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    by Nikko Lee

    A closeted black belt comes to terms with his bisexuality when he takes an openly gay student as his new sparring partner.

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    Wolf Creek: Gay Werewolf Romance
    by Nikko Lee, Digital Fiction

    Life as a gay omega werewolf is no fairytale.

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    Bon Appetit: Stories & Recipes for Human Consumption
    by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt, Rev. Thomas Thorn, Nikko Lee, Dax Bordas, Sebastian Bendix, Rick Powell, Misty Tyers, J. N. Cameron
    Contains Bouillon de Bebe 
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    NECRONOMICUM #2 (NECRONOMICUM: The Magazine of Weird Erotica)
    by Gary Budgen, Julian Darius, Richard Greico Jr, Nikko Lee, K. A. Opperman, Alice Renard, Rose Banks, Paul St. John Mackintosh, Michael Seese

    Contains Instabiable by Nikko Lee

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    Zombiefied Reloaded: The Search for More Brains
    by Carol Hightshoe, Cynthia Ward, Terry M. West, Christie Meierz, Dana Bell, Mary E. Lowd, Patrick J. Hurley, Francis W. Alexander, Liam Hogan

    Brainatarian by Nikko Lee

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    Coming Back
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    Contains A Mother Knows by Nikko Lee (paperback available at

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    Wolf Warriors: The National Wolfwatcher Coalition Anthology
    by Jonathan W. Thurston

    Contains Great Mother Wolf by Michelle Knowlton

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    People Eating People: A Cannibal Anthology
    by Frank Larnerd, Tony Peak, Geoff Gander, Shenoa Caroll-Bradd, Robert Hart, Nikko Lee, Kyle Yadlosky, Edward Martin III

    Contains Bouillon de Bebe by Nikko Lee

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    Valves & Vixens: Steampunk Erotica
    by Nicole Gestalt, Crysta Coburn, J.T Seate, Nikko Lee, V.C., Zak Jane Keir, Blair, Regina Kammer, Jim Lee

    Contains Boson's Mate by Nikko Lee

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    The Big Book of Bizarro
    by Rich Bottles Jr.

    Contains Honey-Do by Nikko Lee

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    Between Love and Lust
    by Nikko Lee


    Print-on-demand paperback

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    Templar and Other Stories of Suspense and Terror (Vampires 2, Volume 4)
    by J. Troy Seate, Patricia McCarthy, Nikke Lee, Andrea Saavedra, James Hartley, Edward McKeown, Mike Graves, J.E. Gurley, Zakk Erikson, David Bernstein C.C. Blake

    Contains Pure Delight by Nikko Lee

Project Zephyr

Chapter 1
What a night to have to work late, Jake thought as he turned off the engine to his beat-up Escort and grabbed his coat.  A cold wind blew across the empty collage parking lot.  Jake wasn’t exactly the nervous type but he wasn’t going to take any chances tonight.  It was Halloween and every freak and teen with a too much time on his or her hands was out having fun.  He had to do some pretty fancy maneuvering just to escape from his apartment.  First there was Melissa, who insisted on having the ‘where do you see us in five years’ talk as he was heading out the door.  Then there were the twerps on the second floor that saw his car as the perfect moving targets for their rotten eggs.  Jake managed to evade Melissa with a kiss and a promise to talk about it when he got back.  Though he knew she’d be asleep by the time he got back and that was reason enough to take his time with the experiments planned.  He’d become a professional side-stepper since moving in with Melissa.  If it wasn’t something new that was bothering her it was the same old complaints that seemed to never get resolved.  Maybe it was because they were at different points in their life.  While Jake was concerned with finishing his degree all Melissa could think about were babies.  She nagged him constantly about the future.  He’d heard far more than he cared about her biological clock and what her friends were doing.  Jake had become so good at avoiding those conversations that it was harder to escape the tossed eggs than his girlfriend.  
The wind gusted across the parking lot with the scent of snow.  October was the edge of winter for Minnesota, and Halloween usually brought a hard frost along with the tricker-or-treaters.  He liked seeing the children all dressed up, running around with their hands outstretched.  There was something so innocent about it.  Jake wasn’t opposed to the idea of children it just didn’t feel like the right time.  Almost as if Melissa had sensed that he was thinking about their future his cell phone rang.
“Hello, sweetheart,” Jake spoke as he threw his coat on.
“Are you at the lab yet?”  Melissa asked in a tone that hinted that she hadn’t forgotten about their interrupted conversation.  She was a sweet girl but could hold a grudge like no other.
“Yes, I’m almost there.”
“How long are you going to be?  I miss you.”
Jake sighed.  She had no idea what his research entailed.  It wasn’t her fault, not everyone was a stem cell researcher.  She humored his science talk at the same time as giving him those subtle looks that said keep it to yourself.  Melissa worked in retail and considered any job that required more than the regular 9-5 as cruel and unusual punishment.  Jake was looking forward to the day when he could afford that luxury.  But for now if he needed to treat his cells at 4AM then he would be there.  At least until he graduated, which should be in the next year or two.  Until then Jake was prepared to do whatever it took.
“A few hours.”  It was better if Jake didn’t give an exact time.  Tonight was going to be particularly long and he might not get home until 3 or 4 in the morning, but he wasn’t about to tell Melissa that.  “Don’t wait up.”
“Jake, when is it going to be enough?”  Melissa asked.
“Just a few more months.  You now this is important to me.”  Jake said growing impatient.  
As Melissa droned on Jake caught a fleeting shadow from the corner of his eye.  The parking lot was filled with cars even this late at night.  This was a university city and everyone would be out drinking this Friday night Halloween.  He wouldn’t be surprised if most of these cars were still here when he left for the night.  If he didn’t have to go into work he’d be out there with his buddies at the bar wasting away the night.  Of course that was a lot harder to explain away than going into the lab.  He walked across the darkened parking lot with the distinct sense of being watched.  He could hear the sounds of the street just beyond the row of trees that lined the lot but there was no one else around.  Maybe it was all those scary movies that had been playing on television this last week.  They were so artificial with the fake fangs and plastic masks, and yet when the ghoul jumped out from behind the tree Jake still jumped in his seat.  He tried to convince himself that there wasn’t anyone else in the parking lot as he walked passed the parked cars.  
“Are you even listening to me?”  Melissa nearly screamed into the phone.
“Sorry, what did you say?”  Jake asked absently as he stopped when one of the shadows passed about ten feet from him.  “Look, I’ll give you a call before you go to bed.  Love you.”
Melissa barely got his name out as he closed his cell phone and shoved it back into his pocket.  He stopped in his tracts concentrating on the sounds of the night.  He listened closely to the hum of the overhead lights and whispers of the night.  The loudest sound seemed to come from the beating of his heart.  His breath caught in his throat as he heard the scrape of feet along the pavement behind him.  He pivoted to see his own wide eyes staring back at him from the window of a parked car.  It’s nothing; he berated himself silently as his heartbeat slowed.
“Tick or treat.”  Voices suddenly yelled as three sophomores jumped out behind a car.
Jake ducked as they assaulted him with eggs and shaving cream.  He managed to dive behind a car just in time to be spared the worst of it.  
“Real mature, jackasses.”  Jack yelled as soon as the three took off running, howling as they went.
Halloween had a way of bringing out the idiots, Jake thought continuing towards the science complex.  It wasn’t long before Jake reached the narrow path that wound around the tall concrete buildings.  The complex looked more like a prison then a state of the art research facility.  Around the corner the path opened onto a quad.  To his left was the experimental physics labs.  Ultra-white lights shown out of nearly every window.  If the biologists were workaholics the physicists were downright obsessed.  Jake didn’t envy them on any account.  What was left to discover about physics anyways?  The chemistry wing was mostly dark and only a few windows in the biology wing were illuminated as graduate students toiled the night away.  Jake was one of those underpaid and over-worked students.   When he got to his lab he wasn’t surprised to find the all the lights off.  He was the only one with cell in culture incubators and everyone else was probably taking advantage of the excuse to drink and act stupidly.  He had spent the last five years of his life trying to get his pet stem cells to survive in culture and now he was on the verge of figuring out how to direct their differentiation.  He could almost see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Jake swiped his key card and opened the steel door to the inner lab.  The outer ring of the building was lined with office space while the inner, secured, ring contained numerous interconnected rooms that housed lab benches, equipment and a whole host of students and post-docs.  
As he stepped into the darkened space he headed straight for his desk when he heard the low growl of an animal from inside the lab.  This just wasn’t his night, he thought.  
“Hello?”  Jake asked the darkness.
Out of nowhere a red husky with demonic blue eyes lunged at him.  Jake stumbled backwards until he was pressed against the incubators.  The demon dog snarled and growled, reaching the end of its chain.
“Someone’s jumpy tonight.”  Stu said emerging from behind the sliding door to the culture room.
Stu was another grad student, but he fell into the eternal grad student category.  He was content to live off of the meager wages of a student in order to set his own hours and how hard he had to work.  It was a trade off Jake hadn’t resigned himself to just yet.
“With your ugly mug around you bet I’m jumpy.”  Jake said stepping around Stu’s dog.  “You should be out there with the candy grabbers.  You wouldn’t even need a mask.”
Stu chuckled and went over to his dog.  The mutt quieted immediately, though Jake could have sworn he was still eyeing his coat.  Jake placed it well out of reach of the dog on the furthest hook.  
“What’s with Kujo?”  Jake asked preparing to head into the culture room.
“I didn’t want him to be lonely at home.”  Stu said pulling a pepperoni stick from his pocket.  He ripped off a piece and tossed it to Jake.  “Besides maybe he’ll guard your skinny ass too if you’d give him a treat.”
“Yeah, right, I think he’d rather chew on my hand.”  Jake said putting the treat on his desk and headed to work.

