Justice

Roger and Landon ran through the moonlight from the car. The house wasn’t very far away, but the things that were following them moved fast. Roger was halfway there when he heard the flapping of their giant wings. Then he heard screaming.
By the time he reached the door, he realized it was his own voice. Roger slipped on one of the stairs. He panicked. They were coming, and he was certain he wouldn’t get up in time. Landon ran past and tried the door handle. It jiggled, but was locked. “Oh Christ!”

Roger was up again. Something swooped by. Landon shouldered him away, digging furiously in his pocket for the keys. “Hurry!” Roger kept shouting. Landon was shaking. He felt the leather from the key-chain and pulled it from his pocket. He fumbled for the correct key. Roger glanced over his shoulder.

One of them was flying strait toward them.

The screaming started again. Roger backed up against the door. There was a click, and then he fell backward. He landed hard on the wood floor. Landon grabbed him by the front of his jacket and dragged him into the house, they kicked the door closed and leapt against it.

Something large slammed into the door with tremendous force, nearly knocking Landon over. He turned the dead-bolt, and then turned the regular lock. A loud screech peeled from outside the door, and then they heard flapping again, this time it was moving away. Landon sighed.

Roger lay on the floor, shaking.

“W-what are those?”

Landon gave Roger a disgusted look. “How the hell should I know? We didn’t even see the damn things ’til we came here”

“Is the door locked?”

Landon nodded tersely. He reached into his interior jacket pocket and produced a box of cigarettes. He had one in his mouth and lit by reflex, in seconds.

“Please don’t smoke in here…” Roger asked.

Landon gave him a disbelieving look. “Hey, dummy. I didn’t ask you to bring me here because I wanted to see the antique drapes. It was my luck you happen to live out in the middle of nowhere.”

He took the cigarette out of his mouth, and then flicked a clump of ashes onto the rug. “Now shut up. I have to think…”

Roger sat in place on the floor. Landon stood, sucking his cigarette. He pulled out his pistol and checked to see how many rounds he had left in the magazine. “Son of a bitch…” He only had three left. He had more clips, but they were in the car.

“Well Rodge, I may have a job for you.”

Roger looked over at Landon, who was wearing an evil smirk, emphasized by his lit cigarette. “I’m almost out of bullets. And since you don’t have any, I believe that you will be going out to the car to get me more.”

Roger was speechless. His mouth hung open, and he turned his head slowly from side to side.

“Scared Yet? Of those things outside?”

Roger nodded. “Yes.”

Landon pointed his gun at Roger. “You should be scared to be in here, too. Click!”

Roger flinched and cowered, raising his hands. “You have a choice. Stay in here and get shot, or go out there. If you don’t go, I guarantee you will die.”

Roger knew he wasn’t kidding. Landon had shot Roger’s son a few short hours ago while carjacking them. Roger was torn apart, he didn’t know if his son was alright, and the man who shot him now stood in his home, pointing a gun at him, and telling him to go outside where those things were.

Landon motioned with the gun. “Stand up.” Roger did, slowly, his hands still raised. Landon laughed. “Put your hands down, man. What are you, a hostage?” He chuckled to himself, quite pleased at his cleverness.

“Now, I’m going to close the door behind you, but I won’t lock it. I’ll watch, and when you get to the porch, I’ll open it again.”

“What if one of them gets me?”

Landon chuckled again. “Then I’ll wait out the night with three bullets. What I want is for you to go into the back seat and get the shotgun. Don’t get any ideas, it isn’t loaded. If I think you are taking too long, I will just shoot you from here and let those things get you. Then grab the bag, and haul ass back here.”

Roger was shaking horribly. Landon could not resist egging him on. “Relax. The worst they could do is fly off with you and kill you slowly.”

Roger glared at him, which only made Landon smile wider. He clicked the hammer of his pistol. “Move.” He said, no longer laughing.

Landon unlocked the door, and then glanced out quickly. “Looks clear. I’m going to count to three, then I want you to run.” The way to the car was brightly lit by the full moon in the clear sky. Nothing seemed to be moving outside. The yard between the house and the car was open and grassy, bordered by tall pines, which created an impenetrable curtain of black cloaking the forest beyond.

Both Landon and Roger paused a second. They had left the car doors open. But that isn’t what caught their attention. Much of the car’s contents were strewn about the yard. “Godammit!’ Landon hissed.

