Daisy had never seen so much blood in her life. She wanted to do something, anything, to make it stop. But she could only watch, transfixed as the old man bent over the short criminal, biting at the guy’s neck and face.

And the screams. It was a wonder her manager hadn’t rushed out of the office to see what was going on.

She did have a knife in her pocket. A switchblade. She never went anywhere without it. Something she’d learned long ago. But all she could make herself do was wrap her hand around it as it sat at the bottom of her pants pocket.

A quick glance at the short guy’s tall partner showed Daisy that he wasn’t going to be much help. He’d backed up a few steps from where he’d originally stood and his face was even more pale and sweaty then it had been before the old man had attacked. This was not the right guy to have at your side in a crisis.

If this was going to stop, it would have to be up to her. She managed to pull the knife from her pocket and flick out the blade. By that point, the short criminal had stopped screaming. But still the old man bent over him. It was almost as if the old man was feeding off of him, eating him. The thought made the candy bar she’d eaten earlier churn about in her stomach.

She closed her eyes.

Cars passed by out on the street beyond the doors. It was like a whole other world out there. A world that moved forward while here, inside the store, everything had stopped.

Daisy tried to shut everything out, to focus, to breathe. But the more she tried to concentrate, the more the world around her tried to get in.

Another siren screamed by outside. An unnamed pop princess warbled on and on about an umbrella through the store’s ceiling speakers. The tall criminal’s breathing was becoming rapid, verging on the brink of hysterical, and Daisy’s matched it breath for breath. But above it all was the sound of the old man feeding on the short guy’s flesh.

It was a wet sound. A crunching sound. It was the sound of nightmares and Daisy had had enough.

She opened her eyes, let out a primal, war-like scream, and vaulted the counter, knife in hand. She landed on both feet next to the old man and, screaming once again, she kicked him in the side with all her strength.

The old man sighed as he rolled off of his victim, a large chunk of the criminal’s face still clutched in his bloody teeth. Daisy had to fight to keep the contents of her stomach where they were meant to be.

The old man rose. As he did so he let out a low, guttural, inhuman growl.

Daisy took a few involuntary steps back, running into the tall guy in the process. The tall guy let out a grunt from behind her, but Daisy didn’t have the time, nor the desire to take her eyes off the old man.

The old man was covered in blood and gore, it began at his mouth and had splashed down across the front of his sweater. He was a horror movie given life, a monster in every sense of the word. The old man was no longer human. She could see that clearly as she struggled to breathe.

The creature that was once the old man took a slow, shambling step toward Daisy. Then another. And another. Moving like a robot, an automaton.

This was it. Should she stand and fight, or should she run? It wasn’t really a choice for Daisy. If she ran, others might die. She wouldn’t let anyone else die.

She screamed once again, a shout of defiance, and rushed at the old man, driving her blade into his chest, aiming for the heart. The old man fell to the floor, taking the knife with him.

Daisy stood over him, her breathing heavy and labored. It was over. The adrenaline that was once rushing through her washed away and all she wanted to do was sit down.

To be continued . . .

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