Getting Out Alive
Timeline: AU: Takes place during movie
Characters: Jason Hawkins; Lily Ford; Marlena Diamond; Hudson Platt; Rob Hawkins; Beth McIntyre
Summary: AU. A twist in fate has occurred, but it would change the outcome of five lives as they race to save one?
Disclaimer: Cloverfield and all things related, are property of J.J. Abrams, Matt Reeves, Drew Goddard, and Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved. Original Storyline and Characters are property of me, the author. All rights reserved.
Authors Note: Having, finally gotten over my procrastinating ways, I have finished Getting out Alive. I hope you've enjoyed this AU-tale.
[Part VI: End of the Line]
Jason regarded his worn wristband with tired eyes, wondering why he never bought a watch. Time seemed so important before, why wasn't it now? Their deadline continued to flash rapidly in his head like a red neon sign against a black background. How long had they been climbing the stairs now? Running a hand through his hair, he placed his hand against the cool surface of the wall, barely aware of the breeze dancing across his skin.
"Wait, wait. Do you guys feel that?" Rob's question halted the others. Hud looked around for a moment, searching for the sensation in question. Then it hit him; a breeze, the chill he was feeling was coming from a breeze. "Yeah. Yes!" Both he and Lily responded. The ghost of a grin passed Rob's face, turning he vanished behind the corner, muttering something unintelligible. Jason, not paying attention to the situation, bumped into Lily and stumbled backward down two stairs.
Lilly turned and started down the stairs after him, hands flailing to grab Jason's sleeve. Leaning back, Jason fell against wall, halting his progression down the stairway. After a moment of a stillness Hud breathed a sigh of relief while Jason shot his girlfriend a sideways glance. "Seriously, Lily, a little warning," He grumbled, exhaling shakily. Lily simply looked indignant as she folded her arms across her chest. "Well, pay attention---" She started to say, when Rob came from around the corner. "Guys, come on!" He snapped.
Hud snapped to attention immediately. Starting up the stairs, he left Lily and Jason behind and ventured into the darkness of the apartment hallway. The repetitive flash of the emergency lights stung his eyes, he felt blinded and stumbled over several obstacles on the ground. Behind him, Lily and Jason quickly gained on him, seemingly unaffected by the emergency lights. Once again, Hud found Jason leading Lily by the hand, helping her across uneven ground.
How is it that I'm always left behind? Hud griped tiredly. Focusing his attention on keeping up with the others, Hud stepped over the debris as quickly and carefully as he could, muttering as he went. Ahead of him he could hear the shaken disbelief in Lily's voice as she uttered the words "Oh, my God," repeatedly. Stepping over the threshold of the apartment room, Hud's eyes scanned over a fallen table and its plates, still covered in food. Looking away he focused the camera on Lily, Jason, and Rob looking out of a shattered balcony window.
Jason listened to the wind howl outside and felt sick; entrance into the toppled building was now within their grasp, but the prospect of crossing the rooftop made him more than a little nervous. Why can't things ever be simple? He thought, raising a hand to rub his eyes. Regarding the darkened apartment room, Jason slowly began to reach inside himself for nerve. "Okay. Okay, we can totally do this," Rob started, regarding his brother and Lily. Lily shook her head rapidly in disbelief. There was no way she was going to cross the top of a unstable structure. They could die, or worse, fall to their deaths. Either way was a loose-loose situation. "I don't know Rob. I'm sorry, I don't---" She spoke, trailing off. Nervously, she brushed her hair out of her face.
Rob placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder, leaning forward he pointed to the slanted concrete below them. "Lily, Lily, it's a straight shot. Its --- Look, we could use the pipes down there," He explained hastily. "We can use the air conditioners, okay?" Lily's expression was still a doubtful one, standing upright he threw a helpless look in his brother direction as Jason turned in his direction. After their encounter in the subway tunnels, Rob didn't feel right trying to convince them to follow him any further, even if they were doing so by choice. He didn't want to be responsible for anything that happened to them. Jason seemed more well-equipped for that type of responsibility. Jason dead in his tracks when he saw Rob looking his direction, begging for assistance.
A pang of anger twisted inside his chest while his jaw stiffened. Jason regarded Lily's contorted features and sighed. Stepping past her, Jason stepped over the edge and landed on the fallen balcony railing. It shifted under his feet, his stomach lurched, twisting in knots. "Jason, what---" Lily started, grabbing a hold of his shirt. "Lily, its fine. Trust me, babe," Jason interjected. "Just follow me, you'll be fine." His last words silenced any argument she may have had. Swallowing her fears, Lily leaned down, extending one foot over the edge. Jason carefully stepped down the stairs to allow Lily passage.
She descended down the railing slowly, making sure her stiletto heels never touched the bars. Once his feet were planted firmly on the rubble, he gestured toward his brother. "Come on, Rob," He said. "Okay," Rob responded stepping over the edge. "Uhh, I'll, uh, I'll document it," Hud mumbled to himself. He watched them descend with unease, the bridge of debris didn't look like it could hold one person, much less three. The whine of the air conditioners made him nervous, everything on the neighboring roof appeared ready to break free.
"Okay, Hud, come on," Rob shouted. "Put the camera down, come on!" Oh, Jesus, He thought turning the camera on himself. Through the perspective of the camera's view screen, Hud's face was slick with sweat and dried blood. "If this the last thing you see…" He paused, staring blankly in another direction before reverting his gaze back to the camera. "…That means I died."
"Hud, put down the Goddamn camera!" Jason shouted. Hud let the camera fall to his side, moving forward he stepped over the edge onto the balcony railing. Jason, Lily, and Rob were already scaling the slanting rooftop's edge when he reached the bottom of the railing. Raising the camera up a little he scanned the area, mesmerized by the absence light within the city. Besides the buildings whose lights --- remarkably--- remained on, the city was pitch black. A terrible screech echoed in the air, all eyes turned toward the very edge of the roof the moment the air condition broke away and fell from the edge. "Oh Shit!" Hud shouted.
"If we live through this, tell your girlfriend to live on the first floor next time," Jason groused, jumping across the gap of the slanted roof. Jason's footing faltered slightly, grabbing the edge of the air conditioner he fell backward against it and sighed at the close call. Rob tried to look indignant at his brother's comment. "Shut up, Jason. Its not like she knew this would happen---"
"I'm aware of that, Rob," Jason interrupted flatly. Pushing away from the air conditioner Jason grabbed a hold of the doorknob. With one foot braced against the A.C., he pushed the door open as wide as he could. "I'm just don't see ---" Jason sighed, wincing when his hair got into his eyes. "---Nevermind. Give me your hand, bro." Rob rolled his eyes at his brother's unfinished complaint and did as he was told.
Despite the sweat that encompassed his hand, Jason's grip was firm. With the help of Rob, Jason pulled his brother up into the entrance of the door, Rob entered without trouble. Leaning forward a little, Jason extended his hand to Lily who was steadily climbing the slanted rooftop. He said nothing in fear he would sound patronizing, he just watched her steady herself against the air conditioner behind her and leap forward the next instant.
Lily soared across the small gap stumbling over her own feet, Jason grabbed her forearm and pulled her forward. "There we go," There was no hiding the pride in his voice. As left field as it was, Lily found herself appreciating it. Lily gripped his arm as tight as she could, with her free hand she grabbed a hold of the doorframe. Jason stepped back, allowing her inside. Hud followed immediately after her, rejecting any sort of aid from the older Hawkins brother.
Jason stumbled aside, Hud pulled himself inside the apartment complex. Jason shut the door with a heavy grunt. The harsh howl of the wind quieted down, the near silence of the apartment left Hud's ears begging for the noise again. The four remained crowded together in the narrow path for a time, catching their breaths. "Well… that -- was… fun," Hud heaved out. Rob shot him a half-hearted glare, unhappy that the silence had been broken.
"Beth! ….Beth! Beth!" Rob's voice echoed through the hallway, overpowering the reprieve blip of the emergency lights. I hoped that once we got into the second tower that things would be a little easier. It was for awhile; The first few corners of the 39th floor were practically untouched by any serious damage aside from the emergency lights and some minor wall damage. Nothing to cause alarm, really, with the exception of the slant of the entire hallway.
We were practically crawling across the walls, throwing ourselves across the hallway to gain ground. It was insane. I found myself ahead of the others, minus Rob, struggling to keep my balance. Every step I took my stomach protested --- my gag reflex was all too happy to deny my stomach of its relief.
Behind me, the sound of something hitting the wall I leaned on startled me out of my train of thought. Throwing a look over my shoulder I caught sight of Lily's gold stilettos rolling down the hall. I allowed my gaze to move over to Lily. Her face was hidden by her hair and she was more focused on getting up to the door where Rob stood, than what my reaction to her discarding those cripplers were. I would just give her the "I told you so" speech when we got out of here.