It was no longer a simple case of sending Roger out and keeping his fingers crossed that he made it back with Landon’s ammunition. His bag was torn apart. There was ammunition scattered around, and bundles of money were lying in a pile. “Okay, we’ll have to improvise. You go out ahead and start gathering things together. I’ll keep cover.”

Landon did not wait for an answer; he just pushed Roger out the door. The two started out slowly. Roger looked around in all directions, terrified. Landon was scared, too, but did a much better job of hiding it. Roger began policing up the clips of ammunition, and shotgun shells. Once he had most of it, he reached for the money.

Landon stopped him, sharply. “Do NOT touch that…” Roger’s hand stopped in place. Landon found the shotgun and picked up a couple of shells. He was loading it when he was suddenly enveloped in a shadow. Without even thinking, he dropped flat onto the ground.

There was a loud shriek as one of the creatures swooped by, just barely missing him as he hit the ground. Roger turned white and froze. The creature was hovering in the air, maybe 50 feet away, glaring at them both.

It looked like a woman, clothed in white feathers. Wings sprouted from where her arms should have been. Her legs were long and muscular, ending in eagle-like talons. Her eyes blazed amber, and had an evil-insane look in them. But her mouth is what frightened Roger most. It seemed to reach from ear to ear. It was larger than any woman’s mouth could possibly be. And it was lined with long, razor-like teeth.

Roger felt like he would faint. He found himself yelling again. The bag was slung over his shoulder, and he was running as fast as he could back towards the house. Landon started to stand up after him. His head snapped up as he heard another screech. The creature was bearing down on him. He started running for the door, after Roger.

As he neared the house, the creature veered to intercept him. Thinking quickly, he dropped to one knee and shouldered the shotgun. As she came to a stop in the air in front of him, Landon shot her dead-center in the chest. Her screech died off quickly as she fell flat on her back. Two loud, grating screams rose up in the distance, coming closer. Landon was running again. As he scrambled up the stairs, the door began to close. He hunched his shoulder and slammed into it with all of his strength. The door flew in, knocking Roger onto the floor, Landon landing right in front of him. He kicked the door shut, then leapt up and locked it again.

He turned on Roger, furious. “What the hell was that?!” He grabbed Roger by the front of his jacket and shoved his pistol’s barrel into Roger’s mouth. “You want to die, you dumb shit? Do you?! I swear to god, if you pull a stunt like that again, those things will be eating your guts for supper….”

Landon dropped Roger. He turned and picked up the shotgun, pumped out the spent shell, and pointed it at Roger. “Stand up.” Roger’s hair was thinning, and sweat dripped freely into his eyes. Landon motioned to a door. “Is that a closet?”

Roger shook his head. “Which one is?” snapped Landon. Roger pointed to a door near the kitchen. “Go to it.” Landon motioned with the gun. Once Roger was there, Landon told him “Get in. Don’t move, and don’t make a God damn noise. You may yet live through this.” Once Roger was in the closet, Landon pushed the door shut with his foot. He moved the loveseat from the living room into the small hallway with the closet door, preventing the door from opening.

Landon sat down on the couch and began loading his guns. After they were all set, he stuffed his pistol into the back of his pants, and held on to the shotgun.

Landon thought back to several hours before.

——————————————————————————–

Rick was lagging behind. Granted, he had the bag of money, but Landon’s patience was running low. This was going to be the retirement haul. After years of robbing banks all over the country, the two men were going to move to Costa Rica and sip drinks for the rest of their lives on the beach. It wasn’t a very original dream, but neither of them could be concerned with that detail.

“Hurry up, damn it!” Landon shouted. Rick was ten paces behind, his face was bright red, and he was limping. “I can’t… I need to rest…”

“The cops are already on their way! What the hell is wrong with you?!”

Rick winced. Landon had a terrible temper, and the fact that he seemed to like Rick appeared to be the only reason he was willing to work with him. People that had known Landon in his petty crime days knew him to be the kind of person who would turn on anyone in a second if it served him. But Rick was different. Landon had not turned on him once in over five years.

Landon glared at him, impatient for an answer. “I caught my leg on some barbed wire going over the fence. I think I’m losing blood.” Sure enough, Ricks black pants were soaked with blood on the right leg. He appeared to have caught the inside of his leg, near the crotch, and cut it badly. “Jesus! Why didn’t you say something?”

