Terri's plan had been to make a run for the tree line, get away and come back with weapons and reinforcements. She landed on the grass behind the house, rolled and rushed for the shadows of the generator shed across the way.
She was about to make the next run, for the long grass of the meadow, when there were shouted orders from the front of the house and a gun wielding figure jogged around the side. Terri dodged behind the shed as the figure scanned the back lawn then started a more leisurely walk in her direction.
Terri's hand settled on a piece of metal. She pulled at it and found it was a long metal spike with a cast fleur-de-lys on the end. There was a fence behind the shed, a row of similar spikes tied together with bolted cross bars. It would be quieter than using her pistol, if she got the chance.
The figure drew parallel with Terri. For now he was looking away, but Terri still wouldn't be able to get to him fast enough.
There were shots from the house, then someone fell from one of the main bedroom's windows. The figure turned toward the commotion, and Terri had her chance. She hefted the spike high and brought it down in a swing so the cast iron work embedded deep in the figure's skull.
He twitched a couple of times, but his gun slipped from his hands and hung by its strap from his neck. Terri used the spike to tug him back into the shadows and lay him down. He had an MP5, but this version had a suppressor on it. Terri took it, and several spare magazines. The blow had damaged his night sight goggles, so she discarded them.
The figure's face was covered by a balaclava. SWAT issue style, not the sort of makeshift or found mask slashers favoured. Terri pulled it up to reveal a young face, no older than her. Just the right age to be a slasher hunter.
There would be more of them, and she didn't think she could take them on yet. She could charge in with her new gun, but that wouldn't help her or Tiffany in the long run. She pulled the body further back into the shadows, hoping it wouldn't be found too soon. Then she disappeared into the grass and headed, stealthily, for the tree line.
* * *
The darkness came and went and Tiffany couldn't tell how long she was out each time. All she was really aware of was that she was in a narrow space and that there was another presence in there with her.
She was between two walls, lying on something which was soft and comfortable. Almost too comfortable. After everything she'd been through in the last few hours it would be too easy to just sleep. But if she did that, she might never wake up.
There were voices on the other side of the wall, but Tiffany couldn't yet concentrate enough to follow their conversation. Light was filtering through cracks in the wall, and Tiffany's sight was becoming accustomed to it. She could make out the hunched over black clad figure at her feet. He was listening to the conversation, and not paying her any attention.
Tiffany still had her stiletto in a sheath on her belt. Moving as few muscles as possible, she slid it out and held it ready at her side. While she waited to see if she'd need to use it she forced herself to concentrate on the voices.
"...not sure this counts as a success." said an older male voice.
"Why not?" came back a younger man's reply, "They did everything that was asked of them, and they managed to improvise without going off the main plot."
"And they died."
"Yeah, they died. But not before they had killed most of one of the best slasher hunting teams in the world. Set one loose against civilians and the death toll would be in the high double figures."
"This has been costly."
"Consider it an investment."
Tiffany shifted slightly and the dark figure she shared her space with moved his head to look at her. She stared back at two eyes behind a featureless white mask. She raised her stiletto and held it between her and the figure, who made the slightest of nods and held a finger up to roughly where his lips would be. Tiffany nodded understanding, and he pointed at the wall near her head. There was a small gap she could look through.
They were looking out over the dining room from a vantage point high up and inside the wall. Standing by the pool table she could just see the paunch and expensive suit which probably belonged to the older voice she had heard, and the black clad back and shoulders of the younger man. Now that her head was clearing she could make out the sounds of others moving around the room, an efficient team unpacking equipment and probably preparing for a hunt.
"Did they kill your stooge then?" the older man asked.
"It looks like someone else did that." When the younger man turned away from the pool table he revealed a head propped up on the baize. Tiffany recognised Freddy, but the shocked expression wasn't one he often wore. She looked at the figure before her, who was staring back. He made a little shrug, and went back to gazing through the hole nearest him. Tiffany slid her stiletto back into its sheath.
The older man was obviously staring at Freddy's head, which had carried enough blood with it to stain the green material. The younger man returned with an empty kit bag, picked the head up by its unruly hair and dropped it inside. "It's a shame. He was good."
"Does.... Does that mean the one they came to hunt is still here?"
"It may. We're going to do an old school hunt for him later, when we're sure we've got the rest of the team. Or maybe we'll bring the infra red cameras up and just shoot holes where we see hot spots."
The younger man tensed at something he heard on his headset. "Shit." He adjusted his microphone. "Okay, form up a search team and do a sweep. Stay in touch."
"What is it?"
"We lost touch with one of the guys doing a perimeter walk. Whoever was in the bedroom must have got out and got past, or through, him."
