Alec Combs fired the MGP-84 at the two women coming up behind him, the iron rounds ripping into their bodies.
Hearing the screams of some of the men he had come with, he crashed through the waterlogged field, the rain hammering down on him and the others.
Splashing his way towards the hedge circling the field, he glimpsed the lights from the convent in the distance. Scrambling over the gate, he fell and rolled onto the lane.
Hearing more gunfire coming from behind him, Combs looked back into the field.
“Help me.” The sound of the voice prompted him into action and he grabbed the shoulder of the man trying to climb over the gate.
Pulling the man over, Combs dragged him to one of the trucks parked on the side of the road. He stopped as soon as he saw the slashed tyres.
A woman that he recognised stepped into view, ignoring the torrential rain that was soaking her clothes.
Combs hesitated until he saw her fingernails. He fired several rounds into her body and she fell, her blood mixing with the deep puddles of water.
The man he was still supporting was pulled back, torn from his grasp.
Turning, Combs saw several of the women tearing into the man’s flesh with their long nails.
He raised the gun and pulled the trigger.
One of the women turned and smiled when she saw that nothing happened, wrenching her nails from the man’s squirming body.
A gaping hole appeared in her chest, spraying Combs’ face with blood.
Chris Mitchell fired his shotgun again and half of her face vanished, her body falling. As he fired towards the other women still with their nails firmly implanted in the man’s body, he tossed an extra clip to Combs with his free hand. “Keep going, the convent’s our only chance.”
The lights from the convent becoming clearer as he got closer, Combs heard several more blasts from Mitchell’s shotgun and then only the down pouring rain, replacing the empty clip in his weapon.
Slamming the iron fence circling the convent, he managed to avoid the slashing swing of a hand with long fingernails. Grabbing the wrist, he forced the hand against the iron railings.
The woman cried out in pain as the flesh pressed against the iron began to burn.
Smashing his weapon on the woman’s head, he fired a single round into the back of her neck.
Heaving himself over the iron fence, he crashed down into the row of flowers on the other side. Glancing back through the railings, he glimpsed another of the team being set upon by three of the women, their long fingernails ripping and tearing into his flesh.
Hearing Mitchell’s voice, he reached the door of the convent and began hammering on it. As soon as it began to open, he pushed his way inside and laid down a covering fire for Mitchell and the two men following him.
Slamming the door shut when the three of them were inside the kitchen, Combs glanced at the nun who had opened the door. “Sorry about forcing my way in, but we were getting slaughtered out there.”
“I’m going to need a more extensive explanation for your intrusion before I permit you to stay.”
Mitchell looked at the Mother Superior standing in front of the door leading further into the convent, “I’m not giving you any say in the matter, Sister. But we will be going as soon as the sun comes up.”
Heading to the windows next to the back door, Combs took a look out into the night. “I can’t see any of them, perhaps they’ve given up.”
Approaching him, Mitchell shook his head. “They won’t give up that easily, not with us knowing the location of the nest.”
The Mother Superior stepped further into the kitchen, “And who exactly are these they?”
“Baobban Sith.” Mitchell turned to face her, “Demons that used to be women.”
“I don’t believe in fairy stories.” The Mother Superior looked at the nun, “Caitlin, I think you should go to your room.”
“Yes, Reverend Mother.” Beginning to move, Caitlin stopped and leaned across the counter, her gaze focused through the window.
The glass shattered when she approached, a hand with long sharp fingernails smashing through.
Grabbing Caitlin by the arm, Mitchell pulled her away from the clawing hand, raising his shotgun and firing straight into the face of the woman outside.
Turning, he saw the trickle of blood on Caitlin’s face and glanced at Combs. “Lock her up somewhere, we have to assume she’s been infected.”
The Mother Superior moved between Mitchell and Caitlin, “This is preposterous, Caitlin is going nowhere but to her room.”
“Look outside, check out the body and tell me that’s normal.”
The Mother Superior leaned over the counter, peering through the shattered window.
The body of the woman was melting as she watched.
“Iron is like acid to them.” Mitchell glanced back at the other members of his team, “It’s the only thing that can kill them.”
Turning slowly, the Mother Superior gave Caitlin a warning glance. “I told you to go to your room.”
Mitchell looked again at Combs, “Make sure she’s locked in.” He returned his gaze to the Mother Superior, “I’m not taking any chances with the lives of everyone in here. She’s stays locked up.”
Combs smiled when he approached Caitlin, “If you don’t mind showing me the way to your room.”
She glanced at the Mother Superior who nodded, before exiting the kitchen with Combs following her. Heading along the passage towards the stairs, Caitlin looked back at him as she continued walking. “Why are you doing these terrible things?”
He caught her arm and made her stop, “My girlfriend, she was turned into one of those things a couple of weeks ago. Three of my friends, my closest friends, were killed on the same night by the things that made Julia into an inhuman monster.”
