Numb body. Numb between my ears. Each part of me felt like it had lost some feeling. The smell of burnt flesh, burnt plastic, a cocktail of unpleasantness circled around the room, swirling as it mingled with the thin smoke clawing at my lungs. A shot of wind blasted against my sodden clothes waking me as the heat turned to a chill coursing along my spine. Glass fell to the duvet, chattering as I rose from the bed, every muscle ached as I lifted my head, as I arched my back to straighten out the kink. I saw the keys lain on the floor next to the bedside table in a pile of glass by the far wall. A flurry of delight rushed up from my stomach until I realised the van, in all likelihood, would be useless, totalled and a fitting ending, an apt punishment leaving my humanity to end when night fell.
His face flashed into my head and I stood, stretching out the crick in my neck, grasping for the gun just out of reach, gripping tight as I rounded the bed, knowing I needed to save at least one bullet. With dwindling hope I scooped up the keys and ran from the room, not looking back through the missing window, not looking down to the blood soaked carpet. Steadying myself, searching after bounding over the scarlet puddle in the hallway, my eyes looked left, looked right, the gun following shortly after, my neck just loose enough to follow.
To my right I saw the soles of feet upturned, pointed to the ceiling, trainers I could guess Ryan would wear, the ankles dressed in white socks disappearing behind a bed. I took a step, promising to take more notice next time, if given a chance. Glass crushed under my feet, but my eyes drew to the fluttering of the curtain, the plume of smoke passing by the window, carried in the wind across the view, its source somewhere in the distance. The bomb, the explosive, the missile, whatever, must have targeting the woods because we weren’t dead. I’d seen the result of targeted strikes before, had stood with in the blue press body armour and the bulky helmet, had seen the gutted buildings, watching on while families picked through the rubble for their missing.
I sped, under no illusion my steps could be the first and last if the roar of jet engines were heard on the wind, but on my next step a figure dressed in dark clothing emerged from the right of the room, creeping out of a cupboard. His hand held around his chest, his arm reaching down to Ryan, for his gun dropped in the blast, I knew, even though I couldn’t see past the bed. With a blink of my eye I pulled the trigger bypassing conscious thought, the explosive cracking through the air before I realised what happened, the man slumping to the ground, his reach dropping as Ryan’s foot twitched to life.
Bursting forward, my eyes taking in the detail for the first time. His black jacket, black trousers, everything dark, even the paint covering his skin, all but his nose flat to his face, the paint smudged clean off. The wound in his shoulder poured with dark treacle as I grabbed him by the shoulder and rolled him onto his back. It was the soldier I knocked unconscious, his left hand holding a scarlet dressing to his stomach. He’d been in the room when I’d killed Toni. It was his nose which popped against my knee. It was his gun I shot her with and now he was here, bleeding to death, already dying maybe.
I slapped him square on his cheek, his eyes flying open, blood and black paint sliding off with my hand. For a moment he stared on, but I caught the moment of realisation, the time when he remembered. Intrigued by what he saw in his head, was is it my face as I lay asleep on the bed, bound with my arms spread across the mattress or was he the one who disconnected the ropes only to force my unconscious hands into the cuffs behind my back, or was it my face in the darkness before he bent down and I smashed him in the face?
Wherever it was, I only needed him for one thing, only needed him to answer one question. I slapped him hard and pushed the nose of the gun into the exit wound I’d caused, damming the blood, electrifying his senses.
“Where the fuck has the bitch gone?” I shouted, ignoring Ryan’s rise and his open mouth stare in my peripheral vision.
He stuttered, the words catching in his throat as he fought to hold back the scream. I lingered with the gun, letting my insides boil with the memories playing in my head. Out of the blue my parents faces were in my mind, looking down from up high shaking their head. I pulled the gun from the ragged hole, his face relaxing the instant the metal withdrew. I watched the blood drip from the muzzle as I brought it up level with his face and breathed a long, deep breath through my nose.
“Where the fuck is the bitch?” I said and he turned his eyes up from the ground, locking his to mine, the pain in his expression all but gone.
“Which one?” he said, letting out an exhausted breath. I switched a look to Ryan who stared on with his mouth hanging open as he climbed to his feet, my mind was numb, thinking about what he could mean. Why would I ask where a dead woman was? Of course I meant her mother. Of course I meant the boss.
“The one in charge,” I said turning back from Ryan as he edged back in the room, flinching out to the window, his eyes shooting wide and his finger pointing to the sky.
A wry smile came across the guy’s face.
“Hospital, down south. Stage three,” he said, reciting words he knew so well.
“Where?” I shouted over Ryan’s panicked calls to get to the floor.
“St Buryan Hospital, conducting field trials. The mother too.”
My arm fell under the weight of the gun, the weight of his words. Had I got this right? Was she alive? Was she more of a liar than I could have ever known? I needed to sit. I needed to think on the words. I had to interrogate further, but first I needed calm, quiet, a moment to get myself together. The moment came in slow motion as I sat to the bed. Ryan diving, soundless to the floor despite his agitated breath. The soldier collapsing to the ground, blood pooling around him, the shock wave from the second explosion ripping the curtains from the window, pushing me sideways, forcing my eyes closed.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.