Chapter 16

It all happened in slow motion.

Zwain turned around to look back at the portal. There was already creatures pouring through it, swinging huge axes and clubs, stomping through the crowd like children on an ant hill. Huge, hulking green beasts twice the size of any man Zwain had ever seen. Before the crowd could scatter, one of the monsters swung his club knocking a tidal wave of people into the air.

Survival instincts kicked in and audience members trampled over each other in a vain attemtp to escape the madness. Boots mashing in noses and knocking out teeth. Zwain, Tony, Mandy and Duece stood on the stage staring at the carnage unleashed in front of them.

The biggest of the creatures, the one with huge tusks protruding from his lower jaw and a large headdress made out of the feathers from no bird on this planet, pointed in their direction and uttered a guttural phrase to his left. An axe-wielder just ten feet away nodded and cocked his axe up over his shoulder, ready to swing for the bleachers. The monster loosed the axe through the air in the direction of the band. It twirled through the air like a gigantic lawnmower blade. Zwain and everyone jumped away from the trajectory of the axe, narrowly avoiding its blade. Zwain landed with a painful jolt to his right elbow, turned in time to see the axe hit the drum kit; leaving it in a heap of twisted metal.

Duece rose up in a slight daze could barely mutter out a,”Whoa, talk about the ultimate rim shot–,” before being yanked by Mandy, who broke out into an all out sprint perpendicular to direction the monsters were approaching. Tony was right behind them.

Zwain was about to follow but he halted and looked out over the audience. This was all his fault. There was something about that solo. Something that Chris from the park had known about. Why would he trick Zwain into massacring thousands of people. What was there to gain?

The sound of wild howls shook him out of his own thoughts and Zwain saw mutilated dogs, some roughly the size of a small horse, charging through the portal to join their dark green masters. Sunken, misshapen faces from years of abuse at those massive hands left them borderline feral. The dogs rushed a few of the people that managed to dodge the clubs and axes and clawed at their backs and ripped out their throats.

Zwain turned back in their direction. Tony caught Zwain doing this out of the corner of his eye and rushed to his side to try and bring him along. “Zwain, we gotta move. We’re sitting ducks up here on the stage.”

Zwain looked at Tony, an expression of worry and anger battled it out on his face. “This is my fault, Tony. Sure, we might be sitting ducks up here, but those people are fish in a barrel. I’ve fucked up. I’m not running. These people will not get left behind like the kids.”

Tony was confused, “So what do you plan on doing? Those fuckers are huge!”

Zwain slowly removed the strap from The Axe and stuffed it into his back pocket. With two hands, he gripped the neck firmly, as if brandishing an axe of his own. With a look of steeled determination he glanced over a Tony and said, “You have any idea how solid this beast is?”

Tony stood there, slack jawed, as Zwain jumped off the stage and into the carnage below.

Once he was in the thick of it, the slow motion shifted into a quick blur. Zwain saw one of the dogs mauling a teenager, ran over and hit the beast in the ribs with his guitar. The beast flew through the air with a yelp and landed on its side frantically trying to pull itself up, but its severed spine no longer allowing its hind legs to work.

Zwain knelt down and helped the girl up. She hugged him as tears of relief ran down her cheeks, washing away the tears of fright. Zwain gestured over to where he came from hoping that the path his friends were taking was free enough for this girl to make it. As she ran off in that direction Zwain saw Tony hopping off the stage with his bass in hand.

The running girl must have seemed like a beacon because two more of the dog monsters rushed her. Tony stepped forward and smashed his bass guitar in the face of the first one, snapping its neck but also snapping his guitar into two peices, the end of its neck was now a mass of jagged splinters.

Tony gave another swing of the remains of his guitar, the body still attached by the metal strings like some sort of “hard rock” morning star. This added extra momentum to the force of his swing causing the strings of the guitar to wrap around the neck of the second hound, hauling it to the ground. Without thinking Tony lunged forward and plunged the splintered neck of his guitar into the neck of the beast causing it to spasm and drown in its own blood.

Mandy and Duece had ran back for the both of them and saw the girl making a break for it. Duece cheered the girl on as she ran off into the darkness of the woods. Mandy removed her guitar from her back and held it like a bat. Tony yanked out the strings of his guitar leaving him with just the neck.

Two more people ran past them as they regrouped behind Zwain, who had just finished off another of the hounds. This one still alive but all four legs were broken. Tony put it out of its misery and turned to Zwain. “Zwain, we’re out numbered and out matched. You see how much it took for us to just save three people. They haven’t even sent over those big fuckers, yet. Let’s get out of here and save our own asses while they’re still our own.”