Chapter 2
It was going to work this time, Caleb kept telling himself as he checked the gauges and prepared for the final power-up.  When he had left home he knew he was bound for greatness.  Even as a child, his genius was recognized.  He could read at the age of 2 with almost no instruction and he was running circles around his parents mathematically by the time he started elementary school.  All the teasing and isolation would be worth it once he got the accelerator to work.  Caleb stalked around the control panels of the towering set of concentric rings.  They spun slowly around a central axis.  His only friend growing up had been his sister but she couldn’t understand what he was trying to do.  Not even his graduate committee did.  His funding was almost at an end.  It was now or never.  And he wasn’t about to return to that one light town he had fought so hard to escape.  He’d rather take his chances on the existence of an afterlife.
Caleb held his breath as his hand hovered about the engage switch.  It was a simple theory, at least to him, a particle acceleration to generate local fluxes in barometric pressure.  It would create an endless supply of clean energy.  The Nobel Prize would be his without question, and Caleb would be free to do whatever research he could dream up.
In the dead of night on all hallows eve, a harmless looking button was pushed and changed the world forever.  Caleb stood on the edge of a precipice without even realizing it.  When his finger touched the cold hard plastic he felt his heart skip a beat.  Slowly the concentric rings began to spin faster and faster.  Caleb watched in awe as the rings narrowly missed colliding.  One miss-calibration could result in disaster.  How many times had he tried and nearly lost his head when something went wrong?  The last time he had nearly destroyed the entire lab.  At the center of the sphere something began to happen.  The air grew thicker as it was pulled towards the center.  With a spark of light the chain reaction was started.
It wasn’t that Ed didn’t have dreams growing up.  The problem was that dreams were the only thing he had.  After twenty years of construction jobs and a back injury he was glad to wind down his remaining work years cleaning up after kids that would make more money in their first job than he had ever seen.  He liked the peace and quiet of his later years.  That’s why he took the night and weekend shifts.  He worked enough to get buy and keep himself busy.  After all, idle hands were the devil’s playgrounds, he thought getting his broom from the beat up cart that had been his faithful companion for the last five years.  He made his way into the darkened library.  He couldn’t figure how any soul could use so many books.  Then again he’d never had much use for books.  It seemed like the kids these days either had their noses buried in a book that showed instead of taught or they were out raising hell.  He made his rounds between the stacks, floor by floor.  He often doubled as a low-pay security guard.  More than once he had found some kid asleep at a desk on the lower floors.  But he didn’t expect to find anything tonight.  Everyone would be out having fun.  Or just about.  He’d stop by the science wings before his break and check in one the kids there.  They always worked the hardest and the longest hour.  
Ed was about to move on when he thought he heard something.  
“Anyone there?”  He yelled out.
It didn’t matter if there was anyone here, he couldn’t do more than suggest they go home and call the cops after.  He stood still for a moment trying to find any trace of an intruder.  He listened to his breath filling the silence but heard little more. Ed shrugged and went back to his cart, massaging his back as he went.  He was getting old, he thought pausing in front on the windows.  This place had more glass than a greenhouse and he was lucky enough to have to clean all of it on a regular basis.  Looking out on the science wings he saw the scattered pattern of office lights.  Some would have been left on by accident but he wouldn’t be surprised if there were at least one or two kids for each light.  He never had the attention span to study.  The lights started to flicker in and out in one of the windows and Ed sighed.  He’d have to fix that.
* * *
“That was close.”  Alex whispered as the janitor disappeared behind the library doors.
“Too close, maybe we shouldn’t be here?”  Jenny asked holding his hand tightly.
Her heart was beating so loud she could barely hear her own words.  Alex could talk her into anything and this was certainly a first for her.  They hid behind a study desk waiting for the janitor to leave.  They needed their privacy for this little adventure.  This wasn’t her first time but this was the first time Jenny was going to be with Alex.  She had met him on her first day of classes and knew immediately that she wanted to be with him.  It took three weeks of following him around and teasing from her girlfriends before she worked up the courage to asking him to coffee.  He was so nervous and sweet that she forgave him when he spilled her coffee.  They had been going out for the last three weeks and they were ready to go all the way.  But Alex was a little more adventurous than Jenny had thought.  When he suggested they sneak into the library and make out when it closed she thought he was joking.  
“Come on, doesn’t it turn you on?”  Alex asked nuzzling her.
“I don’t actually want to get caught.”  Jenny replied.  
Alex’s lips traveled along the subtle curve of her neck nipping gently.  Jenny couldn’t deny she wanted him.
“Besides the janitor doesn’t check the library more than once a night.”  Alex whispered as his hand caressed the small of her back.
Jenny moaned giving into Alex and her own desires.  She felt his lips on hers and her eyes shut.  She felt her whole world shake and fireworks went off.  His touch was electric and she wanted more.  She felt a warm wind blow across her body even as Alex lifted her shirt to explore beneath.
* * *
In the closed culture room Jake changed the media on his cells amid the hum of the flow hood.  He found it rather relaxing being cut off from the rest of the world.  Only the off toned-singing of Stu reminded him he was not alone.
“You still going with that brunette?”  Stu yelled over the sounds of the flow hood.
“Who, Melissa?  Yeah.”  Jake answered.  “She’s not so bad.  She’s just a little preoccupied.”
“Hey man, that’s your issue.”  Stu said turning back to his work.  “She’s cute and all, but you wouldn’t catch me on that short of a leash.”
 “Whatever man.  Least I got someone keeping the bed warm for me.”  Jake said turning his attention back to his work.
“Hey, that’s why I’ve got T.”  Stu replied slapping Jake on the shoulders before leaving the culture room.
Jake smiled wondering if it wouldn’t be better to have a dog at home than a girlfriend.  He loved Melissa, but things had never been easy.  Just then his phone rang and he knew who it would be.
“What’s up, sweetie?”  Jake said, propping the phone against his shoulder.
“Are you finished yet?”  Melissa asked.
Jake sighed.  “Not yet, hun.  Just go to bed, I’ll wake you when I get home.”
“Jake, we’ve talked about this before.”  Melissa’s voice was interrupted by static.  The reception in the inner rooms was horrible.
“Hun, you are breaking up.”  Jake said hoping it would end the conversation.
Just then Stu returned making a whipping motion.  Jake had just enough coordination to juggle a pipetter, his phone and still give Stu the finger.  Melissa went on to explain the importance of together time.  Jake did his best to sound interested.  As he worked, Jake suddenly felt a warm breeze wash over him.  He must be getting sleepy, he thought capping the media.  Outside Stu’s dog, T started barking.
“Jake, this is important.  Are you listening to me?”  Melissa asked her voice cutting out again.
“God damn dog, what the hell is his problem?”  Stu shouted as he stalked out of the room.
“Jake…Jake…”  Melissa’s voice echoed over the line.
“Melissa you are cutting out.”  He said raising his voice as if that would help the transmission.
“Jake… wrong… Jake…oh my god… Jake.”  Melissa’s voice was gripped with panic, but Jake could barely make out what she was saying.
“Melissa, what’s wrong?”  Jake shouted rising to his feet.
Outside the culture room T continued to bark and snarl.   
* * *
Jake plugged one ear as he tried to make out what Melissa was saying.  Even with the door to the main lab shut the sound of T barking was everywhere.  Stu’s cursing could also be heard in the background.
“What’s wrong?”  Jake screamed.
“Oh my God… Jake…I’m sorry.”  Melissa’s voice was barely audible over the static.
The phone went silent suddenly and Jake stood waiting for Melissa’s voice to return.  A muffled scream was the last he hear from his girlfriend then the sound of rushing wind.  Everything went quite after that.  Jake slammed his phone shut and left the culture room.  Stu was putting T’s leash on.
“What’s wrong?”  Stu asked immediately seeking the look on Jake’s face.
“I don’t know.”  Jake said grabbing his coat.  “I’ve got to check on things a home.”
“Sure man.  I’ll walk you out.  T’s got some bug up his ass; must have to take a leak.”  Stu said.  “Grab the pepperoni stick.”
Jake pocketed the dog treat and followed Stu out of the lab.  He didn’t know what was going on with Melissa but he had a bad feel.  He glanced outside as they walked towards the elevator.  The city lights were dimmed.  Odd, Jake thought looking at his watch.  It wasn’t very late yet but it looked like it was after last call.  The street lamps flickered and the buildings around them were dark.
“Brown out?”  Stu asked looking over Jake’s shoulder.
The city looked emptier then when Jake had arrived earlier that night.  It was so dark that Jake could see his own reflecting in the window.  In that distorted glass they saw movement behind them.  T started barking like a mad dog and no matter what Stu did he couldn’t quiet him down.  
“Give me the pepperoni stick.”  Stu said reaching out.  “Something’s spooking him.”
Jake looked down the hall and back to the window.  He could have sworn he had seen something or someone.
“Is Janet working tonight?”  Jake asked.
“Naw, we are the only two freaks up here tonight.”  Stu replied.  “Why?”
“It’s nothing.”  Jake said still looking down the hall.
As he reached into his pocket for the pepperoni stick he saw it again, a shadow moving too fast across the end of the hall.  T started another round of frantic barking in the same direction.  The dog looked ready to pounce and sure enough after a few false starts he broke his leash and went barreling down the hall.
“God damn it, what’s wrong with the mutt?”  Stu grumbled sprinting after him.
“Wait, Stu, I think there’s someone down there.”  Jake shouted, but Stu didn’t even slow down.  Against his better judgment, Jake took off after them.
Racing down the linoleum floor Jake rounded the corner passed his own lab and towards the end rooms.  Someone had left a door open and it wasn’t until Jake got into the autoclave room that he caught up to Stu and T.  It was a small room with two gigantic steam machines.  Dishes were piled on every available counter space.  T faced a corner barking at a shadow.  
“Must be a mouse from one of the labs.”  Stu said grabbing T’s collar.  “Come on boy that’s not enough meat for you.”
As Stu is pulling T back Jake sees something move in the shadow, something much larger than a mouse.
”Ah, Stu?”  Jake stammered.
“Oh, don’t tell me your scared of a little mouse?”  Stu said smiling.
From the shadows there came a hissing sound like the one Jake had heard on the phone with Melissa.  It was almost like a kettle overflowing with steam or the wind on an autumn day.  But there were no windows in the autoclave room and the power was down.  Jake stumbled backwards never taking his eyes of the corner.  For once he agreed with T, there was something there that didn’t belong.
“Good Christ, Jake behind you.”  Stu yelled letting go of T’s collar.
Jake wheeled around but couldn’t understand what he was looking at.  He heard that same hissing sound and instinctively grabbed the door handle and slammed the door shut.  
“What the hell was that?”  Stu asked as T went back to barking at the corner.
“Whatever it was I don’t think there’s only one.”  Jake said pointing to corner.
 Stu nodded and pulled T away heading towards the second door.  The three made there way through the inner labs towards the exit.  Every lab was interconnected by a series of short halls.  Walking quickly at first they picked up speed when they heard glassware dropping to the ground.  All around them books, instruments and glass leapt off the shelves smashing to the ground.  It was like being in an earthquake only the ground wasn’t shaking.  They emerged near the elevators and Stu pressed the down button over and over again.
“Stairs.”  Jake said pointing to the red-lit sign 15 feet down the next hallway.
“Right, let’s get out of here.”  Stu said hurrying T along.
The dog was completely preoccupied with whatever it was that was in the labs.  He moved reluctantly backing and snarling behind them as they went.  Jake grabbed the cold metal door handle and whipped it open only to come face to face with another one of those things.  He stumbled backwards tripping over Stu who crashed into him.  Jake couldn’t take his eyes off of it was he scampered across the floor.  It might have been human once but it was anything but now.  The grey creature was tall and gaunt.  Its flesh was ashen with shades of faded color from what might have been clothes.  But it was the face that Jake couldn’t stop staring at.  It had no eyes.  Only black holes stared out at Jake.  It didn’t look to have a mouth but when it grabbed Stu it looked to be yawning as a black pit opened up where its mouth should have been.  Pulling apart its grey flesh and making a hissing sound it began to consume Stu.  He tried to screamed and struggled but it was pointless.  Within seconds Stu was being torn apart one molecule at a time.  Jake could only watch in horror, as his friend was absorbed, his empty clothes falling to the floor.

