I fell through the doorway, scattering to the cold road as the pair rushed the other side, calling through the sobs, the back of my good hand brushing across my eyes, smearing away the tears.
“Pick it up,” I screamed, regaining my feet, Ryan flinching back as I arrived at this side. “Pick it up,” I said wiping my face dry, letting the sharp wind lick with each shake of my head. “The camera,” I replied forcing Ryan’s shocked expression to the ground and away from the scene I had to capture. He nodded once, in a daze, stooping to grab from the ground on his second attempt, raising the camera on his shoulder as I checked for the red light. “The microphone,” I pleaded, stepping forward with his shrug, breath flinching in my lungs as Jordain clattered around inside the van.
Taking the microphone in hand, I stepped back, not looking to see the distance they’d closed, my already words pouring out, raw, unprofessional, less than a rookie could manage. I tried to slow, to cool my hurry, adding definition to the speech I hadn’t needed to prepare. When the flow stopped, I knew I’d done enough. The picture over my shoulder would have alone done the job. My emotion a ripe illustration of how worried the viewers should be, hoping they would take my pleading to prepare, to not sit back and hope to be served their life on a silver platter. Hoping I’d made them understand life was no longer a right. Life had become something you had to fight for.
Like a director in my ear, the stench told me my time was up.
I held the camera on my lap as if it were a child, fragile, precious, in need of constant care while Ryan reversed along the road. As the van slowed, in silence we took up our tasks, each knowing what the other was about with no need to ask.
Ryan circled the van, a rifle slung over his shoulder, every other moment sweeping the sight across the view, lingering on where they we’d come. He calculated we’d have half an hour if they’d continued to follow, but he wouldn’t let his guard down, knew the danger could come from any angle, even the sky, despite it having been empty for some time.
Jordain worked at a considered pace, taking care with the body as he lay what remained in the grass at the side of the road, covering him with a sheet of plastic, finding stones, boulders, what he could to give Sheppard the privacy he deserved.
I played the controls in the back of the van, ignoring the images uploaded to the suite of screens, there’d be no editing, a raw version is what they’d get, the images ready, the van giving the familiar shudder as the satellite transmitter raised.
Until its premature stop.
Pushing the button a second time, I heard the groan of mechanisms above my head, the whine of gears locked together unable to fulfil their task. I pushed the system into reverse, felt the shake as the metal settled home, then lift one more time, counting the seconds, finishing before it should.
With a deep breath I stepped to the road, moving away to get a better view. I didn’t need to climb the ladder held to the back doors, didn’t need to get up close to see great splinter of wood, no shorter than my forearm, wedged in the mechanism, just like I didn’t need to hear Ryan’s words. Our time had gone again.
“They’ll have what you need at the hospital,” Jordain said, his voice close at my ear making me jump. “All sorts of comms gear,” he said. “We can still deliver the message.”
I smiled at his unbidden words, turned and took his hand, squeezing until he pulled away before his pain rose any further.
“We’ll find another way,” Ryan said, his eyes, like ours, scouring the sea of bobbing heads, moving from hair matted with what could only be blood, to great rends of flesh across those leading the way with their wide, slack, but determined expressions.
“No,” Jordain and I replied in unison as he sat in the third seat to my side, his fingers pushing my seatbelt into place.
“We’re going right through them,” I said, bracing my good hand against the dashboard, the engine flaring as Ryan’s right foot grew heavy.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.