by AJ McCall
There, in the middle of the spacious wood-crafted kitchen with a long undusted auburn floor, was blood. A dark dried puddle. It hasn't been there very long Henry realized as his fingers tightly squeezed his rifle's middle. Where was it from? Was it his?
Henry didn't remember getting cut. He didn't remember anything he'd done yesterday.
Henry eyed the puddle again before heading toward the kitchen drawer. He rummaged through empty prescription bottles, rusted nails, and carving knives before finding something to wipe up the blood.
He slung his rifle strap over his shoulder, pocketed a knife, then took a careful look around.
It could be nothing; maybe a wounded animal, but food first.
Henry unbolted the front door, stepping out under the Moon's light. Maybe this time he'd catch something.
Rea's dark head jerked up. Her ears strained to hear something else other than Taylor's soft snores, but the air was silent. Maybe it just her.
Another set of twigs snapped, followed by a low grunt.
Rea turned, shaking Taylor's shoulder.
"Taylor! Wake up!"
Her husband jolted upright, his hand grabbing her to pull her out of harm's way.
"What? What happened?" he demanded.
"I heard something outside."
Taylor looked toward the opening of the tent, then released her, reaching for his boots.
"Alright, I'll be back,"
He took a flashlight and a wooden stick they'd used to hike and disappeared into the black, the flaps closing behind him.
After a couple of minutes, Rea didn't hear his heavy footfalls anymore. Please, God...
She gripped her blanket in fists, her heart pounding, the silence screaming in her ears until a crash beside the tent made her freeze. Then the flaps flew open, a blur rushing in. Rea screamed, then frowned as she recognized Taylor.
"It's just me!" he laughed, but she slapped his arm, and he stopped.
"Don't do that! I thought you were something else,"
"Sorry," He reached out, gently squeezing the part of her leg not covered by her red spotted pajama pants.
"I promise I won't-"
Something descended on Talyor's neck with a sickening thud. Rea screamed as a towering figure tackled him into the ground, the weapon glinting in the moonlight. Her lungs burned with each scream for help, her husband's strangled cries gone as the intruder loomed over her.
Henry's stomach grumbled. He grunted, blinking sleep from his eyes. He sat up, trying to remember if he'd eaten at all.
Darn those pills.
He got up, dressed, and had his gun slung over his shoulder before he lumbered down the stairs into the kitchen.
Blood, right next to the counter.
His heart hammered in his chest as he approached. Even in the dark liquid, Henry noticed the fabric. His maybe? But he never wore spotted things.
For a moment, he thought he saw a face, maybe heard a voice, but the memory was fuzzy. He shook his throbbing head.
Man, those screams seemed real.