The dead man's lower half lay in a pile on the hot and crumbling pavement. The top half, however, looked like two-day-old roadkill, its arms rigid and clawing at the heavens above. A fine, dark mist rose from its body, like incense smoke, and climbed to the sky.
Derek broke the silence, "We should hurry if we're going to make the checkpoint. We don't have much time."
Johny nodded, "Yeah," and shouldered the weapon and stuffed the ammunition cartridges in his backpack.
"How many are on your tail?"
Johny shook his head; he didn't know.
Derek began a brisk jog toward the West. He asked, over his shoulder, "How close are they?"
Another shake of the head, but Johny answered, "Close."
"And you're sure they're Nimpa?"
Johny sprinted to catch up to Derek, who, though he ran with minimal effort, used his long-legged stride to quickly put some distance between him and what was behind. He finally caught Derek's attention and asked, "Of course they're Nimpa! What else is there?"
Derek only nodded, "Fair enough."
Johny took one final look over his shoulder as he and Derek crested a small bluff. Off in the distance, nearly imperceptible in the waves of heat warbling over the road top, a multitude of dust clouds billowed into the air. The Nimpa were closing.
Further up the road, Derek called back to Johny, "We don't have much time!"
A shiver of fear ran up and down Johny's spine as he allowed his eyes to linger just a moment longer on the dust clouds. He licked his lips and muttered, "Don't I know it," and took off to catch up with Derek.