Challenge: Dream Writeup
I always wondered how I would react to a crisis. I wanted to think I would be the one to fight, but that might have only been my ego talking. Nobody wanted to be the one to run after all. They say you did not know until the time came. When the time came, there was no room for doubts. There also was no room to dwell upon my victory. Ultimately, I was one to fight.
When the aliens came, everything changed from one second to the other. They came with everything they had. They were in the skies, the waters and on land. Cities fell into chaos, the survivors split into groups. Not because we liked each other, but it was the best option. I had been alone for the first hours after the invasion, but survival was hard enough together.
It had been mesmerizing to watch how quick society fell apart. Not even a day had gone past before the looting started. Don’t get me wrong, I did not complain. It was what we did every day to keep ourselves alive. By now, we had our routes. We knew where to go and which streets to avoid. I had nearly finished my run for today. Only one stop to go.
I liked the little kiosk next to the river for two reasons. First, it was small and unknown to most, which made it a reliable and reasonable safe source for food. Second, I would see the river. I had gotten used to the aliens in the streets, even those in the sky. However, only the ships on the river still sent an exciting shiver down my spine. Big, black structures, which should be too heavy to float, but did as a nutshell on a silent pond. Also, the river aliens restrained from attacking pedestrians, which was a nice way to end a day’s work.
The kiosk looked like I had left it. Small and unimpressive. It was unbelievable, but there was still so much food here, it felt as if I was in heaven. I got some chips, chocolate and whisky, the apocalypse is not the right time to care about calorie intake. In the end, I crouched down next to the ventilation shaft behind the counter. Although this place had remained untouched until now, I had not taken any chance. The first time I had been at the kiosk, I had stored some of the most important supplies in there. Better safe than sorry.
The screws came off easily. I had to crawl in a bit to reach the dressing material. Injuries were a normal occurrence these days, and most groups began to run out. Before pulling back, my gaze went to the right further along the shaft. My blood froze in my veins. The two animals looked both familiar and foreign. A dog chasing a squirrel. Except they were disfigured by the alien infection. Their look was similar to an animal that had been through a rough patch, missing fur at different regions of the body. Rather than just missing, the patches were covered by insect-like, black skin. I had frozen because both pitch-black pair of eyes were glaring at me. Shit, shit, shit! I retreated as fast as I could, hitting my head at least twice. I shut the grid closed and pressed against it with my feet, too afraid to come anywhere near those beasts with my head or hands. Minutes later, they finally gave up and went the other way. I screwed the grid shut and got the hell out of the kiosk, heading back to the group.
At this week’s hideout, I was greeted by two children. They weren’t mine, they just knew I would bring them snacks.
“How is the situation?” A tall, dark-haired guy asked from the corner. He had more muscle than brains but somehow had put it in his mind to call himself leader. Like everybody else, I let him be. As long as he didn’t bother us too much, why shouldn’t he believe it?
“The ground troops are growing in numbers, still,” I told the whole room instead of only him. “And there is definitely something coming in the east. I really think we should go and check on the situation before they overrun us!”
“Please, you say this every day. I just see no reason for us to leave the safety of this building.”
Of course, you don’t. You’re a dumbass, I thought agitated. We knew something was coming for at least a week now. But he was too comfortable on his lazy ass to do something about it. I took a few breaths to calm my voice before replying.
“If we stay, there might be no building to keep us safe anymore. We are going.” It came out harder than I had expected.
“And who gave you the power to decide?” the guy stood up, asserting his dominance with his height and deep voice. It didn’t make him look less stupid from my point of view.
“You are risking everybody’s lives here!” I too raised my voice by a nudge, as I couldn’t hold back my anger entirely. He hadn’t been the one to risk his life outside, seeing the aliens assemble more every day, viewing the dark foreshadows in the eastern skies.
“No, I do the only thing that makes sense.” He picked up a baseball bat before taking a step towards me. This would get interesting.
“Then why don’t we take a vote?” I suggested, raising my arms for the rest to join in. When I looked around, it became obvious the vote had already been taken. The room had split into two groups. One behind my opponent, and another—considerably larger one—behind myself. So there still was some reason left in these people. I looked at the self-proclaimed leader and couldn’t help a little smugness.
He just became angrier, realizing he would have to stop a vote at any cost. “Well,” he began slowly, hitting the palm of his hand rhythmically with the bat. “Either way. We won’t let you go.”