Still carrying the bag, the younger man left the room. The older man hovered by the bloodstained pool table for a while, then followed.
The figure sharing Tiffany's wall space slowly rose. He reached is head, grasped something further up in the dark and started slowly and quietly climbing. Before he disappeared completely he looked down. The blank mask was either asking or daring her to follow. She stood and started looking for hand and foot holds. He pointed several out and then headed up. After taking a moment to check the holds, she followed him.
* * *
It had been tense crossing the meadow to the tree line, but once she was in it Terri was swallowed up. Only a few trees in she could no longer see the house. The trick now was to keep from doubling back on herself.
The moon could only be seen occasionally through the branches, but Terri kept adjusting her direction each time she spotted it. And heading uphill, at least at first. When she reached a crest she could see that the trees stopped dead not far ahead. She stepped carefully as she moved down the hill, it would be appalling to sprain her ankle this late in her escape.
The trees stopped because the land did. The rough grass curled over the edge of a small but sheer cliff. Terri looked down on the buildings of Hanks' Gas, Bait 'N Supplies.
There were four vehicles parked on the forecourt, three SUVs and a panel van. The SUVs were exactly the sort of vehicles a hunter team would roll up in- two newer ones and an older one to act as a Fort. The van could be unconnected, but Terri doubted it. There were two figures by the SUVs and a third, smoking a cigarette, nearer the road. Terri slung the MP5 over her back and looked for a way down the cliff.
The cliff curved away from the service station and there was a section of face that Terri could get down unobserved. The rock had been quarried and there was an abundance of ledges where slabs had been removed. She alighted behind a big pile of junk. Anything that was no longer useful had just been brought out back and stuck on the top of the pile. Judging by the state of the scrap, it had been building up since at least the middle of the last century.
Terri would have to go around the scrap pile, because there was no way she could go over it without making a lot of noise and risking ending her days impaled on a big piece of rusting iron. She unslung the gun and started navigating the narrow strip between the bottom of the cliff and the edge of the rubbish pile. At one point she was blocked by an old car which had driven several feet up the cliff wall. It looked like someone had just let it roll into the bowl of the old workings and then carried on piling junk on top of it where it had ended up. She half expected to see a pair of desiccated mummies in the front seats, dressed in what was left of their fifties fashions, and was disappointed to only find old cardboard boxes full of yet more scrap.
Terri took the risk of climbing around the crumpled nose of the crashed car and was soon in the upper reaches of the scrap field. She was near the rear door of the living quarters behind the shop. The door was ajar, but there didn't seem to be any movement inside. Terri headed away from the door, toward the corner of the building. She held the MP5 ready to get off a snap burst if needed.
There were no sounds from the side of the house, so Terri dared to look around the corner. The earth was packed hard along a line toward the door of one of the other buildings. Halfway along the line, splayed as it had fallen, was a body. Terri was sure who it was before she got to it. She knelt down to close the old man's eyes- Hank, she remembered- and headed for the next corner.
The pumps stood between Terri and the nearest of the SUVs. They would shield her approach. There were still two figures standing beside it, slouched with boredom. She didn't know where the third person was, but she would have to take the risk that they'd moved. Stepping lightly and with her gun raised, she headed for the pumps.
Crouched against the flaking paint of a pump, Terri took some time to listen for conversation. "Did we have to destroy all the old guy's porn?" one voice lamented after a while, "This is getting dull."
The other person laughed. "Yeah, I can just see you jerking off to Tight Asian Ass five when the call comes to move."
Terri stood slowly and dared a quick glance around the pump. Neither of them was looking her way. She walked toward them.
"They won't need us. They've got their pets to do the work for them. We'll just get to do clean up, as usual."
Right beside them now, Terri piped up, "The waiting's the worst part isn't it?"
They turned toward her. She jerked the MP5 up and put a three shot burst into the nearest one's chest. He staggered back, but didn't go down. Bullet proof vest, Terri thought. In that instant she decided not to kill him, instead she put the next burst into his knee and cracked the butt of the gun into his jaw to help him to the ground.
Terri let the gun drop and be caught by its strap. The second guy was trying desperately to get his pistol drawn. She rammed her knuckles hard into his throat and his eyes bulged with shock and pain. She grabbed his hair with both hands and rammed his head hard against the side of the SUV.
The third figure was still where she had first spotted them, chain smoking by the side of the road. They were turning toward the commotion. Terri raised the gun again, targeted and put three shots into their head.
The one with the crushed windpipe was slowly choking to death. Terri put him out of his misery. The other was sobbing out "Oh God, oh God, oh God." She kicked him in the head to shut him up.