Season Two – Chapter Ninety Six

“We have to do it now. We have to,” I said as Ryan arrived at my back.

A huff of air from his lungs was his only response as I felt him trying to peer past my shoulder.

“Your medicine?” he said and I gave a shallow nod. He kept quiet, not replying for a long moment. “How long have you got?”

“I have no idea,” I replied. Closing my eyes I tried to relax, tried to slow the thoughts racing through my head. How long did I have? How did I feel? I asked myself without speaking. The hunger was obvious, a sensation I’d learnt to dread, but the emptiness in my stomach wasn’t alone, accompanied with a deep pain in my chest and a vacant chasm where blood pushed out across my body.

“What can I do?” Ryan said, his voice solemn.

“We should go,” I replied with no time between the words.

“It’s too dangerous at night. We’ll end up in a ditch on the side of the road or in the middle of nowhere with no chance of help. Is that how you want it to end?”

I stood on the spot, taking in his words. I had to go. I had to be next to Toni when it was all over, but I didn’t want Ryan near me when the end came. The plan formed as the thoughts scattered across my brain. I would wait for him to leave to pick the lock. When the door opened and he was safely inside, I’d take the van and hope I could make it as far as the hospital. I knew she’d welcome me in, knew she’d be grateful to see me and then I’d change, I’d let myself go, let the resistance drop, go all the way without holding myself back. She’d be my first victim, then I’d end it all.

Opening my eyes, I turned to Ryan.

“Never mind,” I said. “Let’s get inside,” and watched as he smiled, turned, picking up the lock picks and handcuffs before opening the window, peering either side for a moment. Soon at the door, he concentrated on the lock as I moved to the driver’s seat watching left and right for visitors, practicing in my mind what I would do when I saw him disappear through the door.

The door opened before I’d thought it all through. He’s skilled, but I wasn’t sure it was something which deserved a compliment. Now was the time and I went to put my hands on the steering wheel, but had to stifle the scream as pain reminded me of how stupid my plan had been.

Ryan was back out, his face beaming, eyebrows twitching when he saw the grit of my teeth as he opened the door.

“You okay?” he said and I nodded. “You’ll love this place,” he added, forcing himself to keep his voice low.

I drew a deep breath, pushing up my on-camera smile and let him help me down the tall step, let him guide me through the door as he pointed a torch out in front.

Ryan saw a corridor with doors to the left and right.

I saw the radiators clinging to the walls, wandering if the pipes would be strong enough to hold the cuffs as I tried to rip my hands free.

Ryan saw the store room packed with rows of boxes on shelves. I saw the door banded with steel, trying to figure out where the owners lept the key and if the windows were reinforced enough to keep Ryan safe in the night.

Ryan saw rows of shelves containing boxes of food, much like a supermarket, racks of clothes on rotary hangers, giant numbers corresponding to multipack boxes at their side. I saw the lack of bolts holding the steel to the concrete floor, knowing I would pull it free, knowing I would drag it behind me when I turned.

“It’s great, isn’t it?” he said, then looked back, almost skipping the way we’d come, pointing to a row of torches hanging on shelves by their fabric cords as he passed.

“Yeah great,” I said, my underwhelming words quiet once he’d gone. “A great place to die,” I said, scanning the shelves, not taking any notice of what I’d seen.

I wandered through the isles, catching sight across the shelves as Ryan made trips outside, his eyes finding mine each time he came through the door carrying the plastic equipment boxes from the back of the van. After locking the door closed, he toured the aisles, his white smile beaming as he bundled blankets, food and water in to his arms before heading to the back of the shop floor. After what must have been half an hour he found me, carrying two lit torches in his hand, passing one over whilst guided me to the rear. I couldn’t stop my mouth forming a smile as I he shined his torch beam on the nest he’d been building.

He’d cleared away racks of clothes, pushed them to the side. In the space cleared he’d piled ten or more blankets on the floor, forming two rectangular beds, both spaced a good distance apart. Around each bed he’d placed unlit candles, batteries and boxes of food beside bottles of water and a first aid kit resting on the top of the bed to the left. My eyebrows raised at the jeans and t-shirt spread in the centre and I twisted, raising my eyebrows.

“Risky business,” I said.

“Huh,” he replied.

“Choosing a lady’s clothes,” I said and couldn’t help but let a gentle laugh trickle after.

“We should change first,” he said, his voice quiet and nervous as he watched my eyes raise until I winced lifting my hand from my chest. “I can,” he said then stopped, filling the air with a pause. “I can help if you don’t mind,” he said, the words slow and broken. “I could turn the lights off?”

His words caught me by surprise. Well, not the words themselves, but my body’s reaction. In the silence I could hear his breath, hear mine too, but I hoped he couldn’t sense the sudden race of the engine in my chest.

 

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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.

Not read Season One? Here it is.

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