NightCrawlers: Victims of a Parasite that turned into Nocturnal Cannibalistic Hunters whose only instincts are to kill and eat.
Onyx felt like quite the creep, but she didn’t know what else to do. Datura’s breathing started to slow, tension leaving her expression as she fell asleep. The light from the fire caused her hair to glisten, highlighting the grease it held. Maybe she could help Datura wash up before they hit the road again, the build-up of grime probably wasn’t the most comfortable for her.
Onyx wasn’t sure how long she sat there across from Datura, just watching her as she slept. Honestly, this felt like the only time that she didn’t look depressed or grouchy, it was nice to see Datura calm for a change. But Onyx knew that even though it was true, she was just using it as an excuse.
Onyx was afraid.
It was a weird feeling, something she hadn’t felt in a long while. Yes, she had been scared lately, like the many times she and Dr. Doggy were ambushed by NightCrawlers. Tensions were high, and the adrenaline was pumping. Still, afterwards, Onyx was able to smile and laugh it off as if it were just another Tuesday.
It was now or never. The moment felt like slow motion, her legs felt heavy as she forced herself up from the lounge chair she was occupying. Dr. Doggy, lying at her feet, eagerly raised to join her as she left the spacious living room to head up the stairs. Her body felt stiff as she trudged up each step, but the brushing of Dr. Doggy’s fur on her leg was reassuring.
Down the hall to the last room on the left was the path she had taken a million times before. All the hall decor was different, including new pictures that erased Onyx’s presence from any family memories. Once Onyx got to the door, she wasn’t surprised to find it locked. Luckily enough, all her fun on the run had taught her how to pick simple locks, her favourite skill when it came to scavenging houses.
Walking into that room felt like going back in time. The thick layer of dust that covered the place was all the evidence Onyx needed to say that not a single soul had entered that room. She was happy she kept her shoes on as Lego littered the floor of her room, her last space station project left unfinished. The walls were still covered with her movie posters, varying from horror to fantasy. Comic books and sci-fi novels were stacked on her desk, all stories she had read and remembered. The book on top was the last one she started but never finished, the bookmark sprouting out two-thirds through the book.
The bed was unmade with unfolded clothes adorning the surface, remnants of her packing the duffel bag with everything she needed before going it alone. It truly felt like she had walked back into her childhood, back to a time where life felt simple.
Onyx tossed aside some of the clothes and smoothed out of sheets before taking a seat. Dr. Doggy jumped up and joined her, laying his head on her lap just waited to be pet to which Onyx happily obliged. The blanket was quite comfortable, but Onyx had always hated the design, her mother insisting that it was in style. Who would care if her blanket was in fashion or not?
“It’s been four years since I’ve been back home,” Onyx spoke softly to her fluffy companion, feeling the need to say the words out loud. “You’d think my mother would have turned this room into a personal yoga studio after the first week.” Dr. Doggy nuzzled into her hand as if he were laughing at her terribly timed joke.
Onyx wanted to say something else, but nothing that came to mind felt important. To be honest, everything just felt so surreal, Onyx tried to pinch herself to check if she was even awake. Before Onyx would stay up at night, imagining how going back home would feel like. All different situations would play out in her mind, some seeming insanely theatrical, but they all had Onyx in tears by the end.
Why wasn’t she in tears? Her last memories here struck hard and deep. Seeing the final look on her Mother and Father’s face as she left with no destination in mind and no hopes to look up too. How was she able to come back into this room without breaking down on her knees? The day they discarded her from their hearts because she no longer fit into their picture-perfect family.
Onyx was getting frustrated. She expected her hands to shake, eyes to well up and throat start to hurt from the tears she was supposed to hold back. At this point, Onyx was kinda hoping that she would begin to feel upset or angry, instead of this strange calmness that took over her body.
She felt so calm that she allowed her eyes to get heavy as she laid back on the bed, Dr. Doggy readjusting himself to act as a massive and fluffy blanket. She drifted away, listening to the pattering of the rain with nothing but confusion in her head.
