“Remember, be in before dark.”
“Yeah, yeah I know, you tell me that every time.”
“It’s good to have a reminder.”
Jason nodded and stepped outside, closing the door behind him. They’d been living here for years now and the curfew had never changed yet his mother insisted on reminding him. He felt his heart lurch in his chest, what if she knew? No. that was silly, if she knew she wouldn’t have let him leave the house. She was just being her usual, worrying self. He slowed his pace slightly, he was walking too fast. Wouldn’t want to draw any suspicion. He was just going on a pleasant stroll, that was all. If at some point he happened to run into his friend Rick, well, that would be a very pleasant surprise.
Jason stood at the corner store, waiting. Where the hell was Rick? He was late. God, if he had gotten caught they would both be in so much trouble. A few seconds later Rick ran around the corner, gasping for breath. “Sorry, sorry, I was about to slip out when my mom asked me to do some chores. Couldn’t say no.”
“It’s fine. You’re not that late.”
They walked into the shop and started looking at the sweets. They’d need something for during the night. Not a whole lot, but something. They grabbed a few bars of chocolate and a few bottles of soft drink and, clutching the bag tightly, they left the store. Now they just had to get to the old church. It was starting to get late, so they picked up the pace a little. No one would think it odd that two people were walking so fast. Not this close to dusk. No their only problem was someone spotting them. They both thought it unlikely, but that didn’t stop them from glancing behind themselves every so often. Everyone would most likely be inside by now, their curtains firmly shut. Not that it would make a difference of course, even if they were open you wouldn’t see anything. That wasn’t why people closed them though, they were not scared of what they might see, they were afraid of what might see them.
The church was colder than either expected and neither had brought jackets. Their plan was simple. They were going to say they went for a walk and got themselves turned around in their panic to get back. They slipped into the church as it would be a safe place. Hopefully no one would ask why they didn’t just knock on someone’s door and ask for shelter.
They sat in silence, it was dark now. It wouldn’t be safe to talk. They believed they’d be safe enough on consecrated ground, but neither knew for sure, as far as they were aware that idea had never been tested. Besides, the building was in ruins, but there were still walls and a roof, surely that was enough to make it as safe as a house was.
“Do you hear that?”
“Like a scraping sound.”
They listened, holding their breath. “No, I don’t hear it.”
“Maybe it’s a mouse or something.”
“I’m gonna go have a look.”
“What? Are you crazy?”
“I’m not going to leave the church, I just want to see. That was the whole point of this, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah, but just be careful ok?”
Rick stood and carefully started to move around the old bits of rock and debris. Jason slowed his breathing, trying to be as quiet as possible. He could hear Rick moving away, wincing whenever Rick hit something or kicked at a rock. After a minute he heard Rick returning, “Jesus dude, could you have been any louder?”
Rick sat down beside him, “Did you see anything?”
Rick shook his head. “Must have a been a mouse after all.”
Jason was starting to doze. This wasn’t nearly as fun as he had thought it would be. They couldn’t really talk to one another, they were cold and they were hungry. He had imagined it would be much more exciting. He thought they’d see something. Anything at all. Maybe it all was just a legend then. Something told to scare children and then, when they grew up, no one told them it wasn’t real.
Jason’s head snapped up, he heard something. His heart was thudding in his chest, he held his breath, listening. There was nothing. Maybe it had been a dream. His heart started to slow. Yeah, that was all, a dream. He looked over at Rick, he was fast asleep. Jason froze as he heard a rock fall. It sounded like it was inside the church. He reached out and gently shook Rick, Ricks body slumped over. Jason shook him harder, then started searching for a pulse. His body was cold. Jason pulled his hand back, trying to keep calm, he needed to get inside somewhere and he needed to do it now. They weren’t safe in here, it had gotten Rick while Jason had slept beside him. There was no choice, he’d have to run. Slowly Jason stood, his legs feeling weak and cold, he could do it. He’d get to a house and bang on the door until someone let him in. He could make it. He took a deep breath, then took off running. Behind him something launched itself, it didn’t screech, it barely made a sound. As Jason ran he tried to hear it over the sound of his heart and the thudding of his feet, but he couldn’t. He didn’t want to risk looking back, he didn’t think he’d be able to keep going if he actually saw it.
Up ahead he could see houses, a few even had their lights on still. He would get there, he was going to make it, he’d be safe, he- the air was knocked out of him and he was flung forward as something struck the centre of his back. Jason skidded on the ground, too winded to cry out, his palms and arms were covered in cuts. He rolled over onto his back. He didn’t have time to scream.