Chapter 15: Attack

Only a few minutes into their search, and already Alexander was worried about his companion. John seemed to be a barely controlled wreck. Permanent lines were etched across his brow. His cheeks were rough with stubble. His determination to find his wife seemed to be the only thing keeping him going.

They came to the kitchen, which connected to a dining room. The kitchen was bright enough, lit by a window, but the dining room was dark. Alexander entered the darkness, aware that John wasn’t following. The dining room was empty. A large table, cracked in half, occupied the center. Overhead a chandelier hung motionless, draped in cobwebs. Dust piled in drifts against the walls. Nothing else.

Alexander returned to the kitchen, where John was standing still and straight as a post.

“I heard something,” he whispered.

“What—” Alexander started to ask, then he heard it too.

At first he thought of a cat, but that wasn’t quite right. The soft, high coo possessed a measure of intelligence. Mirth. Laughter?

“Where’s it coming from?” He cast about the kitchen, but there was no one beside himself and John. There was, however, a door he hadn’t noticed at first. “In there, maybe?” He reached for the knob, turned it. It screeched in his grip, shedding orange flakes of rust. The hinges stuck for a second, then the door opened…

…onto a brick wall.

“Huh,” Alexander grunted. “That’s suspic—”

He was cut off by the distant slam of a door. It came from somewhere on the first floor, but beyond that he couldn’t pinpoint its source.

“What was that?” John whimpered.

“Sh!” Alexander ordered. He listened. There were footsteps now. Slow, but each one louder than the first. Each one closer. “Hide!”

The word was barely out of his mouth when John took off. Alexander ran to follow him, but John had a head start. He was already at the other end of the hall by the time Alexander got out of the kitchen. Alexander was about to sprint after him when one of those awful footsteps echoed from behind a door just a little bit ahead.

Alexander froze as John disappeared around a corner. The door rattled in its case, its knob squeaked, turned from the other side. Alexander reached into his coat for one of his many weapons as the door began to open.

I’m not ready for this.

Black terror slipped through the cracked door, and before he could see what was on the other side, Alexander was running away.

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