DARK HEART OF WINTER
“Hot damn, but it’s cold,” Marv says for what seemed like the hundredth time.
It ain't any news to me though. I know it’s cold. I’ve been tryin’ to keep this meager fire goin’ from what busted up furniture we could
find since the firewood ran out a few days ago. Gus, our cousin, went out to get firewood about an hour ago. I hope to hell he hurries. This damn fire
is about to die. At least there aren’t any of those crawlers out there. That’s what people call those critters that are nothing but mouths,
tentacles, and eyeballs that’ve been poppin’ up since the fall. They call it “the fall” because those damn critters and worse stuff fell from
them space ships a while back. All of them things have been up in the big cities like Detroit; though, at least that’s the last we heard before the
power and internet went nuts up.
We been in this cabin for a while now. It must be about four weeks ago since we got here for our huntin’ trip. We come out here to get away from
town. People was startin’ to act funny and supplies were gettin’ low. We thought we’d be okay out in the old huntin’ cabin. There’s a stock
of canned food there and a well. We figured when we ran out of food we could get some more by huntin’. The woods have been mighty quiet though.
It’s like everythin’s been layin' low.
We tried to leave before but the damn truck was fried. Seems like none of the gadgets work. My brother, Herb went out for help a few days back but
never did come back. He’s probably out there froze stiff because that blizzard came through the mornin’ after he took off. I try not to think
about that. It’ll be us froze stiff soon if Gus doesn’t hurry the hell up.
Jess starts bitchin’ about how the beer is all gone again and then Marv starts up his moanin’ about the cold and I tune them out. They just
won’t shut the hell up, though, and I’m about to tell them to can it when the door creaks open and Gus stumbles in. He’s lookin’ green around
the gills like he ate somethin’ that don’t sit right with him and his eyes are all glassy like the eyes of the buck we got hung over the
“Where’s the wood? We ain’t got nothin’ to keep this damn fire goin’,” I say but he just stares at me.
“I wish we had some damn beer,” Jess says again.
Marv starts to say somethin’, probably somethin’ about how damn cold it is, but Gus reaches out and grabs him. He starts shakin’ and some weird
thing shoots out of his mouth. It looks like long spider legs. They latch onto Jess’s face. Jess starts buckin’ and jerkin’. Gus lets him go
and turns toward Marv. Jess falls to the floor squirmin’. Marv yells out and runs at Gus. He get grabbed and that thing shoots out of Gus’s
mouth again. Marv hits the ground just like Jess did.
I don’t know what the hell is goin’ on but I ain’t about to get tangled up in that mess. Gus jerks around and starts stalkin’ toward me.
He’s movin’ all stiff-like like he don’t know how to move his body no more. I manage to get to the shotgun and let loose right at him. Gus
stumbles back a bit but starts comin’ on again. Worse, Marv and Jess are back on their feet and comin’ on at me, too. They got those spider leg
things comin’ out of their mouths and they’re lookin’ mighty hungry.
There’s no place to run to here. It’s just the one room in the cabin. I break out one of the windows with the cast iron fryin’ pan and just
manage to get out as one of them grabs onto my leg. For a second there I think I’m toast and I’m gonna end up like the others but my pant leg
tears and I get loose. I can hear them raisin’ hell in the cabin and don’t dare slow down enough to look back. I know they’ll be comin’
I don’t know where the hell to go. At least I had my coat on in the cabin. Still, it’s damn cold. I don’t know how long I run before I start
hearin’ the brush rustlin’ and thrashin’ a ways back. I know they’re gonna get me before long if I don’t find a place to hide.
I’m all covered in sweat and out of breath when I spot a dark spot in the snow. I swerve toward it and see that it’s a cave. There might be a
bear in there but at least it’s winter and they’re most likely sleepin’ anyway. Being ate by a bear can’t be as bad as freezin’ to death or
getting whatever happened to the others. I take my chances and dive on in. It’s dark as a miner’s asshole in here but when I light a match I see
that I got the place to myself. I get to the back of the cave and see a crack just big enough for me to squeeze through. I make myself as small as I
can and squirm on into that crack. It opens into a larger area, I guess you’d call it a cavern. At least I’ll be safer in here. It’s a bit
warmer in here too. Still, I ain’t got no food or water and don’t know how long I can stay without starvin’ to death. Wouldn’t that be a
treat, gettin’ away from whatever the hell Gus and the others have become, only to starve to death?
Some time’s gone by. I light a match and check my watch and see that it’s nine o’ clock. Lucky it’s the windin’ type that don’t need no
batteries to run or I wouldn’t even have that. I guess I been in here goin’ on four hours. I haven’t heard a damn thing from outside. I guess I
lost them. I’m startin’ to finally feel safe, when I hear this skitterin’ noise comin’ from the dark. I don’t know what the hell it is but
it don’t sound good. I light another match and see dark little things movin’ around. Oh hell. Somethin’s in here with me. The sounds are all
around me now. I also hear these squishin’ noises and somethin’ grabs my leg. I get loose and run. I bonk off the wall and almost fall down but
grab hold. The crack! I’m right by that crack I come in.
I get my ass back into the crack and work my way back to the cave. I still hear those squishy skitterin’ noises behind me though and it makes me
hurry all the faster. I heave a sigh of relief when I finally get back to the cave mouth. It’s full night now and I don’t hear a thing out
there. I can’t say the same for the cave behind me. Those things are comin’. I run out into the cold and snow. Somethin’ grabs me and jerks
me around. It’s Gus. He’s got a good hold on me and I can’t get loose. It wouldn’t matter anyway. Jess and Marv are there, too. Gus leans
all close like he’s gonna kiss me and I feel something hard and scratchy movin’ into my mouth. Somethin’ hits me like an electric shock and the
world goes dark.
I come around I don’t know how long later. I’m movin’ alongside Jess, Gus, and Marv. I say “movin’” but it’s more like my body is
movin’. I don’t have no control over it. I feel like a puppet and somebody else is movin’ my strings. Things are gettin’ a bit fuzzy. I
guess I don’t have long left in the world. At least I don’t feel the cold no more.
edit on 27-11-2019 by Skid Mark because: Formatting and