Carmen and Doug made their way slowly away from the burning house, their attention focussed on what could come out the dark at them. With little moonlight, there was no telling what lay ahead, waiting to reach out for them.
“Where are we heading Carmen?” Doug pulled against her hand in a bid to keep her from continuing forward. He hated when she took the lead, but understood she only did it to make up for his own shortcomings.
More often than not Doug had frozen in dangerous situations, his fear response high and uncontrollable. Over the months, he’d gotten better, but he still wasn’t at a point where his body would allow him to react the way his brain wanted him to.
“Anywhere but here sweetie.” Carmen understood his limitations all too well. Hell, she’d dealt with his agoraphobia for 4 years of their marriage before forcing him to get help. It had only taken Doug ten months of intensive therapy before he’d consider venturing outside—and that was a miracle in and of itself.
That had been three years ago, and while he continued to make progress, his fears still held him captive at times.
A shape loomed in the darkness before them, causing Doug to stop and scream. Carmen stopped as well, brought up short by the statue that was once her husband.
“Doug, we’ve got to move honey.” She knew coaxing him was the only way to get him moving. And she needed him to move.
Carmen could hear it. The strange keening moan that identified the dead for all who could hear them. It was a sound that sent knives of pain though the brain—like the sound of nails in a chalkboard. She cringed in fear and pain, her finger coming up to wiggle around in her ear canal in an attempt to shake the noise free.
It was a move or die moment. One of them was coming and once it had caught their scent, it would be a difficult feat to lose its trail. Carmen didn’t want to think about the possibility it was a group of them. There was no way for survival if there were more than one of them.
Thinking on her feet, she turned to Doug and slapped him hard across the face. Never had she laid a hand on him before, never during the years of his self-enforced captivity, but in a moment of panic, she relied on her desperation.
His hand flew to his face and his eyes widened to saucer sized. His lower lip trembled for the briefest moment before he sucked it up and grabbed her hand.
Thankfully it worked this time. If she’d had to leave him, she would have, but was thankful that moment wasn’t today. She knew it was coming, but the longer she could ward it off, the better.
The crossed the street, putting some distance between them and the ungodly noise while trying to remain downwind of the creature. Ducking in behind the marquee of a bus stop, the pair stopped to catch their breaths.
The inhuman screams sounded again, closer this time.
“Are we surrounded?”
“Doug, let’s try not to panic before we need to. It could still be one of them. Relax, at least for the moment.”
Carmen spied a doorway in front of them, the wooden door standing slight askew. She caught the briefest flash of light, grabbed Doug and propelled him bodily past the barrier. The door closed quietly behind them as she turned to stare into the face of their salvation.
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