With the cold blast of air chilling the wet skin around my neck, my eyes leapt open to the truck bathed in light, revealing the blood soaked teeth clamped around the toes of my left foot, hands scratching at my jeans and the other soldier on the first ones back, competing to get passed and rend my flesh.
I felt pressure around my chest, hands interlocking across my breasts, grabbing tight, tugging hard, but I hadn’t moved, the weight of the two creatures and the vice-like grip too much for Ryan to overcome. He let go. Fear flooded through me, he’d given up, he’d decided it was all too much to be around me, too demanding. He could survive alone much better. But no, he was at my side, climbing up, his struggle sounding out from his lungs like a foghorn.
I screamed again, a long high pitch I couldn’t hold back as my toes crushed, vision blurring, going dark as I closed my eyes, nausea rising as I slumped backwards, dangling over the edge.
My senses exploded as the gun went off, the release instant before the echo died. The second explosion so much quieter. I was already on the ground, the pain in my shoulder taking my notice as I slumped.
He was by my side helping me up sooner than I’d expected, sitting me with my back to the hard metal of the truck without me realising.
“Can you stand?” he said, the concern in his voice secondary only to his urgency. I nodded, letting him help me up as I tested pressure on my left foot. I could walk, slowly, but could travel forward, which had been more than I expected. I followed Ryan’s gaze to the coach and the heads butting against the glass as we passed slowly, their touch leaving bloody shadows. So many times I flinched against the pressure, expected the glass to spray over, forcing us to have to run for our lives again. Instead the creatures moved along with us, following inside, not fighting one another, but bumped together like they didn’t see each other, had no consideration there was anyone else, anything else in existence as driven to feast on our flesh.
Arriving at the coach’s flimsy doors, Ryan held my arm tighter, hurrying me past, my eyes on the gap growing wider with every surge from the other side.
“Can we get through?” he said, jumping into the driver’s seat as he let me down softly the other side.
I stared on through the windscreen. I’d forgotten what I’d seen as I stared through the truck’s blood dripping glass, but again the vision was as clear as if still in the moment.
“Yes,” I said, nodding, my eyes fixed of the doors of the coach as they snapped open both sides. The plastic pushed open under the pressure and the creatures who’d lived such short lives, fell to the floor, faces hitting the road, not flinching, eyes not taken from the van and us inside. One by one they struggling to get up, despite more of a similar youth falling onto their backs until they could just step off and start their journey towards us.
After checking the van doors were locked and the windows were closed, the engine roared to life and we rolled. Ryan’s face hardening, his eyes tightened together, mouth bunching as each of the black veined faces disappeared below the view one by one until our bumper nudged against the back of the truck.
He looked at me and I turned his way, trying to ignore the faces past him, trying to ignore the marks left behind as bloody hands slapped against the window. I nodded and he revved the engine, slowly letting out the clutch.
We didn’t move, smoke billowed from the engine, the smell of burning plastic clawed inside our noses and I coughed, Ryan copying my action despite his best efforts, knowing to open the windows would be even more unpleasant. I could see he was about to let up, to let the engine relax and push the gear into reverse, when we moved forward. It was slow at first, but progress had started.
I closed my eyes, trying to ignore what would happen the other side of the truck as we rolled, not wanting to see its rise and fall as we pushed on relentless. Opening my eyes, I saw Ryan steering us close to the coach to despatch the creatures following, crushing their heads when the pressure grew too much. I closed my eyes to the sound of cracking bone, the faces gone from the window, nausea drawing up from my throat.
On hearing Ryan’s intake of breath I knew the time had come to open my eyes, to see what I knew would be the other side, but even as we edged forward, I struggled to bring myself to face the view again, despite knowing from his quickening breath, Ryan had taken in the full horror.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.