Flinching away, falling, I pushed my eyes wide as my good hand grasped for something to hold, something to pull up, to strike out with. Ignoring the stars pinging across my vision, a clawed hand shot from the right to block my view as I collapsed, rolling left, falling between the seats, stunned, eyes fixed on the hand grasping through the missing clear partition. My back crunched into the cubes of glass, but despite my vision still stained with what I’d seen through the blood-smeared windscreen, I scrabbled backward across the line of seats in the dark to the strobe of light flashing as hands reached through the covering. No longer paying attention to the pain in my hand, adrenaline compensating, I reached the canvas where I’d entered and pushed against it hard with my back. It bowed outward but still left me trapped.
Breath drew in shallow and fast. I couldn’t tell left from the right, couldn’t tell from which side I’d entered. I’d turned, scratching at the canvas, still ignoring the pain, but it stayed firm, despite my frustration. I called out, my words getting weaker. His name ringing out, all the while knowing he would be too far away, he would be where I’d told him to stay, not close enough rip open the cover, to free me from the heat beating down inside the dark greenhouse.
My face dripping with sweat and about to stand, to push against the canvas, light flashed on for longer than it had before and I glanced around fearful, but excited to see Ryan saving the day. Instead I saw a gruesome head in the light, its face patched dark, soon joined by another as I stared, captivated by the dead soldier falling through the gap, its gnashing teeth energised by my panic.
I backed up, turned, forcing my trainers to kick out at the stiff canvas. Breath ran away, darkness descending as the first of the creatures fell through the partition, the sheet of olive drab covering the window, obscuring my only light. I screamed, the feminist inside me dying a little, but those concerns were nothing in the moment. I couldn’t see its advance, but its crawl was as clear as if I could, the scrabble over the canvas seat, the trickle of the glass to the floor as it follow in my journey. I screamed again even though I knew it would just remind the creature of my location, even though it was already so close, the stench of death I would never get used to stingy my lungs, bile rising as I coughed between gasps of air.
Why had Ryan listened? Why had he done as I asked and not followed me into danger, at least he could have stood to the side ready to help? Amid my panic I saw the faces of my parents, saw my colleagues in their buildings around the world, the buildings they thought they would be safe in, with the twenty-four-hour security guards and thick concrete walls. But how wrong they were. The army couldn’t protect us from these creatures, most of them were the enlisted. I’d yet to see a battle where we had won, where the mental jar of the creature’s appearance didn’t cause us to pause, didn’t stop us from striking out, didn’t prevent wasting those first precious moments.
They were relatively easy to defend against, if only you knew you had to protect yourself, if only you didn’t stand there transfixed, eyes wide trying to figure out if the creature from so many horror movies was real and how could it exist. Their main advantage was forcing us to kill our friends and family if we wanted to survive. If only people knew they were already long dead.
Chocking down a deep breath, I balled my fist, knowing it would be of little use, but at least I would go down trying, pausing my thought as I wandered if what I’d just felt was its rancid breath blowing across my face.
Light came from the front of the truck, the other creature falling through, but I barely took notice as I saw the first soldier, half his face covered in blood, nearly on me. Throwing myself back against the canvas in a vain hope it would give way, but I wasn’t surprised when didn’t. Instead I kicked out my legs, grabbing on to whatever I could in the dark, gripping tight to anchor myself down, ignoring the pain in my bulging hand. My foot made contact. Kicking again, harder this time, spurred on by the slap of my sole against something giving way each time I connected.
Another shot, followed quickly by my other foot, both hitting home, the creature snarling as it took the blows. I imagined its mouth lashing out, lips curled. I kicked again, following through with my left, then pulling back for another volley, I realised my foot was trapped, the pressure on my toes immense as tried to throw my legs left and right. The muffled sounds of effort told me what I already knew. My foot had clamped in the creature’s mouth. I felt the scratch of fingers, nails scraping down my jeans. I pushed my right foot out as hard as I could, but it sailed through the air not making contact. I closed my eyes, the intense pain in my foot sapping all my energy. This was it.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.