The Only Humans Left

Kate Chandler

I can smell them. 

They have hidden themselves well — I have neither seen nor heard them in the two weeks since I made my last kill — but today their scent is unmistakable. It must have been masked all this time by the smell of the body I was still working on. 

I thought that I had killed the last human in this village, so I had been rationing myself in order to make the meal last as long as possible, surviving on scraps these last couple of days whilst working on a strategy to take over one of the larger neighbouring villages. But — ah! — sweet, succulent, fresh flesh is nearby, and I am hungry!

I circle the part of the village where I first caught the scent. I soon narrow their location down to one street, but which house is it that they occupy? Or which houses? I am certain that there are at least two of them — I can smell both male and female pheromones. 

My hearts beat fast with anticipation.

A light in one of the houses switches on, and then switches off immediately. I can’t believe my luck. They have given themselves away without my even having to spend time tracking them. I drool, my stomach keenly aware that it is almost feeding time. I draw closer to the house.

Do they have any idea that I’m out here, what a mistake they’ve just made? They will surely be on their guard for the next little while, expecting an attack in the event that they were seen. I hide behind a large oak tree, and decide to keep watch and bide my time; they can make no escape without my seeing.

Two uneventful hours pass by. It is dawn. Time to make a move.

I walk around to the side of the house where there is only one window. It is high up near the eaves — an attic room, presumably. I invert my skin so it is sucker-side out, scale the wall up to the window and use my horns to bore two small holes next to it. I peek through. The room runs the length of the house but there is nobody in it, just a few pieces of broken furniture and some large cardboard boxes sealed with yellow tape. 

I use the sharpest of my tentacles to cut around the window pane. I remove it, noiselessly, and slip inside, sniffing at the air. There is no mistake, they are definitely in this house. I revert my skin back to its protective state, shell-side out.

I can’t hear anything that might give away their exact location, so I follow my nose. I slide quietly down the steep stairs. A full sweep of the second floor — where I saw the light come on — proves fruitless. The beds in the bedrooms are all neatly made and clothes hung tidily in closets. The bathrooms, however, are both covered in a thick layer of grime. I turn my nose up at the mess and make my way down another set of stairs to explore the ground floor.

I tread lightly. Though they have no way of escaping me now that I am this close, it’s far more fun to hunt stealthily than to go on a rampage. It makes the anticipation last longer, and there’s always the chance that they’ll be lying in wait and willing to put up a good fight. They can never win, of course, since none of their weapons can cause anything but a slight surface wound to my armoured body, but it’s amusing to watch them try. And for some reason they taste better when they are killed in such an emotionally aroused state.

Two minutes later I am standing by the front door scratching my head. There is no one here, and yet the smell of them is stronger than ever. I go through the house one more time, searching more carefully, but come up empty-handed. Just where are the blighters? 

It suddenly occurs to me that there may be another floor to this house. I curse my stupidity: if there’s a cellar, then they’ve probably made a base camp in it, and may well have an escape route below ground level.

I search the floors for a trapdoor, and find one in the kitchen. I open it and sniff. Their scent is at its most potent here. If they are not down in the cellar, then they cannot be long gone. I run down the stairs, not caring how much noise I make now, flipping the light switch as I pass it. The fluorescent strip lighting illuminates the entire cellar. It is stocked with an array of bottles of various sizes, but there is not a human in sight. I make my way to the end of the room, searching on both sides for any evidence of a tunnel to the outside world

I sense a presence behind me. I turn around and come face-to-face with… well, actually I couldn’t tell you what it is. It smells human but looks like nothing I’ve ever seen. It is ten times the size of me, has mottled skin the colour of fresh bruises, and many more limbs than I can imagine uses for. It’s mouth is as big as my head. 

It leans down to look me in the eye, and then grins at me. Its breath is repugnant, its huge jagged teeth dotted with globs of rotting flesh. I turn aside and retch several times before looking back at it. The confusion must be evident on my face. The creature places a large glass bottle into my hands. It is half-filled with a most delectable smelling pink liquid. I read the label.

Nature Humaine
Eau de Parfum
1 gallon

The creature makes a ghastly screeching noise, and my hearts have two seconds to sink before the pain begins.

Spark by Michael Marshall Smith

Spark by Michael Marshall Smith

In 2011, Kate Chandler turned in her badge and scanner gun, leaving an eleven-year career in librarianship to become a Mother and Armchair Philosopher-Psychologist.  She enjoys observing, pondering, analysing, writing and curating interesting web links and aesthetically pleasing pieces of art, and sometimes manages to bring these things together to create something that she deems worthy of sharing.  UK born and bred, she moved to Vancouver, Canada in 2005, thence to the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, where she currently resides in the sleepy seaside town of Sechelt with her husband and four-year-old daughter. 

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