Stepping back from the edge of the roof I looked up, Ryan’s hand steadying me with a touch at my arm. The stench continued to rise from between the houses and writhing bodies walking on two feet, hands in the air, fingers clawed, scratching at the brick for traction. Looking away before I had a chance to see her in the crowd, I turned to Ryan, his eyes falling to my bandage and the crimson brightening the white.
I twisted, moving my arm from his view, looked up and across, watching the crowds gathered, waves of the dead rippling forward in every space, every patch of ground. I turned back to the van, my eyes dragging along the seething path we would have to take to get to the goal I had no choice over. Looking back, I caught movement in the house from the window where we’d climbed. I turned to Ryan, his eyes locking with mine.
“What now?” I said, then shook my head, turning away, frustration racing my heart each time I landed on a surface free of the swarm, but each out of reach without a helicopter or a dash through scratching hands and biting teeth surging for us even now while we were out of reach. Directly in front of me and between the van, were six or more houses, their back gardens at least, all but one had a single storey extension of some size, more or less as deep as the one we stood on, around three meters projecting out, all but one with a flat roof, but it didn’t matter, the gulf between each much longer than we could dream of ever jumping.
I looked around the garden, but only with half a heart, it didn’t matter if an aluminium bridge lay on the grass, the teeming crowd of scraping clawed hands and snapping mouths would get us the moment we dropped to the ground. I didn’t find what I needed. As my anger grew I could feel blood pounding in the wound and I turned at a strange high sound ripping over the low moan. With surprise I found Ryan not standing at my side, a sprint of panic lit up inside me until I saw him kneeling by the edge of the roof as if he was about to climb down.
“What the hell? You won’t stand a chance,” I said rushing towards him, the steps sponging as if compressing the insulation under the felt. About to grab his arm, he lifted, the bitumen felt coming away in his hand, a curious smile on his lips. I stood back, let met myself calm on my heels, pulling in my breath as he turned back around, his cheeks still bunched. “What are you doing?” I said, moving around his side along the centre of the roof to get a better view.
He didn’t speak at first, his breath lost in the effort as he stood, the muscles in his arms building against his shirt as he heaved at the felt and it stuttered up, the nails popping as they gave out their grip.
“We need to get something to bridge the gap,” he said, flicking a look over his shoulder. “Can’t think of anything else. You?”
I ignored the question and he didn’t linger for the answer.
After standing at his side for a moment thinking his plan through, I leant in, I’d had no ideas and he let me take the felt which I dragged back with my good arm, while he stood to the edge and inspected what we revealed.
Beneath the felt were chipboard panels with no insulation, its surface swollen with water, scattered with stubborn nails still in the surface with skirts of the old felt.
“Will it hold?” I said drawing back to the edge next to the brick. Ryan didn’t answer, but the wood did, as did the dust spraying out of the gaping hole he disappeared through.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.