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Eric Watson: When the Bough Breaks

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"Get to the car!" Eric screamed, his feet travelling at a speed he never realised he was capable of. "NOW!"

Carmen, Zachery and Lena didn't need to be told – they were already running faster than their own feet could carry them. Their breaths were fast and chaotic. The world around them dashed by in blurs.

Growls and the rustling of grass surrounded them. The monsters in the trees were beginning to pour out from the shadows, like a wound had been opened and blood was slowly trickling out. Eric tried to keep his eyes on the car that was a few hundred feet away from them, but his eyes drifted.

His balance shook as his eyes strayed, but the loud, vicious noises overpowered his ability to stay focused. The growls scratched at his eyes and compelled him to look.

The monsters were of all sizes – some small, some tall, some thin, some large. Some of them ran while others walked. The slower ones stalked with a hunched demeanour and a snarl. Talons were dragged along the floor or raised mid-air, ready for contact with flesh. Their dark, translucent skin made it harder for Eric to see their faces, but some light reflected on their eyes, making them glow a haunting shade of apple red.

While they were all different, they all had something in common – a desperate hunger for blood. Eric continued to run as fast as he could, the space between him and the car getting shorter and shorter. Carmen panted behind him but kept up, despite obvious pain from the wound she received from the Ripper. Lena and Zachery ran hand in hand, terrified by the monsters and oblivious to the fact that they had been chased by them before.

The fastest of the creatures was almost at the car. Eric, with the axe in his hand, held it firmly and braced himself for some kind of fight. The creature flew over the bonnet of the car and ran straight for Eric.

A sense of dread spread through Eric's veins, and a voice in his head was ready to acknowledge that this was the end. Still, a fire of fight kept Eric from fleeing, and when the creature was too close for comfort, he swung the axe.

Perfectly timed, the axe sliced through the air and cut through the creature's chest. Eric kept the axe going down and almost tore the creature in two, before it burst into smoke and dust.

The shock did not stop Eric from running. He ran through the ash of the creature's remains and reached the car. Another of the creatures was blocking his way to the driver's door, so like an experienced hunter, he swung the axe and vanquished another.

The others scrambled into the car as Eric was the last to slam his door shut. He pulled out the keys and ignited the engine. Apocalyptic thoughts consumed his mind. He realised that, with the barrier down, nobody in Lakefield View was safe anymore, and the death count was sure to rise far more rapidly than it had been the past week.

With creatures reaching the car, Eric put it in reverse and drove backwards. The car was slow at first, and talons bumped and scraped the hood, but as it picked up speed, a gap formed between them and the beasts.

"This is the end, right?!" Carmen yelled through fast breaths. She couldn't quite catch her breath after non-stop sprinting. She held onto the door of the car to keep from falling forward.

Eric couldn't reply or look at her. His eyes remained on the creatures in front of him, thrashing their arms. The headlights on the car shone on them, making it easier for the people inside the car to see what their faces looked like, and wished they didn't look.

Just as they were taking in the fine gnarly details of their faces, the creatures closest to the car suddenly screamed and burst into ash. Cries rang out from all around them as hundreds of the monsters buckled over and blew up. The barrier on the edge of town rippled like the waves of the ocean, and for a moment, everybody inside the car felt like they were drowning.

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