*Throw back to the beginnings of a story I wrote in 2016.
I crouched low over my soggy bowl of cheerios, spoon gripped tightly in one hand and a thick book creased open with the other, pushed between index and pinky finger. My cereal sat uneaten, losing its structural integrity, but I paid it no mind. Nothing could pull my attention from the letters on the page.
Nothing, perhaps, except the sudden sound of high-pitched squealing followed by an all-encompassing BOOM which reverberated through the walls. I looked up through the large French doors overlooking my backyard, and saw a horrible scene: thick, black smoke rushing toward me in a cloud of death and fire.
I dropped my spoon.
My last thought was of the book I had been reading. How would it end?
The wall hit.
Six Months Later
“Andre, please tell me you’re not going in there,” Cal begged, eyeing the rocky cavern with apprehension.
“Listen, frat boy, you shut your mouth and get into that cave, else you’ll be Grinder food.”
Cal brushed his shaking fingers through his blond hair, which had now grown past his ears. The motion had become a nervous tick for him. Andre stood at the opening with arms crossed, awaiting a decision. His dark face was patchy with facial hair.
“How about both of you shut it, and we can get on with our day?” I growled, pushing past the two young men and entering the cavern alone. I pulled up the flashlight from around my belt, clicked it on, and held it aloft so I could see my surroundings. I could hear the boys follow me in, both grumbling about the stubbornness of women. I smiled to myself and crunched onwards into the darkness.
I could hear rustling up ahead, and shined light on a batch of black bats huddled closely together amongst the stalactites. My light hit the hunched, bristling body of the thing we feared we’d find: the hybrid’s nest.