Chasing Winter 6

He was sitting and staring for too long.  Tucking the binoculars away, he started plotting his return to ground level.  It looked even steeper than it had when he’d been climbing up.  Gripping the top of the roof, he started letting his body hang down until his foot hit the antenna.  Heights hadn’t particularly bothered him before, but ever since crossing the bridge into Canada they made him uneasy.

He continued down, the antenna complaining with every shift of his weight.  He had one foot against the pipe and was about to reach for one of the branches when the metal of the antenna screamed.  His free hand grabbed at the smooth, dark shingles.  Two of the brackets broke with a snap and as the antenna tilted, he lost his grip.  Because he had one foot braced, he started spinning around as he slid toward the ground.  He wasn’t going to be able to reach the tree branches.  Adrenaline flooded his bloodstream.  A broken bone was a death sentence.  Just as he was starting to fall off into empty space, one hand clasped onto the gutter.  The thin metal immediately bent to his weight and momentum, but it slowed him down.  A section tore free from the roof’s edge and peeled around the building, dropping him to the ground.  He still landed hard enough to jolt his ankle, but at least he could move.

And move he must.  Rhoda was nipping at his heels as soon as he touched down.  The high pitched screech of metal would carry far in this little town.  Forgetting stealth, she led the way as they ran.  The sounds of a crowd pressing through narrow spaces followed after them.  Rhoda tried to veer out of town, but movement in the overgrown lawns forced them inward.  They ducked into an alley near the edge of Main Street.

“We can wait here.  Let’s hide.”

He started checking doors to see if any were unlocked.  He didn’t like being trapped with only two ways out.  The open road had spoiled him, since he could flee in any direction.  One of the handles turned.  Rhoda’s growl was so faint he almost couldn’t hear it.

“I think this could be the camping store.  We’ve got to try it.  I’ll go first and you back me up.”

Rhoda didn’t seem to be on board with the plan until sounds of movement drifted around the corner behind them.  Shadows twisted across the sidewalk at the mouth of the alley.  When he pulled the door open, Rhoda rushed between his legs to get inside.  He yanked the door most of the way closed and then gently eased it the last few inches.  It was almost silent, but he still knelt next to Rhoda and put a hand on her head, half to calm her and half to calm himself.

The sound of shuffling footfalls wormed into their ears.  It looked like the windows had been boarded up.  That was a bad sign.  His knuckles went white as he gripped the knife tighter.  Shadows orbited around the room as something moved between the sun and the slats between the boards.  Many somethings.

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