Excerpt #3

Emily stared first at him, then at the side-view mirror.

“They are fast…” she exhaled.

Rolling down the highway, Aaron was trying to avoid broken down cars and fallen trees, snow-choked drifts and holes in the road. They were slow, too slow; and the creatures had little trouble keeping up. There was no question of stopping, of course, but he couldn’t accelerate, either.

“It’s like they’re hunting…” he muttered, focus completely on the road. They were nowhere near an established town, not really, so there shouldn’t have been as many as there were. He’d counted five, now, in the last mile, and that meant, logically, there were more he wasn’t seeing. There were always more, always unpredictable. Underestimate them once and you were dead meat.

Emily clenched her hand around her thigh and glanced at Song still sleeping on the backseat. He looked as peaceful, as oblivious as she had been mere minutes ago.

“Maybe it’s because we’re moving or… or making sounds,” she whispered. Aaron couldn’t tell if she was worried about waking her boy, or whether the soft hush was her way of keeping her voice from cracking with fear, but he shook his head, distractedly.

He had to come up with a strategy, some way out of this, but it was high stakes situations like these when his army training broke through and he felt paralyzed, waiting for an order, for someone else to take over and tell him what to do. There was a sense of shame in that, and one he wasn’t eager for her to notice.

“Oh—fuck, no.” Aaron jumped and stepped on the brake pedal. Around a bend, they’d come to a downed tree, large and crushed down by the snow, and the van rolled to a stop in front of it. It had to have fallen sometime during the last storm, as the roots were still caked in soil and snow had frozen in a thick sheet of ice over the trunk.

A dizzying sensation of panic sunk through Emily’s body; she took a rattling breath.

“There’s no way we can move that,” she said still in that small voice, thin but steely.