When the helicopters had arrived, Candice and Diane hadn’t stuck around in the living room to see what happened. They’d ran into Diane’s room, the one furthest from the wall, and taken refuge. It seemed like such a pathetic hiding spot, but they couldn’t think of anything else to do. It was better than saying close to the wall and hoping for the best.
Plus, Diane had a television in her room. They could watch the news from here.
“We should go the stairwell,” Diane said. “We should go to the stairwell so we’re not near windows anymore.”
“No,” Candice wasn’t certain of a lot right now – there was very little to be sure of at the moment – but she was certain of that.
The news was still showing Kurt’s livestream. Some other people in other buildings had started streaming as well, and people in other areas, but Kurt was the first and was getting the most attention still.
“So, the helicopters are down,” he said through the television. “The…oh God, the helicopters are down.” He’d relocated to his bedroom and shoved the camera up to the window. “We still don’t know what…wait, I’m seeing movement.”
The camera shifted to put the hole back into focus. More of those scaled arms appeared over the lip. These were smaller, spindlier. The creatures that crawled out, one after another, were about the size of a human, but other than that looked like the bigger ones. They were ganglier, and their eyes wider.
“I think those are…baby Kaiju. They’re baby version of the big Kaiju.” Kurt said. Real insightful commentary there, Kurt, Candice thought. Knowing this was happening right outside her apartment gave the whole thing an air of unreality that was hard to process. Like she was watching from a dream, only the dream was alive and directly in front of her eyes.
“The babies – or juveniles, or whatever they are…they’re going towards the helicopters,” Kurt said, and there was an unmistakable dread in his voice as he turned the camera. “The big Kaiju is…shepherding them towards it.”
Candice hit mute and turned away from the television. Diane was pale and shaky. “They’re going to eat the soldiers alive,” she said, her voice hoarse.
Candice shook her head firmly. “The soldiers…I mean, no one could have survived those crashes.”
“Oh, that makes it so much better,” Diane said, her voice sharp.
“Yes, it does,” Candice said, snapping every word. “Dying in a crash is something I happen to think is better than being eaten alive.”
Diane stared at her for a moment, then looked away. “Fine. Whatever.”
Candice sighed. “Sorry. I’m tense.”
“Gee, can’t imagine why.” Diane gave her a weak grin. “I mean, it’s not like there’s anything going on right now that could be making either of us tense, right?”
Candice responded with a shaky laugh and risked a glance back at the screen. Kurt had turned his camera away from the helicopters, focusing on the Kaiju that was atop 215. It is staring at 213, cocking its head. From outside, Candice could hear it making chirping noises.
She reached out with a trembling hand and turned up the volume.
“- not sure what it’s going to do,” Kurt was saying. “It looks too big to jump down from that height, and I’m not sure how it would climb. It might-oh God, it’s tensing up, it’s getting ready to-”
Kurt’s voice was drowned out by the sound of the Kaiju leaping. It didn’t clear the distance between 215 and 213’s roof. It landed on the side of 213 and latched on with its talons. Candice could hear screaming from inside the building. Diane grabbed a stuffed bear from her bed and held it against her chest.
The Kaiju’s tongue lashed out, bursting through windows. It came out with a screaming woman desperately slapping against the appendage wrapped around her. Candice couldn’t look away as the Kaiju flicked its head and letting go.
The woman screamed the whole way down, landing amidst the young Kaiju on the ground.
Kurt pulled the camera from the window, focusing it on his face. “Okay. Okay. That was…that was horrifying,” he said. His eyes were wide and sweat beaded on his forehead. “I’m going to relocate. I’m going to…I have a friend in the complex. I’m going to go up to her apartment. Candice, if you’re watching, I’m going to be coming up to you. Get a better angle. Everyone else…stay tuned. I’ll be back soon.” He sniffed. “If I don’t sign back on…I didn’t make it. I’m sorry. Jessica, if you’re watching…I love you.”
For a moment Candice felt bile rise in her gullet. How dare he? Coming up here, drawing attention to her and Diane? It was so shitty of him.
But those tears were real. Candice could see that and reminded herself Kurt lived alone. Was he coming up because he wanted a better angle? Or was he coming up because he didn’t want to be alone?
That matched better with the man she knew.
Didn’t mean she wouldn’t kick him in the shin when she saw him.
Right before the feed cut out, there was a pounding on her door. Diane shrieked, which let Candice cover up her own surprised gasp. She ran to the door and poked her eye up to the peephole. For a second, she was convinced it would be one of those big Kaiju out there, or a younger one.