There was a slight tremor of fear in her voice when she spoke again, “And you think that might happen to me?”
“This is just a precaution.” Combs smiled again as they reached the stairs. Following her up, he watched her turn a corner in the passage. Hurrying after her, he watched her stop by the open door to a room only furnished with a bed and a single chest of drawers. “I’m just going to lock you in, is that alright?”
Watching her enter, he pulled the door shut and slammed the bolt into place.
Returning down the stairs and back into the kitchen, Combs placed his weapon on the table. “There’s a good iron bolt on the door, she won’t be able to get out if she turns.”
“Good.” Mitchell approached the window and looked out, “We just have to wait till dawn. If she hasn’t turned by then, she’ll be okay.”
The Mother Superior looked at him, “And if Caitlin isn’t?”
Mitchell answered without hesitation, “Then we kill her.”
“I won’t allow you to harm her.”
Checking his shotgun, Mitchell returned the Mother Superior’s defiant gaze. “I told you before, I won’t be giving you any say in the matter.”
Kneeling in front of the bed, Caitlin raised her hands towards her face to begin praying. She stopped when she saw the long nails on each of her fingers.
Closing her eyes, she recited a quick prayer.
Her nails were normal again when she opened her eyes. Rising from her kneeling position, she backed against the wall, her hand moving to the cut of the face.
Pressing her finger against the trickle of blood, she held out her hand in front of her and watched the blood begin to fade from the skin, her eyes filling with the terror of what she knew she was becoming.
Her eyes opening as soon as she heard the scream from the room next door, one of the novices scrambled out of her bed and opened the door. Emerging into the passage, she approached the door to Caitlin’s room, pressing her ear against it until she could hear the faint sobbing coming from inside.
Sliding the bolt open, she pushed open the door.
Caitlin was kneeling on the floor with one hand resting on the blanket covering her bed.
Stepping into the room, the novice approached her. “Are you okay?”
Rising slowly as the fingernails on her hand began to lengthen into sharp points, she plunged them into the novice’s chest.
The fingernails turning red as each filled with the novice’s blood, Caitlin smiled ecstatically, the fresh blood she was feeding on making her feel stronger.
Eventually pulling her fingernails out of the novice’s flesh, she looked at the redness in her nails fading back to white.
Taking another look through the window, Mitchell gazed out at the empty grounds of the convent. “I don’t like this, where are they?”
The Mother Superior looked at him from the other side of the kitchen, “Perhaps these demons are no longer out there?”
“Jim, check one of the upstairs windows.” He looked back at the Mother Superior, “See if you can see any activity out there.”
Watching Jim head to the stairs just beyond the door to the communal showers, Combs glanced back when he was out of sight. “Could they have gone?”
Mitchell turned back to the window, “They’re up to something.” He glanced back, directing his gaze at the Mother Superior. “Is there another way they could get in?”
“All the doors are locked.” The Mother Superior stared back at him, “With Iron bolts, if that makes you more secure.”
Reaching the top of the stairs, Jim walked along the passage towards one of the windows. Pausing only to let one of the novices pass him, he continued and to the window and looked out.
Turning behind him, the novice approached him and grabbed him abruptly by the throat, the fingernails on her other hand lengthening as she plunged her three middle fingers into the back of his neck.
The fingernails impaled in his flesh turning red, the novice held him firmly until her fingernails turned white again.
Letting Jim’s body fall, she walked back towards one of the nearby doors.
Caitlin looked up at the novice as she opened the door, her fingernails plunged deep into the chest of one of the other nuns.
Checking his watch, Mitchell looked at Combs. “Stay here with Harry and keep an eye on the Sister.”
Walking out through the kitchen door, he reached the bottom of the stairs. Making his way up, he saw Jim’s body as soon as he reached the top of the stairs.
Moving towards the body, he stopped when several of the nuns stepped out of their rooms and he saw the long red nails on some of their fingers.
He fired at the nearest one, the iron round smashing into her body. She took a single step towards him and stopped. She fell to her knees and screamed, her flesh beginning to dissolve.
Rushing back down the stairs, Mitchell remained at the bottom with the shotgun aimed towards the top.
Emerging from the kitchen, the Mother Superior approached him. “What in God’s name do you think you’re doing?”
Mitchell fired another shot at a nun who came into his line of fire, “They’ve turned.” He gave the Mother Superior a quick look, “I’m guessing that Sister Caitlin was infected, got out of her room somehow and now she’s infecting the rest of your sisterhood.”
The Mother Superior tried pushing her way past him, “I can talk to them, instruct them to fight for their souls. The Lord will save them from this evil.”
Grabbing her arm, Mitchell stopped her. “You go up there, they will feed on you and you’ll become one of them. Is that something you really want, to become a bloodsucking demon? Believe you, the last thing you’ll care about then will be your precious Lord. Your interest will not go beyond finding your next victim.” He glanced at Combs, “Give me your weapon.”
