“Where are they going?” Norry asked.
“Where indeed,” Angela said staring at the horde turning South.
“What are we going to do?” Aria asked. “There’s no way we can get around this.”
“It looks like a tomato,” Mad Matt said in a low voice. All eyes turned to Matt. He looked sane now more than ever.
“No, it doesn’t,” Cin argued.
“It does,” Matt said. “It looks like a squashed tomato.”
“No it doesn’t. It doesn’t look anything like a tomato.”
“It does,” Matt said. “Look. If you tilt your head just right to the left…”
Chess and Stani tilted their heads and squinted in an attempt to see.
“I don’t see it,” Chess said.
Aria stepped away, following the line of trees as she watched the Weeches ride down the beam of light that poured from the saucer’s underbottom.
“It does too,” Matt said, his voice fading further away as Aria walked down the rows of trees.
“You look lost.”
The Professor appeared at Aria’s side.
“Not lost,” Aria said.
“We really shouldn’t wander,” The Professor said. “Come along.”
“The Professor,” Aria said as the elderly gentleman directed Aria back to the group. “Why do they call you the Professor?”
“Because I was once,” the professor said.
“Professor of what?”
“Eh…a bit of everything. Science mostly, math, physics. I studied in Cambridge. There I was…”
Slowly, Aria turned from the Professor still rambling on about his time in Cambridge.
“Aria,” a voice Aria knew too well called out from the bushes.
“Dad?” Aria called.
Ari gazed into the forest where the shadows were thick in detail.
Aria stooped to her hands and knees and peered into the shrubs. “Dad?”
The sickening squelch carried from the foliage and Aria reached forward, pushing back a branch. Growling, a Weech turned up its blood shot eyes and fixed his gaze on Aria less than an arm’s reach away. Between them, a deer lay sprawled out dead. Its remains dripped from the jaw of the Weech that dined on the corpse. The Weech didn’t move as Aria remained too paralyzed to respond. The Weech continued to growl exposing its blood soaked canines.
“Aria,” Cindy quietly said. “Slowly, move away.”
Aria didn’t move.
“We’re ready, sweetheart. Just pull back quietly…”
Shaking, Aria forced her leg to move, and the Weech lunged as a flash of butt flap blocked Aria’s vision. Aria released a shriek as Cindy pulled Aria back from the carcass.
“Come on!” Mad Matt said, holding the Weech in a headlock. “Be good to the nice lady.”
“Matt!” Aria screamed.
“Run!” Matt shouted as the Weech growled.
“They’re coming!” Chess shrieked as the horde of Weeches turned from the South and began their march toward the Slush Brain crew instead.
“Run!” Matt shouted, who had managed to wrap the scarf around the Weech’s face.
The first of Weeches pushed through the trees as Norry withdrew his scimitars and slashed the first of the limbs that reached toward him.
“Let! Him! Go!” Aria shouted, kicking the Weech’s legs with each cry she made.
“My scarf!” Angela shrieked as she slid her blades through the chest of a Weech. “Adam! Help him!”
“I’m on it,” Adam said. “I’m trying to get this…thing…there!” Adam said, shoving a silver stick nearly a foot in length free out of a Weech’s neck where he had shoved it. “Now then everyone,” Adam said. “Shield your eyes.”
Raising the stick to the sky, Adam pressed an invisible button on the stick, sending a shower of red rain pouring down over the crew and the Weeches.
“Beats?” Aria said as the Weech she was kicking fell dead to the ground and Adam’s beat shower drenched it.
Unraveling the scarf from the limp Weech, Matt dove for Adam’s silver gadget. “Hey! My screwdriver!” Matt shouted, tripping on the scarf and toppling to the ground. “Right then. Gotta go,” Adam said. “Like…now.”
As Matt clambered for Adam’s gadget, the crew lowered their weapons and quickly followed Adam down toward the river.
“Where are we going?” Stani asked.
“There,” Adam said, pointing to the other side of the river.
“Wait,” Aria said. “You want us to cross the river?”
“Now, please,” Adam said. “Before the tincture wears off.”
Already the Weeches stirred, rising again with the horde that tracked them down to the water’s edge.
“Faster!” Angela shouted, leading the crew waist deep into the river.
“Where are they going?” Norry asked.