“You were too far ahead; I was trying to catch up.”

Landon walked back to Rick and helped him stand up straight. “Does that help?” Rick nodded. The two men ducked into an alley, hoping that they could find some cover. It was nestled between a house and a business, and they were able to hide between some trees and a dumpster.

“Let me take a look.” Landon said, as he set Rick down. Rick spread his legs, and Landon took a quick look. Sure enough, Rick had a deep, 4 inch gash running from the front of his leg, through his crotch. It looked as if he may have nicked his carotid artery. “Jesus man, you need a doctor.”

Rick turned white. “Do we have time for that?”

Landon chewed his lip. “I don’t think so.”

“Maybe you could leave me behind… I could catch up with you later, or if they catch me, you could break me out.”

Landon scoffed at the idea. “Once I am gone, I am not coming back, not for you or anything else. Why the hell would I risk getting caught? No, we need to figure something out.”

The two men sat and pondered for a moment. Landon chewed his lip and stared at Rick’s leg. He had an idea. “Rick, give me the bag. I will have an easier time carrying it.”

Rick was reluctant, but he conceded that Landon was in much better shape to carry the heavy bag of money. Landon accepted it and put it over his shoulder, across his chest, much like a backpack. He put his pistol in his pants, just at the small of his back. “Give me the shotgun; I want you to have your hands free so you can hold on when you need to.”

Rick paused a second. He had no choice, so he handed Landon the gun. “Now let’s try and stand you up. We’ll see if we can break in someplace to get you patched up.” Rick tried, but even with Landon’s help, he was in too much pain. He started to slip, strained, then let out a yell.

“What?!” Landon hissed, getting angry and frustrated. Rick was pale now. “I think I tore it…” he said in a very weak voice. “Damn it…” Landon breathed. Rick shook his head and closed his eyes. “Leave me. If I get picked up by the cops, they will take me to a hospital. I’ll meet you when I get out…”

Landon shook his head. “What if you get delirious and yap about the escape route?”

Rick shook his head. “I won’t, I swear.”

“How do you know?” Landon hissed.

He thought for a second. “I’m sorry buddy. I’d love to bring you with me, Hell, I actually like you enough that I would share this with you. But this is business, and I can’t have any liabilities.”

Rick realized what his partner was saying. Maybe Rick wasn’t that different after all. “Landon, I… I won’t say anything, I swear….”

Landon knelt down in front of Rick. “You sure?” Rick nodded. Landon smiled at him. “That’s what I always liked about you, you’re reliable. He set down the shotgun to his right. Rick smiled weakly.

Landon grabbed Rick by his injured leg and wrenched it straight back with all of his strength. Rick howled in agony as the tear in his leg grew. Blood streamed from the cut and Rick thrashed around. Landon quickly insinuated himself under and behind Rick, so that Rick’s head was against his chest. Landon slipped his arm around Rick’s neck and put a hand over his nose and mouth. He whispered in Rick’s ear. “Sorry Richard, but it looks like this is where we part ways. It works out well, in a way. Money splits so much nicer between one person.”

Rick tried to fight, but pain and blood loss had stolen all of his strength. He slowly suffocated as Landon tightened his grip, and finally his struggle stopped. Landon retrieved the shotgun and left his former partner where he lay, on a sidewalk, next to a dumpster, staring into the sky in horror.

Landon ran for a main road. He had studied the town’s layout, and knew the street was a one way, going away from the bank. The police would be on their way to the bank first, so his odds of getting caught were minimal. He needed an escape vehicle.

The road was fairly busy, and he could see the traffic begin to slow down, most likely because of a red light. “Perfect.” He said under his breath. He hoisted the shotgun and ran toward the first car he could see was stopped.

Without missing a beat, he ran up to the passenger side, and slammed the butt of his shotgun into the window. He reached in and grabbed the door handle, then jerked the door open. A young man sat in the passenger seat staring at Landon in horror. An older man was in the driver’s seat and had a look of disbelief on his face.

Landon pointed the shotgun at them and told the young man to get out. He was trembling, and Landon got frustrated. He grabbed him by the front of his shirt and began to pull him out of the car, but he was buckled in.