Chapter 3
Jenny had been reluctant to agree to the late night make-out session in the library, but now she was glad she had.  Alex was warm and tender with her.  His lips exploring the softness of her neck while his hands gently caressed and massaged her breast.  She was starting to get excited, as was Alex when she heard a book drop to the ground.  Alex pulled away, startled by the noise as well.
“What was that? “ Jenny asked.
Alex scanned the darkened library but couldn’t see anyone.  “I’m not sure.”
He smiled looking back at Jenny.  She was the girl of his dreams and he wasn’t going to let anything ruin tonight, especially not his over active imagination.  They returned to kissing and exploring each other.  It wasn’t long before another book hit the floor, this one closer.  The sounded echoed in the empty library.
“Some one else must have stayed behind to study.”  Alex whispered pulling Jenny even closer.
It wasn’t unusual for students to stay after hours to study and do other less scholastic things.  But he had checked the floors shortly before closing and this was a Friday night.  He didn’t expect there to be anyone else here unless they were there to make trouble.
“Maybe we should just go back to the dorm.”  Jenny suggested.
Alex nodded and the two headed for the emergency exits.  It would mean setting off the alarm but the main doors were locked from the outside and it was their only way out.  They walked hand in hand passed the periodicals and along a long corridor lined on one side by a glass wall.  On the other side were the administrative offices of the library.  He couldn’t imagine working full-time is such a dreary place.  Alex intended on getting his degree as soon as possible and getting out into the work force to make some real money.  
“Alex.”  Jenny whispered stopping suddenly.
She peered through the partially frosted glass and knew they weren’t alone.  She couldn’t make out more than a vague form but it was enough to set her heart racing.  Books started flying off of the shelves at them.  Jenny screamed as Alex threw his arm around her head to protect her.
“What the hell is going on?”  Alex shouted bracing himself as thick volumes crashed into his shoulder.  He turned his back to the room, sheltering Jenny.  “If this is some kind of prank this isn’t funny.”
If there was someone there Alex couldn’t see anyone.  Through the glass he saw a figure move.  A long hand thudded against the panel making its mark, then the other hand.  Alex watched as a mouth appeared on the glass.  He felt the rush of wind being draw towards it and more books responded.
“Alex, what’s happening?”  Jenny screamed, tears running down her cheek.
He pulled her along towards the other end of the room.  They’d have to find another way out.  They ran through the library all the while trying to avoid books that seemed to just leap off the shelves.  
“There the main doors.”  Jenny said breaking from Alex’s hold.
“No, they’re locked.”  Alex yelled after her but she didn’t stop.
Jenny crashed into the main doors, rattling the door handle.  But it wouldn’t give.  Alex tried to pull her from the door.  When she turned to face him she let out a blood curdling.  Something that looks like a grey aliens from one of those sci-fi shows was right behind him.  Alex turned to see what Jenny was looking at and froze.  It was only a few feet from him, gaping black eyes and a yawning black mouth.  Air rushed passed his face as the creature opened its mouth wide.  Alex felt himself being pulled towards it.  He felt himself being torn apart.  Jenny grabbed the door handle and reached out for Alex to hold him as he was being drawn towards that thing.  She nearly let go when she heard a banging on the door.  
“I’ll get you out of there, hold tight.”  Ed screamed as he pulled a ring with way too many keys from his pocket.
As Ed tried to find the right key Alex grimaced trying to hold onto Jenny.  Behind the creature another appeared.  
“Hurry.”  Jenny shouted.  She started to feel the pull on her.  But it was not like a weight drawing her in.  It was more of a burning strain that seemed to pull at her very soul.
“Hang on.”  Ed said trying another key.  
He cursed under his breath not looking up.  He only had a few more seconds and the kids would be goners.  He had seem what these things could do, finally, one key slide into the lock cleanly.  He turned the key, opened the door and grabbed the girl by the arm heaving her through the door.  Her grip on the boy was strong enough that he was dragged through.  As soon as they cleared the frame, Ed slammed the door shut and locked it, breaking the key in the process.
“Run.”  He shouted at the two kids as they scrambled to their feet.  
There was no way of telling how many of these creatures were around, Ed thought.  But they had to find some place to hide.
* * *
Stu was gone and all that stood between Jake and the thing that had eaten Stu was a very pissed off T.  The dog’s ears stood straight up as did his tail as he bared his teeth.  T was certainly not afraid but Jake didn’t trust the dog to know what was going on.  The creature advanced towards T but the dog wouldn’t back down.  Jake could feel the air starting to move again as the thing opened its mouth.  He watched as T’s hair was drawn forward.  T’s bark was deafening.  Jake watched in amazement as the dog started to advance, pushing the creature back.  Even monsters are afraid of that dog, Jake thought.  Soon T had it backed into the stair well.  It didn’t look particularly terrified, maybe more confused.  Whichever, Jake didn’t care, as soon as it was beyond the door he grabbed the handle and puzzled it shut.  Now he was left with an unpleasant dog that didn’t care for him very much.
“Easy T.”  Jake said as the dog turned his attention to him.  “I’m not going to hurt you.”
The dog acted as it always did around Jake, like a miserable cuss.  T continued to bark and growl at Jake.  He started walking backwards knowing better than to run.  This dog would be on him in a matter of seconds.  For every step that Jack retreated T advanced.  He didn’t have time to play games with the mutt.  He had just seen his friend evaporated in front of him and had a feeling he would be next.  Jake looked around for something with which to knock the dog out.  But he was in a hallway with nothing but the vending machine.  
“I know what you want.”  Jake said reaching his hand into his pocket.  He pulled out the pepperoni stick.  Tearing off a piece he tossed it at T.  “Here you go.  You like that, don’t you?”
Thank God, Jake thought as T settled down and happily munched on the treat.  Jake could still hear the sound of movement reverberating through the hallways.  He would have to take his chances at another stairwell.  Slowly he moved towards T.  He had let his friend die, the least he could do was make sure his dog didn’t suffer the same fate.
“We’re going to go for a little walk, ok T?”  Jake asked tearing off another piece of pepperoni.
He gave it to the dog and slowly brought his hand towards the dog’s head.  T eyed his suspiciously but continued to eat.  Jake half expected the mutt to take off his hand.  Instead the dog grudgingly let him pet him.
“Good dog.”  Jake said taking hold of the collar.
He started to walk forward pulling at T’s collar.  T didn’t even resist but followed Jake.  Walking a little faster but never letting go of T’s collar Jake made his way down the long hallway.  There were no lab doors on this side and while he heard dishware shattering and desks being over turned he didn’t see any of the creatures.  He rounded the corner and saw three people running towards him.
“You don’t want to go this way.”  Ed shouted as he saw the man and a dog approaching.
Jenny and Alex were close behind as the three looked for a safe exit.  Three of the fire escapes they had tried had been already overrun.  T started barking and Jake looked up to see a ghastly figure close behind the small group
“Well, you don’t want to go this way either.”  Jake said trying to hold onto the dog that was going berserk again.  At least he was a pretty good guard dog, Jake thought.
He looked at the worried faces of the two undergrads that accompanied the janitor.  He couldn’t let them die like Stu.  They were going to make it out of here tonight.  Then it occurred to him that maybe they didn’t need to find an exit but somewhere to hold up for the night, somewhere without many doors.  
“Follow me.”  Jake said and started down the only other hallway that was left.
As they ran he fumbled in his pockets grabbing hold of his key chain.
“Do you have any idea where you are going, boy?”  Ed asked.
Jenny screamed as more creatures appeared in the doorways they passed.  This was a nightmare, she thought, they were all going to die.  When they arrived at the lunchroom Jake unlocked the door and ushered everyone in.
“Help me barricade the door.”  He shouted to the men.
Grabbing the nearby tables and chairs they secured the only door to the lunchroom.  The creature rammed into the door but couldn’t get it open.
“They’ll come through the cracks too.”  Ed said taking off his jacket.
Jake did the same and they stuffed their coats into the spaces under the doors.  Just as they finished they heard Jenny scream.  A chair crashed to the floor.  Jake wheeled around expecting to find another creature and their certain death.  Instead he saw a man hanging from the ceiling.  Jenny kept screaming; she couldn’t stop herself.  This man was killing himself.  There was no hope, she thought.
“Shut her up.”  Jake screamed at the other under class men as he and Ed rushed towards the man.
Jake grabbed the man’s legs heaving him up while Ed righted the chair and pulled a pocketknife.  The creatures were banging on the doors and walls.  The girl was shrieking and Ed’s knife was just about as good as a butter knife.
“Goddamn it cut.”  Ed muttered as he sawed back and forth.  
He was staring into the half rolled eyes of the man that was no older that the other kids he had found.  
“Hurry up.”  Jake shouted feeling the man’s legs start to jerk.
Suddenly the rope broke.  Jake and the man came crashing to the ground and Ed not far behind them.  Jake wrenched the rope free from the man’s neck.  He sputtered and coughed gasping for air.  At least his neck’s not broken, Jake thought.
“Why?”  The man wheezed before passing out.

