Riley tripped over his feet as he turned. From the ground he could see the hall table legs shudder under his dad’s pounding steps. As he struggled to stand the glass window behind him shattered, sending shards over his head and shoulders and knocking him down. He scrambled backwards as he watched the naked man climb through the window on all fours. The mutt cocked his head from side to side in quick jarring motions, like a bird--then climbed up the walls by placing one hand and one foot on each side of the hallway.
“Uh guys?” Riley called. He couldn’t take his eyes off the man crawling, three feet off the ground, towards him. From his closeness he could see the mutts skin, covered in gapping infected wounds and a large purple bruise in the perfect outline of car tires across his stomach. The creatures nose, pressed flat across its face, a trail of blacked blood hardened across its cheek.
A hand grabbed Riley’s shoulder. He turned to see the Sector-54 girl. “I said run!” she snapped, as she pulled him to his feet and pushed him before her down the hall.
Riley didn’t have time to panic. He needed to get through the back door and find his father. As he focused on running he could hear the mutt climbing after him and Sector-54 as she yelled into her phone.
“Red, he’s found us. Send the chopper.”
Riley stumbled out the back door, whipping his head around, looking for his dad. The far side of the yard, Mr. Kilhan was staking chairs against the fence.
Riley took off down the stairs towards him. When he got to his side, his father tried to lift him over, but he struggled in his dad’s grasp.
“No, you first,” his father warned, giving the ‘don’t argue son’ look.
Riley let his dad give him a boost, but rested on the top of the fence so he could help the other's over. The weight of his father pulled at his shoulder, as the large man used the chairs for steps and Riley as an anchor. Once his father was safely on the other side he reached for Sector 54. The naked man was at her heels.
“Hurry!” Riley shouted.
The mutt dove for her, she jumped and clutched Riley’s hand, using a chair as a foot-hold. Riley fell backwards, the momentum of his weight pulled Sector 54 over the fence. She landed on top of him with a humph and took off after his dad, leaving Riley on the ground.
“Run!” she screamed.
Riley managed to his feet in time to see the mutt break through the wooden fence.
He pushed into a sprint.
Mr. Kilhan was yelling for the people in the street to run. Some went into their houses and closed the doors. Others didn’t move until they saw the crazed naked man running after them.
Riley heard a young child scream. He glanced over his shoulder and saw a boy and his bike in the way of the mutt. He took a few more steps before guilt washed over him. “Keep running dad,” Riley said as he turned around.
By the time he made it to the child, the boy was on the ground with his bike on top of him. The mutt stood over, making slow, bird-like, twisting motions with its head and staring at the frightened boy.
Riley used his momentum, and slammed his shoulder into the mutt, pushing it off the bike. Its fingers, some absent flesh, with sharpened bone protruding, clawed onto Riley’s sleeve and pulled him to the ground. In an inhumanly motion, the mutt twisted and landed over Riley pinning him down.
Riley struggled under his grasp, but the mutt effortlessly held him. He drew close to Riley and sniffed his skin. From out of its opened mouth with chunks of old meat wedged in its teeth came its tongue--a mound of rotten flesh. Riley twisted his head side to side. The creature held him still and slowly licked his cheek. Riley held his breath and tried to turn his face. Time froze, sound stopped, it was just him and the mutt.
The creature snapped his head up, barred its shark-like teeth and let loose a deep throated growl.
A man, dressed in black, with a long metal rod approached from the side. The creature snarled and bared its teeth, taking the odd swing at the man who tried to jab it with the rod.