Click here for Chapter 2.
“We’re with you guys,” Jim whispers. I keep my eyes on the figures moving outside. I see Emma’s ears twitch as Jim’s whisper fades into the air. They are coming closer and appears to be sniffing the air, like guard dogs. With every sniff, they take a step forward.
“Jim?” says the voice. “It’s me, Matt.”
The creatures inch closer and closer to our door. I whimper softly in fright.
“Sshh. They can hear you.” Matt’s whisper is not as soft as it should be. Then Emma turns and stares at the glass panel, walking slowly towards me, bells jingling.
Emma and I are practically staring at each other through the glass panel, her eyes rolling and eyelids inside out. She still looks like her even with her mutated features – heart shaped face, long curly hair and her fringe covering one side of her face. Her acid green teeth are glowing together with the rest of its body, heating up the panel and fogging up the glass. A part of me regrets very much for not forcing her to stay with me that afternoon, but the other part feels utterly relieved to have something separating the two of us now.
A loud scream pierce the air from a distance. Emma lets out a snarl, head turning in the direction of the scream. The group of creatures thrashes away at top speed, looking for our saviours. Seizing the chance, Jim pulls me away from the door. I nearly trip when we hit the first step of the stairs. I climb the stairs at high speed, trembling, my only comfort being that the entire staircase building is in the dark. Much as I had wanted to save as many people as possible in the afternoon, my mind now wishes deeply no one would come into this part of the building, luring the glowing skeletons here.
“Come on, this floor’s entirely dark,” Matt whispers as we slow down to a stop.
He opens the door cautiously and sneaks out into the corridor. I follow closely behind, moving as quietly as possible through the darkness. Then there is a soft clinking of the keys and a room door opens. We dash inside and shuts the door, bolting it, heaving a sigh of relief as the lock clicks home.
“Keep the lights off. I’ve got a torchlight.”
Someone shoves something soft into my hand. Realising that it is a blanket, I instinctively stretch it out as I feel that someone is pulling on the other end.
“Get under it.”
I stoop down and crawl under the blanket. As soon as we are all seated on the floor, a torchlight clicks on. For the first time, Matt’s face came into view. He is clean shaven, in thick glasses and has a head of neatly combed, curly brown hair
“All of you alright?” he asked softly.
A nod in reply is only all I can manage.
“What are those things?” Jim asks. He is pale, hands trembling slightly as he holds on to the torchlight. Both of their faces are shining with sweat and I am sure so is mine. We are still panting slightly from the escape.
“I don’t know. But they’re like phantoms. You can hardly see them under the light. They are practically invisible in the day and you only know that they are there when they hit you.”
“Phantoms? You’ve seen these things before?” I ask in response to Matt’s answer.
“Yeah. They attacked the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering last week. I barely escaped.”
He draws the blanket closer and hug his backpack, which reminds me that I had left mine behind. “Listen, I am leaving before sunrise. Are you guys coming?”
“They’re out there. They’ll kill us.” Jim shakes his head firmly.
“We can’t stay here either. Before long we’ll run out of food. They’re bound to find us in here.”
I secretly agree with Jim. Matt’s room seems like the most ideal hiding place for now. If we keep our mouth shut and soundproof the place, those things will never know that we are here. Besides, it is dark out, we can’t even see where we were going. How are we going to make a successful escape attempt?
“Listen, Matt. They run at top speed, they come together in groups. If we get caught we’ll have no chance against them. How are we going to escape? The school is huge,” I pipe up, hoping to dissuade him from his ideas.
“Simple. We go underground.” Matt’s eyes glint as he suggests it, as though it is some ingenious plan.
“There is no ‘underground’ in school, Matt.”
“Yes there is.”
He reaches into his backpack and pulls out something. Laying it out in front of us, we all recognise it as the building’s map. But something seems to differ from the usual fire escape plans which we see stuck to the end of the staircases. It is littered with tiny dots and rectangular features. He stretches out s finger and points at a small little path.
“How is that underground?” I ask, confused.
“Of course it is. It’s the sewers.” He grins.
