Fixed in place with my legs locked at the knees, I stared as the solider stood in the lead vehicle unleashed the full force of his rifle from the top of his vehicle. McCole scrambled back through our open door. The first barrage of shots missed and seemed only to spur the creature on. The second volley exploded against its shoulder in a haze of flesh pluming backwards out of what had remained of a ragged blue t-shirt. The creature didn’t slow, instead it leapt into the air, the rifle aim following, shot after shot missing repeatedly as the creature landed to the floor, its back legs bending cat-like before bounding high into the air.
Round after round raced towards the creature as the soldier leant backward trying to find the angle to stop the advance. He was too late, as was McCole, who had his rifle from the cab and aimed at the indistinct pair flying through the air, the soldier snatched from the vehicle. Still, I stayed locked in position, McCole firing with no discrimination, halting the hellish, pained screams.
“McCole,” I shouted and for the time he paid attention, turning away from the blooded mess lain on the floor, the intertwined bodies of the two lives gone. His eyes followed my out-raised arm, soon seeing the movement in the distance on both sides of the road moments before the barrage of hellish calls ripped through the air from the hunched over figures whose number we had no chance of counting. “We need to go,” I shouted, but the words were not required, the vehicle at the back was already kangarooing backwards, its rear scraping against the hedge, gears crunching against metal.
McCole was back in his seat and we began our turn, the door slamming shut halfway through. McCole screamed for me to get back down, but I couldn’t drop despite Cassie’s calls. All my body would do was to let me turn and watch on as the Land Rover now behind us sped backwards, bouncing over the bodies of the pair riddled with holes. Our distance built, we could go so much quicker forward. I shouted for McCole, but we didn’t slow. I shouted again and the engine quietened as we idled, but the new convoy leader raced out of sight around a corner.
I watched as the lonely Defender reversed, knowing the driver’s eyes would have been on us and not able to see the gap ahead closing, not able to hear the chatter of feet against the tarmac. I could. I saw as he was caught, saw the wheel turn as the driver looked around at the pair of unearthly creatures already on the bonnet. I heard and saw the crack of the glass, felt the four by four swing to the side, crashing hard into the wall buried deep in the bush. I watched as the wheels slipped and slid, smoke pouring from the tyres as his foot held fast, his only chance to break down the wall.
I knew McCole would have turned in his seat, would have been watching with me as the engine noise died, the wheels stopping their squeal, leaving only the smoke. No one said a word, all eyes latched forward. Something flew from the smoke, its arms and legs flailing, but came to a stop as he hit the floor head first, the helmet flying from the smoke a moment after. We watched as the smoke slowly cleared, alarm niggling in the back of my head, it was time to move and save ourselves, there was no hope for our man and all we were doing was lessening our own odds of survival. No one voiced those words until the smoke cleared, until a creature pounced onto the soldier’s body and ripped apart clothes, rending flesh in great sprays of blood. It could only mean one thing. He was still alive, but wouldn’t be for long.
I shouted to McCole for a gun, my words spraying across the top of the Land Rover, but he did what I asked, cocking the gun and passing it up butt first. I didn’t note what I had in my hand, but it already felt so familiar. Drama from the last few days flashed through my head. I’d been through so much already. How much more would I need to take? A warm hand hugged at my thigh with a gentle, reassuring motion and I looked down to see Cassie looking up, her face as wet as mine, eyes wide with terror, but still she had taken the time to make the connection. I would not let her down.
I turned back to see the smoke had cleared and pushed out the gun. I never fired, instead using all my energy to scream the command as loud as I could.
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Reading out of sequence? Why? Here’s Chapter One