Glyph coughed several times, and opened his eyes. He looked around for a few seconds, and immediately punched the dashboard.
“Shit, shit, shit!” He screamed in anguish. This was not good. Not good at all. Drathus’s army was moving through the Pass, Glyph’s forces were not yet in position, and he was stuck here with no way to warn them. “Mother Fucker!” Glyph yelled. There was nothing he could do for them now, he would just have to wait out his hour and tell them when he returned. He hoped that someone else would notice the Grull and at best salvage some of his attack plan. Somehow he doubted it. Nothing seemed to work out the way he really wanted it to. Reaching over to the passenger seat, Glyph snatched up the half eaten bag of chips and finished them off, dumping the crumbs into his mouth before tossing the crumpled bag to the floor.
Glyph turned the key and started the vehicle. ‘Why now?’ he wondered as he hit the garage door opener. ‘How could Drathus have known to attack now, with my army marching to the field to set up an ambush, and me stuck in my hour? It was more than a coincidence.’ The door slid upward, and sunlight poured into the room. When it reached its apex, he slid the SUV into drive and descended the driveway.
“Please let this be an easy one.” Glyph said aloud as he drifted to a stop where the drive met the roadway. He briefly debated going back as thoughts of his last drive came to mind. It had been a harrowing experience to be sure, and nearly cost him his life. On the other hand, he knew everyone was searching for him. Now he wished he had killed Maureen when he had the chance, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it, not after the way she had helped him. Of course, thanks to her description of him, he was a wanted man. He had been lucky the cops hadn’t come to this house going door to door. The retreat center was literally on top of the mountain behind him. No. There was no more hiding here. He had to get away, far away, before they closed him in. Driving would be risky, but hiding out where everyone was looking for him was even riskier.
Glyph hunched forward to see if any cars were coming. The driveway was on a curve in the road, and made for limited visibility.
“This is pretty much a crap shoot.” He said, and began to pull out.
Just then, a police car rounded the bend in the opposite direction. It was moving quickly, but didn’t have its lights or sirens on.
“Don’t panic. Don’t panic. Just keep going.” Glyph said to himself, trying to remain calm.
Glyph entered the lane as the cop car whizzed on by, then it locked up its wheels and launched into a wicked slide, coming to a stop in a cloud of white smoke.
“That’s my cue.” Glyph announced, and punched down on the gas pedal.
Glyph rounded the corner in a hurry and started up a long hill. The speedometer read eighty miles per hour as he flew over the crest of the hill. He caught a glimpse of the police cruiser’s lights just before he descended the other side. As he neared the bottom of the hill, he could hear the siren, and the road cut sharply to the left. Slamming the breaks a little too hard, the back end began to fishtail as he entered the turn. He regained control a few inches from the guardrail and slammed the gas again as the engine roared, shooting the vehicle to the top of the next hill like a rocket. The officer continued to gain on him, and Glyph came to the realization that he wasn’t going to be able to outrun a cop.
Blowing through two stop signs, Glyph entered a small town. Houses began to pop up close to the road, some stores followed, then he realized there was a major intersection up ahead, and the light was red. The siren was getting closer, and he caught another glimpse of the squad car in his rearview mirror. He increased speed. There were already two cars waiting at the light, so Glyph moved into the oncoming lane and sped into the intersection. He heard a truck horn blow, and time slowed again, as he saw from the corner of his eye an eighteen-wheeler barreling down on him at high speed. Glyph’s foot was already pushed to the floor, and he moved forward in his seat. The truck veered slightly, and missed the SUV by a hair’s width. The breeze of the passing truck rocked Glyph from side to side as he burned through the intersection.
Sweat beaded on his forehead, and his heart felt like it was going to pound out of his chest. He started to think that attempting to drive away from here might not have been the best idea. One quick glance in his mirror gave him hope; the intersection had stopped the cop. This might be the only chance he would get to ditch the car and hide out. Glyph flew around another curve and out of sight of the officer who had been making his way across the highway. The road split up ahead, and he veered to the right and descended to another road running perpendicular to his. Glyph rose up off his seat as he nearly stood on the brake pedal, and skidded into the road while cutting the wheel to the left. He noticed something reflective through the trees as he slid toward them, then the tires grabbed and jerked the whole vehicle hard to the left just as he was about to leave the shoulder.
Gunning the gas, Glyph sped ahead, realizing that this road paralleled a wide flat lake. Houses lined the avenue to the left, while the right side of the road was mostly undeveloped in the fifty feet or so to the lake. A small faded sign, ‘Boat Ramp’ gave him an idea, and he slowed and turned right onto the gravel path leading to the water’s edge.
