The night was alive with the low roar of the fire, occasional screams, and gunfire. Everyone was on edge, looking back and forth for enemy ambush. The four men in front of Carli dodged the bundle of tattered clothing in their path with scarcely a glance. Perhaps the reason Carli noticed the whiteness of bone sticking out from the rags was because her size put her so much closer to the ground. She uttered a small groan as she drew to a halt next to it. Alerted by the sound, the whole party stopped and looked. The faces around her went grim in an instant.
Whoever it had been was far beyond their help now. They moved on.
The two up front, Arner and one of his soldiers, came out of the alley to the main thoroughfare. They immediately froze, and everyone else followed suit. When Arner and the other man faded back into the alley, everyone drew back and pressed themselves against the walls of the brick building.
Seconds spun by before the reason they hid was revealed. The night vision goggles Carli wore gave her a perfect view of the half dozen creatures that walked past the alley. Her heart skipped several beats at the horrifying vision. Seemingly melted skins erupting in sores, misshapen heads and extra limbs, those gaping mouths full of fangs … it was as if some long ago special effects department had gone all out for a horror or sci-fi film. That the creatures had once been human, that the Old Ones had tried to transform them, was not in question. What Carli wondered was at what point had it gone wrong? Had these monsters been humans inflicted with radiation sickness when they were dragged through the nuclear wasteland into the San Francisco Pyramid? Or had the horrific mutations resulted after they’d been transformed and escaped the alien stronghold?