Read Nigh - Book 1 Online

Authors: Marie Bilodeau

Tags: #apocalypse, #fairy, #end of the world, #fairy tale adaptation, #apocalypse adventures, #fairy creatures, #endtime fiction, #fairy tale action adventure

Nigh - Book 1 (4 page)

BOOK: Nigh - Book 1
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“Fine. Bit of a headache, but nothing bad.”

“If that was me there, you’d be calling an
ambulance.”

He gave her a slight grin. “Boss’ choice. Go check
on the other driver. I’m probably bigger than them, and they
probably took this head on.”

Al nodded and jumped off the truck. “Molly, can you
stay with him?” Molly nodded, looking determined. Al was grateful
for Gruff’s insistence that all of his staff have first aid
training.

Molly leaned in to chat with Gruff, to keep him
talking and awake as she checked his head and neck.

Al peered through the mist but couldn’t see another
car. She walked toward the curb, where the collision’s trajectory
might have sent it, but nothing was there. It wasn’t likely that it
would have gone anywhere. Looked like it had t-boned the tow truck,
so that should have stopped it in its tracks.

She skirted along the back of the truck. Its right
side panel was dented in, but at first glance it seemed repairable.
They wouldn’t be towing anyone back to the shop today. The pavement
beside the truck was the bigger mystery. It was dented in and
broken, like something heavy had smashed it. Or a sink hole, maybe?
Still, it wouldn’t have damaged the truck like that.

Al finished her 360 of the truck and joined Molly
and Gruff. Gruff was still sitting and Molly had him going on about
old cars. He stopped when he spotted Al.

“Is the other driver okay?” He asked, concerned.

Al shook her head. “I honestly don’t know. I
couldn’t find the other car.”

“That car hit hard. I doubt they got far.”

“Couldn’t see a thing, Gruff. And couldn’t even tell
what type of car it was. A freaking tank, because they didn’t leave
behind any of their chassis when they smashed the truck!”

“Or a good old car with armour like iron,” Molly
mumbled, pulling her coat tighter. It was getting chillier. Their
breath added to the mist and condensation formed on every surface,
including themselves.

“Didn’t even see them coming,” Gruff said as Al and
Molly helped him out. “Just hit me out of nowhere.”

“Well, the mist isn’t helping anything. Let’s get
you to the clinic for a checkup and head back to the shop. We’ll
have to make do and help the cars that make it in. Can’t risk
moving the truck now — who knows what damage was done.”

“Ah, old reliable here would still get us home.”
Gruff said, still uneasy on his feet but trying to hide it. Al
grabbed his arm to help support him and he didn’t protest. That
worried her.

They reached Percival and she was helping Gruff into
the passenger seat when the first scream sounded. It echoed down
the street, as though born from the fog itself.

“What the...” Molly started saying before a second
scream shattered the night, from the left. And another, from the
right. A car alarm sounded. And another. A shop alarm went off.

Alva looked around frantically, not able to figure
out what was happening, the fog blocking all sight but also
distorting sounds and spreading them around like a coat of warm
wax.

“Al, get in the car,” Gruff said calmly. She nodded
and moved around to the driver’s seat. Molly didn’t need any
prodding, already having scooted in the back seat.

Al slammed the door shut and turned the motor
on.

“What’s happening?” Al asked as she backed away from
the truck. She hit something and slammed on the brakes. She went to
open the door to check what she’d hit when the back of the car was
pushed up. Someone started banging on the trunk. Al couldn’t see
anything through her mirror, but the car kept jumping up, landing
heavily on its wheels.

“Go, Al, Go!” Molly screamed from the back. Al
stomped on the gas and skidded the tires, narrowly avoiding the
back end of the pick-up truck as she raced down Main Street.

“Slow down, Al. Visibility ain’t good,” Gruff gently
reproached from the passenger seat.

“What the hell was that?” Molly screamed from the
back. Gruff reached around and put a big hand on her shoulder. She
calmed down immediately, but Al could see her big eyes in the
rearview mirror. It would have been funny if she hadn’t been
terrified.

“Let’s get you to the hospital,” Al said as she
slowed down a bit.

“No,” Gruff argued. “Back to the shop. Gotta check
on the guys and find out what’s going on.”

