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Night 52: Main Street
[shocked] try not to show it
zack_fair wrote in damned
[From here.]

Now that they had found the right place, Zack had to remember where exactly the bar was. Had Tifa been there before, or has she only heard about it from other people? Either way, the soldier was fairly certain that he knew where to go from here, and that was to the left.

There was just one problem, though: they weren't alone. While the zombies didn't seem to have noticed them yet, they were still shambling around on the main road, heads tilting to the side or hands outstretched as they searched for food.

For them.

"Looks like we might have to make a run for it," he said with a sigh as he rubbed at the back of his neck. "Unless we want to try the materia out now." It was tempting, but that might also classify as suicidal, hence why he wanted Tifa's opinion.
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[From here.]

Still nobody on the streets, even after breaking in the front door of a reputable business. People must sleep awful deep in this town, Carter mused. "Here, it's this way," he said, beckoning Claire further down the street. Something twitched in the lamplight and made him stumble as he whirled to look at it.

Shadow. Just his shadow. Carter took a few calming breaths to try and get himself back together.

She strolled out after him with a bit of a bounce in her step. Things were looking up. They weren't out of harm's way yet, not by a long shot, but with the axe on her shoulder and the promise of a fully cooked meal ahead Claire's spirits were lifting. She suspected the place might be closed at this hour, but they could still snag something from the storage room. Maybe even use the kitchen if they were lucky. Real ovens with flames that turned on and off with the twist of a knob - no matches or kindling required. Her stomach was growling again already.

Andrew had pulled to a stop, blinking at something she couldn't see. Claire drew up next to him and searched for anything suspicious. She saw nothing. Heard nothing.

She tilted her head at him. "You okay?"

While it might have been easy to jump at shadows, especially tonight, that didn't mean Carter or Claire could let themselves get distracted. Their talking was enough to draw the attention of hungry critters who normally didn't get much in the way of live prey out in Doyleton.

A pair of small, beady eyes gazed on them from the darkness between two buildings. After a moment, a second set of eyes appeared, and they both stared at the patients expectantly. They were ready to attack at any second, eager to sink their teeth into their next meal.


"It's, uh, nothing." Carter's bright smile was a bit strained this time. "Boy, the light sure plays tricks with your eyes around here, doesn't it?" Making you see your shadow dancing around without you, that was just silly.

The silence was starting to get very creepy. The German woods had insects and sometimes birds, and almost always patrols to listen for. Somehow it was even more unsettling when you didn't hear the voices of oncoming soldiers on the wind.

The tension in his grin wasn't missed. Claire found herself checking her own shadow. She caught the tail end of something that might have been a flicker, but the shadow was still now.

"Yeah," Claire blinked at the dark shape, frowning, then turned back to Carter. "I think the lights might be going out. There's nothing here."

Thus far, the town was empty. Nothing to worry about. Yet it was unfamiliar to Claire, and far colder than anything she was used to. Couple that with the twitching shadows and Andrew's nerves, and she was starting to get a bit spooked herself. Claire shivered, warming her free fingers with hot puffs of breath and darting her eyes from window to window.

"Let's just keep moving, okay? We don't have a lot of time."

Edited at 2010-10-31 07:21 pm (UTC)

Claire was wise to tell Carter that they ought to keep going, but that hardly mattered to the two large rats who'd set their sights on them. Letting out a hiss between its sharp teeth, one of the creatures grew impatient and leaped out of the alley. The second followed a split second later, and together they charged at the patients in front of them.

They both darted straight toward the female, not thinking of what would be easiest to bite, but only that they hungered for flesh and blood. Neither of them would be satisfied until they were filled, and one of them eagerly extended its claws as it jumped at the calf of her leg.

The constant wavering of the shadows actually made Carter react slower when something solid jumped out of the alley. By the time he even registered they were real they had already jumped Claire.

"Hey!" Carter shouted, running at them with the crowbar automatically raised. "Hey! Bad dogs! Down!" They were almost rat-shaped but far too big to be rats, hence they were dogs. Carter didn't think quickly on the best of nights and his brain jumped to the nearest heuristic for 'largeish biting mammal'. "Yah!"


