Sunday, October 21, 2012
Homecoming Queen: Chapter 8
It was a less than ideal situation for CC Tucker. Her first "field trip" since joining Lazlo University’s secret society of occult specialists was supposed to be a milk run. Instead, she found herself facing a thing which may have been a man at one point, and had just snapped a man's neck in front of her. It had followed it up by knocking a very large and angry werewolf across a clearing. To make things worse, she knew exactly who she dealing with.
"Mmmmmine now." The wretched thing said as it stared at her taking a step forward. The appendage coming from its stomach waved around in a manner that CC found completely disgusting. She glanced quickly to Cole who was trying to pull himself to his feet. She then glanced at Gabe and Steward, who were trying desperately to gain control of the remaining enthralled mob. She knew it would strike at her. It knew why it would strike at her. She was the one who got away.
The backpack she had been carrying slid from her shoulders. CC caught the shoulder strap in her hand, and as she took her first step forward she threw the pack straight at the wretch. The thing's chest appendage swatted it out of the way as it stopped moving forward. It was CC who was closing the distance now, and as much of a wreck that thing's face was it was impossible to miss the surprise written upon it. The tentacle swung back around aiming straight for CC's head. She dove under it, still advancing. The forward roll was something she had learned in a tumbling class as a child, and it got her closer still. She was on the soft, dirt floor of the clearing at the feet of the wretch. She could hear Gabe screaming for her to run way. She looked up and saw the thing looking down at her, looking pleased to finally be able to get its hands on her.
She was not sure it would have any effect at all, but that did not stop her from kicking upwards and driving her foot right into the thing's crotch.
It wailed in pain and grabbed her. CC knew it wanted her to suffer. She knew she had enraged it. It had to be blinded by rage, for as it grabbed her shoulders hard and hauled her to her feet, it had completely missed that she had pulled her car keys from her pocket. It missed the canister of pepper spray on the key chain too. CC doused its eyes and it reeled backwards, screeching. CC wanted to punch it straight in its disgusting face, but the tentacle swung wildly with the pain its host felt. It hit her flush in the side and knocked her clean off her feet. She landed several feet away. She did not hit her head, but the pain in her side was so sharp she saw stars. She wanted to get up, but the four broken ribs protested greatly. All she was able to do is roll onto her back, clutch her injured side and watch what would happen next.
The thing staggered around and covered its face with its hands. The pale appendage waved and thrashed wildly. It continued screeching horribly, only to be stopped by the massive werewolf form of Cole Buchannon punching it in the head. The punch was strong enough to snap a person’s neck, but someone the wretch kept standing. Cole immediately followed the punch with a swipe of his powerful claw, raking down the wretch’s body. The dark fluid that oozed from the wound may have been blood.
The wretch lashed out blindly with the tentacle while still covering its face. This time Cole was ready. He caught the tentacle, with a grunt from the impact. He managed to keep his feet this time and twisted, pulling harshly on the disgusting appendage. Cole yanked the wretch off the ground and brought it crashing back down to the ground. He immediately pounced upon his opponent.
“Take him out, Cole!” Yelled Gabe as he slammed his forearm into an enthralled woman’s cheek.
“You’re dead!” Cole snarled as he raised his clawed hand to strike.
“Kuroskos!” CC called out, and the strain of yelling shot a jolt of pain straight through her. The wretch turned its head and glared at her with its chemically burnt eyes. CC was not sure if it could even see, but the hate in its eyes was evident.
Cole’s blow came down and sunk through the wretch to the dirt below it. A harsh blast of air exploded from the thing, and if Cole had been any lighter it would have thrown him off. The blast of air caused Cole to close his eyes momentarily, but CC saw everything. The thing evaporated, and at the same moment every last one of the enthralled fighting Gabe and Steward fell to the ground unconscious. Travis Kinkaid and the other two that had been mindlessly shuffling around stopped and straightened up.
“Where am I?” Travis asked looking around.
Cole bounded into the trees to transform back into his human form before Travis or the other two victims that were still awake spotted him. Gabe hurried to CC side. He knelt next to her. Steward was checking the other people.
“You OK, kiddo?”
“No. I just got my ass kicked by a freak.” She answered a bit weakly.
“Not from what I saw.” Cole answered as he joined Gabe at her side. “Thanks for the assist.” He smiled down at her. It was a nice gesture, but CC appreciated it much more when Cole picked her up and carried her out of the woods later saving her a long painful walk.
Other searchers arrived soon after the action was over drawn by the yelling and gunfire. The searcher that had been taken down by one of the enthralled was dead, his windpipe was crushed. The enthralled mob slowly began to come around. Their memories were all very hazy on what happened. Many remembered coming into the woods, but after that they drew a blank. The entire time people milled around the clearing, Sheriff Steward kept a close eye on Gabe, CC, and Cole.
By the time people were getting back to the field where the search had started night had fallen. Lights of trucks and emergency vehicles were all that illuminated the area. Families lost loved ones that evening, but altogether eight victims had been rescued. Unfortunately, more than that had lost their lives. CC found herself on a stretcher ready to be loaded into an ambulance to tend to her broken ribs.
“I better get serious extra credit for this.”
“I’ll make sure Rogers gets the memo. You called it a name.” Gabe heard CC in the fight. It became clear to the young co-ed that the former Army man did not miss much. “You did know it.”
“Kuroskos. It was the same thing that tried to take me over in the dorms that night.* No idea what it was doing here. God. I could have become that thing.” The tremble ran through her at the thought.
“Sounds like you made yourself an enemy.” Cole said as he leaned against the side of the ambulance. The paramedics mistook him for a victim and he was currently wrapped in a blanket even though the cool night air did not bother him in the least.
“Sounds like.” CC dreaded the notion of possibly facing Kuroskos again considering how much pain both experiences had given her. At the same time, she really wanted to hurt that horrible thing.
“Well, let me know when he comes back around.” Cole said calmly. CC looked at him. The implication was clear. She had made a dangerous enemy that evening, but had made a powerful friend as well.
Sheriff Steward approached the three of them. Despite the cool air, he was sweating. He looked confused and more than a little angry.
“Did you people know what was going on out there?” There was gravel in his voice. The kind that came from trying not to yell.
“No. Still not entirely sure, but we will find out.” Gabe answered him.
I’m sorely tempted to arrest you.”
“But… you saved my life in there, and I’m still not sure what all that was in there.”
“What you saw wasn’t meant for people to see. I’m truly sorry you had to go through it, and I’m very sorry about your friends.” The sheriff nodded gravely, and Gabe produced a card from his wallet. “Unfortunately, things like this happen. If they happen again, you call, and we’ll help in every way possible. We’ll be in contact when we have more answers as to what happened in there.” The Sheriff was not completely satisfied, but he knew local news people were going to be descending on the area at any moment and he was going to be asked questions he could not answer. Steward gave the three of them a nod and walked away silently. Gabe turned back to CC. “As for you, you rest up, you’ll be fine.”
“No I won’t.” She responded and Gabe cocked an eyebrow. “We missed dinner and my parents are going to kill me.”
(*Note: see “The Learning Curve” for details.)