Ahead of us, Rob was throwing all of the weight of his foot against the apartment door. Pushing away from the wall, I stumbled into the middle of the ground -- struggling against the gravity that was forcing me back toward the wall and forced myself to move forward. Rob continued to ram his foot against the stubborn doorway, his grunts becoming louder with each bang. "Do you need help? Can you get it?" I heard Lily and Hud inquire to my brother. Rob ignored their questions, he just continued to beat against the door with relentless persistence.
When I finally got up to the top of the hall, Rob's final kick knocked the door wide open, knocking the lock free from the wall in the process. The door hung oddly off one of its hinges, the loud clang of the lock hitting the ground stirred up a memory in me. More or less, it reminded me of his left hook and my throbbing black eye, once upon a time. Rob entered the apartment without a moment to loose, I followed after him. I could feel my eyes readjusting to the sudden lack of light, the howl of the wind outside made me wary of stepping any further into the room. I could fall off a ledge and never know it until it happened. "Beth? Beth?" Rob called into the room.
There was a beat of silence, turning the corner I caught sight of a large window lacking its glass. Tattered white fabric hung on the ceiling, chunks of concrete made it almost impossible to decipher where anything in the room was. Tripping over rocks as I went along, I watched Rob climb over a slab concrete and slide down where a prone body lay on the floor. Shit. "Beth? Oh, my God…" Rob trailed off. Picking up my pace I vaulted over fallen slab of wall, sliding down the rest way. I didn't see Rob's reason for panic at first; Beth seemed unconscious.
My eyes wandered her body, searching for any signs of injury when I saw the pipe protruding from her shoulder. "Did you find her?" Lily asked, climbing over the fallen ceiling chunk. Hud followed closely behind, the dim light of the camera illuminated the small space around him, giving him a sort angelic appearance. Yeah, I'm not sure where that came from, I thought. I glanced up at the ceiling, what was left of it, above us and became worried again. I could see the inside of the apartment above us, ---the bathroom specifically. It made me wonder if the people above were still up there.
Turning my attention away from the ceiling, I focused my attentions on Rob's attempt to revive his not-girlfriend. "Beth, can you hear me?" Rob asked. Lily walked passed me and kneeled down on Beth's left side. Beth remained unaware of us, her skin was a ashy-gray color, exposed parts of her skin were bruised, and her pajama shirt was stained with her blood. Her shoulder was only thing that sustained any sort of traumatic damage; Everything else on her was practically untouched. Suddenly, Beth started to move.
We all paused, I wasn't sure if I was relieved or scared. Slowly, Beth's eyes started to flutter --- I swear we must've leaned in closer to confirm it. At half-mass, Beth's eyes shifted about until they caught sight of my brother, she raised her head a little. The ghost of a smile appeared on her face as her chest swelled. "…Hey," She breathed. Rob's expression cracked through his smile, he raised a hand to touch her face. Beth studied his expression for a moment and paused. "Are you really here?" Beth asked, the fear in her voice was unmistakable. "Yeah, I'm really here," Rob assured her, his smile growing wider. Lowering my head I stood up, wincing. My side was still sore as hell, glancing down I checked the torn fabric around my waist, it was still fastened and my side stopped bleeding.
"You came back for me…" Beth said.
"Of course I came back for you," Rob replied. "I'm sorry it took me so long--"
"No, its okay,---"
Watching my brother and Beth speak to each other like they were made me envious for some reason. I had no idea why, but it did. Glancing toward the window, I was suddenly reminded of the short time-leash we had. Kneeling down, I nudged my brother on the shoulder with my fist. "Bro, I don't mean to be an ass and interrupt, but we have get out of here," I said.
The voice above her differed greatly from Rob's. Confused, Beth turned her head toward the speaker and focused her blurry vision on the head of dirty-blonde hair. Her vision came in and out of focus, but she could recognize the logo on the T-Shirt hidden behind the dress shirt he was wearing. "Jason…?" Beth whispered. The blurred figure turned his head in response, Beth watched him lean forward a bit, the outline face was almost visible. "Yeah, its me," Jason said, perhaps a bit too hesitantly. Beth's brow furrowed in confusion, she could feel a dull pain radiating somewhere on her body, she couldn't tell where exactly. She examined the shape of his face. "I thought --- I thought you d-died…?" She whispered.
Jason blinked, unsure how to respond to that. Beth didn't wait for a response, she continued searching for the pain that was now gradually becoming more persistent for her attention. She let out a moan, turning her head to the left. Beth finally found the source of her pain. There was a pipe sticking out of her left shoulder, a rusty pipe covered in her blood. Her breathing started to hitch the quicker she inhaled, the numbness in her left arm only made it worse. Rob caught on to her panic right away, place a hand on the small of her back he said, "Okay, okay. Your okay, we're going to get you out of here, okay?" Rob glanced up to his brother, Jason snapped to attention right away and placed his hands on her abdomen to steady her struggling body.
All the while trying to keep her still, Beth's eyes darted between the two brothers as she begged them not to move her, not to touch her. Lily watched from behind, extending her arms she slowly placed them behind her back. Beth started to cry harder, the very thought of the potential pain that would come frightened her. Rob continue to assure her, despite her irrational state of mind. "We're going to get you out --- Hud put the camera down!" He demanded, never looking away from Beth. Hud muttered an affirmative and placed the camera on the floor, it slid across the floor and stopped against a piece of broken ceiling. Hud stood next to Rob, his hands on Beth's lower back and arm. "Please Rob, don't --- please don't," Beth continued to sob, her feet sliding across the floor, failing to find a proper grip on anything. "Your going to be fine, okay? This'll be over--
"---Before you know it!" Rob glanced up and regarded his friends and brother. "Ready?" They all nodded in the affirmative. Rob nodded in return and started to count over Beth's crying. "1...2...3...!" One mighty pull removed Beth from the rusty pipe, she screamed out in pain as she was lifted from the ground and stood upright. Outside, helicopters roared passed the shattered windows, Beth flinched at the sound. Jason and Hud backed away from Rob and Lily, the two hurried over to the futon (which remained miraculously intact) and sat Beth down. Beth rocked back and forth, trying to ease the pain radiating through her body.
Her shoulder was on fire to the point of numbness, she felt the pain, yet she was positive she couldn't feel her arm. Rob slid his ruined dress shirt from his shoulders, with all the strength he could muster he tore it in half. He handed the piece of his shirt to Lily, Lily raised her arms over Beth's head and proceeded to wrap the shirt around Beth's shoulder. Beth cried out in pain at the slightest touch. "I know, I know. I know it hurts, I know it hurts," Lily rattled off, in a tone suitable for a mother. It did little to assure Beth of anything besides her nearness, she half-leaned toward her friend in an attempt to ease her pain.
Lily tightened the torn shirt around her shoulder, Beth's scream rang out in the room, alongside a inhuman roar. Jason felt his body tense up the moment he turned toward the window; Across the city, the long limbed-monstrosity lumbered clumsily toward them, falling against a tower next to it, as it let out another roar. "God…" Hud murmured from behind the camera, struggling to get the focus correct. Lily surveyed the others, they were frozen with fear. "What the hell is that?!" Beth screamed.
Grabbing Beth's good arm, Lily hoisted the girl up from futon. "Okay. We gotta go. We gotta go!" She cried, as Hud muttered, "Something--- Something terrible!" He really had no proper way of describing the creature for her. Lily let go Beth's arm, Rob raced over to her right side and threw her arm over his shoulder. A million expletives raced through Jason's head, he pushed away the frame of the window and turned to run. "Hud, c'mon!" He shouted.
Hud turned away from the window, he followed after the others through the slanted corridor, hardly taking the time to grab a hold of something to keep him from sliding toward the other wall. It was like a mad dash to get to the finish line, they retraced their steps and stumbled over fallen objects. The flashing emergency light added an unsettling effect the environment flying past the lense of Rob's camera. He caught brief flashes of Lily's hair, Rob and Beth's back, and Jason's dress shirt.
Ahead of him the emergency exit door opened, flooding the dark hall with the chill of the night wind. Jason held the door open while the others moved past him down the slanted rooftop. He let the door go as Beth breathed out "Oh my God," in a shaky voice. Leaning forward he grabbed the loose rooftop siding, he shimmed down slowly behind the others, struggling to keep his weight from throwing him forward. His eyes focused on the city, occasionally darting down to the ground so far away from them.
The fear of falling threatened to lock his joints up into permanent paralysis, yet he managed find the nerve to keep moving. "Are you okay?" Lily called to Beth. Beth shook her head frantically. "Just don't look down, okay?" Rob said. Beth's eyes darted downward, what little she could see of the ground stirred a panic inside her. "I- I can't help it!' She cried. Rob continued to assure Beth that that she would be 'fine' when the roar of jets distracted him. They all looked up catching the tail end of the jet's thrusters.
No sooner than they did, a explosion rang out across the city. All eyes focused on the ball of fire surrounding the monster. The creature howled in pain, falling against a building once again. Overhead, the sound of more jets (approaching or retreating) echoed through the skies. Jason nudged Rob with his elbow. "Hurry up," He grunted. Rob started back down the rooftop after Lily. "Give me your hand, Beth," Lily cried, extending her arm.
