Disclaimer: I own nothing, except my imagination, and a little black cat. Well, he mostly owns me...
Author's Note: Hello everyone and thanks for joining me! Or rather us, if you count my characters, which they probably want to be counted. ANYWAY, this my second Predator fic and I'm have a blast writing it, and I sincerely hope you have fun reading it! Enjoy!
The truck jounced hard over a rut that had been deepened by the spring rain. A cloud of dust, stirred up by the wheels, followed behind the rusty red pick-up truck as it meandered down the treacherous dirt road. Behind the wheel, scowling in irritation, was a young woman in faded blue jean shorts and a sweat soaked tee-shirt bearing the logo 'Benito's Blue Busters!' in peeling letters. Her name was Carina Torrez, and her ill humor was increasing by the minute.
She yanked the wheel hard to the right, barely avoiding another rut that sported a large, exposed stone at it's bottom. Her wheels were already five years old and mostly bald, they didn't need to be flat too! Swearing, Carina considered, once again, the legal processes that would force her grandmother into a nursing home, instead of living at the end of this god-forsaken road in this god-forsaken forgotten county. Carina snarled as her truck dipped down into a deep crevice and she heard her muffler scrap ominously along the bottom of the track.
"I swear if I make it the last 5 miles and my truck has anything missing…." Carina growled and considered what she might do. Nothing, of course. She had volunteered to take care of her grandmother when her mother died last year. She had volunteered to come out and check on the old woman at least three times a week, even thought it was almost a three hour drive one way. And…she loved the old bird. Loco as she was for living way, way out.
Twenty minutes later, Carina bounced into the yard and sighed with relief. Her grandmother's 'driveway' was almost ten miles long, traversing a good section of national park, and the roadway hadn't been graded in a good six years. It was a damned miracle the whole roadbed hadn't finally washed out in the spring floods. Her grandmother didn't drive anymore, and rarely had need of groceries, due to prolific size of her garden, so the roadbed was rarely a consideration for her.
The yard was still. It was an exceptionally hot summer, the heat wave spiking the normal 90 to nearer 115 degrees with close to 80% humidity. A few chickens, the descendants of the one's Carina and her brothers had chased around the yard as children, were lurking beneath the big oaks, wings extended and mouths open, panting in the heat. As Carina stepped out, she felt an almost physical weight descend onto her shoulders, the humidity stifling.
"Abuela?" Carina called, then swore and said again, in English, "Gran?" She was surprised by how muffled her voice sounded in the oppressive silence. One of her grandmother's goats bleated weakly in response and Carina scanned the yard automatically, seeing that all was in order. Her grandmother was nearer 95 than 94 and these days, Carina always checked, half expecting to find the old woman in trouble of some sort. Or dead.
Her grandmother's house wasn't the original, built by Carina's great-grandfather. The original house had been a good deal smaller, and a fire had taken care of it long ago. This house was good sized, and well kept, even in her grandmother's advanced age. When Carina was little, the yard had been partly lawn that her grandfather had kept watered and well groomed, but when he had died ten years before, Carina's grandmother had allowed her flower and vegetable beds to consume the grass. Neat stone steps went up to the front porch, which was carefully screened against mosquito season. Pots of flowers thrived on each step, spilling green tendrils down the stones and into the flowerbeds on either side. Carina looked around. In fact, everything but the animal life seemed to be thriving the maddening heat and moisture, the flower beds were a tangle of green and bright flowers…
"Carina!" Carina jumped, and then turned, offering a sweaty smile to the old lady who had alighted on to the top step. Her grandmother had been stunningly beautiful, even in her fifties when Carina had been little. Now, even wizened and shrunk, she was still quite a lovely creature. Tiny and delicate in every way, the little woman was unbowed by age and embraced Carina with brisk strength. "You look well, skinny!" She poked Carina's side, pinching at section of skin. "That boyfriend of yours should feed you."
"I told you last week Gran, Sam and I—"
"Nevermind, nevermind! Come in." She ignored Carina's protest that she needed her overnight bag and dragged her inside immediately. Carina had convinced her grandmother to get an air-conditioner two years ago, so she was rather surprised to discover that the inside of the house was as sweltering as the outside.
"Gran—what happened to the airconditioner?" Carina demanded, as she was herded from the entry way and down the hall towards the kitchen. Her grandmother waved the question away, impatiently.
"It's broken. Lemonade? And you can tell me about your trip." Her grandmother kept a firm grip on Carina's arm, yanking her into the kitchen and plopping her down in a chair. A second later, a glass of lemonade was pressed into her hand.
"Long, as usual. That road gran…"
"I know Carina, I know. I just don't have the money to have it graded, you know." Her grandmother was bustling about—Carina wondered that the old woman seemed to barely notice the stifling heat. Carina gulped at her lemonade, feeling minimal relief as the icy liquid slid down her throat.
