Serial Saturday: Road Trip, Part 19

There was another crack at the door, then a rumble of thunder overhead that drowned out the sound of the next blow as the door burst open, falling half-off the hinges and letting in a waft of cool air. The thing that came through the narrow doorway pushed the remains of the door aside as it squeezed between the edges of the frame. It came forward on two stumpy legs, casting before it with a single trunk-like limb. Its wet flesh was gray and spongy-looking, but it had sharp, jagged protrusions at the end of the arm. It had two horrible eyes above a lipless slash of a mouth.

“Israel, dammit,” JT said. She brought her own shotgun up as Israel finally shook off his torpor and bent to pick up his own.

The Old One’s mouth opened, and JT brought the Winchester to her shoulder. Then something happened, and she found herself staggering to one side as the whole room seemed to tilt and a blinding spike of pain stabbed into her brain. She lurched sideways drunkenly, mouth open in a scream she couldn’t hear.

The room rolled around her as she spun, trying to keep her feet. She caught a glimpse of Israel, curled in a fetal position on the floor, then the Old One itself, coming toward her like it was moving through a strong wind. Another lurch and she felt her back hit the log wall. Laurent held the flute to his mouth, a maniacal and agonized expression on his face around pursed lips. She couldn’t hear what he was playing, exactly, but the sound was still hammering and clawing at her brain, sending bursts of pain down her spine.

They’d always said she was a natural with a gun, and maybe it was that or maybe it was years of experience that had somehow kept her hanging onto the Winchester through it all. She swung it around, closing her eyes for a moment against double vision, then opened them and fired at the Old One lurching toward her. It was only a few steps away, and the whole load of buckshot tore into it, sending out a spray of black fluid and gobbets of gray flesh.

The twelve gauge hadn’t been braced properly, and it kicked up, sending a twinge of pain through her wrist she could barely feel through the other agony, and almost knocking her over. She staggered several steps away from the wall, racking the action by reflex. The whole room spun again, and she fought against her gorge rising at the blurry, doubled sights flashing in front of her.

Then the Old One came into view and she fired again automatically, seeing a large chunk of its arm torn off in the storm of buckshot. It was trying to come at her now, and she had an idea that the flute had stopped its agonizing sound, though it was hard to be sure. She still felt as though hot lead was running from her skull down her spine, and she couldn’t keep the room from lurching crazily. She felt her back hit a wall, possibly the same one she’d hit before, maybe a new one, and pumped the Winchester and fired again. This shot tore straight into the creature’s gaping mouth, and it staggered backward in a splatter of black liquid.

Again, she chambered a round without conscious thought, and fired again. The butt of the shotgun was against her hip this time, and the kick of the gun shoved her to one side. She felt her feet slide out from under her and landed on her knees with a jolt that sent a shot of pain that seemed like it almost took off the top of her head. For a moment, she was bind with the pain, and she’d been deaf since Laurent had played the flute, but she still somehow sensed the Old One coming at her.

Her vision cleared just in time for her to see it, looming over her just a few feet away, ragged, torn, and swaying, but still dangerous. She had time to think that she hadn’t chambered her last round as she squeezed the trigger, but it turned out she had because the gun boomed and the Old One stopped dead and fell.

She tried to rise, but only managed to fall onto her side. The pain was fading just a bit, but she felt like a shell, like she’d been burned empty by acid. It took three tries to get an arm under her and push off the floor, and prop herself up in a seated position against the big table. The Old One seemed to be dead, she could tell that as her vision cleared just a bit, but she still needed to get up, get ready.

Sound was coming back to her, even though it was only a ringing in her ears from the shotgun blasts. The smell of cordite mixed with the stench from the Old One lying a few feet away and the smell of the cabin, and she fought to keep from puking. Getting up wasn’t in the cards–her legs weren’t working just yet–but she still needed to do something. The ringing in her ears had faded enough to hear a crack of thunder, then footsteps approaching from behind her. There was a rattle as he kicked aside one of the plastic shells she’d scattered around the room.

Her hand kept missing her pocket. Slugs in the left pocket–she always put slugs in her left pocket and she knew that even though she couldn’t string two thoughts together. Just like she’d counted her five shots without thinking about it. Buckshot might be better, but she wasn’t up to switching the hand the gun was in so she could get at the right pocket. She looked down at her leg, hoping that if she could watch her hand she could guide the damn thing home, but the swaying doubled image did her no good. A drop of blood hit her leg, joining a stain there, and she wondered where it was coming from.

The footfalls stopped and she looked up, still trying to get a hand in her pocket, so see Laurent staring down at her. He reached down and plucked the shotgun from her hand.

Copyright © 2011 SM Williams

~ by smwilliams on August 13, 2011.