Extinction: First Strike
Author: Jack Skoal

Chapter 10
Hell Hounds

Chapter 10
Middlesboro, KY. / 08:04 Hours / November 27, 2013
The rabid dogs give chase, keeping pace with the slower speed of the jeep which is built more for torque than anything else. Jimmy weaves in and out of dilapidated and derelict vehicles, and street posts, trying his best to avoid hitting them, all while attempting to maintain a gap between the pursuing hell hounds. The beasts snarl and foam at the mouth, snapping at the windows each time they come close. Kaylee Ann lets out loud, bleating screams, like a lamb sent to slaughter, fearful of her impending, violent end.
“Calm down Kaylee Ann, we’re gonna make it.” Jimmy is breathing hard and trying to mapping the road ahead with short glances, as he tries to calm Kaylee Ann.
“I love you Jimmy,” Kaylee Ann squeaks out between sniffles and sobs. Tears streak her cheeks and her hands grasp the dash grip in front of her to stop from being thrown about the cabin. “Please hurry. I don’t want to be eaten by one of those things, Jimmy.” She’s trying her best to keep back from sobbing anymore than she already is. She knows her crying isn’t doing anything to help their efforts to escape but the lump in her throat continues to rise and ache, and a strangled sob chokes out every couple of minutes regardless.
“Just hold on.” Jimmy cuts the wheel hard and runs over a decomposing pooch that had been molesting his window. It yelps as the weight of the rear wheel compacts its midsection. The spectacle causes the other mutts to howl and their speed somehow increases. Bloody foam streams from their mouths while they gallop alongside the Jeep.
The road finally straightens out and is less cluttered with debris. Jimmy shifts the Jeep to a higher gear and begins to separate themselves from the pursuing mutts. The hounds continue their chase, never slowing down.
“Shit!” Jimmy mashes the brake pedal hard.
Kaylee Ann shouts from the passenger seat, “Jimmy don’t stop. Keep going.”
“The roads blocked up ahead, and I don’t think we can get around it.” He says panicky, while pointing his free hand through the window at the blockade.
The dogs can be heard approaching from behind. They bark loudly as their object of desire comes into view. Jimmy looks into the rear view mirror and can see three of them are still giving chase. He desperately searches around, trying to find a path they can take to get around the wreckage. The fence to the right of them is only thin barb wire.
The jeep slides sideways as he hammers the pedal down and launches through the fence. Posts snap and fall to the ground as it rips through the barbwire fence. The front of the jeep hits the earth hard and begins bouncing about as gravity works to pull it back down. The tires throw mud and stones as they rip their way through the soft dirt in the field. The barbwire tangles around the rear axle and tightens around the tire, cutting through the thick rubber.
“Oh fuck!” Jimmy screams at the sound of the tire exploding. He feels the jeep slow and vigorously shakes with the tire now flailing about on the wheel.
“I don’t want to die,” Kaylee Ann repeats hysterically.
Jimmy fights hard with the wheel, trying to keep the Jeep moving straight forward. He sees a tree up in the distance and formulates a plan to escape.
“Kaylee Ann, listen up.”
“I don’t want to die! Oh god, I don’t want to die,” Kaylee Ann repeats over and over again, small wheezing sounds emitting from her lips as she begins hyperventilating.
“We’re not going to die Kaylee Ann, but you need to listen to me,” Jimmy says, his voice taking on a facade of calm as he tries to get through to her. “You see that tree up ahead? When we get to it, I want you to get out and climb up it as fast as you can.” The Jeep continues to slams them around the boxy interior.
“I can’t Jimmy. I don’t want to leave you.” The tears she tried to wrangle earlier come out in full force sobs as she pleads with Jimmy.
“Just do it Kaylee Ann. I’ll be right behind you.” They quickly approach the tree of life and her hands are all over him, grabbing at the material of his shirt like a child not wanting to be separated from its parent.
The dogs start to really close the gap on them now, since the Jeep hit the rough field and lost most of its speed. Jimmy looks in the mirror again and sees the slobbering mutts racing towards them. The image of the dogs in the tiny mirror charging after them tearing with ease through the muddy field terrifies him. He doesn’t dare inform Kaylee Ann of this. He knows they will only have a few seconds to get up the tree and out of the deadly grasps of the canines clinching jaws.