Beth extended her trembling arm, Lily grasped her wrist and pulled her down to the intersection of the two buildings. Beth fell against Lily with a cry of pain when her shoulder collided with Lily's arm. Lily ignored her cry of pain and struggled to climb up the fallen railing. Rob came up from behind, grabbing Beth's waist he helped her up the railing with Lily.
Another explosion went off, Jason and Hud turned back to the scene of disaster across from them, the jets vanished in a blur and the Monster was lumbering onward. The missiles seemed to do nothing to it, the creature tilted its head upward and roared in annoyance at the retreating fighter jets. Jason's eyes wandered across the slick grey body of the creature, his stomach twisted in knots at the lack of damage sustained. Letting go the rooftop siding, Jason fell back and slid down to the intersection of the meeting buildings.
He stopped against a piece of loose concrete, he rolled away from it as it slipped from its position toward the edge. Jason scrambled to his feet, propelling himself across the very short distance between him and the railing. Behind him, he could Hud freaking out at the monstrosity striding across the city, without hesitation. "Jason, Hud, hurry up!" Lily shouted from inside the other apartment. Moving, moving, moving, Jason replied mentally to her order. He hurried up the fallen balcony railing into the apartment.
Rob ran back over to the broken window, he grabbed his brother's wrist out of mid-air causing the elder Hawkins to jump in surprise. There were a dozen reactions that Jason could've chosen to throw at his brother, but given the circumstances he simply glared at Rob. Jason was inside the apartment once Hud started up the balcony railing, both brothers leaned forward offering their hand to their friend. Hud got half-way up the railing before taking both hands and letting them pull him up into the apartment. "Come on, Come on! Hurry!" Lily's voice floated from down the hall.
Hud barely had time to catch his breath when Jason and Rob bolted away from him. I.. I can't take anymore of this. Picking up the camera Hud took after the others through the hall, glad to have some sense of balance surrounding him. "Come on, Hurry! Hurry!" Lily continued to scream. Her voice was mixture of panic and elation, something he was sure they were all feeling right about now.
Now that they had Beth, all they had to do was get to the evacuation site before the helicopters left without them. As he turned the corner he found Beth in Rob's grasp again, with Jason and Lily leading the way down the hall. Lily urged them forward with her repeated command one more time before lapsing into semi-silence, they pace quickened as their surrounding area became more familiar. The emergency exit appeared at the end of the hall as they rounded the final corner, Hud cried with relief at the very thought of passing through its threshold.
Lily was the first to pass through the door, Jason was following close behind when a screech from above surprised them. Hanging above them was another crab-spider creature, the very last thing they expected to find inside the apartment. It screeched at Lily as it lowered itself from the wall; Lily screamed, stumbling backward she tripped over her own feet and fell backward down the stairs. Jason watched with wide eyes as she rolled down the stairs like a rag doll. The vicious creature snapping at their heels became of little consequence.
"Lil!" Squeezing past his brother, Jason leapt over the creature and stumbled down the stairs. The creature turned its attention toward Jason with a hiss; Acting quickly, Rob shoved Beth into Hud's arms and grabbed the axe out of its compartment on the wall. As it began to move, Rob brought the axe down on Parasite's head. It let out a garbled howl of pain, jumping back against the wall as it writhed in pain. "What the hell was that?!" Beth screamed again. Rob resecured Beth in his grasp once more and hurried past the suffering creature. Down below he found his brother cradling a dazed Lily, shaking her in a vain attempt to arouse from her semi-unconscious state. "Shit… shit…!" He caught the tail end of Jason's string of profane sentence.
Shakily, Jason helped Lily to her feet. Rob said nothing as he hurried past his brother, he tried to communicate with his eyes his concern, but Jason paid him no mind. "Come on, you guys," Hud huffed, turning the corner of the landing. Jason watched his friend vanish down the stairs his brother already traversed and swallowed nervously. Glancing up he observed the writhing creature on the landing, it was too focused on getting the axe out of its head to worry about them. Turning to Lily he asked, "Are you okay?" Lily nodded her head slowly, watching the mouths of her boyfriend move out of sync with the words uttered from his mouth.
Lily felt herself being ushered over to the stairs behind Jason. She glanced up to find out where the terrible screeching was coming from, but Jason's sweaty hands kept head from turning. "Are you okay?" He repeated. "Yeah, yeah, I'm fine!" Lily managed to get out. Despite his distress, Jason forced a smile on his face. The dirt caked on his face made the lines of his skin more apparent, Lily studied them fondly as she was pulled down the stairs.
Watching Lily fall down the stairs, I thought I would die. I thought she would die. It was all just a freak accident, and I felt responsible for it. That thing could move faster than human, I feared that it would get to Lily before I could. So, I threw myself over it and down the stairs, not really caring if that thing got me or not. I just needed to make sure Lily was alright… alive. And alive she was; A little dazed, bruised maybe, but… you get the idea.
I would've danced if it wasn't for what was going on. Precious time was ticking away and we had to move. Throwing her arm over my shoulder we descended down the stairs, running after the others. My arm tight around her waist, I supported her as we exited the stairwell. "…Six o'clock, Hud!" Rob's voice echoed ahead of us, we weren't too far behind. My eyes watered at the sudden change of intensity in the light fixtures, it was much brighter in the hallways than it was in the emergency stairwells. Exiting the hallway, I could hear the sound of gunfire going off outside.
Now that we were on the ground level again, how were supposed to avoid that thing? I came to a halt in front of the rubble, removing Lily's arm from around my shoulder I climbed up the rubble until I was outside the building. I slid down the mound of concrete onto sturdy ground. I offered my hand to Lily, she took it without hesitation and I helped her over the rubble. She came down the hill of debris clumsily, almost falling over as she descended. I caught her, and kept her steady until her feet touched the solid ground.
Lily moved past me with such speed, that I nearly fall back from surprise. I didn't bother to remind her that she just fell down a flight of stairs, tripping over my own feet I ran after her as fast I could. Shadowed buildings became blurred, blocked by tunnel vision. Without the street lights to guide us, running through the dark, guided by the remaining lights of the surrounding business buildings, was a task.
The roar of the creature and the gunfire from the military's artillery kept us moving. We weren't sure where the battle was taking place, the emptiness of the city seemed to make the echoes of the battle come from everywhere. The thought of being trampled unexpectedly by the foot of that creature made me run faster, ignoring the protests of the aching muscles in my legs.
We were approaching the intersection of a street when a roar overhead broke the otherwise semi-silence that befell us. I nearly stopped to duck when I realized the objects that flew overhead of us were missiles, I fought against my own knee-jerk reaction, watching as the city streets became illuminated by a ball of fire as the missiles detonated against a building. Over the roar of the explosion I could hear both Hud and Rob shouting something -- vaguely resembling profanity; I have no idea what they said, but it compelled the lot of us to run even faster. The rubble and debris plummeted onto the parked vehicles in their path, the fire billowed out in a circular motion -- leaving behind a ball of black smoke. I turned my head away from the scene and continued after the others.
Rounding the corner, I spotted Lily and Rob ahead of Hud, who was just a few feet ahead of me, helping Beth across the street. The track lights above the apartment building's doorway illuminated their path. I marveled at their haste, I wasn't even moving at half their speed; the fear of being left behind intensified within me, I pushed myself harder --- willing more speed behind my feet. I crossed the street and managed to catch up with Hud, who was still recording our escape despite everything.
I avoided looking him in the eye, I didn't want him to see how scared I was, I didn't want to loose that small shred of hope if his eyes happened to agree with my fear. The early morning breeze swept across the abandoned streets of New York, I directed my gaze skyward; The sun wasn't even on the horizon yet, the tender skin of my injury recoiled at the iciness of the air. Another roar startled me out of my reverie, only this time it wasn't from a missile.
Turning my gaze to the left, I watched a hulking leg emerged from the shadows and came down over Grand Central Terminal. For the second time that night I saw the thing that had chased all across the city, up close and personal. It was no prettier and combined with the firepower hailing down on its slick skin, my heart was ready to give out on me. It howled in protest to the barrage, it turned away from the military's attacks, barreling into the adjacent building.
The angry swish of its tail sent the already crumbling building, raining down on us. I found myself leaping over rolling concrete, stumbling over my own feet as I attempted to maintain my pace. Lily, Beth, and Rob broke apart, barely avoiding the debris that came at them. Now that they were separated they moved faster. The blinding spotlights up ahead guided us toward the final evac-site; I let out of cry of relief, we were finally here! As we passed the bridge, the loud bang! of a tank going off across from us made me jump.
Turning in the general direction of the sound, I regarded the tank as it let off one last round at the creature. Without warning, the soldiers leapt from their stations, hoping to escape whatever was coming, but were crushed along with the tank by the foot of the creature. Its head came down as if to inspect its handy work, at the same time a muffled explosion underneath its foot made the ground tremble. My heart beat hard against my chest at the reality that just occurred in front of me. Turning away from the scene, I just kept running forward.
