Chapter 5

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The peircing shriek was heard even in the concrete bunker beneath the hill. The three occupants jumped in surprise at the loud sound, for a moment thinking that the creatures were about to break in. Instead their calls faded away and within moments the air was silent.

"What happened?" Jodi asked, staring at the ceiling in puzzlement.

"Sounded like they were chasing something," Nancy said.

Larry hurried over to the periscope and looked out. Most of the area it covered didn't go past the now tattered fence, but he could just see the next hill. As well as an extremely familiar truck trying to outrun a horde of spiders. His eyes widened. "It's Burt!"

"What?" Jodi pushed him out of the way to see for herself, just barely making out the truck and a jumping spider before they disappeared from view.

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Rosalita screamed as the spider landed halfway on the truck, its front legs reaching over the cab and forcing her and Tyler to the floor of the bed. It chattered, opening its strange mouth wide to reveal two long and deadly pincers that extended to the sides. Tyler kicked at it before it had a chance to spit, his foot connecting with the head painfully. It let go only to be immediately replaced with another trying to climb its way on. Scrambling to gain a foothold against the bouncing, Tyler grabbed for Burt's rifle and shot any creature that came too close.

In the cab Burt was having a hard time of his own, struggling to keep the vehicles under control as the continuous loss and gain of the added weight caused it to bounce and threaten to swerve out of control. He glanced back to see Tyler shoot another creature before it landed on the truck, only to run out of bullets and have to club the next one.

"Dammit, Burt!" Tyler shouted, his eyes raking the bed of the truck for more ammo. "What the hell happened to being over-prepared?!"

"Watch out!" both cousins cried out, pulling Burt's attention back to the road in front of him.

Another group of spiders were headed for them, coming from the direction of the lab. One in particular was leaping straight towards the cab. Burt hit the brakes and swerved, narrowly missing the spider and nearly throwing out his back two passengers. He heard Tyler groan something about needing to work on his racing skills and Rosalita snap something less-than-friendly in Spanish.

Burt gunned the motor and shot off again as the two clusters joined together and raced after them.

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Casey shuffled through the kitchen cupboards, trying to find something appetizing for dinner. Although truthfully she wasn't all that hungry. Shortly after Burt's group had left, the radios in the lab suddenly crackled, as if someone was trying to say something but got cut off. Roger had tried to respond but neither of their walkie-talkies were working anymore.

Dead batteries. Of all the deadly, terrifying, or government-conspiracy-related possibilities, it was dead batteries. And they were out of new ones. It was just so normal, Casey almost laughed at the irony. Would have too, if the situation was a little less dire.

The creatures had shown up at that point, trapping the two inside and ruining Roger's initial plan go check on the bunker. They never attacked, thankfully, just milled around the lab lazily.

So for now the scientists were forced to sit, wait, and, in Dr. Matthew's case, worry.

"Uh, Casey, you do know you're looking through cleaning supplies, right?"

"What?" Casey looked up at Roger and then back to the cabinet filled with Windex, bleach, alcohol, and other bottles of extremely non-edible chemicals. She shut the door quickly. "Sorry. Was a little...distracted."

Roger chuckled. "Well, that's a relief. For a moment I thought I'd gone and pissed you off or something."

"No, I'm just-"

"Worried about the ominous radio static?" Roger squeezed her shoulders comfortingly in a one-armed hug. "I'm sure it was nothing. Someone probably just sat on their radio by accident, coincidentally at the time our batteries decided to die. The worst pain they would've felt was a lumpy poke."

Casey smiled slightly, even though she knew he was just trying to make her feel better and didn't believe himself either. He wasn't the best liar around. Probably the worst actually. But he was better at her at remaining calm in a situation like this where they didn't know what was going on.

Roger sighed. "Tell ya what? Why don't you go relax on the couch, maybe watch some crappy TV, I'll whip up some good ol' Beenie Weenies, and then we'll go to bed. Those things are mostly diurnal so they'll be gone by early morning. And we can head over to the bunker first thing. Okay?"

"Beans and hotdogs?" Casey laughed. "What's with you and beany hotdog soup for comfort?"

"Beenie Weenies," Roger corrected. "And because it works. Now shoo, and let the master work."

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Larry woke early the next morning to an insistent knocking. For a moment he couldn't remember why he was in Burt's bunker, but the events of the previous day soon came flooding back and he immediately jumped up and ran to open the door.

"Casey! Roger, what happened to you two, we were trying to get a hold of you for hours after the attack but couldn't and I think the others lost theirs or something 'cause we couldn't get them either and-"

"Larry!" Casey interrupted his nervous rambling. "Breathe! You're talking way too fast and leaving out a few words too, I can barely understand what you're saying."

Larry sucked in a quick breath. "Sorry."

"Now, start from the beginning," Roger suggested. "What about an attack?"

"Okay, so me, Jodi, and Nancy were sitting here, waiting for Burt and the others to come back, when the...Cheeder-mole things started screeching like the-"

"Larry."

"So I looked through the periscope to see what was happening and I saw Burt's truck racing away with all the creatures chasing them. We tried calling them on the radio a bunch a times but we never got a reply except for a short little spurt of static. We tried calling you guys too but you didn't answer either and we thought...ya know..."

"Yeah, sorry about that, our batteries died," Roger said. "We heard the static too but that was it. We weren't sure what had happened."

"You still haven't gotten any reply from them?" Casey asked, her eyes wide with worry.

Larry shook his head.

"Where are the girls?" Roger said, glancing around the empty room.

"Sleeping in Burt's bed," Larry replied with a halfhearted gesture.

"Okay. Casey, you stay here. Larry and I will go out and see if we can't find the others, they've got to be out there somewhere. Call us if you hear anything."

With that the two men hurried back outside to look for their missing friends.

"What do you think happened to them?" Larry asked, a hint of fear in his voice.

Roger sighed. "Honestly? I got no idea."

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