hit it, I sent short salvos to its sides. Sure enough, it slid back and forth across the earth, expertly evading the danger. Its movement was strained though; it could only strafe back and forth so much before losing its footing to the dusty terrain and putting it into a momentary slide. That was my chance.

 

Its maws parted in anger, a banshee’s howl rending through our eardrums. I hit it, its surface shuddered and moved like wildfire now. Up close I had a better look at what it was made of. It didn’t have fur; what I saw looked more like scales, but they were small, thin, changing. They fluttered and shifted with the creature’s movements, refracting the light like ripples in water. It was incredible the way it played against my eyes; a simple movement could be exaggerated and dramaticized, throwing me off my aim. As impressive as it was, deep shimmering liquid was visible now, streaming from its left hindquarters. But how were the others doing?

 

Tavis was only a few steps beside me, choosing his shots masterfully. The beast moved just like mine, but not quick enough for the expert marksman. Hit by painful hit, its resolve crumbled as splashes of dark lacquer painted the dirt with the creature’s fate. Another few bullets and it toppled to the ground, scrambling back to its feet and retreating into the darkness. One down.

 

My target was wounded, but that only seemed to aggravate it. I forced myself not to take a step back; it was hardly a few seconds away from me at its current rate of speed, and it only seemed to pick up the pace as I put more bullets in it. Tavis tossed me a new clip as he turned his attention to the beast as well; I was almost out, but there was no way I could reload before it was on us. I was starting to regret fighting in Alyssa’s stead. Maybe may place was hiding away protecting the kid. Something caught my eye though.

 

“Hold your fire Tavis!” I sent him a look of assurance. I don’t think he liked it, but he listened.

 

The Inyx didn’t let up, relentlessly barreling across the dark dusty plains towards us. If I didn’t time this right, we were dead. It was almost on us, I only had a few more rounds left. Shifting my aim from the demon and upwards to my risky idea, I let them off.

 

High above the station, a huge weathered sign once boldly stated the company’s logo: Grab n’ Go Gasworks. Now it plummeted down to earth"and right into the incoming animal’s back. The ground shuddered, a hazy shockwave of dust going off in every direction. It howled out again, hopelessly pinned on its belly. It was time to finish the job. I walked towards the maimed creature, glancing at the man to my right and holding a hand out. I’d seen the wicked knife sheathed on his hip; he got the picture and tossed it to me. The beast’s eye’s met mine, a vile stench pouring from its mandibles as it sang another bloodcurdling tune. It wasn’t pleading for its life"it wanted blood.

 

It got it.

 

I lashed out with the blade, the edge flitting through its tongue. It reared its head back in agony, howling towards the sky and shifting the massive object upwards, but not off its back. It had exposed its long scaly neck; I was getting sick of this thing. With a little battle cry of my own, I flipped the knife around, driving the tip upwards and into its throat. The mortally wounded Inyx screamed out again, but only managed a pained gurgle, its vital fluids pouring out of the injury as I buried the blade. My arm was slick now, stained with blood as my enemy finally slumped lifeless to the ground. Gross.

 

I moved back over to Tavis, flicking the knife blade-first into the dirt at his feet. My ego couldn’t help but swell a bit; but there wasn’t any time for pride, we weren’t out of the woods yet.

 

“Alpha, incoming!” Jane called out from the darkness. Where was she? Alpha?

 

Tavis and I flipped our sights to the direction of her voice. While we were dealing with our own problems, Jane hit the motherload. It was huge, burly, saliva seeping from its jaws as it stared the woman down. The alpha male? It was a standoff"neither side dare make a move. The beast’s teeth were dark, a deep burnt umber beneath its glistening mahogany eyes, unmoving upon hers. The look on the woman’s face was equally hardened, her expression set in stone towards the monster. She wasn’t firing; her weapon wasn’t even fixed on her target. What was she doing?

 

In the blink of an eye, it was on her. The two of them were about 15 paces from us, and the Inyx closed the gap between them in a split second. I winced as it sprung from its back legs, the dazzling scales going flush against its body as it slid through the air like a coiled snake launched towards its prey. Jane dropped to her back, just avoiding the razor-like front feet that looked more like talons than paws. A flash of blood soaked her shoulder and she cried out, but she caught it with both of her boots right in its stomach as it sailed over, sending the creature tumbling to its back behind her. The veteran warrior didn’t waste a second, rolling back to her feet and emptying her rifle’s clip into the downed target. Her steps were heavy and fierce as she advanced towards it, not letting her finger off the trigger for a second. It writhed and shrieked under the cold dull moonlight, the reflective scales dancing erratically before finally lying dead on the beast’s bloodied flesh. It was done.

 

Tavis pulled his knife from the ground, looking up towards the woman as she returned with a tired look across her face. “Inyx beasts aren’t native to this area, what’s going on Jane?”

 

She opened her mouth to reply when the sound of shattering glass rang out through the air. Everyone’s attention flashed back towards the store as the clatter ended with a scream.

 

A little girl’s scream.



© 2011 Idiotekque


Author's Note

Idiotekque
I'm open to criticism as brutally constructive as anyone who knows their stuff is willing to give. I'm a writing student, so I'm looking to refine my work as best I possibly can. Professional criticism is heartily appreciated.

Thanks for reading!

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Another great chapter.
Your beasty battle is vivid and interesting, packing a lot of action with a small amount of words.
I sure can feel the fatigue of the constant bombardment of these people. The slow reveal of these characters drive me to read more but the last line is what seals the deal. What! What! What!

Posted 8 Years Ago



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Added on December 10, 2011
Last Updated on December 14, 2011
Tags: post-apocalyptic, night, darkness, evil, beast, monster, demon, black, blood


Author

Idiotekque
Idiotekque

Makawao, HI



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I'm 20 years old and I'm a writing student living in Hawaii. Writing is my passion, and I'm striving to break into the market doing something I really love. more..

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