Jason's heart rejoiced at the sound of helicopters flying overhead, departing and approaching the evacuation site. After countless hours of absolute and unadulterated terror, they would finally be able to take a rest. The thought of his parents crossed his mind and he let out a pathetic laugh, drowned out by the commotion ahead of them.
Two more helicopters soared ahead of them into the heavily illuminated evac-area, the group all came to a halt at the wall of soldiers situated between two jeeps. The air around them was disturbed, Lily and Beth turned their head away from the harsh wind blowing toward them. "Please! Get us out of here! Please, I wanna get out of here!" Their pleads swirled together as one, the soldiers did not bother to separate them. Yelling out their own orders the soldiers took hold of the closest set of civilians and ushered them toward the helicopters. Lily started to move forward when she realized Jason wasn't beside her. Moving against the direction of the soldiers, she extended her hand out toward her lover, Jason took a hold of it without question.
Lily pulled Jason along with her as they were ushered toward the helicopters, a firm hand on her shoulder alerted her to a soldier beside her. "Down, you have to duck, ma'am!" He shouted over the whirl of the helicopter blades. Lily nodded reverently, lowering herself as instructed while maintaining her grip on Jason's hand. They hustled over to the nearest chopper, as one lifted from the ground. Lily stood up a little more, mimicking the postures of the soldiers.
Lily allowed herself to drift into the chaos, and watched the chopper's door open and two soldiers step inside the aircraft. She felt a hand press hard against her back, pushing her into the arms of another soldier. Her hand slipped from Jason's as she forced inside the helicopter. "Wait--!" Lily turned as the door was shut behind her. Before she argue, however, the soldier in front of her already began to fasten the seatbelt around her waist. Through the blur of the smudged window, she watched her friends being moved away from the helicopter, Jason in particular, shouting something to her. She shook her head in frustration, she couldn't make what he was saying. "No, wait a minute! You can't leave!" She cried, pounding against the window. The soldiers sitting with her said nothing, they stared off into space. The cabin started to vibrate violently, they were lifting off! "Jason!" Lily shouted.
Jason shielded himself against the gust of wind that came at them, through squinted eyes he watched as the Helicopter took Lily up in the air, away from the site of disaster. "We'll be right behind you!" Jason's gaze shifted to Rob as his brother shouted to the departing vehicle. He regarded Rob with disbelief in his eyes, the feeling of dread that continued to twist his stomach into knots was stronger than ever.
As selfish as he felt for thinking it, Jason wanted to be on the helicopter with Lily, he didn't want to be stuck in this hellhole with his brother and his friends anymore. Resisting the weariness that threatened to overwhelm him, Jason rubbed the bridge of his nose while Rob tended to the exhausted Beth McIntyre. She leaned against him without argument, taking comfort in his closeness. Jason hardly began to avert his envious gaze, when, a moment later, Rob and Beth were caught in a passionate kiss. Hud watched the entire moment unfold behind the camera and couldn't help but feel a little relieved. Beth was with them now, everything would--- Hud's line of thought was cut short by an explosion.
A startled Rob and Beth's held each other for dear life, their gazes focused on the world behind Hud. swinging around, Hud caught the creature approaching their general area as it attempted to avoid the barrage raining down on its body. "Fuck!" Jason blurted. Grabbing Hud by the collar, Jason hurried away from his original position toward safer ground. The explosions were nothing like the ones he always heard in the movies; They made the loudest pops in the world, his ears stung with each round that went up in a ball of white light and fire.
Hud screamed bloody murder as he watched the firefight. The creature let out a thunderous howl before it ducked behind a building. Jason's vision struggled to regain focus after being bombarded by the lightshow they just experienced. Through his hazy vision he spotted the final helicopter landing just across from them. "Oh, thank God… Okay, …okay," Hud breathed. Seemingly out of nowhere, several soldiers started toward them. Jason released his hold Hud's collar, moving toward the helicopter as the military converged on the four of them.
Off in the distance, he could still hear the roar of the creature and the pop of the explosions that hounded it. Squinting against the glare of the spotlight, he kept his head down and continued toward the helicopter. The chopper door slid open, revealing two empty seats. "Get inside!" A soldier shouted. Jason turned toward the origin of the voice; The soldier they met earlier in the mall stood across from him, helping Beth and Rob inside. "Alright, you next," The voice next to him said. Jason did not turn to acknowledge the solider beside him, grabbing the side door, Jason pulled himself inside the helicopter and slid over to the far end of the cabin.
Hud climbed in after him, muttering a breathless 'thank you' to the mall-soldier from before. "Their starting the bomb run!" One of the pilots said. Pryce looked him and nodded. "Get them outta here!" He commanded. The pilot nodded his head in return, focusing his attention on the control panel. Pryce shut the door the helicopter, through the smeared window Hud could see the man backing away from the helicopter. The helicopter began ascend, Jason fastened his seatbelt across his lap, watching the bright lights fade into the darkness the higher the chopper went up. Almost there, Lily. Almost there, He thought to himself, fighting back a grin. The thought of going home repeating endlessly in his head, teasing with the welcome of his girlfriend and peace of his own bedroom. His body lurched forward with the motion of the helicopter, his blue eyes watched the semi-dark clouds fly by the window.
"I can't believe we lived though that," Rob heaved out, chuckling weakly. Hud and Jason could only nod their heads in agreement. Beth glanced at her boyfriend with silent agreement, despite the confusion that muddled her thoughts. As she was concerned, she was the victim of some unfortunate mishap with her apartment. Beth didn't know what hit her building, but it was strong enough to bring the ceiling down on her. She floated in and out of consciousness prior to Rob's arrival, yet she gathered no vital information that could tell her what caused the incident exactly. In all her twenty years, the last thing Beth expected to be the cause of her misfortune was a giant monster and dog-sized crab monsters. She felt incredibly out of place among the others, who, despite their frazzled demeanors, knew how to handle themselves in the situation. "….Hey? Excuse me, sir!" Jason's voice brought Beth out of her thoughts. The Co-pilot turned his head in question, slightly annoyed by the young man's persistent calling. "What is it?" He replied.
"Where is this thing going?" Jason shouted. The co-pilot paused, he looked to his partner who just nodded his head in a dismissive manner. "We're taking you to D.C. That's where most of the refugees are being situated until further notice," The co-pilot replied. The man said nothing more, but Jason was satisfied with the answer. He had a general idea of where Lily was going to be when he got there. Hopefully they were in same "area" of D.C. when the chopper landed. Silence resumed inside the helicopter, the four friends stared into space, suddenly awkward in each other's company. A burst of static and chatter over the radio caught the attention of Hud, he watched the helicopter pilots turn their heads to look out the lead pilots window.
Following their head, Hud aimed the lense of the camera toward his own window; He caught the tail end of two missiles flying past a moving object, it didn't take him long to realize what they had missed. The from a "birds-eye" view, the monstrosity below looked no bigger than a figurine or statue. The creature raised itself up further on its legs. Looking over its shoulder the beast let out another roar before resuming his pace.
Hud, in spite of his fear, was actually excited by this. He extended an arm, waving it wildly in the direction of Jason. "Do you see this? Are you guys seeing this?!" Hud said. He turned the camera toward Rob and Beth. Rob was preoccupied with comforting Beth but managed to cast a distracted glance over at the window. Curious as to what got Hud so animated, Jason unbuckled himself and moved over to the window. "Hey, get back in your seat!" The Co-pilot snapped. Jason didn't spare him a glance, leaning over close to the window he peered out at the spectacle below. "Oh, God… they aren't gonna hit us, are they?" Hud muttered, tilting the Camera up.
Jason's eyes glanced up at the sky, his eyes had trouble focusing on the object following them beyond the spinning helicopter blades. His eyes traced the outline of the object, immediately he recognized the triangle shape as a Stealth Bomber. It was both comforting and unsettling, given that one of the descending bombs could divert its course and land right on top of them … if such a thing was possible. Jason watched their decent intently, counting the seconds as they plummeted down toward their target. The creature seemed oblivious to the scheming of its attackers, it continued onward until it was bombarded by a familiar sharp pain in the center of its lower back. The strength of the blow forced his gangly limbs to buckle. It let out another pained howl, its legs wobbled beneath him -- weakened by the shockwave from the explosions going off around it. It reared up in on its hind legs, and its long arms collided against the edge of a building, as though it were trying to stop its fall.
Inside the helicopter, the pilots were shouting excitedly over their headsets at the very sight of the creature falling into the smoke. Their window of hope was finally open to them and the monster had been bested. Jason, Hud, and Rob watched the scene unfold with wide eyes, the Hawkins brothers were unsure whether to cheer or continue holding their breaths. Hud, on the other hand, was too elated to do anything but cheer. His lips quivered excitedly as said, "I think… I think they got him!"
Jason and Rob turned to their friend in perfect unison, the wild-eyed look on Hud's face was unsettling. "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah! That's the shit right there! That's what I'm talking about---!" A piercing roar echoed out from below the chopper, Hud's joy died quicker than a fire. In the blink of an eye, Jason saw the sharp-ended teeth of their pursuer racing toward them; The four screaming civilians were silenced abruptly by the impact the helicopter suffered.
