Derailing Bedlam: Which One of Us Is the Predator, Again? Part 3 #fiction #adventure

As usual, here is your warning that this story has cursing, sex (not graphic), innuendo, and violence.  It’s my Rated-R action adventure called Derailing Bedlam.  This is the fourth outing (third official) for Cassidy and Lloyd, so feel free to click on one of the two covers to see how it started.  Each one is 99 cents!

Cover by Jon Hunsinger

Cover Art by Jon Hunsinger

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The battery-powered bug zappers spark and hiss in the higher branches, the insects helping to draw the bats away from the three humans. Refusing to sleep, Pika yawns and takes another shot of coffee mixed with a homemade energy drink. The burst of adrenaline makes his eyes widen and he shivers while unzipping his pants to pee. He clings to the branch that Cassidy is resting on, the mercenary secured to the tree by locked seatbelts and rope. Finishing his business, the hunter shrugs his rifle into his hands and aims at some moving bushes. He watches as a rabbit hops into view, the one-eared animal moving more cautiously than previous carrier beasts. The ground is littered with dead creatures that range from a puss-seeping tiger to a gibbon that appeared completely normal until it started eating one of the dead wolves. Letting the rabbit wander off, Pika opens up his jacket to see if any of his pets have returned. He is sure they ran back to Great Falls once the moose appeared, but the sense of isolation has been gnawing on his sanity all night.

“That’s a pretty big needle you’re hiding there,” Lloyd mentions from above the hunter. He slips the cuffs that have kept him attached to four branches, the result being a night stuck in a spread-eagle position. “Not the best sleep I’ve ever had, but better than a mattress with a pointy spring. Those things are always right in the lumbar region. It’s like your bed is trying to shiv you for snoring.”

“Actually, your racket helped keep some of the animals away,” Pika replies with a half-hearted smile. Taking out the syringe, he holds it up and stares at the violet liquid that is sloshing around inside. “This is a final act of desperation. A local doctor was working on a cure for the cerveau tuerie and this is what she came up with. She didn’t get to perfect it since she was killed by a mountain lion. Not even a sick one too. My wife used it when she was bitten and . . . well, it did wipe out the brain killer. It also made her deaf, blind, an insomniac, and eventually she ended up seeing hallucinations. Try to make sense of that one. My wife couldn’t see, but one day she swore that she could and convinced me to take her on a hunt. She walked right into the claws of a bear because she thought it was a magical sunflower.”

“Wow . . . that sucks,” the serial killer says while he watches the sunrise. Bats flit through the air, causing him to grip his nail gun in case one veers towards the oak. “Not sure if I should say anything else. I mean, it sounds like you made a bigger mistake than her. You had to have realized that she couldn’t describe her surroundings. Not to mention she couldn’t hear anything and must have been perpetually exhausted. Nobody like that should have been brought on a hunt for carrier beasts, which are apparently smart enough to work together. Why has nobody rolled their eyes and questioned that one?”

“Maybe something connects all of them into some kind of hive mind,” Cassidy replies as she stretches her arms. She whimpers at the feeling of a final thorn poking her in the neck. “I’m going to need a checkup when we get back. So, it’s dawn. Time to get down and run for our lives, right?”

Pika stares from the syringe to his companions and whispers, “I poured my story out and you shrug it off? What’s wrong with you two?”

“My father murdered my mother when I was kid and then I killed him . . . or she murdered him and killed her,” Lloyd answers while scratching his head.

“My dad fell on my baby brother during the early riots and crushed him, which drove him into a spiral of depression before he abandoned me and my mother,” Cassidy casually declares with a shrug. Removing the straps and ropes, she tosses them to the confused hunter and carefully massages her stiff legs. “The point is that we’re not the ones you want to open your heart too. He’s been messed up since before the collapse and I’ve been watching people die horrible deaths for over ten years. Some of them I killed myself to survive. All of that has kind of made me numb to traumatic stories. At least when they’re just blurted out without any warning or permission. So, do you think we have a clear shot at the town?”

The hunter scowls at the pair before putting the syringe away and taking a few minutes to check his rifle. He repeatedly glances at the sun to get an idea of the time, which will help him figure out the carrier beasts that are most likely to be in their path. Pika jumps when Cassidy slaps a fresh magazine into her Tommy Gun and Lloyd fires two nails into the air. He is about to yell at them for being loud when he hears something scrambling in the branches. An acorn bounces off his shoulder, which causes the hunter to look up in time to see squirrels coming out of their nest near the top. The yawning rodents are dotted with blood and a few have rotted flesh stuck in their front teeth, the disease they are carrying having turned them into carnivores. The ends of their tails are bald and repeatedly flick from side to side as they gather on the high branches. With their altered instincts telling them to only attack as a swarm, the squirrels do not advance until each one is ready to pounce.

