The cage swung back and forth in the icy wind above the deserted town. It dangled from a length of frost-covered chain, high above the buildings of the camp. Inside the iron bars, a woman held herself still.
The sound came from far away, from inside the dark entrance of the mine. Her eyes narrowed and she held her breath, desperate to hear the sound once more. For a long moment, all that filled the air was the mournful howl of icy wind.
Then she heard it again.
She twisted in the narrow iron cage. Hope and horror warred within her as she held her breath and watched.
A figure broke free from the darkness of the mine and into the cold light of morning. He ran with a frantic intensity, arms and legs pumping. He shot across the bare white snow and into town. She watched with desperate, yearning hope as he ran through empty streets.
And then a chorus of gibbering shrieks sounded from the depths of the mine.
Hope shriveled and died inside her.
The man looked back and stumbled in the snow, falling forward onto his face. He scrambled to his feet, his face a mask of desperate terror.
From the mine, three twisted, broken shapes emerged.
They were fast, cavorting across the snow and ice with horrible, misshapen limbs. Too many legs and joints bending the wrong way. Arms with feet at the ends instead of hands. Madness made flesh.
The man pushed harder, his arms and legs flailing, but the creatures chased with impossible speed. The snow did not slow them. The ice did not cause them to slip or skitter out of control. They were made for the hunt and they descended upon him like wolves on a deer.
She shut her eyes as they dragged the screaming man back into the mine.
Then all was silent.
The woman didn’t cry. She just sat still and waited for her turn to die.
Release: March 15, 2016