The next morning when Dawn wearily crawled through the hole and into the kitchen she found the room filled with a weird red light. Taking up her position at the opening she found her view half obscured by some strange red weed.
“Oh, joy of joys,” Dawn sighed tiredly, another problem.
She let her forehead rest against the edge of the hole and allowed the tears to roll down her face freely. She was tired, hungry and frightened she wanted to go home and play with William; even seeing her sister would be nice. Sniffing she wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.
“That’s enough of that,” she told herself, “I probably look like crap anyway without adding red eyes to the list. Talking of red…”
Lifting her head Dawn studied the world outside the window. As far as she could see the red weed grew up the sides of the crater and over its lip. It grew on the floor of the Martian’s camp wherever the Martians didn’t drive their machines. It grew particularly thickly around where the bodies had been left, maybe that’s why the Martians hadn’t cleared them away.
She needed a plan; things were getting intolerable in their hiding place and they’d soon run out of food and water; the water supply had run dry the night before. Dawn thought they probably had enough left for today and possibly tomorrow if they were careful. They had enough food for one almost adequate meal. There was no way of knowing if the Martians were going to move on or suddenly take it into their heads to enlarge their base and bulldoze their refuge flat.
On the plus side Herbert had woken up last night, not for long, but they’d been able to get him to drink some water and eat a little before he fell asleep again. He’d shown signs of life this morning so hopefully he’d be able to move soon. Amy had found herself a large kitchen knife under the rubble and had spent most of yesterday sharpening it, at least they had a weapon.
Laughing bitterly to herself Dawn climbed down from the hole and sat on an old box in the corner of the kitchen. If she didn’t laugh she’d cry and she didn’t want to cry, not again. A weapon; a knife and a half trained slayer against hundred foot tall armoured war machines armed with heat guns, a bark of bitter laughter escaped her lips. Oh, they were so bound to win! Either that or be incinerated the moment they broke cover, possibly make a meal for the Martians, who knows, but she had to do something.
Looking up Dawn saw Amy crawl into the kitchen.
“Wots so funny?” Amy crawled over to the water supply and took a drink.
“Nothing,” Dawn forced a smile not realising how scary she looked in the red light, “nothing at all. Amy, we leave here tonight, we’ll carry Herbert if we have to but we’re outta here!”
Grinning Amy sat down on the floor and started to sharpen her knife again. Dawn felt a shiver of fear go down her back. What was she going to do, everyone was looking to her for answers and she had none other than this shouldn’t be happening. Climbing once more to look out of the hole, Dawn wondered what Buffy would do.
“Something violent,” she muttered quietly.0=0=0=0
Having made the decision to move Amy and Dawn got down to making their preparations, which were pitifully few. First they’d set about enlarging the hole. This was achieved by carefully and painstakingly removing individual pieces of rubble and leaving the outer layer intact. In this they were helped by the red weed. It grew at an astonishing rate and its roots helped bind the loose soil and debris together.
Next they brought Herbert from the back room into the kitchen. Although he was more or less conscious he was as weak as a kitten. Over his protests to leave him behind, Amy pulled him through the connecting passageway into the kitchen while Dawn pushed. Lastly, around late afternoon time they ate all the remaining food and drank most of the water.
“There’ll be no turning back,” explained Dawn as they ate, “we either get out of here or we die trying.”
Amy nodded her head in bloodthirsty agreement while Herbert renewed his demands that they leave him behind. Dawn did her best to ignore both of them.0=0=0=0
Throughout the day the Martians went about their tasks as they had done on the previous day, however, Dawn noticed there was a lot more coming and going in and out of the crater, the Martians appeared to be moving some of their equipment else where. Perhaps they were leaving maybe they’d not have to run the gantlet of heat guns and tentacles, maybe… Dawn shook her head, it was now or never and she had no wish to die in this stinking hole.
The Martians had taken their daily meal just after a fighting machine had delivered a fresh cargo of victims. The Martians didn’t seem to care for their prisoners, Dawn never saw a Martian feed or water the hapless humans in the cage once. Indeed the people in the ‘larder’ were rarely there long enough for food and water to become an issue. The Martians rarely appeared to catch more than a dozen people at a time and most were killed the same day they were caught.
