Chapter Two (Complete! 11th Oct 04, 4:11pm)
(Last Edited on 12th Oct, 4:32pm. Number of Edits: 4)
Harry reached up, touched his head. His hand came away sticky and wet. Blood. What just happened to him? Had it all been a dream? He sat up with a start, remembering suddenly the skinless body clutching onto him, the tiny white bodies coming towards him, laughing in darkness, and the pain. The pain was incredible! He reached down and felt around his white shirt under the brown bomber jacket. Nothing. No blood, no pain, no stab wounds. He breathed a sight of relief and realised he was in strange surroundings. He had been lying on his back on a leather seat of a booth in some kind of restaurant. A few tables, chairs, a counter at the far end. How had he gotten here?
He let his eyes slowly adjust to the bright white light coming in the window behind him. He looked out, saw the thick suffocating fog was still there. But it wasn't dark, it was light out again. And, was it snowing? Sure enough has Harry stared out the window he watched tiny snowflakes fall though the white mist and settle lightly onto the black road and melt away to nothing. It wasn't settling on the ground but the fact that it was snowing was strange enough. It was august! He stood up from the leather couch and tried to piece his mind together. He remembered the cop's bike discarded along the road, the woman in blue shielding her face as she stepped out in front of him. That woman, dressed like she had just stepped out of the 50's, had he hit her? Was she fleeing the town because of some catastrophic event that had made everyone evacuate? So far she was the only person he had seen to have any connection with the town, besides the corpse in the alley if that had been real, which he had started to doubt. And then after swerving the Jeep to miss her he had gone over the cliff. What happened after that? Did he dream the whole alley in his unconscious state?
The bell at the entrance to the restaurant jingled and the door opened simutaniously. Harry suddenly tensed himself, expecting a man to walk in with no skin and no eyes or something like that. He cursed his vivid imagination as a pretty blonde woman entered the diner instead, gently closing the glass door behind her in another dingle of the bell above it. She was wearing black leather biking pants and a leather jacket to match, and held a white helmet in one had. He immediately recognized her as the police officer who had passed him on the road last night! The officer who minutes later had discarded her bike recklessly for some unknown reason. Harry breathed a sigh of relief to see another living person in town and watched her cross to the counter, place her helmet down and strip off her leather jacket revealing a dark blue cop shirt with a badge and a pair of big round sunglasses sticking out of her shirt pocket. She noticed him then, and with a smile walked towards Harry the same way a woman would walk up to a small lost child to ask him where his mother is. She folded her arms, still wearing leather gloves, and inspected him closely.
"How are you feeling?" She asked. Her tone startled Harry. It was reassuring, the first thing that actually made sense to him in this crazy town since he'd gotten here. He looked at her delicate features for a few seconds, formulating a response. How was he feeling? He had no idea. But she was patient, Harry noticed her blink blue eyes at him and flick a blonde strand over her ear. Susan used to do that.
"Like i've been run over by a speeding truck I guess." He finally replied. "But i think i'm okay. One hell of a hangover." He rubbed his head, feeling a swelling lump just under the hairline.
"Glad to see you're up and about. You've been there for a couple hours. I found you just outside lying in the road, looks like you took a nasty bump." She gestured to his small head wound Harry got from the crash, then turned around and took a seat on one of the barstools, crossing her legs. "You from around here?" she asked him. "Why don't you tell me what happened. I saw you on the road, right?"
Harry nodded, and took a seat beside her, ready to tell his tale. "I'm just a tourist" he began, remembering that he was actually here on vacation. Some vacation. "I came here for a vacation with my daughter. After you passed me last night, a woman stepped out in front of my Jeep. I swerved to miss her, went over the cliff. That's pretty much all of it." He decided he liked this young cop and certainly didn't want to scare her off with insane stories of dead bodies getting up and naked children stabbing him in the darkness of some weird other dimension. "I don't know how I got outside this diner." he added, truthfully. How had he gotten outside? Was he stumbling around in the dark last night, his mind making up the images he'd seem before collapsing on the road? The cop seemed to accept his story, he watched her ease up a little. She must have thought he was driving drunk or something.
She nodded to him, and then turned her neck to look out the window. "The town..." she started to say, more to herself than to Harry. "What's going on in this town? Strange fog covering everything, not a person in sight..." She trailed off and looked at him, locking her eyes with his in a serious gesture. "And i've seen some things out there that defy explanation. I was coming here in response to a distress call we received last night, but when i got here the town was deserted. Look at this diner," she waved her hands guesturing to the empty interior of the room. "It's usually packed in here with people at all times. What is going on here? I can't get my head around it."
"I'm afraid I don't have any answers." Harry replied to her questioning gaze. "I think i might have seen some strange things too." He started thinking about the alley again, and the creatures at the end. Maybe it actually had happened. Maybe she had seen something strange too. His thoughts suddenly turned to Cheryl. His daughter was still out there somewhere, lost and possibly in danger. "Hey, have you seen a little girl in the town anywhere?" he asked the cop. "Short black hair, blue dress, seven years old. My daughter, she was with me in the Jeep and i'm sure she's out there somewhere by herself.."
She cut him off abruptly. "Sorry, the only person i've seen in this town is you." She bit her lip, obviously holding back from saying anything that might upset Harry. "What's your name?" asked the cop.
"Harry. Harry Mason."
"Cybil Bennett. I'm a police officer from Brahams, the neighboring town over the mountain." She stood up and grabbed her jacket, started to put it back on. "Look. The phones here are all dead, and my radio too. I'm going to head back to Brahams, call in some reinforcements. Whatever is going on here is beyond my capabilities. You'd best stick around here until I get back."