“Unbuckle! NOW!” Landon screamed and pushed the shotgun’s barrel to the young man’s face. As the young man fumbled with the seatbelt, Landon tossed the shotgun and bag into the back seat and pulled out his pistol. As soon as he saw that he was free, he grabbed the young man again and tossed him to the sidewalk. Car horns were beeping, people were yelling, and many of them were running away.

Landon hopped in the car and told the driver to move it. The young man stood, shaking for a second. The shock of the moment started to wear off, and he realized that this man was going to take off with his father as a hostage. All sense flew away, and the young man reached in to the car and grabbed Landon by his shirt. “Let him go!” he yelled.

Landon was more than a little surprised. The boy was gangly but strong. In the back of his mind, he thought that the kid must run track. Landon threw a punch in his face, which made him pause a second. That was all the time Landon needed to change the balance of power completely. He pointed the gun at the young man and fired three times.

The young man had a look of shock and horror on his face as he toppled backward. One round had missed, but two of them had hit him in the midriff. He fell backwards onto his rear, then onto his back. The driver shouted “NO!” Landon jammed the barrel of his gun into the driver’s cheek and shouted “Drive!”

The driver complied, taking a moment to look in the rearview mirror. He could see people rushing to his son, who lay writhing on the ground, grasping his stomach in pain.

“Mister, you can have the car, but please let me go, my son…”

Landon snapped. “Shut up. Get us out of town. Fast, but not too fast, I don’t want to get caught in a chase. If I have to shoot a cop, you can bet your ass you will be following him.”

They drove in silence for several minutes, the man driving dutifully keeping the car just above the speed limit, until they were out of the city limits.

“So, what’s your name? I figure since we will most likely be together for a while, we may as well get to know each other.”

“The man gulped. “Roger.”

“Pleasure to meet you Roger. I’m Landon. Where are we going?”

“I have a pl… I don’t know” Roger stammered.

Landon looked at Roger intently. “It sounded like you were going to say ‘I have a place….’. Care to elaborate?”

Roger was shaking and terrified. He didn’t want to die, and could not stop thinking about his son. “I have a cabin up in the woods, it’s about thirty miles out of town.”

“Sounds like a plan. Let’s go there.” Landon smiled. Amazingly, things were actually beginning to work out for him. “Any neighbors nearby?”

Roger shook his head. Landon smiled wider and slinked back into his seat to get more comfortable. The sun was almost completely set, and a full moon was out. Landon reflected on how beautiful the woods were at night.

On the twisting, mountainous roads leading to Roger’s house, the drive had already taken over forty-five minutes. The sky was clear, and the moon was full. Landon was staring at the moon when something large passed in front of it.

He sat up. There was no way he saw what he thought he saw. Nothing that big lived in this area. He would have sworn it was a white condor.

“We’re almost there.” Roger said.

“Good.”

After another few minutes, Roger began to slow down. Suddenly, there was a loud slam on the top of the car. White feathers were visible out the side windows on both sides of the car, and something sharp was raking the top. Roger swerved.

Landon fired two shots through the roof of the car. There was a loud shriek, and the feathers disappeared. Roger and Landon both stared out the windshield to try and see something.

They saw the cabin. It was a large, two story wooden building. Landon was thrilled. He could not have asked for a more perfect hideaway. As they made the clearing in front of the house, the two men saw three dark forms diving toward the car. Roger slammed on the brakes.

——————————————————————————–

Landon snapped out of his reverie. Out of all the events of the day so far, seeing those things and having to run into the house was easily the least pleasant.

He wandered around Roger’s house, eventually making his way to the kitchen through a door that lead into the living room. He rummaged around the fridge, grabbing some leftover chicken and a beer.

He stuffed a drumstick into his mouth, and stood up. Something caught his eye in the window. He saw the same face that Roger had seen outside.

“Jesus!” The chicken leg dropped out of his mouth as he brought the shotgun up. The thing was gone before he could pull the trigger. He ran through the house to the front door. Before he got to it, there was a knock.

He came up short, staring at the door in the moonlight. It knocked again. Not really a knock, more of a slam, like it was being tested. He could hear the handle moving, like something was trying to turn it, but couldn’t quite get a grip.

Roger’s front door had a tiny, inset door instead of a peephole. Landon opened it slowly, then poked the shotgun through and fired a shot.

