Best Not To Sleep



Mina watched Michaela nail a board across the window. She noted that the hand that wielded the rock she was using as a hammer was still some-what bloodied. The younger woman looked tired to Mina, as if all she had to do was blink and she'd be asleep. "Michaela, why don't you take a break?" She asked in a voice that was husky with age, yet comforting like a down quilt. 

"There will be time to later," Michaela stated with a flat voice. It was her standard answer and Mina expected it. Shaking her head, Mina shuffled back to where Davis and William were using the hammer and another rock to straighten nails, salvaged from the boards they had pulled from the small shed out back. 

"That child is going to wear herself out," she said to no one in particular. "I don't recall her sleeping since we met her. What? Three? Four days ago, now?" 

The men glanced up at her. Davis spoke, his voice rumbled like thunder. "Been five, since it happened." Even sitting he was of impressive build. "William, you have to get them straighter," he nodded at the nails. 

"I'm trying," William's nasal twang, always sounded like whining. He was as pinched looking and thin as Davis was large. He sighed, "what do y'all suppose happened that day?" The other two stared at him a moment as Tad (short for tadpole) wandered up. He was, perhaps three years old, and was tailed by a scrawny, 7 year old girl.

"Mina.,we're bored." 

"Sarah, bring me some more nails, you're so bored. You and Tad can help me," Michaela's voice wafted back. Sarah and Tad stared at each other. Michaela was saying they could help! This was an honor. Neither understood what had happen to bring them together. To make mommies and daddies and everyone else go away. For buildings to suddenly lurch and tumble. They only knew two things for certain, Sarah had found Tad in the rumble of what once had been his home, and Michaela in turn had found them, as she had the others. Though no one said it, it was obvious to the children that Michaela was THE boss, and if you were asked to help by her, well then you were pretty important. 

Sarah grabbed a handful of nails, and with Tad in tow joined Michaela at the window.

Michaela had Sarah hold down one end of the plank she was fastening, while Tad solemnly handed her nails one at a time. Normally, Michaela side-stepped the children, they slowed her down, and she had to be sure every window, every door was secure. She had to size up what canned goods there were, and the water they had. Most of all she had to be sure that the inner room was safe. Today, however, she wanted them near. To somehow absorb some of their youthful energies.

The Inner Room, was where Minah and the children would be when They attacked. Michaela knew it was only a matter of time. "Just stay awake," she thought to herself.

William was whining to Davis and Minah that he didn't see why they were staying put.

After all it had been at least four days since one of those things had been seen. 

"Do you think they be Aliens?" He queried Davis and Mina. 

"Dunno," Davis answered. They were silent each lost in their remembering of that day.

The sky had turned an ominous yellow-green, with a stench like sulfur. The wind had whipped itself into a frenzy, while the ground had buckled and cracked. Then the things had come. No one was sure from where. Slithering, half-human creatures, with hooked teeth and talons made for ripping flesh. Those not killed by the massive quakes, or ensuing storm fell victim to them. Mina had watched her 80 year old husband, try and fend one off. She shuddered, as she saw again his limbs ripped off like a fried chicken's wings. She could still her him screaming, "Run, Mina! Run!" She didn't know why she had been spared. Except, she thought as she looked at Sarah and Tad to see after these poor lambs, who had lost their families.

Michaela came in then and questioned the men about making a bar for the inside of the door of the inner room. William pointed out that it had a sturdy lock already. Not good enough, Michaela pointed out. She wanted a good thick bar mounted that Mina could toss across the inside. Davis saw to this, he too had seen first hand what these creatures could do, but part of him agreed with William, it had been four days.

Dinner was a sparce affair, but filled their stomachs. Michaela was always a bit surprised how the old woman could churn out delicious biscuits and other things when it seemed there was nothing. She leaned back in her chair savoring the last mouthful.

She wondered, whose home they had taken over. About the people who use to be here. Were they somewhere safe? Her eyes fluttered. They begged to close just for a minute or two. That's all just...a minute...or two..just...

The screams jolted her to a standing position. Sounds of splintering wood filled the air. They had been found, and the creatures scratched, clawed , and pummeled their way in. Michaela shoved Mina and the children towards the inner room, yelling at Minah to throw the bar into place and lock the door. She snatched up the butcher knife from the table. Her eyes darted every where. Davis barricading one already broken window, while William on the other side was trying desperately to hold out a creature. She strode to his aid, but the creatures arm had already snaked its way in and was clawing his face away. His screaming sobs filled the air, as Michaela viciously hacked at the arm. He slid down the wall, and laid crumpled at her feet. Part of his face hung off, and his eyes gazed up at her, "You SLEPT!" She heard the silent accusation. For now she pushed it aside, "I'm sorry!" her mind yelled as she slammed wood back into place, and hammered it home.

Davis was by her side tossing the table up against the fractured wood, barricading it with anything they could grab. Still the creatures came. How many? Three? Six? A dozen??? Oh, God, this was her fault... Davis blood curdling yell echoed as three creatures pushed their way in and laid waste to the giant. He fought bitterly killing one, but he was out numbered and fell. Suddenly they were every where, pouring in.

Michaela, fought as a woman possessed. They must not reach the inner room. She braced herself against the door. Felt her blood ooze out of many cuts suffered from these creatures. She screamed banshee like. NO! This was not happening! One creature grabbed and tossed her aside. As she gained her feet she heard the wood splintering, Minah and the children screaming...

She stared at the mutilation that played out before her eyes. She thought of how she had dreamed of yellow-green skies, five days ago, and of creatures most foul. Mina was standing in front of the children, the frail old woman would die in the fruitless battle. Michaela stared beyond Mina to Tad and Sarah crouched in tearful terror. Calmness  suddenly engulfed Michaela, as realization settled upon her. She turned the knife upon herself. Pushing the blade with all her strength into her chest, where she thought her heart was. "The time has come to sleep..." the words gurgled out, along with her blood, as she saw the demons simply vanish back to where they had come.


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