How hard was it for things to remain normal for two seconds? Too much was happening too fast and it was becoming overbearing. One minute, she was ready to chew out Kaleb and the next thing she knew she was scurrying about the house, trying to avoid being shot. They could barely walk a few inches without a bullet whizzing by their heads.
A loud crash came from the room they were nearing and a man in all black tumbled out the door. He had barely straightened himself out before he had his gun aimed at them.
Kaleb sprang from his spot, caught the man in a headlock and snapped his neck with little to no effort, or remorse. He then beckoned for Marissa to follow.
Speechless, she did so without question. Marissa tiptoed over the lifeless body and a shudder rippled through her. What if he was someone she knew? The temptation to remove the mask was there, but she decided against it. It was better not to know.
As they were sprinting down the long hallway, her eyes remained focused ahead to avoid seeing the bodies on the ground. Some were residents of the mansion, the others were intruders. The stench of death was growing further they went, forcing her to cover her nose. Water sprang from her eyes. Whether it was from the smell or the rising fear, she didn’t know.
A girl fled by them, tears streaming down her face with a panic stricken expression. She bolted down the stair case.
She hadn’t seen the wire, and didn’t see much else as her head tumbled down the last few steps and her body followed after, landing on the pile of similar victims.
Marissa had stopped running. A look of horror coated her face as she stared at the blood dripping from the barely visible wire. That could have been them. If they had kept going, they would be dead. Her hands went to her neck. To be decapitated…Oh god.
“There’s no time for that,” Kaleb snatched her by her arm and pulled her in the opposite direction. They ran into an open room and then they both barreled through the window.
“Sir we should fall back.”
The smile Dominic wore stretched across his entire face. This is what he was waiting for. The order to get rid of them had finally come. To think a whole nest of them were hiding right under their noses this whole time. After the boy’s little stunt of changing in front of him, he was sure his father would have them bomb the place. However, he decided that would lead to too many questions later. But Dominic knew the real reason, his father was second guessing what to do about Marissa. He was conflicted about killing her.
“Focus on your job Thomas,” he answered simply to the female voice coming through his earpiece.
She resumed her silence, and he knew she was back on track as he saw escaping felines suddenly drop dead.
Thomas was a remarkable marksman and a devoted officer. Too bad he was asking her to take down her bestfriend. Oh well. Friendships were but trivial things. She could always find another one.
“Have you spotted the target yet?”
“No sir, no sign of her.”
Lucky girl, she may have escaped through the back already. No. Unlikely, the back was covered and from the sounds of things, no one was getting out that way.
For a moment, Sehjada questioned her actions. Was murdering her lifelong companion the right thing to do? She discarded the feeling of regret that crept upon her. That wasn’t her friend. It was an animal. An Abomination. The same hell-bound creatures that left her without parents and suffering in an orphanage before she was adopted. All of them could rot.
Another one down. She was picking them off like flies, though some managed to escaped. How many lived in that house? The estate was huge. A kid was in her sights. Poor thing was terrified. She shot the ground 3 centimeters away from his leg on purpose and he scurried away quickly. Kids were never targets, at least not for her.
The left side of the house then went up in flames. God damn it, they were going to attract attention. She took down two more, both females, one to the head each.
This is ridiculous. Where the hell are they?
Then she saw them.
She and that Kaleb boy crashed through the upper story window. Marissa looked completely terrified. The boy was dragging her along. He was a man on a mission. He wanted to survive. The others, while they fought back, didn’t wear the same centered expression. They lacked the drive he had.
“Too bad,” she aimed her rifle at them, “he really was such a cutie.”
It was such a sad sight. The lives lost in this were but innocent victims in a larger scheme.
His eyes never left the sight of the dancing flames engulfing the estate. The sounds of death and chaos intertwined in a chorus of terror.
Madness was so beautiful.
It was still bleeding. No amount of pressure was stopping the crimson liquid from gushing out of his side. He was starting to feel light headed, and being frustrated was not helping in the least. He threw his head back against the bark of the tree behind him.
Dammit, she was looking at him again. He rolled his eyes and waved off her concern, telling her once again that it was just a graze. She needed to believe he was fine or she would panic again.
Kaleb smiled as he remembered the state of shock Marissa almost entered when he was shot. He hadn’t stopped moving, the adrenaline pumping through him wouldn’t allow him to. Rather, he had shoved her ahead of him and told her to shift and run. It would have been an easy escape. She was confused until she noticed the blood and actually stopped, despite the threat of a sniper nearby, to help him move. For a moment, the fear inside of her had ceased to exist as she took charge in getting them both out of there. When they stopped, however, she returned to her fearful self.
