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Dieous the Extinction Guardian: Triassic Invaders
It took one night for the world to start changing. The only notes of the change were only ever written in the pages of the local paper.
That night that changed everything began with a nondescript couple ending their dinner date. The man thought his chicken parmesan was undercooked, or maybe the sauce was bad. Either way it tasted sour, and he couldn’t determine the reason. The woman guffawed at his distress. The man felt a jump in his gut. The chicken was coming up. He ducked near a trashcan and hurled inside. The woman stopped laughing and realized it was food poisoning and would have to take care of him the next morning. She rubbed his back while he finished, then gained the energy to stand. The woman said there was a shortcut through an alley two blocks up. She heard a ticking behind them but ignored it.
The nondescript couple hurried up the two blocks and ducked into the alley. The man pressed his hand against the cold brick and hurled a second time. He wiped his nose and mouth. The woman championed him to get the energy to move. They were only a few blocks from their apartment. There was a second ticking noise. The woman looked toward the noise. A black rat dug its claws into the brick and piping and scurried up the building. The woman yelped at the rodent. The man asked what the noise was, but the woman calmed herself and said nothing. The man wrapped his arm around her neck, then hoisted himself up. The woman rubbed his back again and reassured him it was going to be fine. Scratching and scraping soon followed the ticks. The woman checked the corner of her eye and saw another rat run behind her.
The scratching continued. It grew louder. It became a scraping of nails on concrete. An auditory assault. The man asked what the noise was. They turned around to see yellow orbs surrounded by a lanky, hunched figure. Another rat began its ascension up the pipe, assumable away from the figure, the figure extended its hand with nails the size of a fruit knife. The figure stabbed the rat. The rat’s blood blotted a red circle on the wall.
The couple would have noticed the figure by stench alone if the man’s barf didn’t burn both their noses.
They would have noticed sooner if they didn’t take the alleyway between a comfort food, and craft coffee restaurants. But the remains of the brewed beans, milk, and mocha syrup in the trash can on their right, and the fresh fried chicken, mac and cheese, and spiced green beans wafting out of the kitchen on the left blocked the figures stench regardless of if the man got sick or not.
The figure unstuck his nail from the wall, rat still impaled, lifted the rat to his mouth, and in a moment, was gone. A gulping sound followed. The figure stepped forward and lifted its hand. The woman could see drops of blood and intestines on his long fingernails. Fingernails that were unnatural. Fingernails that looked like claws from a monster.
The woman tried to back up. If she was alone, she would have made it home already. If the man was in good health, he could have fought the figure off. Unfortunately, the couple was not that lucky. The woman decided to uphold their date night plans even though she wanted to go for a run instead. The man should have gotten his first choice of mushroom gnocchi in an alfredo sauce, but he was in the mood for chicken since last night when they were supposed to get subs, but they had to cancel because of an emergency meeting he had at the office.
It was an unfortunately perfect storm for this couple.
The figure revealed his second hand with nails just as sharp. The woman swore she could hear a hissing noise come from the figure’s mouth. The woman took another couple of steps back. She tripped over her boyfriend’s leg and she fell, taking the man with her. The woman sat up and crawled backward, passed the man, stood up, then lifted her boyfriend’s arms and attempted to drag him away. The figure stopped, and watched, head cocked to the side. The woman swore she heard it hiss again but couldn’t be sure.
Sweat tracked down the woman’s forehead, to her armpits. She realized she could not escape from whoever this figure is. She dug in her purse and removed a covered stick of lip gloss and held it up. She thought the rat killing hobo would not be able to see it as lip gloss, believed her when she said it was pepper spray. The figure did not move. She dug her phone out and called 911. The man looked up and asked why she was holding her lip gloss. The woman cursed her boyfriend. The figure shot its head straight.
The figure leaped forward, its nails bearing the main force of its assault. There was scratching on the concrete floor. The figure opened its mouth and the woman saw fanged teeth, carnivorous teeth. The teeth of a predator.
The woman screamed and shrieked.
The cooks in the comfort food restaurant heard muffled noises. One of the other cooks, a newbie, asked what was going on to one of the veterans. The veteran cook said that some weird couples would come to this alley and scream like that all the time. The newbie looked behind him at the alley door but got distracted by the ding of the window bell. When his shift ended at 1 AM he exited through the alley door and entered a police crime scene, with a chalk outline near the craft coffee garbage can, claw marks on the cement floor, and no woman in sight. The newbie felt like static. His vision went blurry and felt pale. He saw a crime photographer kick the garbage can. There was a bang.