Flashback Dawn - Wayne Kyle Spitzer - ebook
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As it never had before the Flashback, the supermarket slept, mostly. Although its exterior was covered with creeper vines and mossy growths, its interior remained remarkably unchanged—even its power continued to hum. Still, the long lights that hung suspended over its aisles had largely gone dead; and of those that remained live, many had begun to flicker and fail. No humans walked the once-polished floors of the Ozark Food and Drug Supercenter, nor did they crowd the expansive front lot where they had once competed—sometimes violently—for parking space. And yet, from the markings on the signboards and multitudes of packages to the Christmas music drifting like fog up and down the aisles, their presence remained.

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Flashback Dawn

Wayne Kyle Spitzer

Published by Hobb's End Books, 2018.

Table of Contents

Flashback Dawn

I | Naaygi­­­­­

II | The Devil’s Shambhala­­­­­

III | The Red-Eye Shift

IV | Charlotte

V | The Children’s Reich

VI | Throw Wide the Gates of Hell

VII | Generation Zero

Copyright © 2018 Wayne Kyle Spitzer. All Rights Reserved. Published by Hobb’s End Books, a division of ACME Sprockets & Visions. Cover designs Copyright © 2018 Wayne Kyle Spitzer. Please direct all inquiries to: HobbsEndBooks@yahoo.com

Based upon “Flashback,” first published by Books in Motion/Classic Ventures, 1993. Reprinted by Hobb’s End Books, 2017.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this book is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author. This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

I | Naaygi­­­­­

As it never had before the Flashback, the supermarket slept, mostly. Although its exterior was covered with creeper vines and mossy growths, its interior remained remarkably unchanged—even its power continued to hum. Still, the long lights that hung suspended over its aisles had largely gone dead; and of those that remained live, many had begun to flicker and fail. No humans walked the once-polished floors of the Ozark Food and Drug Supercenter, nor did they crowd the expansive front lot where they had once competed—sometimes violently—for parking space. And yet, from the markings on the signboards and multitudes of packages to the Christmas music drifting like fog up and down the aisles, their presence remained.

It was a presence unremarked upon by the place’s new dominant species—compsognathus—who scavenged the shelves this night as they had any other, as oblivious to the music and the dead languages of their forbearers as they were the lights in the sky that had presaged the Flashback (or rather, for them, the flash-forward). And yet there was something that garnered their attention—a grinding hum, a sound outside of nature, outside the store, which drew inexorably closer as they raised their little heads and cocked moist, round eyes; as they fidgeted about like so many scaly, featherless chickens. And then the glass doors at the front of the store shattered inward and the face of a monster emerged, hard-edged and not of this world, utterly alien, its teeth meshed so tight as to resemble a grin, its eyes on fire so that they cut the dark like sickle-claws. And they scattered as it roared up the aisle and passed them by, even as a popping was heard, a booming, really, which coincided with the packages all around them exploding like volcanoes.

“Not the compies, not the compies,” snapped Charlotte from the backseat. “For Christ’s sake, save the ammo. Remember what we’re here for.”

Corbin ignored her, training his sites on one of the compsognathuses fleeing in the headlights. “We need the meat,” he said, simply, and squeezed off a round. The compsognathus exploded like a watermelon. Red reached across the cab and snatched the muzzle of the weapon, jerked it back through the window—even as the Jeep Wrangler skewed to the left and its fender grazed the shelves.

“She’s right, goddammit. Save the ammo. We don’t know what all is in here. All that thing is going to do is blow everything to pieces.”

Corbin levelled his gaze at him—as ruthless and serpentine as any dinosaur. “Don’t ever do that again, Red.” Then he caught movement out of the corner of his eye and whipped the gun back out the window, and fired—not a single shot this time but an entire volley. Jars of tomato sauce exploded and dripped as they blew past.

Red glanced at Charlotte in the rearview mirror, who splayed her hands and widened her eyes as if to say, Well, do something! “Where to, boss? Quickly,” he merely said.

“Cans, we need cans—tuna, mackerel, anything with protein. Should be the next aisle over.”

He brought the Jeep to a screeching halt at the end of the aisle, reversed quickly, and whipped the hood around into the adjacent section. The signboard above them read: SOUP / CANNED VEGETABLES / CANNED PREPARED. Red geared down and proceeded slowly. “Okay, everyone, keep your eyes open.”

“There!” said Charlotte.

Red maneuvered them close to the shelf and put it into neutral, ratcheted the emergency brake. Corbin placed the semi-automatic rifle between his knees and shook his hand at Charlotte. She quickly handed him a basket and he began scooping cans of mackerel into it sloppily. “Come on, hurry, hurry,” said Red.

