Tag Archives: monsters

The quake

Kelly was hiding beneath a door that had come off its hinges; the bottom half was wedged in the door frame and the top half was resting on the kitchen table. Her hand was clasped over her mouth as she tried to stay quiet and control her breathing.

*****

Kelly lived on her own in a 1st floor flat on an estate in Dagenham, East London.

It was about 2am when she woke up. Her bed was shaking, the ornaments decorating her room were rattling and the two pictures on her wall crashed to the floor as the rumbles ended.

The last time she felt anything similar was in 2008 – she woke up to an earthquake then too.

There was a little delay after, but then she could hear dogs barking, car and house alarms going off and people shouting and children crying.

But then she heard screaming, then she heard more screaming.

Had someone been killed by that little tremor? She thought.

She jumped out of bed, but there was screaming coming from everywhere. Even the hall on her floor.

She pulled on her joggers and hoody piled up next to her bed, and as she went out the bedroom door she slotted her feet into her trainers. She looked through the spyhole in her front door and saw someone rush past.

Was there a fire? Becoming a little frantic, she undid the Yale lock, turned the key and finally took the hook off the catch.

She opened the door in a scramble and as she was about to head out, she saw Mrs Jackson from number 14 on the floor holding a bloody hand out to her. A man in a Tracksuit covered in blood was clawing at her chest like a dog trying to find a bone.

“Mrs Jackson”, Kelly screamed. The hooded man looked up and snarled. He leapt forward but Kelly was still behind the door. She slammed it closed as he thudded against it.

She ran to find her mobile phone out of her bedroom when there was another rumble. This time the shaking was a terrifying rocking. The floor and the walls were vibrating -big, swaying vibrations.

Seconds after the violent tremor began, giant cracks began to appear. She could hear the pots and pans rattling out of the cupboards in the kitchen and smashing to the floor.

She managed to make it into the kitchen as her front door banged open. The ceiling just before the kitchen door began to collapse. The kitchen door cracked off forcing her to the ground under its weight. The door had become wedged above her, protecting her from the rest of the smashing and crashing which was so loud she had to clamp her hands over ears.

For a long time she held her hands on her ears and her eyes were so tightly clamped shut that it hurt when she finally opened them.

She didnt know she had been screaming until the tremor finally came to an end. She stopped a few seconds after it finished, the shrill sound ringing through her head.

There were no car alarms this time. No house alarms and the screaming seemed to have stopped for the moment.

A pipe had burst and Kelly could feel her clothes shrink to her legs the cold water hit.

She began to try and wiggle free when she heard a snarl from above the door.

film review. child’s play

MOVIE: Child’s Play

YEAR: 2019

DIRECTOR: Lars Klevberg

WRITER: Tyler Burton Smith

MAIN CAST: Gabriel Bateman, Mark Hamill, Aubry Plaza

RUNNING TIME: 1hr 30min

There are spoilers below…

The year before I was born, Charles Lee Ray possessed a doll and began a murder rampage that lasted over 30 years-

Chucky and Andy

well he didn’t, ’cause Charles Lee Ray was a fictional character in a film called Child’s Play – but the Doll, Chucky was recognised by any kid born in the 90’s as the franchise kept pumping out horror films. We even saw Chucky get married and have a kid!

Ok, so by the time he had that kid, anyone who saw the original few movies was beginning to get a little bored (to put it nicely) and by the time Cult of Chucky came out, Chucky was nose-diving into box-office bomb-oblivion.

The other night I went to see a contemporary take on my favourite killer toy and I don’t know what I expected (I’d purposely not even read a synopsis on the new film), but I did not expect what I got.

I was sold. Reboots are risky business. You may have the die-hard fans of the originals who want scrutinise every frame for fault; pre-dispostioned to hate whatever comes onscreen, then they go off and spread their narrow opinions.

Well, other than being really really picky, I think for a reboot – Child’s Play 2019 is bang on the money.

Ok, so instead of a possessed doll, Child’s Play 2019 is something more like a killer toy version of Alexa. Buddi is an artificially intelligent Doll. Designed for the modern family, he syncs with all your Kaslan Products. He keeps an eye on your kids, remembers their favourite shows and he is the best friend every kid deserves to have (that’s the sale angle anyways).