Something zipped out of the alley. Claire only caught it from the corner of her eye, and with the shadows flickering it took her a beat to realize that this was something physical. Something animal.

She didn't have enough time to dodge. Just enough to turn and scramble back, heft the ax from her shoulder with a cry and swing it down on instinct. The creatures were a mess of fur flying out from nowhere. She had no idea what the hell was attacking her, save for that they were big with spindly tails whipping behind them.

She'd find out once they were dead.

Though it tried to deeply dig its claws into Claire's legs, it wasn't any match for an ax. The blade struck into the creature's side, crushing many of its delicate bones. Giving a piercing shriek, it lost any grip it might have had on the woman, spewing blood as it flew onto the ground. It still squirmed, trying to get back up in an attempt to at least get one bite of dinner, but its movements were hindered by the injuries it had just taken.

The second rat's attention had been drawn to the man with a crowbar. But instead of seeing a potential weapon, all it saw was food. It hungered for the sweet flesh that was practically right in front of it. Hissing, it leaped toward the man's legs, fangs bared as it tried to get a good bite.

Carter wasn't a violent man. His creations did violent and wonderful things but that was with wires and buttons and clocks, not with his bare hands. He'd never even fired a gun at a living person, although given his aiming skills it wouldn't have made much of a difference. When he killed it was from a distance and the sight of another's blood shed at his hands was a distant and easily avoided sight. When Claire's ax sank into the first dog's flesh (it was a dog, of course, anything that size was a dog, it was just a funny dog with a bare tail and incisors and claws, ha ha) he almost stumbled in his tracks.

Then the second rat turned on him and desperate human survival instinct kicked in. "Get away! Bad dog!" he screamed, and slammed the pointed end of the crowbar down sideways towards the rat's eye.

The thing had been clawing into her pants when the ax hit. She was lucky. If she had swung the ax a moment later it might have landed a bite, and then she'd be risking an infection on top of everything else. That miserable boar hunt from ages ago had never left her mind. She'd been sick for days after the stupid sow had bit her.

One thing was for certain: she wasn't giving it a second chance. The moment the creature reeled away Claire was raising the ax again. This time, she was aiming for the head. As soon as this one went down for good, she was going to have to help out Andrew with the beast barreling towards him. He only had the crow bar and was trying his best to whack the animal away from his feet. While there was something to be said for blunt force, sometimes you were just plain better off with a blade.

God, she could use her old rifle right about now. She could have shot them before they even left the alley and been done with it.

Edited at 2010-11-06 12:44 am (UTC)

The ax slammed down into the injured rat's head, splitting into the skull like a coconut and spilling blood and chunks of brain onto the pavement beneath it. It barely even had time to make a sound before it fell limp, clearly dead.

Meanwhile, Carter's crowbar smashed into the second rat's eye, and it gave out a horrid shriek as it stumbled back. Part of its head was dented in now, dark red liquid pouring from its damaged eye as the creature stumbled back with a low gurgle. But instead of making another charge at the man, it fell onto its side, feet sporadically twitching, but otherwise remaining still.

Carter screamed again, wordless and desperate, and he brought the crowbar down several more times before he realized the rat had stopped moving and his frantic motions gradually slowed. He stared at the creatures in glass-eyed horror, more disturbed by them dead than alive.

Of course Carter had killed people. The way his shadow twisted and danced behind him in the dull lamplight was testament to his works. But he'd never done it up close and personal, never done more than cleanly snapped the necks of chickens on his family's farm and then gone about life as normal. Carnage wasn't an easy concept for a man who, looking back over his life, could not recall a time when he had ever truly been angry.

"I...it..." And there was mattered fur and squish and blood had spattered onto his hands. The crowbar hung slack in Carter's hands as he stared at the carnage he and Claire had wrought on the...the poor confused things, they were only animals...just dogs...strange-looking Future dogs...

"I didn't mean to..."

The head cleaved in two with much more ease than a human's had. Maybe the bones were a little more delicate. Claire only scowled and wrenched the ax out from the mess of gore. Blood pulsed out from the crevice and welled up around the gray insides of its head, flooding it long after the creature had gone still.

