Teddy Bear

Trying not to disturb her balance she reached into her inner pocket; wallet, papers, useful for living not for survival. She needed a knife. From what she knew of the adults killing it required hitting and penetrating one of the major joints, but if this was what happened when it was injured. Her fingers closed on the cigar tube, the metal box that contained the cell samples she had taken from the dead Cull.

It had crouched, and she suddenly knew she was out of time. It wasn’t jumping for her – it was going to bring down the beam. It moved even as she knew it, compact body launching itself upwards, claws lashing out. Even as it did she was moving forward on reflex, a foot trying to kick out to knock it free futilely as the claws sank into the oak like knives, securing its grip. Its free paw whipped across, claws opening her leg to the bone as she screamed. The beam creaked as it lashed upwards, pulling itself up, mouth gaping wide as a manhole as it lunged.

Whipping her hand forward, clutching a support beam desperately for balance, she threw the cigar tube into its mouth. It vanished, engulfed in something at the back of the creature’s mouth and the thing continued its lunge as she kicked out ignoring the pain in her leg. It felt like kicking a wall and she lost her balance, falling abruptly onto the blood-slick beam and grabbing at the wood with both arms as teeth clashed in front of her face. Its mouth opened again. Then it screamed, convulsing as a black stain began to form on its neck. The cigar tube stopper had given way. It thrashed mindlessly, clawing pieces from its own neck as she pulled herself away, trying to get distance, to anywhere she could jump to safety.

Its claws tore free of the beam and, damaged beyond endurance, the rafter gave way. Susan just had time to pull in her head, to think that she needed to move away from the creature, and then she struck the concrete twenty feet below. The world stopped.


Susan opened her eyes, aware that everything hurt. Her throat was painfully dry, and she raised a hand, knocking weakly against a glass by the bedside. Trying to sit up, something was stopping her. Forcing her eyes open, she lifted the covers, looking down at her injury. The leg wound had been cauterised, a row of machine-precise stitches holding it closed. Metal pins disappeared into her hip, and clamps kept it still. Broken pelvis from the fall, she guessed and lay back, keeping still. Only one creature could have done this, but she did not understand why.

On the other side of the room three sensor lights rotated leisurely, through their independent arcs. It was watching her.

“Repairs complete.” She whispered to herself, as a silver manipulator extended from the smooth casing and angled towards the letter board she had made.

“Your species anatomy is known.” The Cull tapped out on its chalkboard.

“The Yvak.” she said aloud, forgetting it would not understand. “There were three of them.”

“Dead.” It tapped.

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