As the last echo dies the car park is frozen, silent, nobody moving a muscle. There's a cold, squirmy feeling of unease in my gut, just the same as there was before, an age ago, when I looked up from my desk and saw the first meteor streak across the sky. Some malicious voice in the back of my brain is whispering: it's not over yet, David, not by a long way. And another part of me almost wants to cry at the unfairness of it. Surely there can't be anything else. Not another thing. Not after everything we've been through already today.
Minutes pass, and nobody moves. The tension's smothering. I can taste it. A kind of metallic expectation tainting the very air. Slowly, whispers begin. Slowly, people start to move. And it's then, just as I'm thinking that the moment might come to nothing, that the noise comes again.
This time, however, it's much, much louder. The closeness of it, the way it echoes: I know at once that whatever's making that unearthly sound is on the ramp leading down to the car park.
"Oh, no, no, no..." murmurs Sharon. She's gripping my arm so tight it's painful. The weird, rising croaking hiss reverberates around the car park. And then, all at once, as if the sound were a signal, everyone explodes into action.
The car park is so dark that I can't see much of what's going on. Some people are running towards the entrance ramp, and some away from it. Some are simply trying to hide, pressing themselves into the walls, or crouching behind parked cars. Shadowy figures blunder into us in their haste, almost knocking me and Sharon off our feet. I glimpse several people dashing away down the ramp to the lower level, their outlines lost quickly in the darkness.
"We're trapped," says Sharon, her voice a whimper. "Oh, David, we're trapped here."
There's a scream. A sound so long and pained and desperate that it sends shivers through my chest.
What was confusion before, now turns to full-fledged panic. I can see it in the way people move, in the way they try to hide. They're not thinking any more, just operating on pure terror. Close by a man is sitting with his back to a corner, feet kicking as he tries to disappear into it. A woman stumbles straight into us and falls flat, then crawls away between two parked cars. It's chaos. But the worst of it is the noise coming from the direction of the entrance ramp. The scream is cut short, replaced by a brutal crunching, tearing sound.
That's what does it for me. That's what finally gets me to move. I tighten my grip on Sharon's hand and turn and pull her towards the down ramp. Suddenly the darkness doesn't seem so bad. Anything to get away from whatever's happening by the entrance. And I mean anything. Fear is a powerful thing, a merciless thing, rigid as a vice. Me and Sharon sprint past a half-dozen people who appear frozen in fear, their backs to the wall, eyes wide as they squint into the dark. Let them die, I think, let whatever it is kill them instead of me.
We reach the ramp. More and more people are disappearing down it, choosing the dark and the unknown over whatever awful thing awaits them at the entrance. I hesitate for only a second, then me and Sharon plunge forward into the dark, the sounds of screams and breaking flesh echoing after us.