Bill was singing at the top of his voice as he rode along the dark country road, illuminated only by moonlight and the meagre light from his bicycle lamp. As he pedalled along, close to the verge in case of oncoming traffic, he heard something pushing its way through the hedgerows at his side.
It seemed to be following him. It sounded big and was keeping pace. He peddled faster but the thing, whatever it was, increased its speed also; he could hear it crashing through the undergrowth and growling.
He stopped the bike and looked around. The bushes parted a little way back and a huge misshapen thing leapt out on to the road. It was hard to make out exactly what it was, given the light, but Bill didn’t like the look of it.
‘What the fuck is that?’
As the monstrosity lumbered towards him, Bill got a better look at it under the bicycle lamp.
The thing ran at him. Bill screamed and quickly set off. He looked back and saw the creature was still bounding after him. Turning into a side road he went downhill like the wind. As he came out at the crossroads he chanced a look behind. The creature was gone.
‘What the bloody hell was that?’ he muttered, breathing heavily.
Movement in the pub car park opposite caught his attention. Straining his eyes to see what it was, he realised it there were more of them. He quickly peddled off along the road, his legs tired and aching with all the pedal pumping.
More of the creatures filled the road up ahead. Bill slowed down and turned into a lane leading to his house. As he pedalled down the lane the air was filled with screams coming from the houses on both sides. Creatures were running about everywhere, fighting each other and screaming their unearthly sounds.
Pumping the pedals as fast as his legs could go, he swerved into his driveway, nearly losing the back wheel and narrowly missing a creature that ran sideways along the road towards him. He pulled the brakes and jumped off before the bike had even stopped and ran for the front door.
Banging furiously, he shouted. ‘Open the bloody door.’
He frantically rummaged through his pockets and pulled out his keys. His hand was shaking violently as he put the key in the lock. The creature that he’d narrowly missed at the driveway entrance sped in through the open gate. Bill got the door open and ran inside, slamming the door shut just as the creature crashed into it.
‘Irene. Irene.’ he shouted. ‘Where the fuck is she?’
Bill rushed into the front room. He nearly collapsed at the sight that met him. The beige carpet was a red pool of blood, littered with shredded clothes and bones, an upended skull sat by the fireplace, its empty sockets staring up at him.
Bill’s hand went up to his mouth as he cried out. ‘Oh no... God. No. Not Irene... NO! This can’t be happening.’
He turned from the room, closing the door on the carnage and the remains of his wife, the images burned into his brain for all time. Holding on to the walls for support he emptied his stomach onto the hallway floor. As he staggered into the kitchen he saw a lighter and a pack of cigarettes on the floor by the open garden door.
‘She must have been having a smoke. That’s how they got in.’ Bill cried out in anguish. ‘Why couldn’t you have smoked indoors? I didn’t mind you smoking in the house.’
Shutting and locking the garden door he drew the curtain across, then went back out into the hallway. He checked the front door was secure, then ran up the stairs and shut all the room doors.
Exhausted and sweating he returned to the kitchen. Collapsing heavily on to a kitchen chair he rested his head on the table.
‘This can’t be happening,’ he cried.
He picked up the phone where Irene had left it on the table. There was no dial tone.
‘What the bloody hell is going on?’
Bill put the phone down and was wondering what he should do when a scratching started up at the back door. He got up quietly and turned off the light, casting the kitchen into shadow from the light in the hallway.
He closed the kitchen door and picked up the hall phone. ‘Why aren’t the bloody phones working?’
Bill turned off the hall light and sat on the stairs. A wan light from the street lamps shone through the front porch, casting deep shadows around the hall and stairs. Terrible screams from his neighbours filled the night. Bill covered his ears to drown out the dreadful sounds.
The screams, that at first seemed to surround him on all sides, gradually died away, replaced by a heavy silence that descended upon the house. His head resting on the staircase wall he closed his eyes and sat for what seemed like hours.
The sounds of creatures fighting and screaming outside the house echoed around the hallway, their cries turning his blood cold. Claws scraping along the laminate flooring in the bedroom above soon brought him to his senses.
‘Shit. They’re in the house. I have to get out of here.’
Bill sat back down on the stairs listening to the sounds from above and outside the house. He waited until the cries from outside had died down, then went over to the door and put his ear to the glass, all was quiet.
A loud banging came from the bedroom door.
‘Bloody hell, there must be loads of them up there. They’re trying to get through the door.’
Opening the front door a crack he spied through the gap; it seemed to be deserted outside.
He crept out to the porch and looked around. There didn’t seem to be any of the creatures about so he made a run for his bike, grabbed it up, jumped on and rode out of the garden and up the lane.
Looking back he saw a group of creatures racing after him.
Peddling like the devil was chewing on his backside, Bill turned onto the main road and down to the crossroads. The creatures chasing him fell behind.
As he rode past the pub he saw them running around everywhere. They were attacking each other and were feeding on the ones that had lost the fight.
A creature, its elongated legs and short body, reminded Bill of a funny picture he’d seen in an art gallery window in town, a Salvador Dali painting, only this one had more teeth and claws than seemed possible for any creature to have, and it looked at bill with intent on using them.
It ran across the road on its spindly legs and took a swipe at him, its claws missing his arm by inches. Bill swerved on to the pavement then back on the road. His feet were pumping furiously at the pedals and the bike was tearing along at a rate of knots.
Narrowly missing creatures feeding on the fallen ones littering the road and pavement, he weaved his way between them until he cut off into a narrow lane leading to fields and rode off into the darkness.