Darkness Falls

'I can't... I can't,' I heard myself whisper as John pulled me forwards, his grip tightening.

'Yes you can, Jess. You can. It's not far.'

We stumbled through the deserted, cobbled streets, not a living thing in sight. I had no sense of time. It could have been minutes or hours since Nathan had left me.

We reached the end of a long street and found ourselves faced by a crossroads.

'Which way?' John asked. I wasn't sure if he was asking me or himself. Either way, before I could open my mouth he had turned right and pulled me after him.

'I think,' John muttered,' I recognise this. If I'm right, there should be that square ahead of us. You remember, with the fountain.'

I did remember. It had been a scorching hot day - one of the first days - and we had been exploring by foot for most of the morning. Rachel was complaining about sore feet so we had stopped in the little town square. In the centre there was a small fountain with a clock tower in the centre, which we had sat near.

I wondered how different it now looked, barely a week later.

'There it is,' John panted, obviously exhausted from having to pull me along. I could see the clock but the actual square had not yet come into view. It was 4am.

'Oh, God,' I breathed in disbelief.

Bodies. Everywhere. The square was packed with them. It was as though someone had thrown them all in an enormous pile. There were hundreds of them, if not thousands... men, women, children, some in tact, some mangled, some clothed, some naked, old, young, some freshly dead, some already decaying... the smell was overpowering.

'Whoever these creatures are, they're pretty organised,' John observed. 'No wonder the streets are clean from bodies. They're all here.'

'It's like they're putting them into storage, or something,' I said, fighting the urge to be sick.

A scream rent the air.

'Was that-?'

John covered my mouth with his hand and pulled me out of the moonlight against the nearest building. He turned to me and nodded, answering my question. It was a creature, not a human.

From where we squatted, our view of the square was clear. There was movement from the opposite side. A figure, standing facing away from us, swaying from side to side. What was it doing?

It seemed to be walking backwards, getting closer and closer. Seconds later a second figure appeared from the shadows, mimicking the other's movements. Then I could see what they were doing.

They were carrying a body between them.

Before I even realised what I was doing, I had found John's hand in the dark and squeezed it tightly. He squeezed mine in return.

The closest figure glanced over its shoulder and began to walk on top of the pile of bodies. The pair of them swung the body they were carrying and threw it as far up the slope as they could, before slinking off the way they came.

I hadn't even noticed that I had been holding my breath the whole time.

'You OK?' John whispered.

'I think so,' I grimaced.

A second scream. From the direction we had come in. They were going to go right past us.

'They'll be able to smell us,' John whispered, pulling me into the moonlight again towards the heap.

'No, no, I'm not doing it,' I protested. But John had already pushed me forward.

'Get in the middle,' he ordered. I tried to forget what my feet were touching as I clambered upwards to the middle where the fountain was. The fountain was still working. But it was pumping blood.

'Cover yourself in it,' he commanded, submerging himself in the blood. I did the same. 'Now, hide.'

I vaguely saw him moving bodies aside and the two of us lay down in the heap, as John pulled as many corpses as he could on top of us. I could taste vomit and blood in my mouth. I had no sense of where the creatures were. How long would we be buried in here? John's red fingers were gripping mine so tightly I thought they might break. I held my breath.

And then a scream right on top of us.

Could they smell life? Two living, breathing bodies beneath their feet? A fresh meal?

The End

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