I yelled, "Nathaniel! Jeep, get it running!" I knew he knew where the extra set of keys were. I remembered Narcissus saying that there were over five hundred werehyenas. We had to get out of there before they decided to pick up more guns or just overwhelm us with numbers. Shooting them would slow them down, but whoever that voice had been, he had them terrified. I could kill them, but I couldn't terrorize them. Whether they poured out of that door in a wave would depend on whether they feared death or terror more.
I glanced back to find Nathaniel in the Jeep, with Caleb and Gil in the back. The engine roared to life. Bobby Lee and I started for the Jeep, and the werehyenas rolled out into the sunlight, too many to count, almost too many to aim at. I fired into the mass of bodies, and I yelled, "Run!"
Bobby Lee and I were running for the Jeep, which meant our aim wasn't what it should have been, but the men were packed so tight that we kept hitting them anyway. They'd fall, then there'd be screams, sounds, a chittering laughter that raised the hair at the back of my neck, and the wounded rose as hyenamen, muscled, pale-furred, spotted, with a muzzle full of fangs and claws like black knives. We weren't whittling them down, we were giving them better weapons to use against us.
Nathaniel yelled, "Get in!"
I glanced back to find the doors open front and middle. I slid into the rear seat, Bobby Lee slid in front. The doors were shut, locked, and Nathaniel was pulling away from the curb when they poured over us. They swarmed the car, covering the windows. Nathaniel hit the gas and the Jeep roared forward. An arm smashed through the window beside me. The sound of breaking glass was everywhere. They were trying to hold on and get inside. I fired through my window into the man beyond, and he fell away. Bobby Lee was firing into the hyenaman that was trying to crawl through the windshield.
But there were at least three others smashing at the glass, trying to crawl through. I fired the Browning into the one on the opposite window from mine. It took four shots before he fell away. The Browning had to be close to empty, but I'd lost count. The last two werehyenas were halfway through the windows; one of them spilled into the back of the Jeep. He launched himself at me, and I fired two more bullets almost point blank into him. The gun clicked empty. The man fell, apparently dead at my knees, because I was kneeling in the back of the Jeep, which meant that I'd crawled over the seat to meet his charge. I didn't remember doing it.
The last one was in half-man form. He was having trouble tearing his way through the window. I think he'd caught something painful on the glass. I drew the blade that I wore down my back. My right knee was down, leg flat to the floorboard, my left, raised on the ball of my foot. It was a swordsman's stance for when you couldn't stand--balanced. I struck in a blur of speed, feeling the strength in my body like nothing I'd ever felt before. He looked up at the last second just before the blade bit into the side of his face and split his head open. Blood splattered on my arms, across my face. The body slumped forward, most of its lower parts still dangling out the window. The upper part of his head from just above the jaw was gone, spilling out onto the carpet, soaking into the leg of my jeans. I had a heartbeat to think, holy shit, then I heard the sounds on the roof.
Bobby Lee said, "Persistent bastards."
I didn't answer, just knelt by the wheel well opposite the bodies. Edward, assassin to the undead, and the only person I knew of with a higher kill count for monsters than me, had talked me into letting a friend of his remodel my Jeep. The wheel well held a secret compartment. Inside there was an extra Browning Hi-Power, two extra clips, and a mini-Uzi with a mushroom clip. The clip barely fit inside the compartment, but it nearly tripled the round capacity, so it was worth the tight fit.
Claws ripped through the roof of the Jeep and started peeling it back, like opening a tin can. I threw myself onto my back and fired up into the roof. Animal howls, one body fell past the windows, but the other one stayed on the roof, the half-animal arm shoved through the metal. I went to my knees, firing just in back of the arm. The hyenaman rolled off the back of the Jeep and bounced in the road. The arm stayed in the hole in the roof, caught on the metal.
When the ringing in my ears toned down enough for me to hear something besides the pounding of my own blood, I could hear Caleb saying, "Fuck, f**k, f**k," over and over. Gil was huddled beside him on the floorboard, screaming, a high piteous sound, his hands over his ears, eyes closed. I leaned on the seat, but didn't try to climb back over. My back was covered in blood and worse things from rolling around on the floor.
I yelled, "Gil, Gil!"
He just kept screaming. I tapped the top of his head with the gun barrel. That made him open his eyes. I pointed the gun at the ceiling while he stared at me. "Stop screaming."
He nodded, hands lowering slowly. He kept nodding over and over again. Caleb had stopped cursing under his breath. He was breathing so hard I thought he might hyperventilate, but I had other things to worry about.
"What kind of clip ya got on that Uzi?" Bobby Lee asked.
"It's called a mushroom clip. It about triples the ammo capacity."
He shook his head. "Damn, girl, where have you been living that you need that kind of firepower?"
"Welcome to my life," I said. I looked down at Gil. "Next time I tell you to stay home, stay home."
"Yes, ma'am," he whispered.
"Slow it down, boy," Bobby Lee said, "we don't want to get picked up by the cops with bodies in the car."
"The damage may be a tip-off," I said.
The arm dangling from the ceiling had changed back to human shape. It flopped bonelessly as Nathaniel turned a corner. I looked away from it and found the now-human with his head bisected. His brains had leaked out in pieces. I was suddenly hot, dizzy. I couldn't remember what I'd done with the big blade. I must have dropped it, but I didn't remember doing it. I wedged myself into a corner, the Uzi raised to the ceiling, my body held on three sides by metal and the seat back. It was as close to being held as I could manage. I closed my eyes, so I couldn't see what I'd done. But the smell was still there: fresh blood, butchered meat, and that outhouse smell that let you know someone's bowels had let loose. I started to choke, and the Jeep pulled off the road. That made me look up, gave me something else to concentrate on.
Nathaniel was pulling onto a gravel road in the middle of nowhere. There were trees, a floodplain, green grass, and beyond that, the shine of the river. It was a peaceful spot. He drove until we weren't easily visible from the road, then stopped.
"What's going on?" I asked.
Bobby Lee answered, "I think if we drive around in traffic with legs sticking out, someone will notify the police."
I nodded. It was a good point. "I should have thought of it," I said.
"No, you've done your work for the day. Let me do the thinking 'til your head clears."
"My head's clear," I said.
He climbed out of the car and spoke through one of the broken windows as he moved towards the legs. "I know pangs of conscience when I see them, girl."
"Stop calling me 'girl'."
He grinned at me. "Yes, ma'am." He grabbed the legs and shoved the body through the glass. It landed with a thick sound on top of the first body. A sound came out of the body on the bottom. It might have just been air escaping--it happened sometimes--but then again ...
I was on my knees, Uzi pointed at the bodies. Bobby Lee said, "Don't hit the gas tank, ma'am, we don't want to blow ourselves up." He had his gun back out.
I shifted my angle so that I'd shoot through the dark head that lay at the bottom of the pile. Did two bodies constitute a pile? Did it matter? Something brushed my hair and I jerked the gun up, only to find that I'd brushed the fingers on the arm hanging from the ceiling. It was coming loose, sliding lower on its own. Great.
I pressed the barrel of the Uzi against the top of the head. "If you're alive, don't move, if you're dead, don't worry about it."
Bobby Lee opened the back of the Jeep, his gun angled down for a shot at the "body."
"If I fire into the top of his head, the bullets may cut your legs out from under you."
He moved off to one side, gun steady. "My deepest apologies, ma'am, I know better than that."
I pressed the gun barrel more securely into the top of the head and began to reach slowly towards the neck that was just visible under the very dead top body.