The arrow pierced exactly between its two eyes. The creature shrieked in the most awful way and then it collapsed, making the ground beneath it tremble. It tried to breath for a few seconds, but then it all stopped, his belly going still fast. Archer came down and checked the body. He was dead. Gunman approached too and congratulated Archer for his handling of the situation. The creature had come out of nowhere but they had been prepared. Doctor arrived with Bio, both women, and as one checked the state of the humans, the other checked the body of the collapses animal. It wasn’t uncommon for them to wander out of the highlands that were their home but this one had seemed particularly vicious. He had been drooling ever since they had seen him come into their lands and his eyes were red.
The four of them decided to go back to the research facility to change clothes and have some food. In the facility there were only five people, all identifiable by their profession and not by their real name. This was because the agency that hired them didn’t wanted them to risk their personal lives for any task at hand so they call themselves whatever they were. Archer was an archer and gunman a very skilled shooter. Those two were the security team in the group. Then there was Bio, who was a biologist dedicated to preserve the last few animals that lived in this region. And there was Doctor, who tended the wounded people. The fifth one, and the one that hadn’t come out when the gigantic boar attacked, was Vet. He was key but was very strange.
When they came back to base, a rather small house with a lab on its basement, they noticed Vet wasn’t there. He normally took long strolls all over the place but as his destination always changed, it was impossible to know where he was. Any way, the team went back to pick up the body of the big boar but found out there were only bones there and they also seemed to be decaying. It was very strange and uncommon for this to happen. Coming back again to the base, they found Vet and had a very heated discussion about how he was never there when needed. The women demanded for him to be always available but the men had decided not to say a word.
Vet apologized and explained to them why he had left. He wasn’t walking around or anything. He had actually stayed behind because he had seen a group of birds flying in an uncommon pattern. He knew it was strange so he tried to follow them with his binoculars but it wasn’t necessary. The birds landed not very far and as fast as he saw them, he realized something wasn’t right. The birds were bigger than normal, even surpassing the height of Pet’s knees. They had red-blooded eyes and very black feathers that appeared to shine with every move they made. And then they heard him coming and two of them attempted to attack. Vet ran like crazy and found shelter in the forest where he stayed until they had left.
The team was amazed by the story but the women were still upset that he had missed the opportunity to check the boar’s body in order to know what was happening to him. Vet told them that it appeared to be a contagious disease but it was strange that it passed from one species to the next, with the same results: the infected animal seemed to be bigger, with red-blooded eyes and very aggressive. He suggested that they needed a live specimen or at least to have a well preserved body at hand. But then they explained to him what had happened to the boar they had left in the hills. Vet had no idea what to do or how to proceed. He told the team that they had to really think their plan through, as they had no idea if humans could be infected by whatever the animals had.
After agreeing they needed rest in order to think straight in the morning, the team decided to have the rest of the day off. The men were really happy about it and the women realized they could use some rest after a very strenuous day. The man took off their shoes and jackets and decided to repair their weapons and clean them. Arrow by arrow, bullet by bullet. The truth was that the security team consisted of very efficient guys but that were not really useful for much else. They were big and muscular and tall but they didn’t have much in their heads. Maybe they were a stereotype but at least they could be funny when they wanted, telling jokes and anecdotes about their lives.
The girls decided to do different things: Doctor decided to clean her equipment and then have a shower with hot water, which they had to heat themselves in the kitchen. It had come as not surprise to them as the base was very far from any trace of civilization. On the other hand, Bio decided to check on a small fragment of bone she had been able to take from the decaying corpse of the boar. The fragment was now bone but she was confident she could achieve something by testing it with everything she had at hand. Bio was a very skillful woman and loved a good challenge when it presented itself to her.
Vet just took off his clothes and tried to get some sleep. It was the afternoon but he wanted to rest. He had various reasons for this but mainly because he felt that, in the next few days, he wouldn’t be able to relax as much as he was in that moment. And also because he had been having problems sleeping. He had always had those problems but now they seemed to be getting worse. For the last two nights, he hadn’t been able to sleep at all, instead guarding the base and letting Arrow or Gunman sleep. He would often use this wasted time to think about his mission there and about his decisions in life. He had been wrong to take the job. But there’s was nothing he could do now. It was too late.
Somehow, Vet fell asleep pretty fast and had a nice dreamless nap for several hours until someone woke him up very late at night. It was Doctor and she seemed very scared. He sat on his bed and realized they were all there, in the bedroom. True, they all shared the space but it was a weird scene because they all stare at the stairs and no one was asleep. He stood up and realized that they had put some sort of big plank on the space of the stairs. And that something was pushing from downstairs. The banging was scary but whatever was downstairs was not strong enough. Vet turned around and looked through the window and saw nothing, except the blackness of the night.
He told everyone that maybe they could escape jumping from the window. It wasn’t that high and it was better than staying there and wait for death or whatever was going to happen. They agreed, so the girls went through the window first. Bio fell landed nicely but Doctor apparently smashed her ankles against the ground and had serious problems walking. Bio helped her up and they waited for Gunman to jump and join them. Arrow, who had foot on the plank in order to prevent the beast from entering the floor, told Vet that he had to go first and that he would run just after him. They needed to be ready down there in order to catch him to avoid hitting his face against the ground. Vet nodded and jumped, landing in a rather weird way but with no injuries.
They only had a minute to organize in order to catch Arrow, who landed almost perfectly flat on their hands. They saw the room fill up with noises and shadows but the men pressed on in order to run downhill, towards the river. For transport, they had a small boat there that could take them downstream to the house of the forest ranger that had a car to take them to civilization. The walk, or rather run, towards the boat was very erratic and difficult, as two people helped Doctor walk and then Gunman decided to take her on his back. They run without rest and without looking back until they finally reached the small pier.
The river was enraged and the boat wasn’t there. There was only a piece of rope hanging from the pier. Then, it seconds, Vet told them they should keep running downhill until they were able to escape or loose them. But the sound of the animals, a combination of buzzing and shrieking and growling, was nearer and neared. It didn’t seem to them that the animals got tired, different to them who were already having difficulties breathing. After a long run, they arrived to a point where they could see big rocks on the river. They could jump on them to go across and then run downhill to the ranger. Arrow jumped first. The rocks were slippery but he made it. Bio went second and then Vet.
But when the turn came for Gunman and Doctor, the man slipped and hit his behind against the rocks. The women stood up on the big rock as she could and helped the man up but it was too late. The animals were there and the members of the team on the other side of the river saw their companions being attacked by pecks and feet and paws. They decided to keep on running and not to watch. They ran for several hours until they reached the small house were the park ranger lived. But he wasn’t there. He was behind his cabin, dead on the ground. The body had no eyes and had been bitten all over.
They had no way out…