After is available as an Ebook! Download to your computer or ereader for just $1.99. You get a neatly formatted copy of the story to read at your leisure, and help to support the author. Click here to buy a copy.

Monday, 2 May 2011


The ground rushes up and slams into me. It's like being hit by a car. Red hot, twisted pain shoots through my ankle. Above my head I can hear the Creatures all bellowing their croaking, hissing noise at the sky. I try to stand, but my leg crumples underneath me. And then...

And then comes the explosion.

It's so close I feel heat wash over me, and then red hot bits of debris are tumbling to the ground on every side. The noise of the Creatures intensifies to a scream. I roll over. I'm lying on the very edge of the crater, an inch from dropping down into that dark pit. And above me the Feeder has split in two, its vast armoured shell now cracked like an egg, smoke and ichors spurting from within. I watch in horror as it twitches once, twice, what was once the mouth lolling open to emit a stream of smoke and a stench of burned meat.

For a second that's everything. Is it dead? Have I killed it?

And then the Creatures start to call in earnest. If I thought their noise was loud before it's nothing to how it is now. It's like a jet engine, a billion sirens. Like being inside a tornado of hideous sound. And above me in the dark I can just see the Creatures stumbling around like lost mad giants, mouths wide open, howling, howling, howling at the sky. A clawed foot slams into the earth not ten inches from where I lay, and I curl up, dig desperate fingers into the earth and wait for the chaos to end.

But then there's a hand on me. A human hand. I open my eyes and for a second I don't recognise Lisa, she's that covered in blood and sweat, her face unrecognisable behind the mask of terror.

"We've got to move," she shouts. "David, come on, we've got to go, they've gone mad."

Somehow she manages to haul me to my feet. With every step it feels as if a hot knife is being jabbed into my leg, but I run all the same. The Creatures are falling about like drunks. Lisa pulls me to the side just in time as one stampedes past. Nearby another is tearing at the ground itself, gouging out great chunks of rock. And all the while screaming their rage.

"This way!" We lose ourselves in the dark. No talk but the panting of our breath as we run, the thin noises of Lisa's restrained sobs. We're stumbling uphill and then suddenly we're amongst trees. We don't stop. I can still hear the Creatures, still smell burned meat and blood.

We keep running, scurrying through the night. When at last those awful noises are far behind us, I pull Lisa into the shelter of the undergrowth and we huddle there, wait, listen for noises of pursuit. None come. We're alone. For now at least we're alone. We breathe again.

"What...what happened?" asks Lisa in a trembling voice. She's swallowing furiously, burying her sobs.

"The Feeder," I say. "I threw...I think I killed it. Without the Feeder they can't think for themselves. You saw..." I'm shaking so much I can barely talk. The shock is catching up with me, the pain in my leg suddenly much harsher than it was before. Without warning bile rises in my throat. I turn away and vomit into the bushes.

"Oh, David." Lisa holds me around the shoulders. Slowly, slowly, the shaking subsides.

You're alive. Somehow, you're alive.

Lisa's saying, "It's okay, it's okay," over and over again. I wish it was.

"Come on," I say, when at last I feel able to stand again. I pull myself to my feet using a tree for support. "We have to keep moving."


Fiona said...

Wow! Good thing he had the grenades instead of the rifle; I don't think shooting it would have worked as well. That was a real cliff-hanger!

Joe said...

I guess the insides aren't as impervious. I was wondering if that would prove to be the case.