• It only took twenty-four hours for the whole town of Blur to fall to the new monsters known as the Crypt. I’d never seen anything like them before: each one was equipped with unique abilities to a point it was beyond scary. The ones that I’d seen first hand were few in number but had such power that it was an army. Ash was walking about the circle that we’d made; the fire lit in the middle but kept small as we all glanced about and tried hard not to think about the past day and all that had happened. But I couldn’t help but think back to how the day started out…it hadn’t seemed like anything was going to go wrong…
    ~ + ~
    It was all over the news. “Riley Kinsley, Gone—Kidnapping?” All the students in my high school were glued to the TVs in the halls and especially the 52” Toshiba in the lobby. Classes were being let out an hour or two early so everyone could gather as much information about Riley as possible. As I walked down the hall to my English class I stopped in realization. Mr. Kinsley was Riley’s dad, he wouldn’t be in school; he’d be with the search parties trying to find his missing son. Naturally a post-it note on the door read ‘Class dismissed, Get a ride home!’ I sighed and hiked my bag up on my shoulder turning as someone grabbed my arm, turning me around sharply I felt the door meet my back as my capture frowned.
    “There you are,” Jayden’s face was laced with concern; “I’ve been looking all over for you.” I felt a blush creep up on my face as he stepped a little closer closing the foot gap between us. His hands slid down to my shoulders. “Do you know how dangerous it is around here now that Riley’s been napped?”

    “You don’t know that for sure J.” I said, pushing him back a little. Jayden, who every one called J, was the third person I made friends with in Blur. He had a crush on me and was kind of the bad boy type; he always had some new wacky hairstyle going on and always wore dark clothes; he was always easy to find, kind of hard to miss six foot of black clothes against white skin. He was the kind of guy anyone could get along with and the killer smile didn’t help matters. “He could have run away or snuck out and is too scared to come home.”

    “C’mon Fel.” He said, turning his head to nod at a call from a guy who waved him over. “You really believe that? Mommy and Daddy’s little star run away? That kid gets to do whatever he wants whenever he wants.” He leaned down, “Why do you think Michelle is six weeks pregnant?”

    I rolled my eyes and shook my head as I pushed him away again, stepping out and around him as he followed me; one hand tossing an apple up and down while the other was stuffed in his pants pocket. We were silent for a while longer, walking toward the double doors that lead out into the concrete jungle of the parking lot.

    “So you’re not scared?” He asked, that sly smile of his that made every girl—taken or even lesbian—blush and get giddy, appeared on his face. I could feel my own flush up on my cheeks as he turned his crystal blue eyes on me.

    “No, I’m not J, why? Is there something you have in mind?” I tried to give him a look at appeared mysterious but I believed it epically failed because of the smirk on his lips and the shine in his eyes.

    “Then you won’t be to scared to go to the Meat Locker tonight with me,” I raised one of my eyebrows slowly as the smile on his face turned into a Grenchy-Grin, he tilted his head up and slipped his arm behind me letting it rest on my shoulder. “C’mon. We’ll drop our stuff off at your house, change clothes, and head out. Seeing how you have no car and I don’t have my permit yet…” he hissed in a breath, sad that he’d had a hang over the day he had to take the test and misjudged the distance between his dad’s Chevy and Mrs. Kennels’ Ford.

    J wouldn’t let the subject drop, he bugged me and bugged me all the way to my house where we stopped and changed clothes before heading out, the sun had already sunk below the trees and the dusky color of the skies had changed to the dark black night. Turns out The Meat Locker was an old abandoned meat factory or a slaughter house or something, anyway, it had an urban legend behind it and a bunch of kids were going to go exploring.

    A bunch of kids where gathered in circles outside the main doors. Fires were lit in small pits as beer and other things were being passed around. People called out to J as he ushered me past, pulling me by the hand to where a few kids were standing alone in a huddle. When he got closer a really tall girl with long black hair and black makeup around her eyes smiled sweetly at him.

    “So you are man enough to bring your little lollipop to the Locker.” She casted me a glare and I felt my anger boil over, I didn’t take any crap from anyone, boy or girl. I forced J to drop my hand as I crossed my arms, looking from kid to kid. I didn’t recognize any of them and frankly I didn’t care. Jumbo-Goth-Gal had pissed me off and I didn’t give two cents on what their names were of what we were doing exactly.

