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Family Matters: The Society Book 4 By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 8308

Updated: 2019-06-11 15:00

Chapter 21

The sound of gunfire was deafening and Ivy wondered how hordes of the curious didn't arrive to investigate. Mixed into the gunfire were the howls and shrieks of the not-quite human attackers. She knew when the two groups met because the screams began.

It sounded like a nightmare made real. Ivy wanted to close her eyes until it was over, but didn't want anything sneaking up on them when she wasn't looking. She looked at the two unconscious men and grit her teeth. She faced the opening to their narrow corridor of shelter and lifted her hands, bringing enough heat to her fingertips that she could ignite the first thing that snuck around the dilapidated machinery.

The gunshots tapered off and the sounds of wet tearing mixed with the screams. Ivy pictured claws digging into flesh and swallowed hard, glad that her stomach was empty. She doubted vomiting would help anything. Finally, the last of the screams faded away in a wet, gurgled crunch. Ivy could still hear movement and wet, ripping sounds mixing with the sound of claws on the concrete floor.

'I guess the things with claws beat the men with guns, ' Ivy thought. She braced herself and pushed her fear to the back of her mind. Later, she would shake with fear. Later there would be nightmares. Now, she couldn't afford the fear.

She heard footsteps approach and then stop a short distance away. "Dr. Chambers, are you injured?" a voice asked.

Ivy wasn't certain what she expected, perhaps a sibilant hiss or a deep throated growl, but the voice sounded male and surprisingly human. It was a bit rough around the edges as though the speaker did not do a lot of speaking.

"I am, " Ivy said, as the speaker seemed to know both where and who she was. She decided it was better to face the new arrivals standing and got to her feet.

She peered around the machinery and saw one of the cloaked figures standing a short distance away. The shadows beneath his cloak were too deep for her eyes to penetrate and his cloak covered both his hands and feet. She was kind of glad not to see too much of him. She looked beyond the speaker, patiently waiting for her to decide if he was friend or foe, and saw the other cloaked figures moving around the large space of the factory's interior. Given the low light and the distance she couldn't see much, but the others seemed to be checking the dead.

"I found a head, " one said, calling out to the others. One of the others raced over to the

ckened her, but it faded quickly under the superheated fire's onslaught. The fire reached the flesh and Ivy's stomach growled loudly at the scent of roasting meat. She thought about how long it had been since her morning omelet and tried not to be disgusted by her own reaction. Her hunger faded as the meat burned down to the bone. She was relieved that the acrid scent of the burning meat was no longer appealing. The bone became cracked and blasted, the smaller bones crumbling to ash leaving behind only fragments of the larger bones. Ivy pulled her magic from the fire, letting it die out from lack of fuel. Despite her adventures, the act of using her element calmed and steadied her.

Ivy exhaled as the last of the flames died away. Her breath steamed in the cooler air. "We will need to dispose of the larger bones and scatter the rest, " she told the others. One by one, each of them reached into the still hot ash pile scooping up piled of the remains and choosing one large bone apiece, picking them almost reverently from the pile.

To Ivy their hands looked like a cross between human hands and lizards claws. They had the same five fingers as a human, but the flesh looked vaguely scaly and each finger ended in claws that looked designed for slipping into the small cracks as they climbed walls. While they dispersed the ash around the room, sprinkling it around so that it would disappear in the mold and grass, Ivy noticed that many of them caressed their larger pieces of bone and suspected that rather than being thrown away, they would be kept as mementos.

'Maybe I'll leave that part out when I talk to Nick, ' Ivy decided.

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