The Hu Factor Book 1 chapter 8
Here is the next installment. If I am posting these too slow for you, you can buy the entire manuscript as a pdf from me at http://garden.vagobond.com/purchase-the-hu-factor/
And I am archiving the chapters at http://vagobond.posterous.com Please share this, plus one it, and help me to find an agent and a publisher so that I can feel good about continuing the series…and feed my family while I do it. Who knows maybe Syfy will even make a series of it that survives longer than one season. As always…I strongly encourage you to give me feedback whether it is editing, plot holes, emotional response (cool, that sucks, I love that guy) or even “I love it” (and that last one is especially good for us writer types – it’s like crack – we can’t get enough of it)
Vlad’s pace was fast and there was no conversation between the two men as they quickly hoofed it down one street after another. Eventually the shapes of the building faces began to differ, but not much else. Vlad made frequent left and right turns at seeming random, Ben quickly lost track of where he was in relation to where he had been. The buildings seemed to be smaller and there were more doors and smaller windows than there had been at first. Rather than slowing, Vlad’s pace increased, Ben was certain that the man would pick a building to hole up in soon, but he seemed to be in a sort of groove that kept him moving forward, turning right, turning right again, turning left, turning right, turning left, and then going straight with no particular order or agenda that Ben could figure out.
Ben was glad to keep moving. He was spooked by the lack of garbage cans and cars. He was probably in stress related shock over this whole thing. It took him at least an hour before he stopped and called out to Vlad.
“Hey, Vlad…I need to rest. I can’t keep up this pace with you. And besides that, I need to know…are you going someplace specific? Do you have some idea where we are or are you just covering distance?”
Vlad stopped and turned to Ben. “No, I have no ideas. When you said there were no cars, I noticed that there are also no trees. I decided to keep going until I saw a tree. So far, I haven’t seen a single one. I have also been listening for any sound at all, but aside from you and me, there is nothing, but have you noticed that the buildings are different?” He motioned to the buildings around them.
Ben nodded. He was taking in the idea that there were no trees. It was too hard to reconcile anything at all. If he thought of that, he thought of the lack of paper, if he thought of that, he thought about junk food, and as soon as he thought about the junk food, he was reminded that he was thirstier and hungrier than he ever remembered being. Hadn’t he been about to leave his shop and go eat fancy cheese and hors devourers with Giselle? Wasn’t he about to bury his senses in the smell of her flesh and the sound of her moans? Hadn’t he just filled the last order of the day? He felt himself clenching his fists and grinding his teeth as he became totally enraged for the first time since he had awakened. Anger coursed through him and built until he was unable to control himself and he fell to his knees screaming his rage at the top of his lungs.
“THIS IS NOT THE WHAT I HAD IN MIND FOR TONIGHT!!! WHO THE IS DOING THIS? SHOW YOUR SELF! NOW!”
He could see Vlad looking at him. He watched the shock on his face. He didn’t care. He didn’t even know this guy. None of this was real. He had completely lost his mind and now he was sure of it. And then he started laughing like a maniac again as he thought to himself that he had never known that being crazy made one feel so god damn thirsty. Vlad watched him laughing in the street. He didn’t stop. He just kept laughing. Finally, getting himself in some sort of control, he managed to sputter out, “I bet you never thought being crazy would make you so thirsty.” And then he was laughing again. Now he saw Vlad coming towards him. Felt him lifting him up.
“Ben, you’ve got to get yourself together. Ben, you’ve got to get up. Ben….Oh no.” Vlad let go of him and stepped past him. Ben managed to catch himself and avoid falling back to the ground. In the process, he put his laughing fit behind him and turned to look at what had so suddenly caught Vlad’s attention. As he turned, he heard them first.
The noise was a mixture of animal and human noises. He could hear yelling and barking and the sounds of feet and paws coming closer. As he turned, he saw that they had just come around the corner and he forgot any hunger or thirst he had felt as total and complete terror gripped him. Adrenaline flooded his nervous system and he realized that flight was the only option his body was giving him. He turned and ran. He could see that Vlad had had the same reaction as his back moved away ahead of him. Both men were running.
They were not alone anymore.
The narrow streets, Ben’s laughter, and their own movement must have kept them from hearing the noise of the horde behind them before. In the brief moment he had taken to look, Ben had seen three human figures running towards him. They were not what had sent him into a panic. Behind the people, were what seemed to be dozens of dogs. It didn’t take a genius to realize that the people were running from the dogs and that when the dogs caught them, they were going to be dead. Ben followed Vlad as he took one turn after another, from the sounds he heard behind him, he could tell that the mass behind him was also following. Vlad took a left into a narrow alley, Ben followed, and then disaster. They were in a dead end alleyway that was no more than ten feet across with unassailable side walls. As soon as he turned the corner, Ben saw that Vlad was coming back towards him. He tried to turn and exit the alleyway, but it was too late. The three people behind him nearly knocked him over as they ran around the corner and past him. The dogs were already blocking the exit.
Ben gripped his makeshift knife and tossed his coil of garbage cloth rope to the ground as he backed up. He heard one woman scream as she found the same dead end he and Vlad had encountered. A large grayish dog bounded around the corner and Ben jabbed with his glass shard knife towards the beast. It was hard to tell over the massive din being made by all the animals, but he was pretty sure he had heard a loud yelping. The dogs had stopped running as if some instinct had told them that they had their prey cornered.
Ben risked a glance behind him and saw two women and a man. The man was tall and black. The women were lighter and shorter. In the moment he looked, that was all he could tell. He faced back towards the pack of canines that was massing in front of him. They were all sizes and shapes. He saw no collars and he felt no love from these best friends of man. Instead, he realized that these dogs were looking at him as their next meal. If the dogs were anywhere near as hungry as he was, he knew that things were about to get ugly. As he looked, he realized that the dogs were not only as hungry as he was, they were more hungry.
Still gripping his glass dagger, he had continued backing up until he could back up no more. Vlad was on his right, the new man on his left, and the two women further to his left.
“We’ve got to kill some of these pooches or we are all dead meat.” The woman’s voice was gravelly and strong. “Go home dogs. Bad dogs. Go home you mangy curs. Get.” Ben glanced to his left and saw the woman stepping forward towards the pack. She was thick, not fat, but solid with a piece of cloth wrapped around her torso. As she stepped towards the dogs, a big Dalmatian lunged forward and leapt into the air. Ben didn’t have time to think, he was flying towards the dog knowing that if he didn’t knock it from it’s trajectory, it would connect with this woman’s throat and send the rest of the dogs into a bloodlust that wouldn’t end until they were all dead.
He wasn’t sure that he would make it, but just when it seemed that he was too late, his body hit the dog and caused it to slam against the wall to the side. He had made it. He hit the wall with only the dog’s body to soften the impact. For just a moment, he felt a surge of strength and pride and then he was covered with dogs. As he fought his way up from the mass of teeth and claws that were upon him, he saw that the other four were also under attack. Hoping that desperation would give him strength, he slashed and stabbed while getting bit from all sides. The dogs were not well organized like a wolf pack, this was a free for all. For just a moment, he thought they might manage to beat them, then he saw the second woman fall under the mass of fur. He tried to make it to where she had disappeared in a sea of pets gone wild. The other three too, were trying to reach her. It was hopeless though. There were too many dogs. When he saw the big greyish dog knock Vlad from his feet, he realized they were doomed.