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LINK 35: (CASSIE) FOR THE CHILDREN
Azen chased after me, shouting my name in a whisper. "Cassie, get back here!"
"No!" I spun around. "I have to make sure that they made it out!"
Lieutenant Wakil jogged up to Azen and doubled over, catching her breath. She lifted her head. "The Old Man promised none of your families would be in Trenton when the Damnation occurred."
I stamped my foot. "But Azen told me they didn't warn anyone it would be tonight! So what if they didn't know? What if my mom and siblings are still in the house, hiding?"
"They may have turned into demons and ate each other--Err--" Azen held up his hands. "Shit, I didn't mean--"
My nostrils flared as I finished climbing the hill. I needed to get to my house and make sure that very thing didn't happen. There would be no living on just wondering if my family had died. Either way, I needed to see things with my own eyes.
"Cassie Stargaze, PLEASE!" Azen said.
At the street corner, I looked both ways to make sure no cars were coming; which in I felt dumb for doing. There were no people left to be driving the cars. I crossed the street and turned to the next hill, which eventually led to my street and my house.
"Stargaze is a beautiful last name," Wakil said as they struggled to catch up to me. Azen groaned, and I heard his shoes clacking against the concrete. I wouldn't let him stop me by force, so I took off running.
"CASSIE!" Azen hissed. "We need to go to the Sanctuary in Bell's Ferry, or we're dead!"
"Go without me if you want," I said. "But I'm not leaving until I make sure my family didn't end up here when it hit the fan."
As I continued up the next hill, the eeriness began to get t me. There were no sounds save Azen and Wakil's footsteps. Usually, we would have at least had crickets chirping, but tonight, it felt like everything had been whisked away into thin air. All of the houses were dark, and most had their curtains closed, but I saw one on the left with an open window. I walked onto the lawn, and even the grass felt warm under my feet. It seemed hell had come to Earth after all. At the window, I pressed my nose to the glass and peered inside.
I looked into a living room. My stomach turned as I saw a dead body sitting in an armchair. On the table before him sat a bowl of unfinished soup, or maybe oatmeal. It didn't matter. The man appeared dead, from what I couldn't tell; maybe the evil energy in the air had given him a heart attack. My own chest certainly felt tight.
"Cassie, is that your house?" Azen asked.
I turned back and shook my head.
"Look out!" he cried.
The glass shattered behind me before his words even registered. Large arms wrapped around my neck and the man snarled. I screeched and flailed.
"Hold still!" Wakil said.
I looked at her as if she were crazy, but I found her holding a pistol aimed in my direction. That tightness in my chest became as strong as a vice.
A quick flash of light came from the end of her gun, and the man's arms went limp. I scrambled away and into Azen's outstretched arms.
"Oh my gosh!" I breathed.
"Are you all right?" Azen asked.
I nodded quickly. "Yes, but that was utterly terrifying!"
He held me at arm's length. "Can we go now?"
"No!" I snapped and turned on my heel. He moaned and sounded annoyed. When he caught up a moment later, I asked, "Don't you have a brother or sister?"
"Not any that I know of!" he said. "And yours won't have a sister if you do something stupid like that again!"
I wanted to stop and punch him, but a shred of willpower kept me on track. "You'd better not be calling me stupid!" I said.
"Of course I wouldn't, mamacita!" he said.
My face screwed up in confusion. I had no idea what mamacita meant, but I didn't stop to ask. Only one corner remained between me and my street.
I walked telephone pole on the corner, and my jaw dropped. The entire street looked like a war zone, with overturned cars, and houses missing large chunks from their walls and roofs. Even more disturbing were the huge black vines wrapped around everything they could touch.
"What the hell is this shit?" Azen breathed.
I spotted my house, and to my relief, I saw no sign of Mom's other car, the minivan. Usually, it would be in the driveway or out front, but neither proved true.
"We can't go through this!" Wakil said. "Those black things are demons!"