Garden City, Iowa
Claire sat up in her childhood bed and reached for her Dad's old hunting rifle. She had set it on the nightstand beside the bed when she felt herself getting drowsy. She got out of bed and crossed the room to the locked door. She glanced at her Timex watch - 5:17 am - the cool blue of the numbers matching the early dawn sky she could see between the curtains and wall.
Please please don't be inside the house. Please.
Claire pressed her ear against the door and held her breath. She could hear something thumping but wasn't sure it was outside or in the house.
This door is so flimsy. All the times I slammed it throwing silly teenage fits and I never really noticed. If they get inside and I'm stuck up here…
She turned the worn brass key in the lock.
She swung the door open and stepped back. The rifle was pointed in front of her.
There was nothing there. Claire moved quietly down the hall to the top of the steps, the thumping sound growing louder and more frantic. She looked down at the rifle in her hands, checking the safety was still off.
I wonder when the next time I will get to flick that safety to on will be?
Claire crouched down on the second from top step to see over the handrails on each side.
It was halfway in the living room window. Claire said a small thank you it was no one she knew. It had gotten under the shutter. The weight of the other creatures pushing from the outside kept it pinned. Its upper half had broken through the panes of window glass, a jagged 6 inch shard of glass stuck through its left palm. It was trying to wriggle its legs free and flop into the room.
Claire could hear others outside flailing and pounding on the shutter behind it. If they moved away or stopped pressing forward it would be in.
She sighted down the rifle and took a steadying breath and pulled the trigger.
A dime sized hole appeared over the left eye of the creature as the back of its head exploded against the inside of the shutter. The force of the shot knocked the creature backwards. Neon blue morning light spilled in to the living room from the now open shutter. The creature was pulled down by swarming hands as more of them rushed to get in to the now open room.
Oh shit. Oh shit.
Claire took a step backwards and promptly sat down, the top step tripping her. The rifle fell from her hands and slid down the steps making a jolly clacking sound, like a child running a stick across a picket fence.
Stay calm. Panic is death.
One was already in the living room. She knew the gray hair and old ragged sweater. It shambled over to the bottom of the steps and looked up.
No no no...It's not really Dad...he is gone gone...this is not him
It moaned, a mouth ringed in red gore, gnashing. More creatures spilled in to the living room.
Claire stood and ran down the hall to her parents room. She could hear quick heavy treads on the steps. She slammed the door and went to turn the key but
remembered it was on the inside of her bedroom door. She could hear them, a lot of them, coming down the hall.
Dad was...no...it's not him...he is gone
Claire picked up the heavy wooden chair her mother kept in front of her mirrored dresser and turned back towards the door.
Wedge it under the knob then think of a plan
The door burst open when she was a few strides from it.
Dirty hands and snapping teeth came at her. The hunger in the wails of the creatures almost froze her. Claire swung the chair around her once like a crazed hammer thrower, missing the creatures, and released it at the window next to her parents bed.
The chair smashed through the window and out in to the snow below. Claire turned and ran for the window. A cold hand pressed against her neck, cold fingers trailed through her hair seeking purchase. Claire jumped through the shattered window down in to the snow below.
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