“Are you kidding? You took a bad hit, Gruff. We’re
getting you to the hospital.” Al glared at him. “Say no again and
I’ll add to your injuries.”

Gruff looked at her darkly. “The shop is on the way
to the hospital,” Molly piped up from the back. “How about we swing
by there first and then head to the hospital? Let’s at least make
sure everyone knows we’re not answering any more calls.”

Al and Gruff both nodded. At least it was still
early morning and every shop was still closed. Distant car alarms
still pounded the mists.

She was just about to turn off Main Street when
glass rained down on them. Al hit the brakes. Shop alarms went off
all around them. Through the fog, Al could see a couple of shops,
their windows shattered. She activated her windshield wipers to
clear away the glass and pressed on the gas, praying her tires
wouldn’t be pierced by the carpet of glass crunching under
them.

“Maybe go a bit faster now,” Gruff said softly
beside her.

She nodded and pressed down on the gas. If her tires
burst, they’d still get her to the shop and she could swap them out
there.

If they made it to the shop.

Chapter 3

 

A siren screeched not far away, muted by the
fog.

Alva drove as fast as she dared. Her motor was loud,
so pedestrians would hear her. Not that anyone was out. She thought
she heard a scream. She glanced sideways at Gruff, who was pale in
the seat beside her.

The fog shifted to her left, a large shadow blocking
what little light was breaking through. Even over Percival’s
engine, she heard a loud thump and felt the ground shake. She
slowed down, looking to the left at the large moving shadow.

“What the...” she began to say, but before she could
finish, Gruff shouted.

“Look out!”

She swerved and narrowly avoided someone who ran
screaming past. The fog swallowed him.

“I should check on him,” Alva said, but Gruff put
his big hand on hers to stop her from putting the car in park.

“Just keep going, Al. Let’s get to the shop.” Al
nodded, the movement feeling slow and clunky. Her mind was trying
to process everything that was happening around her, but it seemed
to leave her with some detachment from reality. She forced herself
to focus on driving. The shop wasn’t far. Just a couple of blocks
away.

Parked and crashed cars lined the side of the road.
Something ran by in the fog, followed by a scream. Alva looked in
the rearview mirror. She saw something large pass right behind
them, silent, huge, dark. She pressed harder on the gas, but she
only dared go so fast. She was glad for that as she skirted an
abandoned car. Squeezing beside it proved a challenge that cost her
paint on the right side of her car.

“Don’t worry Al. We’ll get Percival a new paint
job.”

“I ain’t worried about that, Gruff. What’s going
on?” Her voice was barely a whisper above Percival’s engine. She
feared speaking too loudly would draw even more attention to
them.

“Al,” Molly said from the back. “I can’t get through
to anyone. The phone lines aren’t playing along.”

“We’ll be safe at the shop,” Gruff said with enough
power that Al allowed herself to believe him. For now.

Al glanced back. Molly was alternating from looking
puzzled at her phone to staring up, her already big eyes now
impossibly large.

The mists licked Percival’s hood and caressed the
windshield. Al felt like she was driving through a deranged car
wash, everything seeming so close and intent on coating her
car.

The shop was coming up on the left. The cemetery
loomed on the right, the breaking mist now surrounding the
tombstones, as though dancing with the dead. A shiver ran up Al’s
spine.

“Al?” Molly said in a strangled voice.

Al glanced at her in the rearview mirror
and then followed
Molly’s gaze toward the cemetery. She didn’t notice
anything at first, but then saw that the tombstones seemed to be
moving. Nothing overt, but a tall obelisk shifted to the left. A
smaller tombstone fell forward until it was at a forty-five degree
angle, as though greeting the body it covered below.

“Is the ground shifting?” Al asked, Percival
practically stopped now as she looked more closely. That might
explain the damage to the road, but certainly not to the tow
truck.

“I don’t think the angel would do that just for
shifting ground,” Molly said, pointing to an angel statue. Al knew
it well – it looked up to the sky, arms stretched out, wings spread
out, as though greeting the light of day, even though trees had
long ago ensured only shadow would reach it.

The angel’s wings shifted and cracked down, its arms
curled in and its head lowered.

“Al, get us to the shop,” Gruff said calmly but
sternly. “Now.”

