Judgment Day, Part 6

 

“They’re not human?” Molly muttered.

Daryl swallowed painfully and glanced at her.  He looked back at the grey-green powder.  Burnt to the bone.

“Ever see Night of the Comet?” Daryl asked.

“Daryl?” A small girl, also badly wounded, leaned against the blasted-out window in the second car  The girl’s eyes, as pale as the other beasts, watched him, unblinking.

“Another one.” He muttered.

The child monster smiled and, in one fluid motion, slipped onto the platform and grabbed one of the human survivors, a middle aged man.  Daryl glanced back at the platform and saw the four terrified faces of the other survivors, just as Molly stepped forward with the pipe.  She paused, though, when the child easily lifted the survivor into the air.  The supernatural strength seemed to give Molly doubt in the power of her weapon.

“You do not understand what is happening here.”  The child said.  The wounded man hung like a rag doll at the end of her little arm.  He was unconscious, perhaps already dead.

“We just took out these four bastards, little girl.” Daryl said, “What do you think you can do?”  He hoped he sounded brave, but he felt like he had left his wits back in the last car, smashed against the warped door.

“Enough!” The child shouted.  Turning with a twitchy movement, she twisted her arm slightly to the left and Daryl cringed as, over the fire and the pounding of his own heart, he could hear bones shattering.

Molly handed Daryl the pipe, tears running down her soot stained face.  He stepped toward the window in a fluid motion and brought the pipe down hard towards the child, but she danced away into the smoke and shadows.  Only her eyes picked up the light as she stood watching Daryl, challenging him to climb into the second car and, just as he was about to step up onto the skeletal seat and leap through the windows and narrow gap between, Molly pulled him back.

“Kill it!” One of the remaining survivors, a woman, shouted as she stepped forward from the catwalk.  Daryl saw her moving in his periphery while the burnt girl looked over his shoulder.  He glanced at the others:  A blonde woman, her pale face smudged by ash and blood, the brunette, a little boy and a man.  They were all about as rough looking as the creatures he and Molly had just dispatched.  “Run!” he barked, “Run towards Wheaton station!” And he pointed towards the smoke ahead of them.

The little girl in the shadows made a gentle sound, audible over the background chaos in the tunnel.  She inched towards Daryl, feigned a leap forward, then nodded as Daryl shouted and leapt backwards. The damned thing was toying with him.

“We’re leaving,” he said.  Then, over his shoulder, he shouted towards the others,  “Go!”  With his free hand, he pushed Molly away.   He didn’t turn to watch them.  In his ears, his heart was beating louder than the echoes created in the smoke-filled tunnel.  It was fear and exhaustion, each laboring breath full of smoke and ash and poison.  The edge of his vision was fuzzy and, no doubt, he was a few minutes away from crumpling to the floor; and the damn creature knew it.  It just stood there in the beam of a cracked emergency light, ruined face smiling, watching him.

He started to back away.  It didn’t make a move towards him, but it did speak.  The voice dry and skittering, a voice without air and, yet, still the voice of a little girl.  He could hear it building up inside her small body as if it were being operated by a crank and blown through dry passages.

“We are not alone.”

Daryl braced himself, afraid to look around or behind him.

“Don’t listen to her,” Molly said from the platform.  Daryl jumped, what the hell was she still doing there?

“Go with the others,” he barked.

“No.”

“We’re leaving.” Daryl said to the creature, backing out of the train onto the platform, where Molly stood next to him with her dirty face held high.

“What do you think is up there?” the creature asked, turning lidless eyes to the dark roof of the tunnel.  “I can hear them.  All of them.  There is much confusion but, already, there is a single voice rising.  Yet that voice is older than we are.  A mystery.  A voice that also knows who you are.  Daryl Gillette.”

Daryl blinked.  His mind was full of smoke, nothing was making sense.  The creature stepped forward to, once again, lean against the window frame.

“Fall, Daryl.  Fall!” she urged.

He felt his legs start to shake, his vision roll and boil.

“Daryl!” Molly screamed, then she was behind him and pulling him along the catwalk.  The creature didn’t follow.

Daryl turned and grabbed Molly’s hand.  Leading each other, they raced down the walkway until they caught up with the others.  They were all blank-faced and panicked, except for the blonde woman.  She wore her hair in a ponytail, the dim light catching everything pale about her.  Clinging to her leg was a child who looked near catatonic.  A wounded man was bent over, leaning on the shoulder of the brunette, and had an arm wrapped around his chest as if he were trying to hold himself together.  This crowd wasn’t going to last long if they didn’t get outside.    Daryl leaned in and helped drag the wounded man along, half stumbling, half-running along the narrow walkway.    Molly pulled the child from the blonde and carried him in her arms, nervously looking back over her shoulder.

After a few feet, with the fire behind them and the tunnel full of a rancid, electrical smoke, the walkway widened and a dimly lit opening appeared in the wall which crossed to the southbound tracks.  A bank of machines lined one side of the service area, silent and eerie, while a large staircase against the opposite wall folded upwards into darkness.  Beside it, a white sign indicated that it was an exit to the street level.

There was no sign of the creature from the train, but that didn’t put Daryl at ease.  He could barely focus on the stairwell.  The only sounds were the hum and pop of electrical fires and the gentle buzz of the emergency lights.  He tried to latch on to any noise.  It was too uncomfortable without the sounds of the ordinary day, without a hint as to what the creature in the train was doing.  Hell, it wouldn’t just stand there and wait for them to get away.

“Should we – “ One of the women started to ask.  She jerked as her voice echoed down the tunnel.

“Yes,” Daryl whispered hoarsely, turning towards the steps.  “We’ll go up.  We have to.”  He leapt onto the first flight of stairs with Molly right behind him.  She handed the child back to the woman and hauled herself up the stairs, staying as close to Daryl as possible.  At the first landing, he stopped and looked down.  The others were moving slowly, helping the wounded man.  Then he continued to climb, taking flight after flight without slowing his pace.  The last few steps were concrete, coming to an end at a narrow hallway that stretched off to the left into darkness.  The sign over an emergency exit glowed softly in front of him.   He turned to wait for the others.


   One Comment


  1. Feylian
      July 17, 2009

    “The voice dry and skittering, a voice without air and, yet, still the voice of a little girl.”

    Hmmmm…astounding. And I like “Gillette”…cutting. Very you.

    MORE!