Her eyes were wider than I imagined Ryan’s were at my back. Her surprise greater than his when I returned the long knife after what she’d done. Although the pause between us felt like an age, the creatures moving through the doorway had barely taken a step before her decision was made. Surging toward the opening, she soon blocked my view with her wide coat, her arms diving up and down, movement silent except for the slash of the knife as it connected to bone and the heavy fall of the bodies as they went down in quick succession.
Ryan stood at my side and we shared a moment. He’d had no time to put the equipment down, no time to grab the gun from the bed before it was over and she stood beckoning us through the corridor with her fingers in silence as thick blood dripped from the knife. With the gun in my hand, I followed, Ryan behind, laden with the camera and equipment to find her outside scouring the horizon, looking around the side of the building, searching for threats. She nodded towards the van and my eyes fell on the dark blood dripping down the side by the driver’s door, above the wide hole in the metal where the shrapnel had flown out and into Ryan.
I climbed in the back, Ryan insisting I go first and he took the driver’s seat, not starting the engine, instead looking to me for the answer as we watched the woman, the girl which we still didn’t know, slip back in through the open door of the building.
Sat in silence, giving him no cues, my eyes fell across the skyline. Columns of smoke lined the horizon. As my heart slowed I could taste the thickness in the air while watching the rainbow of depressing colour flowing from black to white across the spectrum. The green fields were void of life as they rolled out to disappear where they met the dirty, cloudless sky, the road empty of traffic as it travelled relentless left and right. The image had a certain perfection and I looked towards Ryan about to prompt him to set up the camera, but the girl, the woman, rushed from the building, her arms laden with bags bulging at the edges. She stopped as she spotted us in the van, surprise turning her head to the side, smile dropping from the corners of her mouth. It was clear she’d thought we would have left her and the raise of her eyebrows, eyes glinting with hope as she stared in our direction, broke my heart. Had it only taken a few days, a week at the most, to strip this girl, this woman, of her faith in humanity?
Her features hardened and she let her hair drop back to cover her face while she moved past the van, walking away. I ran through the back, regretting my enthusiasm as I jumped out the doors jarring my hand, but sucked down the pain as I called after her, not holding back my voice.
“Come with us,” I said. She turned, her lips curled up. What I could see of her face twisted feral, but she didn’t linger on mine for long, snapping her head around the view. I shouted again and watched her anger rise and I forced down a smile as I watched movement appear from around the front of the building, but instead of focusing on the chef whose uniform could no longer be called whites, I called again and jumped back in the van.
“Start the engine,” I said and Ryan did as I asked, the grumble of the mechanics coming to life only spurring on the middle aged man with a rend in his great belly. The girl, woman, scowled at me through the glass, but ran to the back, slamming the doors closed after she jumped in, her reluctance obvious in her scowl. Ryan pulled us in a wide arc away from the chef.
“You’re safer with us,” I said joining her as she stood in the back. “We’re safer with you,” I added, pushing my left hand out, my lips in a wide smile. She stood in the corner, clutching the bags to her stomach. “Sit. Eat. We can talk when you’re ready.”
We drove for five minutes before she let the bags drop, before she sat on the floor, pulling out a can of corned beef and turning the key to release the meat. I tried not to watch her, tried to stop my mouth from wanting the food, instead I asked her name again, looking away when she didn’t answer. Soon the van slowed and I called out to the front.
“What is it?” I said, standing when Ryan didn’t answer and we’d drawn to a stop. Arriving between the seats I felt the blood drain from my face as I stared on at the white coach wedged side by side with an olive green truck. Together they blocked the narrow road and despite the dark interior, I watched the writhing masses inside.
My heart jumped as a delicate voice spoke from behind, nearly fainting as I processed the words.
“We’re going the wrong way. We’re supposed to be getting away from the Doctor Lytham and her mother.”
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.