He didn’t reply to my fear, but turned to the hands slapping at the window and fixed for a moment until his head slowly crept around, his eyes wide, stopping on the growing dot above the fence line.
“No,” he said, the words loud. “The gardens, the wooden fences,” he said. “That’s how we can get out!”
I paused for a moment, the words catching in my mind, as they progressed the route appeared in my head, tracing the journey back from where we sat in the van, through the crowd scratching at the paintwork, turning the corner down the short street, the road turning to gravel, veering right just before the metal fence, seeing the clear air over the two short sets of fences to the rolling hills beyond.
“Yes,” I said, my eyes wide, looking up to the dot which was growing. It was too slow to be a plane, wasn’t a jet racing towards us to fire another salvo and I pushed it out of my mind, letting the accelerator go, letting the engine calm but only for a moment before jabbing the clutch, crunching the stick to engage reverse. Heavy on the accelerator, I let the clutch up, but the van moved less than half the turn of a wheel before it slammed to a stop and the engine stalled, leaving only the moan coming through the windows.
I looked up to the dot, a thought coming into focus with engine quiet, only the low hum from outside left behind.
“It’s a UAV,” I said looking to Ryan. “A drone. It must be,” I said as the thin wings were just in view. I saw the relief in his face, the corners of his mouth raising, despite knowing it was getting bigger as I looked back. “You know they carrying the same missiles as a Tornado, right?”
“How do you know all this?” he said. “Oh right,” he replied to himself as he saw my left eyebrow raised.
His eyes widened as he turned, then looked back to the aircraft and I followed. His breath caught, mine did too but without the noise as we saw a line of smoke appear on the horizon from the aircraft’s belly.
“Get down,” I said, pushing myself down to the middle of the van, my head crouching over the gear stick, just seeing Ryan heading the same way as I fell.
The explosion came much sooner than expected, the missile travelling the distance to its destination in a time which made me question. I looked up, not afraid of a fireball, seeing the rising cloud of smoke, of hot energy coming over the high fence some distance away. We weren’t the target. Ryan’s voice confirming.
“It’s not us,” he said, our eyes latching back on the dot in the sky gaining definition with every passing moment.
“Not yet,” I said.
“But,” he said, the words stuttering to a stop. “But they’ve got cameras right, they can see what’s going on back in the bunker.” I nodded. “If they see us, they won’t attack? Right?”
I paused for a moment.
“I guess,” I said looking through my window, the view only going as far as the face smearing a brown sticky fluid the other side. I turned to Ryan’s, looking past his optimism and through the glass seeing the near mirror image of mine, but through his was a person who’s gender I couldn’t tell, their features burnt off, hair gone in the blast. All that remained was dark flaking skin, lumps of which stayed behind as it scraped along the glass.
“You wanna get out and wave your hands in the air,” I said as I brought my focus back to the falling features on his face. He tilted his head to the side, but stopped himself from flicking his eyes to the window.
“Get us the fuck out of here,” he said, his voice resigned and I jabbed the accelerator down, letting go of the clutch and remember why we hadn’t moved, had gone nowhere yet. I remembered as the van moved back less than a centimetre, watching the fence flexed out as much, holding us firm as if tied by the bumper, the ground rocking, heat coming through the windscreen as we caught the evaporating trail of a missile exploding so much nearer than the last.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.