Black Sun: The Orphaned 2
November 3, 2011 § 1 Comment
She crouched, kneeled, crawled, and even ran through the empty streets of Edgersall. Jaime Dufresne’s black 1940 Mercury was laying on its side, dented, sheet metal rent open. The broken windshield and street near the car were covered in blood, but there were no bodies. Just a wet scrape that trailed off into the dark between flickering lamps. Those that still worked.
Elizabeth clutched Dave’s shotgun. She’d used up all the deer slugs, but it still could serve as a club if any of the black bug things found her. They seemed to be spreading out, from the old road that led downhill to the mine in an ever increasing circle of screaming and the sounds she couldn’t make herself think about. Gunfire, dull thuds, loud banging sounds, all of them unwelcome to her in the tight, painful rictus cut across her face. She could only think about her mother, who had been at the mine working late when the world decided to show another side.
Once Elizabeth had found a dead dog on the side of the road leading out of town. Before that day, that road had always seemed magical to her, the way out of the tiny, even cramped town she’d grown up in. She had been too young to understand why a dog would lie like that. Too young to understand someone had run it down, too young to know that turning the dog over would reveal decay, slimy fur, and bugs eating away at its face. It was no longer a dog, it was just food for things that dug and squirmed their way through it, tunneling.
She had never forgotten that moment, where life showed her what it was. She was feeling it again, now. It had taken her father, lost years before when the tunnels he made had collapsed on him. It had taken Dave, dead with a frying pan in his hand bashing at the stone facets of their horrible black eyes. She would not, could not let it take her mother the same way.
A burning house to her left provided cover as she ran through the big intersection where Edgersall’s Main Street met Jacoby Avenue. She had no idea why it was named that, but she remembered last week, with Dave and her mother dragging her to watch television at Ol Man Murray’s house along with half the town. They’d watched grainy, wavy, indistinct pictures of men in all white suits stepping down a ladder, and Dave had hissed in a breath when one of them jumped down awkwardly. It didn’t look like anything special to her, but her mom had clutched her hand and looked at her with bright eyes.
“The moon. The moon, baby.”
Running faster now, her breath streaming out of her mouth in the cold air, she wished she could go back and watch it again. The town became a series of orange glows behind her.
It took five minutes of hard running to make her way down the road to the mine. It became a dirt road half of the way, her feet kicking up clods of earth and dust, but she didn’t slow down. She’d thought about running track at the county amalgamated school, but hadn’t felt confident enough. She only owned four sets of clothes, really, and tried her best not to stand out in the crowd. Sophomore year had terrified her before. It seemed ludicrous now how she had been afraid of girls her own age, of their sniggering behind their hands, at their perfect hair and teeth and how grubby and angular she felt next to them.
Now, being afraid to run was nothing compared to how afraid she was to stop.
She could see the big light towers well before she could see the mine entrance. There were trucks parked around, and she felt hot acid spit fill her mouth at the sight of Ethan Kellar’s International flipped over into a ditch. She saw a flash of something pale sticking out from under it and did not stop to look. Fear crawled up her spine by inches and forced her legs to pump the gravel road.
She had to get to her mother.
She had to find her mother, she had to. There wasn’t anything else for her to do. She didn’t care about anyone else.
She crested the hill in a panting, trembling fury that felt like it would shake her apart piece by piece and saw, before she even heard, the bloom of red and black and orange that caused her to lose her footing. Her hands flew forward, ripping the skin from her palms to keep her face from eating sharp little rocks, and she keened in surprise. The legs of her jeans took most of the scraping for her, but she wouldn’t have noticed if her legs had been flayed to the bone.
In the quarried out circled terrace of land in front of the mine entrance, the bugs were pouring out. And in front of them, what looked like a man with great burning wings and tendrils of fire streaming off of him gestured, and a huge flaming fist crashed into the center of the wave of skittering black. She could feel the rush of heat wash over her from where she lay prone on the ground, still holding Dave’s shotgun.
She could see some of them twirling up into the air, some even looked melted or crushed. Another burning fist, and another, and another rained down on them but there were always more and the man with wings was forced to give ground, to back away. Elizabeth could see bodies, people’s bodies, and somehow that managed to reach past the pure disbelief and forced her to stand up and run towards what could not be happening.