Three-hundred and ninety days, Three-hundred and ninety-one nights. I don’t need to watch over my shoulder, I just stay ready to fight at any moment. I tried running at first. I didn’t know what they really were yet; I just knew that they’re not human. I hurt one of them with what would have been a fatal blow to a person. He shrugged off the chair leg sticking through his chest and kept coming at me. Was it bad that I was the only one who seemed to see them for what they really were?
They called themselves “Scions”. I looked it up once and it meant descendant of power or a plant that was spliced. Since they seemed more demonic than plant like, The type of fern wasn’t applicable. The first time I saw them, they looked normal sitting in the restaurant. I barely noticed them they were so bland. They were just two couples, sitting with their food in front of them except none of them were talking, none of them were eating. They sat like a plastic doll family in their booth. Nothing creepy at all here folks.
For twenty-two years I lived a normal life, with a normal mom, a normal house, and more importantly normal friends. I even kept my hair the strawberry blonde that brought on years of grade school teasing. Twenty-one of those years, I spent in the same town. We never visited anywhere because mom was convinced everything we needed was right there. I had my volunteer work at the animal rescue, my friends who had also been born and raised there, and the handful of stores I visited regularly. When I was old enough to understand the concept of bills and responsibility, I knew why she didn’t like leaving town. She was a single mom on a teacher’s salary. I never saw Nashville except on TV until I graduated college. Mom just bought a house near mine. She had empty nest problems. If I took a job in France she would have suddenly had the urge to get a house there. Though she never left her house except for food and essentials. Mom’s ideas of adventure stopped at the front door of her house.
I was eating dinner with co-workers, trying to unwind after a long day. The fact that today was my birthday came a close second to it being payday. I never really saw the sense in celebrating birthdays. They usually led to poor decisions and crappy gifts that never fit. The restaurant wasn’t anything fancy, but it was convenient. It had the cheap booths of every chain restaurant, the dark carpet meant to hide spills, and the overly friendly wait staff. For the budget I had lately, that was a good thing. I knew my co-workers wouldn’t let me pay, but I learned to never expect them to do it. Expectations had been a downfall for me through most of my life. If I planned it, it failed in the most spectacular way. The place did have the comfortable setting of a small town restaurant though. Maybe if I stuck around another year the entire staff would know me by name. Even with the warmth of the food and all the bodies packed in, I kept getting chills. I kept feeling like something was tapping me on the shoulder but there was only a wall behind me. I was getting creeped out enough to start thinking about going home alone. It was two blocks from here. I tried to blame it on the drink, except I hadn’t touched it yet.
The server brought me my birthday dessert with some sparklers embedded in the middle throwing sparks and light in every direction. It pushed the ill feeling and dark thoughts away. I watched as all six co-workers sang their version of happy birthday.
George was still wearing his tie; each martini he drank seemed to magically loosen it a bit. Mike was already in playboy mode, flipping his sandy blonde hair casually, just in case no one noticed before how great his hair and features were. He alternated flirting with the waitresses and with Shelby. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I had a better chance at dating Shelby than he did. His ego couldn’t take it. Richard was our designated driver. He always volunteered to do that. I never worked up the courage to ask him why. Tony was laid back, but in a very confident way. I couldn’t say I was completely immune to him. I must have done a passable act though, he never seemed to notice. Maybe that was what I liked about him. The new guy was hard to read. He didn’t talk very much and had this way of looking through people. Psychopathic, maybe, but people that had his talent tended to move up the ranks fast. They sang so terribly it was funny. Before they finished their extended versions, a striking black-haired woman in the back of the row of servers moved just a little, making a gap in the group.
The light from my sparklers reflected off an old gas lamp hung on the wall for decoration. The light wasn’t necessarily brighter coming out of the glass bell shape of the lamp but more focused. The two couples were illuminated for just a moment. When the light reached them, they no longer looked normal. They went from thirty year old’s in all white-collar clothes, to something dark and wrong looking. Their muscles were too prominent, their faces no longer had pleasant smiles but were flattened with minimal skin showing and a black sinew mask topped with shocking white hair. They made my worst nightmares as a kid seem pretty by comparison. I glanced quickly around the room, a couple of well-dressed Hispanic men, a few black men with important looking suits, a few families here and there. Everything normal. I looked back where the light had focused and watched as the brunette with the mom jeans on, smiled in my direction. Instead of looking like a friendly smile though, it looked more like one of the animal programs showing fear and menace on the face of a predator.