Chucky Rebooted

Manufactured in a Vietnamese factory a disgruntled worker decides he’s going to switch off the safety protocols of a Buddi doll, before he throws himself out of a window.

After seeing the Buddi doll may be faulty, a shopper returns it to the store – where a single mum, to a kid called Andy, works. She takes Buddi home and the rest is history.

The best thing about a reboot is that it’s a new start to an already existing fictional universe. It gives other creative minds the opportunity to put their new stamp on an old idea.

One of my favourite things about this reboot is that it’s taken something implausible (voodoo and possession) and made it plausible (computers, internet, the cloud, artificial intelligence). The “fear of technology” isn’t a new concept when it comes to horror films, but it does help to draw you in when you can conceive the idea as a true possibility.

Lars brings the Chucky Franchise out of the Voodoo age and into the Digital Age. The kids have phones, the old lady across the hall can finally work Uber and drones are on sale at Zed Mart; If there’s a time to be scared of AI, the time is now.

Chucky and Andy

My second favourite thing about this movie is Andy and his mates. This kinda ties in with the 80’s theme of adventure nostalgia seen in the new IT film and Stranger Things the Netflix Series. People are mad for a bit of kids against the world. I thought the acting was brilliant and the dialogue and interaction with the kids, the adults and even Chucky was believable, engaging and funny. Quite a few times through the film I couldn’t help but think Chucky was the cutest! I even felt sad for Andy and Chucky when Falyn pulled the power source out of Chucky’s chest.

Pugg Falyn Andy Omar

I thought Lars did a smashing job of sharing out the credit while also making the new Child’s Play New. Not only were there a bunch of nods to the original Child’s Play but also to a whole other movie catalogue from around the same time.

From the very start, the original Orion logo in the opening credits was probably what had me bought and sold. I remember it vividly from all my favourite films when I was a little kid. I remember it at the start of Robocop and of course Lars even slotted a reference to that in too.

There’s a few little eggs for Child’s Play, the most obvious being the Doll, Andy, his (almost single) Mum and of course the whole thing gets started with a violent death on a stormy night.

Other acknowledgements are when Andy begins the Buddi set-up he tries to call the Doll Han-Solo. Mark Hamill is the voice of Chucky and played Luke Skywaker in the Star Wars films. Han Solo was the other main guy in Star Wars and Chucky just ends up naming himself completely ignoring the Han Solo suggestion.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a slasher movie from 1986. About this time, a whole host of slasher-gore films were beginning to pop up where comedy was a staple element. Seeing how everyone finds it hilarious to see Leatherface wearing a victims skin during a scene where Andy and his new mates are having a movie night, Chucky becomes kind of inspired by the violent scenes on-screen and decides to give it a go himself.

Leatherface

From 1988 – the year the original Child’s Play was released, Andy’s Bedroom has posters of Poltergeist III and Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

Andy’s posters

Killer Klowns is another Horror-Comedy. Like in E.T the Extra Terrestrial, another 80’s movie, Chucky’s finger lights up when he is controlling various Kaslan products.

In the 90’s another movie franchise began called Leprechaun, about…. you guessed it, a Leprechaun. Only this Leprechaun is pure psycho killer. Like Child’s Play and Texas Horror, this too is riddled with funny scenes of death and violence. You can see the reference in the Zed-Mart toward the end of the film where there’s the Leprechaun version of the Buddi2 doll and the Pot of Gold accessories.

There’s a couple other eggs hidden in there but you should just have a crack at trying to see them yourself by watching it again.

I know I will be.

It’s the best reboot I’ve ever seen and I am already hoping there’s a sequel.

zero-nine-eight.0

Zero-nine-eight yanked down on the stiff metal handle of the giant metal door; it didn’t budge.

She pulled down on it with all her weight, then she jumped up and pushed down on it. Nothing.

Almost out of energy, she tugged hard and pulled down again, her skinny arms stretched upward as she hung from it and her bum grazed the floor. It wasn’t giving even slightly.

She looked about with a mix of fear and anger on her face. She had been running around in a labyrinth of corridors for what felt like hours and her bare feet were so cold they hurt.

There was a keypad too high up to reach next to the door but she didn’t know what she could do about that anyway, they always used a different number on the one in her room.