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
When I was young Dad used to bring me to the playground. There we played with the swings and the see-saws. We built sandcastles with the small little pails Mum bought me. Every Saturday, the three of us would head down to the playground together and then some root beer float and ice cream waffles after. This routine only stopped when Mum died when I was seven. Dad said he could not bear to go back to that place. It turned out it was where he first met Mum.
Ever since then I would go down to the playgrounds alone and wished that someone would play with me. Sometimes I watched the other kids play catch and envied those girls who had their fathers to push the swings for them. One day when I was just done building my sandcastle, a little boy came over to ask me if I wanted to join them in a game. I agreed. I was to be blindfolded and be led to the slides to count to ten. Before I could finish counting, however, there were fits of laughter. I peeled off the blindfold to see my sandcastle crumbled to the ground. Broken. Gone. I ran home crying. I had never cried so hard before.
When Dad heard about it, he rushed down to the playground to look for the boys and yelled at them till they cried. He then brought me to have some root beer float and ice cream waffles. Since then, we strolled to the playground every night after dinner and built our own sandcastles.
“Didn’t you hate coming back here, Dad?” I remember myself asking as I piled more sand into the bucket.
“I realised this is a place for princesses and I was sent here to protect them,” he had replied.
My fingers tighten around the necklace which Dad had given me for my twenty-first birthday. It is rose gold in colour, the pendant in the shape of a tiara. I raise it up to my lips and kiss it. The moment the boys had decided to get out of this place, I had decided to go home to get Dad. We will flee this horrifying place together. We will be safe with each other.
“Done?” Matt asks, buckling up his backpack. Jim is emptying the noisy contents from his bag and wrapping smaller trinkets in socks and towels.
“Jim, we’re going into the sewers. These are only gonna get wet and heavy,” I point out. “Why are you bringing your hairspray?”
He holds up the metal Gatsby can and shakes it in my face. “I can’t live without this.” He wraps it up in a towel and stuffs it into his bag.
Jim hands me a Swiss knife. I swallow hard and click a blade open, then follow Matt to the door.
The corridor is dark once more and we walk in a single file, hand in hand. We make it past a turn and walk down the stairs. Everything is fraudulently peaceful. There isn’t a single sound except for the leaves rustling in the trees. Where has everyone else gone? Are there still people hiding in their own rooms? The walk feels like a tour round the haunted house in the theme park during the Halloween season. I had sprinted through the entire place, screaming, the moment I was scared by the first ‘ghost’. Evidently, I couldn’t do that here and I had never dreaded any walk this much before.
We reach the lobby safely after what seems like the longest time. In a distance the streetlamps are still on and we walk in that direction. Matt is guiding us based on what he remembers on his map. I feel a little more reassured from the dim light on the streets. We trek along the roadside for a while. Most of the lights in the dormitories had gone out. Finally we reach a cross junction where we take a right turn into the sports complex. A giant, round metal cover is nested in the middle of the grass patch not far from us.
“This is it. That’s the sewers below.” Matt kneels down on the metal cover which is dimly illuminated by a streetlamp nearby.
“How are we going to get in there?” I ask.
Matt reaches into his backpack and retrieves a mini crowbar. He starts prying at the lock buckling the metal cover to the ground. Jim opens his backpack, tosses out a few things and takes out a screwdriver to help.
CLINK! CLINK! CLINK!
The clanking of metal on metal fills the air and dread creeps down right to my fingertips. In no time at all, snarling joins in the ruckus the two boys are creating. It grows steadily louder and louder as the creatures nears us, flashing on and off between the intervals of the flickering of the streetlamps. One of them is wielding a bat. The group looks small, for some reason, just three of them. As they approach us, arms flailing, I scan the area to check for more attackers, but there is none. In fact, all of them are crowding around a large canal on the far side of the sports complex, ignoring us the entire time.
The three monsters reach the junction and comes thrashing towards us. Matt continues clanking down on the stubborn lock in desperation, but it doesn’t seem to be coming apart anytime soon.
“Uhh… Matt…” Jim begins, standing up with the screwdriver still in his hands.
“Should we just run for it? Hide somewhere?” I suggest, heart racing.
“Come on!” Matt growls, slamming the crowbar down on the lock in frustration. A dent appears and there is a glimmer of hope.
“Can we take them?” Jim asks. “Buy him more time.”
“How do we take them?” I question in reply, clicking the blade of my Swiss knife open and brace for the attack.
