Author : Autumn Humphrey

A dog barks rhythmically in the distance, its voice distorted by the noise of the world, sounding a desperate call of, “Come here! Come here!”

It has been this way since the revolution, odd sounds ringing out, confirming things are not the same, a disturbed variation of the city that was before Archmartadon. Shadows move behind the broken windows of storefronts. Each footfall lands with the sound of broken glass.

Raven, crouched in the corner of a burned-out market, sucks at the inside of a black banana peel and listens to the sound of the canine’s call. A mental volley plays in her mind: who is hungrier and weaker, she or the dog. Deciding the odds are in her favor, she rises from her hiding place and remembers the taste of meat.

On bloodied feet wrapped in dirty cardboard and string, she ventures outside, grateful for the cover of fog rolling through the streets. She steps over debris, human and alien parts strewn and stinking, pieces of metal and garbage, following the sound of the bark.

Skirting the battered edge of a fire station, Raven is startled by the sound of a brick hitting concrete. She turns sharply, peering through the fog, her nutrient-hungry eyes seeing movement everywhere. Shaking from fear and hunger, she moves around the corner of the building and directly into one of them.

The metallic smell of its skin makes Raven gag, muting her scream before it reaches maturity. Flight, her only option, is aborted by the cold hard hand of the alien, which has grabbed her by the arm. She feels the fingers from its other hand closing around her neck as a shape emerges from the fog. The familiar sound of the bark confirms Raven’s last thought. She has miscalculated her odds. The dog that had drawn her out of the sanctuary of the market was not the weaker of the two.


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