Yes, I admit my first reaction was poor. Fear had taken control, but only for a moment. It wasn’t long before anger took its place. Without conscious thought my feet stepped forward into the stench, closing to the gurgle of liquid breath, blood spraying from the abomination’s mouth, Chloe’s shock gone, a scream replaced. With a lunge, my right foot connected to her head, pulling Chloe’s hand with the creature’s grip. A second kick did the same and Andrew was around the other side, his feet in on the action. After longer than I feared, the skull gave way under the onslaught and the bloody mouth released.
With one arm under each shoulder, we dragged Chloe whimpering back to the car to the sound of stunned reaction to what had played out in the headlights. The girls were frantic, tears streaming, but still they took control of Chloe, cradling her hand with such care. With the courtesy light on, I shouted for calm, holding back the tirade of questions demanding why that poor injured woman attacked her nurse with such brutality. I shouted again for them to hold back and for Andrew to get in the fucking car. With the doors barely sealed I revved the engine, stomping the accelerator to screams of panic and coos of sympathy for the patient who lay across them on the back seat. The car swerved left and right, my whole concentration fixed hard on the drive. Vehicles abandoned to the roadside flashed by in the headlights, the lines of bullets and smashed glass not overlooked. I left the engine to roar, the pitch black scenery to fly by the window to the cacophony of words until Andrew spoke loud, his voice clear of the melee and with a strange calm.
With his hand on my shoulder I let the engine dip from the red line, let the engine decay to idle, let the wheels coast. The inside calmed with the speed and Andrew pointed, my eyes followed, seeing the road ahead with my conscious mind for the first time.
Ahead was a giant white warehouse, a dead supermarket. So rare was it to see these behemoth buildings without their lights blaring out twenty four seven. The mood grew optimistic in the back as I let the engine build and turned into the car park, a wide expanse of tarmac empty of all but two cars, their bonnets were up, abandoned.
Circling the shop took over ten minutes in the car, the place locked up tight, doors sealed, shutters down on the front. Still, we hadn’t spoken about what had occurred to hasten this leg of the journey and I wanted to keep it that way until we had got Chloe’s wounds under control. Still Tom agreed to stay with the car, agreed to sit in the driver’s seat with the engine running, ready to pick us up at a moments notice. Zoe insisted she came with us, so she joined Andrew, myself and Matt as we got out around the rear of the building to examine the delivery entrance.
A small high window at the rear smashed through within minutes, our success rewarded with an alarm we were all a little surprised to hear. I ventured in, rising on Matt and Andrew’s interleaved hands. Inside was utter darkness, the rage of the alarm incessant, not helping to tune my vision to the pitch black. Not knowing what I was to land on, I lowered myself down from the ledge, my feet finding something solid, the porcelain of a toilet bowl I soon found out. Inside the alarm was bass and high, assaulting not only my ears, but my stomach as well. If I had eaten in the last day, I would have emptied my guts once again.
The deep blackness was so complete, touch alone got me through the cubicle and out of the wider room, where the darkness seemed to only deepen, the last of the moonlight shut out. I don’t mind admitting I was petrified as the tone of the alarm changed. I guessed I was out into the main cavernous warehouse, but there were no lights to guide me, the emergency batteries wearing down the previous night. Despair tightened its grip with the last of the light as the door closed at my back and my pace slowed further. Like a fireman in a smoke filled room, but less practiced, I waved my hands in front of me in methodical circles, fingers curled into my palms for protection.
My left fist caught a solid wall, then my right, and I realised I was in a corridor and not the main hall. My mood fell even further, head splitting with pain, blearing each time the klaxon cycled through its infernal rhythm. Time was pressing on and I could sense Chloe’s blood pumping from her injuries, her body draining with each step I failed to find some way to get her inside and get her injuries dressed. My knuckles rasped against something hard, a cold handle, joy flared as I turned. The door opened. I sank to my knees, the echo resounding deeper, the repetition overwhelming, the noise pouring over me.
Tears rolled when light burst into being, a car smashing through from the outside, the room lit from the source of the attack, my hand unknowing reaching for the gun.