five: the night
I didn't even look at Grams as I ran up the front steps and crashed into the house. I could hear her calling out my name but I couldn't take the time to answer her. I couldn't. I had to speak with David. I toss the still warm copy of the article linking my parents with Drake Foods. David was right.
I slip on my navy blue trench and a pair of rain boots and head back outside. Grams insists I take the cellphone with me and I agree. Better have it with me anyway. I rush back inside, shove my hand in the wicker basket and retrieve the only piece of recent technology we own.
Grams informs me that I shouldn't be tardy tonight because grandpa is coming back home early from the business trip to Tokyo.
"I'm just going to see David, It shouldn't be long" I kiss her on the cheek and when I straighten up I see her frowning at me, the way she often does when struck with worry.
"Please don't be late, Charlie."
I smile and leave Grams alone on her veranda, rocking back and forth, back and forth.
The sun is setting behind me, casting eerie shadows amongst the trees that line David's street. I find myself checking back to see if I am being followed because for some reason, I have the distinct feeling of being watched. Shivers run up my spine the moment I hear the bushes rattle to my left. I drop the loose papers just as Victoria Crow leaps out onto the dimly lit street. A deep, saturated fear twists her face into an almost unrecognizable mask.
"Victoria" I whisper and grab her just as she begins to fall.
She's shaking, trying to speak. I can see the beginning of a word form on her lips and then she goes out. I look around to find the street deserted. Panicked, I'm about to scream when I remember the cellphone. I search through my pink backpack and grab the phone.
Victoria begins to open her eyes.
I'm about to call the police.
And then my phone rings.
Everything happened so quickly. Grams is screaming on the other end of the line. Victoria is on top of me and I can barely manage to keep her from clawing my face off. The phone falls from my hands and I hear Grams pleading for help as I am struggling to stay alive.
Victoria's face is contorted with some primal anger. Her lips are cracked and pulled back, her normally white rows of teeth are now brownish and decaying. She is rotting before my eyes. The unworked muscles in my arms begin to ache as Victoria violently attempts to rip me to shreads. Something hollow lingers in her eyes and as I kick her to the side, she opens her mouth wide and goes for my neck.
I roll to my right and feel something grab onto my trenchcoat. It's nothing I can't sacrifice. Victoria slowly begins to crawl back onto me just as I wiggle myself out of the coat and jump to my feet. I can barely catch my breath. My heart pumps fast and my lungs burn with every breath I take.
I linger in the street for a moment, looking down at Victoria Crow. In a matter of seconds, she mutated into something else, something wicked. There's a thick yellow coat over her eyes and from the inside of her brow, black veins extend outwards, creating a pattern not that different from zebras. Her fake tan that I despised is gone, replaced with a thin almost translucent skin. Although she still posseses strength, Victoria is slowing down as hell. I walk back a few feet and notice the smashed cellphone. Grams!
I turn and run down the street. I can't contain myself any longer. I start to cry. Because somehow I understand what is going on. The way Grams acted weird this morning about the apple juice. Her worried look before I left. Grandpa coming back early from the trip.
The animal testing.
The decaying cows.
As I run as fast as I can back home, the word forms in my mind before it ever leaves my mouth in a soft whisper: