This is the fourth week that Chuck Wendig has run this particular challenge. Over the course of five weeks it will produce a bunch of 1,000 word stories written by five people each. This particular story was started by Liz Neering, and continued by aspeed and Kyra Dune. The last 200 words are mine.
Isa stood in the deer blind, the tip of her rifle pointed through the narrow slat out towards the forest beyond. To her teammate she looked like a stranger, a bundle of cold-weather clothing with only a thin strip of brown skin showing between scarf and snow goggles. The brown strip turned to face him, black eyes a shadow behind polarized plastic.
“I fucking hate these sneaking missions,” she said. “I just want to shoot something. I don’t think that’s a lot to ask.”
Tyler snorted. Behind the heavy fur lining of his coat, he opened his mouth to speak, sending a puff of white into the air. But whatever he meant to say was lost in the sudden crunch of snow, the snapping of evergreen boughs. The hunters’ eyes snapped back to the woods.
Lumbering out from the treeline was a massive creature, wrapped in battered leather, dragging a heavy metal ball and chain. Blood dripped from its mouth and hands. Its head turned as it scanned the field. The hunters drew close together, crowding around the blind’s small opening.
“I can shoot it, right?” Isa hissed. “It’s far enough away. The others won’t hear.” Tyler shouldered into her, shaking his head. But neither moved the muzzles of their rifles, and neither took their eyes off the beast.
Isa then saw a flash out of the corner of her eye, a swift movement that almost made her flinch, and was enough to tear her eyes away from her target. “What the hell was that?”
“What was what?” Tyler asked.
She pulled out her binoculars and scanned the shadows where she had seen it. Right now she saw nothing but darkness. “I think we have a secondary contact,” she said, even though she had no visual confirmation. After a while, instinct took over, and her instinct told her they were being watched, even though they were well hidden in the blind. The problem was, the blind wasn’t camouflage from everything. Just most things.
Tyler snickered. “Getting nervous?”
She tapped her earpiece, and said, “Team two, come in.” They were higher up the range, and theoretically had a better vantage point.
Normally communication was instantaneous. But there was nothing but a white noise hiss over the line. “Team two, respond.”
Now Tyler’s eyes flicked towards hers, his jaw tightening in annoyance. He hit his own earpiece. “Team two, report.”
Nothing. That wasn’t good.
There was an odd thunk on the roof of the blind, followed by a dry scritching. Isa’s stomach burned, and she tightened her grip on her rifle. Something was on top of them.
“Still think it’s just my nerves?” Isa asked through clenched teeth.
Tyler eyed the roof. “No. And I don’t think we better wait around for Team two, either.” He moved toward the door.
“Whoa, wait a minute.” Isa grabbed his arm. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“I thought you wanted to shoot something.”
“Yeah, but I don’t want to get killed in the process. You have no idea what’s up there.”
The scritching sounded again, followed by a squealing sound which could only be strips of the tin roof being peeled off. “I don’t know about you,” Tyler said, “but I don’t like the idea of being stuck in here like a sardine in a can. At least outside we have some room to maneuver.”
Isa hesitated, then gave a brisk nod. With both hands firmly grasping her rifle, she followed Tyler out the door.
As they cleared the door Isa breathed a relieved sigh that they hadn’t picked an elevated blind, then almost choked on the same sigh. Though she could see strips of roof coming free of the structure she couldn’t see anything peeling them.
“Sweet,” she muttered. “Not only are we sent to this frickin’ fairy tale land, but the targets are invisible.”
She motioned to Tyler to aim at the roof then leaned down to gather some of the loose snow that surrounded them. She held up her fingers to count three, then tossed the snowball at the roof and raised her own weapon. Whatever it was on the roof, the size of a small dog, bat wings spread, was briefly visible when the particles hit. It turned to face them, screeched, then noticed the red dots of Isa and Tyler’s laser sights steady on it’s chest. Before they could fire it disappeared, leaving a cloud of mist floating to the tin roof. They looked around, making sure it hadn’t popped up to bite them in the ass.
Isa’s earpiece crackled.
“Team one, come in.” She moved to respond, but stopped when Tyler grabbed her arm and she got a whiff of fresh blood and rancid leather.
They’d been flushed.