I would like to say my escape was smooth with me slipping out of the bathroom unseen or some other slick move you see in the movies. I really wish I could, but the last things my co-workers saw of me was all ass and elbows with me screaming about monsters. I hit the door before anyone could react, knocking some poor older man down. I screamed apologies as I ran. My heart was racing; running had never been my strong suit. I knew the best thing to do when you felt threatened was to get out of that situation if you could. I just wasn’t very good at it. I was always better at grappling. I kept my stride though; I had to make it to my house before those things could catch me. I’m not sure how I knew they were there to get me, or why I suddenly threw scientific thought out the window and believed they were real. I spotted my pretty yellow starter home three houses away and I poured on the speed. I got to my house not sure if I had imagined all of it or just ate one of Louis Carroll’s magic mushrooms by mistake with my meal.
Mom jeans jumped through the sliding glass door and onto my shoulders before I even saw her. The glass seemed to be as much a deterrent as rice paper. Though I could see cuts covering both her fake and real body, her blood seemed to only fill in the now semitransparent body and the real body underneath re-knitting the black oozing sinew back together. There were flecks of glass in the tuft of white hair on the crown of her head. She held me to the floor with more strength than the MMA fighter that taught our last self-defense class. With her body mass, there was no logical reason for her to have this much leverage or strength against my shoulders. I couldn’t get my shoulders off the floor while she held them. I was tall for a woman at six-foot one, but I wasn’t all muscular, more comfortable than anything.
She let up on my right shoulder to reach back a hand that looked perfectly manicured on the outside and like a comic characters claws on the sinew inner body. I knew if she hit me with one of those I wouldn’t have to worry about getting any crow’s feet. I used what I knew of mass and balance and spun my hips out and kicked the bulk of my mass away from her. I’m glad my mom insisted I take so many martial arts classes. I just never thought I would need them for something belonging on a movie screen. You know, more of a bad guy in the bushes kind of thing. The Scion’s hand slipped from my shoulder and I was loose. I rolled until I was out of her range and jumped up as fast as I could. She struck where I was before, and put her hand into the wood floor beneath. I ran two steps into the kitchen and started throwing knives from the knife block. Most of the knives hit her flat or with the handle, but somehow my big chef knife did what the other eight couldn’t and sank deep in her shoulder. She flopped on the floor and I ran smiling, in spite of my fear, for being able to hurt her at all.
I grabbed my car keys and a broken wood leg that was left over from my co-workers rough-housing. I’m glad I didn’t fix it yet. I almost got my phone out to call the police, but realized what it would sound like. “Hello nine one one, there are these demons from hell trying to kill me. Can you send someone to get them, maybe animal control or something?” I decided it was better to get some clothes and valuables and run like hell.
I heard two distinct crashes on opposite sides of the house before I could take a step. One was next to my bedroom, the other in the laundry room. I turned and saw the Scion that attacked me first, was still lying on the ground but clearly removing the knife bit by bit. The grimace, on her horrid features, made her look even more like a nightmare with her teeth sharpened to points and gleaming with spit. I sprinted as fast as my legs would carry me, jumping out of her reach, to get to the garage.
I ran down the hall looking back to make sure she wasn’t following me. I was in luck, she was still struggling with the knife. I bounced off one of the males chests as he dropped from the attic door next to the laundry room. My momentum helped bury the wooden leg of the chair into his chest deep enough that I know it was sticking out of the back as well. I was planning to use it like a baton, but I guess that works too. I scrambled to get back up but instead of falling dead he kept charging me like the drug-filled people you see on the cop shows. Nothing told his brain that he was dead and his body kept moving though slower now with his left arm not doing much except hanging there. He dove for me and I ducked back down letting him go over my head. The wood of the chair leg struck me in the scalp with its jagged edge. I could feel the blood running from the spot but not the pain. Adrenaline don’t fail me now. The Scion in the kitchen was getting back to her feet, I could hear the sound of claws on the hardwood floor. Then a gravely shriek behind me that was barely speech at all screaming, “Get the last. She is going to the carriage room.”
I made it to the door in a full sprint with only a light jacket, my purse, and car keys. Thank God I wore flats today. I pressed the button to unlock the car as I hit the garage, and pushed the garage door opener button at the same time. The dull light of the garage door opener gave me just enough sight to pick out my car from the things I never got around to unpacking. The garage door was less than half up when several things happened at the same time. I turned the keys and pressed the start button, the door I just ran through was ripped from its frame, horrid screams of rage filled the space echoing in my head, and another dark figure crouched under the garage door as it was opening further. I threw my car in reverse and stomped the gas to the floor, it spun for a heartbeat on the smooth floor as three figures bounded toward the car like they didn’t have to worry with things like gravity. The one behind me jerked her head up at the sound of my tires squealing on the cement. She tried to jump up to attack, but my wheels caught and the car spun out of the garage. She collided with the back of my car with a crunching thud and the sound of ripping sheet metal. That wasn’t going to be covered on my insurance. My precious little red Mini wasn’t going to look pretty with black ooze and claw marks in the lower trunk area.