Afterworld: Into the Arms of Darkness Ch.4
Title: Afterworld: Into the Arms of Darkness
By: Pink Rabbit Productions
Date: 2 September, 2010
Disclaimer: Hmmm, characters, not mine, situation, mine, though with the proviso that certain scenarios owe a major debt of gratitude to George Romero. Sex? Likely. Genders involved? Likely all female (at least anything on camera). Also there are likely to be very bad things in this story. I'm not one for prodigious amounts of gore, but this is horror and there is likely to be ickiness and things that might disturb some folks. Seriously. If it's gonna bother you, move along.
Summary: When the dead rise, civilization falls.
Author's Notes: Awhile back, just for fun, I did a faux movie poster that set Otalia in a horror setting and used some elements from an idea I've had running around for ages (what can I say---it was the Halloween season). Sooo, at some point, it seemed like fun to take a gander at writing them in that universe. I've quite deliberately tried to break away from my usual style and make it a bit faster moving, with frequent chapter breaks, deliberate cliffhangers, shorter scenes and more directed pov. We'll see if I can keep to one pov per chapter (well, they are short chapters...lol).
Previous Chapters: | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 |
Author's Note: Probably no post Friday, but should be one up Saturday, storms allowing.
In mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them.
Johann von Neumann (1903 - 1957)
Into the Arms of Darkness
Into the Arms of Darkness
Her child's scream was little more than a thin trickle of sound, barely audible to damaged hearing, but it brought Olivia's head around in time to see a small figure pile out of her vehicle and take off toward her at top speed.
The dead weren't the only ones whose attention could be drawn by the sounds of battle.
"No," Olivia hissed in raw horror, because right behind her daughter came a dead thing, breaking from the trees behind the SUV, drawn by the sound and movement, its stride ungainly but far faster than an eight year-old child.
And then she was grabbing the shotgun braced between her and her attacker with demon-possessed strength. Teeth gritted, she shoved, slamming the weapon into a slender frame with enough force to throw the dark woman off her feet.
Careless of where her assailant landed, she spun and dove after the dropped Eagle. It was heavy in her hand as she came up, already triggering the laser sight. Over a degree off to the left and low—nowhere near the accuracy she would have preferred for the shot she had to make—but in the near dark with concussion-blurred vision, it was her only chance.
She straightened, arms outstretched in a two-handed shooter's stance, the weapon horrifyingly heavy in her hands. She took aim, then pulled the sight up and right, nowhere near as much as she would have liked considering she had to take a shot straight over her daughter's head.
Miscalculate too much in either direction and Emma would die, either by tooth and claw or by her own bullet.
And if either of those things happened, the woman behind her wouldn't have a chance to blow her brains out. She'd do it herself.
No time left.
She fired, then felt the impact of the grip as it ground into hands never meant to handle that kind of pressure. Her arms rocked up with the force, impeding her view for the briefest second before she could pull the weapon back down into shooting position to see what target her bullet might have found.
Olivia's heart began beating again when she spotted the still-running figure of her daughter. In her wake, the thing that had been pursuing her still hung on splayed legs, its head rocked back, arms outstretched toward its target. Olivia had gotten her child back in view so quickly that pieces of its skull along with bits of drying blood and rotting brain matter were still in mid flight behind the staggered creature.
A nearly dislocated foot flopped forward one more step.
Then the dead thing collapsed like a marionette with its strings cut, sprawling over backwards in an ungainly heap to die a final time.
No time for victory celebrations because another zed came in from the left, moving much faster, hands and mouth blood-streaked enough to suggest it was one of new-dead who'd eaten her attackers back in the pantry. She almost felt bad having to pay that service back with a bullet to the head, but seeing her daughter on the menu wasn't an option.
It was enough to Emma's side that Olivia had a clear shot.
The first trigger pull took off the top, left quarter of its head and knocked it back a step, but didn't take it down. Still fresh enough to spray wet blood behind it, the damn thing kept coming. She took fresh aim, pulled the trigger again. This time the .50 calibre bullet slammed into its chin, nearly decapitating the dead thing, sending its head flopping backwards.
A momentary stagger and then it collapsed, still twitching and spasming, but no longer a threat.
Pivoting, Olivia spotted Emma, still running, short legs pumping hard, eyes scared. Then her gaze swung past her child as she caught sight of another zed coming from the right. She was still taking aim when a tightly choked shotgun blast took the thing's head off. It went down in pieces while Olivia glanced over her shoulder, taking in the slender figure standing a few paces back, shotgun still held in position. As Olivia watched, the young woman ratcheted the slide, chambering a fresh shell, then turned her head, the movement seeming stumbling and slow. Olivia knew it had to be quick and hurried, but fear and adrenaline warped time in strange ways. Their gazes met. No more than a second of contact brokered the agreement between them.
Allies. At least for now.
Then they pivoted away from each other, shoulder to shoulder as they took aim into the encroaching darkness. A creature lurched from around the side of the house where she'd been trapped, honed in on the running child with laser-like intensity. Exhaustion and a battering were starting to tell. It took Olivia three shots to take this one down.