Brick walls lined the long corridors of concrete floors. There were three different kinds of lights; Long fluorescent strips in the middle of the ceiling which were off at the moment, small tinted red round ones on the wall about two meters apart, which were also off – finally, small white rectangle ones evenly spaced between the red ones, which were on. Most of them didn’t work and there wasn’t a great deal of light, but Zero-nine-eight could see there were no vents, no holes, no spaces to hide in or crawl through.

As she was about to head back the way she came, the hall lit up with the red lights which seemed to be swirling, followed by a shrill siren which sounded three times and stopped.

They were back.

Zero-nine-eight fell down, startled. She scrambled herself backwards into the corner next to the metal door. There was a light beeping noise followed by heavy metal grinding noise from behind the it and she saw the handle move downward. Frozen in the corner, the door swung open, trapping her in the space behind it as it opened slowly until wall stopped it. For the moment she was shielded from the those coming through the it.

“Lieutenants, round up Zero-nine-zero through to Zero-nine-nine”, boomed a voice.

“Yessir, Commander”, came two more voices in unison.

“Take them to the ship, but be discreet. There are a lot of people about this time of day. Use the Trojan.”

“On it Sir”, and that was it; the bright white fluorescent strip lights came on in the ceiling and the red swirling lights stopped. She heard footsteps heading away before hearing the beeping noises again and the door began to move closed.

It swung slowly and she crept around following it. She peered around but it was completely black. As the gap became smaller she gulped and taking a big breath back, she went through.

film review. aladdin

MOVIE: Aladdin

YEAR: 2019

DIRECTOR: Guy Ritchie

WRITER: John August & Guy Ritchie

MAIN CAST: Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Merwan Kenzari

RUNNING TIME: 2hr 8min

There are spoilers below…

So as far as I’m concerned, if Guy Ritchie wants to make more Musicals then I will back that situation 100%.

Aladdin follows the almost identical story-line of its 1992 cartoon original. Aladdin, a poor thief on the streets of Agrabah, meets Princess Jasmine and falls in love with her. It’s not until Aladdin finds a magical Lamp and a Genie within, that he can become a Prince and be worthy of her. Of course, an evil sorcerer threatens all of these wonderful romantic plans so it is up to Aladdin, his monkey-friend Abu, a loyal magic Carpet and Aladdin’s Genie to save them all.

Jafar Genie Aladdin Jasmine Daliah

As for all things technical; when it comes to the way this film is shot, in all it’s bright and beautiful glory, I was wide-eyed and taken in. I have always enjoyed Ritchie’s style of camerawork and editing, and this film is different from his usual grit. It’s vivid and colourful from start to finish, mimicking the rich vibrancy of the cartoon. Compared to Live-Action, there can be a lot of unnatural manoeuvrability with camerawork and lighting in a cartoon, so Ritchie’s style is a perfect match since Disney clearly wanted a ‘live-animation’ equivalent of the Original.

The setting of the City and the Palace is almost stage-like, which is a common design for Musical Movies because they’re built for ease of dancing and movement (not only from the actors but the set and props too). It’s a layout which adds to the feel of animation because of how it moves in the background to make way for the action of the characters.

Although I can understand the stage-like layout of the film, despite the controversy attached to the place, props and detail (more on that soon), I was really disappointed in the costume designs. They were very Disneyland-esque and I won’t be surprised if they are on mass production for the staff in theme parks, or when identical outfits are flying out of Disney stores the world over.

From late last year, I heard a lot of dubious comments and opinions from people when it was announced that there would be a Live-Action Aladdin, and of course there were going to be; an unknown fact about Disney’s original Aladdin cartoon, was that it had a bit of bad press back in the day when it sparked racial controversy. It may have claimed more than a whopping $500 million at the Box Office, but between racist lyrics in the songs to the prejudice depiction of the antagonist characters, it really hit a nerve with Middle Eastern and North African audiences, and rightly so.

A real problem with blockbuster movies and the size of the audience they command (especially in a young audience, like Aladdin), is that prejudice representations of any creed or cultures leave a real-world impression ( to be fair, any negative stereotypes perpetuate adverse impressions on races, sexes, sexual orientations, religions… the list goes on). In some ways I see it as borderline irresponsible of film-makers, when its possible their audience could be naive enough to take these depictions seriously.

