The Fallowing – The Third, Part V
by Steppen Sawicki
Sorry for the lack of updates. I’ve been working feverishly on my second novel. But I haven’t forgotten about this craziness.
Novel: Occult Adventure
I left him there with snow packed on his eye and returned to the back of the house. I stomped a path back and forth, fuming all the while. How dare he say that to me? This fight was every bit as much mine as it was his. He fully deserved that black eye.
I heard the door open behind me, but it was only Cassie. Still I spun around so fast that she jumped.
“I heard shouting,” she said. “And gunshots.”
“Then why are you out here?” I shot back.
“If it’s his face, I know.” I sighed, trying to calm down. “I was the one who hurt him.”
Her eyes opened wide. “Why?”
“He said things he shouldn’t have said.”
“But I thought you two were working together.”
“I thought so too,” I mumbled. Then to her, I said as gently as I could manage “Go back inside. And don’t come out this time, okay?”
She nodded and retreated back into the warmth of the house.
I looked down. I had worn a nice track in the snow, stomping back and forth. I had rarely asked about Sam before, assuming that if he didn’t want to tell me it was none of my business. He could have answered this one time instead of throwing a fit. I didn’t get it.
I heard something moving in the trees, shaking branches, and I set my torch on it. I could see nothing at first, could only hear the shifting of snow.
Then I saw it.
But I didn’t understand it.
It looked like a dog, or close enough to a dog to say so. But it wasn’t a dog. I saw its eyes reflect in the torchlight, and then it yawned. It yawned wider and wider until I thought its jaw would snap. But then from inside its mouth came another, as if this was being vomited up whole. The mouth fell away, fell from around this new creature, like a snake shedding its skin. This one vomited out another dog-thing that was identical but marginally closer to me. This new one yawned with a low growl, and in that mouth was another.
This was how it crept towards me.
I shot at it, and the bullets did nothing to stop it. In fact, it vomited out another, projecting it towards me. That one hit the ground and threw up one more, which was close enough to go for my throat.
It didn’t hurt. I only felt a tickling sensation deep in my throat.
Then it was gone. I expected it to leave a dog-body on me, to leave a line of dog-body husks. But when it left and I found my way to my feet there was nothing but a dragged trail in the snow where it had flopped forward and away.
Sam appeared, called by the gunshot. “What is it?” he asked, ready to brandish his knife at the shadows.
I opened my mouth, and nothing came out.
“Faye?” He turned to me. I really had done a number on his eye.
I tried to speak again. No good. I put my hand to my throat and felt nothing there – no mark, no bite, no blood.
Sam cursed. “How many does he have with him?” he said to himself.
I grabbed his hand that held the knife, pointed at it, and pointed to the trees. Then I made as if to run forward.
He didn’t budge. “Forget it. It’s in the dark. We have to stay by the house.”
“Look, I love how you always want to go running into forests in the middle of the night, but that isn’t the best idea here.”
I held my hands up and indicated everything around us.
“Yes. This is the best idea. We just have to sit and wait them out.”
I pointed to my throat.
“That? That’s an improvement,” he said gruffly. He glared at me. He was still angry. “He’s trying to get us into the woods. Whether to separate us or get us on their ground or get to the family; they have plenty of advantages that way. We need to stay here.”
I actually opened my mouth to speak, already forgetting I couldn’t.
Sam just shook his head at me. “We’ll stretch out. I’ll stay at the front while you watch both front and back from the side of the house. Shoot your gun if you see anything, even a rat.”
I let a breath out in a huff, but nodded.
We took up our stations, still well within range of the house but further away from it to keep tabs on each other. Sam was his usual dark gray figure, pacing back and forth before standing still to scan the treeline. I did the same, keeping my pistol in hand ready to sound an alarm. I also tried to make various sounds in my throat, but couldn’t even manage a cough or hum. Only the lamp on the front porch illuminated any part of the night, save for my and Sam’s torches. The faint moon glow through the haze did nothing but make the landscape eerie and alien.
I was irritated now at this thing’s method of fighting – go in, jump out, send in minion, fall back. And I still didn’t know what Sam’s beef was with it, or it with him, or whatever. I glared in Sam’s direction, hoping he could feel it, before turning again to the backyard. The moonlight made a gray plain of the snow, and nothing could be seen in the black trees. All was dead silence so intense I could hear Sam’s footsteps crunching. I thought back to the dog-thing that had stolen my voice, and realized I couldn’t remember whether it had sounded any footsteps in the snow. And then I thought Hey a dog-monster stole my voice and I’m just going along with things.
Funny how you get used to this stuff.
Through the silence of the night I could hear the distant sound of voices, and for a good five seconds I thought they must be the Reeses’ voices inside the house. Then I realized there were too many voices. I spun around to look for Sam, but he was gone. He had made it clear that he wouldn’t chase after something into the woods, so he must have rounded the house. The chatter of myriad voices grew distant, as if a crowd were walking away. I thought I heard the twang of an arrow, but it was hard to tell.
Stay or go. Sam might need backup, but the doors needed to be watched. But Sam had the immediate threat. I turned to scan the treeline once more before going to him, and found myself face-to-face with a pale face with shadowed eyes.
“Bravery,” he said. “I always liked that one.”