Which meant she had a grand total of one bullet remaining in the Eagle.
No time to reload, she thought just as a small body slammed into her. Once upon a time, she would have reached down and tried to comfort her frightened child. Now she focused on trading the Eagle for the .45 Colt automatic holstered under her arm as quickly as possible. It had more kick and less stopping power, but it could still take a helluva chunk out of anything
"Inside," her opponent-turned-ally shouted, reaching past Olivia with a hand that seemed too fine-boned to grip a shotgun with so much authority. She did something, and suddenly the wall popped open, a seam in the siding revealing a hidden door. Without pausing, the woman grabbed Emma by the shoulder and thrust her through the narrow opening, then moved to follow. "Move!" she snapped at Olivia, who was a beat behind.
Olivia took two steps, then suddenly a crawling sensation slid down her spine and she spun back around.
Just in time.
A dead thing, blood soaked and just barely beginning to rot came around the corner of the house, moving inhumanly fast, its hands outstretched, mouth wide.
Olivia just barely got her arm up in time to block the teeth headed for her throat so that instead of tearing the life out of her, that sharp-edged clamp closed down on her forearm with agonizing pressure.
The dead were strong motherfuckers on their weakest day. Somehow rotted muscles worked better than ever, particularly those involved in biting and chewing.
Even as a bony jaw closed down, the scrambling, dead body slammed into Olivia, the momentum enough to hurl them both into the wall to her side with bone-crushing force. Pain exploded through her shoulder and right upper back as the impact scraped her along rough edged siding.
Hearing a distant scream through the ringing in her ears, it took Olivia an extra beat to realize she was the one making the sound, a dull-pitched, keening cry that would have been louder if she could have drawn a breath through the paralyzing agony. Pinned up against the wall, sharp-edged siding biting into her right side, teeth clamped onto her forearm with the steadily ratcheting force of a vise clamp being tightened down, she couldn't think, could barely remain standing. Trembling so hard she could barely maintain a grip on her weapon, she swung it around, the instinct to survive driving her. If she could just blow its head off, maybe....
But she couldn't raise the suddenly massive weight of the .45 any higher than the thing's midsection, and there weren't enough bullets in the world for that to do any good. She tried nonetheless, opening fire, emptying the clip in a few seconds and tearing out what remained of the dead creature's guts.
The zed attacking her showed no sign of noticing. It neither stumbled, nor stuttered in its aggression.
She was going to die.
Then suddenly an arm wrapped around her body from behind, hauling her back against the support of a slender frame while the shotgun came around from the other side, the barrel somehow weaving under her arm and making its way around the forearm still caught in sharp incisors and nudging up against the underside of the gnawing thing's jaw.
Olivia barely had time to wonder if she'd still have a lower arm when it was over before the concussive blast of the shotgun assaulted what remained of her hearing and shook her body.
In an instant the zed's skull fragmented into a thousand pieces, leaving only the upper and lower jaw in place, still loosely clamped to her forearm. She shook hard, hurling bone and gristle away with enough force to shatter it into a dozen pieces when it hit the cement walkway several feet away.
Then her knees buckled so badly that the woman at her back was the only thing keeping her remotely upright.
"MOVE!" somebody screamed in her ear so violently that it made it past the ringing deafness, but her body was hitting the end of its ability to recover and keep moving. Shock, pain, and a waning adrenaline rush were fast sapping any remaining strength. "Just a few steps," the woman at her back pleaded, probably loudly, but Olivia could barely hear her.
Agony flared as she put weight on her already banged-up knee, and for a moment it seemed as though it wouldn't hold, but then she managed a staggering step.
Fast encroaching bits of hell meant her attacker-turned-savior didn't have time for the slow approach. Impatient, she spun, hauling Olivia around and shoving her toward the still open door with one hand even as she twisted and fired at something with her other.
The distant thought went through Olivia's head that it was probably a crappy shot going one-handed with a shotgun. Then again, one of the advantages to a shotgun was that you didn't have to be a good shot to hit something.
She forgot those mundane thoughts a millisecond later as her bad knee buckled and she staggered, wood siding scraping against her arm and shoulder as she nearly went down. Nerve endings screamed and there was a part of her that wanted to just let go and stop fighting and maybe the pain would finally end.
Then Olivia looked up and caught sight of her daughter's small face peering at her through the cracked door, lower lip caught between her teeth, her eyes wide and scared.
Completely focused on her child, Olivia reached out, fingers digging into the siding until it left splinters, and hauled herself upright and forward, making her body respond through sheer force of will. She lunged through the narrow crack, stumbling far enough to clear the door before she went down, hitting cold tile in a sprawl. Consciousness fading, she looked back, staring at the thin spray of light that flared through the narrow gap between the door and the frame.
It warped and faded in and out before being sliced by a pair of slender legs diving through, then was erased altogether as the door was slammed shut.
"Em?" Olivia croaked, reaching blindly for her daughter as she lost sight of her in the encroaching shadows. She tried to fight the darkness, tried to remain conscious in order to protect her child, but she'd finally run out of time and energy.
In an instant the world faded away.
* * * * * *