First eye contact had been the test. His and mine, but for different reasons. The door creeping open as I gave the nod, told me I’d passed his. The muscle still beating in his chest as he pushed the door closed at my back meant I’d passed mine too.
“I thought you were dead,” he said through a grey smile, his hands reaching to the floor to pull up my red jacket before handing it over. I didn’t reply when he looked away while I dressed, grabbing the skirt with both my hands, clenching it hard in my right fist. I took joy in the sensation, pausing only a moment before pulling down my jeans mottled with darkness. Turning around, prim and proper again, my clothes at least, he drew me close. After only a moment’s hesitation I let myself in for the embrace, guilt rising, but the sensation dissipated when I couldn’t taste his scent, no desire building, no will pushing me to rend flesh from bone. As the realisation took hold, I drew in closer, gripping tight, letting the tears of joy, of relief, flow down to his shoulder. He didn’t jump back, his face not full of fear at my deathly cold skin as he burned against me. I couldn’t help but wonder if he knew what was going on inside my head or was it all in my imagination?
“What happened?” he said as we released, answering one of my questions. Perhaps?
The scratch and scrape on the thin metal came back, but we barely noticed as we looked with intent into each other’s eyes. He broke off first, leaning to hand me cleaning cloths and a bottle of fluid intended for the cameras. He didn’t press me for an answer, he didn’t need to know and I didn’t need to sully Jordain’s name with a pack of hastily prepared lines.
“The helicopter,” I said, my voice croaking, his head spinning to the windscreen as he nodded. “She’s getting away.”
“The engine?” he said returned with his face in a grimace, eyes wide as they locked back to mine.
“Try it now,” I said, scraping the wet cloth between my fingers, whilst Ryan dabbed his hand to his left cheek.
In moments we were pushing forward, my right hand gripping hard as we slid sideways and back again to avoid the swarm gathering. We’d been quick enough not to let the crowd build, quick enough to find the gap in the blockade, the small groups easy to avoid as we swerved in and around the cars abandoned in the road, leaving them instead to follow, forming on mass in our wake.
We didn’t stop at the second olive container by the roadside, slowing only to take the slalom of the concrete blocks without scraping, but with enough pace shed to know the position, like the last, had long fallen. As the road rolled under the tyres, the rest of the streets were no surprise, the desolation, the vacancy, even the lack of creatures didn’t cause me to look twice. Soon we could see every other panel of the hastily erected fence had fallen, the outer perimeter ineffective and we drove right through a gap, slowing only to stop the skid. No point in swerving the bodies when there was no way to avoid. Ryan drove us toward the building crowned with the swirled blades of the helicopter, turning away only as I put my hand to his shoulder, the view in the mirror forgotten, the crowd so much thicker than we’d already failed to get through, but it didn’t matter. I’d seen the communications truck Jordain had mentioned and with my beat so hard in my chest, I ran into the back whilst the wheels slowed, watching the equipment’s lights flashing green as it picked up the surrounding network.
We pushed the doors open at the same time. I straightened my skirt and jacket, staring into the tall wing mirror, pleased with what I saw, only needing to give a slap to each cheek to draw out the rose colour, the faint darkness in the grooves serving well to highlight and contour. With energy rising deep from with inside me, I took a breath and with my back to the hospital building, the destruction and carnage all around, I stared with the morning sun in my face and beamed at the red light shining back from the camera.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.