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.The bastards would smell her out if she bled.Her entire body trembled when she tried to force herself to draw in a slow, deep breath.The air wanted to burst from her mouth in loud desperation.Silently she gagged on her fear and waited.There was nothing else she could do.She caught movement from her peripheral vision.The morning began to arrive too quickly, pushing back the black shadows and creating hiding places that were much less dense than she wished for.Moving only her eyes, she watched the zippers slide through the semidarkness toward her.They were hideous.Shaped like their namesake, they were as long and willowy as a small tree.They had no arms, but then, they didn’t need them.Their colors were varied, but the majority of the zippers were a dirty gray with splotches of red that reminded one of old blood.Their faces were just a continuation of the long bodies, with no definition to speak of.They had small black eyes like beads and round mouths overcrowded with dozens of tiny, sharp protuberances that served as teeth.When they came upon food—any being containing blood and bone—their fronts “unzipped” and sucked part of the prey in.The victim would be held fast as the zippers tore into flesh with no regard for the pain they caused.Cin had seen the zippers feed twice and had almost been their dinner once.It wasn’t something she was likely to forget.It was those tiny teeth that had given her the scars she carried.Well, most of them.She’d managed to escape, thanks in part to Saint and Satan, and in part to a hapless three-legged dog that wasn’t quick enough to get away.The zippers fought over the dog, and she’d gotten away with her life.Barely.Luck had saved her that night, but she had a feeling she was on her own this time.She dared not move, even to reach for her knives.One twitch and the zippers would know she was there.The zippers suddenly halted, and she nearly screamed.If they’d spotted her, she was as good as dead.She blinked sweat from her eyes.They stood still as stones, mouths clicking in that odd, disturbing way they had of communicating.Then they came alive, twisting from side to side like vertical snakes.They knew something—or someone—was in the area.Her.Her sigh was shaky but made her feel marginally better.She’d go out fighting the bastards.She refused to let fear freeze her.She would not just hand herself over.She took a deep breath, then exploded from her hiding place, drawing Saint and Satan as she found her feet.She screamed her war cry and released the eager knives, sending them like death darts toward the crowd of killer zippers.As Saint and Satan took care of business, slicing and dicing the zippers, she could have run.Might have, even, but something else caught her gaze.Two men burst from the shadows.In their fists were blazing torches, and with their own roars of challenge, they ran headlong into the fray.She watched as Saint was pulled into the gaping maw of a yellowish zipper, and that was all it took to make her rage overcome her fear.She couldn’t lose her knives.They were all she had.And with the two men there, her confidence was greater.Then the zippers were engulfed in a smoky blaze, and she screamed as Saint disappeared.He’d burn, and die, and she’d be unable to handle Satan’s grief with his twin gone.She threw herself toward the fire.Red heat kissed her naked hands as she clawed at the zipper, but before she could reach into the screaming creature’s mouth, she was jerked away and flung to the ground.Mach leaned toward her.“Stay!”“Saint!” she cried, her voice plaintive and desperate, aimed at Mach’s retreating back.“My knives!”But if he understood or even heard her, she couldn’t know.He made no indication.Cin had never been one to do as ordered, and she wasn’t going to start now.As Mach’s huge body stood outlined by the burning, fighting zippers, she pushed herself once more to her feet and ran toward the battle.She knew her hands hurt, but it was as though the pain came through thick layers of gauze.She ran, arms pumping, boots kicking up clumps of sod, and dimly realized the zippers were calling more of their own [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]