But there is no time to answer. The three monsters pounce as the streetlamp above us snuffs out. They hit us like meteors that had just come crashing into Earth. One of them pins me down to the ground and I lay there for a slight moment, completely winded by the impact. As soon as I muster enough strength to retaliate, I start jabbing my Swiss knife blindly. Black, hot substance oozed out of the open wounds. They drip onto my hand, which starts burning and smoking. Crying out in pain, I push the monster back as hard as possible. No sooner had I got up from the ground, it is already charging towards me. This time I slash it across its face and a scar glows red. It snarls, revealing its acid green teeth and lunges. Crouching down, I close my eyes in fright and raise my Swiss knife in defense. The next thing I know, there is loud sputtering. I open my eyes to see the monster’s face just inches from mine, the Swiss knife pierced through its decaying neck. I back away as I pull out my knife and it collapses onto the tarred floor, black bile forming a pool around its head. It stays there, snarling between gasps and sputters, but no longer coming for me.
Matt is still attempting to break the lock while Jim takes on the other two. I lunge for Emma, grabbing her hand which is swinging the bat. But the bat is glowing red hot from the heat Emma is emitting from her own skin and I let go the moment I lay my hands on it. I look at my hands which are already scalded red, skin peeling off. Emma changes her target and lunges at me. She swings her bat and bares her acid green teeth. She prepares to pounce.
Emma whirls around and meets a cloud of hairspray directed into her eyes. The other monster lies on the ground on its side, one leg twisted in a grotesque angle, black substance spilling out of its knee. Unfazed by the attack, Emma lunges at Jim once more, strangling him the second time in the night. The can of spray and screwdriver clatter to the ground as Emma lifts him of his feet. I scramble for them.
A bluish tinge is creeping up Jim’s face by the time I pick them up from the floor, the skin on his neck scalded red. I sneak up behind Emma and jabs the screwdriver through her. Like the others, black bile leaks out as she turns and snarls at me. She releases Jim, who crumples to the floor, choking. Dropping the screwdriver, I run towards Matt, who sticks out his leg. I leap over it, but a loud thud and snarl follows as I turn back to find Emma face down on the ground. Matt backs away hurriedly. Her bat rolls over to my feet and I pick it up.
“Get out of the way!” Jim hollers at us.
He is sprinting towards Emma, using the screwdriver to puncture a hole in the spray can as he comes. I swing the bat at her to buy him more time and she collapses to the side, scowling. He stuffs it under her where hot black goo is forming, burning off the tarred floor. Emma then attempts to get onto her feet, crouching over the floor on her hands and knees, spilling more black good onto the spray can as she does.
The can explodes at the temperature, blasting Emma backwards. She rolls over on the ground, her face ruined. Glowing red and with black bile trickling out of her nose and mouth at the same time. The explosion had blasted her torso apart. She gasps, her eyes resting on me and then she stops moving, dead. At the same time, a loud clank which announces that the lock has broken. Together we lift the metal cover and a foul stench overwhelms our nostrils.
Suddenly a noise comes from our right. Emma is moving again. I raise the bat to get ready in case she attacks. But she isn’t coming for us. She twitches and struggles as she got to her feet. Slowly, the glowing red disappears, revealing her in a burnt blue blazer and the jingling bangles. But her face remains distorted as she starts vomiting green liquid which burns a hole in the ground. She grows twice her size as her shoulders widen, her back hunching forwards. The blazer bursts apart as she is revealed naked, wrinkled gray, her back fused with what looks like a transparent tank of bubbling green chemical. She leers, showing those green teeth. Then she gives a great roar.
The instant the roar fills the air, loud retching and snarling erupt from the canal. The mob starts approaching us. Only Emma stands there, leering as she waits for her army to reach us.
“Jump in!” Matt yells.
I don’t need to be told twice. Taking a deep breath, I take a leap and feel Jim coming after me, his feet colliding hard into my shoulder. A loud yell and clang inform me that Matt has come in after us. I close my eyes and brace myself for the impact.
The Final Evolution © 2013 by Auby Sparksfield. All rights reserved.
Written by: Ms. Auby Sparksfield
Edited by: Isaac Tan
Click here for Chapter 2.