I kept my eyes wide. Chose to watch as our speed built, taking in the view, my body gripped with anticipation, head practicing for how the first impact would feel. I kept my eyes wide when the first clash of flesh and bone sent a shudder of emotion though my body, watching each creature mown down, heads splitting from their bodies by the neck, rolling up the windscreen, not able to un-listen to the solid thumps against the roof as they travelled along to echos of decapitation. I thought of the debris getting caught in the satellite transmitter, but tried to force my imagination not to picture tufts of hair wedged between the mechanical parts, eyes dangling down by connective tissue from where the metal connected.
With the windscreen wipers fighting to clear the blood, only smearing the liquor left and right, I could feel the van slowing, the metal complaining as I tried to relax back into the seat, tried to let the pressure of my blood release, only to spike again as a new horror presented.
The children were the worst. My imagination fixing panic on their features. Hands grasping for parents, instead of their expressions devoid of any reaction, even as they hit the metal, even as what life remained finally expired. I took a great gasp, seeing nieces and nephews I’d barely spoken with in the past few years. Their perfectly formed features showing no sign of affliction, their veins buried deep and out of sight, not raised to the surface, black and bulging.
A hand gripped my left, Ryan to my right shooting a look as I gasped for air, hoping it was my imagination alone which felt our momentum slowing with each hit.
We were slowing. My look to Ryan, then to Jordain confirmed, neither of them able to hide the fact from their features as we each tried to look on, to look beyond the sea of creatures which seemed unending.
“What’s your name?” I shouted out above the din of each impact, the complaint of metal, plastic, the fabric of the van now so fragile. I didn’t look as he kept quiet, just repeated. “What’s your name, your first name?” I said, shooting a look to my left. “It can’t end this way without knowing who you are?”
When he still didn’t reply I twisted for a look to see his expression narrowed, eyebrows heavy as he caught my glance, trying to ignore why no one had corrected my thoughts on how this would turn out.
“Don’t you know your name?” I said, nervous laughter spilling up from my throat. Ryan gave a flurry of air from his lungs and I turned to see his lips set in a smile as he shot me a look, the smile dropping, eyes widening as he looked back through the windscreen. I turned back to see Jordain’s eyebrows even further down his face, weathered skin lined across his forehead.
“Liam,” he replied, his white teeth on show as a smile soon parted his lips. Each of us flinched back to the windscreen, rocking against our seats as a dark shape disappeared at the top of the glass, leaving behind a great crack radiating where it had hit.
I renewed my grip on Liam’s hand, wishing I could hold Ryan’s in the other, but the tension alone caused pain to pulse up and along my right arm. With the last hit, the van seemed to have slowed more than ever. There had been hope before, we’d known the crowd of undead couldn’t have gone on long enough for us to slow to a stop, but now with the path unending it felt as if it we were only moments away from the worst situation.
Just as my mood sank lower than I thought I could recover from, I saw light, saw spaces between the bodies and their grasping hands. Air pulled into my lungs and I raised myself, squinting through the sheen of orange, the darkness filling the crack. I was right, the crowd was defiantly thinning. I could see the darkness of the road between and we had more than enough speed to carry us through, to knock the bodies to the side, to roll over those who wouldn’t get out of the way. I gripped Liam’s hand tight, pulsing my fingers, nodding towards the screen, hoping he’d seen the same, then turned to Ryan, my smile full of enthusiasm to end this part of the journey.
His face dropped as I caught his view. I flinched to the screen, but nothing had changed, our view was clearing, we were coming out of the danger. Then I felt it. Felt the rumble of the engine, the hiccup of our movement despite no impact from outside, despite having cleared the last creature Ryan couldn’t just avoid.
It came a second time and I twisted around to Liam, let go of his grip, hoping someone would say something as the engine stuttered for a third time. Blood drained from my head as on the fourth it failed to recovered and we slowed, rolling in the silence.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.