Charlie pulled Andy to his feet. “C’mon! Run!” she yelled.
They ran up the street after the others as the armored helmet of the alien tripod rose into view behind Andy’s home. The ground shook beneath them, making running difficult. Andy stole a glance over his shoulder and watched the machine step through what remained of the second floor of his house. Wood, bricks, and shingles flew into the street.
The machine quickly towered over them, blocking out the sun, its porthole glaring and silver tentacles reaching down. One glimpse of the slithering metal arms spurred Andy forward. Charlie faltered, stunned at the sight, but Andy caught her and pulled her on.
They easily passed the gasping Lance and red-faced Ben. The tripod was over the faltering boys in two thundering steps. One tentacle wrapped itself around Ben’s waist, hoisting him into the air, his legs still pumping. Another knocked Lance to the ground and plucked him up by the legs.
Andy and Charlie ran on, cutting through the Garcia’s yard and around the corner, passing Reggie who staggered and stumbled. Before he hit the pavement, however, a silver tentacle caught him and carried him into the air.
Hide, Andy thought. Where can we hide?
He knew the cars on the street offered little protection. Could they get into a house? His legs ached and his lungs burned. They couldn’t run forever. He could see the exhaustion on Charlie’s face. Straight ahead, a large storm drain was cut into a sidewalk curb. This was not a small drain with a metal grate, but a large person-sized opening designed to swallow the great torrents of water generated by winter storms and spring thaws.
“Charlie! The drain!” Andy yelled, pointing to it.
She was slowing, her face slack and dripping sweat. Andy ran to the drain and dove toward the opening. He scrambled and slid headfirst into the cement tunnel beneath the sidewalk, then reached back toward Charlie. She dove toward him. He grabbed her hands and pulled. Something held her back.
“Don’t let go,” she gasped. “Don’t let go.”
They clutched at each other, but the tentacle holding her leg was too strong.
“Andy,” she whispered.
And then she was gone.