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The giant crab’s claws were as big as a man.
The Grims shouted and screamed in dismay.
Arrows flew through the air, bouncing harmlessly off the monster’s shell.
Its eyes were blood red, blazing with hatred.
The huge claws lashed out, scattering the crowd of Grims like black-clad bowling pins.
The claws came down again, cleaving one of the Grims clean in half in an orgy of blood and flying organs.
‘Let’s roll,’ commanded a hard feminine voice that cut through the madness.
Another flurry of arrows shot through the air, doing little against the giant crab.
The Grims dragged Davey and Luna away.
One of the crabs had stabbed its claws into Rob’s belly as he tried to flee.
He had his hands clutched tightly to the wound, keeping in a steaming spool of intestine.
‘Tia, get out of there,’ Davey said.
Tia sat in the dozer, struggling to get it out of the mud.
The crabs turned towards her.
The giant one got up out of its mud pool.
It stood a full ten feet tall.
‘Help her,’ Davey shouted.
He was still unable to use his leg, but he did his best to drag himself forward.
One of the Grims put an arm across his chest and shook his head sternly.
Davey pushed past and tried to go back to her, but his leg gave way when he put his weight upon it.
Undeterred, he began to drag himself through the mud.
The giant crab moved startlingly fast for something of such bulk.
The dozer was still not moving, the tracks spraying mud everywhere as they tried for purchase.
Davey would have crawled every foot of the way if it meant saving her.
But the nearest Grim to Davey grabbed him by the back of the neck and dragged him away.
‘NO!’ Davey screamed. ‘We’ve got to help her.’
Tia’s screams filled his ears as the crabs converged on the stuck dozer.
The screams slowly faded as they retreated from the mud pools.
‘You amateurs really know how to piss off the monster crab, dontcha?’ the hard feminine voice came again.
The voice seemed to be coming from one of the Grims in the middle of the pack.
The others were all crowded round her as if to protect her.
‘We were just trying to catch some food.’
‘I know watcher were doing,’ the woman said again. ‘And let me tellyer, you’re fucking useless at it. Leave it to the professionals.’
‘Yerl only get yourselves killed,’ the man standing to her right said.
Davey bowed his head as he thought of the debacle of the hunt.
Tia – the girl he was pretty certain he had fallen in love with – more than likely dead, eaten alive by giant crabs. It was no way for the King’s daughter to go.
Rob didn’t look too healthy either.
Davey’s own leg was still fucked.
There was only Luna still seemed capable of looking after herself. Although she had some nasty wounds.
He shook his head at his stupidity.
His impulsiveness had cost lives.
‘But it’s my fault,’ he said.
‘Sad but true,’ the female Grim said. ‘Now liftyer chin up. You look back all the time you crash into the things in fronter ya.’
Davey nodded at this wisdom, no matter how harshly delivered.
‘We nearly there,’ the male Grim said. ‘Nearly home.’
After a short walk they were off the mud plains and headed towards the river bank again.
A long, precarious rope bridge lay between them and their intended destination.
‘We aren’t going over there, are we?’ Davey said, noting the way the bridge swayed ominously in the wind.
The female Grim merely nodded and pointed to the other side, which was so far away it was hidden in the darkness.
She moved onto the bridge fearlessly, taking each step with the grace of a tightrope walker.
The Grims behind her moved with the same confidence, as did Luna.
Davey however, found that his legs shook, making the bridge tremble a little beneath him.
‘No, come on. Walk,’ the female Grim said, fixing him with a furious glare.
Davey knew that looking into the river was the worst thing to do, but still he found that his eyes were drawn down, as though weights had been attached to his chin.
The waters below were dark and fast-flowing.
He was sure he saw things moving beneath the dirty tide.
Hungry things, judging by his experiences out here so far.
It seemed everything wanted to eat him at the moment.
The way the fog hid the other river bank made it seem like the bridge stretched out forever.
It was like a maddening optical illusion; the further he walked, the further away the other side seemed to get.
He pressed on, closing his eyes and using the ropes to guide him along.
He could hear the other Grims in front of him, laughing and muttering among themselves.
They talked in a strange language, but he got the impression that they were mocking him.
The middle of the bridge seemed to sag a little under the weight of the numbers crossing it.
The waters suddenly didn’t seem so far; maybe eight feet away.
To Davey’s dismay, some of the fish began to leap out of the water.
The smaller ones were a long way away, enough to make him laugh at the futility of their actions.
The joke was on him when a man-sized creature landed with a thud that shook the entire bridge.
He was so startled he couldn’t move at first, so random was the fish’s landing.
It had long jaws like that of a crocodile, but its body was that of a fish.
The head looked like a man’s, except for the jaws.
A harsh scraping sound filled his ears as it began to drag itself towards him.
A horrendous dead fish smell intensified as it drew slowly closer.
‘Steady,’ the woman said.
More of the creatures began to leap from the water, slamming into the underside of the bridge.
Davey cursed as the creature darted at his legs.
The woman leading the pack of Grims cried out when he pulled his knife.
‘No! Are you fucking stupid?’
He lashed out at the creature, which seemed to be grinning at him.
It moved back with a speed that belied its movements up until that point, and, too late, Davey saw that his knife had taken out one of the thick ropes on the bridge.
The bridge lurched beneath them.
Davey cried out as it tilted to the right.
The thick strands of rope looked strained to breaking point by the weight of the people standing on the bridge.
The rope nearest the one that Davey had accidentally cut seemed to be bearing the most strain.
One of the strands had already begun to fray.
‘It’s gonna go,’ the woman shouted. ‘Don’t matter which way you go, just get off this fucking bridge!’
The strand twanged.
The bridge lurched sickeningly.
Davey’s legs froze in indecision.
‘Move,’ the woman shouted again.
The next strand stretched more than seemed healthy.
A few of the strands on the outside began to snap.
Davey stood, paralysed, and watched it.
Another of the bizarre creatures dived out of the water and landed on the bridge.
The impact made this strand go too.
Davey was suddenly flying forwards with the drop in weight.
He began to slide towards the creature.
Just as he neared it, raising his knife in a gesture that felt pathetic to him, he received an almighty jolt in the back that sent him sailing over the creature’s head.
He turned back to see Luna racing in for a wild soccer kick at the creature’s head – putting her beloved steelies to good use.
The creature spat black blood and shards of yellowing teeth, but snapped for her leg.
Her other foot came down hard, crashing onto the top of its skull with a sickening thud.
She ran after Davey, her hand in the small of his back, propelling him on.
The bridge began to sag further as another creature landed on it.
The lady in charge had gotten to pretty much the other side when a huge creature came up out of the water and took out the ropes on the far end.
The bridge jolted as though part of an earthquake, then capsized into the water.
Already, dark shapes were beginning to rise from beneath the filthy tides.
Next chapter is here