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Weekly Prompt - January 14



Another week; another prompt. This week, I decided to go with something a little different. I wasn't given a prompt this week, so I chose something that I hoped would be fun.


This week's prompt: In a quiet suburban neighborhood a mutated form of common plant or animal becomes a deadly threat.


***


Clouds filled the night sky, obscuring the moon and stars. Heavy fog blanketed the ground, curling around the lampposts. Visibility was low and growing worse with every passing minute.

It was a bad night for anyone to be traveling, let alone walking in the cold, mist-filled night air. The wet, slick streets were silent, except for the occasional passing car or barking dog.

No one dared step outside. Even the stray cats chose being closed up in garages, instead of scrounging around in trash cans after sunset.


Everyone except me and my crew remained inside behind locked doors and closed windows. Something... somewhere... somehow had gone wrong. An experiment, perhaps. Or a chemical released accidentally.


The mammal’s eyes were tiny red beacons in the shadows. Claws had torn window screens, left marks upon doors, vehicles, and devastated more than a few pieces of lawn furniture. Toys were left in shredded pieces, trash strewn about lawns, sidewalks, and streets.


We won’t discuss the corpses left in pieces. Everywhere. Nothing was safe from the altered squirrel.


Was it just one, or a nest? No one knew. All squirrels tended to look alike.


So here we were, in full body Kevlar, with weapons strapped to our legs and waist, as well as held in our hands.


There were five of us. Kevin, he worked for the local police department. Alexis? She was a vet, retired from the military. Tall, slender, buxom was what she was known for amongst the clueless. Mistie? A crack shot with over a dozen shooting awards who loved to dance. No one knew much about Ray. He'd lived in the capital, knew a lot, and was damned good with a gun. He held neighborhood parties, was the favorite house to visit at Halloween, and loved to make sure all the kids had a good Christmas.


Then there was me. My name was Alana Ann Dodson. A computer tech, I was born and raised in the country. Taught how to use a rifle as kid, I later learned handguns weren't bad, either.

All of us wore radio headsets. This wasn't our first rodeo, nor would it be our last. We often got called out for tasks, but this was the first time we'd had to hunt something in our own backyard.


The silence of the night was deafening. It pressed against us, chilling us to the bones more than the cold, damp, autumn air. After an hour of walking the streets, going through yards, and shining brilliant flashlights into the shadows, we regrouped in front of Ray's house.

That's when we heard the distinct chatter of a pissed-off squirrel.


We turned as a unit, fanning out. Flashlights and weapons at the ready. None of us made a sound as we moved as a group towards the sound.


Soon, a pair of tiny red eyes stared down at us from a tree. That's when we realized it wasn't the only pair.


Something larger was perched on a lower branch, growling at the formally-normal gray squirrel.


The gray squirrel's tail twitched and flipped, it's three-inch-long knife-like claws digging grooves into the branch. Teeth snapping as it snarled at the over-grown raccoon that resembled more of a black-masked, brown-banded fox than anything else.

The raccoon snarled. The squirrel crept closer.


I did not want to see what was going to happen next.

"Nail 'em," I said.


Moments later, the two creatures were on the ground.


Dead.


My phone rang as we gathered around the corpses.


"That squirrel is here! It's clawin' up my window!" Mrs. Jones shrieked into my ear.

I put the call on speaker.


"Ya'll need to get here now! It's trying to eat through the damned window!" She continued to scream.


"I guess it's a nest," I said. The rest all nodded, everyone wearing grim expressions. "Lexi, bag and tag 'em. We'll send these two off to the lab later."


"I'll stay with her," Kevin said with a nod. "We'll meet up with ya'll shortly."


Mistie, Ray, and I all nodded, turning away and heading down the street. That's when we spotted another pair of bright red eyes trotting down the sidewalk. The corpse of something hanging from it's mouth, dragging along the concrete. A trail of blood and gore revealed it's path.


"Definitely a nest," Mistie said, firing off a shot from her 1911.


The critter dropped in mid-step, it's brains splattered against the sidewalk and yard.


"We'll get that one, next," Kevin called.


I gave a thumbs up and we all began walking again.


At least the night wasn't going to be boring.


"Good to know it won't be a waste of a night," Ray commented. "I was starting to think it was going to be a bust."


Mistie and I nodded.


"We still up for game night tomorrow?" Mistie asked.


"Yup. The bar will be open, too," Ray replied. "Got a new drink I'll be testing on you guys."


"Sweet or strong?" Alexis said over the comms.


"Got one of each," Ray replied.


"Glad I have the weekend off," Kevin retorted. "After this, I might drop by for a nightcap. These things are nasty."


"Home is always open," Ray replied. "Besides, if this is contagious, might be a good idea for us to stick close to home."


We all looked at each other.


Never a dull moment in Fossilridge.


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