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June 17, 2024

All-Nighter 23

By Lydia Manx

Episode Twenty-Four


The laptop computer was streaming new video and Sammy came to my side. The site was one of the off-the-grid type that was an underground crowd of folks who'd killed monsters, the actual monsters themselves, and friends of folks who were slain by monsters and lived to tell. Not a tight group, because everyone hid behind fake names and pretty unbelievably scary stories. I'd personally met a few of them, and knew they weren't all catfishing and screwing with the true believers. There definitely was meat on the bones of what was posted most of the time.

Sammy looked at the screen; in the corner that I tapped on, I pointed out a section to him, and opened up the shot wider on the monitor of my laptop. I heard the hiss of his breath as his brain began the traumatic job of waking his mind the fuck up to the horrors that were being recorded and transmitted around the web. It wasn't for the faint of heart or the lightweights, that was true.

Silently we both watched the footage with the volume turned up. It had just started with someone holding a cell phone up, a shaky shot and the voice was whispering softly, "Okay, I am sorry my hands are trembling so hard. I need to adjust something," The angle went to work boots, and the young woman's voice was nearly as bad as her photography. Swinging the cell phone around, we saw the gal shooting the scene. She couldn't be more than Sammy's age, so that put her in her early twenties at the most. Her face was dead white -- not typical Floridian sunburnt or at least golden bronzed -- and she had the usual black smudged eyeliner popularized by the Kardashian gals and family. (I think I even saw old Bruce wearing a thick layer of kohl last time there had been a picture from his world -- her world -- whatever.) She was dressed as the angry-rebelling-girl, with a tight black shirt showing off her tattoos and lack of a bra, coupled with assorted facial piercings and a dog collar. She was retro now, and it looked more like a fashion statement than a committed life to anarchy and apathy. Sammy had a slight smile on his face. I guess I found his type.

The cell phone went back to unfocused greenery, and I could see that she was near where the probably deceased Rick and his cameraman had been earlier. A flash of red on the leaves sealed that notion for me and the gal said, "I made my way down to the place where Rick the reporter disappeared a few hours ago on live TV. Nobody saw me, but I saw something weird. I am live streaming this damn shit for you all and I hope my battery holds and the government doesn't nuke the cell tower here to prevent my recording this crap." She paused for a gulp of air and her cell phone steadied at a lower angle. "I am sitting on the ground feet away from what I posted twenty minutes ago. Kevin or one of his dudes should be able to put it back up if you missed it." A blurry box appeared on the web site opposite of the gal's live streaming. Beneath both pictures the words 'Breaking News from the Dark Side, recorded by Mistress Emma'. Okay, that goth gal must be Emma. I wasn't even going to think of what kind of Mistress she was. Some things were best unknown.

In the smaller video, I could see that old Rick and cameraman were most assuredly dead. Heads ripped clean off their spines, and slashes of skin torn open on their bodies, giving a pretty clear view of their insides. Not a pretty sight, given there were some rather large gaps in the entrails and sinew. Something had torn them open and removed large parts of necessary human anatomy. I didn't think either man would be returning after to cause some trouble. They weren't coming back as anything in this lifetime from my view.

The cars were all strewn still around the I-95 in both directions, and there were more lights on cars blocking off traffic, and somebody had brought in some huge, event party-sized lights. Instead of shooting up into the dark sky to call visitors, they were instead pointed at the mess in the middle of the roads. And it was a mess. I could still see guys in suits talking on cells, but now I could see what hadn't been easily discernible to us on the news broadcast. Bodies were inside the cars and vans, not moving. Some seemed rather short, and my brain figured out quickly that having your head ripped off would do that.

Sammy picked up on it too, and said, "Damn, those folks are all dead in their cars." It wasn't a question.

Nodding, I watched the girl get up and begin her jiggling way towards the bright lights on the interstate. It was all I could do to not yell, "Carol Anne, go away from the light," a vague line steal from a scary ass movie from my childhood. I doubted if werewolves could be misconstrued as poltergeists, but still the line resonated in my thoughts.

Sammy just said, "Dude, get the fuck away from that shit."

Her cell phone was jumping up and down, and she was hissing stuff about the weeds biting her. I hoped that was all that took a chunk out of her tonight, but I feared for the worst. She stopped to talk to her cell phone, and I saw that she was less than a couple dozen feet from the cops and suits hiding behind an even smaller shrub than the ones that were still decorated with Rick and the cameraman's guts and blood. This one wasn't coated, but I knew it was just a matter of time. I was tingling with a combination of fear and the knowledge of the old adage that shit happens.

