Season Two – Chapter Twenty Three

My vision filled with the clay bricks racing forward. My concentration fixed on their symmetry, my eyes tracing the neat white lines between each course when I was interrupted, my view changing, the world spinning with a tug at my feet. I heard the rattle of chain-link and was weightless for a breath. Pressure slammed at my side and I paused, upside down. With just enough left inside, I curled into a ball, rolling as the air pushed out when I hit the concrete. The smash of the chain-link came again and I looked through blurring vision to see Toni on the other fence still swaying, sprawled on the floor, motionless with a hundred eyes on her as she lay between the two rows.

I ignored the aches, the pains shooting up my legs as I climbed to my feet, eyes tracking the thick cable slapping to rest on the hard floor, its weight bearing down on each fence. She’d jumped on the cable as I descended. She’d had no choice with those creatures so close. The inner chain-link fence had caught my feet, slowed me down, turned me over and I survived the fall. She’d fallen much lower, hit the other side of the fence and bounced into the perimeter. We’d got down, but were being followed. The air filled with the piercing calls as the creatures jumped from the roof, pulling through the sea of stench and would be on us again any minute. We had to go, but first I had to get to her.

Hooking my fingers between the links, I gripped with my toes too; the fence swaying forward and back as I climbed. Pain shot up my spine as I lurched in my attempt to keep steady. Toni still hadn’t moved and a widening dark pool formed at her back. I pulled myself away from the sight, turning to the sea of bruised faces staring with white eyes as they parted. The dead were thrown to the side, cast away by the creature I knew I would see, a version of what could so easily have been me. Turning away, I was over the top and with one late grip to slow my fall, I landed. Pain electrified the sole of my left foot, stealing my breath as I reached for my pocket. As the burning sensation subsided, I remembered the lab coat in tatters, my gun lost as I climbed the side of the building. Toni’s was gone, the rifle too, cast aside in the panic. Around me were hundreds of guns. A pistol at each soldier’s side. A rifle slung over every other’s shoulder, as they scraped and clawed, rattling, chattering on the other side of the thin linked metal.

All I had was my hands and I had to think quick, the creature was prone, surprisingly slow as it climbed the fence, but it would be here, the first of many, any moment. I ripped open the pack, ignoring Toni’s lack of movement, ignoring the thin red liquid swimming inside. I felt no gun, only thin broken glass and I pulled my hand back, a river of panic washing over me as I launched my rage towards the creature gaining height on the fence. Pushing hard, I screamed my own terrifying call, sending it sprawling, slapping to the ground somewhere in the sea of death. Chocking back the surprise at what I’d achieved, I ran with the realisation I’d bought myself no time at all.

I scooped Toni’s light body up in my arms, she’d always been so dainty, but I had to push away the thought. I ran as fast as I could around the perimeter between the two fences, ignoring the snarls of the dead and didn’t look back. Toni’s tiny movements urged me on. She wasn’t dead, despite the new bruise weeping from her head. The relief fell when I realised her movement was no longer a good sign. A heavy weight closed around me like curtains. Lost in her pain as she moaned in my arms, the pad of feet slapping to the concrete wouldn’t give me time to check if she was still mine.

The race was on, but I knew I would lose, there was no way I could outrun what was chasing us down. No way I could climb quick enough. No way I would leave Toni behind if she could be saved. I felt what I thought was its breath on my neck and stopped, laid Toni at my feet and turned, letting out a deep breath, locking with its eyes, its clawed fingers swiping at my face as its teeth bared down.

 

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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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