Corbin exchanged the basket for a new one and cleaned off the rest of the shelf. “Tuna’s on the bottom,” he said. “Come on! Back her up and I’ll cover.”

Red glanced in the mirror at Charlotte, who nodded affirmatively. He released the brake and backed up, ratcheted it back on.

They all scrambled out.

“You got this?” said Red to Charlotte. “May as well scour the entire aisle.” And to Corbin: “I’ll take this end.” He grabbed his rifle and jogged toward the nearest endcap.

Corbin eyed the far endcap dubiously, even fearfully. “You piece of shit, Red.” Then he hurried down the aisle in a state of high alert, pointing his assault rifle this way and that.

Charlotte popped the hatch and grabbed a couple baskets, began filling them with tuna. A cry sounded from somewhere near the back of the store which Red recognized instantly. Charlotte and he exchanged glances. “You hear that, Corbin?” he shouted.

Corbin was but a tiny figure at the end of the aisle. “Yeah, asshole. I heard it. Let’s go.”

“What’s the matter, Supercop? Afraid of something that might fight you back? Give her a minute.”

Charlotte exchanged her baskets for empty ones and rushed down the aisle.

The call sounded again and yet another responded, this one from the front of the store. “Those are fucking raptors, Michelangelo. She’s got about sixty seconds before I come down there and take that Jeep with or without you.”

“Where did they come from?” said Charlotte, piling cans into her baskets.

“Probably filed in after us,” said Red, or slipped through a back door we missed.”

“They can appear out of nowhere, asshole,” hollered Corbin. “I’ve seen one materialize right where a man was standing.” Another call echoed throughout the store and he aimed his rifle into the dark. “Want to know what happened?”

“No!” shouted Charlotte. She scrambled for the Jeep with her baskets laden with cans.

Corbin began backing toward them. “It fused with the poor bastard—became sort of a man-dinosaur hybrid, just a jumbled mess of flesh with eyeballs in all the wrong places and their organs mixed together, like a casserole. Fortunately, it didn’t live very—”

There was a tumult of cascading cans and jars which clattered and broke against the floor as a velociraptor leapt atop the shelves between them, and he instantly raised his gun and opened fire. Blood flew off the creature as it danced wildly and its body fell into the adjacent aisle, but was quickly replaced by two more, which pranced along the tops of the shelves, snarling and gnashing their teeth. Corbin bolted for the Jeep.

They had just enough time to close the hatch and pile into the vehicle before the raptors fell upon it and were joined by others, who besieged it no differently than they would a large plant-eating dinosaur, latching onto it with their clawed hands and sickled talons even as Red crunched it into gear and they chirped forward.

“We lost a lot of good men that day,” said Corbin, pursuing the subject as though nothing were going on at all, “while you civilians scrambled to save your own hides. We—”

“Jesus, Corbin, your window!” shrieked Charlotte—too late—as one of the beasts’ heads darted deep into the cab and began thrashing about violently. The Jeep careened against the shelves as Red lost control, first to the left, then to the right, causing groceries to cascade down the windshield and to roll off the hood, as Charlotte slid the pistol from her holster and opened fire on the velociraptor, which bucked and leapt, banging its head against the ceiling, before reversing itself back through the window and falling away.

Corbin cranked up his window and looked at her over his shoulder as Red regained control, and said, albeit begrudgingly, “Thank you.”

But Charlotte was no longer looking at his face; instead she had focused on his shoulder—which had been laid open by the raptor’s flashing teeth and now bled profusely over his policeman’s uniform and down the side of his seat, causing Red to reach behind himself awkwardly and fish around for something even as he accelerated for the front doors of the supermarket.

“There’s a First-Aid kit behind my seat,” he said, and Charlotte quickly joined in the search even as Red added, “It’s right here,” and took his eyes off the wheel just long enough for Corbin to shout, “Red!”

He’d scarcely had time to refocus on the wheel before he noticed a lithe figure awash in the headlights, a figure shorter than the average person and swathed in what appeared to be animal hides, holding a spear, who turned its head to face them and regarded them briefly as its—her—eyes flashed with terror and the Jeeps push bar collided with her body.

––––––––

“IT’S HUMAN, oh my god, it’s human,” said Charlotte as the Jeep idled and the raptors clawed and bit at the cab.

“No, it’s not,” said Corbin. “I—I saw it clearly before we hit it. It’s ... it’s some kind of ... ape-thing.”

“But the spear, look at the spear!”

“It’s alive, whatever it is,” said Red. He tore his eyes away from the writhing form now laying some twenty feet from the Jeep and regarded them. “And I’m responsible.”

Corbin’s eyes lit up with realization. “Now wait just a damn minute ...”