As far as he could tell, no one had followed them, but he wouldn’t say they were safe. This moment of rest had to end and they had to leave town.
“Is it any better?”
“Your wound,” she crouched beside him and reached for his side. “How is it?”
He brushed her concerned hands aside as she tried to get a better look at it. He didn’t need her to baby him. It wasn’t the first, nor would it be the last time he was shot. “Much better,” He lied after several deep, ragged breaths.
Marissa didn’t believe him and he knew that she didn’t. It was clear from the increasingly worried visage she wore.
“We should go into town. If I can find Jada—”
“No,” He answered curtly.
“But she can help us.”
“The old man said she was a hunter.”
He cursed. How dense could she be?
Kaleb bit back a groan of annoyance. She was more naïve than he thought. He did not have the energy to carry on this argument. He struggled to his feet, using the tree at his back to steady himself.
The forest would provide more than enough cover for them. Those people may be hunters but they were human nonetheless. Their senses weren’t up to par and their sense of direction was pitiful. In this terrain, he and Marissa had the upper hand, especially if they shift…Fuck. His gaze fell on Marissa as he remembered that the girl didn’t know how to change. She was his handicap. There was no way he could teach her at this moment. For now, they would have to travel Human.
She was still watching him with a look of disbelief. He could tell she wanted to continue defending her friend’s honor. After all that she had been through, he thought she would be more open to the thought of betrayal.
“We’re not going into town either.”
“Because you don’t want me to find Jada.”
It wasn’t a question he noticed. “Because it’s not safe.”
She didn’t seem to follow but didn’t allow him to explain either. She threw her hands up, frustrated with his thought process “You are dying, we need a doctor or anyone or anything that can help.”
“We need to leave.”
Goddamit he was stubborn. “So you rather bleed to death?”
“I’ll recover. I told you…”
She caught him just before he fell forward. “You’re not recovering,” she said sternly as she eased him onto the ground and back against the tree. “Stay here, I’ll get help.”
He heard her yell “and Don’t die,” while she ran off, forcing a small grin out of him.
Something was wrong. Obviously wrong.
The stilled streets, the deafening silence, the tense air; it was a blatant slap to the face that something was wrong.
Auburn Valley was a quaint and quiet place but this? The widespread emptiness? It was eerie and sent shivers up her spine and a strong, lingering disturbance settled in her stomach.
In the distance, there was smoke rising and settling among the darkening sky; a tell-tale sign of the mansion that had gone up in flames. That alone should have the town crawling with onlookers, pointing in awe and concern, gossiping and fabricating stories. But there was no one; nary a person in sight, void of all human presence.
Though technically, one would argue she was, in fact, not human.
Cautiously, she paced through the town, peeking into store windows, cars, unable to get in because they were all locked.
Sudden movement at the corner of Delcan Avenue and Sprauve caught her attention. A man. His demeanor calm and collected, unaffected by the oddness of it all.
Or was it because he was the cause?
She braced herself as he neared her, not sure if to run because, to add to the strangeness, he didn’t seem to notice her.
He stopped then, stared directly at her and tilted his head as though taking in her presence.
“You’re as I am?”
Her eyes widened. He was a Felid?
“What is going on? Where is everyone?”
He then nodded his head and ran away.
Before she could form a coherent thought about what happened, something tackled her to the ground.
“Move it Move it,” It grabbed her roughly by the arm and dragged her up, then pulled her along.
“H-hey, wait, what?” A stream of gunfire followed at their heels, then faded to silence as they escaped into an alley.
“Whew, that was close.” The man cheered with a wide grin when they stopped moving. “You’re a lucky one aren’t ya.” His head was cleanly shaved. Dark brown, cheerful eyes looked down at her from a thick, bearded brown face.
She was too busy staring at him to answer. A tall, wall of muscle. How had she lived after he tackled her? How as her arm still intact?
“You okay there?”
“Whothehellareyouandwhatdowantwithme” She rambled out as she quickly moved away from him.
“You can call me Mason, and you, my little feline friend were just saved.” He laughed at her expression, “Your skepticism is understandable. Come. I’ll explain.”
She watched in awe as he pushed on the decaying red bricks of the building they were sandwiched between and it opened to reveal a hidden passageway.