They run like ants from rain. Panicked voices called for loved ones, while desperation for clean air dragged everyone out the lone door one by one. There was one, however, who would never make it out, for he held a different mission. He was conscripted to keep it in. Bodies slammed into his shoulders as he pushed through the tide. No one seemed to even notice. Trampled bodies served only as speed bumps to those who would trip and stumble over their lifeless forms. One could only hope they would serve no further purpose to the predator inside. One could only hope.
He had come prepared, but he was only one man. The crowd was diminishing around him and the stairs to the second floor loomed just ahead. He put a shaky hand upon the rail, took a deep breath, and began his ascent. Those few who ran past now were of little consequence. Even though he couldn’t yet see it, he knew it was getting closer to the stairs. The low pitch noises it emitted gave away its position as plainly as a fly buzzing in a bathroom.
He rose over the last few steps and gazed into the smoke and dust. It appeared as though the second floor had been deserted, however, the harsh beating of its steps vibrated throughout his body, telling him he wasn’t alone. Pulling out his pistol, he shut his eyes and let go of the railing. Two beats. Silence. A third. Nothing. He opened his eyes and was taken aback. It stood just a few yards away, but in its wake, where moments ago there had been nothing but bodies, more of its kind were rising. Shreds of the clothes once belonging to the victims they’d adorned fell around their ghastly forms. They seemed to be more animalistic than human now, but who could ever truly know the nature of a creature no one had yet studied?
He brought his attention back to the being at the front of the pack. Its long arms slowly pulled away from its pale body to gesture toward him. The silence gradually dispersed as each pawn took menacing steps towards him. He swallowed the lump forming in his throat and stood his ground. They charged. Within moments, the first had reached him, but it quickly stopped to stare him dead in the face. When he refused to react to its menace, it opened an elongated snout to reveal a black mouth adorned with rows of ugly, hooked teeth. A white tendril he assumed to be a tongue, appeared from the back of its throat and snaked toward his face. When it made contact, it burned white-hot, but he forced himself to stay quiet and still. More closed in around him. Each in turn opening their mouths and burning his flesh with their tongue but still he remained reticent.
With no reaction coming from him, the leader let out an angry, bone-chilling shriek. The rest of its kind joined in, turning the screech into a deafening timbre which left his ears ringing as the noise died away. They were becoming visibly anxious now, moving sporadically around him, willing him to take that first step down those stairs in a fearful retreat. Instead, he took a step forward and they all screamed in anger. A few of the bravest took running leaps in his direction but none could make contact. He knew his purpose. They would not sway him. He stepped forward again and the smaller creatures retreated behind their leader.
It shook its large head, looking around angrily at its cowardly victims. Those closest to it were struck aside with its muscular tail, and the rest fell back to avoid collision. He was only a few yards away now. It couldn’t lose. It wouldn’t. It took a step in his direction and swiped at his head with one powerful paw. He ducked and aimed his pistol at its chest. Two blasts. A spurt of black which fell upon the floor with a hiss. It looked down at its chest and with a roar, lunged at him again, this time making contact. He flew halfway across the room, his pistol sliding to a stop at his side. Winded, he looked at the creature who was swiftly advancing on him. The smaller ones, taking courage at his fallen state, also advanced, surrounding him.
Panic overtook as he fumbled for his gun, and for a moment, he showed it. Triumphant snarls surfed over the crowd. The closest landed the first hit, ripping open his shoulder. Pain coursed down his arm, filling his fingertips with an odd, achy tingling. The second creature struck his leg, sending the same feeling down from the wound to his toes. Show no fear. He thought, and with a shuddering breath in, he stood. Balancing on his one good leg, he aimed the gun again at the prime. “Get. the hell. Out of my city.”