Monday, September 14, 2015

Day Nine-Hundred-Thirteen: Snare

Libby ran for her life, and the beasts pursued.

She did not particularly like this plan, but she knew it would work. She knew how much Doc hated her for shoving him into a cannon and blowing away his body. She’d sincerely hoped that little stunt would be the last of the wretched psuedo-physician, but here she was, caught in his crosshairs again, running for her life. She was by far the best bait, and the bait had worked. Now she just needed to cover a little ground.

The moment when Dragomir transformed into her was one of the most surreal in her life. She coped, and somehow hid the fact that her husband could change his shape - not that it would matter much longer anyway - but it was surreal regardless.

Sprinting down the side of a steep hill, gravity and the fear of death carrying her at a speed she never could have imagined, Libby listened as the pack at her back closed in. It was massive, much larger than she’d even anticipated, and many of the creatures were gaining fast. She could tell by the frantic, heady rasp of their breathing in the distance, the snarls and snaps and, my god, the creepy little giggles. The giggles were the worst, and they were getting louder.

We don’t know what’ll happen, she’d said, back when this plan seemed intelligent. We need to get as many of them away from us as possible. For all we know they’ll fuckin’ blow up in our faces. Pull ‘em away and have people ready to take them down if we need.

So she was pulling them away. Step by step, breath by breath, she was pulling them away. But not nearly fast enough.

Huffing, her lungs screaming for her to Stop, you crazy bitch, Libby hit the bottom of the hill and continued sprinting as the land began to incline upward. She groaned, peering at the top of the hill, wondering just how much further she had to go before she found a friendly face waiting. She knew they were in hiding, knew there were probably people waiting all around her, but right now there was no one, no signs that she was anything but hopelessly alone. Her eyes burned as sweat trickled down from her brow, and she wiped furiously, only half succeeding in clearing her vision.

Despite promising herself that she wouldn’t, Libby took a quick look over her shoulder. A mass of mangled fur was cresting the top of the hill she’d just abandoned, resolving and separating into the ugliest herd of woodland critters she’d ever seen. The werewolves came first, jaws open and ravenous, but there were lions, too, and what looked like a cheetah, and several boars, and before Libby could catch any more of the details she turned away, because even her stout heart was beginning to falter, falter and burst from fright and exhaustion, and she knew that if she looked back again she was the stupidest woman on the planet. Given that she’d suggested and approved of this planet, perhaps she already was the stupidest.

Libby’s faltering footsteps and burning thighs carried her halfway up the hill, and her desperate sprint turned into a tired wobble. She’d done this five times already, up and down and up and down, and she was quickly losing ground. That got even worse when, during one of her gasping staggers, she snagged her foot on the root of a tree, growing out of the side of the hill.

Shrieking, Libby went face-first into the grass. The ground, cushioned by grass, nevertheless knocked her for a mighty loop, and she saw stars dancing before the blackness in her eyes. Pain blossomed liberally in her head, and she felt blood trickling down the side of her face. She cursed, heart racing, and tried to push herself to her feet, but she was too tired, too sore, and, she realized, too late.

The first of the werewolves reached the bottom of the hill, and as Libby, stupid Libby, turned to face the werewolf, she realized that it was the first werewolf, the biggest werewolf, the one she’d thought was a kangaroo for several years, because she had no other frame of reference. It was big, and nasty, and when it leaped at Libby, blotting out the sun, she raised one shaky arm to ward it off, she knew it was about as good as trying to fight an army with a stick. 

Stupid plan, she thought, pinching her eyes shut. See you soon, Grayson, you little fuck.

The werewolf did not land its deadly blow. It did not even land, not properly, because before it reached the apex of its jump an enormous, twining vine stretched out of the ground and smacked it aside. The werewolf howled and giggled as it smacked into the rampaging pack of creatures at its back, bowling over dozens of its fellows with its bloated purple-and-brown body. The rest of the pack surged past -

- but they, too, were rebuffed, as the bottom of the hill suddenly rose up in front of them, grass and dirt mixing to creature a natural wall. The creatures spilled into the pit this created, and the wall fell down upon them, snuffing out dozens of mutilated, suffering lives in seconds. The rest of the pack, suddenly wary but still giggling and burbling to itself, slowed down and backed off.

Libby opened her eyes. There was, she noticed at once, a faint, sparkling barrier stretched over her head, brown in colour but tinged with flecks of green. 

“Well, shit,” she spat, sitting up. “You sure took your damned time.”

Fynn stepped up beside his mother, helping her to her feet. His cheery tarantula familiar waved to her from his shoulder. Behind him was Evangelina, her eyes sparking a strong, dangerous orange, and she had her arms up as she manipulated more of the landscape, forming more barriers to keep the creatures back, more vines to whip them and occupy their fragile, crazed minds. But her gaze was focused on a single target, somewhere in the pack, and she gritted her teeth.

“Stupid bastard,” she murmured, a tear dripping out of one eye and down her cheek. “Why’d he have to go and get himself caught?”

Libby followed Evangelina’s gaze. Standing in the midst of Doc’s pets, his calm, upright posture a stark contrast to the panic around him, was Driscol. He smiled up at her… and his arms, raised, formed into fleshy, wicked spikes. He shrugged, and as the rest of Libby’s forces emerged from their hiding spots, the battle was on.

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