October 22

Fictober, Prompt 22 – “We could have a chance.”

Warnings: pursuit, implied creepy things. Urban fantasy.

Our footsteps pounded down the alley, echoing too loudly from the old brick walls. There was no way we could avoid pursuit, but my heart sped even faster than the exertion at the thought of the noise giving us away. We had gained a small lead, at least.

Cass skidded to a halt ahead of me as we neared the end of the alley. The buildings gave way here to the street and then the river and dam beyond. I stopped also, and we panted for a moment, staring at the open space ahead.

That was not safe either.

This was a small town, though, not a city with plenty of tall buildings and potential hiding places in between.

Behind us, the sounds of pursuit echoed suddenly loud down the narrow way.

Cass’s head jerked around, eyes wide with terror. I didn’t look, my eyes stuck on the river.

The river. The bridge.

“We could have a chance,” I said quickly, hearing Cass draw in a ragged breath. I would have to take a chance of my own, but I could accept that. “We have to get to the bridge.”

Crossing the open space would leave us vulnerable, but as I began to let my other senses stretch, I thought that most of the pursuit was behind us, fast approaching.

Cass nodded, and I said, “Go!”

We both took off again, breath just barely under control from our last sprint. Human shouts and footsteps mingled with other, less identifiable noises behind us, but they hadn’t been expecting us to make a break for it.

The bridge, I thought, willing us both to have enough energy. The bridge.

We hit the east end of the bridge just as the snarling, wailing sound became too close on our heels. Without looking, I flung one hand back and thought of shoving a brick wall that rolled smoothly away from me, invisible weight and pressure.

The wailing cut off with a yelp, and I was glad to see that Cass hadn’t even broken stride.

We crossed the center of the bridge three paces later, just in time. I spun immediately, almost tripping as my momentum changed, letting myself fall forward and slamming my hands to the concrete, enacting the Halfmark Rule to raise an invisible barrier at the exact center of the span.

I tried hard not to look at the things which slammed into that barrier inches from my nose, raising my head instead to the humans that (at least for now) controlled them. Their faces were twisted with shock over the sudden evidence of my abilities, and anger at the equally sudden prospect of losing their quarry.

But the barrier only went out to the edges of the bridge itself, and already one of our pursuers was smart enough to be testing that boundary. Eventually, he would figure out how to swing himself out and around it, and then climb back over the railing on this side.

Pain and guilt filled my heart as I realized what I would have to do next. Many people drove through here every day, and while there was a smaller bridge just a little way upstream, this was going to make life worse for everyone who lived nearby.

Unfortunately, life would be much worse for all of us if either myself, or especially Cass, were captured, so I couldn’t let that happen. Cass, I could dimly sense, was gaping at me and the barrier in astonishment.

“Get off the bridge,” I called back over my shoulder, and heard Cass’s footsteps retreating west. I would have to explain about my powers, and about what we both were, after this, but that conversation was already overdue.

The smart pursuer was already scrambling to get back up onto the bridge on my side of the barrier, so I retreated quickly as well before kneeling to press my hands to the concrete again.

I’m sorry, I thought, and then reached deep with my magic, invoking the Structural Rules to engage with the bridge supports and crumble a critical section of each back into dust.

The bridge collapsed.

The things that had been summoned vanished at the touch of running water, and I did not wait to see if any of the humans survived. Hopefully they didn’t. Other pursuit would come after us, but this would buy us enough time to get better transportation (I didn’t like the thought of stealing a car, but our options were limited at this point), and then we could get west more quickly. There was a safehouse, hopefully intact, and if we could make it that far I could call for help.

Cass was staring at me with wide eyes.

“I’ll explain,” I promised, meeting those eyes and accepting the fear that I saw there. “But we need to keep moving for now.”

After a long, tense moment, Cass nodded, hesitantly at first but then with greater certainty.

“You will explain.”

“I promise.”

“Okay.” Cass took one shaky breath, then another, and then we were off again, heading for the car dealership just down the road under the cover of the early morning darkness.

For the first time in hours, I had some small hope that we might make it out of this alive.

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