Zoe stared, her eyes so intent on mine, shoulders rattling each time the shutter banged. After the fifth, I lost count, Nat was the first to move, to turn to Matt then back to the rest of us still in the arc of our circle.
“You’re joking right?” she said, looking to the shutters, then back through the group. “You’re fucking joking? You guys need to stop watching shit TV.”
We continued to stare forward, our eyes on Nat. I noticed Lily’s voice had quietened.
“You wanna take your chances?” Andrew said, his eyes wide.
“With the fucking zombies?” Nat replied. “Shut the fuck up. They’re people just like us. People left behind in this fucking mess. They’ve heard the alarm and come to find help,” she said raising her eyebrows. “If that was you wouldn’t you want safety?”
Everyone kept quiet, she’d made a good point, but she hadn’t been there, hadn’t seen the milky eyes of the woman, her mouth in a death grip around Chloe’s hand, hadn’t had to pulverise her head to release her friend.
“But what if it’s not? What if it’s the military clearing the place out?” I replied. Nat took a step toward me, opening her arms.
“Break open the champagne, we’ve been saved and can get the fuck away,” she said softening her voice, eyes clenched.
“What if it’s an invasion?” Matt said, his voice low too.
“Not you as well. What? Do you think the alien’s have landed?” Nat replied, the harsh rattle of shutters stopping the rest of her words.
“No, no,” Matt said, taking his own steps forward so he could lower his voice as he shook his head. “Another country, I mean?”
Nat’s smile grew wide.
“And you reckon they’re going to knock on the door?”
Our heads turned in unison, a fright running through the five of us as Toby appeared around the corner, his head low, eyes on his bright red hands, a soaked bandage in his palm.
“What if it’s a doctor?” he said, his voice solemn. “It won’t stop bleeding, she’s not got long left.”
Nat turned and took a step before pivoting her head back, locking with my eyes.
“Your call,” she said, raising her brow. “When this mess is over, each decision we make will be pulled apart. Perhaps think that over before you leave them out in the freezing cold.” She turned and headed back toward Chloe.
“Hey, unfair,” Zoe replied, her voice wounded as she took a step toward me. The rest of the group were intent in my direction. When did I get appointed leader? I almost said. Before this shit decisions were made with such little care. Where to party? Where to while the weekends away? Was this all because I got the message from the old guy? All because I’d been standing next to Chloe when the world changed forever? Maybe they just wanted someone else to be responsible. Like it or not, which I didn’t, they had given me control. I had to do something.
Taking a deep breath, I felt the weight in my pocket.
“Whose coming with me?”