PennyEyes

By G. W. Thomas
About the Author




What's Gone Before: In a future haunted by monstrous Leepers, Sliders and Spinners, four people, seeking to escape, take refuge in an apartment building where they rescue a little android girl with copper-coloured eyes from two men who were trying to turn her off, to stop her crying. The leader, Brannigan, knows more than he is telling, both about the monsters and about the android girl, whose name he knows and who obviously knows him...


Episode Two:

Green Death


The five moved down the street away from the row of tall apartments. In the distance, they could see the river and its clusters of warehouses and storage facilities. Brannigan hoped to find a boat, if any still remained in the city, which could be sailed away from Chicago and its infestation of Dark Beasts. It was a vain hope, but any direction away from the streets and alleys was a good one.

He led his crew over a stretch of four-lane black top, once crammed with rush hour traffic. Now, burned-out husks of cars and trucks littered the roadway. They all avoided the empty vehicles, the perfect hiding place for a Spinner.

Making it across the four-laner, the party found itself in a flat expanse of weedy marshland that ran from the highway to the industrial area along the river. There was no cover, so they ran at a slow jog, heading for the first of the tallest storehouses. Brannigan only called a halt when he noticed Dandy lagging behind. He found the mechanic suffering from deep-chested spasms. When the gunman showed his concern, Dandy waved him off.

"Just a touch of the flu. Iím alright. We canít stop here."

Brannigan agreed, pointing behind the big mechanic. A distant mob of running creatures was quickly narrowing the gap between themselves and the refugees. The gunman saw Leepers, bounding on their oddly shaped legs, like mutant gazelles. Behind them he could make out three Spinners with their huge heads and insectoid legs.

But strangest of all was the sight of the old man walking amongst them, unharmed, surrounded by tall, humanoid creatures which the gunman knew nothing about.

"Címon, Dandy, weíve got to hurry."

Brannigan grabbed the mechanicís arm and pulled him along as he ran. The others had either seen the creatures themselves or Branniganís reaction to them and had made for the distant warehouses. They ran through the rank weeds, brambles and thistles tearing at their swift-moving legs.

Brannigan stopped, waved Dandy on alone. He turned with his gun drawn.

The Leepers, the fastest of the pursuers, were only yards behind them now. The gunman aimed carefully in a policemanís grip. He shot five times, dropping three of the pursuers. Dumping the empty clip, he took the last of his ammo from his jacket pocket. Eight shots, then it was over. Heíd save them as he looked for another weapon.

Turning again, he ran faster to catch up with his comrades. He quickly over-took Dandy who was coughing again. Bent over, the mechanic was vomitting large clumps of mucus. Brannigan helped him up and they ran together. The warehouse was only seconds away. Clara and the others had already disappeared behind the distant structure. Once there, the gunman hoped to lose his pursuers in the maze of large buildings.

Brannigan and the mechanic made the corner. Waiting for them behind a row of dumpsters were the other three. Clara looked especially worried.

"Whatís wrong, now?" asked Brannigan bluntly.

"I heard some noises coming from over there," she admitted, pointing toward the river. "I not sure we should--"

"Weíve got to go," yelled Brannigan. "That old bastardís coming and heís got friends. Better some noises--"

"Whereís Dandy?" asked Father Lemuel.

"He was here a second ago." Brannigan left for a minute, returned alone. "Heís gone."

"We should find him," Clara said, with worry-filled eyes.

"Iíll find him. You two take Christabel and find a boat, a raft, something. Weíve got to cross the river. Stay close to the shore and Iíll find you."

The priest protested, "Mr. Brannigan--"

"Itís the only way. Weíve got two, maybe three minutes before weíre up to our eyeballs in trouble. And Iím down to my last clip. Now go!"

The woman and the priest left with the android. Brannigan turned to the nearest dumpster sitting next to the building. Brannigan opened the large lid and hunted for something he could use as a weapon. He wasnít disappointed. He found the remains of an old packing crate. With a little work, he fashioned a long plank club with nails protruding from one side. It wouldnít have the range of his pistol, but it just might serve.

Scouting around, the gunman spotted what looked like spots of mucus mixed with blood. Dandy had wandered this way. Brannigan followed, taking a moment to see how his pursuers were doing. There was no sign of them.

The gunman hurried along the dark alley between the tall warehouses. Up ahead he saw a tall man, undoubtedly, Dandy Smith. Brannigan wanted to call to him, but did not dare. Instead he approached until he was only a few yards away and hissed at his friend.

"Dandy! Over here."

The mechanic turned at the sound of Branniganís voice. The way he spun should have warned the gunman that something was wrong, but it was too late to counter his move. The big mechanic jerked around while throwing out long, green, mucus-covered arms. Mindless eyes and vacant mouth stared from beneath a sheet of the green slime.

Brannigan pushed away with all his strength, but was unable to unlock the killing grasp of his friend. Having no other choice, he swung his nailed club full across the large manís head. Blood welled up under the green sheet covering Dandyís face, but otherwise no change.

Brannigan began to panic. He dropped his plank-board, trying to extricate his gun from his coat pocket, but found it impossible as dark spots began to well up in his eyes. Only a few more seconds and he would be driven unconscious by the large slimy hands.

Something exploded.

Dandy let go with a hissing gurgle and fell over on top of the gunman. A smoking stump was all that remained of his head.

Brannigan looked up after heaving the grotesque corpse off of him.

There standing in the alleyway was Christabel, the android-girl. A small nipple-shaped hole in the centre of her bare chest smoked after the heat of the laser weapon it contained.

"Címon, Uncle Pete," she scolded with copper eyes. "Letís go."

Brannigan got up stiffly. "Come here, Christabel."

"Yes, Uncle Pete?"

"How did you get here?"

"I came looking for you, Uncle, when you didnít come back." Christabel lowered her penny-colored eyes. "I was lonely."

"What about the old guy? When did he find you?"

"Inside the big building. You know, Uncle, where we live."

"Inside? Are you sure?"

"Yes."

Brannigan frowned at the androidís girlish words. They were a enigma, an evil mystery.

"Letís hurry," he said finally.

Next episode....River Battle!



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Pennyeyes is copyright 1999, G. W. Thomas. It may not be copied or used for any commercial purpose except for short excerpts used for reviews. (Obviously, you can copy it or print it out if you want to read it!)