Excerpt: The Lady in Black

By Marie Robinson

Richard looked above him. Spun to get a view in every direction. He stopped when he faced Naomi and Duncan. They stared at him from behind the chair, each still holding a handle.

Richard held his hand up. Pointed to the sky. “Can you see them?”

Naomi nodded.

He held his hands out at waist level. “This place is not right. It's not.”

Duncan dropped his hold on the wheelchair, took a step.

Richard backed away from the titan. He heard the sounds of ripping fabric and more giggles. Then he smelled the rotting fire of Willis Kemp's alter ego.

His mind was rushing to nowhere. Just running in place. Naomi's face was pale. Her eyes looked as wide as his felt.

Duncan put his hands over his heart. “There is localized mutuality here. Someone is trying to get out of the temporal well.”

Richard's heart pounded. Every sound at the edge of reality ramped his pulse up another notch. He couldn't get a breath deep enough to provide his body with enough oxygen. “Someone's trying to get out, huh?”

The metal roll-up door on the front of the building rattled. Naomi squealed and jumped away from the chair. It rolled back down the drive. When it passed the boundary around the Makers property, it froze as if it had become a picture.

Richard heard the ripping noise again. Like a wet towel pulled apart into strips. The door clanged as if someone had run into it at full speed. He looked at Duncan. “Someone or something.”

Duncan drew his eyebrows down in thought. He looked up, his eyes wide in horrified realization.

The expression on the Titan's face froze Richard's bowels. He didn't think he could face anything that scared him.

Duncan moved with terrifying speed, like he was in his own little sped up reality. Naomi's head whipped to the side when Duncan grabbed her then launched himself in a leap that carried them all the way to Richard.

The alien pulled him in with his other arm and was two steps toward the wild honeysuckle drooping over the edge of the driveway when the garage door cracked like it had been hit by a bus.

Duncan pulled them down as he dropped to his knees. They rolled into a tangled pile. Crushed the branches and flowers as they worked their way inside the jumble of shrubs.

The plants been growing here as long as Richard could remember. It was a whole other world in the shade of these old bushes so close to the ground.

He pressed his nose to the dirt. Duncan's broad back smashed him against the bones of the honeysuckle's body. As thick as his wrist, they supported the soft fall of the limbs they hid under.

The roll-up door crashed with another impact. Again and again. The ripping sound filled the air. Like the frenzied purr of a dragon ready to burn the villagers.

Richard craned his neck to see past Duncan's bald head. The titan shivered. Effort or fear, Richard couldn't tell. Naomi grunted at his feet as she struggled to get a view of her own.

Duncan's voice felt like a knife of ice in his brain. “Be still!”

Through the trembling honeysuckle, Richard watched the door explode out into the driveway. The inside of the Makers building was filled with a swarming nightmare. Creatures from a madman's imagination crowded into the doorway. Black and silver, with the sheen of metal — like scales or the exterior of a beetle.

They moved like frames were missing from their film, in fits and starts of blurred motion. Their eyes glittered like Duncan's and Jerry's. The black of gravity with blue and gold swirling in their depths.

The ripping purrs were their collective voices. They rose into a combined roar. He winced, worked deeper into the bush. Then the creatures charged as one down the driveway. Shimmering heat shot from their mouths, lit by blur fire deep in the gullets.

Like a flock of demon birds, they flowed out of the Makers building. A golf cart parked in front of the side door flipped on impact when the mass sideswiped it on their way out.

A black flood streaked by, and he clamped his teeth shut to keep from screaming.

Naomi's voice rose in a squeal to join the ripping howls of the stampede, and Duncan forced himself back even deeper into the bushes.

Richard's ribs creaked under the pressure.

When the herd hit the boundary in front of the wheelchair at the bottom of the driveway, the light brightened, and the sound outside returned. Like they burst the bubble of time as they passed.

Into the street they ran, then they spread out in all directions. There were far more creatures inside than the building could have possibly held. It seemed like minutes before it was empty.

Richard's mind was no longer charging downhill. It was frozen with shock, and he was surprised he couldn't feel piss soaking through his jeans. But then, he couldn't feel anything down there anymore.

He was paralyzed again.

He pushed against Duncan's shoulders. “They're gone, okay? Get off me. You weigh a fucking ton.”

Naomi struggled to free herself. “What the fuck were those things?”

Duncan moaned as he crawled out from under the honeysuckle that filling the air with the sticky sweet aroma of summer. He dropped his head into his hands as if he was about to weep. “They are the Unity. Something was trying to get in.”

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