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Wednesday, 16 February 2011


Me and Lisa stare at each other for one long, terrible moment. The call of the Creature seems to be all around us in the air, a living presence. I recall briefly how bats use sound to track down their food...

"Oh..." says Lisa.

"Come on!" I grab her shoulder and we start off again down the street as fast as we're able. But even from here I can see that there's nowhere to hide. Nothing but the burned out husks of houses for as far as the eye can see. Panic begins to bubble in my chest, making me stumble, making my hands shake.

"David, there's nowhere--" Lisa's voice is shaking. I squeeze her shoulder.

"I know, I know. Just hurry."

The call comes again, longer this time, more drawn out. It sends shivers through me, like nails on a blackboard. That's death, I think, that is what death sounds like now. I picture the sleeping Creatures coming to life, stretching powerful limbs, opening their jaws to crow into the night. Suddenly the dark feels full, as though we're surrounded, as though a hundred sets of those black pit-like eyes are seeking us out.

Then I see it. Sitting at the head of the road, tilting crazily on punctured tyres is a red delivery van. The windows are cracked but still intact, the rear door standing open. A fallen telegraph pole leans against it, tangled wires lying like dropped spaghetti. It's not much, but it's better than nothing.

"There," I say. I pull Lisa towards the back of the van and help her step up into the back. It's half-full of boxes, spilled polystyrene beads rustling underfoot. I heave the door shut, plunging us into darkness.

We stand still, listening, ears strained for the sound of Creatures calling, of dragging claws. There are none. I reach out a hand and find Lisa's in the darkness, and grip her arm tight. It's cramped in the back of the van; I'm having to stand half-crouched.

"We'd better get settled," I whisper. I don't so much hear Lisa's reply as sense her nod in the dark. It takes us ages to shift aside the fallen boxes and lie down on the floor of the van. We move as slowly as we possibly can, wincing at every unintended noise. I fumble in the backpack and manage to find a couple of blankets, which we pull over ourselves. In the narrow space we're practically in each other's arms, but it's unavoidable. In fact, it's actually a comfort to have Lisa there, to feel her human presence in the dark beside me. I can't even imagine what it would be like to be in this situation alone.

Lisa shifts, and a few seconds later I feel her press the pistol into my hand. The unspoken obligation is there. If anything happens it's down to me.

We don't speak. And even though we're both hungry we don't eat. We're so tense that we don't want to move a muscle. My heart is pounding, and I have a sharp, ugly headache from the adrenaline. I can hear Lisa's tense little breaths. I know I'm not going to sleep tonight.

We lie together on the cold floor of the van as the croaking, hissing calls echo through the night air. We wait, and hope, for dawn to come.

1 comment:

leroy miles said...

man, what a bad spot to be in. Maybe he will learn the lesson of making camp well before sunset.