Read Outage 5: The Change Online

Authors: T.W. Piperbrook

Tags: #Werewolves

Outage 5: The Change (9 page)

BOOK: Outage 5: The Change
6.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

That means we're in danger.

The thought hit her so hard that once she had it, Kelsey couldn't suppress it. Mike and Dave hovered in the corner, unaware of the situation that she'd put them in.

Tom knew where they were. She'd like to think he'd been able to control his urges, but that was probably a fool's hope.

What if he got inside the bunker? What if he brought back others?

What if I've made the wrong decision?

Silas tugged her jacket and smiled. She envisioned Katherine and Silas succumbing to the maws of the creatures. Whatever happened to Tom, she couldn't risk these people's lives. She needed to warn them, as much as that felt like a betrayal to Tom.

Clearing her throat and swallowing her guilt, Kelsey spoke across the room.

"Mike? Officer Flannery? We need to talk."

Chapter Sixteen

Joseph looked frantically at the others, then at the child in his arms. Lana's mouth was fully open as she wailed. Maria tried to hush the baby, but it was too late.

There was no chance the people hadn't heard them.

Tom raised himself back up and peered over the wall. The people were walking hurriedly in their direction. The blonde woman pointed, her bun bouncing on her head.

"Who's there?" she shouted.

Tom glanced frantically at the others. Considering their position, they had no choice but to expose themselves. It was time to go.

"Come on!" he yelled to the others. "Get across the bridge!"

Maria hobbled to her feet, grabbing hold of Emily, and pulled her along. Joseph hurried through the snow with Lana. Tom aimed the gun over the side of the bridge.

"Stay back!" he yelled.

The advancing people stopped, hanging by the riverbank. The couples held up their hands.

"We're unarmed," the blonde woman shouted.

"We're looking for help," the clean-shaven man next to her added, twisting his face into an expression of fear. "What's going on here?"

The other couples shifted uneasily. Had Tom not seen their casual stroll a few seconds earlier, he might've been fooled. Not now.

"Stay back!" he repeated, swiveling the rifle from one to the next.

Taking in their fake demeanors, Tom had the urge to fire at each one, taking out his vengeance for the people he'd lost. But he wasn't confident he could hit all of them. And if the bullets didn't work…

"I said don't fucking move!" he shouted again, hoping threats were enough. He moved up the road, heading in the direction of his companions. He kept his aim. "If you try to follow us, I'll kill you!"

Whether they believed his threat or not, he wasn't sure, but they remained in place, hands raised. They stared at Tom as he retreated. He hurried through the snow, alternating his gaze between them and his companions. Maria, Emily, Joseph, and Lana were already a hundred yards from the bridge. When Tom was almost out of range, he heard the woman yell something that chilled him to the core.

"We'll see you tonight!" she said.

She dropped her hands and relaxed. The others gave up their frightened expressions.

They smiled.

"Those people," Joseph said, trying to catch his breath. "Were they…?"

"Yes, they were beasts," Tom said. He explained the line of reasoning that had led him to that conclusion.

Tom glanced over his shoulder, but the people didn't seem to be following them. The bridge was out of sight. Even still, he kept his gun prepared. Maria kept glancing over her shoulder and at the woods, as if the people might fly through the air and grab them. The blonde-haired woman's chilling words echoed in his head.

We'll see you tonight…

The fact that the people were so cold, so calculating, filled Tom with rage. He hadn't asked for his curse. He'd do anything to return it, to live his life with Lorena and his son. These people reveled in what they were. They gave no explanation or excuse. They basked in their atrocities.

Tom glanced at the sky. Evening was approaching. Prior to the storm, the sun had been setting earlier and earlier, preparing for winter.

Preparing for this…

It almost felt like nature had colluded with the beasts, serving up humanity to the creatures' insatiable appetites.

The snow was heavier as they slogged through it, lifting their legs to account for the depth. The scenic woodlands gave way to several houses. The privacy might've been a selling feature at one time, but now the woods seemed to eat the properties rather than surround them.

Tom eyed one such house as they passed by. The ranch was set back from the road. It seemed untouched. He studied the windows, wondering if anyone was lurking inside, though he doubted it. The cold made him consider stopping, but he knew that would be as dangerous as moving.

The people might still be following them.

Lana's persistent crying reinforced that fear. Joseph's attempts to comfort her seemed to have no effect. They couldn't stop.

The baby's needs took a backseat to its survival.

"Do you remember how far the bunker is?" Maria asked.

"We're getting close. I remember passing that bridge not too long before we arrived. My guess is that we're a neighborhood away. Then we should see the fire truck."

Maria bit her lip. "I sure as hell hope so," she said.

Chapter Seventeen

"You lied!" Mike said, throwing his hands in the air as he appraised Kelsey. Anger seethed in his voice as he worked through the ramifications of her lie.

"I was out there looking for him for half an hour!" Flannery added, his face red with anger.

"I'm sorry," was all Kelsey could think to say. She swallowed, absent of a better retort. She'd told the truth, and in telling that truth, she'd asked for this. But the men's anger was worth it if it meant their safety.

"He'll come back here," Flannery said, already speculating. "You know that, don't you?" He turned his gun in his hands. "How will he control himself?"