“He’s right, Red,” said Charlotte. “You can’t go out there.”

Red turned and looked beyond her, through the back window. A glowing green exit sign could be seen at the far end of the aisle. Charlotte followed his gaze. “You better not be thinking what I think you’re thinking,” she said.

“I can make it,” he said, examining the distance, “if you two can get her into the truck. I’ll go through the door and you can pick me up outside.”

Metal buckled as one of the raptors landed on the hood and began gnawing around the windshield, tearing the wipers off. Another joined it, looking in at them with its cold, round eyes, cocking its head. Corbin gazed at them mesmerized before managing, “The kit ... I’m like, fucking bleeding all over the place, if you haven’t noticed.”

“Give me your gun,” said Red.

“Hey, fuck you, I’m bleeding to death here. Look at me!”

Red snatched it from him in one swift stroke. “You’ll survive. She won’t—not when those raptors catch a whiff of her. Charlotte, can you drive this thing?”

She stared at him intensely before saying, at last, “I can drive it.”

He placed a hand on his door handle. “Corbin, give me a fresh clip.”

The ex-police officer just glared at him. “If I could move my arm, I just might.”

Charlotte reached into Corbin’s coat pocket and grabbed one as Red ejected the old clip, then snapped it into place for him. “Locked and loaded,” she said, and smiled tepidly. “You know, it’s not very MIGOW of you, risking your life for a woman like this.”

He looked at her a moment and his eyes flicked up and down her face, and something passed between them which had passed between them before, a thousand times before, in fact. It wasn’t quite attraction, and yet ... “That’s MGTOW,” he said, “and we don’t hate women.” He opened his door less than an inch. “We just don’t trust, deal with, or like them very much. Get the door.”

She’d barely had time to react much less to stretch between the seats when he threw open the door and began running toward the exit, hooting and hollering to get the raptors’ attention. The creatures leapt from the truck immediately and pursued.

“What the hell does MGTOW mean?” asked Corbin as she slid behind the wheel.

She jammed the truck into gear. “Men Going Their Own Way,” she said, and rolled her eyes. “You know, like you. But by choice.”

––––––––

RED RAN, RAKING A HAND along the shelves, knocking jars and cans and boxes onto the floor, hoping it would trip the raptors up, hoping they might slip on the spilled contents. He ran until he could hear their breathing only several feet behind him, then swiveled at last and opened fire. Two of them danced wildly, throwing off blood, and fell, thrashing about, but the others continued the pursuit. Worse, they had gained on him, and were now merely a few yards away. Worse still, when he refocused forward he saw yet another velociraptor had circled around the aisle and now blocked his path to the exit. Good lord, he thought, does it know that’s a door? Could it possibly know that? Then he zigged sideways and, without even thinking, dashed into the corridor that led to the back stock-room. There was a glassed-in office immediately to his right, and he gripped the knob.

It was open. No sooner had he squeezed through and pulled the door shut behind him than the raptors collided against it, scratching and biting. He turned around and looked at them through the glass inset: at their moist, yellow eyes and cracked, scaly hides, at their mohawks of dark, ruffled feathers which, when combined with their frenzied and erratic movements, reminded Red of the Zuni Fetish Doll from a TV movie he had seen as a kid—Trilogy of Terror, as he recalled. Nor had he gotten used to the idea of being so low on the food chain; indeed, he’d be the first to admit that the notion still woke him in the middle of the night, sweating and trembling uncontrollably, as it had from the first day of the Flashback.

But the glass was thin and time was short, so he searched the office for a point of egress and, finding no door, blew out the small window near the manager’s desk.

He was clearing the shards from the sill, wondering where the primitive-looking girl had come from, marveling at how she’d seemed to materialize out of thin air, when he noticed the eerie, flickering glow of the television monitors—an entire bank of them—in the far corner of the room. And it struck him immediately that the collision had undoubtedly been caught on tape. He stuck his head out the shattered window briefly, just long enough to determine that Charlotte and Corbin weren’t already on their way, then hurried to the security console.

It didn’t take him long to find the footage of their entry into the supermarket, and yet, despite the vantage of no less than fourteen television cameras, no trace of the primitive girl could be found, either before or after their arrival (although the mystery of the raptors had been solved, for they had, indeed, filed in through the busted doors). That left only the collision itself, which he caught in passing as he jogged the video forward, before stopping the tape abruptly, and reversing to the moment just before they’d struck her. And here was the damnedest thing: because, despite Corbin’s lecture, Red had seen things materialize out of nowhere since the Flashback; not a raptor directly into a man, that much was true, but a cycad tree where before there had only been empty space. And so he knew what these manifestations looked like, and what he saw on the video, was not that.