Worse than Bleeders

by R.T. Allenson

“Fuck this, Stan. Do something!”, Amira yelled. She was backing away slowly from me as the big bleeder turned its head into our direction and let out a low, growling moan.

The rest of the bleeders turned towards us as well, and started scampering real fast – rock-skin flying in the air and blood all around. The large one followed suit, lumbering steadily towards us. It made the ground shake a little as it moved.

“Let’s go!”, I yelled, grabbing Amira’s hand. She didn’t offer any resistance, but I felt her nudge her arm slightly backwards. “You ain’t shooting them at all?”

“Too many.”, I replied. I didn’t turn to look at the bleeders behind us, but I could tell it was gaining on us. The smell of blood – their blood was getting stronger. “I can take all of them down, and maybe wound the big one, but it’s going to call more of ’em.”

“Then shoot the big one down!”, she screamed. She tore her arm from my grip and ran ahead of me. I picked up the pace, slinging my rifle behind my back and started running faster.

“It’s too strong. Too big.”, I said, huffing as I ran. “Take more bullets and more time.” I was lying, though. I could actually take all of them down no problem. The big one too. But I couldn’t risk losing Amira cause she’s stupid. I still have a delivery to do.

We ran for a while until the old tower came into view. It’s what remains of a very old and very large building that has miraculously survived all these years. You can tell because its alabaster surface stands out from the rest of the desert crag, even though the rest of it is probably buried down below. I pointed at the old tower and Amira ran faster, heading into the small opening at the left part of its base.

Amira finally reached the tower and presumably, ran upwards to the alcove that overlook the expanse. I slowed down my run, and looked back. The bleeders were still a considerable distance away from me, with the big one following not far. The ones at the front were moaning and grunting angrily; they must have not eaten anything for a while.

I sped up my run for a few seconds and stopped, turning around. I held  the CZ-X9, gripping it tightly. It took me only a split second to manifest fifteen bullets. The first shot boomed like thunder, blowing off the legs of several bleeders and obliterating a handful as it made its way across the expanse.

The big one moaned angrily and was about to pick up the pace, but not before I let loose another psych-bullet. I hit it right on the head, but it only managed to knock it back a few feet on its back. The rest of the bleeders fell back instinctively, climbing on the large bleeder in an attempt to shield it from my onslaught. I scoped the group and saw the big one rise; its craggy hand clasping the wound where the psych-bullet exploded. Patches of rocky skin fell off and blood came trickled out violently like a waterfall.

I let out another shot, which only managed to graze the big one’s head. It moaned angrily and stood up faster than I expected. It must know I’m getting nervous.

I started running backwards, making sure that my aim was still steady on the group. A few of the bleeders were still hanging on to the lumbering big one when I let loose three shots consecutively – each in slightly different directions. The psych-bullets travel instantly, so the moment that thunderclap erupts from the CZ-X9, you know it’s already hit something. The first shot tore through about five bleeders, obliterating all of them. The second one blew a hole through the big one’s left arm, and the last one took out the remaining small bleeders.

All that’s left was the big one, who was now lumbering in a steady pace towards me and the old tower. I moved the remaining bullets direclty into the rifle and scoped the big bleeder which was heading my way. I only needed a couple of shots to put it down, but I waited for the right moment when it would do something stupid like charge.

I grapsed the rifle firmly and aimed right on the big bleeder’s head. Rock-skin was falling all around him and blood fell on the ground like rain. It let out a long moan that almost sounded sad, and lept forward. Thunder erupted from my rifle, and when the rock, dust and blood settled, there was only the body of the big dead bleeder – minus the head.

I staggered a bit backwads, taking a moment to admire the handiwork. I turned around and headed to the tower.

“Amira!”, I yelled as I entered the tower’s entrance. I heard movement in one of the upper alcoves and made my way up. I saw Amira huddled up in a corner – her eyes fixated on the view outside.

“They’re all dead.”, I said, breaking the silence. I slung the CZ-X9 back into its sling and leaned on a pillar. Amira rose from her place and brushed off the dirt and sand clinging on her jacket.

“Did you have to wait till that big bastard was three feet away from you and in the air?”, she replied angrily. She pointed at me, her finger outstretched. “There’s a bit of its skin and blood on your coat.”

I patted myself clean and broke the rock-skin into two. I pulled out some dirtweed  from my backpack set them on the ground. Then, I struck the two pieces of skin together and the sparks made small embers that turned into a warm fire on the dirtweed.

“Let’s rest here.”, I said, sitting down. I leaned back on the pillar, setting my rifle on the ground next to me. “All that commotion’s going to attract more bleeders. Or worse.”

“Worse? What’s worse than tar-black shambling monstrosities in the desert?”, she angrily replied. She sat down across me, a bit away from the fire which I noticed she found a bit irritating.

“Oh, there’s worse things out in the desert. And it’s getting late, see?”, I pointed at the horizon, and though the sunset was rather beautiful, it was only a matter of time until night came. “Worse things. In the dark. Worse than bleeders. Worse than us.”