All three humans drop out of the tree and blindly fire at the animals, which are surprised by the loud attacks. Cassidy’s Tommy Gun takes out ten of the rodents while Pika and Lloyd are unsure of their own success. Everyone hits the ground and rolls, but the action ends up separating them among the dead bodies. They do their best to avoid touching the corpses, which have gathered thousands of flies that take to the air. Pika throws handfuls of tiny bombs that explode to release a gas that kills the insects. The bursts of noise end up enraging the nervous squirrels and they erupt into a symphony of screeches and shrieks. As they race down the oak, the humans have no time to regroup and make any plan beyond running in the general direction of Great Falls.

Due to the thorn bushes, the only way out of the clearing is the path that leads to the dead elephant. Lloyd swiftly pulls ahead of the others, so he grips the bolt gun and watches for any carrier beasts that are lurking in the dwindling shadows. He nearly skids to a stop when he realizes that the dead animals are missing and there is a foul stench in the air. Whistling a warning to his companions, the serial killer continues charging ahead and pays more attention to the branches than the path. It is a burst of gunfire from Cassidy that causes him to look down in time to spot a dog-like form sprinting out of the bushes. Lloyd uses his weapon like a club to knock the coyote away, but he hears more of the predators running towards him. Their approach is stopped when squirrels drop from the trees and attack everything they land on.

“Don’t slow down for anything!” Pika shouts as he tackles Lloyd. Several of the diseased rodents land on the hunter, who hits a button on his jacket to release a noxious gas that drives them away. “I’m running out of tricks to fend them off. All we have to do is reach the river and the squirrels will stop. They don’t like going too far from the trees. With any luck, there will be more coyotes or something else to distract them. For some reason, the squirrels like eating the other carrier beasts.”

“I can think of at least three authors who would write something so ridiculously insane and creepy,” Lloyd declares before firing a few bolts. His shots injure a coyote, which the rodents swarm over and unwittingly clear a path for Cassidy. “Not to insult your beautiful state, but I don’t want to come back after this. The locals are simply too aggressive and foamy. There’s also that constant smell of yuck.”

“Stop chitchatting, boys, and keep running!” the mercenary yells while passing the men. She fires bursts at anything that moves, most of her shots pulverizing branches that are shaken by the breeze. “I only have one more magazine, so try to keep up. We still have a long way to go and these motherfuckers aren’t easy to hit even if I aim. Like fuzzy, hyper streaks of death that can come from any direction.”

The serial killer clumsily shoves Pika in front of him and announces, “You heard the gun-toting lady. Stop gawking at everything and move your rump. It’s like you’ve never been in a chaotic chase with two psychopaths and a couple hundred rodents before. At least they aren’t the flying types. Unless you saw one with a pilots hat and goggles. Maybe we should tell them that they’re too late to make this joke work. The moose died hours ago.”

A shot goes over Lloyd’s head to knock a squirrel out of the air and get the mouthy psychopath to stop talking. The rodents continue to give chase while other carrier beasts run away from the ravenous swarm. Deer bound among the trees, some of them thrashing as they are mercilessly bitten by unwanted passengers. Wolves and elk remain in circles around their young and desperately attack anything that comes within reach. Unlike the other animals, gangly eagles and hawks take advantage of the feast and swoop down to snatch rodents out of the branches. It is not always a successful attack as some of the raptors are caught by the leg and yanked into the mob.

Cassidy empties her gun at a wheezing grizzly that lumbers into her path, the creature hoping to retreat with her as a snack. Unleashing an echoing roar, the predator stands at its full height and tries to fall on the mercenary. A rifle shot to the head kills it instantly, the body toppling back as the three humans rush towards the edge of the trees. Pika and Lloyd are only a few steps behind Cassidy, but the squirrels realize that they are coming to the end of their territory. One of the carrier beasts lunges and catches the serial killer’s sneaker by the heel. It holds on tight until the man awkwardly twists his foot to smash the creature’s head into the ground.

Seeing Great Falls in the distance, the trio put all of their strength and energy into reaching the wall. They come to an abrupt stop when the sounds of pursuit disappear and the area goes unnaturally quiet. Pika takes one look around before taking advantage of the lull and running towards the town. Instead of following, Cassidy and Lloyd remain back to back and watch for signs of a new threat. People on the wall whistle and yell for the pair to return, the door already closed to prevent an invasion. Not seeing anything out of the ordinary, they hurry to Great Falls and duck inside. The instant the door is locked, the squirrels return and the guards on the wall open fire to drive the horde of carrier beasts back into the trees where they patiently wait for another chance to attack.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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12 Responses to Derailing Bedlam: Which One of Us Is the Predator, Again? Part 3 #fiction #adventure

  1. Great Falls will not be getting a favorable Yelp review.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. L. Marie says:

    This is hilarious and terrifying at the same time!

    Like

  3. I’m exhausted, Charles. What an episode.

    Like

  4. Pingback: Derailing Bedlam: Day of the Landlubbers Part 1 #fiction #adventure | Legends of Windemere

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