The glass shattered and was sent flying all around them as the helicopter fell into a tailspin; Rob and Beth were jerked violently in their seats, crashing in everything around them, Hud was treated much in the same fashion as his friends, yet he continued to hang onto the camera for dear life. Jason was thrown across the floor of the cabin, his body crashed against the wall with enough force to knock the wind out of him. He crumpled like a boneless fish against the right seat. The tell-tale signs of unconsciousness began to shut his body down, Jason felt completely detached from his body with the exception of his left arm. He pushed it toward the seatbelt fastened around Beth's waist, with the last of his will-power he wrapped his fingers around the tough fabric while the rest of him faded out of world.
Hud watched the world around them spinning as the helicopter continued its sickeningly fast decent. Despite being firmly penned against the side of the wall, Hud felt as though the entire world had been dropped from beneath him. There was no security, his body was literally protesting against the pull of gravity. His friends held onto the handlebars above them, though it did nothing to stop their wild thrashing. Despite himself, Hud found himself screaming again. "Oh, my God. Oh, my God! God, please, God! Jesus Christ I'm sorry! I'm so sorry, God. Please no! Help me Rob! Rob! Oh Shit! Oh Shit!"
Dirt and glass raced up to meet the lense of the camera and Hudson sank into oblivion.
The first thing Jason became aware of was his sight. His eyes, they were wide open and gazing at the cloudy morning sky. The second thing was the sensation of absolute stillness, especially within himself. Nothing around him moved or made a sound, save the large object that obscured his vision in the corner of his eyes. Distant popping noises that reminded wood burning tempted him to turn his head, but his muscles wouldn't respond. The heaviness in his chest made him want to worry, but his mind couldn't be bothered with it. As it was concerned, he was safe. There was no immediate danger nearby, he could finally rest.
His eyes started to close again, slowly Jason became aware of the fact that he'd been drifting in and out of consciousness before now. As his mind wandered, a pair of lips came down on his; Instinctively Jason felt compelled to comply to the request made, but his lips wouldn't listen to him. He felt air being pushed into his mouth and down his throat. Jason's eyes widened, his brain sprang to life with activity while the rest of him reacted to the commands sent through him. A hand pressed down hard against his chest, pain blossomed through his upper body. The pain in his chest was persistent, beating hard against his left side; He commanded his body to twist away from the pain, but it wouldn't respond until his limbs tingled with warmth and suddenly he became aware of his own body again.
His stomach started to heave in and out, violently, his lungs responded immediately, greedily sucking in the air that was being offered to him. His abdomen protested against the sudden movement, causing his breath to hitch. The volume in his ears started to rise, Jason could now hear himself choking on air. A hand fisted the front of his shirt and lifted him off the ground. A shoulder entered his line of sight, and left it just as quickly, as Jason felt himself being lowered to the ground. Jason struggled cease his coughing, trying breathing through it. "…Can't do this on my own..," A voice sobbed above him.
"Lily?" Jason rasped, his voice sounded like gravel.
Beth was brought out of her unconsciousness by a loud thump, her head jerked upward and she cried out at the sudden pain that shot through her neck. Her vision wavered like a static filled picture, the muscles in her eye sockets were sore and refused to keep her eyelids lifted. Slowly, she lowered her head, attempting to relieve the pinch in the center of her neck, her hands moved sluggishly across her lap toward the release on the seatbelt; her left arm more so than the right. Blood started to circulate again through her limbs, her legs jerked violently in response to the pins and needles sensation spreading through her feet.
Confusion settled inside her as she surveyed the surrounding area; As far as Beth could tell, they were still inside the helicopter --- She paused. The last few moments that she remembered came rushing back to her; the terrible roar, the sensation of being jerked around, and finally the crash... Oh my God… we survived the crash! Beth opened her eyes again, the light outside the mangled chopper blinded her. Squinting, she looked around for any signs of the others. She found Rob and Hud across from her, still strapped in by their seatbelts. Shifting her gaze toward what looked like the doorway, she spotted Jason, hanging half way out of the door, his of legs still inside. The fingers of her right hand pressed hard against the release mechanism, the weakness that tingled through the rest of her fingers made it difficult to press the button any further lower.
Finally, she heard a snap! The belt released her from its grasp, Beth fell forward onto the ground, her arms catching the brunt of her weight, before her left gave out on her. She cried out from the suddenly loss of balance, her shoulder throbbed with pain. A fresh rain stain spreading through her filthy shirt let her know her wound had reopened. With only her right arm, she heaved herself up and proceeded to pull her legs underneath her. Pushing away from the floor Beth fell back on the flats of her feet, her body rocked back and forth slightly then came to a stop.
Sitting there in a hunched position, Beth regarded her three unconscious friends --- deliberating over who to help first. The helicopter wasn't a safe place to be, she smell of gasoline and fire burned the hairs of nostrils, her eyes watered from irritation. Rising up from her crouched position, she half-stumbled, half-shuffled over to Jason's prone body. She forced her feet to maneuver past his legs, it was hard considering the dead-weight of her upper body was trying to pull her down on top of him. Once she was close enough to his waist, Beth grabbed a hold of the door's frame and hauled herself out of the chopper, jumping over Jason's head onto the cool grass.
The cold morning air hit her like a passing breeze, her body stiffened upon feeling the chill, she ignored it. Surveying her surroundings, it took very little time for Beth to figure out where they landed. The outlining environment of Central Park was unmistakable; Her eyes traveled around the burning frame of the helicopter, its blades were broken, the few that remain were bent in odd angles. The chopper laid on right its side, the nose was completely smashed in -- she couldn't spot the pilots anywhere.
Tucking her arm close to her side Beth shuffled over to Jason; the young man laid on the grass with his arms sprawled out above him and his head turned to the side. Beth regarded him cautiously as she approached; From a certain distance she couldn't tell if he was dead or alive, he laid so still on the ground, seemingly drawing no breath, that Beth was sure he was the first and not the latter. She now stood a few inches from his head, leaning down she grabbed a hold of his shirt. Jason's body jerked in response, Beth let out a scream of surprise when he shot up into a awkward sitting position with a cry of his own.
Tripping over her own feet, Beth landed hard on her ass, heart racing wildly. Jason swayed from side to side, his cry descended into a whine before he started to fall. Moving as fast as she could, Beth managed to place herself under the man. Jason grunted. His arm slid from his lap, he barely moved after that. "Jason?" She murmured. He didn't respond. His eyes stared up at nothing, his breathing was heavy, Beth waved a hand over his face and still got no response.
Picking herself up from off the ground, Beth struggled against the weight of her friend as she wrapped her good arm around his chest. Jason remained unresponsive to her touch, Beth peddled backward quickly; a combination of her own haste and Jason's body weight working against her; The grass was dry enough for her toes to maintain a firm grip on the ground, but at the rate she was moving she doubted she could stop properly even if she wanted. Quickly, she turned herself to the side allowing Jason's limp body to propel them toward the ground; Jason landed on his side with a thud, Beth pulled herself off of him and sat on her legs.
Rolling Jason onto his back Beth leaned over, her ear hovering over his mouth. Not a single breath of air escaped his lips. Beth sat up quickly, confused. Lowering herself down, she pressed her ear against his chest and listened for a heartbeat. The familiar thump of a beating heart did not greet her ear. "Oh, Jesus---!" She blurted, panicked.
Sitting up, Beth reached over and pinched his nose while her lips pressed themselves against his. There was a twitch from Jason's lips that made her think he was trying to kiss her, but she discarded the thought as she pulled away. Beth barely caught the twitch in his left eye, pressing her hand down in his chest she used all her weight to pump his lungs. His body jerked with the motions of her CPR, Beth counted the rhythm of her arm, eyes switching over to Jason's face with every beat. Come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on! She repeated furiously in her head.
She tried to move her injured arm to aid in her the resuscitation, but it wouldn't budge from against her chest. "Damnit," She sobbed. Breathe, Jason! Breathe! Please… your brother's gonna kill me if you-- Her line of thought broke with the twentieth compression to his chest hit. Jason's face twisted with pain, Beth watched as his stomach started deflate and inflate like a balloon, followed by coughing. Grabbing his shirt, Beth pulled him up from the ground hoping it would help him breathe; His coughing became harsher. Her arm trembled under the excessive weight that pulled against it, she released him almost immediately. Jason fell to the ground with a thump and continued to cough. At least he was breathing. Beth cursed her weakness and injuries. "I can't do this on my own..," she whispered, sobbing.
"Lily?" Jason's voice rasped. Beth shook her head, never casting a glance toward her friend. Jason lowered his head back onto the grass. Beth rose from her spot on the grass and moved with haste toward the mangled helicopter. The smoke filled her senses immediately, her eyes teared up from the irritation but she ignored it as she climbed back inside the vehicle. Climbing over the edge of the seat she moved toward the buckle of Hud's seat and pressed the release mechanism. The young man started to stir, grabbing the strap of the camera Beth tried to pull him up. "Hud.. Hud! Get up!!" Beth snapped at him.
