Fake Christmas trees didn’t shed pine needles all over the carpet and therefore a silver six-footer adorned the living room of the house-proud Melanie and Leroy.
“We forget to turn on the tree’s fairy-lights, Dad.” Kevin reminded his father, standing in his pajamas and bathrobe before he came downstairs to say a polite good-night to his family’s company and kiss his parents.
The adults were settled snugly on couches in the living room, about to watch a DVD marathon of The X-files
“Oh yeah,” Leroy flicked up the power switch where the Christmas tree lights power cord lay plugged in.
The house’s power went dead.
“Hell, did I just do that?” Leroy bit his lower lip in the sudden blackness of the living room, “Because the whole damn town’s gone dark.”
Everyone who meant a great deal to Eben was in the same place at the same time: his wife, his kid brother and his grandmother when the blackout happened. Shame this unexpected Oleson family reunion was taking place in the police station and not over a Christmas dinner table.
“Bar the windows, try to hide, they’re coming.” The stranger sprawled on his back atop the gray blanket covered bunk in a jail cell. The emergency generator at the police station fuelled the stark light that illuminated the stranger’s sinister white trash appearance.
Eben arrested this bad toothed nut-bar, with his wife’s help at the local diner fifteen minutes ago. The stranger who sounded like he emerged from some alligator infested bayou, stark raving mad, had thrown a hissy fit at the town diner’s proprietor for not being prepared to cook the stranger’s steak rare due to health regulations.
It was nice to know his estranged wife Stella still had his back. Ethan had been prepared to get all warm and fuzzy inside at the triumph of arresting the probable culprit of Barrow’s dog massacres and cell phone thefts once returned to the station when the power went out.
“They?” Eben pulled on his jacket ready to leave the police station and venture forth into the snow to investigate the town’s mystery power cut and to find out why the station’s telephone lines were dead also. “Who are they
“That cold ain’t the weather, that’s death approaching.” The shabby stranger stood up and stood menacingly against the bars of his cell.
Eben opened a desk drawer and shook his head at the sight of his grandmother’s medicinal marijuana stash. He pulled out a taser and threw it over to his teenage brother Jake. “He gives you trouble use it on him.”
His red headed kid brother blinked then grinned. Alright! The stranger gave Jake the creeps.
Eben’s grandmother Helen pursed her lips but said nothing, she was already in Eben’s doghouse for growing pot, on the other hand how nice to see the spunky Stella again. What the dickens had gone wrong with her grandson’s marriage? Helen like the rest of the Barrow was dying to know.
Working together as the fluid team they could be in a crisis, Stella and Ethan headed into the blackness of the night to check out what was happening down at the power plant.
Heavy footsteps descending down her home’s stairs drew Melanie’s disapproving attention.
“I don’t understand why in tarnation you two want to play ‘dress up’ in medieval armor now
.” Melanie threw some more wood into the pot bellied stove in the living room. How strange could her house guests be? When was the power going to be back on?
Fred had begged Leroy to stay inside the house until she finished garbing in leather gear so she could accompany him into the main street of town to find out why there was an unexplained black out.
Fred’s clothing didn’t look period authentic from what Melanie could make out in the flashlight beams giving the living room dim light.
“Well it’s seasonal and all.” Spike adjusted the chain mail hood more comfortably around his chin. Spike truly looked like a crusader at least. Fred looked like the masturbatory fantasy come to life of a magna fan.
“Santa Claus is seasonal.” Leroy came downstairs with a sleeping Sarah in his arms. He deposited her on the sofa by the wood stove. “Buddy, you’re just being plain weird.”
“Sticks and stones, mate, sticks and stones,” Spike smiled easily at his host. He turned to Melanie, “Any chance of whipping up a cup of hot chocolate on the pot belly, Mel luv? I estimate we’ve got at least ten minutes.”
“I guess.” Ten minutes until what, Melanie wondered, the power returning or something else?
When Eben and Stella arrived at the power plant they saw that the door to it was wide open. Eben grabbed his automatic and moved with extreme caution forward, while Stella shone the high powered law enforcement issue flashlight to light his way.
A dark frozen fluid in the snow caught Eben and Stella’s instant attention. Blood, a pool of frozen red blood, how unusual, how utterly horrific. Eben prayed he wouldn’t get an asthma attack at this point in time.
Eben and Stella gingerly followed the blood trail around the side of the power plant to find Gus’s severed head impaled on a pole. There didn’t appear to be a body but there were a lot of chunks of bloody flesh lying around.
“Oh Christ,” Stella put her gloved hand to her mouth trying not to scream in her aghast startlement like a little girl in front of Eben. She witnessed many a gruesome death before in small town Alaska but victims’ deaths were usually caused by wholesome polar bear attacks, being stabbed in the gut during a brawl in a bar fight, or timber mill machinery malfunctions, not this sick shit.
“What the hell?” Eben groped for his inhaler completely freaking out. He sucked on it hard letting the inhaler’s steroid mist clear his lungs.
