“We gotta be getting close,” Becky said from the backseat.
“Sorry,” Jake replied, steering the jeep. “We still have another few hours to go. We’ll need to get gas in the town coming up, so at least we’ll be able to stretch our legs a little.”
“That would be nice,” Chris said from the passenger seat. “You doing okay, Jen?”
“I’m fine,” she replied. “It’ll be nice to step outside for a few minutes.”
“Look,” Jake said pointing to a highway sign. “We’re only two miles away from a town it looks like.”
As the they drove down the empty highway, they were all a little excited to finally see signs of civilization. They had been driving on that country road for hours, with not so much as a rest area.
‘At least the drive is beautiful,’ Jen thought as she looked out her window at the passing trees.
Within a few minutes they exited the highway onto a country road that dumped them right onto the edge of a little town.
Even though it was only late afternoon, the town up ahead seemed deserted.
“Oh, god,” Becky said. “Please don’t tell me it’s a ghost town.”
No one answered as they drove into the first gas station they came across and parked in front one of the gas pumps.
They didn’t see anyone inside, but the pump seemed to be working, so they all fell out of the jeep, immediately stretching their arms and legs.
Jake walked to the pump and tried to use his credit card, but it popped up saying ‘Card reader out of order. Please pre-pay inside.’
“Shit,” he said, but started walking to the store anyways.
They all followed him. They figured it would be a good time to stock up on snacks.
The door chimed as they opened the door to the store.
Expecting someone would come out, they spread out and started grabbing their snacks from the fully stocked shelves.
Jake walked to the front counter to wait for the attendant to show up.
“Hello?” Jake asked out loud when no one came.
Not getting an answer, he walked to the back, hoping to find someone in the mechanic shop or back office.
The garage looked deserted, so he kept walking.
The place was eerily quiet and the farther he walked to the back, the more nervous he became.
He found the back office with the door open and the lights on, but empty.
When he returned to the front, his friends were waiting for him at the front counter.
“Did you find anyone?” Chris asked.
“No,” Jake replied. “The place looks deserted.”
Becky shrugged and said, “Well, I say we just leave some cash on the counter for the grub and gas, and head out.”
“Works for me,” Chris agreed.
“I’m fine with that,” Jake started. “But I have no idea how to start the gas pump.”
They all looked as confused as he did.
Suddenly, Chris jumped over the counter and began looking around for a switch or something.
Not finding one, they decided to go to a different gas station and fill up there.
Chris threw a twenty on the counter for the stuff they grabbed off the shelves and they all walked out.
“What the hell?” Jake said when they reached the jeep.
All the its tires were flat. They didn’t look like they were damaged though. It just looked like someone had let all the air out.
He frantically looked around to see who had done it, and then looked to see if there was an air pump around. There wasn’t.
Resigned that they were stuck there for the time being, they threw what they didn’t want to carry with them back in the jeep and started to head deeper into town.
“This is such bullshit,” Becky said, slightly tripping on a rock. “Where the hell is everyone?”
As they walked down a main strip close to the center of town, the entire town looked closed.
They each took turns looking into windows, searching for signs of life.
Everything was clean and looked like the place had been just open.
Everyone jumped as a sudden crash came from a few blocks away, just out of sight.
They all looked at each other, unsure what to do.
They wanted to investigate the noise. They hoped that was where everyone was, but something seemed really off in the town and they were a little afraid of what they might find.
Not having any other options, they decided to take a look.
“Do you girls want to stay hear while Chris and I take a look?” Jake asked.
“Hell no!” Becky exclaimed.
“Yeah,” Jen started. “I think we’re better off staying together.”
“Okay,” Jake said.
They set off towards where the sound had come from. While they walked, they strained to listen for any more signs of life.
“It had to come from somewhere around here,” Chris stated. “It wasn’t much farther away.”
They fanned out just a little, looking for what had made the sound.
“Um, guys,” Jen said, staring at a man who was standing across the street staring at her.
They all turned to look.
“What the?” Chris said walking closer to Jen.
They all bunched up and stared at the man.
Suddenly, a large group of people started to appear from around every corner around where the man stood.
The four of them stood frozen as they watched the crowd form a wall behind the man. They were all facing the four of them.
“What do we do?” Jen whispered.
“I don’t know,” Jake replied.
Without warning, the entire crowd of people started slowly marching towards them. The whole thing seemed menacing.
“I think we should get away,” Jen suggested, and they all started backing away from the townspeople.
When they were far enough, they turned and started walking briskly.
Chancing a look over their shoulders, they saw that the crowd had started to walk after them.
They picked up the pace and so did the townspeople.
“Let’s run in there!” Jake said, pointing to the town library.
Not needing to be asked twice, they all took off in a full sprint towards it.
They didn’t need to look behind them to know that the townspeople were chasing them at a matching speed.
The sound of them slamming the library doors behind them echoed throughout the entire town.
The girls yelped when the townspeople slammed into the front door, but were immediately knocked back.
Jake, Chris, Becky, and Jen all stared in astonishment at the sheer number of people that were pressing against the door.
Seeing that something was off with the appearance of the townspeople and seeing that they weren’t breaking through the doors any time soon, Jake slowly broke from the group and approached the door.