There was no sound. The moving stopped. “Ha-HA!” Landon was triumphant. He looked out the front window, next to the door. He had to move the heavy curtain out of the way to see the porch.

Nothing was there. He glanced out into the yard. The creature he shot was also gone. Blood and white feathers marked where it had lain. Landon couldn’t tell for sure, but it also appeared as if the grass where the creature had been had died. It was light brown and flat, in a large Rick surrounding the spot.

He backed away from the door, slowly. Landon knocked on the closet door.

“You awake in there?”

Roger stared into the darkness of the closet, feeling around slowly with his fingers. “Yes.” Came a quiet, almost meek, reply.

“What do you think those things are?” Landon asked. Roger laughed, but Landon missed the irony in his question.

“I haven’t the foggiest…”

“Well, think it over and let me know when you have something. You’re a professor, aren’t you?”

Roger felt a box under his right hand. It was made of light poster-board, and had the tell-tale squeak of formed Styrofoam when touched. He smiled slightly in the dark. He had found what he had hoped for; he just needed to keep Landon busy. Maybe he could convince him to open the door….

“Yes. I am.”

“What subject?”

“Anthropology.”

“And you have no scholarly insight?” Landon had stepped into the kitchen to retrieve his beer and another chicken leg.

“Do those look like Amazonian Natives to you?”

“Not particularly…. Nothing, eh? Sorry to hear that. Maybe if you come up with something, I’ll let you out.”

Roger decided to keep him talking. If he was occupied, Landon may not notice him opening the box. “Is this your first time pulling off a caper like this?” He purposely pretended to be ignorant of Landon’s obvious professionalism in crime.

“Ha! Not likely. I’ve been at it for years. This is my retirement haul.”

“How much did you get?”A lot. Mind your damn business.”

“Sorry, didn’t mean to pry…. So, do you do it by yourself?”

Landon lit another cigarette and took a pull of his beer. “Didn’t use too. Had a partner named Rick. We took quite a few scores together.”

“Are you and Rick retiring together?”

Landon smiled at the closed door. As he was talking, Roger had opened the box and pulled something heavy out of it. It was metal and plastic and had a blunt point.

“Nope. He sure thought we were, but money splits easier one way, if you know what I mean.”

Roger gripped tightly on his find. He was suddenly cold. “Did you kill him too?” Landon nodded, even though Roger could not see him. “Yep. A few minutes before I found you. It was nice of him to carry the bag all that way. Too bad cut his leg…”

Landon took a bit of chicken. “I never knew a cut in the crotch could bleed so damn much.” He spat through a mouthful of food.

Roger stared into the blackness, speechless for a minute. Landon was far worse a person than he could have imagined. He would need courage if he was going to go through with his plan. Suddenly, and idea hit him.

“I have an idea of what those things may be.”

Landon’s eyebrows rose. “Really?”

“How well do you know Greek Mythology?”

Landon Shrugged. “Not extremely well.”

“Are you familiar with the Furies?”

“Nope.”

“In the Greek mythos, the Furies were spirits of retribution. There were three of them. They brought justice to people who were beyond normal vengeance or guilt. They find the guilty or evil and tear them apart.”

“Are you trying to scare me, Roger?”

“No. You wanted to know what I thought. That is what I think. I think the Furies have come for you, Landon. Think about it. The Myth describes them as a cross between women and birds. What are those things out there? They look an awful lot like bird-women to me…”

“Duly noted, you can shut up now.”

“You killed your partner, and you may have killed my son. You are holding me hostage in my own house; you have a history of violent crime. Did you kill your mother too? Or maybe your father?”

Landon was growing angry. “Shut up professor…”

“You may have escaped the police, but what you did has followed you here. They are here for you, Landon. I have nothing to fear any more.”

“I said shut up! Close your damn mouth or I will shot you through the door!”

“Of course, you would, coward. It takes a man to make a real living. Mean little boys rob banks and shoot people.”

“I’ll show you coward, you bastard.” Landon angrily shoved the loveseat out of the way. He grabbed the door handle He would pistol-whip Roger into shutting up.

As Landon pulled the door back, Roger kicked it with all of his strength. Landon bounced back. The door smashed into his hand, breaking his thumb. Before he could react, Roger pounced on him. Landon let out a shout of pain as Roger stabbed him in the left shoulder with a lawn dart.

