The trail of Rand’s blood went through the church car park to a tour bus. On the way, it met with splashes of blood from the people who had been attacked at the church door. It looked like they had forced their way onto the bus. The door was open. Tam climbed aboard. She saw Rand halfway down, stretched out like he was at home.
There were about twenty people on the bus. Every one of them had been bitten or clawed by Wrecks. There was constant moaning. Whimpers and gasps rounded out the chorus. Everyone was covered in improvised bandages and dried blood.
He looked like shit. He had a torn t-shirt covering the left side of his face. He was sweating and pale. “Jesus, Will,” she said. It was the only time she had used his first name. “What happened?”
“It got me,” said Rand. He seemed to be in immense pain. Her mind was knotted up with worry, guilt, and general anguish. She bit her lip.
“I’m so sorry,” she said. He just shrugged. His old exuberance was gone. If he was angry, it was all he could do to hide it. “Don’t they have painkillers?” said Tam. “Is one of them a doctor?”
“That one’s a nurse,” Rand said, and waved his arm in a vague way. Tam noticed a man and woman sitting upright and talking to each other across the aisle. Rand looked away. His teeth chattered.
“Here, take this,” she said. She opened the camera bag and took out the Scary Mary. She had to flatten it a bit to make it fit in there. She shook the carton. The cocktail of chilli and juice sloshed around.
Rand gave her a look that was steeped in disgust. He shook his head. “There’s no point now,” he said roughly. “I’m taking Plan B.”
“What’s Plan B?” said Tam. Rand ignored her. He looked out the window again. She thought for a second and realised what he was talking about.
Instinctively she said, “No!” and grabbed his arm. The muscles were tense. He gave a sarcastic grunt. She noticed he was hissing every breath through clenched teeth. More than ever before, she felt like crying. It welled up from within her like a flash flood. She ran out of the bus. Outside, the bloodstains like modern art came into sharp focus. She wept for about ten seconds, then clamped it. Deep breaths. Check for Wrecks. The surrounding area was relatively safe. This side of the bus couldn’t be seen from the road.
She got back on the bus and approached the two people who were talking. The man’s right arm was wrapped in a shirt. The woman had a splint holding her left knee straight. He was fortyish and cool in a 70’s way. She was Tam’s age, with deep, dark eyes.
“Are you the nurse?” Tam asked the woman.
“Yes,” she said like this was the worst thing anyone could be. Nobody said anything for a ridiculously long time. Eventually the man spoke with a very dry, soft voice.
“Your buddy,” he said. “Lost an eye. All the flesh is torn. All the way down his face.” He made a gesture like claws. Tam swallowed. The man said, “It’s over now. We tried to get out, but it didn’t work. Your buddy said we won’t be attacked any more. Seems he was right. Thanks for that. Anyhoo, three people went for supplies. After that, we wait. For what? I dunno.”
To die. There was no rescue for this situation. It was just a matter of alleviating the symptoms until the end. This scene was being repeated everywhere.
“What about the church?” said Tam. “Wouldn’t it be more comfortable?”
“If we could get in, sure,” the guy said. Tam looked at the woman. She was gazing at the floor with a distant expression. She sighed.
Tam was seized by a fit of anger. She went to the church and hammered on the door. “Please, go away,” a voice said from inside. Tam started yelling abuse at him. All the time part of her mind noted the incredible swatch of blood sprayed all over the ground and door. Another part told her she was making too much noise. Another that the wounded had already tried this, probably for hours.
Eventually Tam turned to check her horizons. Oops, there it was. A Wreck, standing in the church gateway, regarding her curiously. Tam froze. The Wreck started to move forward. Then it was distracted by something. An engine sound. It turned and looked. Tam waited, hoping. The sound got louder, and louder again even when she thought something should have appeared. And then she saw a beast. A military vehicle. A Humvee. It slowed outside the gate. Then it turned in and came towards Tam, neatly crushing the Wreck on the way.