“This must have been done by the them
that Southern bum threatened us over.” Stella rubbed her husband on the back to comfort and help him over his asthma attack. Old habits died hard. She still loved him.
A few snowflakes fell on them blown by the wind as they composed themselves.
“Yeah, that’s the conclusion I’m leaping to as well, glad we can agree on something at least.” Eben shook Stella off to grab her by the hand.
He jerked her towards their police vehicle. “C’mon, we’ve got to warn everyone.”
Leroy and Fred scarcely made it down the front drive before they were stopped dead in their tracks by Eben driving past in his police vehicle with the lights flashing.
“Get off the roads, return to your house if you have your own generator and lock your doors. Get out your firearms for your own safety. If you do not have your own genny head for Lucy’s diner.” Eben sounded panicked which explained the conflicting instructions.
Must be having Stella back in town that was stressing Eben more than normal, Leroy reasoned.
“What the hell is going on?” Malekai Hamm the neighbour from across the street was also out and about, wondering what was happening. “Your phone line down,too?”
“Yeah,” Leroy called over to him. “Looks like the powers not going to be on soon. Better head over to the diner, hunting rifle at the ready. Reckon there’s a polar bear on the loose again?”
The two men and Fred walked over to each other in the middle of the snow covered road to talk.
“Bring your family and guests over to my place. (Aren’t you cold in that leather catsuit, Miss?)” Hamm offered generously, trying hard not to check out Fred. A widower whose wife and children had died in a car crash the year before, Hamm had plenty of room in his four bedroom house. “My generator’s working fine. I’m gonna ask Mrs. Fung, too.”
“Why thanks, Malekai,” Leroy accepted the offer. “I guess…” He glanced down at Fred pinching his arm. For a little thing the woman was as strong as a mule.
“The law enforcer said to return to your dwelling and seek out your household weapons.” Fred sure had got a haughty tone in her voice since working for that fancy law firm in LA, Leroy observed. It was fricking weird but in the flashlight’s beam Fred’s eyes and hair looked crystalline blue for a second.
“Yeah, Fred, I know, relax okay?” Leroy waved good bye at Hamm and headed back up to his front door to shift his family. “But as I said, it’s probably a polar bear wandered into the power plant. You’re in Barrow not LA. It’s not like a gang’s running around loose on the streets.” ”
At Barrow’s oil factory, three skeleton crew workers finished their shift for the night. Aaron and Gabe both young bachelors, argued over whose home should host a few beers and a card game as they walked outside to their cars. Alongside them strode Denise their fellow young single co-worker.
Bracing herself against the outside cold after the inside warmth of the factory, the tall Denise pulled her parka hood more snugly over her wool beanie and her long dark hair. She noticed the town’s power was out. The oil factory’s power ran on its own generator.
“Erm no, guys, my house is out of the question, I don’t have a generator,” Denise batted her eyelashes with flirtatious glee. “And I’m not risking being alone with either of you perverts after one of you leaves.”
Gabe waggled his eyebrows up and down, dislodging a snowflake melting on his brow. “Threesome then?”
All three burst out laughing, none of them hailed originally from Alaska, and had become great pals during their two year contracts in Barrow, all were hardworking, and shared a love for the great outdoors, personal freedom and high salaries.
Denise knitted teddy bears for orphans for the Red Cross during her spare time, Aaron ran a line dancing night for senior citizens in the community hall every Thursday night, Gabe belonged to the A.S.P.C.A.They
lurked in the shadows of the factory walls and they
didn’t care about the qualities that made Denise, Aaron and Gabe useful and valuable members of human society.
the three humans playing rock, paper and scissors outside the oil factory entrance to sort out whose house they ended up at tonight were merely tasty din-dins.
“Loser,” Gabe crowed as his paper enfolded Aaron’s rock.
“Crap.” Aaron chuckled, moving in front of Denise to make her his temporary wind-shelter. Denise laughed and pushed him playfully.
A blurred human sized shape grabbed Gabe and vanished with him into the cold black shadows.
“What the fuck was that?” Aaron clutched Denise in instinctive alarm.
“Gabe? Gabe!” Denise moved her head around searching wildly for the disappeared Gabe. Something had just snatched her friend and vanished with him into thin air, that didn’t make any sense.
A sort of slaughtering noise came from behind a wall. A noise that sounded a bit like a fluffy herbivorous animal that never stood a chance being killed by a predator many links above it in the food chain.
“Gabe!” Aaron yelled at the top of his lungs in panic.
A thud sounded on the factory roof behind them.
“Gabe?” Aaron and Denise tilted their heads back to look up.
A floppy heavy body fell into the snow beside them with a muffled by snow thump.
“Gabe?” Aaron bent down. He touched his friend’s still warm body. A body with half it’s throat torn out.
!” Freaked out couldn’t come close to describing how shell shocked Denise felt upon seeing Gabe's corpse. She sensed movement around the factory wall.
There are always normally very nice people, women as well as men, who survive aeroplane disasters, ships sinking and nightclub fires by surrendering to their survival instincts and fighting tooth and nail to get out an exit door, not caring who they squash or abandon in the process.
