Under the Blackened Sun...part 4

Under the Blackened Sun…part 4
The Sleeper Arc: 1

“Must….keep…feeding…if I don’t stop….then she can’t hear me. All this blood…all this flesh…to ease the pain….the pain that I can’t feel. Omnipotence…omnipotence…(hack). How can I feel this pain? What is pain……? The truth must be found. The truth is inside.”

A crouching figure lifted its head from its meal to sniff the air.

“(Hack) Carnage. The Sleep. Calling…”

The figure lifted itself to its feet with a jerking motion and dashed off on all fours.

“Excuse me, um…” stammered Michelle, “Mr., um….”

“No need for names right now,” said the man, not even turning around to face Michelle, “No more talking either unless necessary. Once we’re safe at my place, it’ll be ok to talk.”

Michelle nodded her head dejectedly. The two continued along the upward, rocky path through the woods. The trail was full of holes and invading tree roots, which caused Michelle to stumble every now and then.

Every few seconds the man would stop, open his compass, and look around the woods, then continue on the path.

“Why does he keep doing that?” wondered Michelle, “I hope we’re not lost.”

Suddenly the man held up his hand and stopped. Michelle nearly ran into him.

“Get under cover, now,” he ordered quietly. Swiftly, the man dove behind a large boulder on the side of the path. Michelle leapt after him and slid to the ground next to him.

“This isn’t good enough,” the man whispered, “Follow me.” He flattened himself down on his stomach and began to drag himself down the hill. Michelle followed suit and he led her to a sudden drop in the ground. He lowered himself down to the ground below them and helped Michelle down next. The two sat down and pressed their backs up against the natural wall behind them.

Instantly, the man began to cover himself in dirt and leaves.
“Hurry up,” he urged, “It’ll smell you!”

Michelle grabbed handful of dirt and leaves from the ground and rubbed it all over her body. The man and she continued to do this until he abruptly stopped her.

“Not a sound,” the man breathed. The two sat motionless; the only sounds Michelle could hear were the wind and her own heartbeat.

A moment later, she heard a great sniffing noise, as if some creature were trying to sniff the very life, the very essence out of what it was smelling. A shriek pierced the air and Michelle heard great feet pound the ground at a good pace, heading straight towards them.

Michelle turned to the man with wide, tearing eyes. The man shook his head and gave her a look of mingled fear and rage.

The creature drew closer and came to a sudden stop. Michelle heard grunting noises and a gurgling retching sound. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the wall.

The creature, or whatever it was, was advancing slowly by the sound of its footsteps. The man quietly drew his pistol from its holster. The creature stopped just before the small cliff. For a few seconds, all was quiet; not even the wind dared to breathe.

Suddenly, a massive claw swept down and slashed at Michelle’s legs. The man instantly put his hand over her mouth as she was struck. Michelle cried out in pain, but her scream was muffled only somewhat by the man’s hand.

The claw swung down again and this time grasped Michelle’s leg! Michelle screamed out as she was lifted from her hiding place. She was lifted into the air upside down to face a gruesome monster.

The monster was a dripping mess; from its body oozed a black bile. Its limbs were elongated beyond the normal length of a human’s and it held Michelle aloft in a hand that ended in sharp claws instead of fingers. Michelle screamed out again as its black eyes eyed her hungrily. It opened its mouth to reveal rows of small fangs stained crimson with blood.

With a mighty yell, the man jumped out from his cover, pistol drawn. The monster ignored him and drew Michelle towards his mouth. The man aimed carefully and shot the monster’s forearm. The monster dropped Michelle and recoiled with a roar. The shot from the pistol echoed loudly through the woods.

The monster breathed in deeply through its nose, turning its head about in an attempt to find its assailant. With a screech of delight, it leapt at the man. The man rolled to his right to dodge and landed upright on one knee. He aimed once again and fired another shot. This one hit the monster in the back of the head and the dripping thing hit the ground instantly.

The man sighed and got to his feet.

“That could’ve been much worse,” he said, “If these things weren’t blind, we’d be-”

He was cut off as the creature rose to its feet with a shriek. The man stumbled back and fired a wild shot as the creature overtook him. He was thrown to the ground with the monster on top of him, clawing at his body madly. The man covered himself as best he could from the assault.

“What do I do? What do I do?” wondered Michelle as she watched the monster maul the man. She turned her head to the left, wondering if she could escape.

“I’m so scared!” she exclaimed in her mind. Tears streamed down her face as she sat, unmoving.

A warmness suddenly spread throughout her body. She closed her eyes, grit her teeth, and ran forward at the monster. With all of her might, Michelle slammed her fists down onto the creature’s back.

Her attack caused no damage to the monster, but was enough to draw his attention for a second. The monsters spun around and smacked Michelle with the back of its claw. Michelle was knocked to the ground and landed on her padded behind.

The monster turned back to the man and opened its mouth wide, emitting a gut-wrenching screech. The pause had bought the man all the time he needed. He lifted his gun and shoved it into the creature’s mouth. He fired a single shot and the creature slumped down onto him. The man groaned and slid out from underneath the monster.

The man painstakingly lifted himself to his feet and walked over to Michelle. His face and arms were covered in slash marks, but it seemed no major damage had been done. Michelle was covered in bile and brains. She retched, but managed to hold back her vomit. She frantically wiped the bile and brains from her body as she got to her feet.

“Are you alright?” the man asked her, breathing heavily.

“I should be asking you that,” Michelle said.

“Well, bad news. We killed the Sniffer, but my gunshots have most likely alerted every zombie within a mile to our position,” said the man grimly, “We still have at least a mile and a half to go, and even when we get closer, it’s going to be tricky.”

Michelle bit her lip in fear. But the sudden warmness from before filled her body once again and gave her courage.

“I promise I won’t hold you back,” Michelle said firmly.

“Good answer,” said the man with a crooked smile, “If you’re ready, let’s get on the move again.”

The two found their way to the path once again and continued upwards. After five minutes of climbing, the road finally evened out. The man stopped. They had come to a fork in the road.

The man whipped out his compass and kneeled down to the ground, placing his compass upon the dirt trail.

“Magnetic field’s being disrupted,” said the man, “This thing’s of no use for now. What perfect timing. Well, the left path seems to be leading us eastward, so it’d be our best bet to take that one. Can’t risk cutting through the woods. C’mon, let’s go. Stay sharp.”

The man led the way towards the left path.

Yellow eyes watched from behind a thicket…