The candles stopped flickering. The room fell silent. Dust and smoke rained down between us.
Past the barrel I watched Ryan stood straight like a statue, his face fixed, eyes staring, open-mouthed.
Letting the gun drop, he bent his neck towards his chest; the light dancing once again across his shirt, his hand shadowing the light as he scoured for a disturbance. He looked up, watching as I flicked my eyes over his shoulder. He followed, twisting to the wall behind. Air pulled deep in a gasp and he stared into the cracked plaster at head height, his eyes disappearing down the round hole in the centre.
I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d fallen to his knees, was ready to catch his head as he turned, but he returned, fixing in place, his mouth held open, catatonic.
“Still think it’s a fucking joke?” I said, my eyebrows raised as I fidgeted the gun in my grip.
He shook his head, eyes flicking to my hand.
“You almost killed me,” he said, all the colour gone from his voice as he raised his head.
“I never almost do anything,” I replied, making a show of placing the gun on the tabletop. I let the air hang with silence, watching the sharp contours of his face in the flicking orange light.
He took at least a minute to move, any longer and I was ready to walk out of the door. If he came with me he’d see so much worse by the time the day was over. Moving to the sink, he leant against the metal basin, letting water dribble into the bowl before pushing another glass from the draining board and holding it until it overflowed with water. Leaving him in peace I waited for the glass to finish, waited for his turn before I spoke.
“This is real. The dead walk the streets infecting more each minute. Tomorrow it will be so much worse, people will wake to the horror and it will overcome them,” I said nodding to the window. He turned back, following my gaze. He’d seen something out there, I’d seen it too. Fear forced him back from the window. “There are people out there trying to help, the military, the police, but others will use this as an excuse.” He was white as a sheet as he turned back towards me, but flinched back to the window at the sound of a glass bottle rolling along the road. “And that’s not the worst,” I said raising my eyebrows. I didn’t finish my words and he didn’t ask.
Taking a deep breath, swallowing hard, he was about to speak, but stopped himself, turning, pushing the glass under the tap till water rolled over his fingers.
“What are you trying to do?” he said once he’d gulped the glass down.
I let a smile rise in the corner of my mouth.
“I’m trying to let everyone know. It’s the biggest story in history, but unless you see it coming down the road, you’ll have no idea. You won’t be prepared.”
He stared on, head turning down to the gun.
“So why do you need that?” he said, his voice slow.
“I need to survive,” I replied my eyes following back up from the gun. “I won’t give a shit when I’m dead and not in control.”
“And why do you need me?”
“I need someone to help me get my camera’s back.” He raised his eyebrows before letting them fall. “I had to leave them behind, next village North.”
“I thought you had big balls. I thought you wouldn’t be afraid. You have skills,” I said shrugging my shoulders. “And I can help you.”
He looked down to the gun again before meeting my eyes.
“I’m surviving. I know how to survive. I can help you stay alive.”
His brow furrowed, a question forming on his lips, but he didn’t ask, turning instead to the blue lights building in the darkness outside, staying quiet as a strobe of light raced past the window. I knew he would turn as the lights faded, but they didn’t disappear, instead a great screech of tyres came from outside, beyond the angle of window no matter how far he craned around. He twisted back, looked at me as if he wanted to know what we should do, but turned back to the window when I gave no response. I stood there, eyebrows raised. An orange glow mixed with the flash of blue, searing through our night vision with every pulse.
I shook my head.
“I might have been wrong about you,” I said shaking my head. He twisted back and forth to the window, each time looking back at me, his brows low. “We can’t help them,” I said, but before the words settled in the air, a shock wave shattered the glass pushing Ryan toward me, the pressure hitting before I could move, before I could steady myself, sending a bright light through the room.
A moment later my senses were recovering, it was dark, my body covered with a great weight. My hands hit out at what lay over me, but it wouldn’t move, lay lifeless across as my ears rang, the room getting brighter with dust and smoke catching in my throat.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.