Grand escape, p.1
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       Grand Escape, p.1

           Michelle Bryan
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Grand Escape


  Grand Escape

  Bixby Series Short Story

  Michelle Bryan

 

  Copyright © 2016 Michelle Bryan

  All rights reserved.

  Cover Design by Rachel Bostwick

  This book is a work of fiction. People, places, events and situations are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or historical events, is purely coincidental. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.

  Grand Escape

      Sam awoke with a start, unsure of what had stirred him from his sleep. The predawn light filtered through the dirt-encrusted attic window, creating a pattern of dancing shadows across the wooden beams of the ceiling. He stared at them in sleepy confusion. Had he really heard something or had he dreamt it?

       Thump.

        Bolting upright from the musty mattress, his eyes focused on the hatch leading to the floor below. That was no dream.

        Thump!

        This bang was much louder. The heavy chest he’d pushed over the hatch to help keep it down actually shifted a couple of inches.

        Someone or something was trying to get in.

        The next blow woke Amy and she instantly rolled off the cot at his head, landing on her knees beside him on the mattress. Her tilted, gray eyes were wide with fear.

        "Sa..." she began to whisper but Sam quickly covered his little sister's mouth with his hand. Raising an index finger to his own lips, he shook his head.

        Don't make a sound, Ames, he thought, hoping desperately she got the message in his panicked eyes. Amy nodded behind his hand and he knew she understood. Silently he rose to his feet and inched toward the chest, heart pounding and praying fervently that the floorboards of the old attic wouldn’t creak with his movement. Sitting on the chest and adding to the weight, the next push from below was nowhere near as effective in moving the barrier.

        "Give it up, Steve man. Obviously it's stuck. Probably nothin' good up there, anyways."

       The disembodied voice floated up through the floorboards with the clarity of glass. Sam couldn't agree with it more.

        Yeah. Give it up, Steve.

       "I'm telling you, there's someone up there. I know I saw a light glimmering up there last night. And that means they gotta have supplies."

        This was followed by a rapid thumping underneath, as if whoever was standing under the hatch was pounding it with their fist. "We know you're up there. There ain't nowhere to go. You may as well give us what you got and maybe we'll let you live. Or maybe we'll just feed you to the freaks."

        Laughter followed the threat and Sam felt the ice-cold tendrils of terror squeeze his heart. Why was this happening? Why has the world gone berserk? A slight sob reached his ears and he looked over at Amy. She was still on her knees on the mattress, her face scrunched up with the effort of trying to stay quiet. She didn’t quite succeed. Tears dripped down her cheeks as the tiny whimper escaped. It almost made Sam cry too. Almost. But at fourteen he was supposed to be a man now, and for Amy to see him cry would be her undoing. He knew that. He had to stay strong for his little sister.

        The laughter finally faded away along with the footsteps, but Sam remained on the chest for a good ten minutes more. He wanted to make sure they were actually gone. The slamming of the heavy front door shook the old house and rattled the tiny window. Was it a trick? With crippling hesitation Sam slide off the chest and shuffled over to the grimy glass. He could make out three figures standing on the sidewalk below, heads swiveling from side to side as they watched for the “freaks” in the car-infested street. They were leaving.

        Falling back against the bare beams of the attic wall, he closed his eyes in relief. The reprieve was short lived however, as Amy's low keening reached his ears and he knew she was on her way to a full out meltdown. He crossed the room in two strides and knelt beside her on the mattress, pulling her into his arms.

         "Hey, it's okay," he whispered soothingly as he stroked the curly black hair so similar to his own. "It’s okay, Ames. They’re gone."

        "It's... not... okay..." she cried into his shoulder. “I... want ... my daddy. Where's... my... daddy?"

        "I don't know, Amy," he sighed gently, "but I sure as hell wish he was here too."

                                                                        ***

         It had been just over five weeks since that strange cloud had covered the city. Five weeks since they’d last seen their father. He’d left for work that fateful Saturday morning. Called in for overtime on his day off and leaving an extremely pissed Sam to watch over Amy all day, instead of playing ball in the park with his friends like he had planned.

      He wasn’t about to take her to the park with him like last time. Although his friends didn't have any issue with Amy and her Down syndrome, other kids at the park weren't always as understanding. She had cried a lot the last time over the cruel comments she’d overheard, and he didn't have the heart to put her through that again. He’d just have to resign himself to the fact that the day would be spent most likely watching that stupid DragonHeart movie she loved so much. Yup, just what he needed, to watch that again for about the hundredth time.

        The senior Samuel had kissed Amy on the top of the head and tousled Sam's hair as he passed by them eating cereal at the breakfast table. He promised them pizza for supper. The pizza, nor their father, had ever arrived.

        The cloud had come instead.

  Sam had been sitting on the couch texting his buddy Jon and whining about being stuck with his sister, when all of a sudden the phone’s screen flashed a couple of times before going totally blank. The F-bomb that dropped from his lips was instinctive and he glanced up, hoping it hadn’t been overheard by Amy. That was all he needed, for her to rat him out again to their father. He’d gotten in big trouble for that the last time. But instead of finding Amy gawking at him in disapproval, he was surprised to see the house in almost total shadow. Was it that late? The early evening sun that had been streaming through the window with the intensity of a fireball only a moment ago had abruptly disappeared. Curious, Sam had gotten up off the couch and gone to the open window to investigate. The sun was gone, totally obliterated by a gray, heavy cloud cover. And not just the sun. The whole street seemed to have been swallowed up by the mist. He could barely see two feet past the window. Weird.

  At first he thought his eyes were playing a trick on him as the misty vapor seemed to come alive with sparkling, floating crystals. What kind of mist was that? He’d never seen any fog look like that before. Like any typical fourteen-year-old boy he’d stuck his hand into the fog, wondering if he could catch what looked like tiny, glittering fireflies darting about. As soon as he touched the mist though, he drew back. It had a strange, sticky wetness to it that just felt... wrong.

      Shivering slightly, he watched it a little longer, mesmerized. It crept slowly through the window, its wet tendrils covering his face, almost caressing with its slick touch. The crystals seemed to swarm in front of his eyes, hovering there as if studying him back. He breathed some in; he could feel them go down his throat and he started retching at the oily taste in his mouth. Coughing and gagging, he finally spat them out and watched as they floated back out the window to be re-absorbed by the mist. What the heck...?

         A car horn blared loudly in the fog and he nearly jumped from his skin. He laughed at himself, feeling
a little foolish at his fright. But then the blast was followed by another... and another.

      The whole street, still covered by the strange mist, became awash with the sounds of blowing horns, and slamming doors and yelling. Sam peered through the gloom, wondering what was going on. Was there an accident of some sort? He wished the haze would disappear so he could see what was happening. It would be the most excitement he’d seen all day. Whatever it was, it had to be better than watching that stupid movie.

          Suddenly an unholy scream pierced the air, and the hair on the back of Sam's neck stood on end as if he’d just been hit with an electric shock. The echo of the scream didn’t even get a chance to fade before it was joined by another. The screams perforated the mist, muting every other sound. Frozen in place, Sam was vaguely aware of how glad he was now that he couldn’t see the street, for the screams were unmistakable sounds of terror and agony.

        The windowsill slammed shut with a bang barely missing Sam's fingers, as Amy blocked out the terrifying noises.

  “Crap, Amy. You nearly took my fingers off,”
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