Chapter 4
“Why didn’t it work?”  The man muttered lost in sleep.
Jake ran his hand through his hair finally able to breath deeply.  They were safe for the moment.  He could hear the ratter of the creatures outside and the quiet sobs of the undergrad but there were no screams of terror.  He didn’t dare wonder how long it would last.
“Let’s get something under his head.”  Jake searched for something, their jackets tucked beneath the doors.
“Jenny let me see your sweater.”  Alex said giving her another reassuring hug.
She shook her head but was in no shape to protest as her boyfriend helped her out of it.  Alex came over to help tend to the man.  He walked over to Jenny who was rocking herself gently.
“My name’s Jake.  What’s yours?”  He asked extending his hand.
“Jenny.”  She said her eyes fixed on the ground.  She fought to keep control over her emotions.  She jumped when T barks shattered the silence.
Haunted faces, twisted in against the glass that separated the lunchroom from the hallway.  Jenny broke into a new round of tears.  Everyone’s attention turned to the windows and door, waiting.  No matter how much they rattled and moaned they were held at bay.  It they had to stay here the whole night they would.  Jake just wondered what they’d do when morning came.
“Enough T,” Jake shouted causing everyone to jump.  
Jake took T’s collar and brought him over to Jenny.  She started to back away.  Withdrawing the remaining piece of pepperoni stick from his pocket and forcing it into Jenny’s hand.
“Here hold this out and he’ll be your best friend.”  Jake said.
“He’ll bite me.”  Jenny moaned.
“No, he won’t he’s a sweetheart.”
Her hand opened slowly, shaking as T neared her.  The large husky sniffed her hand before lapping up the doggy treat.  Jenny giggled when T continued to lick her hand.
“See?  He likes you.”  Jake smiled watching Jenny pet T.  “He’s name is T-rex but he answers to T and pepperoni sticks.”
Jenny loved the feel of T’s soft fur through her fingers.  She snuggled close to the dog waiting for Alex to return.  Meanwhile Alex was helping the janitor with the man they had found half dead.  
“See what’s in that fridge, sonny.”  Ed asked Alex.
Alex was glad to have something to do.  He glanced over at Jenny who was smiling to his relief.  She looked beautiful even with her tear-stained face and running make-up.  He knew now more than ever that she was the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.  That is if they got out of this alive.  He rummaged through the fridge pulling out a few cans of cola and lunch boxes.  He handed out the drinks before settling down beside Jenny.  At first T growled at her but a few gentle words from Jenny and he calmed down.  Jake couldn’t believe what a push over the dog really was.
“How’s he doing?”  Jake asked sitting down next to Ed.
“Boy’s out cold, likely for a few hours but he’ll be ok.”  Ed said stretching out his tired back.  His eyes stared out the window.  “Of course we still have those things to worry about.”
“Where’d they come from?”  Jake wondered aloud.  His eye’s strayed to the windows where gapping mouths and empty eyes waited for an entrance.  
“What are they?”  Alex asked from across the room.
“They’re soul reavers.”  Ed talked as if he knew what he was doing.
Jake thought that was as good an explanation as any though he didn’t know what that meant.  He’d never heard of them before but Ed had the look of old knowledge.  Jenny and Alex moved closer as they all gathered around the sleeping man.
“What’s a soul reaver?”  Jenny sat with leaning against Alex with T’s head in her lap.  Her eyes were finally starting to dry.
Ed downed some more of his drink before setting it down beside him.  He hadn’t spoke to anyone about the country in ages.  Truth be told there was no one to listen.  He only wished it was under better circumstances.  He cleared his throat trying to remember the words of his Grammy.  The woman had practically raised him until she died.  She was from a different time.  Her childhood was filled with superstitions and harder work than even he had known.  She hobbled telling stories around her kitchen while Ed sat waiting for dinner.  
  “You ain’t never heard of soul reavers?”  Ed smiled.  “Not like there’d be any around here.  They are ghosts of people.  Once like you and me, but when they died their souls were sucked into hell.  They wander the earth looking for their lost only it’s not there.  Each person they touch, each soul they devour only fuels their powerful hunger.”
“What happens to those they touch?”  Alex asked wide-eyed.
“Their victims loose their soul just like the reavers and spend eternity wandering the earth in search of souls to fill their own hunger.”  Ed finished his story grabbing a lunch bag collected from the fridge.  All this running around had worked up a hunger of its own in Ed’s stomach.
It made about as much sense as anything to Jake.  “How do you kill then?”
“Now that I don’t know.”  Ed admitted.  He doubted his Grammy ever expected he’d encounter any of the goblin and ghouls she had warned him about.  This was the first time he’d ever seen her superstitions come to life.  It didn’t keep him from tossing spilt salt over his shoulder or avoiding black cats.  “But they can’t get in her for now.”
“What about him?”  Jake pointed to the man laying on the floor in silence.
 Looking at the sleeping man you’d never know he had just tried to end his life.  Except for a pale complexion and a growing red mark around his neck looked no different than the rest of them, scared and confused.  Jake wondered what his story was and why he preferred to dangle from the beams instead of fighting these soul reavers.  That is if that’s what they really were.  Outside the city was now completely dark.  A few solitary and soft lights flickered in windows here and there.  Jake stared out the window watching as one by one the lights either flickered out or were snuffed out.  How many people would see morning, he wondered.  
“Poor kids are exhausted.”  Ed said coming up behind Jake.
Jenny slept fitfully in Alex’s arms.  The boy fought the urge to nod off his head bobbing every few minutes.  No one wanted to sleep but they all needed it.  Adrenaline would only take them so far and when the morning came they would have to decide if they were going to stay here or risk escaping the building.  All the windows to the inside of the building were covered in frost marked only by the hollow faces that hungered for their souls.  
“How are you holding up?”  Jake asked watching the old man rub his back.
“Seen better days, seen worse. ”  Ed replied.  “Those lights out there, there aren’t many.”
“About seven two hours ago.  There’s only three now.”  Jake wondered if it was the light that drew the reavers.  Of course the ones in the building didn’t seem to need lights to find them.  “How long do you think we can hold up here?”
“Morning maybe another night.  There’s some food a few cans of pop.” Ed gave up on trying to fix his back.  All this running around was for younger folk.  He was just glad that he’d made it this far.  “We’re safe as long as we stay in here.”
“Yeah; as long as we stay here.”  Jake muttered turning back to the fading lights.
The sky was graying.  In a few more hours the sun would be up.  Maybe by the guy would be awake and ready to travel.  They needed supplies.  Jake’s mind started planning as he rummaged through the cabinets and the remains of the fridge.  Without power they would have to eat up the perishables first.  There was little else in the cabinets beyond sugar packages and powdered coffee creamers.  He had to keep busy.  He didn’t want to think about Melissa.  He didn’t want to think about Stu.  He had to keep going and help these people now.
Despite his efforts to stay awake and watch over Jenny, Alex found started to drift off.  He didn’t notice it at first only missing a minute of two.  Jake was preparing.  Ed kept watch.  The guy they’d found slept as restlessly as Jenny did.  Things were starting to quiet down.  The soul reavers came to the door several times, testing but it didn’t matter they couldn’t break the glass.  Jenny’s body was warm against his.  This was supposed to be a special night.  Alex stroked her arm as she slept wanting nothing more than to protect her.  This time when his eyes flew open as he heard loud banging against all the windows and doors facing the hallway.  Jenny startled awake screaming.
Hundreds of haunted soulless faces pressed against the frosted glass.  Ghastly hands pounded trying to break through.  Alex stood quickly pulling Alex away from the windows.
“What are they doing?”  Jenny cried trying to see what was going on even as Alex tried to shield her.
“Dawn’s coming.”  Jake said sitting on the countertop.
Outside the sky was lightening.  While the Jenny and Alex were terrified at this new attack Jake was actually encouraged by it.  The reavers seemed almost desperate to get at them with dawn now only half an hour away.  Soon the sunlight would break through the dimness.  With any luck the reavers wouldn’t be able to tolerate the light.  It made sense since the power had been cut before the first attacks.
“Make it stop.”  Jenny buried her head in Alex’s shoulder covering her ears with her hand.
T’s barking was the only thing louder than the racket the reavers were making.  Only a little longer, Jake thought.  
“No, no.”  The man they had found started to wake.
Caleb stared wide-eyes at the twisted faces lining the glass.  He wasn’t supposed to be here.  He’d made his mistake and he deserved to die.  He was only vaguely aware of the other people in the room.  Struggling to his feet he ran towards the door.  He deserved to die.
“Wait.”  Jake called out.
Caleb started tossing aside the table’s barricading the door. Ed grabbed the man’s arm only to be thrown off, crashing into the ground.
“Stop him, he’ll kill us all.”  Ed shouted.
Alex and Jake wrestled the man to the ground, pinning him.  Alex held his legs while Jake held his arms.
“What the hell is your problem?”  Jake shouted at the man.  “Are you trying to kill us?”
“We’re dead already.”  Caleb struggled to escape.  They wanted him.  He could hear them calling.  There was nothing left.  “I’m dead.  You’re dead.  You can’t stop them no one can.”
“He’s lying.”  Jenny screamed.
T must have seen Jake wrestling and though he was in trouble because soon Jake was staring down the mussel of a snarling beast.  T looked ready to bit the man’s face off.  Ed crawled over to help restrain the man who wanted to die so badly he’d doom them all.
“Jenny, grab T.”  Jake shouted struggling to keep the man down.  For a scrawny guy he was putting up quite a fight.  Jake could feel him rolling beneath him.  One wrong move and they would lose hold of him.  “Jenny!”
The girl startled into action approaching T with care.  She didn’t want to get near them but she had to get T.  
“Jenny, hurry.”  Alex shouted as a foot flew at his face.
Finally she dragged the beast away.  Ed threw himself on top of the pile.  Finally the man’s strength gave out and his body went limp.  His chest rose and fell as hi eyes wildly looks at the men holding him down.
“Why didn’t you just let me die?”  Caleb panted.
“I’m wondering that myself.”  Jake mumbled.
Ed gave Jake a disapproving glance.  “What’s your name son?”
Caleb hesitated at first.  He knew nothing about these people.  What did it matter if he knew their name or he theirs?  They were all going to die.  There was no way of killing those things, no way of escaping.
“He asked you a question.”  Jake said pushing against the man giving him a jolt. If it didn’t mean endangering all of them he would have gladly handed over this man to those monsters.  Anyone that wanted to die that badly probably deserved it.
“Caleb, my name’s Caleb.”  He said closing his eyes.
“Caleb, son, I know it looks bad but its almost morning.”  Ed said even as light started to stream into the room.
Strands of sunlight at first no more than a glimmer growing and crossing the room.  The reavers hissed as light touched the glass chasing away the frost.  
“Look, see; they don’t like the morning.”  Ed said trying to reassure the boy.  It was a shame to let any life slip away.  He’s young, Ed reminded himself.  Young ones didn’t know how hard it could get.  “We’re gonna get out of here.”
“And you aren’t going to do anything to endanger us.”  Jake added.  “Or I’ll show you just how quickly your life can be ended.”
Jenny grasped.  She couldn’t believe what she was hearing.  That man Caleb wanted to kill them all.  Jake was threatening him.  She felt new tears welling in her eyes.  At least the soul reavers were gone, for now.
“You hear me?”  Jake repeated pushing against Caleb’s chest knocking the breath from his lungs.
Caleb nodded slowly.  He didn’t have the strength to fight anymore.

