Posted on June 13, 2008 by Matt-M-McElroy
Beneath the dim light of a full moon, the population of Cincinnati mutates into huge, snarling monsters that devour everyone they see, acting upon their most base and bestial desires. Planes fall from the sky. Highways are clogged with abandoned cars, and buildings explode and topple. The city burns.
Bestial: Werewolf Apocalypse is the new horror novel written by William Carl and published by Permuted Press. You can order this twisted tale at Amazon.com.
Today’s preview is the continuation of Chapter One of Bestial. Be sure to read last week’s preview to get caught up with the story…
Bestial: Werewolf Apocalypse by William Carl
In the distance, a car alarm started blaring. Rick cursed, knowing that it would alert the police if it continued to honk. He was beginning to think this was a jinxed heist. Too many things going wrong at the same time.
“You got family, Chesya?”
“No. Just me and myself.”
“You aren’t gonna do anything stupid, are you?”
She looked at him. “My mother didn’t raise any fools. I want to get home in one piece as much as you do. Probably more.”
“That’s good, then.”
She looked him up and down, this man who was forcing her to rob her own workplace, this man who held a gun on her. He wasn’t bad looking. Sandy, blond hair, a bit of gray at the temples, high cheek-bones. He looked muscular beneath his work shirt and jeans. He’d be someone she’d look at twice on the street, once coming and once going. He was a bit pasty, and she didn’t usually date white men, finding them too uptight and business-like in the love department.
She caught herself. Date? The man had a gun pointed at her.
Girl, she thought. It’s been too long since you had a man.
Cursing herself, she listened to the noise from outside the bank, wondering what was causing it.
It sounded as though a second car alarm had joined the first. Now, Rick knew the cops would come. Probably a gang of kids out on a smash and grab, but they were going to wreck the whole robbery if the police reached them in time. Listening carefully, he thought he could hear a third alarm.
“What’s causing all that racket?” Chesya asked, peering around the corner at the lobby.
“It’s nothing,” he said. “Kids or something.”
“Doesn’t sound like kids.”
There was a soft, welcoming hiss from the vault, and it opened. Grinning, he pulled on the stainless steel door, astonished at how easily it pivoted on the heavy hinges. A light went on inside, and Rick chuck-led as he recalled his childhood fascination with whether the refrigera-tor light stayed on when the door was closed. He had often tried to catch it turning on, but had never been quick enough.
The car alarms on the street seemed to grow even more raucous. Rick knew he had to make this a fast job in order to elude the police. He prayed that Jason had the getaway car revved up and ready to motor as soon as they rushed out into the street.
“Here,” he said, tossing a couple of garbage bags at Chesya. “Take these and fill them with all the cash you can. We’re not looking to hit the safety deposit boxes, just the cash. And don’t think you can drop a paint bomb in there, or you may not make it home tonight.”
“Oh, I’m shaking.” She grabbed the bags and entered the vault. Rick followed her.
It was a modular vault, welded tight at the seams. The walls were so thick they deadened most of the sound from the streets, even with the door open. The car alarms were muffled, although they had accumulated in numbers. Dozens of them must have been honking and whistling outside the bank. If he could still hear them within the walls of the vault, he knew they were deafening on the street.
Jones’ voice echoed from the lobby. “Hey, Rick… boss… I think you’d better get out here quick.”
Chesya thought, His name’s Rick. She needed to remember that for the inevitable police report.
“What now?” he shouted back.
“Just… get out here.”
Rick grabbed the teller by the hand and marched her at gunpoint to the lobby of the bank, leaving the plastic bags on the floor of the vault. When he saw his partner, white as a sheet and leaning against the counter, his gun all but forgotten on the desk beside him, Rick knew something bad was going down.
“What the fuck’s wrong with you, Jones? Pick up your gun.”
“Boss… I don’t… I don’t feel so good. My gut… something I… ate…”
Rick scanned the area. The blond teller and one of the male employees writhed on the floor, as though in great pain. They moaned, faces twisted in agony, and the other two tellers scooted away from the sick ones, afraid they’d be shot if they stood up. On the other side of the counter, Jack Browning and Saul Wiseman were doubled over at the middle, clutching their stomachs. Browning vomited, a thick brown, liquid that splattered on the immaculate marble floor. He dropped his revolver, and it landed… plop… in his sick at his feet.
A male teller shouted, “We need to get away from them! Some-thing’s wrong.”
Chesya and the other female teller, Mary, hurried over to the blonde’s side. “Gloria?” Chesya asked. “What is it, honey?”
Jones took a step towards the hostages, then fell to his knees so hard that Rick heard the snap of breaking bone. Dropping into a fetal position, the man began to convulse, as though in the throes of an epileptic fit.
Rick realized that the sound of the car alarms outside had grown thunderous, constant.
