The Hood by Tyler Scott Hess
“Bag? Check. Keys? Check.” I need to stop talking to myself, but I’m used to having to explain myself to everyone. Now that I’m alone, I suppose it doesn’t matter why I do what I do. Talking is a habit I forced upon myself to get attention among eleven older brothers and sisters. I don’t need attention anymore. I need revenge. “Dagger? Check.”
I take two steps outside my door before I hear my keys jingling in my pocket. I scramble around to the back of the house to hide them under the garden hose before I resume my trek. I don’t know if I’ll ever make it back home to retrieve them, but I’m not going to make it easy for the wolves to make a claim on our possessions.
I cinch my bag down on my back and hop on my motorcycle. Well, it’s mine now. At least until Robbie comes back for it. If he’s still alive. I don’t know what they did with him or any of the rest of us. I don’t know why I’m the only one left. I thought I’d be the most vulnerable. They took the strongest out first and the rest have followed one by one. If I’m going down, it won’t be by playing it safe.
I head north on the interstate. There’s not much traffic to get in my way these days. Too many people are afraid to come out of their homes. They think their basements will keep them safe. But everyone has to come up for food eventually. Somehow they keep getting snatched out of thin air. Maybe our houses are bugged. I hope I didn’t say anything I shouldn’t have.
No one knows who these beasts are or why they’re coming after us. Rumors tell the tale of these invaders coming from a lake up north, so that’s where I’m headed. With everyone hiding away, the only lights I expect to see belong to our attackers. Filthy mongrels. What do they want with us?
The clouds let out a trickle that turns into a downpour halfway to my destination. I have to slow my pace, but there’s still time. Robbie always told me that such monsters do most of their work when everyone else is sleeping. My only hope is that they’re too busy tonight to notice my presence.
I approach the lake and it’s just as I had expected. The only lights on around the lake are grouped together. They’re a small, but vicious community. They must be. How else could so few in number decimate an entire village in so little time?
I slow my bike’s roar down to a purr before I get too close. I park it behind a group of trees thick enough to mask my intrusion. If anyone saw this beauty I’d be a dead woman in minutes.
I reach for my dagger and begin my descent into the valley. I’m careful to watch for traps along the way, but it seems they have no fear of intruders. They’re accustomed to playing offense in this sick game of theirs. I reach the bottom of the hill, but have to hide behind an unlit house while I catch my breath.
I sneak around the house to get a better glimpse of their set up. A half dozen houses all in a row. They all look the same and each of them have the same lights on. They’re cold and calculated. I slap myself in the face to wake up my rain soaked eyes and focus on what I need to do.
What did Robbie tell me to do in these situations? “Think, Think, Think,” I order myself. I hear a noise in the bushes. Just a cat. I hope it was just a cat. I don’t know for sure. I don’t know anything anymore. Everything seemed so perfect a few weeks ago. We had peace. We had comfort. We had love. But everything was stolen from me. Including them. And if I don’t do this right, we’ll never have any of them ever again.
I scuttle up to the first house and listen for voices. Nothing. No one’s in there. And if they are, they’re sleeping. I walk up to the second house and it’s the same thing. Emptiness. I try the third, fourth, and fifth houses and I’m starting to think no one’s around. One last house.
I find myself more adventurous. I’m tired of waiting for answers. I poke my head up to the window to see if there’s any sign of life inside. I see an empty table in the kitchen with four chairs pushed in on the sides. It’s clean. It’s been cleaned recently. The sink sparkles and the trash can is full. There’s someone – I hear a noise and duck for cover.
“There’s no one left worth going back for,” a man chuckles in the dark.
“There’s one,” counters a snarling voice.
“I don’t know what you see in her.”
I grip my dagger. My footsteps are soft in the muddy sand. I approach them from behind. I leap in the air. I miss and find myself down on the ground. I flip around to see two men without weapons. They don’t need them.
“Robbie!” I sneer.
“Is that the little one?” asks the other man. “I thought you said she…”
“I did,” Robbie says. “Get off your feet. Our family is safe and on their way back home. But there are others on the other side of the lake.”
“But Robbie…” I stammer.
“That’s enough,” he says. “And put that dagger away. It won’t do you any good out here. You’ll never out-claw a wolf. You have to outsmart them.”