He hadn’t caught what I’d seen, was too busy scrabbling from the floor, racing to my side, pushing, heaving till the latch clicked into place. With the door secure, pain ripped across my chest, the cracked ribs only a part of my state. My muscles took a breath for the first time in what seemed like hours, but I couldn’t relax, couldn’t take time and was rushing past Jack, grabbing the pistol from his hand. The front door was back open in one swift swing, surprising the creatures from where they’d drifted.
Bang. Bang. The gun sang. Two shots and one either side were down. A black shadow raced past my side and I caught sight of the dog, choosing his new name in an instant. He was racing towards the pair I’d stepped out of safety to rescue, or at least give a chance of life as it was meant to be.
Bang. Bang. Another two down and Andrew was out with the iron upturned in his hand, water spilling across his path. Thump, went the corner of the metal across a grey face. Down went the creature and with another solid pound it stopped dead. Again.
Bang. I laid a shot across his front, sending another sprawling to the floor. Thump went the iron and I shot after. We’d taken six or seven out, three sprawled to the floor, but more were coming from each side of the building.
I heard Shadow’s muffled growl and knew without looking he’d latched on. I turned and saw Zoe and Connor were close, running towards the open door. The creature was down, Shadow gripping tight to his leg. He’d made it to fall and now it was going for him. I ran after, not wanting to chance a shot. Andrew called me away, the thump of the metal resounding again. As I grew closer, Shadow winced, squealing, a clawed hand dug deep in his chest.
“Shadow,” I said, calling his new name and smiled as he released, running in my direction. Bang went a shot and then another. The body did what nature had once meant it should. I turned and ran alongside the dog, taking two more shots before slamming the door.
My back slid down the wood. Batteries flat. Energy expired.
There was much back slapping and hugs all around. I’d climbed to my feet by the time it had all turned to tears. Nat was still alive, but following the same story as Chloe had already written. I couldn’t take part, I was zapped. Emotions drained. I had to get her blood from my chest and I took the steps one by one, slow and steady, leaving the sobbing behind. It was Zoe’s heartfelt cry I had to shut out. I couldn’t hear more pain, there was no more room inside my head.
Water came from the tap, the tank in the loft not yet empty. I washed as best I could, sparing as much as I was able. Drying myself I went from room to room. Downstairs had calmed. There were three bedrooms. Three people had lived here. Parent and a child. The dad had been, could be still be, my size and I was warm again, at least across my body.
I listened to the slow steps as I counted each of the rounds left. Ten. Cassie appeared at the door, her hands blooded and buried in a rag. She looked like me. Exhausted with it all.
“There’s water left in the tank,” I said, my voice monotone. She nodded and drifted away. I still sat in the same place, my eyes not having moved from the door since she had. She was back, her coat off, shirt sleeves rolled up, but still I could see the blooded ends. Without speaking, she sat right beside me, my body tipping towards her as it took her weight. We leant in and she turned. I followed, our eyes catching. Our lips headed together, they were warm. Fresh. Her arms too as they pulled around my body. Mine found hers and we delved into each other’s mouths like nothing else mattered.
After what felt like an eternity, we pulled back for air, her eyes diving into mine like I was the only person who mattered. Her hands began to moved to her shirt, at that moment in time it didn’t matter about the blood splattered up the arms. She stood, I followed, the shirt falling down, there she was just in the white of her bra. I held my breath, took in the silence, took in the moment.
She leant towards me, pulled my hands to her bare back. A powerful thud shook the building. Glass dropped to the ground. Screams called upward and I pulled away. Both our mouths were in a smile. She reached for her top, I reached for the gun and one after the other, we ran down the stairs.
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Reading out of sequence? Why? Here’s Chapter One