Mary placed a hand behind Gloria’s neck, then pulled away as if she’d been bitten. Chesya heard Gloria’s head hit the floor.
“Gloria, honey, answer me. What’s wrong?” Chesya asked.
Mary said, “Chesya, something… I felt… under her skin… like in-sects…” Mary suddenly scratched behind her own neck.
Gloria turned to face Chesya, exposing the trickle of bile that ran down from the corners of her mouth. When she opened her eyes, they seemed to reflect the meager light from the sunset, gleaming like a mirror, like a cat’s eyeshine. The pupils were a rich golden color.
“Hurts… hurts…” she repeated in a low voice that didn’t resemble the church-choir soprano Chesya had often heard humming at the cubicle next to her own. Now she sounded animalistic, growling, feral.
And so very full of pain.
Rick glanced at the front of the bank to see Jason at the front en-trance. The teenaged getaway driver screamed and motioned wildly. He pulled on the handles, but the doors were locked.
“Get back in the car,” Rick shouted, heading for the door. “We need you to wait in the damn car!”
The boy continued to yank on the doors, as if he could will them to unlock. As he got closer, Rick saw the terror in Jason’s green eyes, sheer, undiluted fear. In the distance, metal crunched against metal, glass shattered. Cars were slamming into each other. The alarms pulsed over everything.
And something else… something that was almost human…
Jason glanced over his shoulder as Rick reached the door. He was still shouting at the boy to get his ass back in the getaway car.
“Jason, if you don’t get….”
Something dark and hairy rushed from Jason’s left. It pulled him away from the windows and out of sight.
Rick jumped back from the glass, wondering what had snatched the kid away. It had happened so fast. All he had was the lingering impression of hair and teeth and violence.
That was why the car alarms were going crazy all over the city street. Some kind of animal was loose.
And it had just carried off the getaway driver.
Everywhere he looked, automobiles had wrecked into lampposts and the sides of buildings, some piled on top of others like weird modern sculptures. A motorcycle was turned on its side, the back wheel still spinning. A fire had started in the corner grocery store across the street, smoke pluming out of its shattered front windows. No bodies inhabited the wrecks.
As Rick watched, people ran through the streets, waving their arms, screaming for help. A child, no more than seven or eight, hurried along the sidewalk across the street, only to be grabbed and dragged into the shadows by a beast lurking in the alley. It moved so fast, Rick only had a quick idea of yellowed teeth, fangs and spit. Another lumbering creature leapt from behind an overturned car, pulling a woman into the obscured, topsy-turvy confines of the back seat. Her screams stopped abruptly.
“Oh my God…” Chesya said behind him.
Turning, Rick hurried back to the others, hastening away from the chaos overtaking the darkening street outside. The streetlamps flickered at his back, better illuminating the city.
The sun had almost set, and the animals, whatever they were, grew bolder, emerging from the shadows into the spotty glow of the lamps, which their eyes refracted, flashes of gold in the crisp, autumn night.
“Hey, robber guy… !” Chesya called.
He stepped over the still-quivering bodies of Browning and Wise-man. They were clutching at their throats, tearing the skin away to expose crimson tubes and muscle. Jack opened his eyes as Rick passed, revealing tainted, urine-colored irises.
When Rick reached Chesya and Gloria, he saw that the blonde teller was no longer shaking so badly. In fact, if it weren’t for the spooky eyes and the hair sprouting on the woman’s face, she would have appeared almost calm.
Chesya said, “I was holding her, and that’s when I felt the stubble. It just… pushed its way through her skin, like she was growing fur.”
“I felt it too,” Mary exclaimed. “It started beneath her skin, like movement, like her bones were shifting.” She scratched again, as if feeling something in her own skin, burrowing, growing.
“What the fuck is going on?” the male teller shouted, looking down at a fellow employee who had also ceased to quiver. “John, buddy, what is it?”
John was sprouting tufts of hair all over his body. His lips pulled back in a grimace, exposing elongated, sharp teeth.
“Hey, buddy… John? Talk to me, man.”
John launched at the teller’s throat, sinking fangs deep into the flesh and cartilage. He bit, shook his head, and pulled off a large chunk from the man’s neck. The teller fell to the floor, reaching for the severed carotid artery as his blood spurted a gruesome pop-art pattern on the walls. He screamed. Rick and Chesya did too, moving back-wards, watching as the beast-man chewed the flesh in his mouth and swallowed. His teeth shifted, moved.
When his face began to elongate into a snout, the half-man, half-creature shrieked like a terrified dog in pain. There was nothing human in it. Nothing.
Jones lurched awkwardly on all fours, like some newborn wild ani-mal, and he shoved his face towards the darkness outside the glass front doors. Something was happening with his ears.
Wiseman turned himself from his side to a four-legged position similar to Jones’. His long fingernails click-clacked against the floor, and when he opened his mouth, he exposed shifting dental work, teeth that grew longer and pushed others out of their way, teeth expanding into odd angles, positions impossible for a human mouth.