"I told you last week, "Carina said patiently, "Gregorio and I can come out with his grader—"
"How are your brothers? And all the animals?"
"They're fine, Gregorio and his wife have moved into that expensive condo they wanted, Benito phoned me last night and said to say thank you for the package you sent him. I have no idea how you know where to send it…"Carina trailed off, her grandmother appeared to be only half listening. She frowned, but went on. "Some lady in Tellison dropped off a stray she found yesterday. He's a little skinny but he's settling in ok with the other dogs. Gregorio's wife is looking after the animals for me again tonight. She likes the cats but Gregorio won't let her have—"
"Do you think it would be terribly inconvenient for you dear, if you went home tonight?" Her grandmother asked, in a nonchalant tone. Carina froze.
"Why?" She demanded when she'd manage to collect her thoughts, "Gran it's a goddamned six hour drive then!"
"Watch your tongue!" Her grandmother turned and in one fluid motion slapped Carina's nearest wrist with a wooden spoon. Carina swore again and stood hurriedly, apologizing when the spoon was waved at her again. "I know it's inconvenient Carina, but I've got a few friends coming for the evening and I'd forgotten that tonight was your night…"
"What friends!" Carina demanded. As far as she'd known, her grandmother lived like a little hermit out here in the woods. She was irritated, and confused at her grandmother's insistence. What could be going on?
"Just a few friends from town. We haven't seen each-other in a long time. You can stay for dinner dear, and I'll send you back with a few things for Gregorio and Benito." Her grandmother was positively chattering and Carina narrowed her eyes. Her grandmother was 95 for Christ's sake but she'd never seemed senile before now!
"Gran…what's going on?" Carina demanded, she looked around the kitchen, checking that everything looked in place. It did, not a towel out of place. Except…except the bowl by the sink. A towel hung from it, soaked in something phosphorescent and green. Now that she thought about it, there was an odd smell in the heavy, damp air. Something musky, almost sweet. "Gran…what is that?" She pointed at the bowl, rising from her chair again to start to cross the room.
"Nothing!" Her grandmother dove for the bowl, but Carina was faster, whisking it up off the counter and picking up the rag. "Carina, you will put that down immediately!"
"What is this stuff?" Carina demanded. She dipped a finger into the sticky green mass on the rag, and rubbed it between her fingers. It was slippery, and viscous, almost like blood. And it stank, a pungent smell, like rotting fruit. "Gran….is this some kind of…drug?" She couldn't believe she was saying it, and she felt a wash of relief when her grandmother stopped in her tracks and stared at her, incredulous.
"Carina Selene Torrez! How dare you suggest such a thing!" Her grandmother was truly incensed and Carina set the bowl aside, relieved.
"If you're not making pot-brownies out here, then what the hell is going on Gran? Why do I have to go home tonight!" Carina glowered at her grandmother, "Listen Gran, we let you live out here because we know it would kill you to take you away from this place, but if you're going to start acting weird, I'm going to draw the line!"
Over their heads, Carina heard a soft thump. Both women froze. Carina looked up. She listened, and another thump sounded, louder this time. Damn squirrels in the attic again! Carina looked down to say something to her Gran, but saw the look on her grandmother's face. Not squirrels. Definitely not squirrels. Carina dashed for the door, her grandmother yelling at her.
There was more green stuff on the stairs, little dribbles of it as if something had leaked. Carina took them two at a time, heading for the landing, her grandmother yelling behind her in panic. Carina reached the landing and looked down the hall towards the bedrooms. The window at the end had been smashed inwards, debris and glass all over the floor. The crumpled remains of the air conditioner lay in a heap halfway down the hallway. One of the bedroom doors was askew—her bedroom door, as it happened. It was nearest the shattered window, opposite the tiny upstairs bathroom.
Carina knew her grandmother's house like the back of her hand. That room was over the kitchen. She stood at the end of the hall, by the stairs, contemplating her options. Her grandmother was on the stairs now, but she couldn't make it up fast. Carina took a deep breath and started down the hall.
There was a good deal of the green stuff by the broken window, shards were coated with it, a big smear on one wall. Carina was beginning to get an ugly feeling, a very ugly feeling indeed. She wiped sweat from her eyes, pushing back her tangled black hair, and turned to face the broken door. There was a handprint on the doorjamb, smeared in green. A really big fucking handprint. Carina glanced back down the hallway, her Grandmother was almost to the top of the stairs. Swearing under her breath, Carina reached out and shoved the door open. And faced what had to be the biggest shock of her life.
End note: Thank you so much and please review, they give the soul joy :D