Season Two – Chapter Fifty

My face dropped as I heard the words, as did the strength from my legs as I tried to raise up to the chest of drawers. Turning towards Toni, I knew she’d be shaking her head, but didn’t expect to see the gun pointing square in my direction. Energised with the surprise, I spoke, the words still weak, barely heard over the elongated sound of begging from the other side of the door.

“Why would you?” I said, my eyes squinting, watching a single tear run down each of her cheeks.

“I have to keep you safe,” she said, repointing her aim at my chest, following me as I climbed down, my legs shaking as the gun traced.

“You won’t do it,” I said. “We have to save him for goodness’ sake.” I turned, following the slope of the roof, watching Mary looking up expectant at the window with Andy smiling wide in her arms. “His wife is just there,” I said, taking a step towards the door. “We have to try,” I said, raising my hand to the gun. Before I could reach, she turned. Before I could scream, she pulled the door open, latching on the relief of the husband, his wide eyes as he saw us, the creatures swarming so close to his back. We couldn’t have cut the time any closer. I watched the elation in his smile, the most emotion I’d seen in him since we’d met, but his face dropped, his eyes catching on the gun raised at his head. The bang came after the bullet exploded out of the back of his skull.

My ears were numb and I was on my knees. The world enveloped in cotton wool, my senses dulled. Toni’s words, her shouted commands, her tug at my shoulders only half felt. My senses snapped into focus with a sudden pain at my face, her hand still completing the arc.

I stood, shaking off her grip, climbed the chair, striding across the chest of drawers and letting myself slide down the roof. Dropping down the other side to the grass, I cared little for what would happen if I fell. I barely noticed as I helped Andy down, taking the light package in my arms, enjoying his warmth as I held him for a moment before letting him down to help Mary, who could only look up trying to see past Toni as she emerged through the window.

I didn’t wait, didn’t linger. The light fading and all I wanted to do was get the van and drive away as fast as I could. Still barefoot, I walked along the grass to the end of the garden, climbing the fence at the back, letting the low hum of the moans, the stench and the occasional scream dissipate into the distance.

A new sound cut through the air after a few minutes of trudging through the field in a direction to circle the village. I didn’t look up to see the helicopter for fear of finding Toni following. I hoped she’d taken another path, at the same time wishing she was behind, knowing it best to keep her distance. The noise of the rotors grew too strong and I glanced to my right, watching as the green helicopter hovered over the centre of the village. A figure in a flight suit leant out of the open side door, even though they was quite some way off, I thought I could see, or sense, the horror in their expression.

The helicopter went after a moment, moving high along the road with caution, the figure still at the door. I couldn’t imagine the crazed conversation as they tried to explain over the radio what they were seeing. Still, I walked on at pace, covering a quarter, encircling the village, when I came to the road bisecting the settlement. I stood at the roadside, leaning against the brick of the last house. Pausing, I couldn’t help but turn to my back and with surprise, and more than a little hurt, I saw Toni hadn’t been following, hadn’t appeared as I lingered on, staring out as far as I could from where I had come. Still she didn’t appear as I waited. I was on my own.

Taking a deep breath, I told myself nothing had changed. I told myself I just needed to get to the van. Toni would be there waiting impatient for me with a scalding look drawing the anger from where I kept it hidden. Peering around the wall, I saw the thinning crowd of dead soldiers, each still turning right into the cul-de-sac, following their dead colleagues to torment any residents still alive. There were only a few by the time I started walking toward the white of the van I could just about make out around the twist of the road on the other side of the village by the church. Toni was probably already there, ready to grab me when I arrived and tear off a strip for going it alone.

I walked slowly, hugging the buildings to avoid putting my bare feet on the gravelled edges of the road. Using the line of detached houses for cover, I stopped each moment, ducking into doorways at the sight, or fear of solider’s glance my way as their head’s lolled from side to side. I checked the coast was clear and I stepped back into the road, passing a dark house, not seeing the door wide before it was too late, before a pale hand shot from the darkness and yanked me hard dragging me, my feet smacking off the concrete step as the shadows enveloped.

 

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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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