That thing is not Saul Wiseman, Rick had to tell himself.
When Jack Browning began to tear his own face off of his skull, the bones broke and reassembled, like tectonic plates.
All this violence occurred in about ten seconds. Rick had stepped back farther into the bank, trying to comprehend what was happening.
“Rick!” Chesya screamed, and he spun to see Gloria trying to stand, backing the brunette teller into the corner. Chesya was a few feet away, closer to him. They united and retreated towards the depths of the bank.
Gloria’s body hair continued to grow at a visible, time-lapse pho-tography rate, and her face had become pointed, almost like a rat’s snout. She rent her clothes, tore them from her body, revealing with-ered breasts covered with fur. Her shoulders and arms were muscular, filled with veins. Her lips had chameleoned to black.
“You’ve got a gun, Rick,” Chesya said. “Use the damn thing.”
Amidst the chaos, he had forgotten the Glock, held tightly in his right hand, his knuckles turning white with the effort.
The Gloria-thing took a step towards the woman who was cowering in the corner, tearing at her own skin as though scratching out splinters.
Rick raised his gun.
Chesya shifted towards him.
And the beast that had been Gloria moved fast like a jaguar, grab-bing the woman from the corner, tearing a deep handhold into her chest cavity and dragging her behind the teller’s counter.
Rick didn’t have time to aim, but he fired two shots at her shadow.
Light came in from the street, and Rick and Chesya turned to see Saul Jones and Jack Browning stalking them, still caught in some deranged metamorphosis. Headlights beamed brightly from behind them, from outside the bank, and their features were enshrouded, a reddish aura around their fur-covered bodies.
Headlights… light into the bank… a car’s heading this way, Chesya realized. Right this way!
“Get down!” she shouted, as the lights grew brighter.
She pulled Rick behind the marble teller’s counter. Tripping back-wards, Rick caught a glimpse of a police car, a huge Crown Victoria, as it rammed through the front doors of the bank, shattering glass and smashing metal. He thought he saw a hunchbacked shape behind the driver, clawing, clutching, a vague sense of eyes and teeth and fury.
The car rammed into Jones’ body, smashing his bones, pinning him against its wide grille. When it slammed into the teller’s counter, coming to an abrupt stop, it sliced Jones in two from the legs down. His face and torso hit the hood, his arms reaching for the spider-webbed wind-shield. Money flew into the air and dropped lazily, like leaves in the fall.
Rick and Chesya stood from their hiding place to look at the obscene accident. The driver was being pulled through a hole in the metal grille that caged off the back seat of the Crown Vic, pulled by some hulking shadow with yellow teeth. The driver screamed, pleaded, but soon his feet disappeared into the darkness, and the chewing noises began.
Worse, Jones was still alive. He pulled his legless, hairy torso to-wards the windshield, intestines and other purple organs smearing scarlet streaks across the hood of the vehicle. When he reached the cracked window, he began to slam his gargantuan fists into it. The web seemed to grow larger beneath his pounding.
Rick knew he should be moving, running away from the creatures, but he stood still, nearly hypnotized by the mayhem around him. “What the fuck is happening? What the fuck?”
Chesya pulled at his jacket. “Uh… Rick…”
She motioned towards the teller’s counter; Browning and Wiseman were slinking around the corner, turning their protracted snouts each way and sniffing. The palms of their hands had grown black pads, and the gold in their eyes flashed.
“Come on,” Chesya said, grabbing Rick’s arm and pulling him to the back of the bank. “I have an idea.”
“What the fuck…”
“Snap out of it, man. Get in the vault. Make a run for the vault.”
She slapped him hard across the face, stinging her own hand, and he stared at her a moment.
The thing that had once been Gloria emerged from the darkness of the corner, blood and gore dripping from her newly formed fangs.
Rick screamed, and they dashed for the vault.
“Go, go, go!” Chesya yelled.
There were growls and footfalls behind them, but Rick couldn’t look back. He knew if he got a good visualization of what was chasing them, he would stop dead in his tracks. He couldn’t bear to see what they were. Not yet. Not in their entirety.
When they reached the vault, they both spun around and grabbed the door, swinging it shut behind them. A hand—Rick didn’t know whose it was—reached in, wriggling its fingers before they were caught in the steel trap of the door. The closing mechanism had been activated, and with four pops, each of the fingers snapped off and dropped to the steel floor, each one sporting black-tipped claws, sharp and deadly.
Rick heard the howling, the shrieks of pain from the opposite side of the door as it shut.
Then, with a hiss and a deep clank that stunk of finality, the vault closed, and Rick couldn’t hear anything from the outside. The lack of sound was sudden and ominous.
When the light went out, just as he had always expected when he was a child and stationed at his refrigerator, Rick began screaming…
… and screaming…
… and screaming…