Ashish was asleep at the wheel. Lisa waited in the passenger seat and kept her eyes on the house diagonally across the street. It looked like it was going to be another long night. The house was empty, but it was the logical one that would complete the circle around Lisa’s house. She only hoped the night creatures would commit themselves before they realized there was no one home.
Lisa thought again about the video taken by the cameras placed around the outside of the airport terminal. Ashish thought it was a donkey at first. Their normal walk looked rather stiff. And the sound they made was described as that of a baby crying. One woman thought it was a real baby and almost got herself eaten.
The last shot was taken from a distance and lit only by the runway lights. The scout stopped on the tarmac. The three that followed in a pack joined it and began to paw at the air. The rear guard caught up and they were growling and roaring in a way that one of the baggage handlers called louder and more frightening than a lion. The airport manager estimated that the spot where they converged was approximately the spot where a jet would leave the ground. They appeared to be frustrated, and Lisa breathed. She imagined they had no way to track Josh and the children through the air.
Lisa considered the notes Mindy put together. Mindy guessed the Set animals or night creatures were not likely of earthly origin. Their bones were like steel rods and their bodies were more like a shark than a mammal, being mostly cartilage and muscle. Their internal organs were more than well protected, and their jaws snapped shut with more force per square inch than any shark or alligator or anything else on earth. She suggested that they appeared to be from a world with a heavier gravity. That would make them supernaturally strong and fast on our earth.
Lisa pulled out her twin knives and then pulled out her handgun. She had a police shotgun as well, but even so she wondered if she brought enough hardware. She looked again at the house as her passenger window exploded.
The jaws snapped at her, but Lisa managed to get far enough away by crashing into Ashish. Ashish came instantly awake and started the car while Lisa grabbed her knife and poked at the creature’s big eye. It was too quick, but clamped its jaw around the top of the door where the window had been. Its teeth passed through vinyl, plastic and metal alike as it ripped a bite out of the door. It was trying to get at them when Ashish stepped on the gas and they sped off down the road.
The creature did not follow. Ashish screeched to a halt half-a-block away.
“Stay in the car,” Lisa said. She got out and got the beast’s attention as she emptied her gun. Three more night creatures arrived as the one full of bullets looked mad and charged. Lisa let loose with both barrels of the shotgun, then leapt to grab the space at the top of the trunk as she screamed.
Ashish did not need a second telling. He slammed on the gas and Lisa’s arm was nearly yanked from its socket, but she held on. Immediately, the night creature slowed and turned back to the others of its kind.
Ashish stopped again and Lisa crawled into the back seat. She was cut up, her arm ached terribly, she was scared out of her mind, and as far as she could tell she did no damage at all to the creature, much less the other three. “Other four,” she reminded herself out loud. There was always the rear guard.
“Surely that one is mortally wounded and will soon die, unless you missed every bullet.” Ashish tried to sound reassuring as he drove a bit further away.
“I didn’t miss,” Lisa said as she sat up and reached for the radio. She had to hold it up with her left hand because her right arm was throbbing. She began to bark orders. Police all over Trenton turned out, and with some serious hardware. By the time they arrived back at the house, however, there was no sign of the creatures. Lisa was perplexed until the hair went up on the back of her head and she grabbed Ashish by the arm.
“I feel like Amina,” she said and ran to the house next door. A single mother lived there with her two children. There was only blood left, splattered everywhere. The same was true of the house next door on the other side. An elderly couple lived there. They were night creature food. The house in the middle, the expected target that was empty remained untouched, and Lisa began to cry.
Ashish found the note in pencil, written on paper from the phone pad and taped to the wall beside the door to the elderly couple’s house. It said, “My children were hungry.”
“Someone is controlling and directing them,” he said.
“And feeding them,” Lisa agreed.
Next Monday, the girls begin Christmas vacation, though how anyone can rest with night creatures roaming g about is beyond me…
But with the holiday almost upon us, allow me to wish you Happy Reading.