Their howls pierce the night like nails on a chalkboard, my skin breaks into goose flesh as I cower in the closet of my home. No one knows where they came from and I’m afraid if they continue on their hunt, I’ll surely be dead by morning. Authorities aren’t responding, the lines weren’t built to accommodate all residents calling at the same time and now no one can get through. The signal on my cell ran out a little while ago and landlines are all jammed. I tried to help, and when I couldn’t, I tried to call for help but now they’re all dead and I’m all that’s left. I don’t know how much longer I can hold out here, I’m typing this on my phone as I hide, hoping beyond all hope that someone can send help.
I should probably let you know what’s happening.
I live in the small town of Caroline, Alberta. It’s a dreary, little town with a very insubstantial population of five hundred and thirty people. It’s primarily a farming town and if you followed the highway that bisects us east, you’d see nothing but farmland for hundreds of miles. It stretches as far as the eye can see. If you head west, however, you would find yourself surrounded by the expanse of wilderness where they came from.
I work at a gas station located in the center of the city. It is the only one in town, it’s the only one we need. The spaces between pumps are wide to allow for tractors and all other manners of farming equipment – not that they’re merrily driving their tillers through here, don’t get the wrong idea – so no one really needs another gas station, nor do they expect one. There’s only five hundred and thirty people in town, what do you expect.
You probably don’t care about all that anyway, probably just thinking to yourself, “what are they?” Well to be frankly honest, I’m not sure, we initially thought they were wolves. Now, well, as I said, I’m not sure. But they certainly aren’t wolves.
The howls had initially erupted yesterday morning around eight. See, this close to the mountains, you’re bound to hear wolves howling in the depths of the night, as they struggle to locate each other in the darkness of night. We’ve never heard them this early though. Or this close.
I was on shift, I alternate every twelve hours with Bobby. I get the morning and afternoon shift, he gets the night shift. On the weekends we get Hank and Lloyd to run the shop. We also have a couple part timers from the local high school. At least we did, but now I think they’re all gone. The howls were loud enough to be heard from the inside of the store and for a moment, I thought they were inside the store. See, we have double pane windows and doors on account of semi trucks being loud as all hell when they idle. Management thought we could use the quiet so they made the store as soundproofed as possible. We could barely hear the Semis with all the glass, so in order for any sound to come through the store at that volume, it would have to be tremendously loud.
I’d placed down the book I’d been reading and rushed over to the window to see what had produced such a noise, but saw nothing. Opting to leave to go investigate, I grabbed the safe keys and shoved them into my pocket. I wrote a “back in 5” note on a slip of receipt paper and taped it to the door then let it swing closed. I left it unlocked. Now, I know, irresponsible right? Well, it was eight am in the damn morning, farmers around here are up well before that and gas up nearer the end of the work day. No one was going to be coming through that couldn’t wait five minutes for me to get back to my post. Calm down.
I walked out onto the long since faded asphalt and stared down the empty road to the treeline beyond. In a big city, an empty street is a red flag, in Caroline, it’s the norm. At this hour, everyone is either working or too old and is withering away in their home. Only ever leaving their homes to go to the only diner in town for the 3:00pm early bird special.
The first one ran across the street then. It’s pale form scuttled across the asphalt, limbs flying out in various directions as it ran. It was a quadruped, and appeared humanoid in shape, however it had two distinct arms emerging from where it’s shoulder blades should be and it was horribly emaciated, as if it hadn’t eaten in weeks, if not months. It’s skin was pale and pulled tight across its bony body. I could hear its joints cracking as it moved.
It ran straight up to the front door of a house that stood on the street side and barreled through it, as if the door wasn’t even there. I heard the startled screams emanating from within and turned to run back to the station. I got to the door and flung it open, ran to the counter and hurdled it. I anxiously swept my hand underneath where the register was, breathing out a sigh of relief when my hand found purchase on the double barreled shotgun underneath. I knew it was loaded, that gave me two shots. I dug around in pocket and pulled out the key to the safe. Bending down, I opened the false cupboard and jammed the key into the lock, turning it as I grasped the handle and pulled.
Inside, there was a stack of cash to replenish the register if necessary, some coins, a log book for the cash and a small box of cartridges for the shotgun. I grabbed the box and counted its contents. 8 more rounds, all buckshot. That gave me ten shots total.
Now I’d been hunting plenty of times. You take a week off and go stay out at your friend’s cabin. Spend the first night scouting with a red flashlight looking for eye flares and then the next day you try to find the animal in the area you had seen the eyes. This was a little different though. This would be like hunting a moose, if the thing charges, I didn’t think I’d have much time to get a shot off. The small amount of reserves I had meant I would need to make every shot count as I worked my over to Lloyd’s house.
