I stand motionless, my breath coming in ragged shallow gasps. The only things I can afford to move are my eyes. I know it’s out there, somewhere close, and to move is to die.
Anna stands around 20 yards ahead of me and risks a furtive glance over her shoulder to where I am standing. I can see what she is thinking – we are so close – could we risk running for it? Within a matter of seconds we could be back behind the heavy steel door, safe, warm and with bags of scavenged food to appease our hungry bellies.
I know better.
I fix her with an earnest look and slowly, almost imperceptibly, shake my head. The stalkers are too fast, too powerful – but their vision is poor and they mostly hunt by movement. Better to stay frozen and wait for it to pass in search of other prey.
There is a rattle from the rubble behind me as a stone is dislodged. I fight the impulse to turn and look with every ounce of willpower I possess. It can’t be more than 10 feet away. From this distance I can now hear its breathing. Long, deep, slow breaths – exhaling the stench of carrion with a foul hiss.
Anna’s eyes widen. In many respects I am lucky in that I cannot see the thing standing directly behind me – searching the area for signs of warm living flesh to tear and devour. She is not so fortunate – and she cannot turn away from the monstrosity making its way towards us.
The sound of more stones falling from the ruins of the old school as the creature makes its way down onto the cracked, weed torn tarmac where I stand.
It is coming.
I hold my breath and pray silently that my death will be swift. I know that it won’t be, but that does not stop me praying. I feel the fetid breath on the back of my neck and prepare myself to die.
Anna’s nerve breaks. She hurls her sack of salvage high into the air and off to the left and starts to run towards the safety of the shelter. Tin cans jangle and bounce across the floor as the plastic bag splits open.
The creature pauses for only a moment as it tracks both targets before identifying the running woman as the more promising meal and leaps past me.
It moves impossibly fast for something of its size. It covers the distance to Anna in mere seconds, before she has managed to make another 5 yards progress towards safety.
She screams defiantly at first as its mass hurls her to the floor. Those screams soon change to those of terror and pain as it slowly begins to consume her.
I watch for over half an hour as it eats her. She is alive for the first twenty minutes. I cannot avert my eyes. I cannot move.
A single tear rolls from my right eye as I watch my wife slowly torn apart by the monster. The tear falls and splashes on the ruined tarmac below my feet.
The creature slowly turns its head towards me.
©2009 Graeme Reynolds
Graeme Reynolds is a 38 year old software tester and horror author. You can read his work on his homepage http://www.graemereynolds.com