I heard Ryan’s breath stop as the roar of the engine slowed and I opened my eyes, air drawn away from my lungs as I saw the sight, saw the road blanketed in bodies, not a head intact amongst them. Resting my hand on top of Ryan’s, together we pushed the stick back in the gear. I held on as he forced the truck clear, watching the line of water down his face glint in the low sun. With my hand on his shoulder gripping tight, my eyes fixed on his face while he turned the wheel, wincing as the van rolled up and down, the wheels spinning for a moment until they caught and speed built, all the while his eyes were high, trying to block out the worst of the view.
We stopped for a long moment when the ride smoothed out, lingering for a long while not saying a word. He knew without asking I wouldn’t let us drive away, didn’t want to leave these people alone without making a record, without putting their horrific deaths to some good.
As Ryan filmed out of the open back doors, I forced myself to look at every body, to stare at their erased identities and massive wounds. I lingered on flesh turned to pulp from the finger sized bullet, their empty brass cases littering where the van rested. With the final shot panning along the sides of the road, the camera tracing the river of blood long dried in the sun, we pulled the doors up as the first of the young creatures peered around from where we’d left them, driving away as they stumbled to get a footing on the carpet of the dead.
Neither of us talked as the van wound its way around the thin country roads. Neither of us spoke as we travelled barely making a detour in the hour, skirting around road blocks, through fields either side. We weren’t the first, instead following paths smashed through stone walls either side. The going was slow, but we weren’t in a hurry, although my time staring across the horizon kept the bodies of the dead repeating over and again only the glances to the Sat Nav shook the sights away, the dot on the white road, the number in the corner ever decreasing.
It was as the number fell below five miles, we first saw the metal fence circling, our eyes heading to the sky as Ryan slowed us down. For a moment I thought we might have headed in the wrong direction. We saw nothing in the air, instead turned our view to the fence stretching out across the road, curving inward as far as we could see either side.
“Left or right,” Ryan said, his voice devoid of energy, but still I raised a smile. I’d half expected him to turn the van around.
“You choose,” I said. “It won’t be long now.” He manhandled the wheel around climbing up the shallow grass bank to the left.
“What happens when you’ve got what you need?” he said, his eyes fixed forward like mine, following the sweeping metal, my eyes tracing out deep ruts compressing the stoney mud.
I didn’t hold back my reply for any reason other than I didn’t know. I hadn’t considered a next step, still didn’t want to think of what would happen next. I hadn’t thought I would survive last night without another dose of Toni’s medicine. I didn’t know if I would survive the next. Now wasn’t the time. I’d spotted the end of the fence, a panel yet to be fixed leaning against the side of an olive drab flat-bed truck.
I nodded towards the army vehicle, turning to Ryan, his eyes already set straight.
I expected the body to rise from its lean against the fence when it saw us. Ryan didn’t slow, he’d expected it too, but neither of us anticipated the call from the soldier’s mouth, the hasty reach for the rifle. Neither of us expected another to appear around the side, fingers pulling up his trouser’s fly in a hurry as he searched for a weapon, finding it close at hand.
Ryan slowed at the solder’s demand, his breath remaining calm as I raised my hands to the air. Ryan did the same, but either of us expected the shot which rocked the van, slamming hard, sending shattered dark plastic shards high in to the air as it hit the engine’s grill.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.
another thrilling episode!
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