Judgment Day: Part 18

He grabbed a few changes of clothes from the laundry room, a couple of cans of Dr. Pepper, and then headed out to the van. Molly was in the driver’s seat, gun in hand.

“Are they…?” she asked.

Daryl shook his head. “Alive, I think. He handed the note to her then looked at the gun. “What’s up?”

“I saw something in that window.” She pointed towards the house across the street.


She shook her head, eyes fixed on the house. “A person, I think.”

Daryl stared for a long moment, then took the gun from her and started moving across the road.

“You’re going over there?”

“If it’s a survivor, maybe we can find out what happened.”

Molly slipped to the ground and ran up to him, “I think a normal person would come out and say hey, yeah?”

Daryl shrugged. “Would you go walking up to a couple of strangers?”

Molly frowned, but didn’t say anything. They walked onto the neighbor’s lawn and stopped, Daryl staring hard at the bay window while Molly, standing close to him, glanced at Martin’s note.

“Is this it?” Molly asked, looking at Martin’s note.

Daryl grinned. “Martin’s a lunatic. He’s been waiting his whole life to leave a note like that. It’s the paranoid person’s way of telling me that he’s at Sugarloaf Mountain, and that there are definitely more of those things wandering around out here.” He looked over at the neighbor’s window, “You sure you saw something?”

“Listen to your lunatic friend, then. Leave well enough alone and let’s go.” She put a hand on his arm, and he felt a spider-web of warmth running from her hand across his body.

He shrugged. “If it was one of those creatures, it would have rushed us, yes?”

Molly removed her hand and he walked forward.

The house was a smaller version of his rancher. A hedgerow marked the property line and Daryl kept his back to the evergreens as he moved up alongside. In the backyard, just visible, a dilapidated swingset sat at a decaying angle. The neighbor’s kids had long since grown up and left, but their world remained behind. Toys and swingsets waiting for grandchildren that would never come. The windows were all dark and the driveway had the full set of cars in it, so the dead were inside. Maybe huddled together, maybe fallen where they stood, maybe watching him from the shadows of the living room.

One of the daughters was visiting, college aged, pretty. Martin had been watching her through a telescope, describing every detail in the hushed, reverent tones of a voyeur. It was a different world, then. Just yesterday. Martin spying on a living house and, now, Daryl was creeping up on it in shadowy death wishing he had taken the gun from Molly. She lingered back at the road, and he felt naked and terrible in this new world.

The front door was framed by two large bay windows, the one on the right was the living room. Over the years he had lived in the neighborhood, it was a window of Christmas trees and a family moving behind glass. Now it had a blank stare, an empty window looking out on an empty world. He came up level with the house, the wet evergreens behind him pressing into his back. Molly stepped forward onto the wet grass, watching him and kneading her hands. She stood in plain view, which seemed foolish, though she was probably providing a good distraction. The gun was heavy and obvious in her hands. He nodded at her in what he wanted to be a comforting gesture, then he left the hedgerow and crab-walked across the springtime lawn. Around the side of the house, the first of the spring flowers were coming to life. The vanguard for the warmer months ahead, a few hardy blues and yellows no doubt unsettled by the rain of an unseasonably cool March.

Reaching the side of the house, he rose and pressed himself against the edge of the bay window, which was obscured by a curtain. The sill, inside, was covered in dust and dead insects. Why the hell was he so worried? Just look in. He closed his eyes and bounced a bit on his feet, building up the nerve, then he whipped around and looked into the living room, only to see a nude woman racing towards him. Pinwheeling backwards, his eyes wide, he didn’t have a chance to make a sound as she flew through the window in an explosion of glass.