    They talked for a while before handing out flashlights; J pulled a nine-millimeter from his back pants pocket that I’d failed to notice and clicked the safety off. I stared up at him as he slipped an arm around me, leading me inside.

    “What is that for?” I snapped, trying to pry myself loose from his amazingly tight grip.

    “Protection…” He handed me a long switchblade knife and took my free hand, practically crushing it in his. When I asked what we would need protection from he didn’t answer. We walked down I couldn’t tell you how many hall ways and corridors until Jumbo-Goth-Gal stopped and re-told the story of the Meat Locker in a scary tone, but halfway through her story someone screamed out and dropped their flash light. Everyone scrambled for his or hers that hadn’t been on and others were laughing, thinking it was all a big joke.

    But when a older voice yelled out ‘Freeze’ I watched from the glow of my light that J double G’s eyes widened three times the size and I think she paled to albino white. A light shone on us and every ducked to hide their faces but J and me. I peered into the light and held up my flashlight and noticed a guy in a button up white shirt and a black muscle shirt with blue jeans was holding a berretta at us.

    “s**t.” He cursed putting the gun into his back pocket, “Just a bunch of kids…” He pulled up a cell phone and spoke into it as the others tried to sneak away. “Hey, answer.” He listened for a minute and a younger female voice crackled over the speaker.

    “Yo, what is it? I’m kinda busy at the moment.” The voice was over-running with agitation and she seemed to be lifting something heavy from the strain in her voice.

    “Are you out yet? I found a bunch of kids in the main room of Level 1.” He looked to us and then shinned his light on J double G and a few others as they tried to sneak away. “Hey! Get your asses back over here! You all are trespassing and you are in big trouble!”

    “And you have a warrant?” J said with a raise brow, I looked up at him and then back at the guy who looked shocked anyone had asked. “Look, I know you don’t. So why don’t you let us go without a word and we won’t say s**t to the cops about what your doing here, there isn’t anything worth stealing you know, its all been pilfered already.” He shrugged and smiled as the guy stood there, a pissed off but respecting look on his face.

    “Don’t you dare let them go!” the girl said over the speaker, everyone stopped to listen, “They could be part of it, we don’t know who is and isn’t.”

    “And like they’re going to tell?” The guy snapped. The girl was silent as the guy rolled his eyes and put the flashlight in his other hand, pulling out the gun and firing one shot toward the group of kids trying to leave. The bullet bounced off the ground and J double G collapsed to the ground. The guy came closer and tucked the phone into his pocket. “Do you kids know Riley Kinsley?”

    “We go to school with him.” J said bravely, turning his flashlight to the ground as the guy turned his off, “Who are you?”

    “Straight talker huh? You make my job so much easier.” He held up a card with his picture on it, “Oliver Parks. Reporter. I’m here investigating the sights and sounds of this place, but the cops wouldn’t give me a warrant. And you all are—?”

    “Felicity Emerson.” I spoke up motioning to myself and then to J, “This is Jayden Aaron.”

    “And those guys?” He asked, nodding to the other behind us who were being eerily quiet.

    “Don’t know, don’t care.” I said quickly, “Kids from school, they…” We turned and shinned the light but they were all gone. I felt the hair on my neck stand straight as Oliver cursed and J held his gun up.

    ~ + ~

    Oliver told us the real reason why he was here. Apparently he was an undercover cop posing as a reporter who was sent out by his ‘higher-ups’ to come investigate a possible threat. He was really sketchy on the details, claiming he didn’t know much. But from what he could gather, it was just a hunch. Crazy huh, sending a cop for a goose-chase? Anyway, we walked with him for a while seeing nothing, we tried to call out but he stopped us. We were in a different piece of Level One of Building One. That’s when I saw one.

    At first it looked like a kid huddled over in the dark, Oliver had told us to be extremely quiet, that there was something living inside the plant and it’d been killing kids. He’d found human bones and a few limbs discarded through out the other parts of the building but not a whole body yet. Oliver was ahead of J and us beside me, both guns held high and ready to shoot. I tugged on J’s sleeve and he looked to me as I shinned the light up to the machine I’d seen it sitting on, now it was gone.

    “What?” he snapped under his breath.