Chapter 5
Where they all going insane?  Jenny wondered.  She sat beside T petting his soft fir and looking at the others.  One guy was trying to kill them all the other looked about ready to snap.  Ed looked way too old to have made it this far.  Even Alex looked worn out.  She just wanted this nightmare to end.  She wanted to hear her alarm go off and rush to class late as always.  But that possibility got more remote as time went on.  If this was a dream it was a long and very real one.  They talked about what to do next.  Jake and Ed wanted to leave as soon as possible.  Alex wanted to stay because this place was safe.  Caleb watched silently cringing under Jake’s constant gaze.
“We don’t know what’s out there.”  Alex said his voice starting to show his irritation.  “I don’t know about you but I’d rather deal with what I know then what I don’t know.”
“We’ve only got enough food and water to last us another night at most.”  Ed reasoned leaning against the counter.
“Well then...” Alex searched for another reason to stay.  He didn’t want to say he was scared to go out there.  He didn’t want to tell him how afraid he was to lose Jenny and that’s exactly what would happen if they left, he knew it.  But those were not reasons that would convince either of the two men standing before him.  “We could go out and scavenge for food, use this place as a base camp until help arrive.”
“How long do you think that will be?”  Jake asked crossing his arms over his chest.  “A week, a month, years?”
“No one’s coming, they’re all dead.”  Caleb muttered.
They just stared at the stranger amongst them.  Caleb doubted they understood just how bad off they really were.  He doubted they’d understand it even if he wanted to explain it to them.  He might be from some Godforsaken backwater where the greatest for of entertainment on a Saturday night was getting drunk and tipping cows but these people were just idiots.  The old man was kind but a fool.  The undergrads were clueless and naïve.  The other guy looked like a grad student but was probably a biologist and wouldn’t understand the basics of quantum mechanics.  No, they were screwed.  If they managed to avoid the creatures he’d let into their imperfect world then they’d die of hunger or kill each other.  But Caleb didn’t care.  He knew he was dead the minute the rift opened.  And did care what happened to him from that point on much less these people that still held onto some kind of foolish hope.  No, the only one he’d ever cared about had been Geneva and she was likely dead now.
“Shut the fuck up.”  Jake yelled.  “You might not want to see the next sunrise but some of us here still do.”
“All we have to do is hold off until help come.”  Alex said.  
“There’s no one coming.”  Caleb laughed feeling a kind of perverse joy as the undergrad’s eyes darkened.  
“Boy, you aren’t helping.”  Ed said giving Caleb a stern look.  
“What if the nutcase is right?”  Jake said.  “How long are we going to wait for help that’s never going to come?  We need to get out of here.”
“I’m not going anywhere.”  Alex put his hands on his hips.  “And neither is Jenny.”
“That’s just fool’s talk.”  Ed added.
Jenny couldn’t take the yelling anymore.  Why did they have to yell?  The sun had started to rise over an hour ago and still it hadn’t gotten very light.  It was like dawn in the artic, she thought.  In sociology class she had watched a movie about the hardships of life in the artic.  It didn’t seem so bad except for winters when the sun barely rose only to sink again in a few hours.  What if that were happening here?  If they left they might be in danger.
“She’s not staying here and neither are you.”  Jake shouted.  He was getting to the end of his rope with these kids.  Alex was only five or so years younger than him but he looked fresh out of high school and talked like he was still in it.  “We are going to take what we can find here and get out, find somewhere safer.”
“Now let’s all calm down.”  Ed said walking in between the two kids that looked like they were getting closer to throwing fists than working out a solution.
Jenny covered her ears and shaking her head.  
“Stop it.”  She whispered.
“There’s no place safer, we are going to die.”  Caleb chanted.
“Shut up.”  Jake yelled grabbing Alex by the collar.
Ed tried to separate the two and keep Caleb out of the mess.  
“Stop it!”  Jenny yelled standing up.
Jake, Alex and Ed looked over at the distressed woman.  She walked over to the closed door.  The three of them were so tangled they couldn’t reach her if she opened the door.
“Don’t do it.”  Ed said pulling away.
“Let them in.”  Caleb smiled.  
“Stop it all of you.”  Jenny extended her arm towards the door.  “Our enemy is out there not in here.  What does it matter if we stay or if we go?  We’ve got to stick together or they’ll get us.  They are the ones trying to kill us.”
The three men stood in shock as Jenny spoke.  Her arm passed right through the door without her even realizing it.  They stood in silence eyes fixed just beyond Jenny’s.  She turned slowly not knowing what to expect.  They were safe, she reminded herself; the reavers couldn’t get into the room.  Turning her eyes traveled down her arm until she saw her arm melt into the grey metal of the door.  It was as if her arm didn’t exist anymore.  Quickly she pulled her arm back, clutching it.  Her arm hadn’t disappeared but gone right through the door as if the door didn’t exist.  Stumbling backwards Jenny looked down only to find herself in the middle of a table.  She screamed closing her eyes.
“What’s happening to me?”  Jenny shook her head from side to side as if she could force the image of her cut torso in half.
Alex freed himself from Ed’s gentle grasp as inched his way towards Jenny.
“Jenny, look at me.”  He said extending his arms towards her.
But she didn’t want to open her eyes.  She didn’t want to see herself cut in half.  She was fading away from existence and there was nothing anyone could do about it.  
“Stay away from me.”  Jenny shouted.
Ed and Jake watched as the boy neared Jenny.  When he reached out to grab her arm Jake half expected the boy to go right through her.  Instead Alex’s hand closed tight around Jenny’s arm and pulled her out of the table.  He held her close, rocking her softly.
“It’s ok.  It will be alright.”  Alex kept repeating even though he was starting to believe it wasn’t exactly true.
“What the hell happened?”  Ed turned towards Jake.
“Beats me.”  Jake said heading towards the table.
It looked real enough.  It had felt real enough all those hours ago when Jake had used it to barricade the door.  Not too long ago Caleb had had no trouble tossing it aside in his suicidal attempt to get them all killed.  Jake knelt by the table examining it.  Tentatively he reached out.  Where he expected to find cold metal he felt nothing but air.  His hand passed right through it just like Jenny had.  It wasn’t that something was happening to Jenny but the room, maybe even the building.
“What are you doing?”  Ed asked in disbelief as Jake left the table and went to the nearest wall.
“Something’s not right here.”  Jake said.
Everything looks like it normally looked.  Jake pressed his hand against the wall.  It didn’t give.  Slowly he made his way over to the door.  The paneled wall felt real enough beneath his fingers.  When he reached the door his hand passed through it.  Pressing further first up to his elbow then his shoulder Jake wondered just how far he could go.  He wiggled his fingers and while he couldn’t see then he could feel them brushing against one another.
“What do you feel?”  Ed asked walking over to Jake.  He didn’t think the boy would be foolish enough to step through but that’s exactly what he looked to be doing.  “Maybe we should try sending the dog through.”
Jake glanced over at T who looked up from his spot on the floor as if knowing what was being suggested.  No Jake didn’t like the idea of trying to coerce something with more teeth than he had through a door that should be solid.  He had to know what was on the other side.  The reavers were gone, at least while the sun was up.  And if he could just walk right through it what would keep the reavers from doing so when the sun went down?  Slowly he slipped his right leg through.
“Now wait a minute.”  Ed grabbed Jake’s other arm but not before the boy slipped almost completely through the door.
He didn’t know what he expected to find on the other side of that door but he was somewhat disappointed to find the hallway they’d run down the night before.  Papers were thrown everywhere, all the doors were still closed and there wasn’t a soul or soul reaver in sight.
“What do you see?”  Ed asked debating whether he should pull the boy back or wait.
“Nothing.”  Jake answered, his voice as clear as if he’d still been standing in the room.
“Oh my God, Alex, what’s going on?”  Jenny sobbed.
“What do you mean nothing?”  Alex held Jenny even tighter.  He didn’t know what was worse having to run or having nowhere to run to.
“It’s just the hallway.”  Jake replied.
Ed tugged on Jakes arm and pulled him back into the room.  It was the strangest thing he’d ever seen and as a janitor Ed had seen some pretty strange things.  First the soul reavers now doors and tables acting like they were nothing more than made of air.  He half expected his Grammy to show up and tell him to get back to his chores.  Jake looked none the worse for having gone through and just as puzzled as the rest of them.  Caleb smiled to himself; the rift was expanding.  Soon they’d all be nothing more than nothingness, hollow images of themselves.  
“I don’t understand.”  Jake said as he ran his hand over his arm and body.  He was still intact as far as he could tell.  But what was happening to the room around them.  “The wall’s fine but the door, it’s like a hologram.  It’s just not there.”
“What’d you feel when you went through it?”  Ed questioned Jake.
“Nothing; like it wasn’t even there to begin with.”  Jake answered.
“Hologram?”  Jenny was slow to follow the conversation.  “Is someone doing this to us?  Who would do such a thing?”
“No one’s doing anything thing to you.”  Caleb said finally leaving his spot at the other side of the room.  “You’re reality is crumbling around you.  Soon there won’t be anything left.  No doors, no tables, no you.”
He laughed like a madman sending Jenny back into Alex’s arms to hide.  They wouldn’t understand even if I drew it in colored crayons, Caleb thought.  He smiled smugly walking over to the door.  He passed his hand through with ease.
“This is just the beginning.”  Caleb said taking in the site of his hand disappearing and reappearing.  “I wonder if we will pass through the floor.”
“What part of shut up don’t you understand?”  Jake grabbed Caleb and shoved him back towards the center of the room.
“I guess if this is going to spread we can’t stay here.”  Ed said shrugging.  He walked over towards the pile of scrapped together food and pop cans.  He looked around for something to carry it all in.  “We’d better get ready to leave.”
  Alex nodded without a word of protest.  They gathered what was left into lunch bags and plastic bags.  It didn’t look like much but it was all they had.  Jenny felt better having something to do.  She rigged up a pack for T to carry.  She’d seen it down on TV.  Up in Alaska it was common for dogs to carry their own food on long trips.  She’d make sure he got food and water.  He was a brave dog, she thought as she pulled the straps around his torso.  
“That’s a good T.”  She whispered.  He hadn’t even struggled when she had fumbled to get the makeshift doggy pack on him.  “We are going for a little walk.”
Jenny took the laces from her sneakers and tied them into a short leash.  She passed on end around the loop on T’s collar and held the other end tightly in her hand.  They had a long walk ahead of them.
* * *
Caleb watched them preparing.  They were fools.  No one had even discussed where he or she was going to go.  It didn’t matter, he thought.  Maybe they’d make it a few miles.  No doubt the whole city was infested with those creatures.  Maybe they were just hiding from the light.  That’s odd, he thought glancing out the window and the half lit sky.  The sun wasn’t getting any higher.  They’d have about 4 hours before it set, he wagered.  Then the fun would start.
“Come on boy, it’s time to go.”  Ed said tossing a bag at Caleb.  The boy spent far too much time quietly looking off into the distant.  He needed something to do with his hands.  After all like his Grammy had said idle hands are the Devil’s playgrounds.  And this boy looked like he had plenty of demons on his tail.
 “Where are we going?”  Alex asked after checking on Jenny.
It was a question Jake had gone over in his mind ever since he had decided at sun up that they weren’t going to stay here.  He had no idea how far the phenomena extended and there was no way to find out.  The little lights in far off windows had all gone out.  They might truly be on their own.
“There’s a military base just north of the city.”  Jake said.  
“That’s over 20 miles away.”  Alex said ready to give up before they even got started.
“20 miles ain’t nothing to walk.”  Ed said patting Alex on the shoulder.  “One step at a time and we’ll all get there.”
Jenny kept quiet.  She didn’t care where they went as long as it was away from here.  They’d have to stop for more food.  Somewhere where she could find T more of those pepperoni sticks he liked.  The dog hadn’t eaten all night, but wasn’t complaining.
“We’ll need more supplies.”  Alex added.  He didn’t see how leaving was going to get them any further.  A long walk like that would take more than half eaten sandwiches and granola bars.
“There’s a convenience store on the corner of Washington and 4th.”  Jake said.  “My car is not too far from there in the lot.”
“Now that sounds better than walking.”  Ed sighed.  He’d walk if he had too but his old bones would protest every step.
“Good then let’s get going unless anyone else has anything else to say.”  Jake was impatient to get going.  He didn’t like the way the sun hung in the sky.  It wasn’t normal but then again not much was normal about this place.
* * *
The five set out down the abandoned hallway.  Jake took the lead with Ed, Jenny with T in tow and Alex followed behind then and last Caleb walked slowly in the rear.  There were no sign of the reavers but they weren’t about to take any chances.  It was an eerie sight.  Beyond closed doors labs were utterly torn apart.  Computers, glass and books were scattered on the floor.  They had no weapons unless T’s bark counted but Jake was reasonably confident they wouldn’t encounter anyone, at least not until nightfall.  But they had a plan now.  Out of the building, pick up supplies; get to his car and then to the military base.
“Do you really think the soldiers had it through this?”  Ed whispered his head constantly looking around.
“No clue but if anyone’s supposed to know what to do when all hell break’s lose you’d think it would be them.”  Jake glanced back at the group.  Jenny had really taken to T.  He was relieved.  The dog seemed to calm her and it meant he didn’t have to drag him along.  Alex never let go of Jenny’s hand.  Falling further behind was Caleb.  “Ed, why don’t you take up the rear?  I don’t trust that guy.”
Ed’s gazed followed Jake’s until they were both staring at Caleb.  He nodded and dropped back, happy for a slower pace.  Maybe Jake was right not to trust the boy, but maybe all the boy needed was a chance to do something worthwhile.  Caleb knew they didn’t trust him; it was hard not to feel the eyes bearing down on him.  But he was used to being singled out.  He was used to being the odd one.  Geneva was the only one that didn’t treat him like a circus freak.
  Even his parents had not known how to act around Caleb.  He remembered the look of horror on his father’s face when at the age of five he would correct his father while he read him bedtime stories.  His mother was contented to placate him and treat him like a child even to this day.  Not anymore, Caleb reminded himself.  They were all dead.  Part of him couldn’t help but smile at the thought.  Everyone who had made his life hell, who hadn’t believed in him or understood him, was gone.  Geneva had to be alive, he thought suddenly.    A mousy girl who loved plants just as much as people; she was the light of his life.  He would have felt if she had died.  She was his twin after all.  He could imagine her hiding safely in the greenhouses.  He would get to her and make sure she was all right.  Until then he’d follow these people and stay alive.

