“Let’s have a look inside.” Anna said. Her legs twitched with exhaustion. She didn’t have the energy to search for another safe place. The rest of the street seemed clear of buildings, but maybe around the bend in the road a little ways there would have been a small town.
His eyebrows rose in a high arch on his forehead like she just surprised him. The fearful look in his eyes disappointed her, but she smiled. At least one of them needed be brave now.
“We can’t go much further like this. We need to rest.” Touching his hand brought a grin to his lips.
The girl groaned on his shoulder and opened her eyes. “You’re right. Let’s go, but follow me.”
He picked up a nearby softball sized rock from the gravel driveway and headed toward the door with the large glass pane. The sign inside was flipped around to Closed.
Kyle peered inside and then twisted the doorknob. It jiggled, but didn’t open. Shoving it didn’t help matters as the glass quivered from the impact. “I don’t see anyone inside.”
Anna moved forward and peered in one of the side windows. The dark displays were neat and organized, like they hadn’t been touched today. Hope bubbled up within her and she started toward the side of the building. Her feet crunched the gravel as she searched for another way in.
Around back, with the forest hiding the creatures nearby, she found a single wood door. Kyle continued to work on the front door and the curses echoed through the night air. He wasn’t making much progress. She expected to hear the breaking of glass any second now.
A sense of dread washed over her as she tried the knob on the door. The cold metal was a relief against her fried body. She twisted, knowing in her gut that it would be locked, but hoping she was wrong. She was wrong.
The door swung open and a poignant smell of lavender smacked her in the face. Her eyes welled as it brought back memories of her mother’s perfume. She spun at the sound of gravel and found Kyle, sweat running down his face and his eyes filled with rage, staring at her.
“You could have told me where you were going. I didn’t even see you leave.” He seethed. The rock remained in one shaking hand.
“Sorry.” She said and turned back to the gaping darkness from inside. The lavender beckoned safety to her, but still she lingered. What if they were in there waiting for them to enter? What if they would be trapped inside when the creatures came? What if it was safe?
The last thought gave her the motivation to move and she entered the small store.
Kyle followed her without another word. The raggedness’ of his breath revealed how spent he was. He needed the rest as much as she did.
On instinct, she flipped the light switch and almost ducked in fear as the fluorescent light flooded the dark back area.
Kyle killed the lights a moment later and hissed, “It might attract them.”
“Good thinking.” She pushed the door shut, cutting off the small source of light left.
“Now what?” Kyle asked. He knelt on the ground panting. “This girl is heavy.”
“Stay here. I’m going to take a look around.” She patted the wall as she moved. The blindness reinvigorated a long concealed fear as her heart raced, her chest clenched, and her stomach gurgled. Being scared of the dark had new meaning now.
Making her way down the hall, she walked directly into a wall. The hard wood smacked her dead center of the forehead. Bright stars flashed before her vision as she staggered back from the blow. She cursed under her breath and found the door that lead into the front of the store.
Compared to the night of back room, the front was nearly day time. The room was bathed in moonlight, giving normal items a magical hue. She saw many shelves stocked with canned and boxed goods. Her mouth salivated at the thought of a decent meal.
“Kyle. Come out here.” She said in a hushed tone. Her voice traveled through the darkness, and nothing came in response.
She turned back to the door and pulled it open. “Kyle?”
“Yeah?” He responded. “I was just making sure she was okay.”
“She’s shivering.” Kyle said. Panic clung to his words, stinging her.
“What happened?” She held the door open to get as much moonlight to the back room, but the darkness devoured it all before it got too far.
A growl rose up from somewhere. She couldn’t tell if it was inside the store, or outside, but the hair on the back of Anna’s neck sprung to attention.
“Help me.” The girl said. Her voice weak and quivering. Her teeth chattered as she finished her small sentence.
Anna rushed to their side and immediately pulled the girl into her lap. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m cold. I’m dying.” The girl said with a clarity that chilled Anna.
She felt Kyle stare on her and didn’t know what to do. The girl seemed normal when they left the crazy cabin and throughout the forest, but now she was sick.