The days pass. The nightmares reoccur every few nights, but at least I know I'm not the only one who'd plagued with them. A few nights I've waken up to see Janice pacing up and down the aisle, or had to wipe the cold sweat from Ryan's face as he twitched and whimpered in his sleep, or been startled awake by the frightened screams of Amy and Joseph.
Sparky rarely leaves us. She finished her meat store a while ago, but she doesn't seem hungry. Ryan has caught her with a rat hanging from her beak, but besides that she hasn't seem to have eaten. It doesn't bother me, but Janice has noticed and won't let her siblings near Sparky.
Ryan finally announces one day that we will need to leave eventually. If not in the next week, then in the next month. But no one wants to leave. It's peaceful. We haven't heard any Jacks hissing or seen the one eye of Rex except in our dreams, and we want to keep it that way.
But the peace doesn't stay. It refuses. In the distance, we begin to hear the roars and hisses of a pack of Jacks. They get closer with the hour.
"We need to leave. Now." Janice begs, her voice cracking with terror, "I do not care how we get out. I just do not want to die."
Amy and Joseph begin to cry, infected with their sister's fear. Ryan responds quickly, "I'll go find Sparky. Go get as much food you can hold. Put it in bags. Felicia, can I ask you to look outside? Yell if you see anything."
I do as he says. I stand outside the automatic doors and watch outside. Nothing moves. There aren't even birds outside. The growls and hisses get louder, and chills run down my spine. I want to run, to hide. The instincts to flee are nearly overpowering.
Then I see them. I count them quickly, sixteen. My heart stops and my throat closes. I can't scream. They're larger than I let myself remember. Their piercing yellow eyes still glow even from the end of the road. The largest is flecked with grey, and somehow I know it's the leader. It growls, showing its teeth. I try to scream, but it comes out in a quiet choking sound.
They heard it, and thirty-two yellow eyes lock on me. They lean down and start off into a trot, and in sheer panic I'm finally able to let loose a blood-curdling scream. Then Ryan is there, behind me with a handgun. He shoots, but they're fast and smart. Only one is hit and it goes down with a roar. He's out of bullets. Sparky is nowhere to be seen.