It was Kurt, shaking and pale.
Candice opened the door. “How the hell did you get up here so quick?”
Kurt blinked at her owlishly. “I guess the news has me on a delay,” he said after a moment. “So, they can…so they can cut if I bite the dust.” He chuckled, a sound that turned into a sob halfway through. “Can I…can I come in?”
“You can,” Candice said, holding up a finger. “But if you think I’m letting you record-”
Kurt cut her off. “Ten thousand dollars. I’ll give you ten grand if you let me stream from up here.”
Candice’s mouth clamped shut. That was what she’d make in a month of customer body work. Before the cost of car parts. “You can’t afford that,” she said, almost defensively.
“I couldn’t afford that,” Kurt said, almost sheepishly. “I…have gotten a lot of donations. A lot. I can definitely afford it.”
Candice frowned. “The money won’t do me any good if I get eaten,” she said, knowing how hesitant she sounded.
“Fifteen thousand. For both you and your roommate.”
“Let him in!” Diane said, shouting from her bedroom. Fifteen grand was half a year’s pay for her. Apparently, as frightened as she was, she wasn’t immune to avarice. Candice stepped aside and let him enter.
“Thanks,” Kurt said, letting out a sigh. “I like what you’ve done with the place.”
Candice raised her eyebrow at him. “Really? There’s monsters in the parking lot, but you like what I’ve done with the place.” The last time Kurt had been here had been when she’d moved in, invited a bunch of people she could find on social media up to a housewarming party. A house warming party that had really been about networking and getting clients for her shop, but a housewarming party nonetheless. They’d talked a couple times after then, when he’d been having car problems and brought his car in, and the one time she’d asked for his help with her computer.
Friend was a generous term for what they were. Outside of those interactions, they liked each other’s Facebook posts now and then and bitched about the rent a couple times.
“Okay, yeah, that was stupid,” Kurt said, moving over the window. Candice tensed up. She’d been ignoring the sounds coming from outside, trying her best to push aside whatever horror awaited them out there. “Sorry. I…well, I think that someone needs to show what’s going on here. And from up here it’ll be less…be less visceral.”
“And you realized those small ones are the right size to leap through your window,” Candice said, her voice flat.
“No, why would you think that?” Kurt said, his voice rising about three octaves with the lie. He coughed and flushed. “I mean…okay, yes.”
“We’re not safe up here,” Candice said, her voice low. Diane hadn’t come out of her room yet, and the last Candice had seen her, she’d been ready to go into a full-blown panic attack. Yet she let Kurt in for money…
Kurt shook his head. “I know. The moment they start climbing, I’m running. I’m running, I’m screaming, and I’m probably blubbering. I might even wet myself. I won’t pretend otherwise.” Kurt gave her a grin that shook. “By the way…do you know how to use a gun?”
Candice nodded, and Kurt reached into the back of his pants and pulled one out. “I, uh…”
“Jesus, point that thing somewhere else!” Candice said, stepping away from him. “In fact, give it to me!”
“What?” Kurt said, “I was trying to!”
“Okay, look,” Candice said, trying and failing not to snap. “Your finger is on the trigger. You’re hold a live, loaded gun, with your finger on the trigger. Point that damn thing at the ground and take your finger off the trigger.”
His hand still shaking, Kurt did. Candice stepped forward and, with the care she’d use to remove a live wire, took the gun from his hand. The safety was off. “You could have shot your ass off,” she said.
“Oh.” Kurt looked very small. “Uh…I’m sorry.”
“Me too,” Candice said, thumbing the safety into place and checking the chamber. There was a round in there, as she expected. It was a Desert Eagle .45, what Candice thought of as the Overcompensator. Mostly bought by people who had heard in books and movies it was the most powerful handgun in the world and wanted to make themselves feel big and strong because they were packing serious heat.
“This isn’t your gun,” Candice said flatly.
Kurt shook his head and looked down at the ground. Candice remembered him bending over and picking something up when he’d been in the parking lot.
She decided not to press further. “Fine. Go to the balcony. I’m coming with you. If you draw the Kaiju’s attention, I’m throwing you off.” Kurt started to laugh, and Candice cut it off with a sharp shake of her head. “I’m not sure I’m kidding. You shouldn’t be either. Come on.”
Kurt swallowed hard and followed Candice to see what new horrors awaited them.