“We’re stuck,” he said. “We’re clinging to the fence,” he added, urgency raising the words as I turned with heavy eyes, mouth hanging open.
“Really?” I said twisting back as I dipped the clutch, pulling my foot from the accelerator.
“How?” he said.
“I don’t know,” I replied, my words loud, lowering only as I swore under my breath. A distant memory of a snowy day flooded into my concentration, the one week of iced water falling from the sky we’d get every five years blotted out the moan, the scrape of fingers down the window. I’d booked a driving lesson not knowing the forecast and with my test only around the corner, I was keen to be out on the road as much as I could. I wanted to cancel, my parents wanted me to cancel, but my driving instructor insisted it was an excellent opportunity for specialised practise. So I drove along, inching down the roads like I had a case of eggs on the back seat, but still I got stuck in the centre of a quiet road not visited by the ploughs. It was inevitable when the wheels turned and we went nowhere no matter how hard I pushed the accelerator.
I tried to remember my instructor’s words. Slid the gear stick into first, pushing on the accelerator and pulling up the clutch just enough for the van to rock forward, then I dipped the clutch again as we rocked back, added to the momentum with a little reverse, then switching back and forth until we were rocking in a decent rhythm. When I thought I couldn’t get more power into the forward swing, I jabbed the accelerator back as we changed direction and let the left pedal all the way out, clenching my teeth, not looking to Ryan as I held my breath.
A snap of metal came from the front and we jolted back. I let the clutch down, breath stole from my lungs as I celebrated the victory whilst bones crunched under the wheels, watching forward waiting for the creature’s expressions to form the disappointment, forgetting they had no command of expression. I hurried my view to the left mirror, mindful of the cars parked, strewn in our path, catching only a glance as my vision swung around to the metal hook attached to the fence and hanging from it a black section of plastic I knew would be missing from our bumper.
“Holy shit,” came Ryan’s voice. Not the response I’d expected and I swapped to his face. “Can’t they see we’re moving, don’t they know the dead can’t drive,” he said, his breath running hard. I didn’t look up, didn’t turn to the drone getting closer, didn’t look for the missile released, instead concentrated on turning the van, trying to avoid the creatures and the great trunks of trees littering the road as I tried to keep as much momentum while I twisted the van around.
With each turn of the wheel, each crutch of the tyres, each time I couldn’t avoid a great splinter, a great chunk of concrete, I thought we’d grind to a halt. I knew I had to keep the momentum up, had to keep our speed as I followed the journey I’d takin in my mind only moments before. The layouts were as I’d expected, the details much the same, only the van was harder to control, the sideways shift of our weight greater as the van listed in the turn. Ryan and I leant the other way in a vain attempt to balance gravity from taking us over and somehow we made it, the wheels scraping along the kerbstones, aiding our upright hold. Still, I piled on the speed, my eyes fixed on the last minute change of direction I’d need, the turn we’d have to make, the second leap of faith we’d need to believe in, to take us through the fence and into the garden to carry us still onward, crashing through the wooden panels and out into the freedom of the grass hills.
We made it almost intact, just leaving the air from the front left tyre behind, the suspension feeding us every lump in the grass, every divot, every hole bleeding our speed with every revolution of the rim despite my foot being flat to the floor. I had little control, but somehow kept us facing out to the moor. Kept us heading away from the village and the great gaping hole I’d made in what had kept us safe before, in what had kept those around us from the horde. Now what remained of the creatures, burnt and skinless, would be free to roam if they survived the explosions raining down from the sky.
The van came to its rest and I leapt out, Ryan throwing me the gun as he dived under for the spare tyre whilst I took slow paces toward the hole we’d crashed through and the first creatures making their way in a long trail, snaking into view. I counted thirty in their slow amble which wouldn’t be slow enough, before Ryan was out from under with the tyre. I checked the clip, counting ten rounds and wandered how I would kill three of the blackened creatures with each bullet.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.