That was it. I had lived with his ego-trip for far too long. I wouldn’t die to protect his fragile manhood. I had no illusion that he would win a fair fight man to man. So I did the only sensible thing left.
“Never bring a bat to a gunfight,” I growled, pulling out the revolver from my trousers’ waistband. In less than a second, I had targeted and pulled the trigger. The bullet went right through his left eye, even before he could wipe the anger off his face. I was a bit disappointed that I had missed my target between his eyebrows by a few centimetres, but the years at the shooting range still had paid off.
The room erupted. People pulled weapons from everywhere, either to attack or just to be able to protect their lives. The big dummy’s posse came straight for me. I knew I had used the last bullet from the revolver, so I fell back to the knives. I had grown quite skilful with them over the last weeks.
I parried the first blow by cutting the attackers arm. He howled and let go of his crowbar. A problem for another person. My next movement was for the second direct attacker. I had more luck there, with a direct stab to his throat. The blood came out fast and red. It was strongly vibrant compared to the rest of the colour deprived world.
After having to deal with these idiots for far too long, the sight washed away the resentment I had held. I had to dodge three attacks before I could get another two fatal blows. Then, the fight was over.
The survivors stood upon a bloodbath. At least a dozen people were dead. What a waste. This was not what I wanted, but their stubbornness would have killed all of us eventually. Now we were free to go do what we had to protect ourselves.
Everybody looked at me. For guidance, I realized. I just had made myself the new leader. Well, nothing I couldn’t live with in this situation. “We go east,” I declared. The grim faces in front of me all nodded in unison.
As it turned out, we didn’t have to go east. There was just enough time to leave the building before it collapsed behind us. Whatever had been east, it was here, now. Luckily, most of us were covered by nothing more than a bit of gravel. Pushing it aside, I got up and glazed in the direction of some terrible grunting, screaming sounds. Oh god, it was big!
My brain didn’t know what to associate with this monstrosity. An elephant as big as a seven-story building, a space octopus covered in its own ink, or a giant gooey fly. It was all of it and none at once. How the heck should we even fight this?
I woke from my stasis when a leg swung over me. The barrel roll I did to dodge it could have won gold in the Olympics. Lying under the belly, I looked up and couldn’t help but smile. Beneath its thorax, the beast had a pulsating pink circle surrounded by strong yellow lines, which reached from the front to the back of its abdomen. Years of video games had prepared me for this. I had identified the weak spot!
“Guys I found something!” The scream came from a woman that had joined the group early on. She was young, beautiful and her breasts – Stop! I had to keep my head in the game. No time for that kind of thoughts right now. She was standing in a pile of gravel, holding the biggest canon I had ever seen in my life. “A plasma canon!” Her words confirmed my thoughts. Our luck was tuning to the better.
“I’m going to need three people,” I screamed the instructions to my still-forming plan out as loud as I could. “There is a weak spot underneath. Be ready to fire!”
Seconds later, a small group had assembled. The monster was starting to take an interest in the woman with the canon, so we had to act quickly. I didn’t believe in God anymore but sent out a prayer nevertheless. This plan needed some divine intervention to work properly.
We were already in position to strike when we heard a terrified scream. The woman was dangling from one of the arm-tentacles upside down. It looked like she still had the weapon, so it was now or never.
The others catapulted up two of us. At the highest point, a dagger in each hand, we did our best to mangle the legs in front of us. When the upwards motion slipped away, I pulled my daggers in deep and slid to the bottom while tearing the alien’s scales. Back at the ground, I was covered in disgustingly smelling space blood, but it was worth it. The attack had succeeded. At least our part.
The beasts back legs crumbled under its weight, and for a moment that caused the upper body to rise in the hope of finding balance. What happened next, I credit to the prayer. Trying to support itself from falling on its face, the monster lowered its front legs. Which put the woman still trapped in said leg in the ideal position to fire. She must have had some shooting training in her days, too, because all she needed was one try. When the monstrosity exploded, everything got covered in a thick layer of space blood.
We had won! I was too baffled to believe it, but we had actually won. Maybe there was hope after all. By now, the streets flooded with the military. Leave it to them to be late to an epic fight, I guess. I ran around the corner, searching for the rest of my group. Once I had turned, I stopped dead in my tracks. The military had not been late for anything. Not one, but two other monsters came towards me. Dark and gigantic, they cut off most of the light to the ground. Not that it mattered. Even the sky had gotten dark from all the spaceships accompanying the brothers of the one we just killed. Damn.
Before anything else could happen, I woke up.