A Chapter by Idiotekque

When the stars come out, the monsters come to play ...


Chapter Four


“Tyr!” Tavis’ voice bubbled over with worry"we were halfway to the store before her name had left his mouth.


It was hard not to rethink everything at that moment. Should I have been in there? Should Alyssa have been out there? What ifs weren’t doing us any good; we had to get in there. Now.


Tavis plowed through the front doors, his eyes searching the room furiously. I was right behind him. I could hear the Inyx’s devilish breaths before our eyes met it; it had bust in a window through the back of the store. Had the other three been a diversion? This one was smaller, sleeker. It stood parallel to Alyssa, scales moving eerily with each breath. Tyr was huddled in the corner behind the counter, her eyes unblinking as she stared at the scene before her. We raised our weapons as Jane came up behind us, but it was too late.


It pounced, its surface lending to the creature’s deadly aerodynamics just like the other one. Alyssa was ready for it. The girl threw herself sideways, bashing into a shelf as she brought something across the beast’s side. What was that? Her target screamed as it landed awkwardly, sliding into the counter and sending a pained howl back towards Alyssa. I could see what was in her hands now, the edge shimmering faintly in the dim light as she pointed the tip menacingly ahead of her. Yeah, she had a sword.


We could see the meaty gash in its side from where we were. Blood was pooling on the dirty tiled flooring, but it was far from out of the fight. I could tell it was about to pounce again, and Alyssa was in no position for a counterattack. Time for a distraction.


“Over here you ugly vokker!” A pair of blinding flashes came from behind the counter. What the?


Tyr wasn’t hiding anymore. The pistol I’d used before was in her hands now, smoke trailing upwards from its barrel. Her face was mean"meaner than I’d ever seen it. Two patches of the monster’s hide were red hot, the scales glowing like plates of superheated steel. I could smell the burning flesh; it was terrible. Tyr stumbled back into the wall as it arched its neck back towards her, baring its teeth and letting out another ghostly cry. It wasn’t happy.


Alyssa didn’t waste a second; running forward she swung the blade towards its long flexible neck while it was turned back towards the little girl. It didn’t complain again. A swath of dark crimson painted Alyssa’s chest and neck as the sword danced through the Inyx’s flesh in one clean stroke. Its head dropped cleanly to the floor, body slumping down lifelessly as everyone took a collective breath of relief. Was that all of them?


Tavis rushed over to Alyssa, putting his hands on her shoulders to make sure she was alright. The girl nodded, looking over towards Tyr. Jane and I followed them over. These people were a family"anyone could see that. It was good to see everyone alive.


“Everyone alright?” Jane leaned against the counter, taking a heavy breath and setting her rifle down. We were all pretty shaken up, but everyone was in one piece.


Tyr was sitting on the ground, breathing a little harder than normal while Tavis was knelt down beside her. It was clear now that she wasn’t a fighter; not usually. When push came to shove, she might have had a mean streak, but she didn’t look very comfortable behind a weapon. There was gentle air about the girl, as opposed to her friends. It was refreshing in a way, but definitely dangerous.


Tavis"on the other hand"seemed like just the opposite. He was a fighter; when things went to hell, he was right there in the midst of it, clawing his way to the top like a true warrior. Yet there he was, crouched over the girl like an attentive older brother. Were they related? It was hard to say; but it looked like there was more to the man than I thought.


“Yuck…” Alyssa grumbled, holding her arms to her sides uncomfortably as she looked down at the blood all over her. I could sympathize.


“Tell me about it.” I separated my fingers and held them out, sticky and stained up to my elbow.


She smirked, but it wasn’t very cheerful. “Aren’t we the couple.”


Joking aside, I wasn’t too comfortable having that crap all over my arm. I pulled the cloth Tyr had given me from the pile of everyone’s packs and supplies on the other side of the room and tried my best to wipe it off before it dried too much. My arm was buzzing faintly; I wasn’t really sure if it was just my imagination or if that thing’s blood was toxic or something. Hell, Alyssa had it all over her neck.


“Alyssa… here.” I motioned her over, pouring a little water from the canteen they had given me on a clean part of the material and dabbing it beneath her chin.


“Thanks.” She lifted her head a little, letting me wipe away the blood. I couldn’t tell if she was embarrassed or annoyed, but her soft skin already looked slightly inflamed where the blood had touched.


“Jane?” I glanced towards the woman as Tyr said her name.


She had been relatively quiet during the entire episode, but something was wrong now. She was still leant up against the counter, and looking at her face I could see her fighting the pain. It looked like a flesh wound when the Inyx clipped her; I saw that; but her hand was clenched on the wound now. There was blood on her fingers as it bled, but there wasn’t a whole lot of it. It couldn’t have been life-threatening. What was the matter?


