“I don’t know….” Danny began.
“Oh, come on. We’ll hurry.” Johnny stepped from the broken concrete onto the lumps of dirt and tussocks of wind-bent grasses.
“But…but it’s almost dark! It’s too close to sunset. Johnny! Come back!”
Johnny was striding away from him. He turned and walked backward a few paces. “Will you come on! It is not sundown. The sun’s behind the mountains, but it’s not below the horizon yet.”
Danny hurried to catch up with his friend as he peered around with trepidation. “I don’t think it matters where the sun is, Johnny. I don’t think they care at all, just as long as it’s dark.”
Johnny glanced from one side to the other. Nothing moved around them. Even the wind had died down. “Let’s run.” He broke into a loping sprint, Danny not far behind.
They sprinted for some distance, then dropped into a fast walk. The buildings on the other side still seemed some distance away.
“We can make it,” Johnny said. His breathing came hard, and sweat sheened his forehead, dampening his hair.
“We’ll get there before full dark.” The mountains to the west were a mere silhouette, sable against azure. Before them, shadows cloaked the grass tussocks, and the boys’ feet twisted in unseen holes.
“It’s not that far. What?” Johnny turned to glance back at his friend in impatience.
Danny had slowed to a walk, staring wide-eyed at the uneven ground in front of his feet. “Johnny, when we started in, there were a lot of boot tracks going in. A whole slew of them. But look.” He traced the trail behind them with his finger. “They’ve dwindled.” He swallowed. “In fact…they’ve stopped.” The two boys stopped as well.
In the rapidly fading light, they could see myriad boot tracks behind them, dwindling until only two tracks, their own, led up to where they stood. Before them, there were none. The alien openness lay seemingly undisturbed.
No more than a shade of indigo outlined the mountain peaks to one side. The two boys glanced fearfully into the darkness. Eyes, tiny and many, stared back. Around them, the night began to whisper.