    “I—I saw something…” I said turning to him, he rolled his eyes and pushed me forward. I smelt something horrible and put my hand over my nose. “Oliver!” I hissed, he turned and looked at me, squinting through the light. “What’s that smell?”

    “I don’t know…keep close.” J took my hand and jogged until we were just a foot or so away from Oliver when my light shinned over a group of flies. I stopped and lowered my light and sucked in a gasp as Riley’s eyes lifeless eyes stared at me. I put my hand over my mouth and the light started to shake, J turned away from Oliver who looked up at the same time. J yelled out at the sight, there was a body hunched over Riley I hadn’t seen. It was gray skinned and so skinny you could count the ribs and vertebrae sticking out of the skin.

    There were a few long hairs sticking to its skull as it turned and stared into the light. At first its pupils were as small as a pin-head but when it looked into the light the pupil expanded until the whole eye was nothing but black. It had blood on its lips as it curled it back and screeched a sound so terrible it made me shiver. I hadn’t known I’d been screaming along with J until Oliver grabbed me and forced me to run, telling us plainly to ‘shut up and run!’

    The thing sat there and screeched for a good long ten seconds before leaping into a run, its arms stretching in front of it and touching the ground, running like a dog or a panther. It was quick but it was clumsy with its long limbs, I looked over my shoulder but Oliver pushed me forward making me stumble. It was then I noticed the shouting and shooting, J was even with Oliver and shooting the nine-millimeter but was missing terribly and I never knew J to be a bad shot. Oliver was shouting ‘go, go, go’ as he kept a tight hold on my jacket and J’s shirt pulling him behind and pushing me in front.

    We broke through the doors that lead into a different section of the building when I ran into something hard. I felt a warm hand on my arm as I looked up, a girl with long black hair was shoving me to the ground yelling, ‘duck’ as she lifted a handgun I couldn’t name and fired three times. J and Oliver hit the dirt as the shots rang out; I turned and looked as the body hit the ground, its extended hand just a few inches from J’s ankle. J scrambled away from it, shivering and shaking as the girl tucked the gun away and hoisted me up with one arm.

    “Bout damn time you lured one out.” She snapped, going over to the body she kicked it over with her foot and looked it over, squatting down and using the gun again to lift its arm or tilt its head. “It was a girl…whenever it was a human.” She made a disgusted face and looked up to J, “Did it touch any of you?”

    “Ash, about damn time for you to show up young lady.” Oliver’s voice was stern and the look on the girls face was almost comical. “Where the hell have you been? I thought you were still caught up in the cell at the police station? You didn’t do anything illegal did you?”

    “Me?” She motioned to herself with the gun, waving it around like it was a cell phone or lip-gloss, “Illegal? Please.” She rolled her eyes, “I might have incapacitated a local cop or two and maybe spray painted and tampered with a few security cameras but something Illegal? Certainly not.” Oliver was scolding the teen though it didn’t look like she really gave a flip, she looked to me and I noticed how normal she looked. She wasn’t like rouge teens you see in the movies or read about in books, she didn’t have amazing features or fake actions.

    She was a little on the short side with long black hair pulled back into a ponytail, she had a few bangs that half hid a scar on her forehead and brown eyes as hard and cold as stone. She was dressed simply though defiantly not for winter times: a black tank top, jeans with running shoes wasn’t exactly clothing to keep warm. She stood up as Oliver came over and took notes on the body with her. J crawled over to where I was sitting and took me in his arms.

    She nodded to me and waved the gun, “Is he going to be ok?”

    I put my hand on J’s, which rested on my shoulder; he was shivering like mad and was mumbling to himself. I pushed him back and looked into his blue eyes. He stopped shivering and stared hard at me for a few seconds before looking to the girl, Ash, and saying: ‘I’ll be fine’ in a weak voice. Ash gave him a wary look and then to me before turning back to Oliver and speaking lowly. J curled up against me and I held him just as close, looking around and wondering what on this green earth that creature could have been. I listened to everything Oliver and Ash said and collected as much as I could before I realized what was going on.

    “You’re hunting these things for a reason.” I said in a tone that sounded braver than I felt. Oliver and Ash turned to me, “You lied to us.” I snapped, Oliver jumped a little and looked away. “Who are you really? And why are you here, why is that here?” I jabbed a finger at the now rotting away body.