Roger grabbed the front of his jacket and began slamming Landon into the wall, then kicked him in the groin. Landon hit the ground hard. Roger bent over and picked up the shotgun. He turned it on Landon.

“Stay there!”

Landon coughed and choked. “You prick… I’m going to kill you…”

“Not likely.” Roger said as he pumped the shotgun.

“You really think you have the balls to shoot me?” Landon winced. As he tried to get up, the lawn-dart moved. “Damnit, man…”

“I said don’t move!” Roger pressed the gun to Landon’s head. “One more inch and you’re dead.”

Landon looked up. “I call your bluff, Roger.”

There was a loud click as Roger pulled the trigger. The color drained from his face, the safety was on.

Landon moved as fast as he could reaching for the pistol in the back of his pants. Roger kicked at him, clipping the lawn-dart.

Landon screamed in agony, momentarily forgetting about the pistol. Roger turned and ran, heading across the living room toward the stairs to the next level of the house. By the time he reached the top of the stairs, he could hear Landon shouting again.

“I am going to eat your heart, Roger!” Roger did not doubt he would.

Roger found a corner and began fumbling with the shotgun to find the safety.

As angry as he was, Landon stayed downstairs. He couldn’t be sure that Roger had not yet figured out how to turn off the safety, and a shower of buckshot would not improve his situation. However, he was sure that Roger would stay upstairs. He was smart enough to know that he had an advantage being on higher ground.

Landon tore a blanket that was on the couch to bandage up his arm. He kept milling over in his head what he would do to Roger when he got his hands on him. At the same time, he was trying to think of something that would help his assault on the upstairs. It may have been a smart idea to wait until morning and then leave without a confrontation, but he couldn’t let Roger’s attack slide. Landon’s pride was hurt, and he was willing to kill over less.

Roger had figured out the safety and was rearranging the room. He placed the bed on its side in front of the door, and moved a dresser in front of that. After moving as much furniture in front of the door as he could, Roger climbed out of the room. He walked into the adjoining one and looked out the window.

He could see the back yard. The full moon was clearly in view. A shadow passed by. He kept watch out the window for a few minutes. There were definitely three of the things. They were circling the house, just above roof level, occasionally swooping down to peer in through a window.

Maybe they were the Furies. If they were, then Roger knew he had nothing to fear from them. He wasn’t one hundred percent sure, so he was not about to test his luck. Roger crawled into another closet.

Landon had managed to patch himself up some. He sat on the couch, drinking from a bottle of scotch he had found. Alcohol may not have been a great idea, but he certainly felt better. Eventually, he got up and began rooting around Roger’s house. He didn’t find much that seemed particularly useful.

Then he checked the basement. Roger looked to be a bit of a wood-working hobbyist. There were tools hanging all over the wall in the corner. There was a pile of wood dust, plus cans of varnish, paint thinner and shellac. Landon smiled. He smiled even wider when he found a box of road flares.

Landon filled a paper bag with wood dust, grabbed a can of paint thinner, and some road flares, and then went back to the ground floor. He sat back on the couch and began pouring dust into the paint thinner. He was going to burn Roger out.

There was a loud slam on the front door. Landon jumped. There was a shatter in the dining room as one of the things broke in a window. Landon got up and ran to the dining room. One of them was crawling in through the broken pane. Her head turned slowly to face Landon. Her face split open, revealing her rows of needle-like teeth. She was smiling at him.

He shouted wordlessly and fired three shots at her. Two went wide, but one struck her in the arm. She shrieked and backed out of the window. There was another slam at the door. He ran back to the living room, reached down and picked up the paint-thinner can and a flare. The front door cracked and broke off of its hinges, falling in a slow, lazy arch to the floor. One of the Furies was walking in, her talons clicking on the floor. Behind her, on either side, were the other two.

The one in front had a hole in her feathers. It was healed already. A quiet, raspy whisper crept out from her lips. “Landon….”

“Oh, screw this….” Landon could see there was no way for him to reach the basement. Shooting them apparently didn’t do much either. Landon thought quickly. He lit the road flare, dropped it into the can, and then tossed it at the front door. The three creatures wailed in unison as the can spit flaming thinner over the floor. They retreated quickly, but the basement door now had an inferno blazing in front of it.