“What are you doing?” Chris half-shouted after him.
“Something looks off with them,” Jake said, continuing to walk towards the door.
When he arrived, he looked closer at the people and his heart sank when he realized that something really was off about them.
Their irises were black surrounded by bright red blood vessels. Black ooze bled from their eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. Their fingernails looked as if they had been worn down from scratching something hard and their skin looked like it was decaying.
Jake was about to classify them as zombies when one of the men in the front turned his head and in a raspy voice said, “Let us in.”
When the creature spoke, Jake jumped back.
“What?” Becky asked from behind him.
“One of them spoke,” Jake said.
“What did he say?” Chris asked.
“He want’s us to let them in,” Jake replied.
“Well, fuck that,” Becky said.
“Obviously, we’re not going to,” Jake said. “But we need to find a way out of here.”
For the next hour, they walked around the inside of the building, looking for any way out that wasn’t blocked. They didn’t find one. All the doors had townspeople pushed up against them, making moaning sounds.
“Take a look at this,” Jen said from the middle of the room.
They all walked to her.
Looking down over a pile of open books, she said, “All these books are open to the same subject.”
Almost afraid to ask, Jake said, “What subject?”
“It looks like whoever was here before was trying to find information on Demons,” Jen explained. “And it looks like they were specifically looking for how to destroy them.”
“What? Are you trying to tell me that those things out there are demons?” Chris asked.
“I don’t know,” Jen said. “But I’m guessing that’s what the last ones standing thought. If not demons, maybe the townspeople possessed by demons.”
Jake looked back at the front door at the townspeople pressed against the door. They were wearing regular clothes. At least normal for the small town they came from.
“They must have been possessed,” Jake said.
He turned towards the pile of books.
“Alright,” he started. “Let’s divvy up this pile of books and see if we can find a way to at the very least, slow them down long enough for us to get out of here.”
As the sun began to go down, they scoured the books, looking for anything that could help.
“Here’s something,” Jen said. “It looks like they can’t cross salt for some reason, so if we can use it as some sort of barrier.”
“That’s great, but where are we supposed to get salt?” Jake asked.
Jen slumped, defeated.
“I got something,” Becky chimed in. “They can’t stand the sight of the cross.”
“Does it say what affect it actually has on them?” Jake asked.
“No,” she replied.
“Okay,” Jake said. “But it’s still something. Fan out and find some crosses, even if it’s just pictures of one.”
When they finished, they had collected one bronze cross, and a few dozen sheets of drawn ones.
Jake looked at the front door where the demons were still rubbing against the door and moaning.
“Let’s see what they do,” he said and grabbed the bronze cross and a few of the sheets.
As soon as he held up the bronze cross, all the demons hissed and backed away a little. As soon as it was out of sight, they returned to pressing against the door, moaning.
He held up a piece of paper with the cross on it and they responded similarly but didn’t back up as far.
“Okay,” he said as he rejoined the group at the table. “I have an idea.”
He explained that they were all going to form a circle, each holding a couple of sheets of paper with a picture of the cross on it, and he would run point in the group, holding the brass cross in front of them all.
They all hesitantly agreed, but decided they were going to wait until morning, when at least they could see.
A break in the glass of the front door, along with the demons slowly filing in changed their plans.
Immediately, they formed a circle in the middle of the room and held the crosses in front of them.
The demons circled them, but kept a short distance, hissing.
Once all the demons were in the library, the four of them slowly started walking towards the front door.
“Alright,” Jake said, trying to reassure them. “It’s working so far. We’ll try for the jeep and we’ll drive out on the rims if we have to with however much gas we have. That should give us enough distance to get out and make it to the next town.”
They all nodded.
Once on the street, they began walking towards the gas station, with all the demons walking in tandem.
Suddenly, Becky tripped and fell.
They all stopped to help her up, but before they could, the demons grabbed her ankles and dragged her into their mist.
“Becky!” Jen yelled.
Jake and Chris had to grab her to keep her from running after her.
Before they could regroup, the demons swarmed in, grabbing Chris and Jen at the same time.
Reflexively, Jake held up the cross to ward them off.
With only one hand free, he grabbed the closest person to him.
Jake and Jen had only moments to mourn Chris as he was dragged off before the demons started to swarm in on them.
Jake swung the cross around like a torch, trying to keep them at bay.
“We’re going to have to run!” he yelled to Jen. “One, Two, Run!”
As he shouted, they both turned and sprinted toward the jeep, which was just in view.
Chris handed the cross to Jen as he pulled his keys out and unlocked the jeep remotely.
They were barely in when the demons swarmed them.
He quickly cranked the engine and slammed on the gas.
The jeep drove like it was off road, driving over huge rocks, but it kept going.
Finally, they were far enough ahead to brave looking in the rearview mirror at the receding demons.
They both breathed a sigh of relief until from the backseat, a demon launched at Jake, causing the jeep to make a sharp turn and start rolling.
Jake heard Jen scream as they rolled and then he blacked out.
When he opened his eyes, it was too late. Demons were already crawling in the car and on top of him.
He was still screaming as the world went black and he became one of them.
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