Alexis is caught in a factory fire. Near death and accepting that life has screwed her over for the last time, she encounters a new life form and a path to survival. Life is all about changes and the world better fear the change in Alexis. No longer a victim, Alexis is now a hunter with a mission, and the small town of Harpers Hollow is about to see Hell in the flesh!
Alexis wiped a hand across her sweat drenched forehead. The fire blazed through the toy factory and the blare of the alarms echoed through her panicked thoughts as she tried to make sense of what was happening.
Seconds ago an explosion tore through the small factory, interrupting her routine at the assembly line where her quick, nimble fingers checked the dolls for defects before heading on to packaging. The blast, immediate and fierce, ripped through the assembly room in a flash of heat and pressure. The aftermath left overturned equipment and melted plastic dolls everywhere.
Alexis grunted as she gasped for air that burned her lungs with each inhalation. Pieces of sanity broke through as she took in her surroundings. One of her arms was caught under the overturned metal belt, pulped in a mess of blood and flesh.
“I don’t want to die,” she said, her voice cracking like dry, dead leaves.
Alexis was stuck, pinned by the heavy machinery, and the slow realization of impending death crept across her flame blistered face. What was left to do but die before the shock wore off and the pain overwhelmed her, leading to a slow torturous death?
Cries reached out for help, for comfort and reassurance, but her voice would not join the chorus. Weak and raw, it rattled, and the fire heated breathes she had already taken were rushing her toward darkness. She felt the icy fingers of death squeezing her lungs and heart even through the searing air. Hot tears streaked from the corners of her eyes as she began to give up.
A minute passed in slow ebbing pain as her vision narrowed and the blackness of oblivion closed about its edges. A foot away from her she found her last focal point. The head of an Emma Doll, its plastic, raven locks already melted and one side of its tiny, clementine sized head melting until a nickel’s worth of space had opened.
She laughed, hoarse and hacking, as the absurdity of a life wasted was reflected back at her through the tiny dolls disfigured head. It was fitting, she thought, to die staring at the ridiculous little toy she had wasted so many years of her life on assembling.
There was movement in the dolls head; the quick flicker of a snake-like tail, black and scaly.
“But how?” she railed. In these final moments it was the how that bothered her, not her imminent death. The heads were solid pieces of plastic. Fifteen years on the assembly line had taught her that much about the product. She could write it off to hallucination if, in fact, the movement was not escalating as it did now.
The tail vanished from sight and a small, leathery head emerged from the melting opening. A tar black, cracked tongue darted out and licked at the scorched air. And its eyes, red and alert, had fallen on her. A flurry of blurred motion confused her momentarily, and then it was there, clawing at her agape mouth and forcing itself down her damaged air way.
She would have screamed, if that was an option, but she was beyond producing sound now. If the strange little creature wanted to curl up inside her and die with her, then so be it. There was nothing left to fight for, so she welcomed the encroaching dark as it swept over her.
Her eyes flew open, and suddenly alert she moved, fighting against the belt pinning her down. She shifted on the floor, aware of the orange blaze consuming everything around her, and braced her legs against the overturned equipment. She could see her exposed skin blistering under the intense heat of the devouring flames. Suddenly she didn’t accept death as the final answer. Gritting her teeth beneath her splitting lips, she shoved hard and her arm tore free at the elbow leaving the ruined flesh behind to burn into ash.
Something’s off, she thought as she stumbled toward freedom. She should be dead, but step by step, moment by moment, the increasing inferno caused her less pain and her vision was clearing up. Looking down, she saw her clothes were tattered or burned off. One bare breast jiggled, exposed to the air with the plastic arm of a doll seared to the ample flesh. She reached up with her remaining arm and tore it free.
Her screamed pierced the factory, the only noise left besides the crackling of the flames and the crumbling of various objects being claimed by them.
She reached the north wall. Her body reacted before her mind could comprehend its actions. Her left leg shot out and kicked a hole in the wall, sending huge cement bricks flying off. She struggled to understand how she could be capable of such a superhuman feat, but the need to survive spurred her on and she squeezed through the small opening to the fresh air outside.
The morning sun mirrored the blaze inside and seared her with its bright assault. She went to cover her eyes with her right arm, but half of it remained inside. She raised her left, blocked the rays with it, and pushed forward, breaking into a limping run toward the forest, visible just past the parking lot.
It’s shaded there. It’s safe there. We can heal there.
“We?” she said, her voice returning, “Who the fuck is we?”
Alexis couldn’t panic anymore, her body simply had nothing left and she collapsed just inside the wooded expanse, landing face first in a carpet of soft green moss.
A beetle crossed her plain of vision as for the second time her consciousness began to recede. She felt the faintest stirring of hunger spark inside, stirring her appetite. “So odd,” she thought. Her jaw creaked open, charred muscles having trouble with the motion and her tongue, insanely long and split at the end, speared out and snatched the beetle. An instant later she heard the crunching in her head as she chewed. She passed out again before she could scream.