She turned back with every intention of driving the ax into the thing attacking Andrew, but it looked like he no longer needed her help. He was doing just fine with the crowbar, whacking away at it even though it had clearly died five hits ago. There was nothing more to do but lower the weapon and wait for his fit to stop.

The man looked so confused. His eyes were as wide as saucers.

"You had to," she said. There was no dressing up the facts. Her lips thinned and she set about cleaning the ax, stoically wiping the red off with the bottom of her shirt. "Them or us, remember? They're animals. If they attack you, you attack back. Sometimes you don't get the luxury of talking things out."

She smiled softly at the lukewarm joke before focusing on the carcasses. Gently, she toed the thing that had tried to bite her until it rolled over, stubby feet seeming to twitch in the air. A look of horror swept across her face. That - god, what? But they were so huge.

"Rats?" Claire backpedaled for a moment, scrambling for some memory of her mother's nature shows about giant rodents the size of dogs. She kept drawing blanks. A bit fearfully, she toed the beast again for a better look at its face. There was no doubt about it. "Oh my god, I didn't know they could get this big..."

"Oh. They're rats. Right." Carter nodded slowly, gaze fixated on the large beasts. His heart was beating so fast it hurt. He liked mice, but he didn't mind killing rats, they were much worse than dogs. But nobody had mentioned rats this size just roaming around in the future towns--monsters, yes, but monsters were great and fantastical things, not something mundane grown huge and terrible.

"There was...I remember, me and Kairi, we were upstairs. I think. It was in the institute. There were all these cages of animals, and they were all funny looking, like someone had messed with them...you think maybe that's where they came from?" From experiments? He swallowed hard and looked up mournfully at Claire. "I was gonna go back and let them all out. I really was. I didn't know they were going to make 'em into monsters." If he'd helped them escape when they were little rats he wouldn't have had to kill them when they were larger rats.

Carter backed away from the corpses, flinging a quick glance down the street to the still-peaceful diner. They should go. They should tell someone. Carter didn't know what they needed to do but they needed to do something so he wouldn't feel so scared.

"So they were experimenting on them?" Claire murmured, brows forming a deep furrow. Her mind whizzed back to the Dharma stations scattered over the island. There were a few with cages, like they could have held animals at one point. Sawyer and Kate had said they'd been kept in polar bear cages for the time they had spent with the Others.

She considered the two groups for a moment. The asylum and Dharma. Was the research still going on? She had found the pit full of skeletons in the Dharma uniform once, so whatever faction was stationed on the island had been wiped out a long time ago. But it wasn't so crazy to think - no, it was very possible - that Dharma still existed on the mainland. Maybe they were allied with the people in the institute, and that's how they were able to take her off the island in the first place. It was difficult to believe the two could be unrelated when the island itself was so hard to find. Hearing about these secretive experiments only made it all the more likely.

Andrew was still badly shaken up. It was odd to Claire, who had grown so used to this kind of mayhem that it was hard to remember that she was once the same way. A lot of people from the plane were. Only necessity had changed them.

Still, it left her at a loss for how to help him out. She bit her lip as she looked him over, transfixed by his woeful gaze. "It's okay. You can't fix everything, Andrew." Hesitantly, she strode over to clasp him on the shoulder. Her hand was a little wet from cleaning the ax off, and it left its shape behind in red on his shirt. "Let's just focus on what we can do. All right? We've gotta take care of ourselves."

She drew away, the ax reclaiming its place on her shoulder. They weren't the most comforting words, she knew, but it was the best she could do. "How about you show me that restaurant?"

Carter wasn't sure he wanted to eat anymore, but he lead the way to the restaurant anyway."I know," he sad reluctantly, as he turned away from the corpses of the rats. His shadow remained a few moments longer, as if still looking at them before following its owner along.

"I just feel sorry for the poor things. They're not monsters, just...animals." He'd psyched himself for horrible bug-eyed thing but he hadn't expected to be beating them to death himself. There was comic book violence and then there was blood and pulp and that horrible hissing noise. It wasn't like bombs at all...bombs were clean. You didn't have to go toe to toe with whatever you were destroying and get the mess all over your hands.

If only they were Nazis instead of rats. That would make it much easier.

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