Denise was one of these people.
She took to her heels and sprinted faster than she had ever run in her life before, away from the factory and towards the town.
Silly Gabe who was still trying to think rationally, was an easy mark for the two nosferatu who emerged from the factory walls shadows behind him to begin torturing him to death.
“Mel, it’s only for a night, you don’t need to pack the goddamn kitchen sink.” Leroy snapped at his wife as he held the flashlight for her to see in their kitchen. Maybe his nerves were kind of on edge because Fred and Spike had their fricking swords out at the moment in the living room. Jesus, how could those two want to play 'Renaissance Faire' right now? What if they took one of the kids eyes out by accident?
The Hernandez household had heard gunfire coming from the other side of town five minutes ago.
“The kids need milk for their breakfast, Leroy.” Melanie plonked a carton of milk into the grocery box she was packing. Her personal Berretta 9 mm waited at the paranoid ready on the kitchen bench beside the cardboard box. You could take a girl out of Texas but never quite take the Texas out of a girl.
“Can I hold your sword?” The redressed in his snowsuit Kevin reached his hand towards Spike’s broadsword.
“No, mate, tomorrow perhaps,” Spike refused the boy kindly enough. “Wee bit sharp the blade, for nippers to play with all hyped up in the dark.”
“I’m not hyped and we can see 'cause of the flashlights.” Kevin scoffed; he wandered over to the christmas tree. “I hope no one steals our presents tonight. It might be escaped prisoners on the loose that're causing all the fuss.”
Two figures could be seen dimly coming up the drive through the living room window, a male and a female.
“Mr. Hamm and Mrs. Fung!” Kevin raced towards the door. “I’ll get it.”
” Illyria shot her left hand out to seize upon Kevin’s shoulder. “Your female progenitor has told you not to answer the front door. Offspring that do not follow their elders’ wise counsel are abhorrent and without wit.”
“Your hair’s turned blue!” Kevin allowed Fred’s big words to roll over him and focus on the real interesting stuff. “It looks awesome!”
“That is so.” Illyria agreed, she retained her grip on his shoulder. “Sit on the couch with your sibling.”
“Aw, gee.” Kevin protested as he was pushed firmly on the sofa beside the fast asleep Sarah. His view was next blocked by Spike standing in front of him with his sword at the ready. “Hey, what …?”
In the kitchen, Melanie finished packing food.
“You ready finally?” Leroy rolled his eyes as his wife pulled out masking tape from a kitchen drawer to seal the box. His neck was getting a crick from the angle he was holding the flashlight under his chin.
Smashing through their kitchen window came a curled human sized ball.
“Jesus Fuck!” Leroy had given up using words like that inside the house since the kids came on the scene, but his teenage bad verbal habits came flooding back at the sight of the artic cold snowflakes blowing in through the smashed window and the freak unfolding itself from the kitchen floor.
Melanie snatched up her Beretta with a shriek of warning.
The uninvited freak standing in the middle of the Hernadez kitchen wore a grubby grey overcoat over a scruffy suit, he would seem like an ordinary homeless white man in his thirties, if not for the razor sharp teeth protruding from his mouth and the cruel black talons at the end of his fingertips.
Leroy stood instinctively in front of Melanie to protect her.
This meant Leroy got bitten first.
An attacking nosferatu was stronger than any man Leroy had ever been in a fight with before. He couldn’t push the lightning fast creature off him. He yelled in agony and fright as fangs tore through the flesh on his throat.
A screaming Melanie shot the nosferatu in the back.
The nosferatu without bothering to look up knocked her clear across the kitchen with one swipe of his hand. He continued to drain Leroy’s blood.
Melanie hit her head on an overhead cupboard and was dazed for a few seconds.
“Shoot them in the head next time. As a weak human female who does nothing to develop her limb muscles apart from operating cleaning machines, you lack the strength to behead them.” Illyria instructed Melanie, as she entered the kitchen. “Be prepared to staunch the resultant blood gush from your mate to prevent his demise after I rescue him.”
After first leaning her broadsword against the kitchen bench Illyria carefully prized apart the amazed Nosferatu’s jaws so as not to damage Leroy’s throat further.
Forcing the barking Nosferatu onto the polished floor, Illyria pinned the struggling monster with one leg. She retrieved her broadsword and plunged it down to sever the Nosferatu’s head.
A kneeling on the floor Melanie screamed her head off, even while continuing to apply pressure to her collapsed pale husband’s throat wound with a dish cloth. She could hear commotion happening in the living room.
The nosferatu’s body dissolved into black slime on her kitchen floor.
“Ill favored vermin,” Illyria punched a bleeding from the face female monster into the kitchen in front of Melanie’s freshly horrified eyes. “You are not worthy to be my adversary.”
“Oh Mom, check it out!” Kevin was jumping up and down excitedly in the threshold of the kitchen doorway. “Fred’s a superhero and Spike's her sidekick!”