Proofed by: Valthan
“They’re fighting again, Mom.” I whined, half bored, half just… Tired. I sat on a chair I pulled up to her bed, and laid my head on its edge. I stared at my mother’s face, pale and sunken. One of the machines tied to her beeped in short, constant, intervals. Another helped her breathe. She looked so peaceful. In contrast, I could hear my older brother arguing with my dad in the hall. It was because of something Jacob said. Something that neither I or dad wanted to hear. That Mom was going to go away soon. We all knew it, but it was… It was something none of us wanted to think about.
“You shouldn’t have opened your goddamn mouth!” I heard my dad scream at my brother. I wondered how long it would take for a nurse to stop them, or maybe everyone else was scared of the two bears clawing at each other in the hall. My eyes burned from the dried tears. I just wanted some peace. More than that, I wanted Mom to open her eyes. I wanted her to wake up and stop them from hurting each other.
Without her here, we were tearing each other apart. Dad hadn’t slept in the house in months. Jacob stayed at his friends and I was left all alone in that big house. Just the other day, Jacob started yelling at me the moment he walked in when I tried to hug him. Because I was happy that, for a moment, I wouldn’t be all alone anymore. I didn’t understand anything anymore. The world was just… Broken.
“I can’t wait to join the army, then you can’t say shit!” Jacob barked and I hear the two of them going at each other. I was scared deep down. That one of these days, they would hit me too. I wasn’t strong like them, and they were a lot bigger. Dad was twice my size and Jacob was right up there with him. Me? I was an average kid… Maybe just a little weaker.
I remembered something and sat up. I pulled ruffled through my backpack and pulled out a sketchbook. “I drew something today!” I said to my mom. “Ms. Hensley says I’m a good drawer for a middle-schooler!” I beamed as I flipped through to the doodle I made in class today. I turned the book for her to see. Two hands holding a handful of California poppies; her favorite flower.
“I suck at hands,” I said with a small smile. “But I’m definitely good at flowers.” The silence hung in the air for a few minutes. I knew she wouldn’t respond, yet, I had hoped she would. We weren’t whole without her. She had been like this for a month and we were already at each other’s throats. My uncles and aunts were already circling, asking about her will…
I slumped back into the uncomfortable hospital chair, then I realized that I couldn’t hear the others anymore. I looked at the hospital door and strained my ears. Nothing.
I turned to look out the window. It only took a few seconds for them to start arguing outside the hospital. I died a little inside at that. It seemed I was the only one who really loved her. None of them ever sat with her, and all they would do is argue when they saw each other. They rarely spoke with me, and recently, even began to avoid me. That was until Jacob and I had that little fight. That fight caused this fight, though I suspected it was just a good enough excuse to fight it out again.
The few trees the hospital was allowed to have swayed side to side. I had a sudden inclination to find out if the breeze was nice. I got up and walked to the window. I unlatched it, slid it open, and a nice fresh breeze tickled me. It was colder than the hospital was. Mom was lucky that Dad dropped a lot of money on a VIP room with a real window that could be opened.
I heard the guys screaming at each other, but I didn’t understand a word. Something else caught my attention.
A woodpecker was going to town on one of the trees closest to the window. I was on the fourth floor, but the tree was almost trimmed bare. The thuds its beak made as it shredded the tree’s inside sounded eerily like machine gun fire. Then I looked down. A straight fall down. I looked to the woodpecker again, and it somehow seemed louder. I heard faint voices and I looked down again.
“Get off the ledge, Kian!” Jacob screamed up at me, and I realized I was sitting on the window ledge, my legs swinging like it was just another day. Dad was gone, but I didn’t care. He was always gone. Always. Gone.
I looked back to the bird, but this time, the tree was covered in blood. The bird’s attack roared just like a heavy machine gun. “Wake up!” I heard a different voice, and I fell forward.
« † »
“Wake up, kid!” The scene was washed away and the sun was chased away by the darkness. The constant gunfire of the .50 Heavy Machine Gun, HMG, on the ramp lit the interior of the osprey like a strobe light. The man in front of me had blood smeared across his face. One eye was shut and bandaged; he looked like a monster for a moment…
I almost screamed on reflex, but he covered my mouth with a bloodied hand. “Shut up!” He growled. After I had managed to regain myself, something that took a few seconds; he let go and handed me a rifle. “Get on the window and shoot those fucking shits!” He said. He quickly unbuckled me and pulled me up. He then guided me with haste towards the front of the helicopter before he stopped short of the final window. Where a dead marine was slumped over with an arrow in his head.
