The night the monsters arrived was the beginning of my life. Weird how that works out, right? Monsters attack, most of humanity gets wiped out, our once peaceful existence is now turned topsy-turvy and life becomes a battle of survival, winner keeps on existing while the loser presumably becomes a midnight snack for creatures too ****** up for even Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft.
I remember that night clearly. I had just graduated high school that afternoon and was looking forward to packing up my ****, buckling Molly, my little sister, into the passenger seat of my hatchback, and getting the hell out of dodge. Mrs. Miller, the cranky old spinster who fostered Molly and me, couldn’t wait for me to leave either, the deduction in fostering money be ****ed.
“You have too much attitude for such a small body,” she told me once, the black hairs above her cracked lips quivering as she spoke. “It won’t get you far in life.”
Mrs. Miller was far from a motherly figure. She told me incessantly that I was an ungrateful little ***** who thought she knew too much, all the while dripping the condiment of the day onto whatever Disney-themed shirt she was wearing that day. Most of her clothes had old stains: mustard, ketchup, and barbeque sauce stains sprinkled her clothes like confetti on New Year’s Eve. She spent most of her time sitting in her creaky old recliner, watching reruns of Jeopardy and barking orders at Molly and me. Molly, who was only a wee sprout of five, didn’t understand why this woman, being paid by the government to care about us, was so mean.
“Because, Molly, Mrs. Miller doesn’t care about us. She only wants her money so she can buy more Mickey Mouse shirts,” I told her one night after a particularly rowdy argument. I can’t remember what it was about now, but I do remember getting in Mrs. Miller’s face when she grabbed Molly by her ponytail.
Molly sniffled. “I hate her,” she said, fresh tears glistening in her eyes. “She doesn’t deserve to wear Mickey.”
Anyway, the night the monsters came changed everything. Molly and I were in the kitchen, washing the dishes from the lackluster dinner Mrs. Miller had provided. Mrs. Miller, obviously, was in the living room watching Jeopardy. We could see her from the sink, her creaky chair going back and forth, the only light coming from the outdated television set. Mrs. Miller could never get a single question right, despite how much she watched the show. You’d think for a woman who spent most of her life plastered in front of the television that she’d at least be a trivia genius. A loud bang came from outside, one that sounded like two cars crashing together.
“The hell was that?” Mrs. Miller asked, coming to a halt in her chair. A second bang ran out. Mrs. Miller paused the television and listened again, waiting for more noises. A third bang rattled through the air, causing us all to jump. Mrs. Miller wobbled to her feet and lumbered toward the front door. She peered out of the peep hole and mumbled something under her breath about “those **** kids” causing trouble again. Mrs. Miller was not a neighborly person, and the house was frequently targeted by the neighborhood hooligans. Another bang came, this time louder and more shrill. Mrs. Miller opened the door slowly and peered outside.
Molly and I, having finished the dishes, crept through the kitchen and into the living room. We paused at the front door. Another bang rang out. Molly grabbed my hand and whimpered. I shushed her and inched closer to the door. Mrs. Miller by this point had stepped out onto the porch, her trusty old wooden bat in her hand.
“**** kids messin’ round in ****. Don’t anyone have any **** respect these days.” She trudged down the porch steps into the yard. “Get on out of here before I whoop your ass!” She called, moving her head from side to side, scanning for the delinquents ruining her Jeopardy time.
Curious to see if Mrs. Miller would actually whoop someone’s ass, I pulled Molly out onto the porch. An eerie silence spread over the yard. I quickly scanned the area, looking for whatever could have been making the banging noise. Nothing. Even the crickets were silent. It was unsettling, the stillness. It was like a giant blanket had fallen over everything, sucking the air away while we were left to struggle to breathe.
Mrs. Miller released a breath. I wondered if she felt the same uneasiness as I did, and as Molly probably did. Molly, who was squeezing my hand so tightly I thought it would fall off, relaxed a little.
“I must’ve scared them off. Good riddance, the little-”
Before Mrs. Miller could finish her sentence, a giant shape swooped down on her, and in one easy swipe, stuck what looked like a talon straight through her center. Green ooze poured out of the hole and Mrs. Miller, with one final pleading look at me, literally melted before my eyes. Her skin disintegrated and her innards were quickly slurped up by the shape. Her shirt, complete with the “I’M THE PRINCESS HERE” logo above Cinderella, crumpled to the ground. Bippity boppity boo, Mrs. Miller’s been turned to goo.
“What the actual ******* I said, pulling Molly back into the living room. My heart was beating rapidly in my chest and was threatening to explode out of me, just like that scene in Alien.