“This worked well the last time with the ATV.” Glyph mumbled to himself as he lined the Jeep up with the ramp. He opened the door, slung his duffle bag over his head, and shifted the SUV into Drive. Snatching up the shotgun, he hopped out of the vehicle and it slowly accelerated down the last few feet of hill, and onto the boat ramp. The front door, which he’d left open, slammed shut as the water reached it. The Jeep continued to attempt to plow through the water, as it nosed down, until the wheels floated free of the ground. Glyph eyed his surroundings nervously, and made sure no one was watching. The last thing he needed now was a witness. He turned his back and made for a small grove of trees as momentum carried the vehicle about twenty more feet out into the lake, where it listed to the left, rolled onto its side, and slipped under the surface.
Glyph checked his watch. Fifteen minutes. ‘That gives me forty-five to find a place to hide my body.’ He concluded. Glyph walked up the hill to the road, trying to look like he was in no hurry. He crossed the road, and walked between two houses on the other side, casually looking around. ‘It’s going to be hard to find a place to hide here in town. A culvert could be underwater when I return, if it rains. A dumpster? Might wind up crushed in a garbage truck. Could I find some good people to hide with, like at that Christian center?’ he wondered. He found himself on the next block of houses, and turned onto the street. With a sinking feeling Glyph realized there was no way to identify a person as ‘good’, except if they weren’t trying to kill him. Did that automatically make them good, or just neutral; was neutral even a possibility? He considered just knocking on a random door, but didn’t want to have to battle a house full of black-eyed people again. A car drove past, but didn’t give him a second look. He checked his watch, almost thirty minutes. Time was beginning to limit his choices.
He turned the corner at the end of the street, and walked down yet another similar-looking road in what was obviously a housing development. A motorcycle rode slowly up the street behind him, then came to a stop about thirty feet away.
‘Here we go.’ Glyph thought, and dropped his duffle to the ground. He spun around, readying to draw the pistol from his waistband. A tough-looking biker sat on a beat-up Harley hog. He was wearing a black leather jacket, skullcap helmet, and a long, pointy beard, tinged white at the edges. His arms were spread wide, like he was hugging the Sun, and in his left hand he held a stick with a white rag tied to it. Most importantly his eyes weren’t black, and he certainly didn’t look as if he wanted to kill Glyph.
“Name’s Dan.” The biker shouted over the idling motorcycle’s engine. “Look, the pigs are pissed off, and they’re locking down the whole town. You need to get off the street, cause they’re grabbing everybody, guns drawn, that looks like us.” Glyph’s eyes flicked down momentarily to his clothes. He did resemble a homeless guy, and the duffle bag completed the picture. For whatever reason, biker Dan looked right past the shotgun slung over his shoulder as if it wasn’t there.
Dan took the pause as a good sign, and continued. “There’s a Biker Church up on Sinclair. It’s three more blocks ahead, then turn left and go two blocks. You should go there. I ain’t shittin’ about the cops. They’re on the TV and the radio, tellin’ everybody to stay indoors and shit. State boys are on their way, too.”
Glyph decided the guy wasn’t a threat, at least not in the supernatural way.
“Thanks. That sounds like a good idea.” Glyph responded, even as he realized he couldn’t leave his body in a biker church, or even in this town, if it was going to be put under Martial Law.
“I’m goin’ to go warn anybody else that’s wanderin’ around, now. I’ll head back the way I came, OK?” Dan asked, without lowering his arms.
“Okay. Thanks for the heads-up.” Glyph yelled back.
The biker’s arms lowered, and he slid the stick into his open jacket. He turned the front wheel of the bike sharply, put it in gear, and did a slow U-turn in the street. As he turned, Glyph caught some writing on the back of the man’s jacket that read ‘BikerUChurch’. The biker turned the corner, and Glyph heard the roar of his engine, accelerating away.
‘Change of plans. How can I get out of town as fast as possible?’ Glyph asked himself. He picked up his bag and started walking again, in an effort to draw less attention. ‘To the east is the lake, but I didn’t see any boats handy. Downtown is to the west, I don’t want to go that way. I didn’t notice any train tracks, and I don’t know how to fly. I could ride a horse, should I find one.’ Glyph constantly scanned the area. ‘Yeah, because there are so many horses just standing around. That was a stupid idea, besides riding out of town like Paul Revere wouldn’t attract attention at all.’ He thought sarcastically as he walked down the street. A pair of sirens started up from somewhere in the center of town. He started sweating, and quickened his pace.
He looked around the four houses nearest him. One had a shiny red Volkswagen Beetle convertible in the driveway. ‘Pretty, but too noticeable.’ Glyph decided, and looked at the other side of the street, just in time to see the draperies sliding shut across the living room window of the nearest house.
“Shit! I should’ve taken Dan’s cycle. No, too loud.” Glyph was near panic, and felt like eyes were on him. And what if those eyes were solid black? He was a walking target out here.