Looking down at her arm, she attempted to move it away from her chest; No sooner than she thought it, her arm dropped away from her chest. Beth continued to tug at the young man until he started to move, she pressed her good hand firmly against the cushion of the seat "Wha -- what?" Hud mumbled, as he was pulled along the seat of the helicopter. "Hud, you gotta help me…!" Beth gasped. Her arm locked up for a moment, falling limp against her side. "I can't move my arm!"
Over the radio she could hear chatter from what she believed were soldiers, or military officials. The following sentences, "Target still active", "Hammerdown", and "God help us…" came out the clearest to her. Her heart skipped a beat at the thought of that creature still roaming around, undefeated. Hud continued to mutter to himself as he stood up, his legs wobbled and his head spun from the sudden blood rush. "Hud, you gotta help me get him outta here," Beth begged, sliding down to Rob's side. "Oh.. Okay," She heard Hud respond slowly. Turning her head away from Hud, Beth worked frantically to get the buckle loose from around Rob's waist. The young man moaned in response to her touch, despite the situation Beth found herself smiling at the sound. "We're going to get you out of here, alright?" She assured him, brushing his hair away from his forehead. Rob turned away from her touch, too tired to move any other part of his body. "Jus' leave me.. I'm not gonna make it," He whispered. "Don't say that! Your going to be fine," Beth struggled to maintain her fragile calm. Rob always had to be difficult.
"I honestly don't see the fascination with that city. Why move there?"
"Uhh, maybe, because its' New York City? Because we want to, Mom?"
"I still -- what's so wrong with home?"
"Nothing's wrong with home, Ma. We just need new surroundings. That's it."
"Yes. Its nothing you and Dad have done. We're not angry at you, we just want to explore now. Okay? That's not going to be a problem is it?"
"I don't like the idea of being so far apart is all, Jason. I don't like being separated from my Babies…"
"Mom---! We haven't been babies in -- God knows how long. I hate it when you call me ---"
"I have a bad feeling, that's all...especially with that's happened in that god forsaken place--- I don't--"
Jason shot up from the ground at the sound of a scream. Overhead, he heard the distinct sound of Jets flying by. His blurred vision darted around the empty space around him, unsure how he escaped the helicopter. The scream echoed out again, Jason immediately recognized his brother's voice and scrambled to his feet, acting purely on instinct. His body, however, did not agree with the sudden movement, Jason nearly crumpled over from the sudden shock his nervous system received. "Fuck… me. Ow," He grounded out, balling his hands into fists. His head throbbed in sync with the dizziness, his muscles stiffened with every attempt he made at moving forward.
Jason turned his head toward where he thought he heard the scream originate, through his blurred vision he spotted three shapes huddled on the ground, all them were speaking at once, too fast for his hearing to decipher. A few minutes later another scream erupted, ripping through the air. "Rob? Rob!?" He tried to shout. He sounded so pathetic to his own ears, his voice barely rose above a whisper. His throat was burning like he swallowed moonshine, he had no idea why. He bent over, winded from the small excursion of energy.
The dizziness hit him full force, bringing him down to his knees again. He let out a moan as he lowered his head to the cool ground, the lightheaded feeling developing killed his sense of balance. His side throbbed like crazy and he could feel a mixture of warmth and iciness spreading through his mid-section. Mom. Mom, where are you? He thought himself. If this was dying felt like-
"Jason!" His brother's voice broke through his haze, raising his head from the ground he watched as the three blurry figures hobbled over to him. Take your time, guys, was all that he could muster to think. A pair of hands grabbed his arms, before he could react Jason found himself being hauled to his feet. A wave of nausea assaulted his senses, he gagged. "Can you walk? We can't carry you, man," Hud's panicked voice made his ears ring. Jason shrugged the hands off his arms and nodded. "Yeah, I can walk," He answered, thickly. "Is Rob---"
"Rob's fine, Jason, but we gotta go. Its not safe here," Beth responded quickly. Jason nodded at the long haired blur in front of him. There was barely a beat of silence before he felt himself being shoved toward the blur in the middle. The tallest blur, which he assumed was Hud, stepped out of his line of sight. Jason looked around, careful not to twist his head too fast when he felt the hand lead him closer in the direction of the two smaller blurs. Hud watched Jason's eyes dart toward him as placed Rob's arm over Jason's shoulder. "Oh, wait a sec! I'll be right back," Hud breathed, darting away from the group. Beth's protest never reached the tip of her tongue, she watched with a disgruntled sigh as Hud raced toward the discarded camera.
Rob regarded his brother's face, contorted with pain and confusion. "Are you okay?" He inquired. Jason shook his head. "No. I can't see anything," He replied. "Its all blurry." Rob reframed from showing any outward reaction to his brother's declaration. "Okay, guys, we have to move!" There was a tug on his arm from Beth, Rob leaned in her direction, signaling his brother to follow. Jason got the gist of his body language, he followed the two without hesitation. As they hobbled across the park, Jason picked up the faintest feeling of a tremor echo through the ground, growing stronger with each passing second; His brow furrowed in confusion. "Do you guys feel that?" He asked carefully.
Beth and Rob regarded Jason with confusion. "Feel what---" Rob started to say. His question was instantly forgotten the moment he saw the hulking shadow spread across the ground and over Hudson. "Hud!" Beth and Rob's terrified screams caused Jason to jump.
"What--?" Hud glanced up from his examination of the video camera, instinctively raising the view finder to his eye, unconsciously following the growth of the shadow spreading around him. A rush of air hit him when the gray shape hit the ground. "Oh!" The tremor threw his balance off. At first he wasn't sure what he was staring at, it looked like a hulking mass of gray potter's clay. However, a quick pan downward revealed two large toes and their toenails. By the time Hud realized what he was staring at, the camera already panned across the monstrous figure's underbelly, stopping on its head.
Hud stood transfixed by the sight of the creature, its head (which was considerably smaller than the rest of him) turned slowly, methodically, as if searching for its prey. Across from him, he could hear Rob and Beth screaming for him to move, to come toward them. Hud wanted so desperately to do just that, but he was paralyzed by his own fear. His limbs wouldn't move. The beat of his heart rang loudly in his ears, its erratic sound louder than his own breathing. Finally, the creatures head made one last turn then tilted downward.
Hud didn't spot its eyes at first, his eyes were drawn toward the large "sac"-like growths on side of his head, he assumed they were eyes. But a blink of his own eyes he spotted the black and reflective pearl shaped eyes of the creature as it lowered its head, as if to inspect him. "Hud!" Rob shouted again. Hud remained rooted in his place, self-pitying tears running down his face. The creature's shoulders pulled back, the sacs on the side of its head inflating in sync with its heaving breathing. Like a cat, the monster raced forward, its jaws opened to reveal jagged teeth and tongue. Hud could do nothing but scream as its jaws enclosed around him and sunk its teeth into his flesh.
"What?! What's going on! Guys!" I panicked. Rob and Beth were screaming like madmen, shouting for Hud to follow them. I may have been blind but the low growl that emitted from above us and the slow swish of a tail, coming in and out of my line of sight was enough to tell me know what was going on. That thing had caught up to us and Hud was too close for comfort. the inside of my left ear throbbed with pain as I tried to decipher what was going on around me. Pulling away from Rob, I stumbled sideways from the lack of balance. My legs gave way beneath me, in spite of my feeble attempts to stay upright. Looking over my right shoulder I realized that I was no more than a couple inches away from Rob and Beth.
For a the longest stretch of a second my brother and his girlfriend fell into silence …I could hear it breathing. The harsh intakes of breath reminded me of a whale coming up to surface, the smell wafting through air was a mixture of raw fish and what I could only describe as what a dozen human corpses might smell like. "Hud!" Rob shouted, again. The growl above became deeper, lower to the ground, my body stiffened at the sound. I shifted my eyes toward the very edge of the hulking mass across from us; I could see the outline of Hud's body standing in front of the monster. He gave no sign that he heard my brother's request, no sound of approaching or departing footfalls to indicate that Hud moved from wherever he was that caused the couple to panic.
Roar shattered the silence, I could hear Hud repeating "No, no, no!" over and over before it became a muffled scream as the creature's jaw closed around him. My heart clutched up in terror as I watched his feet leave the ground. My mouth hung open in realization of what had just happened. There was an awful crunching sound, I'm not sure if I imagined it or not, but I heard it, just briefly before there was silence again. There was a dull thud, I felt my body jerk back at something wet being splattered across my face.
The footsteps began to retreat, the ground shuddered as it departed. I glanced up and realized I could see the light of the sky again, nothing was obscuring my vision. Lowering my head I tried to focus my sight. Through the blur of my vision I could make out the shape of an upper body. It landed across from the three of us, I started to crawl toward it when I heard my brother call out "Hud!" He and Beth rushed toward him at top speed, Rob frantically repeating Hud's name.