The creature, noticing more delicious treats, turned to face us. Its eyes were glaring red and large talons protruded from its nine- NINE- arms. Each talon had several spikes leading away from it onto the arms, and the skin looked like a cross between a wet dog and a snake who had shed its skin. Long, glistening teeth protruded from its mouth, which was dripping with Mrs. Miller’s blood. What looked like part of her intestine was hanging from its mouth.
“Molly, run,” I said quietly. The creature lept from its spot and landed on the porch, mere centimeters from me. It easily towered over me, and while I was short to begin with, this beast stood at least eight feet tall. I pushed Molly into the living room and slammed the front door shut. I grabbed Molly’s hand and ran as fast as I could (thank you, track team). The monster, unwilling to be stopped by something as menial as a door, burst through the wood and into the living room. It snarled and growled, salivating at the chance to make us its second course. I could feel its hot breath on us as we ran through the house. Tables were overturned. Lamps were broken. Mrs. Miller’s beloved television set crashed and sparked, the life dwindling out of it.
“Molly, get to the back door!” I yelled, hoping her tiny body could go faster than mine. The creature swiped at me and caught my shirt, ripping it just below my shoulder. A throbbing pain seared through my body as I slid into the kitchen. I flipped the table over and pulled Molly behind it. The creature, focused on us, crashed into the kitchen. A loud yelp, similar to one of a dog being kicked but a thousand times louder, escaped its mouth. I covered Molly’s ears with my hands and grimaced.
“Connie, what is that?” Molly screeched, pressing herself into me. I pulled her tighter and waited for the awful sound to stop. Taking a deep breath, I peered over the edge of the table, hoping the creature had somehow injured itself so we could escape. Just as I looked, the creature, who had stopped just short of the table, burst into flames, and just as Mrs. Miller had done mere seconds ago, disintegrated into a pile of bright green goo. A few slimy speckles plopped down on my nose. I immediately swept them off, noting the bubble gum-like consistency.
“What the ******* I said again, standing to my feet. I turned to Molly, who was shaking and crying. “Are you alright?”
Molly nodded and wiped her nose. “What was that? Why did that monster kill Mrs. Miller?” She sniffled and rubbed her eyes. “Are we gonna die?”
“No, Mol, we’re not going-”
Another loud bang exploded from outside. Unlike the bangs from earlier, this one sounded more akin to gunshots. Molly and I ducked behind the table again. I put my finger up to my lips and looked at Molly, motioning for her to be quiet. She closed her eyes and buried her face in my shoulder.
Footsteps padded into the kitchen. The footsteps sounded like they belonged to a human, but then again, judging by what I just saw, it could easily be another creature. I held my breath and put my hand over Molly’s mouth to hide any whimpers she may let out.
“Connie and Molly Brinner. If you are alive, please make yourself seen,” said a husky voice. I slowly craned my head around the table to see who was speaking. A soldier stood there with his gun drawn. “Connie and Molly Brinner. If you are alive, please make yourself seen.”
I turned to look at Molly. Her face was splotched with dried tears and she looked just about as good as I felt, which, given the circumstances, was not swell.
Do or die, Connie. Make yourself seen or risk dealing with those things again.
“We’re here!” I called out. I stood slowly, pulling Molly against me. She clung to my leg and whimpered, her hot tears forming puddles on my jeans. I turned us so we were facing the soldier. “What’s going on?”
“You need to come with me,” said the soldier. He didn’t lower the gun.
“You’re going to need to fill me in,” I said. “Stranger danger and all that.” Mrs. Miller would be glaring at me right now and muttering about manners if she wasn’t a pile of goo.
“There’s no time for answers now, just know that if you don’t come with me, you could meet your untimely death just like your caretaker did moments ago.”
Now, I’ve seen the movies. I’ve read the books. This is where the heroine (me) stands up against the intruder (soldier boy) and fights back, saying, “like hell I’ll go with you! You need to tell me what’s going on right now!” A verbal back-and-forth would ensue and I’d be given the ultimatum of “come with us or we’ll kill you” yadda, yadda, yadda. Typical scary story trope.
Turns out, I am 100% that person. No way was I going to take my sister with someone pointing a gun at us, cliches be ****ed.
“No, you need to tell us what is going on NOW. What was that thing? What’s going on outside? Why did Mrs. Miller turn to goo? Will you please drop the gun?”
The soldier held firm with his gun. “Can you please just cooperate? It’s been a long night.”
“**** right it’s been a long night! Tell me what’s going on!” I hoped my voice sounded as firm as I thought it did in my head.
The soldier sighed and lowered the gun. “If you must know right this very second, the end of the world is upon us and I am supposed to bring you and your sister to safety so these creatures don’t eviscerate you.” The way he said it made it seem like he was filling me on his day at work, not the apocalypse.
“Oh, well if that’s all, you should have just said so.” I sneered and put my arm on Molly’s back. “Lead the way, boy scout. Just one more quick question, if that’s alright. What the *******