“Take his place.” He gave me a sharp tug before he disappeared down the hull, another rifle in hand. The concussive waves of the machine gun rattled me, but curiosity won over my fear. I could already tell we’ve crashed, and that there were a few people alive. From the man below, I could see that we’re in some deep shit. But not in the “We’re getting shot up” shit, but something stranger.
I peaked out the gunner window and… Paled.
Outside were hundreds of beady red eyes. They glowed in the distance, in between the trees of a forest slightly down. I pulled my head back, and just in time too. A few arrows clattered against the hull, and a few actually made it past the window. I slide myself into a small crevice as my heart finally began to race.
“What the fuck!” I screamed internally. I was too scared to actually voice it. I wasn’t scared enough to not notice the sudden hellish situation we were in. I got pulled out of bed during an invasion, watched a few of my brother’s friends die; not to mention the city explode with nuclear fire. A small part of me wished that I was the Main Character in a show or something. I’ve had a good one-liner there.
Or, maybe that was the shock talking.
For once, since this all happened, I shook like a leaf in a storm. This was not a situation I had been prepped for. House assault? Yeah. People dying? Never seen it in person, but yeah. Nukes going off? Not really, but dad used to talk about it. Crash land somewhere and have hundreds of red-eyed monsters shoot arrows at you? No. Fucking. Way.
At least bullets would kill you before you knew what happened. I’ve seen enough TV to know that arrows hurt when you pull them out. I took a deep breath, pressed the rifle to my chest with its barrel up. I did not want to stick my head back out. I looked towards the ramp to see if I was even needed. Through the flashes, I could see a few marines pulled into the hull, unmoving. There were two other Marines, aside from the gunner, that had pulled whatever they could out to use as cover.
One just used a pile of little green… kids? They looked like kids, but when I saw the face…
“Goblins…” I muttered. Anyone who hadn’t lived under a rock knew about goblins. A few stories colored them nice, a few colored them pure evil. None of that mattered, because they were the ones attacking us. Even though they were dead, their eyes still faintly glowed in the moonlight. They looked like little demons with their grotesque faces.
“Okay, now or never, Kian…” I muttered as I pushed the rifle away. I hadn’t actually looked at what he handed me. I stared down at the rifle, it was an M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle, or IAR. While I wasn’t versed with an M27, it was the same as a civilian AR; aside from the ability to be switched into fire modes.
I racked the charging handle, with force. Something was sticking the handle. I didn’t want to think about what. A round flung out of the chamber and slapped my stomach before it fell; clattering against the floor. I gulped. Fear told me not to do it. Courage told me that I needed to fight. Sense told me either option would work and we’d all die – probably.
Finally, another element won out. Pride. I was Kian Willow, the son of a prestigious General of the Army. My brother was a Special Operations Squad Leader, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t fight… The bravado was fake as hell, but… I had to do something, and it worked. I had gotten myself to calm down enough and I took a single deep breath.
And I stepped back into the window and aimed.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
The first shot went high and disappeared, but I wasn’t used to ACOGs so it was acceptable. The next shot ruptured the head of the first goblin was attempting to sneak through by crawling. Blood geyser’ed as it cut through the top of its skull. The third shot only kicked up the dirt by it. I got their attention though. I ducked behind the hull as another wave of arrows clattered against the helicopter.
I waited for a second, nothing else came, and I shot back up. This time, I managed to place two shots into the second goblin as it tried to crawl back to the safety of its nearby rock. With the goblin’s side to me, the first shot skimmed the top of its head, but it seemed to only be a flesh wound as it continued its frantic crawl. The second shot landed center of its small neck and the goblin stopped. The third round kicked up the grass just behind it. The goblin began to thrash wildly, the rest of its small group deserted them in a mad sprint – only to turn into glittering crimson mists as the HMG turned on them.
This time, I saw the attack before it came. A group of archers forty to fifty feet further from the group I just attacked. They were already drawing their bows and taking aim, but I dropped five rounds into their direction before I dropped down again. The whole length of the attack no more than twenty seconds.
There were fewer arrows this time. I jumped up to throw down more freedom, but a dull mechanical click responded to my trigger pull. I dropped down and brought the rifle up to my face.
“Fuck!” I screamed. The bolt was locked back, the breech open, and no round insight. I heard the clatter of arrows again and a few even managed to get through the window this time. “Sorry!” I muttered as I pulled the dead marine next to me onto his back. His carrier was drenched with fresh blood, and the strong whiff of it smacked me like I owed it money.
I gagged and cringed. Another wave of arrows clattered above me, their aim becoming better with each volley.