“You guys don’t have to stay. This is my problem,” he said raising his guitar in the air, “and this is my solution. I’m going to save as many as I can before they take me down. Thanks for everything, but I fear this may be where we say our goodbyes. I love you guys. Be safe.”

Before Zwain could run off for another battle Mandy spoke up, “Oh no you don’t. Zwain, we are a group. I’m scared out of my fucking mind right now, but if I run now it’ll only get worse. I’ll never be able to live with that decision. You didn’t abandon those kids. When you fell down that hole, it was not you choosing to leave them to their fate. Shit, you were trying to get back to them right up until you ended up here. But if I go now, I am making that choice. That is not a choice that I am capable of making! No, we have to try. So shut the fuck up and let us help you.”

Zwain smiled and nodded, “Alright, stay low and keep an eye out for the big green guys.”

“Well that’s all well and fucking good for you guys, but we have three weapons and there is four of us. What in the fuck am I going to do with these tiny shitting drum sticks?” yelled Duece as he mimed stabbing with the sticks. “I’ll lose my fucking arm before I kill anything.”

Zwain did a quick glance, He saw a maintenance shed beside the stage. “What about there?”

Duece turned and saw the shed. “Fucking-A! Worth a shot!” He ran in that direction. Mandy followed holding her guitar ready for any type of surprise attack. They both were so focused on the shed that they didn’t see one of the big green monsters on the stage. The axe-wielder from before had retrieved his weapon from the tangled mess of drums.

It landed in front of Duece with an earth shaking thud. Its axe already high above its head. There was a whoosh as the air was parted by the stone blade. Duece dodged to his left, looking back at Mandy who was late in noticing the monster. Using all of his leg strength Duece doubled back and leapt for Mandy, his right arm outstretched to push her out of the path of the axe. He caught her shoulder and sent her tumbling off to the other side. A searing pain shot up through his whole arm as the axe separated it from the rest of his body. The arm, severed mid-bicep, flopped lifelessly on the ground.

Duece shrieked into the night sky scaring off a flock of nesting birds hundreds of meters away. He tumbled onto the ground in the same direction as Mandy, his bloody stump getting matted up with grass, leaves and dirt.

Tony and Zwain were fighting off another couple of hounds when they heard the yell. They turned to see Mandy approaching an armless Duece who managed to prop himself up against a tree. He could see that she had gotten her strap off her guitar and was using it to tie off his stump. The monster was struggling to free his axe from the ground. The momentum of its swing buried it right up to its handle.

Zwain charged with a mighty yell, hoping to distract the monster from its business and buy him some time to get over there before the thing could free his weapon from the ground. Over his shoulder, he could hear Tony join in his war cry and this prompted Zwain to pick up his pace.

Urlich looked up briefly and saw this puny human charging at it. These puny humans did not have the metal skin of the ones he was supposed to be fighting, but this one acted as if it did. This frightened Urlich the Orc, forcing him to frantically tug on his axe. Urlich did not expect such soft ground when he swung down at the other puny human. After a couple of more tugs, Urlich lifted his head to see how far away the human was and saw that human was now flying at him.

Zwain cocked the guitar back and then swung forward with all of his might. The guitar connected with the creature’s head with a sickening THUD. The head spun almost completely around, the bones of the neck cracking and popping. The head bobbed as the creature drop to its knees and then finally slumped forward on its axe handle, arms dangling at its sides.

Zwain rushed over to Duece and Mandy. Mandy had a steady flow of tears running down her face as kept tightening and tightening the makeshift tourniquet that was her guitar strap. Duece’s head lolled about in a delirious state of pain and shock.

“How’s he doing?” asked Zwain.

“Not good, I think he’s going to pass out.”

“Get him behind the shed. Those beasts don’t look too smart. Out of sight, out of mind. That is if they even have a mind.”

Mandy helped Duece to his feet and started walking him to the back of the shed. “Hey, where’s Tony?”

“He’s right behind…” Zwain stopped, he could swear Tony was right behind him. He looked back at the field. The monsters were mopping up whoever was still trying to make a break for it. Tony was tall, so it’s not like he’d be easily missed.

Zwain caught some movement in his peripheral vision. One of the hounds slumped over on its side, falling away from a body laying on the ground. The neck of a guitar protruded from its belly. In its jaws was an arm, bloody and mangled as the monster had torn it from its owner. Zwain’s heart hit him right in his throat.

That was Tony’s arm.

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