Chapter 6
The streets were empty when they reached ground level.  No cars, no buses, no students hurrying to class; only newspaper tumbled over the concrete.  Jenny had never seen the campus look so deserted.  In the eerie half-light of an unnatural day everything looked like it belonged on a stage.  It was really and yet lifeless.  Even during the holidays there were a few people around.  T walked along side her, keeping a watchful eye on their surroundings.  There were no monsters jumping out of the shadows.  There were no people flooding into the streets after surviving a hellish night.  
“Do you think they are all dead?”  Jenny whispered to Alex.
“I don’t know.  Maybe they’ve already left town.”  Alex didn’t want to confirm Jenny’s suspicions.  They couldn’t know for sure and he didn’t want to worry her.  “Maybe everyone’s gone to the military base.”
Jenny frowned.  Alex was only trying to protect her but she knew their situation was grim.  The streets were quiet except for the whisper of a warm easterly breeze.  Such a change from the frost gripped air of the day before.
“There’s the store.”  Jake shouted from a few yards ahead.  
They gathered in front of the large window advertising chips and coffee.  It was normally full of students searching for a quick, cheap breakfast alternative most likely consisting of something caffeinated or microwavable.  Jake remembered those glorious undergraduate days when he didn’t have to worry about where he threw his cloths on the way to bed or how long the dishes sat in the sink.  Melissa had changed all that; for the better she always insisted.  It made him sad to think of her so suddenly.  He loved her once but somewhere along the road to a career and family he’d stopped caring.  It happened so slowly he wasn’t aware of it until now.  He lived his life the way she wanted him to; there wasn’t much of an alternative if he wanted to stay with her.  
“Should we stand guard?”  Jenny asked not sure what the best way to break and enter was.
Jake pulled out of his inner thoughts and put his mind to the task at hand.  “Alex, you and Jenny stand guard with T.  If we aren’t out in 15 minutes get as far away from here are you can.”
Jenny nodded.  It was easy enough to get into the shop.  Jake broke the door glass with his elbow and motioned for Ed and Caleb to follow him.
“Come on boy, a little work will do you good.”  Ed said slapping Caleb’s shoulder.
Wordlessly he followed the two men.  He would have rather waited outside but that would only spark another argument and more man handling.  Caleb was starting to feel the bruises he’d earned last night and he didn’t want to add to them.  He watched Jake carefully.  That one will be easy to push over the edge, he thought.  He had to calculate carefully.  If the group wasn’t going to head to the agricultural campus he’d have to strike out on his own.  He picked up at few plastic bags and started filling them.
“Take anything light and easy to eat.”  Jake said though he doubted there would be much more than that on the shelves.  “No canned goods unless someone finds a can opener.”
The inside of the store was dark even compared to the low light outside.  The electricity had gone out hours ago and a dank odor was coming off the refrigerators.  Jake stepped in water that was pooling around the freezers as he made his way towards the office.
“I’ll check the office.”  Jake said before disappearing into the shadows.  
Caleb was glad to see him go.  The old man stuffed Twinkies and cakes into bags.  The store was filled with stuff that would rot their teeth out if they survived long enough.  Caleb wandered away from Ed content to forage on his own.  He was comparing cereals trying to decide which would be the least offensive when he heard something in the back room.  It was something like a hushed whisper but too low to make out.  Caleb tossed a box of Lucky Charms into his bag and walked towards the stock room.
* * *
Jenny sat down on the sidewalk leaning against the building.  She was tired but not enough to sleep and they still had to get to the military base.  Somehow she couldn’t bring herself to believe that would be any safer than where they were.  It seemed unlikely that anyone else had survived and even more unlikely that they had.  It was like they were running towards a mirage in the desert knowing that it was a mirage.  T sat alertly looking around while Alex disappeared into the alleyway next to the building.  Jenny listened as she heard trashcans over turned.  Reluctantly she rose to her feet, her curiosity getting the better of her.
“Alex, what are you doing?”  Jenny asked joining him with T by her side.
He didn’t even look up but kept overturning and sifting through the trash.  It was mostly chip bags and sub wrappers, nothing usable.  When he felt Jenny’s hand on his arm he stood up and kissed her.
“Ewww, you were touching garbage.”  Jenny wrinkled her nose even though she hadn’t smelt anything offending.
“Well it’s worth it, isn’t it?  Alex wrapped his arms around her.  Jenny’s laughter was like a tonic.  Her eyes were swollen and red from too much crying but still held that sparkle within them.  “Maybe we should find somewhere private when we get where we are going and finish what we started.”
Jenny’s eyes went wide before she punched his shoulder.  “Is that all you think about?”
“Not all.  A lot.  But not all.”  Alex smiled.
* * *
The office was locked but easy enough to break into.  Jake had never thought he’d ever have to break so much glass but it wasn’t like there was anyone around to complain.  He could almost hear Melissa’s disapproving comments.  She would never break in or lot.  To her right was right even if it meant starving to death.  Jake sat down at the desk and pulled out the drawers.  It was in the third one that he found what he was looking for, a small revolver and a box of ammunition.  Robberies weren’t all too common on campus.  The kids that had enough money to go to college rarely needed to steal.  But that didn’t mean they didn’t get drunk and try to trash a place just for the hell of it.  College students tended to live in a world of their own with little concept of what was going on around them.  They threw their trash where they wanted, crossed streets against traffic and generally weren’t concerned about much more then themselves.  Jake had met a few of the eco types but they were a minority.  Most of the kids he had taught were loud, rude and self-centered.  Jenny and Alex didn’t seem all that bad but he doubted either of them would do well if things went bad.  Jake loaded the gun.  The metal on metal clang echoed through the silence.  He shoved it in his pocket and went out to find the others.  He’d never shot a gun but as long as he could point and pull the trigger he would be fine.
* * *
“Now where did that boy run off to?”  Ed muttered to himself looking up the empty aisles as he passed them.
He’d filled up three bags with snacks, light enough that he could carry them without help.  He might be old but he wasn’t useless.  Somehow he’d lost track of Caleb.  A hand on his shoulder caused his heart to beat a little faster.
“That should be enough for now.”  Jake said catching the old man off guard.  He suddenly was grateful that they weren’t stuck in one of those zombie films with undead running out at them.  As unreal as this all felt he could imagine it being a whole lot worse.  
“I reckon we can find more stores along the way.”  Ed replied closing up his bags.  “Looks like we won’t be having much competition for food.”
“No, I guess the real problem is not becoming something’s food.”  Jake chuckled even as the gun rested heavily in his pocket.  “What do you think our chances are of getting out of this?”
Ed rested his bags on the ground and stretched out his back.  Chance had little to do with them getting out alive he figured.
“50/50.”  He winked.  “Either we make or we don’t.”
Jake smiled.  The old man was right not to dwell on what could happen.  The simple truth was that.  They either survived or died and no amount of worrying would change that.  A chuckle bubbled to his lips as he thought about how all the complexities of life could be reduced to such a simple statement.  One thing was sure if they stayed here too long they might end up on the wrong side of that 50/50.
“My car’s about a block north, we should get going.”  Jake helped Ed with his bags of food even though the old man didn’t look like he needed the help.  The food that Ed and Caleb had collected should last them for a little while.  Caleb, however, was nowhere in sight.  “Where’s the nut job, anyways?”
“Not sure, he wandered off towards the back a little while ago.”  Ed shrugged his shoulders.  
Jake looked towards the front on the building where Alex and Jenny were standing.  No sign of Caleb.  The back, Jack thought with a grim expression.  The last thing Jake wanted was to go where there was even less light.  Ed looked towards the back of the door where he could barely make out an opened door leading further into the darkness.  He didn’t like the feeling of this one bit.  
“We’d best get him and be on our way.”  Ed said but didn’t move until Jake started off in that direction.
* * *
It sounded like someone was whispering, Caleb thought pressing his ear to the cold metal door.  Beyond the heavy metal door was a cold room where the beer was stored.  It didn’t make any sense that someone would hide in there but a lot of things didn’t make sense anymore.  Caleb wondered how long it would take to freeze to death.  Hypothermia could set in at 50 degrees and it felt like it was a lot colder in the room on the other side of the door.  
“What are you doing?”  Jake’s voice doomed but Caleb didn’t move.
“Come on kid it’s time we best be going,” Ed said touching the boy’s shoulder.  His hand was gentle but firm.  It was the way his Grammy used to grab him when he was doing something other than what he should be doing.
But Caleb didn’t move.  His eyes darted back and forth trying to follow the sounds he was hearing within.  His hand rested on the latch ready to open it.
“What’s in there?”  Jake asked when Caleb wouldn’t move.
“None of your business.”  Caleb snapped.  All this noise was covering up the whispers.  They might mean something, he thought.  
“Look, we don’t have time for this.”  Jake said grabbing hold of Caleb’s arm.
As Jake started to pull Caleb away his hand slipped over the latch and the weight of his body started to open the door into the cold room.  Ed was the first to see the ghastly face of the reaver.  It must have gotten trapped inside last night. Its hungry, hollow eyes set on Caleb who was toppling into the room.  
“Watch out.”  Ed yelled throwing himself between Caleb and the reaver.
“No, Ed.”  Jake grasped at the old man as he pushed Caleb towards him.
“Get out of here while you can.”  Ed’s voice barely able to reach above the sucking sound of the reaver.
It was happening again, Jake thought with a panic.  He tossed Caleb aside and fought the pull of the reaver as he tried to reach Ed.
“It’s too late for me.”  Ed said as he started to disintegrate into thousands of particles.  
With the last of his strength he pushed the door shut sealing himself in with the reaver.  It didn’t bother him none as he felt the world fall away from him.  He’d lived his life and had died saving someone else’s.  His thoughts were of the kids he was leaving behind and visions of them in their old lives before that warm wind swept them all away.
* * *
Jenny and Alex were fooling around outside when T suddenly started barking.  She knew what that bark meant.  
“Alex?”  Jenny moved closer to him.
Jake and Caleb came into view running towards the door, bags of food in hand.
“Run now.”  Jake managed to say through panting breaths.  “Follow me to the north lot.”
He didn’t stop as he ran through the broken glass.  The others followed close behind him knowing what they were running from.   Jake only glanced behind to check that Jenny and Alex were following.  He could care less about whether Caleb made it out of there or not.  The bastard had killed Ed just as surely if he had stuck a knife in his back.  He saw his car as they approached the lot and headed right for it.  His hand searched his pocket for the keys passing over the pistol.  
“Wait, where’s Ed?”  Jenny said coming to a stop.
“Jenny, come on.”  Alex shouted as a gap opened up between them.
“He’s dead.”  Caleb said running passed Jenny.
No, Jenny thought.  She turned towards the now out of sight store.  She felt a tug on her hand as Alex tried to lead her away.  She knew they didn’t have time to mourn.  They would be next unless they could escape the city and those soul reavers.
Jake crashed into the driver’s side door.  He fumbled with his keys as the others gathered around him.  Every movement took three times as long as it normally took.  Key in lock, door open, sit in driver’s seat, key in ignition; Jake went over every move as he did them.  His heart raced as he turned the key and there was nothing.  Gone was the turning of the engine.  Gone was the binging seatbelt reminder.  The car just sat there like a piece of modern art.
“What’s wrong?”  Alex asked leaning against the car trying to catch his breath.
“The battery is dead.”  Jake said looking at the gauges.  It wasn’t just that the battery was flat.  It was dead and he doubted any kind of jump would start it.
“What does that mean?”  Jenny asked but received no answer.  “Alex what does that mean?”
He didn’t have the energy to explain it to her.  He didn’t want to disappoint her yet again.  The car should have started.
“We can try another car right?”  Jenny asked looking between their stone faces.
“Don’t you get it?”  Caleb said as he sank to the ground.  “The battery didn’t just die on it’s own.  It’s the same as all the buildings.  No electricity.  No power.  None of these cars are going to start even if one of us knew how to hotwire them, which I personally don’t.  Do you?”
Jenny shook her head no.  She didn’t want it to end like this.
“I didn’t think so.”  Caleb continued.  “So either you say your prayers like a good girl and wait for the end to come or we walk to god knows where and pray we find someone before night fall, which by my calculations should be in about three hours.”
Tears fell from her eyes again even though she didn’t want them too.  She was tired of crying but it was the only thing Jenny could think to do.  Jake felt a wave of anger wash over him as he listened to Caleb’s know-it-all voice.  He got out of the car, grabbed the scrawny student by the collar of his shirt and lifted him against the car.
“You fucking bastard, this is all your fault.”  Jake yelled.  “Ed would still be here if it wasn’t for you.”
“Maybe you should have left me where you found me.”  Caleb smirked.
That was the last straw.  Jake reached into his pocket and pulled out the pistol.  Pressing it to Caleb’s temple he cocked it.  He heard Jenny scream and T barking but it was like they were far away.  Or maybe it was him who was far away.  His finger wrapped around the trigger.
“No, Jake, don’t do it.”  Alex grabbed Jake’s shoulders but he wouldn’t budge.
“How would you like an extra hole in your head?”  Jake whispered.  He could do it, he thought.  He wondered how loud it would be.  He wondered how much blood there would be.  He wondered if Caleb would beg for his life.  But he didn’t.  He just stared back at Jake with those lifeless eyes.  Jake took the gun and jammed it into Caleb’s gut.  “Or how about an extra whole down here.  Then you can die slowly unless you are lucky enough that night finds you quickly.”
“Do it.”  Caleb taunted.  “But then I won’t tell you the one place you can find lights and a generator to run them.  See how you like the running for your life once darkness falls.”
Jake wanted to shoot him.  He wanted nothing more than to make this man hurt.  He had been nothing but trouble since the minute they’d found him dangling from the ceiling.  If only they’d gone into a different room.  If only they’d been a minute or two later.  But if what he was saying was true it might save them for one more night.  That didn’t stop Jake from slamming the revolver into the side of Caleb’s face.  It wasn’t until the guy was sprawled on the ground, blood trickling from his face that Jake let Alex pull him away.
“You’d better not be lying.”  Jake said walking away to cool down.
Alex turned Caleb over to see if he was all right.  He was shocked when the guy started laughing.  His face was already starting to turn blue from the impact and blood flowed from the corner of his lips and eye but he was still laughing.
“Where do we need to go?”  Alex said pulling Caleb to his feet.
“The greenhouse at the agricultural campus.”  Caleb swiped away some of the blood but left the rest to dry.  Geneva would be there.  She would be alive.  That’s all he cared about.

