As Laúm turned to leave the building he heard a scraping sound under his foot. Laúm reached into the thick carpet of dust and found a small, round and flattened circle, half the length of his thumb, surrounding what looked like a five sided star, the fifth point nearest where the chain attached. Could this have been of some significance to a worshiper of iLu? He pocketed the curiosity and exited the structure.
The wind had picked up and he smelled the air. No salt this far from the sea, just dust and a faint stench of decay, the kind that attracted black flies. Two sudden beeps from his glasses and his head whipped towards a white heat signature moving quickly. Sahu? Dogs? His heart began to beat faster. He crawled along the wall to an opening in the building. Should he go back inside? There might not be another way out. Should he run? He was alone. There was no possible help. Laúm’s chest thumped and his breath grew short. His backpack! He remembered the fire device and knew that thrown with force, the liquid inside would engulf an attacker. Where was the danger now? He crept back inside the church and saw a tiny patch of moonlight filtering through a small opening in the wall, close to the floor. He rummaged through his backpack with one hand while hugging the cool floor to see through the hole. The white heat signature was still moving on all fours. Laúm could barely track the blurs of white that darted in and out of the rubble. Was it heading away from him? Had it seen him? Gripping the fire device in his right hand and the backpack in his left, he crawled outside the building and into the moonlight.
“Sophus,” he whispered into the glasses. “Alluria.” But the glass was dark, and the silence burned into his ears like a hot ember, his legs cramped from kneeling. It was time to run.
The thought of the open field made his cheeks burn and his chest tight. The silhouette of the abandoned vehicle was now in sight, but he heard another beep. Alongside him, he saw another white shape running, too, and running faster than Laúm, coming at him at a quick angle on all fours. He wouldn’t make it to the safety of the shadows, but he had to try. He dropped his pack. There were now two, perhaps three. The heat sensors had difficulty with fast movement and the blurs of white separated. There was one to the right, the other to the left, both bearing down on him.
Laúm felt the darkness closing in.