Doomsday Diary–A Short Tale
The sound of crashing walls and cracking tile echoed through the tight space. The once vibrant office buildings had long since been abandoned and left to slowly meet ruin. That slow degradation was interrupted by the light tap of worn sneakers and heavy slam of bestial paws.
“Come on! Run faster!” Labored breathing only allowed so many words as the two figures dashed past one office desk after another. Dirt covered jeans and leather jackets smeared with dark paint to help them blend into the shadows while out under the sun did little to hide from the keen ears of the creature chasing them.
Without even the chance to glance back the front runner yanked the follower forward, their bodies slapping against the large, clear, sealed windows.
The view from this tenth story might have been something to feel proud of in the past, a marvel of engineering with a view to match. Towering buildings stretching out before them, the streets crowded with color from people going about their day. Now that momentary look down as they tried desperately to catch their breath only reflected a deep rolling black, the mass of creatures rising and falling slowly as each body searched for movement in the above windows.
Chills ran down their backs as they pulled back from the glass, a low growl drawing their eyes, fear gripping their hearts.
“Move. Move!” Shoved. Pushed. Dragged. Forced to run even as their lungs and legs begged for rest. Down a hallway. Through a door. Up a flight of stairs as the doorway beneath them shattered inwards, the creatures lifting its head up towards them, the deranged maw stretching far too wide as it let loose what could only be called a scream.
The two girls paused long enough to clutch at their ears, pressing tight to shut out the sound as best they could before hastily rushing forward again.
As they reached the roof of the building the creature was already nearing their heels, the impact of its feet on the stairs rattling the metal rails. With another scream it leapt the gap, its claws reaching up towards them, almost catching the younger’s leg. The creatures’ body crashed against the side of the stairs, causing it to fall for a brief moment, long enough for them to reach the final door and burst outside.
The sun overhead was no boon as they might have wished it to be. After the infections began the sunlight only served to excite those who’d been contaminated, be it man or beast. The door gently clicked shut behind them, two pairs of dark brown eyes rapidly flickering from one side of the roof to the next.
“There it is.”
A heavy cord extended from one corner to another building across the street, multiple sets of harnesses carefully prepared beside it. They were both quick to arrive beside them, helping each other into the sets, constantly glancing back to the door, needing to go faster, but knowing that if they rushed now everything that they’d gone through so far would end up being for nothing.
One leg. Then the other. Tighten the harness. One leg. Then the other. Tighten the harness. Attach the hook to the rope and check that it can bear weight.
The door to the stairwell burst, flying from its hinges. They paid it no mind. They couldn’t. Even as the sound of deep inhales tickled at their minds.
Push. The first girl held tight to the harness as the zipline sent her hurtling towards the distance building. She landed on the connected balcony, giving a wave backwards.
Attach the hook to the rope. Check that it can bear weight.
“Cass! Jump!” The voice echoed from her destination and she trusted it, leaping forward. A sharp, searing pain raked into her side, making her cry out in pain as the rope bounced from her body.
The scratch spun her around to face the creature, the sun illuminating its features even as she rapidly distanced herself from it. This one had the crossed characteristics of a bear and a wolf, long snout and massive teeth coupled with a hulking chest and massive forelegs ending in sharp claws. The dark, near black, fur that covered it was matted down in places, sticking up wildly in others, and the entirety seemed as if it had recently been dunked in oil. The glistened and seemed to slide over the creature’s bones as it watched its prey escape, the overwide jaw hanging low again as it screamed at them.
Cass felt her sister catch her as she reached the balcony, her heart racing. They quickly stripped the harness from her, then the leather jacket as well and her shirt, their fingers probing and searching. They only let out a sigh when they found her skin unbroken, though each twist and moment brought pain along with it.
“I think it probably broke one or two of my ribs…”
The statement was met with rolling eyes from her sister who collected the town clothes and gave them a look over. “Better that than dead.” Finding the gashes in the leather covered in dripping black oil she hurled the jacket and shirt over the side of the balcony, letting them fall to the street below.
As the cloth landed on the black mass a roar sounded from the gathered creatures. They shredded and destroyed these articles, only calming once every spot of color was drowned in black.
The door into the adjoining room was unlocked and easy to open, even if it hadn’t been used in some time. The pair quickly scoured the space, finding a few abandoned clothes, just enough to fit Cass now that they’d thrown out the previous set. Among the scattered items they found a few bottles of water, just enough to carry and nothing more, buried in the back of the fridge and collection of canned fruit.
“Two each and then we get going again.” As they sat on the dusty furniture, savoring the sweet taste. “Hanna, how far out are we at this point? One or two more blocks?”
The younger girl rolled her head from side to side, eyes lightly shut as she tried to remember the map. “I think that’s about right. I think three jumps and then two more ziplines and we should be at the right spot.” Her arm raised, fingers wavering slightly side to side, pointing through the walls towards their destination. “As long as we don’t get any more surprises like that one.”
“Speaking of.” Cass reached along the back of her neck, unclasping the thin chain that hung around her neck and passed the necklace and its locket to her sister. “I used up my luck for today so you’re next.”
The younger girl chuckled, thumbing the small metal heart, almost moving to open it before stopping and draping it around her neck instead, fingers deftly working the clasp shut.
After only a few minutes of rest the pair regained their footing, making their way to the apartment door. Both pressed their ears to the wood, their breathing silent and nearly still. One checked the peephole before giving a nod, the hallway as empty as they could tell.
Quietly they opened the door, leaning slowly into the hall, once again checking into the dark space. Their journey resumed, soft footfalls and steady breathing the only constant.
The only constant beside the ever present threat of death if they were found again.