Fine, Landon thought. Maybe he would be lucky enough to get a shot off and kill Roger before he was hit himself. He slowly inched up the stairs. As he peered around the corner, he could see the pile of furniture in front of the door. He could just see Roger sitting in the corner with the shotgun pointed at the door.

He glanced into the room next door. There was a single large window. He looked out it. He couldn’t see the creatures anywhere. There was, however, an awning that reached around the whole back of the house. If he moved quickly, Landon thought maybe he could go out the window, then break back in to the other room and kill Roger before the things outside realized he had exposed himself.

Landon picked up a heavy trunk he found on the floor. He could use it to smash in the other window. He unlatched the window and pulled, but it barely moved. The tug pulled painfully at his wounded shoulder and he hissed loudly. He pulled again. This time the window slid up, creaking loudly as the old wood scraped against itself.Roger heard the movement in the room outside. Landon was opening the window. He looked through the keyhole. The man who had shot his son was kneeling to pick up the trunk. Roger felt more brave and angry than he had ever experienced. He flung the door to the closet open. Landon snapped up, trunk in hand, a look of pure surprise on his face.

Roger didn’t hesitate. He fired the shotgun. Landon held the trunk up reflexively. Luck was on his side for a split second. Leather blasted off the side of the trunk as the pellets hit it, exposing the metal underneath.

However, the force of the shot slammed the trunk into Landon, who hit the window, breaking the pane and the frame. Panic overwhelmed him as he fell backwards, head-first out the window. He saw sky as he slid off the awning, then blackness when he hit the ground.

Roger swore and ran to the window. Landon must have been just below the awning. Roger could not see him. What he did see, however, suddenly filled him with terror. The three women were circling visibly low now. They were snarling and drooling, their mouths hanging open. All had burnt patches of feathers.

Landon stood up, dazed. Everything had happened so fast, he had no idea how he had ended up outside. He looked around for his gun. He couldn’t see it. “Oh no….” he ran toward the back door. He pulled the handle and banged on it, but it wouldn’t budge. He heard flapping.

“NO!!” He screamed. Maybe he could make it into the woods. Maybe the underbrush would protect him. Maybe the Furies couldn’t fly through them. He ran as fast as he could. He felt a sudden, burning pain in his shoulders, both of them. Suddenly, the ground was no longer directly beneath his feet. He looked down.

The Earth was moving away from him.

Roger saw one of the winged women lift Landon off the ground. It flew up to the height of the trees and let go. He could hear Landon scream as he fell to the ground. Another one of them dove down and lifted him up again. Landon was screaming endlessly, like a man who had passed beyond sanity into pure panic.

As the Fury flew off with him, the others darted in, nipping at Landon’s flailing body. Roger was shaken. He held on to the shotgun tightly and walked downstairs. The fire Landon had started had ruined his rug and damaged some furniture, but was already dying down.

Despite his certainty now that he was not in danger, he was still unwilling to leave the house until morning.

He went to the kitchen and took a beer from the refrigerator. Roger sat at the dining room table and watched the sun rise.

Hours later, Roger woke with a start. He was still sitting at the dining room table. He grimaced at the half-finished beer on the table. “What a waste.” He mumbled. Roger then got up and called the police. He explained what had happened, to a point.

He said he saw Landon running off into the woods. After he hung up the phone, Roger went to the front yard, where he unloaded the shotgun and lay it down on the grass. He stared at the patch of dead grass and remembered distantly something about the Furies’ blood killing any plant life it touched. It seemed there was some justice in the world.

Later that day, the police arrived at Roger’s house. He was escorted on to an ambulance and driven back to town. He received good news that his son had lived. He watched his house grow tiny in the distance before it disappeared behind the tress.

The police combed the woods around Roger’s place looking for Landon. An APB was put out for him, and for days afterwards, roadblocks were set up in the area. After a week, it was assumed he had either died in the woods, or had escaped. His information was sent to the FBI.

The police never knew that they had come within feet of his body. Even the canine unit missed it. Within twenty minutes of the searches inception, on the day Roger was sent to the hospital, a group of cops walked beneath a tall pine tree. At its top hung the body of Landon, pierced through the back by the tree-top. He had been ripped open, his entrails dangling from the tree like morbid tinsel, his head opened up.

Roger spied him from the house one day. The vultures were a dead giveaway.

He smiled to himself. Justice had been served.

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