    “He told you already girlie.” Ash snapped, “His name is Oliver Parks. I’m Ashley Shyanee Hasson. Call me Ash.” She walked over to me and put the gun to my temple, “And you’re going to die.” She put her finger on the trigger and I felt J stiffen beside me but I stared up at her with a blank face. She held herself there for a moment or two before pulling the gun up and smirking. “Your gutsy…you just might survive this if it gets out.”

    ~ + ~

    As it turns out Ash and Oliver were related, Oliver was Ash’s ‘adoptive father’, he’d taken her in after her family was killed in an ‘accident’ and since then she’s been moving along with him from town to town in his undercover work. Ash had been training to hunt and kill things to survive in both her real family and new adoptive family. Oliver on the other hand was just ready to get the job over with and report back home to wherever he came from. Ash had a few extra clips of ammo and a Desert Eagle hidden away in a bag she’d left by the door. She took the knife from me and mumbled that she hated newbies.

    Oliver took J to the side and talked to him for a long time, what about I have no clue; Ash on the other hand showed me how to hold the handgun in the correct manner and gave me a few more clips for it. I knew we’d been talking for about an hour or two when the next group of crypt came. This time where three of them and one was about as big as a bull, Ash had seen it first this time. She cocked her clip back into place after showing me how to load it when she nodded to Oliver across the room. He pulled out his berretta and stood up with J beside him holding his nine-millimeter close; we closed into a circle like we’d be taught and scanned the room with out flash lights, our beams crossing every now and then so it covered the whole room.

    The first one we saw was so tiny, like a child, it was standing straight up with its lips curled over its sharp little teeth that was bloodstained to a darkened black color. Ash lifted her gun but yelled out as something fast knocked the gun from her hand. She hissed and turned to me, “Hit ‘em between the eyes kid!”

    I lifted my gun at the same time as J and fired but that’s when the big one showed up, J started to shake beside me but I aimed higher up searching for the dark spot of the eyes. At first it didn’t look like it even had eyes but once I found the head I saw that its eyes were a lot smaller than the kids or the first one. Ash was cursing beside me as Oliver aimed over her shoulder and shot toward her gun where the fast one was dashing around it, blurring to just a gray flash as it ran from one corner of the room to the other. I fired three shots to the big ones head as it moved slowly toward us, the little one up on its shoulder now, climbing like a monkey or a koala.

    “On the count of three dash in different directions.” Ash hissed, “I’m goin’ for my Eagle.” J was still shaking beside us as Ash counted under her breath, the big guy looming slowly closer like his feet was made of lead blocks. “One,” we lowered our guns just a fraction, “two…” I could feel my body tense up, ready to spring into action. “THREE!”

    Ash jumped and tucked her legs up as the gray flash stopped in front of her gun; it had long gray strands of hair that floated weightless in the air, its limbs were shorter and it was so small it looked like even a flick of a finger could knock its head off. Ash landed on its shoulders feet first, making it fall to the ground and tumble with her. Oliver was right behind her with his gun slung down to his left, J was frozen beside me so when I grabbed his arm he blinked in confusion. I pulled him back and lifted my gun in my other hand, shooting as I the gun moved up. It groaned out and folded its arm over its head as the kid hissed like a cat.

    J and I stumbled back four steps just in time to not be knocked over by Oliver but wasn’t lucky enough to miss Ash when she was thrown across the room. I heard my gun go off and I worried for a split second if I’d hit J or Ash or Oliver but there was a thud as the quick crypt fell to the ground, a bullet hole in the side of its head. Ash flipped over and pushed herself up quickly obviously used to being thrown like a rag doll and went back for her Eagle.

    Oliver grabbed me and it was like we could read one another’s minds. I went left as he went right, shooting up either side of the Giant, the somewhat random shots made it scared and it swing its tree trunk like arms like a child throwing a temper tantrum. I ducked and nearly missed it as it passed over my head. I managed to get one more shot out at the same time as Oliver and J. My clip was empty but the kid fell from the Giants shoulders and face planted on the cement floor, brains and black blood going far.

    The Giant stood still for a moment, like someone had switched off its brain. There was one more shot as Ash stood behind J with her gun raised, blood coming from her shoulder from where she had hit the ground. The Giant fell with a thud and we all panted in silence. This was only the beginning.