Why Lloyd? Because Lloyd is the person I’d go hunting with. He may be a coworker, but as far as I know, he keeps his small arsenal at home well stocked. If anyone would have a means to eradicate whatever those things were, it would have been him.
I ran up the street towards Lloyd’s house and saw several of the creatures laying on the ground out front; an inky black liquid spreading on the ground beneath them. I saw Lloyd standing in his doorway, cigar in one hand, shotgun in the other. He looked at me and gestured hello with his cigar. I began moving towards him, my shotgun bobbing as I ran. When I drew near however, another howl erupted over the town, sending me to my knees as my eardrums threatened to burst. I clamped my hands over them in time though, throwing my shotgun to the ground in the process. Lloyd wasn’t so lucky, he lay on the ground writhing in pain. I got up and stumbled over, worried for my friend.
Blood ran down the sides of his face and onto his hands, which were now clamped over his ears. By the sheer amount it was evident his eardrums had burst from the sudden onslaught of noise. He reached over and grabbed his shotgun, dragging himself up off the ground onto unsteady legs. It was clear is equilibrium was shot. He aimed the gun at me and I froze, was he going to shoot me? But he flicked the barrel off to the side, gesturing for me to move. I stepped out of the way and turned to see the creatures standing up, the inky substance that I had assumed was their blood was flowing back inside of them.
I cursed and ran back to my gun. As I was picking it up, a sudden gunshot shattered the silence that had unknowingly descended over Caroline. I snatched up the shotgun and turned to see Lloyd falling over; the recoil of the shotgun blast knocked him off balance and sent him back to the ground. Two of the creatures pounced on him tearing chunks of flesh off and shoving them into their mouths, which folded open to reveal numerous large and sharp teeth.
I mumbled out “Jesus Christ.”
One of their heads snapped over to me, a low guttural noise escaping from the depths of its throat. It leaped off of Lloyd and ran straight at me. Readying my shotgun, I braced myself and fired. Buckshot sprayed through the air and peppered the creature’s face, turning it into a chewed up pile of flesh. This sparked the attention of two others. I turned and ran, breaking the shotgun getting ready to slide another cartridge into the chamber.
My heart beat with a frenzy as the fear gripped me and my hands began to shake. I pulled a cartridge out and was about to slide it in when I fumbled it and it fell. There was no time to retrieve it so I pulled out another and managed to slide it home. I snapped the shotgun back together and turned almost screaming as I saw the monsters were no more than ten feet away from me now. I shouldered the shotgun and fired off both rounds in quick succession, nailing one in the chest and the other in the leg obliterating it entirely. The first one fell and stopped moving, dead. For now. The second began to crawl after me, its stump digging into the earth as it pulled itself along.
I readied another two rounds and aimed right at its head, firing both rounds straight through. It slumped over, unable to move without its brain. I broke the shotgun once more and slid two more rounds in. Leaving me with four rounds total. I needed to find somewhere to hide.
I looked around and recognized the road I was on. It was my street! I mean in all fairness I had a one in four chance of ending up on the right street. I ran down the block, shooting one more creature on the way. Three shots. When I got to my house, I paled, the door was knocked down and I could see the thing moving around in the entryway. My palms got even sweatier and clenched tighter on the stock of the shotgun. I had to make these shots count. I ran into the house and shot the creature on the main level, it went down easily taking down a lamp as it fell.
A bounding sound reminiscent of a dog running sounded on the level above me. It shrieked as it came down the stairs, bounding towards me a top speeds. I aimed and fired once, grazing it’s leg but not slowing it. I shot again and it’s back legs exploded, but not before it had the chance to make its final leap.
It soared through the air and landed on me, knocking the wind out of me. It opened its mouth and was preparing to clamp down on my face while I failed around with my hands, desperate to find anything I could use to hit it with. I found the lamp.
I slammed it into the creatures head but it didn’t budge, I hit it again, and again and it finally let go when I sent the lamp’s base through its skull. The inky substance spewed all over me and I gagged. It smelled like a rotting corpse. The creatures body went limp and it fell on top of me. I pushed it off and struggled to get up onto my feet. When I was finally standing, I walked to the stairs and began to climb them, I knew the perfect spot to hide.
This is where we are now. I don’t know if this will even get out or if there’s any way for you to send help. The people of Caroline are gone but these creatures need to be stopped. So if you can, please, send help.
I just heard another howl.
Now I can hear them moving around downstairs.