I gripped the tin of beans bulky in my hand, my wrist weighed down by the chain hanging heavy. With the footsteps getting near I daren’t raise the tin high, afraid the rattle of the metal links would advertise my presence. Breath caught in my lungs as I heard another sound, the drag of something bulky along the floor behind each echoing step. My mind raced to form the worst pictures inside my head.
Searching left and right, desperate to find a space to hide, somewhere to give cover which I’d overlooked all this time, but no matter how my eyes flitted around the clearing, no miraculous safe room appeared for me to enter. Movement flashed into view through the doorway and I raised the can, the chains alive with song as I released towards the figure, the cuffs tight against my wrists, snapping back at the full extent of my reach. The can bounced off the torso, splitting against the tiles, tomato sauce flooding the floor as it skidded to a stop.
I stood open-mouthed, Ryan lifting his head as if struggling to raise, the first stage of a bruise reddening his left cheek. My eyes followed down his arms, skipping from the gun in his right to the bundle of heavy clothes held in his left, a mop of mousey brown hair falling around his hand as he held the bundle by the scruff of a jacket, a trail of blood in their wake.
I backed away until the chain would let me go no further, fear raging through my chest, until his eyes sought mine across the room, wide and seeking my attention. Ryan threw the gun to my bed and bent down, turning the sack over, sweeping the hair to reveal a young woman’s dirty face.
Breath held in my lungs until I remembered to pull deep, watching as he bent over, sliding up his left jeans leg, the bottom of which soaked with blood. He looked up as I peered at the black shard of metal stuck in the side of his ankle, his hand reaching out for the first aid kit beside my bed. I rushed over, the chain rattling as I did and he shook his head, the pain obvious as he pushed his hand to his pocket, pulling the key and swapping it for the open green box.
“What happened?” I said with the key held in my good hand, sticky with his blood drying on my fingers. “I woke and you’d gone. I thought,” I said, but couldn’t continue the words.
He didn’t reply, instead shook his head as he rifled through the contents of the small kit, letting the bandages and dressings spill to the floor. Then as he pulled apart the foil of an antiseptic wipe, he nodded over to the girl who still hadn’t moved.
“Is she okay?” I said, peering over.
“Is she okay,” he replied, the words darting from his mouth.
“You’re fine, looks like a scratch,” I shot back.
He raised his eyebrows, his expression stern. I raised mine back, mimicking his expression until his face melted to a thin smile.
“You were tossing and turning, that bloody chain kept me awake all night. I ended up spending most of it getting the camera to work.” I raised my eyebrows, titling my head to the side and he nodded in reply. “When I finally got to sleep, I woke to the sound of the engine running. I darted out of bed and there was this little shit driving off in the van.”
“You ran after her?” I said, a smile rising. He nodded, turning down to the wound, clenching his teeth as he pulled the jagged triangle of metal, dropping it to the tile with a high clatter. “Luckily she couldn’t get the gears working. I bet she’s never driven before. I caught up with her, yanked the door open.”
“You shot her,” I said, my eyes wide, looking back to the gun as I tried to reach out to check her over, but the chain held me back.
“No,” he said, his tone defensive. “She tried to grab the gun and we got into a scuffle, it went off, the bullet bouncing off the metal of the van, shrapnel flying into straight into my leg.”
I looked down at the slumped body which still hadn’t moved, raising my eyebrows.
“Yes I hit her. What else could I do?” he replied. “No sooner had the gun gone off when there were creatures coming out of everywhere. I took two out, but I bet there’s more on their way. We should go,” he said, nodding back towards the door.
“If she can’t even drive, then how did she get into the van?” Ryan didn’t reply. “She can’t drive, but she can hot wire?”
He turned his head down, wrapping the bandage around his leg, drawing in sharp air through his teeth.
“I may have left the keys in the ignition last night,” he said, his voice quiet.
I raised my eyebrows, biting my tongue, my joy at his return holding back my outpouring.
“I told you you’ll be fine,” I said. “I thought you’d left,” I said. Ryan looked up, his head turned at an angle, his smile growing. I forced a frown, but it fell, my head darting around to the shutters as they clattered with a heavy bang. We both knew what it meant, especially after the words he’d just finished and together our heads twisted around to the corridor, but stopped as the sack of clothes jumped to the air, the coat unfurling, the long, triangle of a kitchen knife glinting in the sun pouring from the skylights. Her bright blue eyes fixed on the chain, rising to my face full of alarm, then resting on Ryan as she charged forward, her dirt smothered face bunched and the mouth full of white teeth bared as she raised the knife above her head higher with each bound.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.