Better off Undead

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Chapter 41: Taste of Silver

Outside, the world seemed to be shrouded in almost complete darkness. As each member of the group stepped through the open doorway and out onto the front lawn, they blinked repeatedly, trying to catch a glimpse of something, anything, through the grim dark. In their hands, little gleams of silver wavered like mist in the moonlight, as nervous hands clenched them tight and held them close in preparation for an attack.

From somewhere nearby, no one was sure where exactly, there came the sound of growling and… something else. It was a gnawing, tearing sound like a creature devouring flesh, but no one could find its source.

They followed Aliyah’s directions and hugged the wall of the house, following it along the side toward the driveway. Daina let out a sudden gasp, and then immediately covered her mouth again as she remembered their situation. Her eyes had adjusted to the dim light a little faster than everyone else’s, but a moment later everyone could see what had caused her sudden outburst.

Across the yard was strewn a number of bodies in various states of dismemberment. One man lay across the top of one of the nearby cars, his stomach ripped open and internal organs splayed out around him as his upper body hung perilously off the side of the vehicle.

At the base of the vehicle lay another man with a terrible gash that ran from one shoulder and diagonally down to his stomach. His face was almost completely gone, as though it had been devoured by some unknown creature.

The carnage continued out in either direction showing similarly disturbing images with each new body they saw. Everyone was thinking the same horrible truth, the one they’d already discussed but no one had really wanted to believe was true: that Eli was right, and there really were werewolves, and that they were here.

Mac, who had come into the lead, suddenly came to a stop, and several of the others were so distracted by the nightmare landscape that they ran into him and nearly knocked him over. After some shuffling, muttering, and grumbling, they all turned to see what had caused the delay.

Up ahead of them, the driveway had come into view, and in the driveway sat the car that stood as their destination. Atop the car, highlighted dramatically by the full moon as though it were a spotlight on a stage, was a nightmare come to life: a fully formed, hairy, drooling aberration.

A werewolf.

It stood up straight, pulled back its head, and let out a howl.

“Hole. Ly. Diver,” said Jay, his disbelief winning in the internal battle raging inside of him between the hope that voicing his surprise would dismiss the impossible and the fear that told him to keep silent to remain undetected.

The werewolf snapped to attention in the direction of Jay’s voice. A low growl rumbled from inside of it as it knelt down. Its nose visibly quivered as it sniffed inquisitively at them.

With all eyes drawn to the horrific sight before them, it was only Eli who noticed the movement to the side.

“Look out!” he shouted to Aliyah, as he realized what was happening. She turned just in time to see a second werewolf leap out from behind another nearby car. She would never be able to move in time.

Acting out of pure instinct, Eli bumped into her, attempting to knock her out of the creature’s path. His plan worked somewhat, clearing them both from the direct assault, but the werewolf’s arms still clipped them and sent them spiraling and crashing to the ground on either side of it.

Standing up onto its hind legs, the werewolf slashed out at the others around it, but Eli’s warning had given everyone just enough time to step out of reach. It turned its dark, beady eyes on Daina, and she froze in terror. With a roar the werewolf leaped into the air and tackled her to the ground. Her silverware went clattering to the ground away from her as she fell.

“No!” shouted Eli. He rolled onto his knees and immediately jabbed the fork in his left hand into the creature’s eye. It let out a surprisingly dog-like yelp before turning and running away, Eli’s fork still lodged in place.

Meanwhile, the first werewolf had similarly attacked, leaping to the front of the group. They scattered before it, but instead of stopping and striking like the other creature it barreled through the group in an attempt to keep them from being able to surround it. Gabriel swiped at the creature with his steak knife as the creature passed him, but it was unclear whether his blow hit home.

“Stay together!” commanded Eli. “Get to the car!”

The directions were pointless, as everyone else in the group already had the exact same idea. Everyone except Eli, Gabriel, and Daina – who was still on the ground – were already rushing the last few steps to the vehicle.

Eli knelt down and pulled at Daina’s shoulder. She had rolled up to her hands and knees and was frantically searching around for her lost silverware.

“Let’s go!” hissed Eli.

Daina’s hand hit something solid and her fingers immediately clasped onto it. Satisfied that she had some form of defense, she finally accepted Eli’s hand and together they pulled her to her feet. The three stragglers ran to the vehicle, which Eli could now finally see was a minivan. The front and side doors were open and Aliyah and Amber were already climbing inside.

Eli, Daina, and Gabriel turned and formed a sort of protective semicircle around the rest of the group, arms held out with weapons ready.

The first werewolf had swung back around and was now pacing slowly towards them in a long arcing path leading off to their right. A third werewolf had leaped into view and was similarly slowly plodding to their left.

A fourth jumped down from the roof and landed right before them. It stood up on its hind legs and let out a howl. Gabriel wasted no time, but instead jumped forward and slashed straight for the creature’s belly. The wolf-man lurched back, raising one arm for defense. The silver knife sliced through the flesh like a hot knife through butter, even leaving behind a trail of steam in its wake. The creature growled in rage and struck its wounded arm out in retaliation. It hit Gabriel hard enough to bounce him off the side of the minivan. He stumbled, dazed, but Jay reached out and grabbed the older man by the arm, guiding him into the vehicle. The injured werewolf backed off, but only a few steps.

