“We need to go.” Janice stated, sure and certain.
Alice knew that feeling and numbed of any sensible response, grunted a guttural response. They didn’t cock their guns, as they were always ready so they walked; Alice, Claybourne and Janice, into the early morning sun, ahead of them black, inky dashes of death. Janice shot of burst of fire, clearing the path and Claybourne released short bursts of shell to pick up the dregs. Murder was not the intent, but a clearing of the road ahead. It was Alice’s task to pinpoint and pick off the rogue Aliens, the fearless ones ahead and having proved herself a deadshot with the M24, the only sniper rifle available to Claybourne when he gave it to her, she had been forced to be the advance servant of death. Truth be told though, she relished the control and if she had been given the choice, there was no other position in the belly of the beast that she would have chosen. Walking a steady pace, not running, not panicked, they walked their steady path to the end of the street, yet as they stopped within the crossroads of an intersection, a terrible feeling began to creep over the three.
Where to now?
Such a simple notion, but it clung simultaneously to each of their thoughts. Where do we go now? What possible future lay ahead?
So much death, so much killing, so much lost along the way. They had fought and killed sure of some purpose, but for whatever reason, there at those crossroads, it was all lost to them. They felt small, hopeless and it was in that moment that salvation raised its bloodied hand.
“HERE!” A voice down the street which lay to the west, “Over here!”
It was a female voice, mature and Alice, Claybourne and Janice froze a moment, so long had it been since they had heard a strangers voice. In that instant, they were upon them, the shadows leaping back out into the light, forming together in packs like great shadows spat from the ruin around them. Claybourne spun and emptied his gun into the throng but he was a beat too late as the shadow reached out and great claws slashed across his face and throat. He gurgled and fell backwards, his finger squeezing upon the trigger as Janice screamed in defiance and jumped between the demons and her father. She unloaded her weapon into them, kicking and punching as she did so and drove the shadow back. Alice knelt down and straddled Claybourne, wrapping his throat in her jacket and talking to him, trying to measure her voice out in soft tones but instead barking at him to remain calm, the fear drying her throat; trembling her hands. She looked down the road again to see if the owner of the call was still there, but the street was deserted again and a complete sense of hopelessness washed over her. Janice saw this, looked down the street also and then back to the shadows which were reforming in the buildings around them. Great tears rose up into her throat and Alice felt the deluge rising also. This was to be the end. They had fought their way to here, but it was over now.
Alice pulled a sidearm from her hip and placed it in Claybournes’ trembling hand. Claybourne, unable to speak just looked up at her with wide eyes and understood; they must never take you alive. The oath they had all sworn. Janice knelt down, her eyes never leaving the shadows and she put her hand out behind her, feeling for her fathers. He grabbed her hand hard and as he squeezed it tears rolled down her cheeks. This was the end. Alice and Janice would watch over Claybourne while he ended his own life, then they would end one another’s. It was the only way.
The shadows drew their breath, pulsing and bulging as they prepared to unleash themselves once more and Claybourne placed the gun to the underneath of his chin with one hand, whilst squeezing his daughters hand with the other…
Then came fire.
From where they didn’t know, but it rose up all around them, great thudding explosions and then conflagration. It seared their skin as it flew from the buildings around them. Janice was blown backwards by the first blast and Claybourne dropped the pistol as he caught hold of her upon the floor. Alice tried desperately to apply pressure to the jacket wrapped around his wound but the heat proved too much and as the second wave of flame mushroomed in a great wave toward her face, she felt herself fall into unconsciousness.
As she fell backward she saw fire and shadow dancing in between one another. The flame was golden and bloodied. The shadows were human with the heads of demons.