The camera on her cell phone was still stuck on her face and she began talking quietly, "Okay, so I am not far from the dead bodies in the cars scattered around the highway. I can see both sides have a crap load of slumped corpses missing heads and limbs. I don't see that anyone is trying to even remove the bodies. The men walking around talking on their cells are saying stuff about containment and disposals, but not going anywhere near the cars."

I could see that she wasn't kidding. And I could hear a few of the guys talking on her cell recording, and I was worried that some of those folks may not be truly dead and soon there could be other casualties in the near future. None of the men ... and I noted that there weren't many women that I could see standing around bullshitting -- telling, no? -- seemed to have given that any thought, but were concerned with only their ability to cover the incident up quickly. Because we were watching it live on the internet, I would have to say that ship had long sailed.

Emma looked right into her cell camera and said, "Okay, I am turning this back to the scene. Kids, shut this off if you are under eighteen, because from what I am smelling, it won't be pretty. Kevin, send Oliver and Kelly down to get more footage, because one of these cops may bust me soon." True to her word she spun her lens back just in time for me to see something wicked.

"Sammy, see that?" I tried to keep the horror from my voice and doubted I had, because two cars from the edge of the highway there was movement in a white Lexus. It wasn't the driver but the passenger seat. The windows were smoked glass but the flat shine from the face of the man was wrong.

He put his face inches from my laptop screen and said, "There's a man moving, but it's weird."

"Yeah, not human. Check out the flat shine in his eyes. That's not human." And we both jumped when we watched the man's face morph and shift, like the bones of his face were moving beneath his skin. I saw his mouth gape open, and could hear a scream ripping out from his elongating mouth, and just like that the world of the weird and bizarre added a new level. A werewolf was born while live streaming, and shot out to the world in the darkness to see. This could not be good. And then to my horror, I watched a wave of motion and sound fill the monitor as the cars that had appeared to be filled with the dead shifted. Not everyone had been decapitated, and those with a brain and a body that hadn't bled out were shifting shape and screaming in agony. Emma dropped her phone, and all we could see was dry grass and weeds. More screams and men yelling for help. A new world order was upon us, and I shivered.

"Lindy, what the fuck just happened?" He looked at me with Bambi eyes and more than a bit of fear. It wasn't good.

"Nothing good. What is the game plan? This retreat is supposed to be a safe haven." The look on his face didn't reassure me in any way. That deer in the headlights gaze wasn't gone, but even worse. I was asking him a question he couldn't answer. Oh happy days -- or nights.

Mumbling under his breath he said softly, "I am supposed to call Grant."

"From where?" I looked at his blushing face, and saw that he wasn't exactly coming up with a plan. His eyes were glued to the monitor as if he was waiting for Emma to spring up and say it was all a prank. I knew better. The site dumped off both boxes of the camera shots, without any acknowledgment of the horrors we'd just seen. Then it went black -- offline. That wasn't helping my worries in the least. Government had shut them down, or the website owners were freaking out and yanking their existence offline as quickly as possible, had to be one of those options. Either way, it wasn't good for us. We were currently in Boca Raton, and not many miles from the site of the incident.

Finally I watched Sammy shake his head and seem to awaken to the new reality.

"We need to get to the front desk and the panic button." He straightened his spine and headed to the door.

"Wait, Sammy, let me get my 'go bag,' there is no need to be truly stupid." I finished my wine and headed to my bedroom without waiting for his reply. He'd either wait for me or not. I wasn't overly worried. I wanted to be ready as best I could and not a victim.

I dressed for the outside and the werewolves without a second thought. Heat be damned, I changed into jeans, boots and a long sleeved shirt over a tank top. I could very well drop from heat exhaustion first, but I wasn't willing to risk a bite and infection. I didn't know if I could be turned -- despite all the pretty little tales told by books and movies, not everyone became a werewolf once bitten. A rake from one of their claws, and if I was soaked in blood, could result in my turning, according to the lore; and since werewolves weren't precisely sharing the methods with which they flipped humans into furry folks, I'd rather skip finding out the hard way that I was prime meat for the weres.

To my relief, once I emerged from the bedroom, I found Sammy kicked back against a closed door waiting for me. I would have left either way, but I was a bit pleased to see him waiting. I arched an eyebrow at him as I hoisted the duffel bag over my shoulder. It was heavy, but I was reassured by the clanking sound from the various weapons that I'd slid inside, and bit back a vicious smile. I was glad that I'd over-packed for a change.

Who was I kidding? I always over-packed on trips. I'd learned my lesson back in West Virginia to travel prepared for anything. This time I hoped that I hadn't missed anything vital, but then we'd see.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2016-07-18
Image(s) © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
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