The wail of the alarm didn’t come, leaving only the silence to continue to scream out.
“Again,” I shouted, regretting the volume, but couldn’t take my eyes from the door to check he was doing as I commanded. I could hear the rustle of the plastic bag, the patter of metal pellets forming a pile, but still I couldn’t look away, listening to the silence only broken by the rhythmic creak of dry wood vibrating through the floor.
Air rushed from the barrel a second time, but nothing other than Ryan’s under-breath curse replied. I shot a look, listening to the change of pitch from the other side of the door, the break in the melody of the steps getting closer. Ryan twisted, resetting his aim near, resetting his aim to a target he could hit as he snapped the air rifle in two, pushing the pellet in, cracking it closed soon after.
The handle moved and I pushed the sole of my trainer to the door, raising the bat high over my head.
Air rushed from the barrel, the handle twisted and a scream replied, a shout of pain from behind the door whilst Ryan congratulated himself. Only when the scream faded, the pierce receding, did I hear the call of the alarm outside. He’d done it.
“Another,” I whispered, repeating louder, raising the bat over my head from where it had fallen as glass shattered from a different room. “Another,” I said as he kept his eye through the window, the gun held in one hand at his side. He twisted around, his eyes falling to my foot at the door, flinching back as he turned toward the window, moving out of the view, his free hand beckoning me over. I looked to the door, looked to the handle. I’d heard the beast depart but still I couldn’t move, couldn’t take my guard down. “Another,” I said and he backed away from the window, reloading, taking aim, taking his time.
The second call added to the chorus. He didn’t need to be told again and reloaded. Three alarms sang out into the street, echoing off the buildings, pulling and pushing the drums in my ears. Only then could I take the comfort, moving towards the window and Ryan, his arm out so I wouldn’t get too close and with one last look to the door, to the handle, I peered over the ledge, around the wall, a smile rising as the creatures, one after the other, lolled toward the three screaming cars. He’d done it and as I peered, I could see the naked beast, his engorged, blood soaked belly as he climbed in the closest car, head raised to the air, then down to the floor, following his nose, seeking the source of the sound.
Creature after creature kept up the pace and Ryan lifted the gun, I guessed with his aim on one of their heads.
“Don’t bother,” I said. “Even if it works, there’s a hundred to take its place.” He took a moment to lower the gun, I was already collecting up the pile of pellets from the floor, was already with my hand on the door, pulling down slowly before he turned and joined at my back, the rifle held in two hands, stock first, ready to jab.
The coast was clear, the carpet not. Footsteps imprinted red on the beige. Mine. Ryan’s much bigger and two bare feet, just the toes leading off along the hallway to the other room at the front, cold air whistling in the corridor with each step. I placed my feet around the marks, moved toward the second room at the back, but turned before I crossed in, bile rising in my stomach at the thought of the mess ready to greet me, to greet us, but we had little choice, the ladder left behind.
The mess was no greater and no worse, the white of the clean bones no brighter, no duller. The red of the carpet no more vibrant, the metallic cloud no thicker, no thinner.
I couldn’t avoid the slick covering the floor, using the tips of my toes my only defence, the only respect I could pay as I leant out of the missing glass, my hair billowing behind me in the draft. The last of the creatures were leaving the garden and didn’t look up, didn’t see. The last of the creatures were rushing as much as they could, clattering and bumping into each other with the greatest haste they could give. The step ladder was still there and I was on the roof without a helping hand. I took the rifle from Ryan as he climbed down, gave it back as I lifted the ladder, checking all around before I placed it to the grass, before I climbed down, brushing up along the side of the building, peering along the edge, staring at the backs of the creatures moving away.
Up the ladder and jumping down the other side, Ryan sat on the wooden fence, the thin slats bowing in and out as he balanced, as he pulled the ladder up before handing it over. Both of us landed on the grass the other side, ladder in hand. It was going so well. Too well, I knew. We were three houses down of six, three more to go and with the ladder being handing into the four garden it wouldn’t be long before I could get what I needed, could get the last vial, could take footage, could start the journey to warning the masses, to breaking the story, getting the scoop.
The chorus of alarms turned to a pair, and soon to a single voice as I stepped off the ladder, jumping down the other side. Then none. A pause in the commotion, but still I didn’t panic, my pulse didn’t inflate too much, until Ryan sat on the top of the fence and it collapsed as he swayed, the ladder in his hand, the metal slapping down to the flagstones, the cacophony echoing like a dinner bell as Ryan landed on top sending a second chorus ringing out.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.