by: D.S. McKnight
Trying to keep to the shadows, Flint hurried through the streets, desperate to make his escape. He glanced over his shoulder—no drones in sight—but, they were coming. They were always coming. It was just a matter of time before the incessant hum of their motors filled the air. He darted down an alleyway, dove into a dumpster and covered himself with garbage. The foul stench was a small price to pay for concealment.
Closing his eyes, he took a shallow breath and willed his racing heart to calm down. Now was not the time to panic. Now was the time to regroup, to prepare for the next phase of his mission—to get back to base camp with his precious find. His hand moved to the pocket of his jacket, feeling for the pack of batteries he had found. The relief flooding his body was short-lived as the dreaded humming drew closer, echoing in the alley.
He lay still, waiting for the drones to leave. After what seemed an interminable wait, the hum drifted away. It was time to go—he knew this—but something in his gut warned him to stay put—so he waited. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes more.
And then it happened…
The sound of a drone as it started up…
The operators, he realized, were getting smarter—powering the motors down—operating in a stealth mode, waiting for their prey to expose themselves. Cautiously, he exited the dumpster. He crept down the alleyway, hugging the building walls. The going was slow but slow was good when it meant the difference between freedom and captivity.
The first rays of sun painted the morning sky as Flint entered the compound. Quiet voices welcomed him. He looked at the worried faces that surrounded him. “Where are the others?” he asked.
They shook their heads, unable to answer. But it didn’t matter—he knew what it meant. The Community wasn’t safe. They had to move and move quickly. The Guard were masters of extracting information and considering the missing Night Runners—nothing needed to be said. They gathered their meager possessions and separated, hoping that smaller groups would offer a better chance at survival. With any luck, they’d find each other again.
by: DS McKnight
Breathing a sigh of relief, I lock the door and turn off the open sign. It’s been a long day and my feet are aching. I dread the walk to my apartment. It’s times like these, I wish I had a car. Who am I kidding? At times like this, I wish I had a different life. Waiting tables and eating cheapo mac and cheese (that’s right, because I can’t afford the good stuff) isn’t how I had envisioned my life.
There was a time when I had dreams, dreams of life in the big city, designing clothes, attending parties. A party of five at table four is the closest I’m going to come to excitement. Shelbyville is the definition of boring. We roll up the sidewalks at sundown.
After I finished mopping the diner, I grab my purse and jacket. “I’m out,” I yell to Jack, the short order cook.
“Alright,” he answers. “See you tomorrow.”
Of course you will, I think to myself.
The crisp night air smells wonderful. It’s a definite improvement from the stale, deep-fried odor that permeates the diner. As I walk the short distance to my apartment, I let my mind wander. I imagine going out to eat and not worrying about the price of dinner. I wonder what it would be like to have my nails professionally manicured. I try to remember the last time I bought clothes that weren’t from a bargain outlet. Lost in my thoughts, I fail to pay attention to the footsteps that are following me until it’s too late.
Hands grab me from behind. I try to scream but my assailant has muffled my mouth. I hear him laugh as he drags me down an alley. He whispers in my ear, “It’s a shame to wish your life away.”
My blood runs cold.
He continues, “But don’t worry, you won’t have to go to the diner again…”
I struggle, trying to twist away.
“We’re going to have a little party and you’re not only the guest of honor—you’re the main course.” His teeth scrap over my neck. I feel his fangs sink into my tender flesh. The pain is excruciating… and then, it’s over and I’m no more.