Characters and Lyrics aside (because Ritchie has changed them somewhat), Orientalism is the main perpetrator casting a shadow over both Aladdin movies.

“Orientalism” is a way of seeing that imagines, emphasizes, exaggerates and distorts differences of Arab peoples and cultures as compared to that of Europe and the U.S. It often involves seeing Arab culture as exotic, backward, uncivilized, and at times dangerous.

Orientalism is something which has grown into a monster in terms of how the western world seem to imagine the Eastern world. It has been growing since the late 1800’s in things like art and stories which have almost always come from an outsiders perspective opposed to someone with knowledge and experience of actual communities and their cultures, traditions or beliefs.

Aladdin is a film that cemented Orientalism into the western perception far before Ritchie got his hands onto it. Despite how well I think Guy Ritchie has done creating a film with colour, more in-depth character development (compared to the cartoon) and humour (personally, I don’t think Will Smith had some bad lines); I think he still managed to ignore most of the free lessons critics and advocacy groups have expressed about the problems in the original.

Although there’s a lot of improvement in the characters (thankfully the Sultan isn’t a babbling man-baby and the Genie, for all his power, wants to go on a date), the costumes make the actors look like life-sized dolls and the whole city design from the Palace to the River to the Market is make-belief of all the pretty things from Asia and North Africa. There is no real depth, and for all the talk about ‘the people’ by Princess Jasmine, the film has almost nothing to do with them.

This film could be set anywhere, and its that transparency that acts as an affront to Middle Eastern and African culture insulted by the original cartoon. Or, perhaps the point was since Aladdin comes from a mishmash of cultures it is set in a place-less place; I aren’t sure that is good enough, maybe it should have been set in the Grand Canyon, Niagra Falls, Washington DC or on Route 66 if that was the case, and Disney should not make a culturally contraversial film if they aren’t going to do their utmost to respect and teach about the culture they’re portraying.

As it stands, on the surface, Ritchie simply made the 1992 Aladdin into a Live-Action Movie and not a lot more.

That’s not to say I didn’t like it though.

film review. rim of the world

MOVIE: Rim of the World

YEAR: 2019

DIRECTOR: McG

WRITER: Zack Stentz

MAIN CHARACTERS: Jack Gore, Miya Cech, Benjamin Flores Jr., Alessio Scalzotto

RUNNING TIME: 1hr 38min

There are spoilers below…

What a treat of a film this turned out to be.

Rim of the World: Dariush, Zhenzhen, Alex, Gabriel

Rim of the World is about four totally different kids that meet at a summer camp. Abandoned by the adults, it’s up to Alex, Dariush, Zhenzhen and Gabriel to save the world when Aliens invade.

If you watch it close enough you will see that is only one part of what this movie has to offer; there are layers, upon layers, upon layers to this film.

It is stuffed to the ‘rim’ of movie references from the last thirty-odd years making it a relatable, fun flick for adults and kids alike. It’s a mix of Sci-Fi, Horror, Adventure and Comedy genres, and it has absolutely no qualms with throwing every stereotype in the book into the mix.

Most recently audiences have been going mad for the likes of Stranger Things and IT for their nostalgic throwback to the Western World’s most favoured Adventure blockbusters of the last few decades. Movies like ET, Goonies and Breakfast Club were the backbone of Generation X. Unlike Stranger things and IT, Rim of the World is set in the present, but with the same sort of adventure format. Generation Z benefits from references of movies like Gladiator and Rush Hour and then more recently the Millennials will be more familiar with Wolverine and John Wick.

Using the countless politically incorrect inferences we have all grown up on to pack a funny punch; filmmakers have cleverly highlighted contentious issues, instead of hiding them beneath the surface as a cheap gag trick. The main clue that this film is openly commenting on politically charged stereotypes or agendas is when Carl & Logan, the Camp Leaders (who are also “the black men on Campus”) are sitting about the campfire talking about Toy Story 3. It’s not to say that Carl & Logan’s interpretation of Toy Story 3 is true (“the ruling class justification for the inferior conditions of the working class”), but it is how the filmmakers say to the audience, “yes, films are meant to talked about; yes, they have hidden meanings and agendas – including this film; and yes, we know what we are doing – that’s the point”.