It was the best sleep Onyx had in ages, the nights before spent wasted worrying about car batteries and leaking gas tanks. Datura wasn’t getting any better. Her belly was looking like it was ready to pop at any second, and Onyx wanted nothing more than to get her to the camp doctor before the time struck.
Onyx would have kept sleeping, enjoy the warmth of her bed just a bit longer, but Dr. Doggy was scratching at the door requesting to do his business. With a grunt and a stretch, they were both heading down the stairs and out the backdoor. The sky was foggy, and the grass was wet, but Dr. Doggy loved it. He trotted back in the house and ran right to the living room to give Datura a damp wake up call.
“Get your fucking mutt off of me!” Datura’s voice was rough, causing Onyx to cringe before rushing over to save Datura from Dr. Doggy’s loving wrath. Even after spending three months together, Datura hadn’t grown to love her furry companion. It was a shame how much she was missing out on. Onyx convinced him to get down by serving him up a bowl of dry food on the other side of the room.
“Now that your done pampering that freeloader, can you bring me to the bathroom? I’ve got so much piss in me that I’m ready to burst.” Datura complained, pushing herself up into a sitting position. Onyx obliged with a smile, stealing a wheeled chair from her father’s home office, using it as a wheelchair. Onyx didn’t mind helping her use the bathroom. She was just happy that Datura no longer seemed embarrassed to have Onyx’s assistance.
She helped bring Datura to the dining room, a bouquet of fake flowers stand tall as the centrepiece. Datura continued to complain some more, this time about her hunger. Onyx went through the cupboards and found some exotic treats, dry cracker-like food with names she couldn’t pronounce.
“What is this shit?” Datura asked as Onyx knew she would.
“My family owns a private jet, so my mother would go to different places on the weekends to do our grocery shopping just for the fun of it.” Datura dropped her grumpy face and replaced it with amusement instead.
“A private jet? Damn!” Datura glanced around the room. “I mean, this house did scream rich, but not that rich.”
“My parents never like to flaunt it, but we had enough money to swim in it.” Onyx commented while knawing on a chocolate bar. “I bet you they booked it to the Bahamas or the Caribbean first day of the outbreak.”
Datura asked a couple more questions—none of which were personal—to keep the conversation going. Onyx couldn’t help but feel awkward talking about her parents and their lifestyle, the one that tore them apart.
“Can I ask you something?”
“Sure, not like my answer would stop you anyway,” Datura answered, still more focused on the room than Onyx herself.
“Is there something wrong with me?”
“Uh,” Datura stammered, looking as if she wanted to say something but had to hold it back. “Why do you ask so out of the blue?”
“Four years ago, my entire life fell apart. People said I had it perfect before I ran my big mouth and blew it.” Onyx gripped her chocolate bar a bit harder than necessary, staring a hole into the table. “Being back here should be painful beyond imaginable, but I don’t feel anything like that. Have I become numb?”
“Onyx, as much as I shit on you for being a weird kid, there is nothing wrong with you.” Datura started softly, her voice slightly muffled from the food she was chewing. “If we are honest here, I’m pretty fucking jealous of your ability to just like let shit go.”
“Really?” Onyx asked, not believing it entirely at first.
“Your emotional maturity is on a whole other level, pisses me off that I can’t do what you do.”
“You can just accept the truth while still being happy with what you have. Who else can still see the sunrise after a night of pure tragedy.” Datura placed her good hand of Onyx’s shoulder, crumbs falling down and landing on her jacket. “I may call you a kid, but you are an adult. You’ve grown out of your past, and along the way became stronger.”
“You mean that?”
“I speak my mind, kid, I don’t lie for the sake of spared feelings.” Datura gave a split-second smile before going back to gobble up the last of her breakfast. “Enough of this sentimental crap now. Daylight is burning, we best be going if we’re going to make it by tonight.”
Onyx followed in suite, stuffing her face before wheeling Datura back towards the living room. Within the hour, their car was refilled with gas, and Onyx left her old home for the last time.
For fifteen years, she lived in that house with a family she thought she was close to. Back then, it was a horrid thought to be without them, but that had all changed. She found a new family, and though it was strange, it was everything she needed.