He didn’t catch me, didn’t stop my fall, didn’t pull me back as I raced down face first to the rungs. Instead, I collapsed to the metal, hands grabbing a hold either side, gripping hard, the sting of my arm tightening as I took the weight. The two halves of the ladder clattered against each other, the metal jumping, snapping back together. I held firm waiting for when the ladder would turn and twist, falling with the metal into the crowd who even if they couldn’t infect me, would frenzy, pulling flesh from my bones.
The ladder stayed put, despite the claw of nails down my face as hundreds of fingers willed me to the ground.
“Go,” came Ryan’s voice from my back. My pause ended and I pushed up, arms outstretched, the tips of my feet on top of the rungs, surging forward, giving full respect to the ladder as it stayed in place. My feet slipped off but I recovered over and again until I could rest on the solid roof the other side. I turned before I calmed myself, fear raining down as I worried for the strength of the wood underneath my feet, but I hadn’t collapsed yet and held my ground, watching as Ryan took my lead, using his hands and feet to guide him quickly to my side. The ladder fell as he pushed off the last step and I bounded over, forgetting my fears for the roof, skidding to my knees, feeling the sting of skin coming loose, but I had the cold metal in my hand and yanked and pulled it free from a tangle of hands and arms and heads, slapping it side to side, jabbing at heads for no other reason than to vent my tension.
Ryan helped me to my feet, helped lift the ladder, settling in down to the roof, his movement as stilted as mine, his caution understandable. We both looked back to the wreck of a roof we’d left behind, the felt ripped away and two great holes where they hadn’t been before. The guilt weighed like a knot in my stomach. It was someone else’s house. Someone else who might by alive and when all this was all over, if they returned, they’d feel the devastation we’d caused.
“What’s wrong?” Ryan said and I turned, my face fixed in a scowl, not hiding my anger pointed in his direction.
“That’s someone’s house,” I said. He turned back to the wreckage and nodded and gave what I thought was a shallow shrug. “Don’t you feel guilty?” I replied, my face turning to a scowl.
“Sure,” he replied and turned away. “But what’s the alternative,” he said as he bent for the ladder, looking towards the pitched angle of the next extension’s roof.
“Oh, sorry, I forgot,” I said, letting my voice harden. He turned, his face nonplussed, the ladder still held in his hand.
“Sorry?” he replied. I took a step toward him.
“I forgot you wreck lives for a living,” I said and walked past him, knocking the ladder in his hands as I did.
“You have no idea,” he said with no change to the tone of his voice. I stopped, turned back and he held my eyes, his expression didn’t change, his eyes snatching away only for a moment from the slope of the next roof. I turned away, this wasn’t the time, and took in my own view of the tiles.
The pitch wasn’t too great, if we could get onto the roof it was shallow enough for us to climb with probable ease, little fear of slipping down, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how the hell we would get across.
At least we had time. At least we were safe for now and I turned on the spot, Ryan doing the same search for inspiration, both of us coming up empty. Then I looked the windows just about our heads, noted the single panes of glass, looked to Ryan and he raised an eyebrow in return and pulled the ladder nodding, opened the metal either side and set it on the roof. I didn’t wait for him to take his first step, didn’t wait to listen to his argument and I climbed, raising up the level and squinted in from the light to the dark. With little surprise, I stared into the bedroom, a double bed in the centre, the quilt ruffled, the sheet cast half off and I could see the mattress, could see the dark, abstract pattern on the white and took no note, my heart only sinking when I took another step up and saw the white of the bones on the floor, the mess of blood underneath, the leather like covering discarded to the side. I watched the blood up the side of the bed, its brightness catching stark in the light from this angle.
I felt bile rise from my stomach, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the bones, the flesh missing, picked clean, scattered around the floor. I couldn’t help fear for the creature, searching the room for signs of it still there. Ryan asked if I was okay, a reply to the sharp intake of breath when my eyes caught on the skull cracked in two across the eye sockets, the contents of the protective shell missing. I never gave a reply, didn’t have a chance before a bloodied face appeared at the window from below, its mouth chewing in a round circle like a cow, a thin collection of bones, a hand, hanging from its mouth, dropping to the floor as its eyes flared and its forehead surged toward the thin layer of glass and my only protection.
Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed, let me know in the comments or Like my Facebook page.
Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.