Without thought I raised to my feet, Toni already at the door, slamming it closed before running to the other side of the ornate desk, hopping over where the soldier had fallen. She pushed. The heavy wood didn’t move until I came around the other side and leant down, heaving with all I could whilst trying not to look at the soldier’s legs. It was too late to unsee the spray of red across the ceiling.
I looked away as I pushed with everything. The desk built its pace, slamming hard to the wall. Both of us stared at the gap between the desk and the door, the desk’s feet protruded out further than its surface, enough for a hand to fit through the gap sideways. Silently agreeing there was nothing we could do, we looked to the window trying not to let our breath deflate.
“Sealed shut?” I said, jumping as I finished my words, the door slapping hard against the wood, the desk moving against our bodies. We turned around and pushed back, spinning again as the door held firm. My eyes fell to the floor and the sprawled body despite my command, fixing on the slow darkening of the carpet.
“And bulletproof,” she said as I raised the pistol towards the glass, dropping my hand as I scoured the room for inspiration.
“Explosives,” I said, feeling the desk move with me as I leapt forward, snapping back around to the door to make sure Toni had kept her hold, lunging forward again as another great smack of flesh thudded against the wall. The scream came next, but the effect was different this time. I was numb to the emotion of the call, but couldn’t help but stare past Toni with her fingers in her ears, a white arm snapping through, scraping its length, bunching the black veined skin as it tried to reach us.
Kneeling to the carpet I tried to keep my eyes away from his head, huffing breath with the effort of turning him over, pinching the top of his small pack open, my fingers sliding on the sticky blood. I was in, but the pack was empty. I let the body settle on its front, jumping to my feet at the sound of Toni’s effort. Running to the edge of the desk hunching my shoulders, slapping the wood hard and reclaiming what she couldn’t help give up.
Shaking my head our eyes met, separating after a pause to take in the rest of the room.
“Come on,” I said, my words in a hurry. “You’re the clever one. How do we get out of this?” She laughed and I reared back. “I’m serious.”
“You ain’t too stupid yourself,” she replied in a thick west country accent. I squinted back.
“There’s no time,” I said, scanning the empty surfaces of the room, pushing hard against the desk. A realisation came as the door slapped against the desk. Bursts of gunfire were no longer peppering the air.
“Sorry,” she said with a laugh and I could only reply with a shake of my head. “Bullet proof glass stops bullets right?”
“I guess,” I said.
“Bullets are soft and spread when they hit something hard. They’re hot, often melting through their target.”
I nodded with excitement, but my energy drained as I spoke.
“So we need something small, cold and hard?” A smile lit her face. “So have you got anything like that?”
I could see the thoughts forming as she squinted around the room, her face straining in time with mine as we pushed against the desk, fighting a renewed surge. As the pressure released, she looked at me with wide eyes, not breathing despite the effort. The desk moved and I pushed back as she leapt away, ushering me to shuffle along to where she’d been. As I moved, I watched her open the right-hand drawer, sliding it out as far as it would go, the stop slapping hard as it reached its limit. Her hand reached for a small pink fabric covered box and knew its contents before she jumped away, sharing a moment, a small smile, her head tilted and eyes raised.
The ring was my first ever gift for another. The one and only gift for her. I’d used all my money, my head in the clouds after I came to terms with being different to everyone else, different to everyone apart from Toni. I was in love, had fallen for her so deeply I couldn’t imagine it wouldn’t just work. When we realised it wasn’t meant to be, I told her to get rid of it. I didn’t want it back. She gave it to charity, she’d said, telling me it meant nothing the first time we split. The only time we’d split. The only time we thought we knew what we were doing, a time when we thought we could see into the future.
But she’d kept it. She had it near.
As the confusion welled up in my chest, warmth radiating from my heart, I watched as if I was viewing CCTV images. She went straight to a floor cupboard, pulling a heavy weight from the bottom shelf and then a roll of surgical tape from another. She was at the window pulling the diamond from the golden setting, glancing back, sorrow in her eyes, before taping the stone, and yes it was real, to the glass at head height before she raised the weight and struck over and again.
I didn’t see the glass crack, didn’t see it splinter before I had to turn, putting my hands at the edge of the desk, renewing my effort. The screams radiated from the corridor, the wood moving towards me despite my efforts. I turned to see her bending down and saw a great slice in her jeans, felt the rush of the breeze in the room, the floor littered with thick clumps of glass. I turned back despite her urges, saw three black vein-ridden arms at the door, saw the door bending at the top, saw what I thought was the wall swaying inward.
“Come on,” she said, but I couldn’t move knowing the desk would give. They’d overrun us in seconds. Toni was at my side as I tried to push against the pressure. She shrugged the rifle off her shoulder and pushed through the gap, firing. The first explosion numbed my ears, the second, the third left them ringing, but the tide relented and I was free, a great breath pulled into my lungs. For the first time I smelt the stench, the soiled smell of sewerage from the corridor. She dragged me away, pushing me towards the window. I had to skip over the body, had to steady myself as I landed on the glass, hoping to stop my bare feet from cutting to ribbons.
With her hands at my back, she helped me climb, the door creaking against the wood, but I couldn’t look, keeping my eyes set on the horizon. I was up and on the ledge, looking along the side of the building at the decorative bricks protruding just enough to give texture at a glance, but were surely not enough for me to balance my weight on. Not enough to get me to the metal drainpipe and relative safety just out of arms reach.
“Go,” she said, her voice frantic. I had no choice, the door was opening wide, pushing the desk to the side. “Go,” she said and I saw her rucksack being push along the floor. “Go,” she said as she climbed, the first of the creatures was through, on the top of the desk, limbs at its back already following. “Go,” she said and I took the step, my weight holding as I gripped the thin edge of the brick below, my fingers scraping for a grip at the edge of the flat room. With her following at my side, my foot slipped, scraping my toes, but my grip was strong, fingernails digging into the soft skin of the roof. I held on, waiting for my breath to recover. “Shit, the bag,” I heard her say.
“Leave it,” I shouted, but as I turned I saw her disappear back through the window, a deafening scream howling from inside.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.