Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Night Sortie

Dusty wind howls through the buildings. Tiny flecks of red and brown and grey and black tumble through the spaces between concrete walls. Splintered pallets and packing crates litter alleys, snagging papers, leaves and rags. Punched out windows, black jagged yawning mouths and eyes. Dust drifts in, settles onto cobwebbed desks and cabinets. Lights flicker across the surfaces, glinting on the metal and shards of glass. Nightbird shrieks. Flapping wings.

Crunching gravel outside. A car rolls through the carpark, slowly picking its way along the fence. Headlights wink out, fading yellow, orange, blue-gray to black. Engine falls quiet. Doors open. Doors slam. More crunching… lighter. Boots, shoes. Three crunch and scrape through the carpark. One facing forward, two facing back. Dusty wind blows into their faces, coating their boots, their pants, their jackets, their hair. Dust devils whip up, swirl and dissipate into the night.
One sees movement, shouts. Weapons are drawn, levelled at shadows. Shuffling, dragging across the concrete ahead. Flashlights blaze, cutting through darkness. There! Pathetic thing, cowed by the light Milky eyes shine. Low moan, mouth agape. New bravery… arms reach out, changes direction. Gunfire – cracking, booming. Deafening silence. Body thuds to ground. Sweep around with light... nothing… no more groans, no more sound. Only one… lucky night.

Warehouse doors wrench open, grinding, scouring unoiled metal. Dust is shaken free of the doors, peeling paint flecks off, taken by the wind. Gloom within, smells of dust and staleness. No rot. Flashlights climb up high, heavy shelves stretching almost to the roof. One whistles, tuneless amazement. Pallets and boxes, stacked with cans and bottles. Tomatoes. Beans. Peas. Carrots. Corn Spaghetti. Meat. Pickles. One finds batteries, shoves the packs of cylinders into her backpack and pockets. Light glints off tools, ranked in neat lines, plastic wrapped. Axes. Mattocks. Shovels. Hammers. Nails.

Moaning explodes around them. Echoes bouncing off the walls. Where? Dragging, shuffling. Snapping jaws. Lunging. One fires, shells eject onto the floor, pinging, ringing on concrete. Fuck! Gritted teeth. Reload, reload. More gunfire. More thuds. One is surprised, rotten teeth fastening onto his calf, sinking in. Turns, fires. Thing not going to get up again. Anguish, crying. What do we do now? Swap uneasy glances. One looks up, stricken, resigned. Already changing. Unlucky night now. One more shot rings. Silent tears.

Two return to the vehicle. Carry all they can. No more movement in the warehouse, pile more into the car, one always watching behind. Three trips back and forth, scurrying,. panicked. Push closed the doors, harder with two. Spraycan rattles. Hissing. Red spraypaint X, stark against the rust and peeling paint. X for treasure – more left inside. X for a cross, commemorating the fallen.
Doors slam. lights flick on, engine roars to life. Gravel crunches, lurches out of the carpark. Glances exchanged. Remember him in life – it wasn’t his fault – it was best for him. Best for us. Lights recede into the distance. Blackness again. Wind dies down, dust settling. More to reclaim. Food. Tools. Return soon.


13 days of horror

Open now until the 1 October 2010 is Erin Cole's 13 Days of Horror contest, with some selected stories being posted on Cast Macabre. I've submitted one story so far, Night Sortie. Night Sortie has been up on MicroHorror for some time.