“Close the door,” I heard Toni’s sharp command and watched the guy’s eyes follow as she led the charge, his face indignant to the invasion.
“Mary, ring the police,” came the man’s voice, his eyes snapping to mine as I followed behind.
“Shut the door,” I said, through my heavy breath, trying my best to keep my voice level.
“Close the door,” the woman begged as I passed, her hands grabbing the man’s upper arm as she sunk at the knees.
A chorus of screams lit the air outside and I ran past Toni stopped in the hallway and was peering back, letting her breath settle. I stopped only when I came to the kitchen and ran out of space.
“Close the door,” Toni repeated, her voice even sharper than before. The screams dulled as the door slammed shut, the locks clicking into place and I turned to the back door and the empty mortice lock, noise flashing high as I pulled it open, slamming out the blast of cold air blowing off the rolling fields past the garden.
“Where’s the key?” I shouted, my voice racing away. It was Toni who arrived first, joining my search around the room before heading back through to the hallway. “Toni,” I snapped and she turned, her eyes on my hands gesturing to her waistband at her back. With a sharp nod she untucked her t-shirt to cover the gun.
With keen ears I continued to search the kitchen, pulling open drawers, rooting around for the key while listening to the man’s bluster in the hallway.
“It’s not working,” I heard him say.
“Mobile?” came Toni’s reply.
“Not out here,” he said, his voice growing in volume. The woman, Mary, marched from the hallway projecting her hand out whilst the other clamped firm to the side of her pale, white face. I took the key and turned it in the locked, testing the handle twice before I moved away nodding.
“What was that?” she said with a tremble in her voice as I drew at her side. Her eyes held wide, then dropped while her head twisted, eyebrows lowering. “Are you from the telly?” she said, taking a step back. I gave a shallow nod, no time for the usual smile everyone expected to accompany. “What is that thing?” she said, her voice trembling. Toni arrived at her back just in time, the man following, the couples’s expressions ridiculous in their Christmas finery. I didn’t reply, instead looked to Toni for answers.
The man was next to ask the same unanswered question, but Toni left at his shoulder and I followed her into the living room, the room decked out in ridiculous decorations, a great tree blocking the view through the front window, the lights on to compensate. I caught sight of the TV news, my friend of two years dressed casual, wrapped in a warm woolen coat with his back to frost covered parked cars, the millennium wheel in the background as his did the stock piece, giving out advice for the night’s celebrations. Not once in those few moments did a body cross the screen with his hands raised, a fractured jaw hanging wide. The story was still mine, for now.
Toni shot past me as I watched, the man making noises of complaint, following her up the stairs, his tone changing halfway up as he stopped.
“What’s that?” he said, the words tailing off. “Mary, no don’t,” he said to her following. “Lock yourself in the downstairs toilet.”
“What?” was her only reply and they moved swiftly out of my way as I bounded up the stairs to catch up with Toni in what appeared to be the master bedroom. My eyes soon turned away from the chintz dark velvet wallpaper, dark gaudy flowers on a light background, then from the black silk sheets, my corner-mouth smile dropping as I stared into the distance and the top of the van right where I’d left it.
Toni swept the net curtains aside I joined her, leaving the window open, letting the wind rush over us. We weren’t cold, it was the last thing on our minds, our focus all on the differences in the scene before us. The fallen runner was still down, her bright orange top split in half with great round wounds to the back, welts of skin ripped off, the white of her spine and ribs exposed, great chunks of flesh no longer where they should have been. I followed the dark marks to the road, the red and white of the skin left laying on the hard ground surrounded in oily puddles, what looked like pink kidneys discarded on the creature’s journey to the house only a few doors down, the only one where the door remained open.
“Now,” Toni said with a sharp twist in my direction. I replied wide eyed. “The van,” she said. “We can make it.” My heart raced even harder, breath pulling in shallow breaths.
“We’re saved,” said the man, joining us at the window as we turned away, but twisted back at his words, Mary pushing past to get a look. Forcing my way back to the view, I followed their overjoyed faces along the road to the scatter of soldiers heading down from the church. My heart sank and I gave a heavy breath when I saw their slow, slack jawed movement, my eyes catching people running from their houses, arms open in the soldier’s direction.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.