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Luna and Davey stood on a section of fallen bridge that measured roughly ten feet by five.
It was barely floating under their combined weight.
‘You take this end, I’ll take the other,’ Luna said.
She leant down, pulling up one of the loose pieces of wood from her end of the bridge.
Davey followed suit.
He was still in a kind of daze, not quite believing that this was happening to him.
A deformed hand – more like a claw when they took a second to look more closely at it – came over the side and Davey was about to send his makeshift weapon into its sorry-looking skull when Luna shouted for him to stop.
He didn’t understand why until he saw the dark robes of a Grim billowing in the water.
He bent down and pulled him up.
‘Thank ye,’ the Grim said, his face a mask of horror. ‘Thought I was a goner there. One of them fucking things grabbed me and pulled me down. I didn’t think I was gonna get back up again.’
He eyed their weapons and wasted no time in getting himself one too.
‘We can either paddle to the far shore or try to get back to where we came from,’ Davey said.
They eyed the giant crab that was still rampaging on the shore.
Eyed the dark shapes that swirled beneath the tides.
‘Shit and shite, like,’ Luna grinned.
Davey nodded. ‘But Tia…’ he said.
‘Ah man, you guys and yer crushes,’ Luna grinned. ‘Ya’d run int’ a fire wearing a gasoline jock strap if it meant getting the girl, wouldn’t ya?’
Davey blushed. ‘I-I don’t know what you m—’
‘Ah fuck off with it, man. Stevie bastard Wonder could see ya got it bad for her, Davey lad.’
Davey said nothing.
‘Davey and Tia sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G,’ she laughed.
Davey felt another powerful wave of nostalgia for the way things had been before.
Just that silly song had taken him back to the happy part of his childhood, before a self-administered nuclear holocaust had befallen his country, bringing about hell on earth and the decline of humanity.
‘But, I’m sorry t’ tell ya, she’s dead, like,’ Luna said.
Davey turned, furious.
‘Ain’t no way she survived that. No fucking way. I’m sorry, man, but you gonna have to get yourself another crush.’
‘I won’t believe it. Not till I see proof.’
‘Trust me, you don’t wanna go there. I’ve seen a couple of boyfriends bite the bullet. One literally. It ain’t pretty.’
‘I have to find out.’
‘I get ya. And I’ll come with you t’ pick up the pieces. But right now we got bigger things t’ worry about.’
She pointed to Davey’s right.
He turned and saw that one of the strange creatures had put its hand on the side of the bridge.
He lashed out with the plank, the nail scoring a deep gash in the flaccid skin.
Dark blood oozed out. A vile smell hit their nostrils – dead fish crossed with stagnant water.
The water around the raft bubbled as the creature bellowed its pain.
They looked across the river and saw another of the parties on a makeshift raft.
The two Grims on there were fending off attacks from one of the creatures.
No sooner had it gone than another hand appeared on the other side of the raft.
Before they could react, the raft was upended and the water was a thrashing mass of red.
It was a grim omen of things to come.
The thing appeared, its skull covered with wrinkled, paper-thin skin.
Its mouth opened in a banshee cry that cut off abruptly as Davey and Luna stuck their weapons through its skull with a sickly squelch.
It fell back into the water, a dark cloud growing around it.
The waters beneath the raft became a frothing whirlpool as the creature was torn to shreds by its brethren.
‘Get back to the shore,’ Davey said.
‘But the crab…’ the Grim said.
‘Fuck the crab,’ Luna said. ‘On land we can run. We ain’t got a chance on here.’
As if to confirm her theory, unseen hands battered the bottom of the raft, jolting them.
It seemed they had hold of the ropes at Luna’s end as the wood on that part of the raft was suddenly disappearing under the water.
Luna jabbed down at the hands furiously, drawing a few clouds of dark blood but not deterring their attack.
Another water-ravaged face appeared at Davey’s end.
He lashed out, his nail penetrating the flaccid skin between the creature’s lifeless eyes.
It sunk back into the water, letting out a horrid low moan.
From the other side, arrows began to rain down from the party of Grims, but they were too far away, their targets too far underwater.
They may as well have saved their ammunition.
The Grim was continuing to try and steer the raft towards the shore.
Davey helped where he could, but he was more concerned with attacking the creatures that were trying to drag the raft down.
They had hold of the ropes and could stop the raft ever getting to the river bank.
‘Shit,’ Davey hissed as he realised that they were being pulled further out from shore.
He joined Luna in stabbing down at the hands.
‘We’re pissing in the wind here,’ she said, voicing his thoughts.
He nodded grimly.
‘Ain’t no way we’re getting t’ that shore like this,’ she said.
She pulled her knife and knelt to try and sever the ropes that attached their part of the raft to the one that was being pulled under.
As she did her best to cut the rope, a sodden hand reached from the water and grabbed her wrist.
The grip was cold and slimy and strong enough to make her hand turn white.
Her fingers began to go numb.
Davey ran in and slammed his makeshift spear into its forearm, making its owner squeal in pain and let go.
The pale hands began to pull more and more of the raft down. There was only half the raft on top of the water now.
Luna bent down to cut more of the ropes, but Davey grabbed her arm and pulled her up to a standing position.
‘Better idea,’ he said, pulling his knife.
He tapped the Grim on the shoulder.
He turned, looking confused.
Davey sunk the knife up to its hilt in his throat.
Blood oozed from the wound, becoming a torrent when Davey pulled the blade loose.
Luna stared at him in horror and bemusement.
Davey shoved the Grim to the rear of the raft where the hands were already pulling the wooden planks down.
He shoved Luna the other way, shouting, ‘Swim,’ as they hit the filthy water hard enough to banish the breath from their lungs.
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