Chapter 5, Part 2

Stealing in to the first door on the right, she was pleased to discover that her initial guess was correct. This was the master bedroom. It was fairly small, dominated by a medium sized bed and two large dressers. There was a small viela sitting on top of one of the dressers, and across from the door she entered was another door that presumably led to a closet. Creeping up to the dresser closest to the door, Alessandra opened the drawers quickly and quietly and peeked in. Nothing but clothes. Rounding the bed to the other side, she opened up this dresser and found the same thing.

Just as she closed the last dresser drawer, the light turned on in the hallway. Alessandra swiftly moved toward the closet in order to hide herself, but before she took two steps, the light in the bedroom turned on, and a teenage girl was standing in the doorway, looking dumbfounded. Alessandra lunged across the room before the girl could react. Grabbing her by the wrists, she twisted the girl around so that she was facing away from Alessandra, and held her arms behind her back.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” Alessandra said in the girl’s ear in a low voice, “but if you struggle at all, I will slit your throat. Understand?” The girl nodded frantically. She was shorter than Alessandra, with mousy brown hair that fell just past her shoulders and freckles on her cheeks. “Good,” Alessandra said. “Now tell me, do your parents have any jewels or other valuables.”

“M-my dad has a b-bar of b-braeka in a s-safe in his closet,” the girl stammered.

“Oh yeah?” Alessandra said. “Do you know the combination?”

“N-no, I d-don’t,” the girl said, shaking slightly.

“Shame,” Alessandra said lightly. “Anything else?”

“No, I…I don’t…think so,” the girl replied. Tears were starting to roll down her cheeks now.

“Are you sure?” Alessandra said in a conversational tone. “I would hate to have to come back and run you through if I found out you were lying.”

“No! No! I’m sure! I’m sure!” the girl moaned frantically. “I’m not lying, I swear!”

“Okay, I believe you,” Alessandra said, and letting go of the girl’s wrists, she pulled her knife out of its sheath and, before the girl could react at all, bashed her over the head with the hilt of it, knocking her unconscious.

“This is unfortunate,” Alessandra muttered to herself, dragging the girl back into her own bedroom. “But I don’t mind helping myself to that braeka.” As soon as she’d stuffed the unconscious teenager into her closet, she slipped back into the master bedroom, opened the closet, and found the safe wedged in the back, behind a number of hanging shirts and pants. It was a small safe, but it was bolted to the floor so she couldn’t just pick it up and crack it at her leisure. The lock was a simple combination lock, though, so it wouldn’t take her long to break it open anyway. Bending down, she pressed her ear against the cold metal near the lock, and began turning it slowly until she heard a click. Then she spun it the other direction until she heard a click, and finally back the original direction. As soon as she heard a third click, the door of the safe swung open, and sure enough, there was a gleaming gold bar of braeka sitting in the safe. There also were a number of documents and albums of baby pictures stuffed inside, but Alessandra ignored them. Taking the bar, she stuffed in a pocket inside her shirt, and swiftly departed both the room and the house.

As soon as she stepped outside of the house, she heard something growling.

She froze, thinking for a moment that the owners of this house might have a guard dog that she’d overlooked. At first, there was nothing but silence, but even the silence had an eerie, ominous quality to it that she’d never felt before, and that made her skin crawl.

Then she heard the growling again.

It definitely wasn’t a dog, but beyond that she had no idea what it was, and she wasn’t interested in waiting around to find out. Immediately, she darted around the house and toward the street, in the opposite direction of where she’d heard the sound. She ran as fast and as hard as she could, because whatever made that sound, it was something she was certain was more deadly than anything she’d ever encountered, including the Storm Corps troopers she’d met in the Vanmorzen manor. Sprinting down the street, she began to think that maybe she’d lost whatever it was, because she couldn’t hear anything behind her. She also was starting to feel a little winded, so she risked a glance behind her to see if anything was following her.

What she saw was like something out of a nightmare.

It was a creature that perhaps could be described as similar to a dog, if dogs were monsters ripped from the most grisly horror stories imaginable. It ran on four legs like a dog, but those legs were twisted and warped, like they’d been broken a hundred times and left to heal on their own every time. Each of its feet had several long, sharp, twisted claws, and yet it was able to run with frightening speed. It was long and lean, with an elongated head that contained two bright red eyes, like burning coals, and a slavering mouth full of sharp, mismatched teeth. Alessandra stumbled as soon as she saw it, and it nearly had her, but she managed to twist out of its way, and it lunged past her. It quickly corrected itself, though, and began stalking toward her, making that unearthly sound that she’d heard before.

Drawing her dagger out of its sheath, Alessandra took a dueling stance and prepared to die. She knew she couldn’t outrun this thing, and she had little faith that she would be able to fight it either. Suddenly it lunged, and Alessandra just barely managed to dodge out of the way. She was able to swipe her dagger across its side as she rolled, but it scratched her across her side at the same time. The pain was like nothing she’d ever felt before. Gasping, she dropped her dagger immediately and clutched her side with both hands, dropping to her knees and moaning in agony. The creature slowly circled around her, a look of satisfaction on its ghastly face. In growing horror, Alessandra realized that her dagger swipe had done nothing to the creature. There wasn’t even a mark on its side. Growling again, it crouched down and got ready to pounce. Alessandra closed her eyes and waited for death.

To be continued…

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