Season Two – Chapter Twenty One

“Each one?” I said finally lifting my mouth closed. Toni nodded, her eyes almost shut. “Full?” I added and she continued the nod. “And human testing started when?”

Toni snapped her head to the side at the echo of a distant shot.

“Not here, not now. Please.”

I barely noticed the noise, but the birds taking flight caught my eye.

“All in the last forty-eight hours?” I said, my voice lowering as my mind asked questions I didn’t want answered.

“Not here. Please,” she said grabbing my arm and I let myself be pulled to a crouch.

“You said you wouldn’t let them do it.” My voice was soft, almost childlike.

She slowly shook her head as she scoured the skyline. Another shot rang off and a blast of wind rattled through my clothes sending a chill through my body, the memory of hunger pulled my lips tight. She was right, there had to be better places to have this conversation. I did my best to push the thought away, joining in the search of the roof.

After twisting around still bent at my knees, I wasn’t sure what we were looking for, but I was sure we hadn’t found it. There was no small building on top of the roof. No stairwell rising out with a door we could open or break through. The tallest feature was a metal tower higher than twice the building. On the top were satellite dishes and mobile phones masts, halfway up were thick cables running tight to a smaller version of the mast on each of the twelve buildings. Across the roof were small upturned plastic boxes no larger than my head, each face slatted with a ventilation grill. They weren’t our way back in and maybe the infested corridors were not where we should return to.

Toni seemed to agree, ignoring the square hatch we found at the edge of the building. Instead I followed her on hands and knees as she crawled the perimeter. I copied her motion as she peered over the edge, flicking her head away every few moments to take a deep breath and clear her nose of the foul sewerage stench I could taste on my tongue after only a moment over the side.

Every area of ground our eyes fell on swam with creatures writhing, squirming against one another on their unrelenting search for human protein. I watched great bruises appear as they slapped into walls, turning without stumbling, heading in a new direction before hitting the next object in their way. In amongst the slow tide it was easy to see those who were different, those I’d shared a cell block with such a short time ago. Their hands swung out, clearing a path for wherever they headed, I could see the hunger I just wanted to be a memory. Was forty eight hours long enough for this to happen? I pushed away the question as a pair of eyes from below snapped up in my direction. We shared a look, but their pause was less than mine, his black lined faced stayed fixed as he forced his way to the edge of the building, smacking aside the dead creatures in his way, my heart racing as he pounced into the air, his feet landing to the window ledge on the first floor. “Toni,” I squealed as it took another leap, not looking at his next target, the window above. My breath relaxed as she followed my view of the creature slapping against the second floor pane of glass, falling backward to land, its fall cushioned by bodies who too no notice as they squirmed out from under him while he rose to his feet to try again.

We sped our crawl as our eyes separated. I stood, frustrated at the pace, but dropped back to my knees as the wide circle completed, the tears flowing when our miracle escape didn’t materialise. I hadn’t been down for long before Toni was at my side, her mouth at my ear, her words not quiet.

“Get up,” she said and I twitched my head to look at her stern face, her hands out for mine. “Get up. We’ve need to get there,” she said, pointing to one of the twelve spine buildings. I stood with my mouth wide open at her wishful thinking. Yes, the cell blocks were just one storey high. Yes, the building she pointed to still had its double perimeter fence intact with none of the dead filling the space. Yes, on its other side was the wide space of a car park full of vehicles we could use to the get the hell out of here. But to get there we would have to bound over a gap of over three car lengths wide. Unless we’d sprouted wings or gained inhuman strength, we’d have to jump down from our relative safety and wade head high in the sea of infected. She’d gone mad. It was the only explanation.

The thought fell away as a scream pierced through my brain, my mind numb as I saw Toni pull out her gun, pushing me to the ground. My head rolled to the side, catching on a blur of motion running from the right, my body shaking with every shot broking the sound barrier as it launched from the barrel, but did nothing to stop the creature’s race towards us.

 

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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.

Not read Season One? Here it is.

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