“Janet, what is it?” Tavis called her that again; I could see the graveness in his eyes and hear the seriousness in his tone.


It wasn’t just Alyssa and Tyr"I could tell he had a great deal of respect for the older woman. He was the only one who called her by her real name as well. I guess it made sense; he probably grew up without a mother. She taught him everything she knew when it came to combat. I wondered how much deeper it went.


“It’s nothing.” Jane gritted through her teeth, shrugging him off and backing away.


Predictably enough, that wasn’t enough for him. He reached out and moved her hand off the wound, but she wouldn’t have it. She tore herself away, skirting the wall with one arm for support. That was all she had left though"her knees buckled and she hit the ground hard. Tyr jumped to her feet and Tavis dropped to her side. Nothing, huh?


“What’s wrong with her?” I rushed over, looking over the countertop. Never a dull moment.


Tavis looked to me with a little bit of helplessness. “I don’t know.”


I could tell she was still breathing, but it looked like she had passed out. Her outfit had much more armor than the others; in addition to frontal protection, layered armored plates ran down the length of her arms, starting at her shoulders. The Inyx’s claw had caught her shoulder right between her neck and where the plating started. Tavis pulled the fabric apart, revealing the open wound. I didn’t like what I saw.


“Oh god…” Tyr stood over them, wide-eyed.


What I saw wasn’t a simple slash in her shoulder"where the flesh had flayed open it was dark and oozing. The skin around it was almost grey; lifeless, dead. The veins around the exposed flesh looked like dark threads under her skin, and they were already spreading out. It looked like my worst fears were accurate. Whatever the Inyx beasts were, they were toxic, poisonous. I was no expert, but we needed to get her to some kind of doctor"quick.


“We have to get her to someone… That looks really bad.” Alyssa mirrored my thoughts, giving Tavis water to wash the wound. “What’s the closest settlement?”


“Radi.” The man replied, rubbing his palm against his forehead. It didn’t sound like he was too enthused with the prospect.


“No.” Jane’s voice caught everyone by surprise as she struggled to speak. “Those people are hardly better than Scabs.”


Tavis put his hands on her, trying to keep her from moving too much. “We’re getting you to a doctor. Relax.”


She obviously didn’t like it, but she wasn’t in much of a position to argue. It looked like she passed out again as Alyssa and Tyr started getting our gear together. We didn’t have a whole lot of time judging from how quickly the poison had already spread.


“How far is this Radi place?” I spoke up to Tavis, snatching Jane’s rifle off the counter and bringing it over to the rest of the gear.


“Not far. If we don’t make any stops we can be there by noon.” He lifted the woman from the ground, gently resting her on the counter.


My heart sank seeing her face. I hardly saw Jane as the young woman she still was. She was confident, strong, fierce. I could tell she cared about everyone, but she was more a drill instructor than a motherly figure. As she lay on the counter, her look was soft. Her sun-bleached light brown hair fell gently at the sides of her head, her slightly chapped lips parted just slightly while she rest. Tavis and Alyssa were still just teens, Tyr even younger. How old was I? I didn’t even know, but I was lost in all of this. Jane was the weathered old soldier in the pack, and that’s what I saw. Now? She was young, delicate, fragile, and it was up to us to keep her alive.


It was a humbling moment.


Tavis walked towards me"no, right up to me. He looked me square in the eye. I don’t think I saw him blink.


“Are you with me, friend?” He nodded slightly, waiting for my response.


In the short amount of time I’d been with the foursome, I’d gone from clueless to capable. I wasn’t helpless"that was evident enough"but it was obvious he didn’t like me much. The guy was protective over the only family he had. Fiercely so. I wasn’t sure if he had accepted me yet, and I didn’t blame him. I didn’t even know who I was. But now he needed to know if I really had his back. Jane’s life was on the line. In light of the kindness they showed me so far, I wasn’t about to let him down now.


“What are we waiting for?”

© 2011 Idiotekque

Author's Note

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!

My Review

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If I can be honest, this is the chapter I disliked most. The action and idea I like, but the execution just felt forced and weak to me. In the second draft, this chapter will likely be torn apart or completely rewritten.

As for slumping or slumped, personally I just find that I don't like two past tense verbs within the same sentence without an "and" in between them. To each his own, I suppose.

Thanks for the comment.

Posted 8 Years Ago

Ok I’ll pick on one thing this time because someone picked on me about the same thing. Your line, Its head dropped cleanly to the floor, body slumping down lifelessly… Picky people will say slumping should be slumped. Otherwise another entertaining chapter.

Posted 8 Years Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on December 11, 2011
Last Updated on December 14, 2011
Tags: post-apocalyptic, blood, darkness, combat, survival, rescue, sword, guns, laser, beast, monster, demon, black



Makawao, HI

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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