Struggling to my stand, I tripped over my own feet after the others. My hands met the ground more than once, I used the momentum going down to push myself upward. "Hud!…Hud! Hud!" Rob's voice was thick with tears, my heart twisted with dread. Once I was close enough I came to a halt behind Beth; At this proximity I could make out their figures a little better. Beth was hanging over Rob, her arms around him while he sobbed, rocking back and forth. I stepped out from behind them, I made way around her to inspect the severity of Hud's injuries.
And that's when I noticed The lower half of Hud's body had been severed completely. All that remained was his upper body, and the camera, all of which was covered in blood. His face was placid, if it wasn't for the lack of legs I would've sworn he was sleeping. My reaction wasn't immediate; For some reason, I actually took the time to choose which emotion I wanted to exhibit. Combined with the smell of blood, the thought alone made me crack. I turned away, heart twisting with guilt and grief. Bending over, I placed my hands on my thighs and fought the urge to cry. First Marlena, now him.
Hud didn't deserve this.
Jason and Beth moved swiftly across the cold pavement, between them, Rob tripped over his feet, struggling to keep up with their pace. Behind them explosions went off in near-succession, a roar followed every time. "Keep moving!" Beth commanded, adjusting Rob's arm around her shoulder. It had been a the task, trying to get Rob away from the body of their fallen friend. Jason didn't like the idea of leaving Hud behind anymore than his brother did, but with the reminder of the "Hammerdown Protocol" looming over their heads, Jason was determined to get them to a safe place. He approached his brother as calmly as he could, using his hands to locate his exact spot. He pleaded with his brother to get up, but Rob only seemed to rebel harder against him. He had a death grip on Hud's bloodied shirt and had no intentions of releasing. However, It only took Beth's reassuring voice to shake Rob out of his state of grief long enough to get him away from the crash site.
They ventured into the surrounding trees of the park, hoping to find cover from the monster, who was still a fairly close distance to where they were. Half-way through the faux-forest of the park, jets could be heard flying overhead, followed by the sharp hiss of multiple explosions. The air seemed to tremble in protest against the violet shockwaves that disturbed it. The trio stumbled down a slope onto to the concrete path, breaking into a run. Their heads whipped about wildly, searching for any signs of danger. They'd been completely focused on the larger monster, that they had forgotten about the crab-spider creatures. Beth prayed none of them were lurking about the park.
With the exception of a few fallen trash cans and tree branches, the park appeared untouched by the chaos, a picture of normal. They hobbled until to they came to a fork in the road; Jason was inclined to go left, the memory of a building somewhere in the direction flashed in his mind. "Over there!" Beth pointed across the way on the right. Jason looked toward the right, immediately spotting the Greyshot Arch Bridge.
Jason started down the right pathway with Beth. The sounds of the battle taking place seemed to grow closer the faster they approached the arch, the roar of the beast became more distorted every explosion that went off. In spite of becoming familiar with the sound, its roar was still so alien, unnatural to his ears. As they got closer to the bridge, pressure started to build up in Jason's side, he stumbled to a near halt; Beth did a double take, barely catching as he lifted Rob's arm over his head and tried to stop moving forward. "Jason?!" She cried, confused.
Jason waved her off, too distracted by the chill spreading through his abdomen. Grasping his shirt, he pulled it up away from his skin, along with the makeshift dressing Lily used to cover his wound, ignoring the way the dried blood flaked away from his skin. Looking down at where he remembered the cut in his side to be, Jason pressed two fingers against his skin. The skin obliged to the force being applied against it, he nearly gagged when felt loose skin brush his fingers. He Bent the tips of his fingers forward, Jason's heart skipped a beat when his fingers entered the wound, greeted by a fresh bout of blood.
"Where's Jason?" Rob asked.
"Behind us, keep moving!" Beth ordered, heading toward the wall of the arch. Rob did as he was told, fighting to keep up with her pace. His camera dangled between them, bumping their legs in sync with their movement. Beth barely made it underneath the bridge before her legs gave way beneath her. She pulled Rob down with her, they hit the ground, knees first; Their bodies stretched across the ground, they stopped themselves with their hands. Their palms bounced violently across the concrete until their bodies came to a halt. The couple struggled to regain their breath, heaving in and out in a feeble attempt to match the rhythm of their rapid heartbeats.
Behind them, the sounds of battle continued on behind them. As Rob listened on, the image of watching Hud being devoured by the monster played over and over in his mind. He squinted his eyes against the horrid scene. Hud's body vanishing in and out of the creature's mouth as it chewed effortlessly on his body, before severing it half. Rob could remember his throat closing up on him as he watched Hud's upper body flail about in mid air before landing on the ground.
He sobbed, blaming himself for everything that happened; None of them would be here if he hadn't gotten jealous about Beth inviting Travis. Hell, if he called her after sleeping with her, Lily wouldn't be separated from them, Beth or Jason wouldn't be hurt, Marlena and Hud would be still be alive. They would all be safe across the Brooklyn Bridge, watching the incident from afar. Spectators of a event, instead of participants. His mouth flapped open and shut, struggling to verbalize everything he was feeling.
He felt Beth's fingers close around his, gripping them so hard he feared they would break. Pain tingled up his arm, chasing away the numbness that was spreading through his being. Heaving out a unsteady breath, he said, "He's gone… he's gone," Rob's body shook from the strength of his heaving. In the corner of his eye he could see Beth nodding her head, her grip became tighter around his fingers. "He's--- they're all gone…," He croaked. "I know," Beth whimpered.
The two remained in a semi-groveling position for a time before another explosion rang out in sync with the monster's roar. Rob felt Beth stiffen beside him as he pulled himself up into a sitting position. Lifting his chin away from his chest he spotted Jason limping toward the safety of the bridge. Beside him, Beth hiccups were strangled by a gasp. "Jason?" She whispered. Rob's heart skipped a beat at the lack of urgency in his brother's movement.
Careful not to apply any more pressure than necessary to his injured leg, Rob hobbled toward Jason. The older man glanced up at blur that was Rob, relief spread through him like a burst of warmth. Rob's eyes darted away from the slits of his brother's eyes, covered with blood. He hurried over to Jason as he began to stumble; grabbing Jason's arm, he ducked underneath him and flung the arm over his shoulder.
"Where the hell were you?!" Rob panted, hobbling toward the underpass of the bridge. Jason mumbled something inaudible, he was too focused on stumbling over his feet --- under the impression that he was lifting them off the ground and walking like a normal person. The two entered the underpass, the weight of Jason's body caused Rob's legs to give way beneath him; They fell to the ground, Jason allowed his weight to bring him to the ground and rolled away from his brother. Pain radiated through his abdomen, slowly he pushed himself up into a sitting position against the wall. In the corner of his eye he could see Rob and Beth observing him cautiously, their gaze breaking away briefly to peer outside the underpass. Shivering, he wrapped his arms around his waist.
"We have get out of here!" Beth cried.
"Are you okay?" Rob inquired, ignoring Beth.
Jason cracked a shaky smile at his brother, he gave him a half-shrug. How was he supposed to reply to that question? He couldn't see shit, that's the part that scared him. He was blind, his hearing wavered in and out like faulty sound system. The hole in his side was deeper than he remembered and his dressing was soaked to the bone. And judging by the lightheadedness he was experiencing, Jason was pretty sure he would loose consciousness soon. "I'm--- I'm cold…" Jason grounded through his teeth. He let out a breath, lowering his head he shut his eyes. Opening them again he regarded the blur of his brother and frowned. "I'm in a bad way bro. I could use a new bandage," The last part of his sentence came out in a laugh that dwindled in a sob. Rob snapped to attention, reaching over he grabbed the flap of his brother's dress shirt.
"What are you doing?" Jason said.
"I need your shirt. Sit up," Rob answered. Jason did as he was asked, using what little strength he had left in his stomach muscles to keep himself upright and away from the wall. Unwrapping his arms from around his waist, he helped Rob shimmy the bloodied blue dress shirt off his shoulders. Without missing a beat, Rob proceeded to tear the weaker parts of the shirt away, creating uneven pieces of fabric long enough to wrap around his brother's waist. In the background, the roar of the monster seemed to grow closer, a fact that Rob knew they were all trying to ignore. "Okay, lift your shirt," He said. Jason raised his shift halfway up, he pulled the dressing away from his waist.
Rob was unable to hide his shudder, Jason skin was an ugly shade of purple, green, and black. The edges of the cut were puffy with irritation. Averting his gaze further down, Rob took notice of how dark with blood Jason's pant leg had become. It was a miracle that Jason hadn't passed out yet. Moving quickly, Rob wrapped the torn fabric around Jason's waist and tied it. Jason cried out in pain, his arm shot out to halt his brother's rough handling of his waist, but Rob slapped his hand away before resuming his task. Jason reached out to stop him again, Rob released his hold on the fabric and grabbed his wrist. "I know this hurts, man, but I have to cover this up," He said. Jason gave him a wary look before lowering his arm. Rob repeated the process with two more strips of dress shirt, until he was secure in thinking they were tight enough. "Alright, done," Rob looked his brother for approval. "I'll -- I'll take your word for it," Jason heaved out, jaw line trembling.