"He promised he'd try," Kelsey said hopelessly.

"I don't know why you'd do this," Mike said, letting more of his anger out. "You should've told us before we went out there and searched for him."

"What would you have done?" Kelsey asked. "Shot him? Is that what you would've proposed?"

Her response quieted the room. Mike and Officer Flannery looked at each other without an answer.

"He knew he couldn't come down here," Kelsey continued. "He left to keep us safe."

"You should've made us aware of it. Maybe we could've…" Mike's voice trailed off as he fought for a solution. "We could've done something."

The truth was, nobody knew what the right answer was, because nobody had faced something like this before. Protocol and procedure were worthless. Having worked through the initial shock, the men spoke more rationally.

"He won't be able to get inside," Mike said, motioning toward the steel door at the top of the bunker. It looked like he was trying to convince himself. Flannery walked underneath it, staring up at the ladder. He furrowed his brow.

"I wouldn't think so."

Kelsey hugged Silas and Katherine tight. The children shrank against her. Their eyes were wide and confused. In just a few days, they'd lost their parents, Abraham, and Sally. And now they'd heard the news about Tom. She felt awful for shaking their security again.

"It's been twelve hours," Flannery reasoned. "And we haven't heard anything."

"He's probably dead already," Mike concluded. "He didn't look so hot, when he left."

The words struck at Kelsey's core, but she kept her composure, doing her best to calm the children. She glanced at the hatch at the top of the bunker, as if saying Tom's name might've summoned him.

In truth, she wasn't sure she'd ever see him again.

"We'll listen closely," Mike said, "Though I doubt we'll hear anything. It must be getting close to dark. The chances of someone else stumbling on us are pretty slim. I think we'll be safe riding out another night here."

Flannery nodded, convincing himself of that logic. Despite his agreement, Kelsey found herself staring at the hatchway.

Chapter Eighteen

Tom and Maria kept to the ends of the group, wielding their rifles, while Emily, Joseph, and Lana hung in the middle. The baby's insistent cry bounced off the walls of the surrounding houses, making it sound like they'd entered a neighborhood full of children. The reality was that the neighborhood was eerily calm. The wind had ceased gusting. The area was draped in quiet. Without Lana's screams, they might've been walking through a remote area of the wilderness rather than a neighborhood once full of life.

The doors and windows were sufficiently tattered to indicate that no one was left. Despite the houses' condition, Tom saw no bodies. He guessed the creatures had come back and picked through the remains.

Whatever the case, Tom had no urge to slow down or stop.

"I don't like this neighborhood," Maria hissed over at him.

"I don't, either," he agreed.

He peered through each of the windows and doors as they walked, keeping the group to the center of the street. Being exposed felt less dangerous than getting close to the buildings. Tom had the irrational fear that the residences might spring to life and suck them inside. Invisible pairs of eyes seemed to penetrate them from multiple locations, planning the best time to strike.

The feeling grew so strong that he trembled.

"Are you all right, Tom?" Maria asked.

"Ever since we left those people behind, I've felt like we're being watched," he whispered, wiping nervous beads of sweat from his brow.

Maria turned in all directions, concerned. Lana cried and cried. The noise was a blazing alarm, alerting anyone in the area to the group's presence.

"Maybe we should give her a bottle," Tom suggested hesitantly. "It might be worth stopping for a second."

Maria unslung the diaper bag. Handing Tom the rifle, she took the baby while Joseph dug hurriedly in his jacket for a bottle. They gave the food to Lana. She sipped hungrily. Maria handed the baby back to Joseph as they continued walking.

"That's a good girl," Maria whispered.

The baby's noisy slurps were a welcome reprieve from her crying.

The silence and cold persisted.

Tom kept alert for movement in the ensuing houses, but saw nothing. The creepy feeling of being watched subsided, replaced by the biting cold gnawing at his toes and fingers.

Emily blew on her gloved hands. Maria coughed, blowing a frosty mist into the air. Tom's concerns about frostbite and hypothermia returned. Although he might fare better in the cold, he was still nervous for his companions. That anxiety was sated by the fact that they were almost at the bunker.

Crossing another intersection, he recognized another of the street signs, and they followed the path he'd taken with the fire truck. The trip seemed like it'd taken place days ago, even though it'd only been hours. The missing time still had him disoriented. It was hard to believe the day was almost over.

The last night of the storm was a looming presence, perched on their shoulders.

"I still can't believe this happened," Joseph said, shaking his head at the ruined houses.

Tom paused. "You know, I've thought about it a lot over the past few days."

And he had. Each time he was frozen and huddled in a place he'd rather not be, he'd pieced through the reasoning behind the bloodshed.

Maria and Emily watched him, expectant.

"For a while, I was convinced this was the work of some vengeful God. That maybe we were being punished for mistreating the world, or mistreating each other. But hearing how long these things have been around, I've changed my opinion." Tom chewed on that thought.

"What do you mean?" Maria asked.

"I think evil has always existed in the world. But God wants us to persevere through it. That's why we found each other, and why we found Lana." Tom gestured to the snow-covered properties around them, some of which contained bodies. "God wouldn't have done this."

BOOK: Outage 5: The Change
6.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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