I won’t list all of the film references in the movie, I am sure there are a tonne of websites that’ve already made it their mission to; besides, spotting them yourself is part of the fun because for many of them it’s just one line of dialogue or a prop or special effect that’s the reference instead of the actual name of the film.

What I think is so important to take away from the film is its coming of age theme and messages.

The guy that wrote the film, Zack, has mentioned in a few interviews about the emotional importance of the films he grew up on in the 80’s and the lessons they taught him and millions of others. They relied a lot on how kids in the audience identified with what the characters are going through. Childhood traumas like bullying, poverty, grief, peer-pressure or some sort of in-house/domestic abuse are usually used as part of the background info in most of the main character arcs. In Rim of the World, it’s all about abandonment. Alex’s Father died traumatically in front of him, Dariush’s Father is going to Jail, Gabriel’s Father leaves when he’s Ten and Zhenzhen is an orphan – Not to mention they’re all left alone by the ‘adult camp leaders’ when the whole movie kicks off.

Generally the plot of the all these Generation X movies features a Headmaster or Evil Grown-up, a Monster, or in this case Alien, which acts as the metaphor for the main characters’ trauma and how they overcome it is always based on how they pull together and ‘Stand By’ each other; it’s the lessons they learn through their friendship that gives them strength, not just in the immediate battle, but also the one they are fighting at home or school.

Rim of the World packs a LOT into an hour and half. I could mention that I thought the special effects were kind of wooden and I could say the introduction of the characters and even some of the interaction and dialogue sometimes felt awkward and unnatural and I don’t think many would disagree. However, the fact that it’s full of hints and clichés from the last forty years makes me thinks all of this part of its purposeful charm.

Overall it does well to be its own unique take on western pop-culture. It brings together the last three generations of audiences in a hilarious, albeit crude and obvious, complement of one-liners, shoddy CGI explosions and an evil looking monster while also facing the crushing trauma of family torment with your best mates at your side.

Nice one Zack.

