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She had assumed that the stone slab lead to the floor somewhere below her. This was probably true, since the red-eyed men were coming from that direction... but it did her no good now. She was cut off. She and Treach could maybe fight their way past another one or two... maybe... but there were now a dozen pairs of red eyes running up the slab toward them. The ones that had held back to watch were now coming forward, eyes glowing.
She could try to climb into the SUV, but it was still unstable. Getting back inside would probably get her to the floor a bit faster than she wanted. Even if it didn't, her safety wouldn't last long. She'd be trapped, and they'd pull her out of the windows before she could come up with something else to try. No, she didn't want to trap herself. If she was out in the open she could at least run or fight... or try to.
It was time for Plan B.
She darted around the back of the Explorer and ran to the edge of the platform. She'd considered climbing down before, but dismissed it because it looked too dangerous and Treach couldn't navigate the rocks. But it was less dangerous than staying where she was, and the dog wasn't in any immediate danger. The creatures were ignoring him, even when he went for their throats. She hoped he could find his own way down.
She lowered herself over the edge and started down immediately. It was too dark to truly navigate, so she just reached for the biggest rocks that she could see as she made her way down. Her efforts dislodged smaller rocks, and they skidded down the slope in noisy avalanches of stone.
She looked up.
Several pair of red eyes gleamed down at her, but none of them were following her. They weren't even moving. Just watching. Somewhere behind them, Treach growled.
"RUN, TREACH!" she shouted. One of the pairs of red eyes jerked suddenly, and disappeared.
"...Good boy..." Dee whispered. She looked below and saw nothing. Emboldened by what seemed to be a clean escape, she increased her pace and instantly regretted it. The next rock she placed her weight on slipped out of place. It fell away with a series of loud cracks as it struck other rocks on the way down. All of Dee's weight went down on her left foot, which was wedged awkwardly between two stones. Pain shot upward from ankle to knee as both joints twisted. She scrambled for handholds and found them. She yanked herself up sharply, removing the weight from her leg before her ankle snapped. She freed her foot, but then a stone hit one the rocks she was holding, barely missing her fingers. Instinctively she let go... and then another rock slammed into her shoulder.
For a second, she was falling.
Dee hit the rocky slope, and kept moving downward with bounces and slides that threatened to simultaneously knock her unconscious and scrape the skin off of her body. Sharp stones poked and punched at her. She screamed, or tried to. There was no air in her lungs. There was a loud, low, grinding noise from above. Rocks rained down around her, bouncing off her head and shoulders-
-then she hit solid, immobile ground with a grunt.
She rolled onto her side, and a fist-sized rock hit the ground where her head had been. The rock shattered into smaller pieces, one of which bounced off of Dee's shin.
Dee looked up. The red eyes had arrayed themselves along the ledge above. She could see more than just the eyes. She saw their shapes as well... she saw one of those shapes lean down, pick up a stone, and throw it at her.
Dee danced to one side as the stone whizzed past her. It was aimed at her head, and would have easily shattered her skull if it had struck.
Another stone followed it.
Dee backed away from the mound of stones. One of the huge columns loomed upward to her right. She ran for it... stumbling over rocks and debris at her feet. She ducked behind the column, putting it between her and the small mountain of rocks behind her. A rock struck the far side of the column. A second later, two more rolled past her feet.
Then there was silence
Dee looked around her.
Nothing moved in the shadows to her left, but to her right was a clear path to the where millipede creature was feeding on its prisoners. It was some distance away, but it couldn't help but see her as clearly as she was seeing it.
But it hadn't. Not yet.
It was still eating... the barbed, straw-like tongue was embedded in the white lump that was the lead soldier. Thick red fluid pulsed through the tube...
...but it was going the wrong direction. It wasn't feeding at all. It was... putting something... into the corpse. Dee remembered the thick fluid that oozed from red-eyed fiends when they were wounded. The thick fluid that wasn't blood. She'd been right. This thing had created them. This fluid somehow reanimated the dried husks that remained when it fed. As Dee watched, the creature finished what it was doing. The tubular tongue slid free of the entombed corpse with a wet snapping sound and retracted into the circular mouth. The creature leaned back slightly, and another shape dropped down in front of it. It was a vine... or what Dee had originally though were vines. They bore no leaves, only the gruesome elongated fruit, each with one of the red eyed fiends inside. This vine had no fruit that Dee could see. It wrapped around the remains of the creature's last meal, encircling it several times before pulling up. The goo that glued the man... the man's corpse... to the floor gave way with a series of cracks, and the corpse was lifted into the shadows above. The vine continued to loop around the motionless figure again and again... until, just before it vanished from sight, all that remained was a large, elongated shape. Like a giant pepper, dangling from a vine.