Rod swore. Sam said, “I know. I know, but we need to calm down and make a plan.”
I barely listened to her. I was busy looking out the window.
The frog-thing that had tried to open the car door wasn’t coming closer. Not that there was much closer to come. I mean, it stood maybe two feet from the car, breathing and making low moaning noise. The creature tried to open the door once, but Sam had locked it after I pulled it shut.
Even as it grabbed the door, it kept its eyes toward the ground, away from the car’s lights.
As more of them crawled over the concrete barrier along the side of the highway, they shielded their eyes with their arms.
What did that tell me? We were so screwed. My utility belt with its flash grenades was back in Grand Lake, and you know what also sounded useful? That godawful laser guitar-thing Nick made. It put out a lot of light.
With something like that, we might be able to clear the highway, or at least part of it.
I looked ahead of us. Creatures were climbing on to the road as far as I could see. We didn’t have a chance of protecting this many people—not all at once.
Sooner or later the cars would run out of gas, the batteries would go dead, and the lights would dim.
Long before then someone would panic, possibly a lot of someones, and then they’d get eaten.
In the front, it sounded like Sam and Rod were coming to similar conclusions.
Sam talked quietly, pausing sometimes to peer into the darkness, “I can use my staff to make light, but not enough light to clear the road. At best, maybe we could gather people around us—if they were willing to get out of their cars.”
Rod nodded, “But we’d never get everybody… I’m trying to think. Okay, tell me if this sounds crazy—I pile cars on top of each other and make a fort, and we get as many people as we can inside.”
“It’s crazy,” Sam said. “Cassie?”
“I think we could escape, but we can’t win. Maybe we could get to the roof of one of the buildings, and go from there. Maybe we could call the Liberators?”
Sam checked outside again. There were more of them now. How long did we have?
She said, “I think if the Liberators could get here, they’d be here by now.”
“Right,” I said, “why don’t we go out there and find out how tough they are? Maybe we could take them.”
Rod looked left toward the river. It was too dark to see details, but something was moving out there—probably more of them reaching the shore. “Yeah,” he said. “I don’t like that plan.”
“No, wait, better idea,” I said. “What’s stopping traffic? Let’s go up there, see if we can take it out, and then the cars can move. Bet they can’t keep up with cars moving at seventy.”
Neither Rod nor Sam said anything for a moment.
“Huh,” Rod said. “That’s worth a shot.”
“It’s so full of holes,” Sam said. “What if we’re backed up because they destroyed the bridge?”
“What if we sit here till they flip the car over?” Rod asked. “I don’t have anything better.”
Sam frowned. “Neither do I.”
She pulled something out of a pocket, and placed it on the dashboard. Then she said a few words in a language I didn’t know.
The frog-things that had been staring at Rod’s car left, slouching over to the cars on either side of us.
Sam did something with her hand, and she appeared as Red Hex. Turning her head back to me, she said, “Your turn. We’ll be hidden for a few feet outside the car. Rod will change out there.”
I changed, stuffing my clothes into my backpack. Who knew if we were coming back to the car?
“Everyone ready?” Sam asked, hand on the door handle.
I liked that. She reminded me a bit of how Nick would constantly question whether we’re doing the best thing, except once she decided, she was committed. We’d need that.
Hopefully she could do something in a fight.
Rod said, “I’ll grab both of you, and then run. It’ll be faster.”
They opened the doors, and I squeezed out after Sam, thinking about how much I hated two door cars.
The frog-things didn’t notice us—well, not until Rod turned troll.
Once he reached nearly two stories, he got their attention. Some hissed. Others howled—loudly.
It didn’t matter at first. Rod grabbed Sam and I, one in each hand, and started running. Each step sent us into the air, and his feet came down on the road with an impact that left cracks, and shook the nearest cars.
But you know what? He hauled ass.
The howling kept going, and the frog-things nearest to us took it up as we went by, scattering when his foot hit the ground. Soon, it seemed they were already howling when we got there.
Rod gave the ones right in front of his right foot a solid kick, knocking them backward and into the air, hitting more of their kind, or flying off the side of the highway to drop into the street below.
It became funny once he got going. They’d have swarmed us if we’d stayed in one place, but they couldn’t come up with a way to stop a running troll.
I felt pretty confident until almost the end, and then I had to rethink some things. What could they have that Rod couldn’t handle?
And then we saw what they’d stopped traffic with—a twenty foot tall thing that made me think of a shark with legs. Its mouth was large enough to bite the front off a car, and to judge from the smashed and shredded cars laying on the street, it already had.
As we approached, it growled.