Chapter 2: The ground is alive

 Chapter 2: The ground is alive

The earth fell silent as Ainsley lowered her hands. She blinked several times as if she’d just woken up. “Did it work?” she mumbled groggily, surveying the grove for her friends. All of her friends laid on the ground sprawled out, looking dazed. Ainsley frowned in confusion trying to process why friends were on the ground.

The leaves of the grove rustled as new tremor passed through the earth. “What the shit just happened!?” Richard picked himself up from the ground. Ainsley thought he looked awful, as if he had paled by several shades. Richard’s eyebrows creased as he looked around taking stock of his surrounding. Birds, squirrels and insects all now laid in the grass unmoving.

“What happened to the animals?” whispered Richard to himself.

A second tremor passed through the earth, deeper and more powerful. The trees and bushes around the children shook violently as terrible ripping sounds rose from the earth.

The ground around the children surged, violently tearing long gashes into the earth, spurting forth a purple fog tinged by a yellow haze. The rends in the earth belched clouds of dust, dirt and rot into the air.

Skeletal hands rose from the fissures sinking their fingers into the earth. Scapulae, femurs and finger bones rose from the ground knitting themselves into grotesque simulacra of humans and animal. All manners of skeletal remains surged from the ground, long dead corpses rose up from the rends in the earth.

The Morne, Chelsey and Richard screamed, fleeing towards the escarpment as Ainsley heard Richard yelling “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!”

The shambling dead made their way towards the group as they tried to escape fleshless hands. One caught hold of Ainsley’s ankle, sending her careening onto the ground. She grunted as she hit, dropping her wand. In desperation, she kicked at the skeletal appendage until she shattered the old, brittle bones. Freed, she scrambled away from the remnants of grasping appendage, frantically searching about for her wand.

She was brushing her hands in through the grass when her fingers brushed the familiar aluminum grip of her wand. She pulled it out and screamed “START CASTING FUCKING SPELLS!” as she pointed her wand at the closest undead. Ainsley yelled the power word for wind summoning tight gusts of air. She sent them to blast a skeletal deer that bounded towards her out of the horde. The deer blew apart in a shower of bones that disappeared into the growing swarm of undead.

Ainsley rose to her feet. She looked back to see her friends scrambling up the escarpment while attempting to cast spells into another growing mass of undead. Flashes of light lit up the forest as Ainsley ran towards the base of the slope and she heard Richard yell “Seriously Morne, Dazzle!? They’re bones! What do you think it’s going to do? They don’t have eyes!”

“I don’t know a lot of attack spells you dickhead! It’s not like they teach us how to fight skeletons in class!” Morne retorted.

Ainsley ran towards her friends dodging small pockets of the shambling dead as she rose up the slope. She crested the ridge just as the largest horde crashed against the base of the cliff. “Run, RUN! RUUUN!” she screamed as she blew past the group, her lungs burning with every step. The rest quickly following on her heels.

They reached their bikes when Ainsley finally realized something was terribly wrong.

“Where’s Mike!?” She looked through her friends as they grabbed their bikes. Richard skidded to a stop to look back at her “He fell down when whatever the hell you did went through him! I’m not going back!” He turned to the forest to see several squirrel carcasses burst through the foliage then took off up the road.

Chelsey looked back at the forest with concern. “I didn’t see him after it started raining yellow.” She said quietly. 

“Get out of here!” Morne yelled and sped off on his bike. Chelsey gave Ainsley another brief look before following Morne back to town. The first of the humanoid skeletons burst through the trees as they pursued the group. Ainsley took one more look at the forest, tears streaming down her face, before jumping on her bike and pumping her pedals as fast as she could.