Just then an old, gray, Honda civic rode down the street toward him. ‘No choice left, this will have to do.’ He thought, and walked out into the street. He pulled the pistol from his waistband and stuck the barrel in his front pants pocket, while resting his hand on the butt. He held his other arm straight out, palm forward, in his best imitation of a Police Officer’s stance. The car slowed, and as it pulled up Glyph could see a teenage boy was driving.
Glyph continued playing the Police Officer role, making the ‘Roll down your window’ motion with his free hand. He was surprised when the window actually slid down, and the car stopped. Glyph took three steps forward to the driver’s side window, pointed the pistol at the youth’s head, and cocked the hammer.
“Carjacking. Get out or die.” Glyph said, dropping any pretense of authority. The young man started shaking as his face went pale. Glyph reached inside the window and opened the car door from the inside. He swung it open, shifting his gun for just a moment before leveling it at the driver’s head again. He then reached over to the steering column and put the car in Park. “Unbuckle and get out.” Glyph growled, and the young driver unfastened his safety belt as tears started pouring down his cheeks, along with a whimpering sound of ‘whu, whu, whu’. Glyph switched the pistol to his left hand, grabbed the kid’s T-shirt with his right, and hauled him out of the seat. He then sat down in the driver’s seat and swung his legs in.
Suddenly, there was a high-pitched scream from the back seat, like a cat caught in a lawn mower. Glyph spun in his seat, and pointed the gun towards the back seat left-handedly. A blurring lump in the backseat started rocking the car, and as Glyph tightened his trigger finger, he saw that it was a toddler. Its eyes were coal black. What it lacked in strength, it made up for by waving its arms and legs with frenetic speed. Luckily, it was in a child safety seat, and obviously didn’t know how to free itself.
Simultaneously, outside the car, the blubbering teenager stopped crying, and screamed, “That’s my brother! Don’t shoot, that’s my brother!” and started moving toward the car. Glyph whipped back to his left and pointed the gun back toward the teenager, but he kept advancing, yelling “You can’t kill my brother!”
Glyph slammed the driver’s side door just before the kid got to it, and shouted “Freeze!” The kid jerked to a stop for just a second, and Glyph yelled “I’m not going to kill your brother! Now back up.” The kid took a step back, then stopped.
“My Mom will kill me if you take my brother!” the teen wailed, and started forward again.
“Stop! Listen to me. You can have your fucking brother! Run around to the passenger side and take the car seat out!” Glyph shouted over the yowls of the caterwauling infant.
The kid took off around the back of the car, and Glyph shifted the car into Drive.
The back passenger door swung open, and the kid reached in as Glyph spun the gun around to cover both of them.
“Take the whole seat out! If you let him out of the car seat, I’ll kill him!” Glyph roared. The kid’s hand moved from the car-seat to the seat belt holding the car-seat in. He unclipped the car-seat, and as he shifted it towards him, fell backwards onto the road, with the screaming child and car-seat on top of him.
Glyph punched the gas, and the rear car door swung shut as he pulled away from the kid and his little brother. He made several alternating left- and right- turns as he came to intersections, to throw off any pursuit. His only thought now was to get out of town.
Glyph continued north for a half mile, when he heard a faint siren ahead. The lake had ended, and he turned east at the next intersection, hoping that the northeast edge of town hadn’t been alerted yet.
When he reached the other end of town, Glyph saw two cops attempting to block off the road with their vehicles. Moving onto the sidewalk, Glyph buzzed around the backside of one of the cars, took out a mailbox, and skidded back onto the street. Shots rang out as he sped down the road, and one of the patrol cars immediately followed in pursuit. After nearly losing control several times, Glyph began searching for a place to ditch the car before more police got involved, but finding a good place while driving eighty-five miles per hour isn’t easy.
Rounding another corner, he came onto a long stretch of road that descended alongside the mountain into a valley. Two police cruisers were almost on top of him now, and the officer directly behind him was shooting out of his window at Glyph.
The back window blew out as a bullet ripped its way into the passenger seat.
“Fuck!” Glyph screamed, and fishtailed in the middle of the road before regaining control again.
He looked up in time to see the 90-degree turn arrow; the road made a right turn onto a one-lane bridge. Slowing as fast as he could without locking the wheels, Glyph swung out far into the opposite lane then cut back toward the opening of the bridge. He was pushing fifty as he tried to make the turn, but the compact car began to skid across the road. It slammed into the jersey wall at a soft angle, but the impact sent Glyph into a spin that resembled a pinball as it bounced back and forth between the cement walls of the bridge. The squad car behind Glyph wasn’t so lucky, as it impacted the reinforced cement guardrail at the bridge opening and crumpled like an accordion. Glyph’s vehicle came to a stop wedged sideways between the rails of the bridge, blocking three quarters of the lane. He shook his head several times, then grabbed for the shotgun. His arm was burned by the airbag, and his left leg was bruised up really bad, but nothing was broken. The door wouldn’t budge, but the window was still functional and Glyph wormed his way out of it onto the road. He took a quick peep around the back of the wrecked car, and noticed one of the police cars had turned onto the bridge. Glyph spun and ran like hell for the opposite side. He was about forty feet away from the wreck when an accelerating patrol car plowed into the front of it, causing it to dislodge, but there was still no room for the car to pass.