    This was the last couple of hours for Blur. The truth had come out and it sounded like something from a horror movie. Apparently some whack job scientist was fired from a lab and decided not to give up his life’s work, taking shelter in the Locker. But the scientist died and turned into a Crypt. Which was where a kid from our school found them; they’d eaten all the meat from level one and hated to go out in the day light. Not because they were vampires or anything, but it burned their eyes and irritated their skin.

    We found that out because we had captured a newly made crypt and tortured it with the light of day until it told us what it remembered and promised not to take a n** of us. Turns out the kid was Nick Highman or Nicki-licki as they called him back at the high school. He was a little nerdy like Asian kid who had been the subject of pranks, sounds so cliché doesn’t it?

    Well he’d took the crypt and found a way to control them like pets or guard dogs. He’d been using kids from school—kids who picked on him anyway—as experiments. Turns out there was a cure for it, but you had to get hold of it twelve hours after being bitten. Oliver, Ash, J and I searched all of buildings One and Two until we finally decided we’d take on building three. Or Level 3 as they called it. Building three was the place where all the legal stuff went down: packaging, shipping and inspection. When we finally made it to the security room we found Nick.

    He was propped up in a chair with Crypt all around him, crawling and acting like pets. They didn’t once try to harm him. Ash wanted to kill every one of them but J stepped forward and that ladies and gents was when my world REALLY went topsy-turvy. Turns out a lot of kids had been in on the whole ‘Crypt’ Infestation. Including J and Jumbo-Goth-Gal and the group of kids I came in with. I wanted to blow the hell out of the place, but when I mentioned setting it on fire all the normal kids came out. A lot of them I recognized from school and most of my friends were in it.

    We were attacked by the Crypt and the kids, being forced to retreat to another section of the building. I think it was a storage room because it was large and there was plenty of space and no windows. We were in silent shock, Nick had let loose a whole batch of Crypt outside into the night to kill off the town, which was so small it would fall in a matter of hours.

    “He’s in the way.” Ash said under her breath as she looked about the room, searching for camera or an air duct. “We have to take him out…we have to take them all out.”

    “Ash you can’t be serious!” I protested lowering my gun as she whirled on me. “Its J we’re talking about, he’s my best friend!” I shook my head widely, “I wont kill him!”

    “You won’t.” She snapped and motioned her gun at me and then herself. “But I will! He’s a danger to your town and to you! Survival first kid then sympathy and tears.” I glared back but didn’t say anything. Oliver was staring at Ash with a shocked look but he kept silent as well, she had one part right: Survival came first. We waited several hours before sneaking out of the empty storage room and out of building three, nearly getting killed in the process.

    I saw J only one time after the security office incident. He was standing in the window while Ash, Oliver and I set the whole place ablaze with oil, gas and hairspray that we could grab from local stores that weren’t over run with new Crypt. His eyes were so sad and alone, I cried for a long time after the sun came up. Ash and Oliver had found it in their hearts to let me mourn, at least for two hours by myself.

    We killed the rest of the town off that had turned into Crypt and returned to the Meat Locker to double check our work. Turns out Crypt burn and leave a deformed skeleton behind not much unlike humans. We counted fourteen teenagers and twenty-seven crypts, but there had been sixteen teenagers. I didn’t need to identify their bodies to know who got out. J and Nick were still out on the loose and possibly with a few Crypts; the town of Blur was just that: a blur on the map. Just a spot in the middle of no-where.

    I didn’t stay in Blur, no one did, and no one in his or her right mind would. We buried the dead in less than a week and stocked up on supplies while others were running about, grabbing all the cash and valuables they could. And when I say ‘we’ I do mean Ash, Oliver and I. Ash had decided we’d change my name and I would continue on her line of hunting like her mother had done before her and so on and so on back down her line.

    Felicity Emerson was dead to everyone and Rashnu Lilith Hasson was created. I thought the name sort of fit. Rashnu was the name of an angle and Lilith was a demon name. I hacked off all my hair with a knife and left all my belongings in the house before burning it to the ground, I already knew my father had fallen and turned into a monster. I knew because I was the one to put a bullet through his skull. I looked back as the town of Blur became ashes behind us. Oliver was waiting in a pick up truck with Ash in the cab; I was to ride in the bed.

    I only had one thought left as I turned away from that place: “Survival comes first kid, in order to survive this hell we must first lay ourselves down as if we’re already dead.” Amen to that.