Still the shots rained on the creature, puffs of blood, skin and bone bursting out from every angle. This was it, this was the end of the line and all before we’d got started, before I could set this outrage straight, before I could tell the world Toni’s story. My story.
No. It couldn’t be. I hadn’t got this far in my life to go down as a footnote in a history never told. I sat up straight, landing on my knees and lunged forward just as the blur of the creature shot across me. I caught sodden flesh, tacky thick blood sticking to my fingers and I pushed until Toni grabbed me by the ankles to stop me falling over the edge with the creature’s face staring at me, its jaw snapping open and closed as it fell, head smashing against a short wall, setting its neck at a right angle. I watched, panting when it got up, its movement slow, its eyes already whitening over.
Toni pulled me up and into her arms, squeezing tight until my breath slowed, until my eyes followed the cable from the mast down to the centre of the building, to the centre of where we hoped was a haven.
“You first,” Toni said, pointing halfway up the tower, her other hand pulling a tissue from her pocket, its white ruined by the dark blood coming back as she dabbed at my face. A shot rang off in the distance and we crouched to our knees. “Take off the lab coat,” she said and I did, the cold air biting through the blouse. She pulled a penknife from her pack, slashed at the material halfway down and tore it in two before rolling one half in on itself. Holding each end of the improvised rope, she wrapped as much as she could around each fist as she held on tight. I understood, I said, but only with a nod.
“You first,” I said, my hands shaking as I tried to wrap my half of the lab coat into a rope. She handed hers over, trying not to let it unravel as she took my half and repeated the twist.
“You first,” she said standing and taking me by the arm. Movement caught in my peripheral vision and I turned to see a hand on the edge of the roof. We were too far away to see the detail, but I knew it would run with dark veins. The scream confirmed, stopping only as it thud to the ground. I stood and a second scream lit the air, a third call joined it and I didn’t need to be asked again. I ran, the thin metal of the mast cutting into my feet as I climbed with Toni close behind on the opposite side. The mast creaked, swayed and moved, tightening the cables as we rose. The calls grew in volume, so loud I wanted to push my fingers deep into my ears. The shout of the distant gunfire grew more frequent, but still we didn’t know who was the target, we climbed, stopping only when I could reach out to the thick cable.
Breath pulled in fast and I wrapped the rope as tight as I could, loosening back a turn as I felt my fingers numb. I held the rolled up coat over the cable, it was much harder to wrap the left side without letting go of the right. I would just have to hold on for my life. And there it was, right on cue, another creature had made it up to the roof, its back arching over as it pulled its feet from under, already in a full sprint toward us as the second summited.
“Go,” Toni shouted over the ear piercing din. I took a deep breath, leant forward and let myself down onto the cable with a leap, trying to ignore the creatures I could see altering their path to intercept me much quicker than I could have guessed.
Just as I dropped to the cable on the horizon I saw my news van and a smile rose on my lips, but tensed to a line as my grip held, but falling completely from my face as the tower bent, my journey less than half complete. The cable dropped as if another weight had added, the movement so great I had to tuck my legs under me to stop my feet hitting the roof as I went over the edge, but at least I was picking up speed and the creatures would not get close unless they could find another gear. Only just over the side of the building, there was nothing I could do as the cable gave out, snapping with a pop greater than the distant shots. With its length retreating through my arms, I plummeted through the air, my view filling with the building coming toward me faster than I knew my bones could take.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.