Reaching the end of the bridge, Glyph turned to see one cop sliding across the hood of the Civic. As he turned to run on down the road, two more patrol cars with lights and sirens blaring rounded the turn from the other direction and were driving towards him. He hesitated an instant, looking forward at the approaching cars, and then back at the cop who had just leapt down to the roadway. Jumping back towards the bridge, Glyph darted over the guardrail onto the steep embankment. He could hear the cop yelling at him to stop as he headed down a small path that went practically vertical after the first ten feet, but he followed it out of desperation. Losing his footing, Glyph slid about fifteen feet down the trail before latching on to a small tree. A rain of bullets from above began to throw leaves in the air a few feet to his left, as he continued to descend towards the bottom of the ravine. He could hear the cops shouting at one another on the bridge, and looked back to see one sliding down the trail after him. Glyph rolled off into the underbrush further under the bridge. He lifted the shotgun and fired straight into the officer’s crotch and stomach as he slid toward Glyph. The cop jerked once and then rolled end over end to the bottom of the ravine, slinging long arcs of blood as he went.
Glyph threw down the shotgun and sighed; “At least I made my last shot count.” He thought as he pulled out his pistol, and pressed himself against the steep embankment. There was more yelling coming from above, as Glyph leapt back out onto the small path and made his way down to the bottom. He had been hoping for a stream or something, but there was nothing but an abandoned railway. Locating the dying policeman, Glyph pulled the gun from the man’s bloodstained hand. Frankly, he was amazed the officer was able to hold onto it after a fall like that. Not to mention the shotgun blast. As Glyph turned to run away, he saw two cops descending the left side, and three on the other.
“This isn’t going to be pretty.” Glyph spoke softly, and started to run down the rusted railroad tracks. As soon as he was out of sight, Glyph dove into a thicket of tall weeds and vines, and crouched down to wait. ‘Were they all possessed? Just a few?’ He wondered as he tried to catch his breath. ‘I’ll bet that the evil ones will be able to sniff me out first.’
Glyph decided this was probably going to be the end. He would either be captured or killed but he wasn’t going down without a fight. He checked his watch; fifty minutes. Shifting slightly, he could hear voices coming from the bottom of the ravine. Glyph started to sweat as he waited, a gun at the ready in each hand. It was almost do or die time. Then he heard a yell.
“Daniels! Calvert! Get your asses back here! What the hell’s gotten into you guys?” one of the cops shouted in his direction.
Two officers ran right up to where Glyph was hiding and stopped. Catching a glimpse of one of their faces through the bushes, there was no longer any doubt; his eyes were black as coal. They began to search around, sniffing the air and lurching this way and that. Within seconds, they both started towards Glyph’s hiding place. As the pair ripped away the vines, uncovering his torso, Glyph grinned and shot them both, one in the head and the other in the chest, knocking them backwards to the ground. Rolling forward onto the tracks, Glyph slid sideways, and turned onto his chest behind one of the dead policemen.
Bullets began to fly as Glyph returned fire at the other three officers. He dropped one as the other two dove for cover. A bullet grazed the top of Glyph’s shoulder, and he let out a howl.
“Fuck this! Fuck this shit!” Glyph screamed. He couldn’t take any more of this, and was way past the point of no return. Glyph’s blood boiled as he stood and raced towards the advancing cops. He steadily shot off bullets as he ran, one gun trained on each cop, until he ran out of ammo. Glyph killed one, and wounded the other, who in turn blew a hole through Glyph’s leg just above the knee.
Glyph spun, and dropped onto the ancient rusted tracks, clutching at his leg as blood spilled out onto the ground. He began to crawl away from the wounded policeman, who seemed content to just lie there. Knowing he couldn’t hide himself before his hour was up, Glyph resigned himself to the fates and slumped over one of the wooden ties on the old railway.
He heard more voices, and lifted his head in time to see the boot crash into his face. The second kick impacted his ribs, the third in his groin. Then he felt hands clasp down on his throat; he tried to reach for his knife, but couldn’t. As he was about to pass out, the possessed patrolmen was pulled off, kicking and growling, by two of his fellow officers. Glyph’s vision blurred. He watched them struggling nearby, and started to laugh, but was cut short by the chiming of his wristwatch. Time slowed to a crawl as the air vanished around him, and as the blackness descended like a curtain he finally realized the answer to ‘Why now?’.