Al stopped staring at the statue, closed her mouth
and loosened her grip on the steering wheel so that she could turn
it. The shop looked quiet from the outside. No lights were on. The
mists licked the great bay doors and infiltrated them. The doors
were open, blocked by a car that had been driven halfway in and
then abandoned.

The lights flickered on and then off again. Al
spotted an oil spill leaking out of the shop. At least she hoped it
was an oil spill.

Not one of them made a move to get out. Gruff
breathed hard beside her. She glanced at him. Sweat beaded on his
brow and he was pale. He needed some attention for his wounds. She
needed to get him to the hospital, but he would never leave without
making sure every technician and apprentice was okay.

She let go of the steering wheel and turned Percival
off.

“Molly, I’m going to go in and check it out. You
stay here with Gruff. If you need to, the keys are in the
ignition.”

She turned around to make sure Molly had heard her.
Her best friend’s usually warm features were set in grim
determination. She nodded and squeezed Al’s shoulder.

“Don’t worry about us. We’ll be fine. Make sure you
take care of yourself, okay?”

Al managed to give her a grin. “I always do!”

Molly nodded again and put her hands around Gruff,
to either comfort him or make sure he stayed there. Al wasn’t sure,
but was grateful either way.

“Make it fast, Al. Get them out and get yourself
out.”

“I will. Promise.” Al took a deep breath and stepped
out, gently closing the door behind her. It still seemed to echo in
the quiet mist. She couldn’t hear a sound. Either the entire town
had gone quiet, or the mists were somehow absorbing the sound. No
emergency vehicles sounded in the distance, despite the multiple
accidents they’d witnessed.

Al took a step toward the shop, thought better of it
and decided to head to the trunk first. She popped it open and
grabbed Big Bertha. The cool metal of the wrench made her feel
better, or at least more grounded. Like it was the one real thing
she could count on in these surreal surroundings.

Her breath curled in front of her and she pulled her
leather jacket closer around her. The day was growing unseasonably
cold. The mist formed in tiny crystals, wisps she could actually
see shifting in the air around her, not a blanket as usual but like
tendrils.

Alva walked carefully around one. From up close, it
shimmered like tiny snowflakes on a fresh bed of sunlit snow.
Except the shimmer moved together, curling on itself and around
objects. She forced herself to stop staring and avoided them.

She headed to the shop bay door, stepping over the
liquid on the floor. It was dark, the sun blocked by the mists. Al
debated whether or not to try to turn the shop lights on, but
wasn’t keen on attracting more attention. She headed to her bench
and grabbed her big flashlight. She clutched Big Bertha more
tightly.

“Steve?” She called out softly.

No answer.

“Louise? Jack? Carl?” Her voice sounded small and
afraid in her own ears. She shined her light to her left, to see
the rest of the shop. A car was half jacked up, the front end
fallen straight off. Al forgot her worries as she rushed over. Who
the hell would put a car poorly on the jacks? That was Mechanics
101 – you didn’t mess around with safety.

She headed to the front and shined her light down.
Carl was pinned down, his torso crushed by the large car. “Shit.
Carl.” She knelt by him, but his eyes were staring up and the blood
around his mouth was already hard.

“Steve!” She shouted this time, in her frenzy. Why
hadn’t they helped him? He was just an apprentice. They shouldn’t
have even left him alone to jack the car!

“Louise, Jack!” She looked back down at Carl but had
to look away, his open eyes filled with the same mist as outside.
She stood up, swayed, steadied herself. She fought through her
nausea to find the others.

Maybe she could still help them. A noise in the
break room caught her attention. She slowly walked toward it,
forcing herself to keep her light ahead of her and not glance back
at Carl. She didn’t want to look at him ever again, if she could
avoid it.

The break room door was closed. Al tried to open it,
but it was locked.

“It’s Al. Open up!” She heard a muffled sound, maybe
crying. “I’ve got Gruff and Molly. The car’s up front and we’re
gonna get out of here,” she said in her most reassuring voice,
again forcing herself not to look at Carl. “But I need you to come
on out.” She paused, then added more urgently. “We need to go.”

The noise came again, this time as a more strangled
cry. She thought she recognized Jack. “Jack? Jack. I’m coming in!”
Al shouldered the thin door and it easily cracked and buckled,
swinging in. Al practically landed on her face. She hadn’t expected
it to give in so easily.

BOOK: Nigh - Book 1
9.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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