Night Fishing 1 of 20:
Our supplies were dangerously low, so we brought the rig down to about four meters and let our baited lines dip into the marsh below. The scoops dropped to gather the water.
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Night Fishing 2 of 20:
Our airship, a cobbled-together mass of old airplain, school bus and junk drifted over the murky water.
The pieces of the shattered moon streaked across the cloudless sky gave us plenty of light.
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Night Fishing 3 of 20:
We listened to the crickets chirp for a minute, letting the serenity wash over us.
"Are they really out there?" Kymee asked.
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Night Fishing 4 of 20:
I stared off into the swaying reeds. I hadn't seen one in a while, but that didn't change my mind. "Yes."
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Night Fishing 5 of 20:
To my right, Grent pulled up the first catch of the night, a bigmouth skimmer.
Kymee tried to look calm as she looked around, but I saw her white-knuckled fist gripping her rifle.
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Night Fishing 6 of 20:
"But, how can you be sure? We haven't seen one in years."
I scoffed through my nose. "Trust me. If we go any lower, we'll see them. They're there."
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Night Fishing 7 of 20:
She turned to me, her eyes pleading for a scrap of hope. "But, maybe they're gone. Maybe they moved on. I mean, there's fish, so it must be safe, right? Wouldn't they just eat the fish?"
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Night Fishing 8 of 20:
I admired her optimism, but she didn't know the screechers like I did. "They don't like fish. They want something...bigger."
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Night Fishing 9 of 20:
She shook her head. But then, she was born to this world, in the safety of the blue. Me? I was ten when the sky cracked and the screechers appeared. I know exactly how sharp their claws and teeth are.
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Night Fishing 10 of 20:
Then, Grent's voice split the night. "Sholy, watch out!"
I turned, just in time to see something large splash in the water below. /Damn./
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Night Fishing 11 of 20:
Kymee's breath caught. For all her talk of not believing, this was the moment of truth.
I sighted in and scanned the reeds. "Be ready."
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Night Fishing 12 of 20:
The first one, with it's black, chitinous legs and razor-sharp mandibles, exploded out of the grasses and went down with a hole in it's head.
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Night Fishing 13 of 20:
I took three more before Kymee had snapped out of her daze enough to fire. Our fields of fire overlapped, but 5, 10, 25... Faster and faster they came.
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Night Fishing 14 of 20:
Sholy scramble for the rope and Grent bellowed for his wife to hurry. We had 35 dead bugs piled up, but still more came.
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Night Fishing 15 of 20:
Sholy reached the rope and they pulled. /3 more down./ Then I saw it, one slipped past Kymee's barrage. I turned, but I knew it was too late.
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Night Fishing 16 of 20:
The screecher's front claw speared her heel and Sholy screamed. Blood poured from her hooked ankle as it yanked her back down into the water. I fired and the screecher's head exploded.
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Night Fishing 17 of 20:
"Stop!" I yelled at Kymee, but she continued to take them down with ruthless efficiency.
"Gettup, Sholy." She whispered.
But it was no use. I knew what was coming now.
Night Fishing 18 of 20:
"Take us up, NOW!" I yelled.
The ship rose up away from Sholy's screams. Kymee threw her rifle to the deck and tackled me. "What the hell is wrong with you? You abandoned her!"
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Night Fishing 19 of 20:
"Listen and watch," I say, pointing over the edge.
From the reeds, a shrill sound rose up to us, the sound of a single screecher. Then another, and another, until the air was full of thousands of shrieks.
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Night Fishing 20 of 20:
Kymee stared in horror as a flood of shrieking blackness crashed over Sholy in a wave of death.
Another of us gone. I just hope we have enough supplies to make it to Sanctum CIty.
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Night Fishing 21 of 20 (BONUS):
This story was inspired by the fantastic art of Eddie Bennun.
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