In silence he walked in my wake with my hand around his wrist. I felt his tension, the questions on the tip of his tongue as we headed parallel to the growing amber glow, the cacophony still roaring at our side. With the fade of each short-lived scream, I imagined increasingly more people forced out into the open as the fires caught neighbour after neighbour. With nothing I could do to help, under my breath I thanked them for their help even though they didn’t know what they were doing, drawing away the infected, keeping us safe.
With the amber glow at our backs, Ryan twisted from my loosening grip and grabbed my wrist. I pulled away, rubbing the tender skin, turning to see the shadow of his apology, hands raised, palms out in the air. Before he spoke my eyes lingered on the halo above the village, the growing plume of dark smoke rising to blot out the stars. To the side I saw distant torchlight flashing, scanning the horizon, circling in search for someone. Searching for us.
“Why didn’t we go with them?” Ryan said, his voice quiet. I turned, walking slowly away while my eyes adjusted from the light.
“I told you, I have something to do. I have to get my cameras, I have to tell the world what’s happening here.”
“Shouldn’t we have brought them with us?”
“It’s too dangerous. They’re better off doing what I said.”
“Isn’t it too dangerous for us too?”
“I don’t have a choice,” I replied letting my pace quicken.
“And I don’t?” he said, his mouth sounding contorted.
“Of course,” I said. “You can catch up with them if that’s your choice.”
He didn’t reply for a while, his voice was quieter when he spoke.
“You need my help?”
“It’s your choice?” I said, letting go of a bubble of laughter.
“You want me along though?”
I paused, a smirk rising on my lips.
“I doubted myself back there, it’s a lot to come to terms with, but when I saw you with the fence post I knew.”
“Knew what?” he said his pace quickening to catch up.
“I knew you’d be okay, knew you’ve got what it takes.”
“Takes for what?”
“To stay alive. To survive.”
He didn’t reply.
We walked in silence for what must have been ten minutes, with still no sign of light on the horizon.
“What’s the plan?” he finally said, catching up after falling behind. I paused and thought about the question.
“Get the camera van,” I said. “Do you think you can operate a camera?”
“I guess,” he said. “How hard can it be? What are we going to film?”
I paused again and thought all of what had happened so far, thought of all the missed opportunities, each time I should have captured the images, sent them back to London and rest of the world would have known, would have come to the rescue. I thought of all the lives I’d seen lost, thought of all the needless death and tried not to imagine the scale, knowing I’d only seen a fraction of what was going on.
“We film what we see. We won’t need to be picky.”
He paused again.
“Where’s the van?” he said. I stopped and looked around the horizon trying to get my bearings.
“The next village over?” I said, the words uncommitted. He stepped ahead, repeating my turn around the view and pointed to our left, almost in a right angle direction and starting walked. He spoke as I caught up.
“Why’s this down to you?”
“It’s what I do,” I replied, the words a reflex.
“What I mean is if this is so bad, and it’s easy to believe if what I’ve seen is just a fraction, why is the world and his wife not down here kicking their asses?”
I thought for a moment and looked up to the sky. Looked at the pinprick stars I often stared at to make sure I remembered how minuscule my part in the universe is.
“My thoughts exactly,” I said. “And that’s what else were going to do.”
“Huh,” he replied.
“We’re going to find out why the rest of the country is letting this happen.”
“How?” he said.
“I’m not sure yet,” I replied, my words slow. “But I’ve got a feeling if I stick a gun in my mother-in-law’s face we’ll know a lot more.”
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.