From nowhere, two pistols appeared in the stranger’s hands.
And suddenly the thunder of gunshots filled his ears. He shrank to the far corner of the room as the stranger worked his weapons at the creatures who hauled themselves at him. He was so fast, his hands moved in a blur.
So fast, his eyes hurt just to look at him.
Gunfire thundered over and over. He stuck forefingers in his ears. His eyes following the fight.
The way the creatures jerked under the impact of the bullets and incredibly kept coming. The way the stranger shifted his aim to head shots which took them down but didn’t seem to kill them. They lay trashing on the floor, refusing to heed the death bells that should have rung in their brains long ago.
How stupid of me, he realised suddenly. They are already dead. You can’t kill the dead.
The thought disturbed him.
The stranger was firing with only one pistol now. Only four of the creatures were facing him. He moved out of their reach with twists and dives, sometimes lashing out with his oak-like legs which threw them much further than the impact of the bullets. He fired with his left, kicked and threw punches with his right. The man gaped in admiration. This one can fight.
The pistol clicked. There were two more to deal with, if u prefer not to count the trashers who were trying to get back up with half their heads missing.
The stranger looked round as if seeking a weapon. One of the creatures shot towards him. He bent and sent it sailing over him, out of the open door and crashing into the porch steps. He hoped it had broken its neck.
The other was already at the stranger even before he could turn. The speed with which these things moved was frightening. He watched fascinated as the stranger whirled in a blur of lightning, his hand shooting out as the creature stumbled past, grappling open air. He heard the pop as the blow connected with the creature’s jaw and staggered It.
Moving before it could recover, the stranger grabbed its neck and gave a powerful twist that looked like it nearly wrenched the head off the creature. It sagged limp in his hands. Then its body thudded to the floor. Head in an awkward angle
Its trashing was more like a ballet playing in slow motion.
He forced himself to his feet as the stranger turned, grunting at the pain in his head. He shuffled away when he made a move for him. The stranger noticed and stopped midstride.
” I will not harm you.” He said.
His voice was so deep, it was as if he had an abyss in his throat.
” Who are you?” he asked, hating how his voice trembled.
” My name is Gabriel.”
” Gabriel,” he rolled the name on his tongue. ” I should have asked what are you?”
The stranger paused to stamp on the finger of a trashing creature who was reaching for his legs. A howl sounded, mixing with the strange gagging sounds the others were making.
” Who am I ?” he looked as if it was the first time he was considering the question. He looked at the man shrinking away from him.
And began to walk towards him.
Panic seized him. He stumbled back, almost tripping over a trashing being. It reached for him and he kicked hard.
Suddenly the man was behind him. He had no idea how he got there so fast. He shouldn’t have been surprised. Hadn’t he seen how fast he moved as he fought?
He didn’t turn to face him. The hairs on the back of his neck ticked but he was afraid to move.
He looked ahead.
And with a cry, he shrank back.
He was staring at the huge glass behind the door. He could see his reflection and that of the strange man.
Except it wasn’t him. At least not in the mirror. He still looked the same in the room, but peering into the mirror he saw what his eyes alone had missed.
The stranger was a creature like the rest on the floor. He had the face of a scarecrow and two black holes for eyes. His tongue hung unnaturally long and black on his lips.
The stranger looked up too.
And the man’s brows rose in bewilderment when the stranger put his hands out as if to shield his face from something horrifying. He grabbed a stool and flung it at the mirror, shattering it.
The man tested his feet, steeling himself for a race for the door if…
” I said I won’t hurt you,” the stranger spoke again as if reading his thoughts.
” You,” he said, ” you are one of them.”
” No, ” he shook his head. ” I am something else.”
There was a sadness in the stranger’s voice. A sadness that made him wonder if at a certain time his heart had ever been filled with joy.
” Tell me about it.”