Exchanging his shotgun for the MGP-84, Mitchell began climbing the steps. Reaching the top, he began firing at the nuns directly in front of him.
Stepping past the melting bodies, Mitchell reached Jim and knelt down to feel for a pulse. Hearing a scream coming from an adjacent passage, Mitchell turned a corner and saw another nun with her fingernails buried deep in the back of one of her sisters. He opened fire, her face erupting in a geyser of blood as she fell and her body began to melt.
Approaching the nun lying on the floor, he saw her hand twitch and rolled her over onto her back.
There was a look on innocent confusion on her face as she looked back at him.
He closed his eyes and hesitated, not seeing her fingernails beginning to grow longer. “I’m sorry.”
He fired into her chest before she made any attempt to attack.
Combs caught hold of the Mother Superior’s arm as another round of gunfire came from upstairs.
“He’ll only kill those that have turned.”
The Mother Superior pulled herself free and walked back towards the kitchen counter. She was about to speak when she saw a woman’s face through the shattered window.
“Let us in.” The woman began to smile, “We just want those men. We have no interest in hurting anyone else.”
Combs grabbed the Mother Superior and pulled her away, raising the shotgun.
The woman faded into the night before he could fire.
Harry turned towards the interior door as soon as they heard the showers come on. “Stay here.”
Leaving the kitchen, he approached the door to the communal showers and slowly turned the handle.
Opening it, he took a step inside.
The thick steam obliterated anything more than a foot in front of him from view. He stopped moving when he heard the door behind him slam shut.
He raised his gun when he heard the giggling coming from all around him.
Making his way back to the top of the stairs, he rushed back down to the ground floor and hurried back to the kitchen, glancing at Combs as he pushed his way through the door. “Jim’s dead.” He turned towards the Mother Superior, “Your Sister Caitlin wasn’t up there. She’s still loose somewhere in here.” He looked around the kitchen, “Where’s Harry?”
A faint scream came from further down the passage before anyone could answer and Mitchell set off running towards the door to the communal showers.
Not daring to breath, the novice peered through the crack in the cabinet door, where she had been hiding here even since she heard the first burst of gunfire.
Pulling the cabinet door shut as soon as the door to the dining hall began to open, she waited, trying to remain as silent as she could.
She heard footsteps on the hardwood floor of the hall, each one seeming to be getting closer to her hiding place.
Taking the chance, she opened the cabinet a little and saw Caitlin’s familiar face. Emerging from her hiding place, she watched as Caitlin turned to face her.
Bursting through the door, he ventured just beyond the door and fired into the thick steam. Taking a step further inside, he heard the scream from the dining hall and rushed back out into the passage.
Slowly approaching the dining hall door, he raised his gun and reached for the handle. Pushing it, he stopped when he saw Caitlin standing on the other side of one of the tables, the long fingernails on her right hand deeply impaled in the back of the novice.
The Mother Superior entered behind him and looked towards Caitlin, “Stop this at once.” She took a few steps forward, “If you seek the Lord’s forgiveness, you can still save your soul from this obscenity.”
“I don’t want to stop.” Caitlin looked at the Mother Superior and tore off her cowl, letting her long dark hair cascade over her shoulders. “I like being like this.”
Remaining silent for a moment, the Mother Superior stood her ground. “You’ve become an abomination in the eyes of our Lord.”
Pulling her nails out of the novice’s back, Caitlin closed her eyes to savour the feeling of the last vestiges of blood being absorbed, her nails turning from red to their usual white. Opening her eyes again, she smiled and looked at the Mother Superior. “You should experience how wonderful this is for yourself before judging me for enjoying it, Reverend Mother.”
Entering behind the Mother Superior, Combs raised the shotgun as soon as Caitlin made a move towards her and fired.
The side of Caitlin’s face disappeared in a flash of blood and her body fell out of sight behind the table.
Moving round the table, Mitchell pulled the Mother Superior away from the body and approached the novice. He looked at the Mother Superior and shook his head, “This has to be done.”
He placed the barrel of the MGP-84 against the back of the novice’s neck and fired several rounds into her flesh, splattering the table with blood.
The Mother Superior looked at him, doing her best to control her anger. “You told me that you would leave at dawn.”
Glancing out through the window of the dining hall, Mitchell nodded. “That’s what I promised.” He turned to face Combs, “Pack it up, we’re leaving.” He looked back at the Mother Superior, “There will a special clean up team here in an hour or so to remove all trace that anything happened here.”
Following Mitchell and Combs back to the kitchen, she watched them stepping outside.
Combs took one last look at her and closed the door.
Bending down to scratch the itch on her ankle, the Mother Superior saw the slight trickle of blood where she had been caught by one of Caitlin’s nails.
She started to move towards the door to call Mitchell back but stopped halfway. A smile appeared on her face as she placed a hand on one of the kitchen counters, her fingernails beginning to lengthen.