"Just stay awake, and you'll be fine," His tone was harsher than he intended it to be. Jason threw him a sidelong look, a thin lipped smile crossing his features before he closed his eyes.
Rob let out a resigned sigh as he watched his brother struggle to turn himself around so that his back was facing him. This was it. There was no escaping the city that had once been their home. Turning away from his brother, he moved toward Beth who sat at the edge of the underpass, flinching at the sound of approaching chaos outside. Her face red with exertion and covered in a combination of blood, dirt, and salty tears. She favored her arm Without looking up at her would-be lover, she said, "We gotta go. We gotta go…"
Rob looked incredulous. "Go where? There's nowhere to go to!" He replied, flinching at another explosion. Beth's head whipped around to meet his face, her brown eyes wide with fear. Rob found his arms caught in her panicked grasp. "We have to get out of here! Its coming toward us!" She wailed. And as if to response, the monster's roar once again overpowered the weapons that attacked him, Rob wrapped his arms around Beth and attempted to console her. Beth wailed against his chest, clutching his undershirt like a life-line.
"We should just wait here. Just wait here," Rob breathed, rocking her trembling form. "Listen, we wait here, they'll find us… all right?" He hoped his words would reach her and calm her down; Beth pulled her face away from Rob's shirt to look outside again, there was not a sign of the danger approaching, but the sound continued to draw closer to them. Her breathed hitched at the thought of the end --- the end of their lives. Grabbing a handful of her own hair, she shook her head in disagreement. "No, we can't stay here," She said. Rob rubbed her back in a circular motion, he pressed his cheek against Beth's head and stared out into space. "I'm so scared," She whispered, hiccupping. Rob nodded understandingly, pressing his lips against her head. "I know, I know," He replied.
(Washington, D.C.; RFK Stadium):
Lily Ford had never been so afraid in her life. She twisted her tattered dress in knots as she watched the military personnel wade through the dozens and dozens of refugees huddled on the ground, wrapped in blankets, lying on cots, wrapped in bandages and casts. She sat in one empty stadium rows, wrapped in a heavy wool blanket herself. Her cuts had been treated and wrapped, the only thing they couldn't provide her was a some affirmation that her friends had made it out of the hot zone.
No one would tell her anything; Lily tried not being an annoyance to an already overburdened relief-group, but the mystery, and relative feeling of helplessness, choked her good sense. At least when she was with the others, she had felt like she could've aid them somehow in their situation. When she had been pulled onto the helicopter, she was so relieved because she knew they were all going to be safe.
That is… until the helicopter door slid shut and she was only occupant of their group inside. All of her relief died when she watched Jason and the others fall out of her view as the copper rose into the air. Her gaze remained transfixed on Jason's half-sullen, half-relieved expression until all she could see were the tops of the floodlights.
The ride in the Twin-Huey was a blur in Lily's mind, she barely remembered anything aside from the repetitive beat of the chopper blades. All she really remembered was a fractured moment in time, between herself and Jason in Central Park during beginning of their relationship. Jason had barely began to smile at her when Lily was rudely awakened by one of the soldiers sitting across from her.
She was lead into the RFK Stadium with other arrivals and taken care of. Now she sat alone, her thoughts conjuring up terrible images of her friends suffering. Releasing the end of her cocktail dress, she clasped her hands together, fingers intertwining with each other. Lowering her head she pressed her knuckles against her forehead.
Please God, bring them back safely. If its not too much to ask, just bring them back to me.
I don't want to be the only person left alive after all this.
I don't want to be alone.
I don't want to be alone.
Lily pressed her hands against her face and sobbed.
Jason spent the last twenty minutes listening to his Brother and Beth speak to the camera, briefly describing the events that they witnessed and lived through; Beth was in tears by the time she reached the end of her confession; He heard the camera being placed on the ground and Rob's hushed whispering as he tried to comfort the sobbing young woman.
Jason's body ached with a terrible chill; No matter where he turned it followed him, nestling itself in a new region of his body, zapping the warmth out of him. He rested against the wall, his arms were folded tightly across his chest as if they were going to protect him against the shivers that traveled through his body. His legs were pulled up, his knees rested against his arms.
Behind him he could hear his brother, dragging his feet behind him as he approached him. Jason barely opened his eyes when Rob's hand clasped his shoulder. "Hey, man, you alright?" Rob's voice was raspy, Jason swallowed unconsciously, his throat was so dry. Rotating his shoulder, Jason flexed his hand that was pressed against side and winced at the first moments pain. Glancing over his shoulder, he nodded his head. "I'm fine. Where's Beth?"
Rob took a moment to answer Jason's question. Casting a glance over his shoulder, he peered down at Beth who laid curled up on the floor, exhausted. Turning back to Jason, replied, "Sleeping. Tired herself out," Jason let out a laugh that sounded closer to a cough, he readjusted his throbbing his shoulder against the wall. Rob removed his hand from Jason's shoulder, moving back he watched his brother turn himself around so his back was facing the wall. Rob swallowed inwardly at the haggard expression on Jason's face; The dark circles under his eyes were more pronounced against the paleness of his skin. Rob forced a smile on his face, hoping he'd chased away the aghast in time. "You look like crap, Bro," He laughed.
Jason cracked another wry smile. "You… don't look too hot yourself, Robby," Jason replied, nodding to the trail of blood running down his forehead. Rob raised a hand to brush his forehead, stiff with dry blood. He snorted at the sound of his nickname. He remembered banning everyone at home back in Minnesota from using it, with the promise that he would give them all a finely placed "knuckle sandwich". Naturally, Jason never took his threat to heart and would call him 'Robby' whenever he got the chance and Rob only remembered punching him once for it.
"Hey, Rob…" Jason's voice pulled Rob out of his reminisces. Brown eyes met pale blue and for a moment Rob expected his brother cry, but instead he got another smile. "Can you believe that I --- that I actually the balls to blame you for all of this?" Jason murmured, eyes drooping. Rob felt a pang of anger pierce his heart, he watched his brother's pained expression as he struggled to sit up a little more against the wall.
"What?" It was all Rob could manage to say.
Jason nodded. "Yeah, I think I still do in some way. I mean, I know it was my choice to follow (you're my brother after all. I'd walk through hell for you), to stick with you for as long as I did. But after everything that happened to me, to Lily, Hud, and Marlena (especially Marlena), I wanted to kill you." Jason paused. "I mean, I really wanted to. The whole trip like a suicide mission---" He stopped, shifting his gaze downward. He resumed "Anyway, I started thinking Beth was not worth the lives of who remained, not worth my life, but when we got to her apartment, all of that was sort of forgotten. At least until one of those thing attacked us, and Lily got hurt. I really wanted to die, then." Jason's lip trembled his blurred vision became more obscured by tears.
Rob watched silently, his mind struggling to understand what his brother was trying to tell him by confessing all of this. "When we arrived at the final evacuation site and Lily took my hand, all I could think of was getting my ass on a helicopter before anyone else. It almost happened too, but then she was taken away from me-- Lily got in the chopper first and was taken to safety. I was relieved, and angry that I couldn't be with her. That I had to be stuck with you, Hud, and Beth…." Jason trailed off, he let out a shuddering gasp of breath that caused his entire body to tremble.
Jason removed his hand away from his side, the fingers shook as he brought up to his face. "I thought for sure that we were gonna get out of here, but that fuckin' thing just knocked out us of the air like flies. Now Hud's dead, and we're all gonna end up like him if the military doesn't get to us first." Jason's voice lost all the composure, Rob managed to make out fragments of his brother's finale words amidst his sobbing. Casting a glance over to where Beth laid, he was surprised to find her still asleep next to the camera. Looking back to his brother, Rob began to consider all that was divulged, unable to really hate his brother like he wanted to.
At least, not while in the pitiful state he was in. He was afraid of dying, ashamed of the self-preserving line of thought he never got the chance to act on. Rob felt like he should say something to his brother, maybe tell him he wasn't angry or something, but nothing really felt worthy of the situation. As he started to move away from Jason, he caught the glimmer of orange spreading across the underpass walls. A high pitched whistle tore through the air.
Beth sat straight up from her sleeping position, Jason's sobbing stopped instantly, and Rob's head turned toward entrance just moments before the bomb hit. His vision was consumed by a harsh white hot light, a second later his body felt the full force of the shock wave. Rob let out a strangled cry as his body was thrown across the ground, limbs wiping around like they had a life of their own. He could hear the walls around them crumbling, he felt them crumbling around them. His head collided with something solid, pain blossomed through his skull and unconsciousness rose to claim him.
In the distance he could hear Beth and Jason screaming for him, he couldn't move.
"Rob! Rob, please! Rob! I … don't leave me alone… I love you!" It was Beth. A moment of fleeting happiness hit Rob in near succession with the second blast. The shockwave hit him again, tearing him apart.
Robert Hawkins knew no more.