Dawn had watched one young woman who’d managed to avoid the flashing metal tentacle of the handling machine. The next time the Martians came to feed she’d known what was going to happen and she’d avoided being taken a second time. Her luck ran out on the Martians third meal time. The tentacle grabbed her around the waist and plucked her up into the air. Despite her struggles she was handed over to a Martian to eat.
Through her tears Dawn had been proud of the way the woman had struggled and fought to the very end. In the long run how could the Martians hope to win against defiance like that? Simple, replied a bleak part of her mind, they just eat or burn everyone ‘til there’s no one left.0=0=0=0
It was dark now, Dawn sat crossed legged on the kitchen floor holding three cockroaches in her closed palm. She called on various gods and goddess to watch over them. She asked that their lives should be spared in return for the lives of the three insects; not much of a sacrifice but it would have to do…maybe the gods liked roach? Maybe the people with the goats had got it all wrong.
“That’s the best I can do,” Dawn stood up and hitched up her filthy ragged skirt so it wouldn’t trip her. “Amy, you go first,” Amy grinned and brandished her kitchen knife, you had to admire her spirit, “I’ll bring up the rear with Herbert.”
“You should leave me here,” Herbert leant against the back wall of the kitchen and spoke quietly, “I’ll be fine,” he claimed, “when I’m feeling stronger I’ll follow you and we’ll meet up later.”
Dawn didn’t even bother to pick out all the flaws in his argument.
“Herbert,” Dawn replied testily, “for once in your life shut-up and do as you’re told,” she smiled a little, “you’re not going to wriggle out of this little adventure.”
Dawn looked from one friend to the other and wondered if they’d all be alive this time tomorrow.
“Alright everybody,” Dawn whispered, “lets get going…”
Herbert, staggered over and gave Dawn a rather self-conscious hug, “It’s been an honour to know you Miss Summers.”
Amy, gave Dawn a somewhat more enthusiastic hug that nearly broke a couple of Dawn’s ribs, she tried to say something but couldn’t.
“Okay people,” Dawn hoped they wouldn’t see her face in the dark, “good luck.”0=0=0=0
It took Amy only a few moments to remove the last few pieces of rubble from the enlarged hole. Eventually only a layer of red weed separated them from freedom and almost certain death. Using her knife, she cut through the weed easily and pulled it aside like a curtain. Pausing for only the space of a breath, she climbed through the hole and was out into the night air.
Taking Herbert around the waist and putting his arm across her shoulder Dawn helped him to the hole.
“Here,” she positioned him in the hole and pushed, “wait for me right?”
“Wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without you, Dawn,” a second later Herbert lay sprawled at the foot of the crater in full view of a fighting machine.0=0=0=0
Amy stumbled down the bank from the hole to find herself standing on the floor of the Martian’s crater. She took in great lungfuls of fresh air, the clean air giving her new strength after the fetid air of their refuge. Turning she saw the fighting machine loom over her, her slayer senses told her that it wasn’t a threat. She moved on across the crater, to her left her eye caught motion and she turned to face it. A Martian was making its way towards her using its tentacles as legs.
Clutching her knife tightly in her hand she started to run towards the creature; in a detached way her mind noticed things that might have escaped her before. She thought that the Martian was moving more sluggishly than it normally did. Normally the Martians worked the clock around, tonight there seemed to be little activity in the pit.
She was almost on the Martian now; a tentacle reached for her to catch her in its unbreakable hold and drag her towards the foul creature’s slobbering mouth. She slashed at the grasping tentacle and was overjoyed to see the last two feet of the indecent thing fly through the air leaving a fan of blood behind it and land on the red weed by her feet.
The Martian opened its mouth in a soundless scream. Seizing her moment Amy advanced on the disgusting creature. Her knife flashed through the air severing tentacles as they tried to wrap her in their deadly coils. The Martian writhed in agony as it stumbled on bloody tentacles, it tried to get away from the human that slashed and stabbed at it. Amy grabbed hold of the creatures beak and pushed it up and back exposing the monster’s throat. Lightening fast she drew her blade across the exposed leathery skin and cut deep into the creature’s flesh.
It made a hideous gurgling sound as its blood washed over her hand and soaked into her ragged skirt. Letting the Martian go she stood back to see it convulse and gasp out its life blood as it rapidly bled to death. Triumphant, Amy screamed her victory holding her bloody knife aloft. Turning she saw half a dozen of the vile creatures making their way towards her.++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++