"Now way," said Harry, jumping up off the stool. "I have to find my daughter. She's out there somewhere, alone. And she doesn't even have a jacket. Have you noticed the snow? It's freezing out there."
"No Harry," said Cybil, putting one leather glove against his chest. "It's dangerous out there, trust me. I don't think anyone should be wondering alone. I'm sure your daughter will be fine, but i'd feel better if you'd wait until I get back."
Harry flashed her a look of anger, and moved away from the young cop. "If it's dangerous out there then I have to find her now! Cheryl is my little girl, I can't just leave her out there by herself!"
Cybil sighed in defeat. She nodded at him reluctantly. "Well, you'd best stick around this area. I wont be gone long. I hope you find your daughter Harry, I really do."
"Thanks." Harry started for the glass restaurant door, side stepping passed a table with a partially eaten meal on it. Whatever happened to the people in this town, it obviously happened very suddenly.
"Wait a second Harry." said Cybil behind him. Harry turned to face her. "Do you have a gun, or anything like that?" He shook his head, and Cybil unbuttoned a holster on her hip, took a small pistol out from it, and put it on the table besides the moldy abandoned meal. "Take this. I have another one. And just hope that you don't have to use it, okay?"
Harry reached over and snatched up the weapon from the table. He had never even held a gun before, and here was this police officer handing him one knowing full well the situation they had been plunged into may force him to use it on something. The dead weight of the steel in his hand made him feel more than a little uncomfortable. He read on the side of it that it was a Berretta M-90, standard police issue firearm.
"Hold's 15 rounds in a clip." Said Cybil as if she had read his questioning thoughts. "Just remember, before you pull the trigger, know your target. Don't shoot unless you really have to, the clip is full but there's no more than the 15 in there. And don't go blasting me by mistake. This is very much against regulation Harry but i think the situation calls for drastic actions. I'll collect it from you when I get back."
"Thanks Cybil." Harry replied to her, thankful for the quick drill. He held the gun up and aimed out the window, starting to feel a little better about the weapon. Small demonic child-like creatures with daggers had better think twice before messing with him now!
"Take care Harry. I'll see you in a few hours or so." And with that, Cybil opened the restaurant door and closed it behind her, the chime of bells reminding Harry that he was once again alone in this creepy nightmare. At least he was armed now. He heard the roar of an engine starting outside, and then her bike was gone into the distance, the fog swallowing the noise.
Harry was about to follow behind her when something caught his eye wear Cybil had been sitting. As he draw nearer he realised it was her radio. Black and sleek with a large antennae and big red button on the side. he picked it up and pushed the button but as he suspected it didn't work. He didn't even get static out of it. Well no matter, she would be able to pick it up when she got back, he thought. Harry turned his back to the radio and started for the door.
Buzzzzzzt! The radio suddenly burst to life with a quick crackle of static, startling Harry. He hopped back over to where it lay and picked it up again, frowing. It was silent again. "Mm.." he mused to himself. "What's going on with this radio?" No sooner had he said anything the radio burst to life again with another crackle of static. He tried to use it, maybe to talk to someone or hear any incoming transmission, but all he could get was static.
CRASH! The far window at the other side of the restaurant burst inward like something big that been thrown into it. Harry stood deadly still as the glass settled to the tiled floor. Silence again. Nothing outside, nothing came in but small flakes of snowy melting on the window ledge. The radio crackled and spewed out static white noise from the floor, he hadn't even realised he'd dropped it.
CRASH! This time it was the window right beside him! Harry caught a glimpse of something pink and big as he dived to the floor covering his head. The glass splashed over his hands and jacket and he jumped to his feet, wildly searching for the cause of the disturbance. And there it was, perched onto of a chair besides the window that had just smashed was a monstrous bird, bigger than he was! Harry stared at it in disbelief. It looked like it's skin had been burnt off, globs of sticky goo slowly peeled off it's gleaming exposed flesh. It squarked at him and stretched it's impossible wings out as Harry backed away from the abomination. He saw the wings were made of leathery skin stretched over the bones of it's arm, connected to it's waist. It opened it's huge bony beak and let another sharp squark rip, showing Harry that it's beak did indeed have alot of sharp teeth enclosed as he feared.
Suddenly it was flapping, squarking and coming right for him. Harry was in a state of shock, he had never seen anything like this, this monster before and had no idea how to react. Then he realised it was no more than a foot away from him and he jumped back to avoid it's lunging claws. To late, one of the creatures massive black talons sliced across the back of his hand as he raised it to defend his face. Blood immediately started dripping from the gaping wound and Harry realised the bird meant to have him for lunch. He didn't think, he raised the handgun, and fired.
The shot missed entirely, smashing into a picture frame at the far side of the diner. He recoil suprised him and it took him to long to aim another shot, the monster was flapping it's hideous wings right above him, preparing to strike at his eyes. It squarked again and Harry closed his eyes in disbelief from the horrible mutation, ready to feel the sting of his eyes being gouged out by it, and fired the handgun. He heard the shot rip through flesh and fired again. The creature fell to the floor beside him crashing through a table and flapped around in pain like a fish bouncing on the deck of a ship. Without thinking Harry raised his boot and brought it down over it's head. It crunched and yellowish fluids splashed across his boot and over the floor, merging with the red puddles blood from his hand wound. The creature stopped moving, dead.
Harry threw up all over it.
Picture: Bird Creature
Edited by BurnSide, 12 October 2004 - 10:22 PM.