Cody ran, his heart racing. Looking over his shoulder, in the air behind him, the shadow of it blocked the sun. It grew larger, descending on him at great speed, but from his perspective it was happening in slow motion.
He had heard of these things: merciless killers of his kind. They came without warning, showing no remorse, decimating the vegetation, killing dozens, sometimes hundreds at once. He’d never seen one up close.
He looked to his right. Darla and Jimmy stood frozen with fear, unable to move, their eyes locked on the bottom of the thing. Cody yelled at them to run, but they were beyond hearing, their faces masks of terror, clinging to one another.
Billy ran past him, screaming, headed in the same direction he’d chosen, trying to get to the edge of the descending shadow, before it crushed the life from them. He couldn’t believe this would be the end.
He thought about his parents, and his younger sister. At least they were safe. They’d stayed behind this morning, preferring the afternoon foraging missions to the morning ones. The heat was less in the afternoon, so it was easier on his mother. She was getting older, but the rules said everyone contributed. She never complained though; she was happy to do her part for the Queen.
His sister. He recalled playing with her, down by the river. They would take turns tossing blades of grass into the water, running along the bank, trying to keep up with them. He was faster, of course, but he let her lead. Sometimes when they fell behind, he would throw another blade in, pretending it was hers, and she had just ran past it. She would always smile and say, “I love you Cody”. He suspected she knew.
Billy was well ahead of him now; he was almost at the edge. Cody was surprised at how quiet it was, aside from the screams of his friends, of course. It made no noise; just loomed larger and more sinister above them. He imagined what it would feel like, being crushed to death; wondered what it would be like to die. Would he go to the great hill and be with his ancestors? Would it just be dark and empty? Would he even remember his family?
Billy was clear of the shadow now; he didn’t dare look back for the others. Five yards away, the edge of the shadow darkened, the light from the sun almost snuffed out. Cody dived towards safety, scrambling as hard as his legs could push him. The weight of it pressed down upon him, forcing the air from his lungs. He had time for one last thought before the life drained from his eyes.
Why can’t these humans just watch where they’re stepping…