“Get ready to run when I say Kaylee Ann.” Jimmy gets as close as he can to the tree before cutting the wheel hard and swerving to allow Kaylee Ann to be as close to the base of the tree as possible. “Go Kaylee Ann, go!”
She flings the door open and races for the tree. He watches her run from him, his heart throbbing in his chest, and then turns to stare into the eyes of the beasts that are rapidly barreling down towards him. He reaches back and grabs his double barrel shotgun from the back seat. The spare rounds have fallen off the rear seat during their rough ride through the field and rolled somewhere under the seats, just out of his reach. “Shit,” stretching and fumbling blindly for the rounds. His hands come back empty. “Shit,” he repeats and slams the floor.
The hell hounds are closer now, just a few yards from the jeep. Jimmy quickly crawls across the seat to where Kaylee Ann had been sitting. The first dog to reaches the vehicle and smashes through the back window using its decaying body, and claws its way toward Jimmy. Seeing this, Kaylee Ann screams in horror as she scrambles up the tree. The hound pauses and looks her way from the back of the jeep, which gives Jimmy a chance to raise his shotgun and squeeze off a round, obliterating the dog’s head. Bone and flesh explode through the Jeep and the headless body falls instantly, twitching about in the back.
The second mutt reaches the Rubicon and thrusts itself against the driver-side door. The glass begins to crack as the sharp claws scrape against it. Jimmy squirms back, moving further towards the door Kaylee Ann had exited through. He raises his gun again and fires off another round, his last shell. The glass shards almost seem to freeze in place, a frosted zigzag of lines, shatter and drops as the steel buck shot drills through it to the intended target.
The only dog to remain fills the void of its comrade, occupying the space at the window. It growls and barks loudly, foam and slobber leaking from its mouth as it snaps at Jimmy. He flings the shotgun towards it head, but misses and it strikes the doorframe instead. It hits awkwardly before tipping and clattering out the window. The mutt stumbles back and out of site, dipping below the window after the gun.
Jimmy stumbles out the passenger side, falling to the ground. He can see the hound under the jeep with the gun in its mouth, violently shaking it from side to side. He uses the distraction to scramble to his feet and race to the tree. He scurries up and grabs Kaylee Ann in his arms.
“You’re okay, yeah? You’re okay,” he says, reassuring her and himself.
The dog quickly loses interest in the cold taste of steel tube and maple stock. It jolts around the Jeep to the base of the tree. The hell hound jumps up as high as it can but was still feet away from Jimmy and Kaylee Ann. Its mouth snaps at them, eyes bloodshot and cast in a foggy haze show as it wines, aggravated its unable to reach its prey.
Jimmy and Kaylee Ann climb higher to insure they are out of reach, but no matter how high they climb it feels like they need to go higher.
“We’re safe up here; you don’t need to worry anymore.” Jimmy strokes her hair with the hand that isn’t clinging to the trunk of the tree.
She holds Jimmy tightly and begins to sob in his shoulder in relief. She didn’t think he’d make it back to her, couldn’t see how. She presses her face into the material of his shirt, soaking it with her tears. The sound of his heart slows her sporadic breathing back into a semi-normal rhythm. The beast below continues its search for a path up, angry at the missed opportunity to get Jimmy earlier.
Below in the jeep the radio comes to life. “Jimmy, are you there?” A short pause, then again resumes, “Jimmy can you hear me? It’s Carl!”
Jimmy can hear the radio but it’s across the fiery pits of hell, far out of reach and guarded by a demon spawn. “Quiet Kaylee Ann, listen. Do you hear that?” She swallows a sob and listens as he says.
The radio comes to life again. “Jimmy, Kaylee Ann can you hear me? We’re heading out of town now, are you there?” Carl’s voice sounds repeatedly as he tries to reach them.
Kaylee Ann’s eyes grew wide, “It’s them, it’s them. They’re coming Jimmy, they’re coming!” she shouts, filled with renewed hope. She blinks several times and then smiles at him. “They’re coming.”
“You see Kaylee Ann; we’ll be safe in no time.”
A few moments later, they hear the loud rumble of a motor charging up the road. Jimmy watches through the tree limbs as an old Chevelle SS comes into view. They are saved.


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