Chapter 7
They set out walking down the wide transit way towards the agricultural campus.  It would take nearly an hour to get there but that would leave them plenty of time to get set up for the night.  Caleb led this time; everyone else hung back a few paces.  The guy seemed lost in his own world, talking to himself and laughing.  Jenny walked beside Alex for a little but dropped back to check on Jake.  He hadn’t said anything since they had started.  He picked the bags and just started walking.
“Are you ok?”  Jenny asked walking beside him.
Jake only gave her a quick glance.  He was in no mood to talk.  He stared at the idiot he had let live walking ahead of him.  He was starting to regret not having beaten the information out of the guy and leaving him to rot.  Caleb looked more and more unstable as they went.  Jake could barely make out what the idiot was saying to himself, something about them all dieing he guessed.  He’d come so close to pulling that trigger, it was almost surreal.  
“Jake?”  Jenny searched his face for some acknowledgement.  “Say something or I’ll sick T on you.”
Jake smiled in spite of himself.  “Now that would be just cruel.”
“Did you happen to pick up anything for T to eat?”  Jenny asked.
He hadn’t thought about the dog while they were gathering.  Jake looked to the bags he was carrying.  These were the ones Ed had put together.  The old man didn’t deserve to die like that and if this night had never happened he wouldn’t have.  Shifting the content of the bag he suddenly caught sight of a several thin sticks of meat.  He couldn’t believe then man had thought about one mangy mutt when their world was falling apart around them.  He reached in and pulled one out.  
“Here you go.”  He said handing the pepperoni stick to Jenny.
She squealed in delight and kissed Jake on the cheek before ripping it open for T.  When she looked back at Jake he was smiling.  Soon the fields of the agricultural campus came into view.
* * *
They crested the transit way overpass and saw the fields of dried corn that stretched around a complex of building and greenhouses.  The agricultural campus was on the outskirts of town.  Jake rarely got out to the campus except when he was driving out of town.  For some reason the plant biologists always kept to apart from the main campus scientists.  The last time Jake had interacted with any of the scientist from the agricultural campus was at the faculty mixer.  He remembers thinking there were far too few women at the main campus.  
“That’s it.”  Caleb said pointing to a building on the far side of the cluster.
It was odd to walk among the barns that were usually filled with baying animals.  Everything was empty.  The stalls, the pens, everything was abandoned by people and animal alone.  No, they didn’t all just abandon it but were torn from it.  And now they were following a madman who was their only hope in getting through the night.  The sun had already started to set even though it was barely 2PM.  Jake scanned his watch and the horizon.  Time was running out fast.  
The glass of the greenhouse was covered in hard water stains from years of use and humidity.  Jenny hung back a little.  It was impossible to see through the whitish glass.  T paced at her feet.
“We’re going in there?”  Alex asked.
Jake didn’t like it one bit.  Behind the frosted glass were thick patches of plants and too many dark corners for his liking.  But as far as he could tell their choices were limited.  Caleb was the first to reach for the door.  He had to find Geneva.  The others had followed behind him.
“Stay close.”  Jake said to Alex and Jenny.
Dense foliage hung over into the narrow walkways.  It was the most life they’d seen since this nightmare started.  
“I guess the reavers don’t like their veggies.”  Jenny whispered staying as close to Alex as she could without tripping over his feet.  
Caleb knew the way by heart.  Through the greenhouses, passed the seed rooms, the third door on the left.  He hadn’t visited his sister as often as he should have.  If his work weren’t so important he would have felt guilty.  Geneva always understood and made an effort to come to his lab whenever she could and always with some kind of baked goods in a basket.  She always knew how to make him feel like he mattered.  She was everything he wasn’t.  
“Caleb, wait up man.” Alex shouted as Caleb disappeared around the bend.  
It was getting darker by the minute and Caleb was the only one who knew his way around the greenhouses.  Jake brushed passed Alex and Jenny signaling to them to pick up the pass.  But no matter how fast he walked Caleb kept evading him.  Soon all he could hear were the echoes of his footsteps.  Damn, Jake cursed breaking into an all out run.
Caleb was half way to the labs when he stopped in front of one of the seed rooms.  He could feel Geneva as if she were whispering to him, calling him.  Leaning against the thick door he listened for any sign of life.
By the time Jake caught up with Caleb he found him in an all too familiar position.  Just like at the store he had his ear pressed against a door with his hand on the handle.
“Step away from there, Caleb.”  Jake shouted.
Jenny was relieved when she and Alex entered into a long corridor only to find Jake and Caleb.  It was getting hard to see and she could have sworn she saw movements in the shrubs of the greenhouse.  
“Caleb, I’m talking to you.”  Jake slowly approached the man not wanting to startle him.  Last time he’d cost Ed his life.  Jake didn’t wasn’t about to let anyone else die.
“What’s he doing?”  Alex stepped beside Jake.   
He could hear the whispers falling to him.  His hand tightened around the metal latch.
“No, not again.”  Jake shouted rushing Caleb.
“Let me go.”  Caleb struggled not letting go of the door.  “She’s in there I know she is.  Geneva, it’s me.  Come out, Geneva.”
“Alex, what’s going on?”  Fear crept into Jenny’s voice as she knelt beside T.  She could feel another struggle coming on and there was nothing she could do to stop it, she only prayed they would work it out before the soul reavers got here.  T wasn’t barking yet, that was the most encouraging sign.
“This is how Ed died.”  Jake said trying to gain control of the madman.  “Caleb freed a soul reaver.  We’ve got to stop him.”
The realization that Caleb was about to let lose the horror they had been running from dawned on Alex as he rushed to help Jake.  The two wrestled Caleb to the ground, prying his hands from the latch.
“Let me go, I’ve got to save her.”  Caleb screamed.
While Alex and Jake were busy holding down Caleb Jenny saw the door creep open.  T emitted a low growl.
“Umm guys, the door?”  Jenny spoke as the door opened.
They all froze in fear waiting for the inevitable.  Instead of a shapeless reaver a young woman in torn cloths emerged.  
“Caleb, is that you?”
* * *
Geneva had spent a hellish night locked in the seed room.  When the power had gone out the back-up generators had to be started to keep some of the lights on in the greenhouse.  It was her turn to water that Halloween night and by extension her job to make sure the lights stayed on.  It wasn’t until she had spent an hour trying to get it working that she realized something was wrong.  The generator wouldn’t start and there was something out there.  Geneva knew enough to hide when the phones went dead and the air was filled with unnatural cries.  She could hardly believe her ears when she heard voices.  She thought she was going insane from thirst and hunger.  Then she heard her name called and knew it had to be Caleb.
“How?”  Geneva asked her hands clasped over her chest.
“Let me up.”  Caleb twisted beneath the hands that held him.
The sound of crashing plant pots startled them all.  T started barking like crazy and Jenny knew exactly what that meant.
“Their back.”  Jenny said pointing towards the greenhouses.
The plants moved as if a strong breeze were moving through them, shifting this way then righting themselves.  
“Quickly, inside.”  Geneva said ducking back into the seed room.
Reluctantly, Jake let Caleb up as they all took shelter inside the dark room.  Geneva latched the door leaving them in darkness.  The seed room had its own ventilation system and should keep them safe for the night as it had kept Geneva safe last night.  She didn’t think she’d seen her brother again much less survive another night.  But there he was.  Geneva wrapped her arms around her brother.  She could smell the blood dried on his face.  
“What happened?”  Geneva stroked Caleb’s trembling hand.  
“Ok, so we got here.”  Jake said trying to make his way over to the two in the dark.  “Where is that generator?”
Geneva squinted in the darkness before rummaging around for her flashlight.  She didn’t know how long the batteries would last and only used it when necessary and she had a feeling looking these people in the eyes would be necessary.  The guy’s tone alone warned her that something wasn’t right.  The lighted flickered on and she got a better view of a large bruise that covered half of Caleb’s face.  She gasped and grabbed the first aid kit.  
“The generator is outside if you are that interested in having lights.”  Geneva said turning her attention to her wounded brother.  He looked horrible.  Besides the cuts and bruises his eyes were so distant.  “I wouldn’t advise it though.  They can’t get in here.”