When he was young, a car had hit him while he was biking across a residential street. For a pure and powerful second, time had stopped and his brain clicked into high gear. Just as then, he found himself trapped in that second. A life or death second. Everything frozen around him – rain, sound, feeling. It was as if he were in a movie. He watched the woman in mid air, the glass, her body, everything crystalline. She missed him, though he fell heavily to the ground, sitting with a look of foolish surprise on his face, and she was in constant motion. She hit the ground and rolled so she was only a few inches from him, snarling. She had been badly cut, but the wounds weren’t bleeding and he knew that this girl, in all of hr pale, nude beauty, was no longer Human. She stood, slowly, and a strange greenish liquid began to seep from the wounds across her body. It was thicker than blood, jelly-like. Her pale skin glowed in the greay morning light, her bloodshot eyes fixed, unblinking, on him. She was beautiful, this girl Martin had been spying on. Her bedroom was the little window on the far side of the house. She undressed with the blinds open. Look at those breasts, the curve of her thigh, her hair, the way she looks through the window like she can see me… Like she wants someone to see. Martin’s voice was rattling through his head and Daryl found himself lost in the recent past, rooted in the wet earth, melting in fear.

The girl stretched, cat-like, and flashed a wicked smile as she regarded Daryl coolly.

Then, as if coming off of a drug, she seemed to withdraw into a jittery calm. “I am still beautiful?” she asked, running her hand down her flank, across her thigh, along her lower belly so the fingers ran through the tuft of auburn pubic hair. Her hand paused there and, for all the terror in his heart, Daryl’s eyes were locked on her motions, on that hand.

Her hand moved downwards, between her legs. “It still works,” she said, smiling. Then she removed her hand, pointing at Daryl. “Tell me, Daryl Gillette, where do you plan to go from here?”

His attention moved back to her face. They were neighbors. Of course she knew his name. Don’t panic.

“We would like to know.” She mumbled, leaning forward.


“You surprised the others,” she replied. “But now, you are mine.”

His breath had long ago caught in his throat. He sputtered as she leapt on him. He had time for a shouted curse and, in his peripheral, Molly was on the move, screaming something unintelligible. The creature was on him, smashing him the rest of the way to the ground as he kicked, rolled, splashed through the grass and mud. He had very little time to worry about anything as the girl got on top of him, straddled him and locked vice-like hands around his throat. There was nothing in the world then except the falling rain and this killing monster. She dug her pelvis into him, rubbing herself against his jeans, and made a pheasant-like trilling sound, half caught in her throat, half escaping in harsh laughter. “It still works!” she screamed, her voice on the edge of mania, “Everything…perfect…” She was squeezing so hard against his throat that water was pooling up from the ground, spilling into his ears, and the world began to turn into a white-hot pinprick, this nude woman on top of him, grinding her sex against him, the alien ooze spilling from her flesh wounds, mixing with the rain. There was no time for panic. This was death, pure and simple. What panic there may have been had fled into a strange calm deep inside of him. He’d dodged death on the train, in the bus concourse outside the station, probably a million other times he didn’t know about. Why fight it? The last thoughts of a doomed man. Things began to get foggy, he found himself spinning through the last few minutes, flipping through mental pictures. There was something there. The creature was doing something. What had he seen? She was working on something in the living room.

The pressure released for just a moment as the creature reached out one hand, grabbed Molly and threw her several feet with a casual flick of the wrist. Daryl’s vision was swimming in darkness, his brain in flashback shutdown, but he tried to roll to the left. The creature anticipated the move and grabbed him. He weakly clutched its wrist, but it was useless.

Then the world exploded. A drawn out and terrible slow motion second. The creature jerked, wide grey-green eyes surprised. Something punched the ground right near his left ear, flicking smoking mud up onto his face. The creature’s hands loosened and it opened its mouth, but only a clump of ooze fell out, followed by a thin trickle of the weird blood. Slowly, it fell sideways, crumbling on the ground, mouth and eyes open, breasts shining in the rain, a beautiful pale girl dead on the lawn.

Daryl lay there, wondering if he should just go to sleep. He looked up into the stormclouds, then Molly stepped over him and filled his vision. In both her hands, classic TV cop style, she clutched the gun, which looked to be half as big as she was. Her thin frame was dripping water, the white blouse sticking to her tiny breasts, the jeans hugging her boyish figure, her feet sunken in the churned mud at Daryl’s feet. Her hair fell in wiry tendrils around her sharp face and her narrow shoulders. She looked like a lost child from Peter Pan and, in that moment, no woman had ever looked so beautiful to him before. Her eyes drifted to the creature and, when she finally inhaled, her teeth were clenched together.

His ears were ringing and he blinked, except it wasn’t a blink because Molly was shaking him a moment later, screaming for him to open his eyes.