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By Zachary Ouellette All Rights Reserved ©

Action / Scifi

Sound of death.

She listened. She listened to the coursing air shifting back and forth between trees, howling softly. She listened to her boots treading the sifted dust in beat with her stride. She listened to the eerie shriek rusty metal shifting in the wind. Concrete structures in shambles, the tumbling rubble arranged in a tell-tale fashion, illustrating the fall of what was once a city. Dark rectangles and shattered glass, overgrown with vines and blooms. She listened to her steps change their sound, the dirt turning to aged asphalt beneath her feet. 

The sound of her boots was silenced. She listened, not to the wind and not to the metal, but to the sounds of children's laughter playing in the park, the roaring of cars on the streets, the voices of people in the city. Their frequencies reverberated like echoes of a lost world. All at once their sound was silenced, their lives returned to dust. 

Tara breathed deep, drinking in the memories of their lives. Exhaling outward, she slowly accepted their silence. She was wasting daylight. Her steps continued, resuming their synchronized beat.

She walked down the center of the cracked streets, her silver eyes scanning each and every doorway. Her ears watching the subtle changes in the wind. Anomaly. She put her finger-less gloves to the asphalt below, dropping low onto the rubble and dust.

Breath of a different origin graced the concrete hallways. Her right hand slowly moving behind her. She listened to her fingers grasping the construct of metal that rested on her back. She listened to the magnetic lock release beneath her cloak, the low monotone flow of energy ceasing abruptly. She listened to the shifting gears of the rifle, metallic scraping of pieces shifting and locking into place. 

She listened to the heavy steps approaching the intersection ahead of her. It's breathing growing steadily louder and louder.

Her rifle's stabilizers rested gently upon the dusty road. She put her eyes up to the scope, centered on the building corner. The lights lit up in the viewfinder. Distance: 60 meters. 

She listened to her breathing. Slow and steady. She listened to her heart beat pulse in her chest. Thud-thud. Thud-thud. Her finger graced the trigger, caressing the smooth chrome.

Suddenly, her heart rate quickened. Through the scope, rounding the street corner, came a hulking mass of twisted flesh. Spheres holding three corneas each, rotating violently. It's massive form rebounding from left to right, a wriggling tentacled protrusion peeking in and out from behind a sideways row of chitinous plates. It smelled the salty air, it smelled the dusty rubble, it smelled the scented vines.

Tara lay perfectly still, her heart beating furiously. She listened to the creature's erratic movements as it surveyed its surroundings. She took one last long deep breath. The beast swayed left and right before turning all the way around. 

She held her breath. She listened to the barrel of the rifle as the rails were charged. 

The beast's head twisted and torqued behind it's body, grotesquely forcing bones to bulge out of its thick muscles. It's bulging eyes pointed straight at her.

She listened to the rifle as it fired. The massive slug accelerating rapidly into the horrid creature's flesh, splitting apart in a corkscrew fashion. She listened to it's scream. The blood curdling shriek reverberating off the concrete walls. She listened to the earthquake. The hulking mass of flesh collapsing on the shattered ground.

She breathed in... and out. Pushing herself off the ground, her rifle re-shifting, compacting into a manageable size. The magnetic lock activates, attaching it to her back.

Tara turned and walked slowly away. She listened as the creature groaned and stirred behind her, struggling to stand from the sheer impact of the shot. 

She stopped at the same spot she had before... Listening to the sound of children's laughter being drowned out by the viscous cries of the monstrosity that rose behind her. A button on her wrist-plate activates. The blood curdling cries resume as the bullet wound erupts in cleansing pyre. The hulking mass reduces to a pile of smoldering ash. 

She listened to the sound of its death as she walked away.

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