“Not yet.”  Alex added.  “The place we were held up last night was safe too until the walls started disappearing.”
“That’s impossible.”  Geneva said dabbling peroxide on Caleb’s wounds.
Caleb cringed but he was so glad to see his sister he’d put up with any pain under the sun.  He had always shared a special bond with her.  Whenever he was bullied at school or ignored by their parents she always took care of him.
“A lot of impossible things have been happening lately if you hadn’t noticed.”  Jake grumbled taking a seat.  He was hungry and tired.  The last thing he wanted was to spend the night arguing.  “We’ll see how long these walls hold.”
* * *
In the darkness there wasn’t much to do besides have a snack and catch some shuteye.  Jake kept watch the best he could in the darkness.  The thick walls dulled the sounds of the soul revears outside.  He could hear Jenny and Alex whispering in one corner of the room.  Geneva and Caleb occupied the other.  This was going to be a long night if day was only 5 hours long.  
Geneva hadn’t gotten the answers she wanted but no one was going anywhere for a while.  Caleb was equally closed lip about his wounds.
“I can’t believe you found me.”  She whispered to her brother in case anyone was listening.
“I had to find you.”  Caleb said leaning close.  “I had to tell you because you would understand.  You are the only one who ever understood me.”
She didn’t like it when he talked like this.  He sounded so desperate and sad.  He got this way when things weren’t going well at college.  Caleb was brilliant but too sensitive to the world around him.  He felt things so much more than anyone else.  When she fell of her bike while he was teaching her how to ride it he cried for hours.  To Caleb anything that went wrong was always his fault.
“Shush Caleb, it will be alright.”  Geneva stroked Caleb’s head careful to avoid his bruises.  “The morning will come again and we’ll get out of here.”
“But don’t you see there is nowhere to go.”  Caleb’s voice was barely audible.  “There is nothing else out there.  We are all doomed and it’s all my fault.”
“That’s insane.”  Geneva said.  “This is all wrong but it can’t possibly be your fault.”
“But it is.”  Caleb said.  “Remember the project I was working on?”
“The artificial wind power generator?”
“Yes, that one.”  Caleb glanced over to where the others were sleeping.  Jenny and Alex rested quietly and there was no sounds coming from where Jake was sitting.  It didn’t matter if the others heard now.  They would all be dead soon.  “It was working.  I was so close.  Then something happened.  Something went terribly wrong.  First there was a light then the power went out.”
Geneva couldn’t believe what she was hearing.  She refused to believe that Caleb could have anything to do with what was happening now.  People were dieing.  For all she knew everyone but the five people in this room was dead.  
“Caleb what does this have to do with those… those things?”
“Don’t you see?”  Caleb sounded desperate.  He clutched at her hand.  “The particles accelerated so fast that they cut through the fabric of reality.  That’s where these things came from.  They must be from another dimension.  I don’t know what they are but their here because of me.”
“No.”  Geneva didn’t want to hear anymore.  She wanted to be happy that her brother was her not think about the implications of what he was saying.  “Let’s not talk about this now.  We’re both tired.  Caleb you must get some sleep.”
He nodded and nestled close to his sister comforted by her presence.  Even if he couldn’t see her eyes in the dark he knew she was disappointed.  He listened as Geneva drifted off into a restless sleep.  She didn’t have much to say when he explained what had happened to her.  She must still be in shock.  When the morning came he would see that look in her eyes.  She was just as disgusted with him as everyone else.  What did it matter if he lived or died?  In the morning he wouldn’t be there when she woke.
Chapter 8
Sleep came in fitful bouts that didn’t lead to any rest.  When Jenny opened her eyes she felt stiff all over.  There was just enough light to make out the sleeping forms of the others.  Alex was even snoring.  Jenny pushed herself to a seated position waking T in the process.  The dog stretched and yawned.  Jake was the next to wake and finally Geneva.  She looked around the room suddenly realizing something was wrong.  Frantically she reached for the flashlight blinding everyone with the light.
“Where’s Caleb?”  Geneva shouted.  She shone the light around the room but there was no sign of her brother.  “Caleb?  Caleb?”
Geneva caught sight of the half open door.  She had to find him.  Geneva raced out of the room before anyone can stop him.
“Oh crap.”  Jake muttered running after her.  What was it about this family that made them run into certain danger, he wondered.
When Jake caught up with her she was standing outside in the low light of the sunrise crying.  He walked up to her not sure what to say.  There was no trace of Caleb and no way of knowing how much of a head start he had.  
“I know he was your brother.”  Jake put his hands on her shoulders.  “But something wasn’t right with him.”
Geneva shrugged him off and glared at him.  “He was my twin.  I know there was something not ‘right’ with him.  Did you think I couldn’t feel it?”
“I’m sorry.”  Jake rubbed his head trying to think of something to say.  “There’s no way of knowing which way he went.”
“I know, I know.”  Geneva said crestfallen.  “I just… Caleb is my brother I love him.  But what he did is unforgivable.”
Jake didn’t have the heart to tell her he had overhead their conversation last night.  It didn’t seem possible that one man could have caused all this trouble.  But at least he wouldn’t be causing them any more trouble.  He put his hand on her shoulder again hoping she wouldn’t push him away again.
“We can’t stay here.”  Jake heard the approach of steps.  “We’ve got to keep going.”
Alex and Jenny joined them as they started to walk.  There was only one place to go, far away from the city.
* * *
They’d been walking for two hours in the low light.  It was as if the sunlight was fading little by little.  Even the city behind them was starting to fade like some mirage.  They only had a few hours to find another shelter before nightfall.  
“You did say we should spend more time together being outside.”  Alex jabbed Jenny gently in the side.
“So now you want to go for walks.”  Jenny giggled.  She remembered all the times she had practically begged Alex to walk around the park with her.  Now she was walking with the man she loved with an adorable husky at their side.  “Maybe tomorrow we can find a lake to go swimming in.”
“Swimming in November?  I don’t think so.”  Alex laughed.
* * *
“Are you feeling any better?”  Jake asked.
Geneva glared at him.  She knew he was only trying to make her feel better but there were few things that could distract her from losing her brother and his confession about being the cause of this disaster.
“Hungry?”  Jake started down a list of question.  She had to respond to one of them, he thought.  “Thirsty?  Missing your plants?”
She sighed; he wasn’t going to give up easily.  Geneva smiled.  “You study at the main campus don’t you?”
  “That’s right.”  Jake was glad to see the girl smile.  She might be Caleb’s twin sister but she was nothing like him.  She was had a strength in her eyes.  “I’m in my last year of graduate school in the cell bio program.”
“Oh you are one of those kinds of scientists.”  Geneva said knowing the inherent competition between the programs.  
“Yep got to love those cells.”  Jake replied.  “We are going to find something out there; people, a place to hide, something.  We just can’t give up.”
“I know.”  Geneva looked towards the undergrads walking ahead of them.  They looked so playful and happy.  She almost envied their ability to forget even for a moment their plight.
“And I’m sorry about Caleb.”  Jake didn’t know exactly what else to say.  He’d come so close to killing the guy.  How could he forget that he was someone’s brother, someone’s son, or someone’s friend?
Geneva took his hand and squeezed it.  “I know.”
There was that look in her eyes.  Even if she were hurting deep down inside she wouldn’t let it destroy her.  When Jake finally looked away from Geneva he was surprised to find Alex and Jenny, who had been only a few feet in front of them gone.  He stopped in his tracks.
“Jake, where did they go?”  Geneva asked.
Suddenly the pair reappeared, stepping backwards.  Jenny turned towards Jake her eyes filled with tears.
“What’s wrong Jenny?”  Jake called to her as he and Geneva ran to reach the two.
Jenny couldn’t find the words to explain what she had seen.  She just sat down on the ground and buried her head in T’s fur.  Alex stepped forward again disappearing.  Jake and Geneva helped Jenny to her feet and stepped through the veil.
Words failed them all.  They stood at the edge of a cliff.  Before then stretched a blacked and matted landscape completely devoid of any structure or features.  On the horizon a cold white orb glowed.  It wasn’t the warm light of any kind of sun Jake had ever seen.  Before them laid an inhuman waste land that they would either cross or die trying.  There was no giving up, not while they had each other.