ten best things Tuesday

Tuesday was my best day, I had thee best time from start to finish.
  1. My morning started with a nightmare… and yes, you may be thinking ‘how on Earth can a great day start with a nightmare?’
It’s because I actually love nightmares. With the same logic of why people go on roller-coasters, go bungee jumping or watch horror films; they do it for a rush. To me a nightmare is like a surprise horror screening in the cinema of your brain… which is kind of apt because I ended up having a whole movie day. Well this nightmare was so bad that it made me bolt upright in bed gasping for air for the first time in a few years. So you can imagine how racy my heart was. The worst thing about this was that there was no way I was getting back to sleep straight away.
  1. The 2nd best thing that happened was to my sweet, scrawny, tiny and very dopey Batcat.
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Scrawny Batcat
For Christmas, I got a cat flap and all the cats, except Batcat, loved it from the first Day. It was like a letterbox for cats. When they figured it out, it was like I could almost hear them saying ‘Mam – this is amazing, it’s our OWN DOOR!’ and they were in and out of it all day and have been since. Batcat on the other-hand was having absolutely none of it. She would cry and cry and cry until I opened the door. Despite my weeks of trying to coax and help her through, she didn’t seem to grasp the whole concept of the flap.
The squad
Keeping Guard – Jessie, Patch, Hugo
So back to my Tuesday morning where I needed a walk around the house with a glass of water to shake off this dream of being chased and eaten by a giant bacteria-worm down my Dad’s street. Not surprisingly, there was Batcat, sitting at the back door whining for me to let her out. So I did, but not before warning her I was going back to bed so she was staying outside. Off she went and off I went, back to bed. So there I was, dozing off and about to re-enter dream hell, when I heard that familiar letterbox noise, not once, not twice, not three times, but over and over and Over and OVer and OVEr and OVER. I threw back my covers, in a rage! What was going on down there?! I stampeded down the stairs ready to find out which of my little furry demons were trying to wind me up. But there, from down the hallway, I could see the tiny paw of my freaky Batcat. I couldn’t believe it, she’d gotten her paw through the flap. Her whole Paw! Suddenly realising this could be the moment I had been waiting for – I stopped. ‘Come on girl, come on – you can do it!’ I coaxed in my softest voice while I crept toward the door, ‘Tsk Tsk Tsk, come on.’ Well, what can I say when I saw that little head come all the way inside I knew she had finally done it. It was like seeing a child walk for the first time, except better cause it was my baby Batcat! She chirped as she came through the cat flap and I scooped her up, giving her the most cuddly cuddle and strokes. It was amazing and easily makes its way into the best thing that’s happened in months… Judge all you like.
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Batcat the ball of fur
So obviously after all this excitement there was no way I was getting back to sleep.
  1. Me and Batcat went back to bed but we decided on a morning movie; The Spy who dumped me.
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The Spy Who Dumped Me
That was my 3rd best thing and I just need to say that every time I watch Mila Kunis in a film, I fall in love with her more and more. She is a great actress and absolutely drop dead gorgeous but she plays it off with such humility. With every film her characters get better and better. Next to her was Kate Mckinnon as her best friend and What. A. Pair… It made me want to call all my best friends and go to Prague…  again.
  1. The 4th was seeing my Family and finding out more about the latest project my Dad was into.
  2. Then taking my little Sister and my baby nephew for food.
  3. I went to see Pet Sematary at Cinema– completely alone.
That’s right, there was nobody else in the screening with me.  I was so excited.
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Pet Sematary
There was a bit of an issue though. I had geared myself up for a heart attack level of scare so bad that I would be white with terror and need an ambulance before the end. I must have ‘bigged it up’ too much though. It was nowhere as terrifying as I thought it would be. I liked the soundtrack a lot, bodies dragging themselves around on wooden floors and bones crunching underfoot in the woods. A few scenes did make me shiver but I could have just been cold.
  1. Then for the 7th event of the day, Costa! I went with a friend and I AM SO GLAD I DID. Obviously after seeing Pet Sematary, Stephen King came up. Then naturally IT came up and my friend casually mentions a metaphor I didn’t notice when I had read the IT book before. I could not let this pass me by (more on this when I read the book). I hadn’t read IT since I was 15, so within minutes, I was furiously tapping away on Ebay.
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    IT
    I’m now impatiently waiting for a copy of IT to make its way to me in the post.
  2. The 8th best thing was A Clockwork Orange at Odeon
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    A Clockwork Orange
  3. Popcorn and Pick ‘N’ Mix.
  4. The 10th best thing of the day though… Recliners.
That’s right, Odeon have done their cinema out in Hull and Oh My Days! There is no other way to watch a film at cinema AGAIN. They have actual, super comfy, recliners in in some of their screens. Oh Man, Oh Mannnnn!! The comfort level was through the roof. I even saw a few people go with blankets – which I am definitely doing next time I go. I don’t think I can leave it very long either. I want to take one of those recliners home with me. It was such a premier experience. Especially seeing A Clockwork Orange on the big screen which, by the way, gets better every time I see it.

Trauma 1.1

Millie could hear blood rush around her body, and she shook with every thudding heartbeat. She stared, unblinking and barely breathing at the slightly open door ahead of her trying to focus her hearing beyond the wall for any sound.    

She thought she had closed the door behind her when she ran in and on realising that she hadn’t she found herself too paralysed. She willed herself to close it but there was no more will in her body.   

The small room had a table in the middle with a chair either side. There were two doors into the room, the one that she was focused on, slightly ajar and the other on the same wall as a huge two-way mirror behind her.  

There was a camera in the upper corner above the open door and a little red light beneath it that blinked away. She wondered if anyone alive was watching her now, crouched over in a primal hunch beneath the mirror, more terrified than she had ever been in her whole life.  

She finally blinked and as her eyelids scraped across her dry eyeballs, they filled with water. Tears began to stream down her face. She had no choice but to take a deep sobbing breath as painful and bloody images began flashing through her mind. Her eye’s blurred and she began to bawl. Her bum found the floor as her legs gave way and sprawled out in front of her, her head dropping into her bloody hands.  

She was crippled between breaths of air and streams of tears; with every gulp of it she saw her friend’s die.   

She could feel the sensation of blood gushing up her arms when Alison’s throat was torn wide open. 

She saw an image of Lilah holding out her hand, screaming in agony, seconds before her body was ripped into half from the waist with her guts spilling out onto the floor.   

She blinked hard a few times and shook her head in a desperate attempt to shake the images loose.  

Catching her breath finally Millie wiped her face with a dry patch on the inside of her hoody and looked ahead – just as Lilah began to crawl through the open door.