‘The Creature’ by Emilia Young

I pulled my heavy bag onto my shoulders, and let my friend, Beatrice, start setting up the camera around my neck.  We both knew what I might not return. Everyday until today, Beatrice and my family had tried to persuade me not to go. I could tell by Beatrice’s frown as she fiddled with the camera that she knew that it was too late. Fastening my backpack around my waist, I strode forward through the doors. Doors that no one had left for at least 19 years since the disaster that had engulfed half our world and killed billions. We were the last resistance, around 30 million left in our one haven called the Ring. They opened for me, and I turned the camera on and kept going, feeling Beatrice’s worried stare burning the back of my neck. I heard the doors slam behind me, and suddenly everything was silent. No animals, no chittering of Cicadas like in my hometown (dubbed the CicadaPlace by the founders of the Ring). Just quiet, apart from the unnaturally large leaves waving in the breeze. I slipped in my earpiece and kept going.

As I walked, I realized how tiny we really are. The plants used to be smaller, before the disaster, or so the history books say. I was only four when the disaster happened, so I don’t remember much of course. But I do remember, panicked families frantically driving away from the huge radioactive cloud that was enveloping the cars at the back. Millions of poisonous spores attaching to anything in sight. My sister and dad frantically scraping them off the car roof as my mum drove as fast as she could…

Coming back to the present, I clawed my way through the grass, which got thicker and thicker as I walked further along the ancient tarmac road away from the door. I pulled out my machete knife and slashed my way through to a clearing. A gigantic tree was in the center, with a strange black blob clinging to it. It was darker than the night sky, and it rippled in the wind as it floated above the ground. Suddenly it’s exterior bulged like ferrofluid, and out of the black coating came an amorphous kind of liquid that slowly built itself up into a feline creature. I had studied those in school, but never actually seen one. Beatrice’s voice in my earpiece suddenly cut my thoughts off. “Alex, get out of there NOW!” I didn’t move, entranced by the rippling of the creature’s skin. I didn’t see the barbed tail whip around and slice into my stomach. People were screaming through my earpiece, trying to get me to run, but I couldn’t. I could already feel the poison coursing through my body, numbing my mind. The creature’s teeth sank deep into my leg, and I just watched as crimson blood spooled all over the floor. Until it plunged it’s scorpion tail deep into my chest, and everything faded to darkness.