Caleb thought for a second, then waved his arm around in a circle, signalling to the figure on the roof. He looked at Tam. “Wait till they get closer, then hit it. Get round the other side fast. Get up on the grass. As close to the house as you can make it.”
The infected were getting closer. Tam put the car in gear. The Wrecks got to the road. Close enough to take them at a charge.
“Go!” Caleb yelled, not quite sure whether she was waiting for his signal but getting just a bit too rattled to find out. He had a new phobia, and it caressed him with tongues of doom.
Tamara took off. She took the corner at speed. He threw a glance at her. Her eyes were wide, her teeth gritted. Okay, so this might go belly-up.
The Wrecks followed them. Caleb checked his mirror and realised that they were loping, almost running. He’d never seen them do that. Tamara took the second corner too fast and went all over the road before she recovered. They were back at the front of the medical centre. The only Wreck Caleb could see, for now, was a shambling figure that looked like it had a broken leg and was headed towards the back of the house, pathetically following the pack.
Tamara swung the Honda onto the kerb where it sloped to admit a few parked cars. She drove straight through the parking area and jammed on the brake right in front of the smashed window. There was a Wreck inside with half its head gone. It couldn’t find the exit.
Right on cue, a shadow appeared on the roof and plunged down in a daring leap. He was like freaking Batman. Except that when he hit the ground, he wasn’t at all like a hero. The jumper sprawled in a bush, and earth and leaves went flying. He howled.
“Come on, get in!” Caleb yelled. Tamara suddenly started reversing. “Wait!” Caleb shouted and she got the message and stopped. She was looking around frantically. She had parked wrong: they were pointed straight at the building instead of at an angle suitable for taking off. This wasn’t working as planned.
The jumper was on his feet. The Wreck at the corner was also moving towards them slowly and Caleb thought he could hear the footsteps of the fast-moving mob, coming round the other side in a deathly stampede of infection. His head wound was throbbing.
The man from the roof opened a back door and leaped in with a geeky squawk that might have been protesting all the exercise. Tamara reversed out of the yard just as the crowd of Wrecks emerged from the side of the house. The Honda jolted straight out onto the street. Tam tried to straighten up but wasn’t used to steering at speed in reverse. The car spun in a tight circle and ended up backing towards the house again.
“Shit fuck!” She flipped the wheel the other way but their momentum had died and the car stalled.
Caleb wondered if he should crack a joke about the risks involved in hitching a lift with strangers, for the benefit of the guy in the back. Instead he said, “Lock your doors, people,” and rolled up his own window.
Tamara kept swearing as she restarted the car. Her eyes were popping out of her head and she was looking at the ignition like it was a writhing snake. The Wrecks slammed into the car. The force actually pushed them backwards a bit. Bloody teeth, bruised faces and swollen hands pressed themselves against the glass. Greenish slime was spat and oozed all over. Caleb’s urge to get out and run was just about suppressed by a voice that told him nothing he did right now would improve the situation.
The engine came to life, then it roared and tyres squealed. Dead people were all over the front of the car, limbs and faces blocking their view. One by one they dropped off. Caleb let out a long breath. His head started pounding like never before.
The doctor said, “When we get out of this car, do not touch any of that liquid you see. This is how you will be infected. Trust me.”