Unintentionally, Tam had angled towards the oversized historic building. A vision flashed in her mind of hiding places, though she had never actually hidden from the monster in its present form.

There were high panelled windows, a flight of steps leading up to huge doors. Beautiful columns supported a balcony over the door. A combination of fire and ancient streetlights made the whole thing waver in a shifting sepiatone. She left the grass and ran up the path towards the building.

The hard ground tortured her feet, which were bitten raw. Her soles were stabbed with every step. She didn’t dare to look down at herself. By the time she got to the steps she felt that her legs might cramp up in protest. She tried to vault up the steps. It wasn’t happening. She staggered up instead. At the top she hobbled like an old lady to one of the pillars. Maybe she could taker cover there. Maybe she could stay perfectly still. A gargling sound made her turn.

Omega Rex, the wave of predatory rotting flesh, was digesting poor Bill Rand. Rand turned over as he was ripped apart, alive. The flesh was stripped from his head and arms, like he’d stuck them out the window of a train as it passed by brambles. His agony came out of his lungs in crazed, pleading, subhuman cries. Tam choked and wept.

Then something struck the Blob like a bolt of lightning. It quivered, expanded, contracted and even seemed to spin round in a circle all in less than a second. A massive puff of smoke exploded from the middle of it, along with pieces of charcoaled flesh, still burning. It was a volcano.

Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ!” was as much as Tam could manage to articulate. Rand, sacrificing himself just like in a fucking war movie, had shoved a thermite bomb into the Blob. The thing flapped like a sheet in the wind. Smoke and blackened pieces flew from underneath. It pulled itself into something like a doughnut shape. One side of the ring split and the Blob became a crescent. In the middle was a sputtering white flare surrounded by a massive smoking pile of burned meat. The homemade charge sputtered and flashed.

The superhot charge had gone off deep within the Blob and incinerated everything it touched. At first glance that looked like almost half of the Omega’s mass. The Omega, with a movement that somehow signified real fear, rolled back from the glow and tried to coagulate, to regroup. Rand’s twisted form lay discarded beside the thermite. He was lit by the white-hot glare. There was nothing left to save. Every part of him was shedding blood. He was black with it. She hoped he was dead.

The Omega retreated from the lethal heat. It moved slowly now. When it manufactured some sort of shape again, it was only about the size of a horse—the smallest Tam had ever seen it. It shed more burned flesh. Then it carried on like it had always done, as if the thermite experience was an unfortunate mistake, water under the bridge.

And it was moving towards her. With no memory to speak of, the Blob was doing what it always did. Heading towards the nearest source of food. It was so badly damaged, Tam almost felt she could take it on herself. But she had nothing to fight with. She limped towards the building.

The door was actually open. Right inside was a barrier made from heavy desks and cabinets. But it was pulled aside. Tam ducked round it. This whole building might be strategically laid out as a staging point for human-Wreck conflict, but right now neither side was holding the fort.

Though the pain in her feet wasn’t any less than before, Tam was somehow accustomed to it and could ignore it for now. There was a huge entrance hall with a marble floor. Her feet liked that better. Doors. Everywhere, fucking doors. Everything was dark. The brown streetlight only seemed to light the windows, not anything inside. She tried to imagine what she might achieve in here. But she needed time to think. Okay, hide. Hide where? The Omega didn’t have eyes, but it could sense people somehow. So it wasn’t at any disadvantage in the dark. Was it smell, sound? Rand was dead.

Without looking behind, Tam was seized by the thought that the Blob was close, too close. She ran for a door. Thoughts clashed in her mind like driftwood in waves. Where could she hide? Somewhere The Blob could not get access to. The idea almost made her laugh. That was an impossible problem. It could handle stairs. What about a ladder?

She padded into the first room on her left, which looked by the inadequate light to be a high-class office. One thing was definitely up to scratch: the fucking carpet. Oh yes, she could get used to that feeling on her wounded soles.