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.With warm blood flowing all over her face and chest, Lizzie screamed again and tried to push the body away, only to feel a tendril wrapping firmly around her ankle and then pulling her through the blood until she slammed into the side of the door.“No!” she shouted, trying to hold onto the door, only for the tendril to tug her again and drag her into the darkened storeroom.She clattered into another set of shelves and tried to hold on, but the smeared blood on the floor was making her much more slippy and as she tried in vain to grab onto each passing shelf, she couldn't stop herself being dragged further and further into the shadows.As she finally reached the creature again, she felt another tendril wrap itself around her waist, and after a moment she was lifted up off the floor and turned until, sobbing and terrified, she found herself face to face with the huge creature.“What do you want?” she screamed, desperately trying to get free as she worked to loosen the tendril that was wrapped around her torso.“What do you want with us?”As she was lifted closer to the creature, she saw that its dark eye was staring straight at her.For a few seconds, all she could do was stare back, and she felt certain that she was in the company of something intelligent, something that was capable of thought and that even seemed to be reaching out to her with its mind.Starting to feel sickened by the stench of death all around her, she finally let out a gasp of pain as she felt the tendril tightening around her waist, and after a moment she saw that there was a second opening on the side of the creature's bulbous central mass, with rows of sharp needle-like teeth waiting to bite into her.Reaching over to the nearby shelf, she tried to find something she could use to defend herself, but she was soon pulled too close to the creature.Turning, she stared once again into its eye as she saw another thick, glistening tentacle rising up and moving toward her face.Pulling back, she began to sob as she felt the tendril brushing against her cheek, almost as if the creature was studying her for a moment.“Please help me,” Lizzie whimpered, as tears streamed down her face.She closed her eyes, but she could already smell something rotten, and finally she turned to see that she was just inches from the creature's mouth.“Please.”Finally, realizing that she had no other options, she grabbed one of the tendrils and held it for a moment, before lifting it up and pressing it against the nearest wall-mounted electric light.As soon as the creature's glistening black flesh touched the bulb, it began to sizzle, and Lizzie was shocked to see a flame bursting from the skin.Letting out a cry of pain, she pressed the tendril more firmly against the light, watching as smoke began to rise from the burning flesh.The flame began to spread along its length, passing over her hands as it made its way toward the creature's central mass.“Freeman said you guys burn easily,” Lizzie hissed, ignoring the pain in her hands as the tendril burst into flames.“Let's see if -”Before she could finish, the tendril around her waist suddenly loosened and let her fall down against the concrete floor.Landing hard, she was momentarily stunned before turning to look up at the creature and seeing that the flames had spread from one tendril to another, while still rippling through the flesh and heading toward the central mass.Scrambling to her feet, Lizzie ducked at the last moment as a tendril lashed out at her; instead of taking her head off, the tendril crashed into a nearby shelf and sent it toppling down.For a moment, Lizzie watched as the flailing creature lashed out with its burning tentacles.As the flames began to reach the main part of the creature's body, however, Lizzie turned and began to limp away, making her way across the storeroom and heading for the door.She stopped for a moment as she saw Kirsty's decapitated corpse, with the head nearby, and for a few seconds her mind went completely blank, as the horrors of the past few days caught up with her and seemed to paralyze her completely.She saw flashes in her mind, showing her all the people who had died, but finally she realized that there'd be time for reflection later.She took a step forward.And then the Great Memnon exploded.A huge inferno blasted through the diner, knocking out the walls and sending Lizzie screaming through the air until she crashed through one of the windows and was blown clean out of the building, landing out in the yard as a shower of broken wood and glass crashed down all around her.She lay completely still as two more, smaller explosions tore off part of the diner's roof and sent a fireball into the sky.From somewhere deep inside the diner, a faint, tortured scream could be heard, but that scream was quickly drowned out by the sound of the flames that were now roaring through the remains of the building.As the diner continued to burn, Lizzie lay completely still.There were hundreds of small cuts all over her body, and some of those cuts had pieces of glass poking out.Her eyes were closed and blood was dribbling down her face from a large wound just below her hairline, caused when she'd hit the ground and her head had bounced off a rock.All around, smoke rose up into the sky and began to drift slowly toward Mount Everbee.Epilogue“And that's Mount Everbee,” John said, pointing out at the window.“Doesn't it look beautiful?”“What's up there, Dad?” asked Kevin, leaning across his sister's lap so he could see out.“Cut it out!” she snapped, pushing him back over to his side of the car's back seat.“Dad, Kevin's being a jerk again!”“Mount Everbee is just one big, beautiful, unspoiled natural paradise,” their father continued.“I think there's a camp of some sort at the base, and there's a large lake, but when you get up on the mountain itself there's nothing but untamed wilderness.You know, if you kids are really lucky, maybe your mother and I will take you up there some time.I'm sure we'd have a whole lot of fun!”“Are there lions?” Kevin asked.“Are there tigers?” his sister added.“I don't think so,” John said with a smile.“The most you'll find up on Mount Everbee are a few squirrels and beavers, although those critters can be pretty nasty if you -”“Dad, stop!” Kevin shouted suddenly.Spotting the figure up ahead, John slammed his foot on the brakes and the car screeched to a halt on the open country road.Taking a deep breath, he peered out the window for a moment and watched as the figure continued to limp toward them for a few more faltering steps.“What's wrong with her?” Kevin whispered.“She looks weird,” his sister replied.“Is she poorly?”“Just stay in the car, kids,” John said, clearly concerned as he opened the door and climbed out.“But Dad,” Kevin began, “we -”“Stay in the car!”A few meters ahead, Lizzie stopped and stared at him [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]