Behind them, Aliyah started the vehicle, and the sound of the engine roaring to life seemed to agitate the two remaining uninjured creatures. The one to the right growled and rushed forward, snapping its vicious jaws at Daina. She leaped back, landing up inside of the vehicle, and drove her weapon straight into the creature’s snout. It yelped in pain and ran off.

The creature to the left seemed to decide that this prey was not worth the trouble, and turned and ran off a short distance, but the one Gabriel had injured did not seem ready to back down.

In one last desperate burst, it leaped at Eli.

Eli was ready for it, however. He dove to the ground beneath its dive and rolled. As he came back to his feet, he jumped up onto the creature’s back and began stabbing it repeatedly with his knife. He was surprised at just how easily the blade moved in and out of the flesh.

The creature roared and bucked, causing Eli to lose his grip and sending him flying through the air. He landed hard on his back and his vision went dark. He could sense the creatures drawing in on him, taking advantage of his weakened state, and could hear the rumble of their oncoming growls. He tried to scramble up onto his feet and back away, but without much success. He swung out his arm, hoping the silver would keep the creatures at bay, but quickly realized that in his fall he had dropped the knife, as well. He was weaponless and alone.

Hands grabbed at him, pulling him, and for a moment he was still so disoriented that he fought back. After a few seconds he realized that the growling he had heard had been nothing more than the rumbling of the minivan’s engine as it approached him, and the grabbing hands were his companions trying to pull him into the safety of the car. He stopped resisting and let himself be pulled inside. Aliyah gunned the engine and they roared off down the street before the side door was even fully closed.

Behind them, they could hear the howls of the wolves angry at having lost their prey. Daina pressed her face into her hands and dropped her elbows onto her knees for extra support. She looked ready to collapse.

“Is it over?” she asked. “Did we lose them?”

“I don’t think so,” said Eli, from the floor where he had fallen.

Something hit the side of the van and Aliyah swerved and fought the steering wheel for control.

“What the hell?” she demanded. It was more of an exclamation then it was a question. Those nearest the windows peaked out and saw the werewolves somehow managing to keep pace with the vehicle.

“Faster!” Gabriel said. “You must go faster!”

“I’m trying!” snapped Aliyah. “It’s a goddamn overloaded minivan. There’s only so much I can do. How fast do I need to get?”

“Well, the fastest land animal is the cheetah. They can get up to seventy-five miles per hour, so I’m guessing you gotta get up to at least eighty,” said Eli, still bouncing around on the floor.

Aliyah scoffed. “Eighty? In this piece of shit? In the dark? On these roads?”

“Hey, you asked, I answered. What do you want from me?”

“They can’t possibly have the stamina of a car,” interrupted Gabriel. “Just try and get to a highway and keep going!”

Everyone rocked as the werewolf slammed into the side of the vehicle a second time. The car lifted up onto two wheels as Aliyah rounded a corner. It skidded some along the street, and then somehow, miraculously, landed back on all four wheels and kept going. The turn put some space between the car and its attacker, but not for long. Amazingly, impossibly, the werewolf turned after the car and somehow managed to speed up. Then it leaped into the air past the car and kept running until it was moving alongside the vehicle once again.

Aliyah immediately turned down the very next street. Once again the werewolf lost some ground on them, but once again it quickly gained most of it back. There was a thud to their left and they all looked to see another of the creatures had landed and was now running along their other side.

“There!” Mac shouted from the passenger’s seat. He pointed off to the front, through a gap between some houses. “The exit!”

“Oh shit,” said Amber. “The front gate!”

“We’re gonna have to ram it,” added Aliyah.

Eli’s eyes went wide. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

“We can’t stay in this neighborhood forever! So unless you have a better idea of where to go or how to get out, I don’t see we have a choice.”

The turn for the neighborhood exit came up and Aliyah took it at full speed. The van lurched in protest, but somehow stayed more or less on all four wheels.

“Everybody brace yourselves!” called Aliyah.

Eli was still on the floor, and he shoved his feet against the back of the seat in front of him and pushed his back up against the seat behind him with all the strength he could muster. He grit his teeth and closed his eyes and waited for disaster.

The van hit the gate and there resounded the terrible screech of metal tearing and ripping and a clattering as the gate was torn from its track and hinges. One of the front headlights went out and the glass on the right side of the vehicle cracked and splintered, but it held. Aliyah slammed on the breaks as she tried to force the car into a much too tight turn to get it pointed along the highway running perfectly perpendicular to the neighborhood’s exit road.

The werewolves both jumped and soared easily over the gate, but skidded as they landed and tried to get pointed back at the turning vehicle. Aliyah slammed on the gas and shot past them while they were still righting themselves.

Mac let out a long and shrill “Woohoo!” as though the entire thing had been some sort of new exciting roller coaster. They shot down the road at top speed and slowly, ever so slowly, the wolves fell into the darkness behind them.

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