She started the car. She’d have to come back for Rand. The engine roared. She jumped forwards, bumped over two or three Wrecks, and stalled. The Lexus was too big for her. She tried again. A Wreck grabbed the hood and ripped it open. She couldn’t see where she was going. She tried reverse.

The Lexus bounded over bodies like speedbumps. Slamming sounds came from everywhere. When she was clear of the mob it occurred to her that she might have just run over Rand. With the hood up, she still couldn’t see in front of her. But she heard Wrecks trying to get to her through the engine. She reversed again while she tried to figure out what to do next. The view behind her seemed to be filled with obstacles: goddamn postboxes and fucking Wrecks and stupid ignorant streetlights. Every twitch of the wheel made the car spin violently. She was barely keeping control. And she didn’t have a split second to think of anything except not crashing.

Then she crashed anyway. She rammed a parked car. The engine was still running so she moved forward. Then, on a hunch, she jammed the brake pedal. The hood slapped down. Nice.

The view in front of her was crowded. Bodies everywhere. Some on the ground, some on their feet. Rand was nowhere in sight, unless he was one of the bodies, twisted out of its natural shape.

Hungry corpses closed in on her. She had to move. She drove through two Wrecks, then two more. There was purple blood and translucent gunk all over the windscreen. The hunters were scattered but it didn’t help.

There was some kind of tower ahead. Tam remembered it. The Lighthouse. A typical American construct: emulating something familiar in a completely inappropriate setting. Varsity was hundreds of miles from the ocean, so lighthouses were a thing out of storybooks. Still, some eccentric had built this tourist site, and the ground floor had become a family restaurant. Tam headed for it. High ground seemed like a good idea.

She passed by a block of local stores. Everything was closed. To her right was a green square with some stone benches. There were patches of dried blood on the pavement and a couple of the buildings were broken into.

The restaurant was locked up. But from what Tam could remember the top of the Lighthouse was accessed from stairs on the outside of the building. She drove hard and stopped at the base of the tower with a decent screech. Put her homemade Pepper Spray in her pocket. Then jumped out of the Lexus and checked behind her. The Wrecks were still following but were all the way across the park, a hundred yards away. She got two Molotovs out of the back and headed for the stairs.

The Lighthouse was actually only about three floors high, painted in red and white bands. Somebody had put a gate at the bottom of the stairs. Tam put the Molotovs through the bars and scrambled over. She almost speared herself in the ass on the spikes, then landed roughly. But got away with it. Wrecks were closing in as she started up the stairs.

They gathered at the gate. They reached through. Then they got the idea, more quickly than Tam expected, and started climbing.

Shit!” She fished a cigarette lighter from her pocket and lit the cloth sticking out of the first bottle. It smoked disgustingly. The Wrecks were getting impaled on the spikes but since they didn’t care, they were going to get over faster than she did. She lobbed the bottle. This was something she had never done before, and she pretty much fucked it up completely. It shattered halfway down the steps. None of the Wrecks were caught in the fire. Smoke billowed. Tam had to waste the second Molotov. But the Wrecks who had made it over the gate couldn’t get any closer. The sheet of flame blocked the steps.

What the Hell. It was already lit. She threw harder. It hit the gate and flaming gas burst everywhere. The Wrecks bolted. Tam climbed the steps to the top. There, she climbed a low gate and sat looking over the square.

She could see a handful of Wrecks. As she watched, they started to congregate. They had forgotten her. When they were all together in the middle of the square, they looked eastward and started a slow march. She couldn’t see Caleb among them. She no longer knew where he was. Finding him would be almost impossible now. She thought of his face. In her memory it was sharp and clean. His dark beard added a few years to his features, but he needed it. She imagined him laughing. Then a monstrous jaw latched onto the top of his head.  Even in her imagination.

Advertisements