I pulled out all the magazines in his carrier, but he only had three forty round magazines full. The four were empty and one was bloodied to all hell. So I left those on the floor. I ejected the spent magazine and, purely on moonlight and luck, managed to load a fresh one in. I turned the rifle on its right side, felt the side up for the bolt-release and pressed it down. The bolt flew forward and the rifle jerked slightly. The feeling was euphoric, in an “I’m not going to die yet” kind of way.
Another wave of arrows clattered against the hull, but they were almost too loud as the HMG fire stopped. I looked down the interior and saw them reloading it. I took this chance to pop back up and… A horde of red eyes began to close the distance between us as a sea of green began to encircle us…
« † »
“Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” One of the marines cried out as a goblin managed to jump on him without hitting the roof of the Osprey. He fell down, and the disappearance of his suppressive fire allowed a few more to slip into the bird. Three… Then when we failed to kill one of the intruders, that one took down another marine. More began to slip in until only three of us were left standing. Somehow, I managed to keep calm. I didn’t feel… Scared. I kept the rifle on semi-auto and just pulled when I had a good shot.
All I could do was keep my rifle trained on the window. The monsters swarmed us. We could hear them on the roof, jumping. Laughing. Even over the sound of gunshots. There was just so many. We managed to save one of the two marines that went down. But he was horribly wounded. His throat had been nicked when he fought off two of the little shits. The first one that went down… His head had been stabbed into a horrific caved bowl of brains and blood.
Another goblin appeared in the gunner’s window.
I didn’t think about it. I reacted on reflex now.The bullet hit the goblin’s chest. The monster was so light that the 5.556 NATO round actually propelled the goblin backward. It had a fifty-fifty chance falling on the ground, or off the cliff. Yeah. The nose of the bird was off the cliff and my window was on the cusp. I didn’t notice until I had seen the little green nightmares jumping on the windshield with rocks and sticks.
I guess that was the only reason we had lasted this long. With only one direction of obvious attack, we had managed to hold them off. That was until the bolt of the M27 locked back and there weren’t any more magazines for me to grab.
“I’m out!” I called out. I still had my XM17, but I didn’t know if the 9mm would be good enough to take them, at least, without mag-dumping. I only had a total of twenty magazines for my pistol, not including the one in the pistol itself. But it was all I had now.
Before I could even bother to ditch the rifle, another goblin appeared in the window. The stars shined upon this one today because I only had a blunt weapon now. I bashed goblin with the butt of the rifle. My mistake, because the little shit grabbed the butt as it screamed an ear-piercing screech as it looked back. With such an ugly face, I was surprised I recognized fear on its face.
I didn’t hesitate and let go of the rifle as I pushed again. The little green thing clung to the rifle as it screamed, disappearing below the edge of the window. I pulled my sidearm just as another one thought it was lucky today as well, but I gave him a welcome gift to the face. It was only a moment, but I saw its nose burst into a crimson flower as it fell back. This time, the window stayed empty.
I turned my attention as I stepped further back until I fell back onto the cockpit’s steps. The goblins charging in now. Two marines were standing and the others disappeared underneath the green murderous tidal wave.
“Get up! Get up!” One of them screamed at me. I didn’t hesitate and scrambled further into the cockpit until I was practically crouching on the instrument center console. The first marine went up the steps as the other one covered him, I kept my pistol trained, ready for him to move up… He never got a chance.
The moment he turned, and neither of us could actually fire without mowing him down as well, several of the little murderous monkeys clung to his back and another knocked his legs from beneath him with an aimed stick to the back of his legs. He fell backward into the horde. We didn’t wait anymore as a goblin planted his bloodied feet on the first step.
Several holes emerged in the goblin’s chest as it flung back. Another goblin appeared. Then another, and another. Each one was mowed down until we began to alternate. He kept firing until he had to reload. Then I would cover him. That was until after the second reload, he was out and hand to use the rifle as a club. Without a beat, He went John Wick on one that got through as I tried to reload.
It jumped at me, but the butt clubbed him in the mouth. I swear I saw teeth go flying, but it may have been my imagination. Now. Now, I was beginning to lose it again. I clamped down on a scream as another jumped at me before the marine could bring the rifle back around. I fell back on the instruments. I felt the windshield hit the top of my head, and I was thankful for the plate carrier I had one. I was sure I would have felt more than just that if I hadn’t.
Without thinking, I kicked out. I saw a look of surprise just before my foot sent the goblin flying back into the next one before it could leap as well. There were only a few seconds before another would take its place, but it gave enough room for the last marine to swing again. Then I finally reloaded.
And I cursed our luck…
The next goblin wasn’t the strawberry shortcake doll variety. The butt of the rifle was caught in the hand of a human-sized goblin with big red eyes. Before I could react, a sword stabbed out and buried itself into the man’s stomach.