Everything that stands. Part 3.
Will returned to his three comrades and paused as he saw the torn flesh that hung from Joshua’s ruined left buttock, his eyes darted towards Luther’s and the tall man looked away.
‘I’ve checked the whole suite and there’s nothing in here that can help us.’ All three of them deflated at Will’s words. ‘But looking out onto the street below I saw something that could be of use.’
‘Down on the street?’ Nita barked. ‘What fucking good is that?’ Her eyes had welled up with tears and she looked away from the three men.
‘Let’s see what it is before we disregard it.’ Luther added. ‘Let’s go have a look.’
‘Anything to keep me occupied.’ Joshua joked. ‘I might need a hand though.’ He put his weight on his leg but it buckled under him. Luther stepped forward to help but Nita got in the way.
‘I’ve got him.’ She said slipping in under his left arm.
Will turned and headed back into the suite with everyone in tow. He led them to the bedroom which was dominated by a lavish four poster bed and a window that took up the entire wall to the right of the room. The four of them looked out at the black city scape, fires blazing through various buildings providing the only sign of activity. Will pointed to the street below where a single orange hazard light spun on top of a shadowed vehicle and with each turn of the lamp a little more of the transport revealed itself. The four seated Humvee with a mounted machine gun on top had clearly been left by the Military when they had evacuated or been overrun the distinction between the two had long been forgotten. A broad smile crept across Luther’s lips.
‘How are we going to get down there?’ Joshua asked between gritted teeth.
‘Every hotel in the city has to have a fire escape from the roof to the ground floor.’ Will replied. ‘We just have to find it.’
‘I hate to burst everyone’s bubble but even if we get down there and the damn thing is unlocked there is no saying that it will have any fuel in it.’ Nita shifted under the weight of Joshua.
‘It’s a chance I’m willing to take.’ Will responded. ‘None of you have to follow me but it’s the best looking option to come my way in a long time.’ He was already moving towards the door before anyone could give a response. Luther looked at the two interlocked partners, shrugged his shoulders and followed Will out of the room.
Will lingered at the front door to the apartment, listening at the door but hearing nothing. Luther appeared at his shoulder and also pressed his ear to the wood. Both delayed moving for longer than was needed, glancing at each other to see if either of them could make out any sounds from the corridor. Finally they gave up and stepped away from the door. Will stretched out a hand and turned the handle, in the silence it screeched like the brakes of a bus and they both cringed. He pulled the door open, stepped out into the poorly lit corridor and instantly he wished that he hadn’t dropped the torch earlier. Gloom greeted him from both directions and either end of the corridor was lost to the lack of light. Luther joined him in the darkness and began to fish around in his jeans pocket. With a snap and click his lighter sparked to life. Even with the extra brightness they could still not make out one end from the other.
‘You lead the way.’ Will offered. ‘I’m right behind you with this.’ He waved the gun into the light. With a nod Luther began down the hall to their left, slowly they edged further into the obscurity in front of them. A door appeared to their right so Luther tried the lock but it didn’t move. They moved on. Gradually the light began to bounce back at them from a metal double door as the lift became visible and to its left a white wooden door with stairs written above it.
‘Do we try the stairs? Luther whispered but Will whipped a finger up to his lips and then pointed at his ear. They both listened. At first it sounded like the wind blowing through a crack in the doorframe but as it got louder that familiar sound of heavy breathing and shuffling feet echoed up the stairwell. Slowly the two men back away, never taking their eyes of the white exit and retracing their steps. Just as the door became engulfed by the dark something bashed into it and the wooden frame splintered. The thump was followed by another, then a third and with a groan the door gave way generating the sound of multiple forms stumbling into the corridor.
Luther snapped his lighter shut whilst turning on his heel and ran. From the darkness ahead two figures crept towards them and Will raised his weapon ready to fire.
‘It’s us you fool.’ Nita barked at him before he could get off a shot. ‘I take it from your running that we shouldn’t be headed in that direction?’
‘They’re up the stairwell and in the corridor. We have to try the other direction.’ Will didn’t stop to tell her and was already past her midsentence.
He disregarded the darkness ahead of him continuing on at a constant pace and just as he was about to give up hope another white door materialised out of the pitch at him but above this one read Fire Exit. Without slowing down he hit the push to release bar and burst out into the evening air. A quick glance down the metal stairwell produced the all clear he was hoping for and he returned his attention to the open exit in front of him.
Three figures staggered out of the dimness before him, Luther and Nita struggling with an unconscious Joshua draped over their shoulders his feet dragging along behind them. Behind them a wall of rotting flesh flowed through the darkness. Will stepped to the side to let them through and slammed the door shut behind them.
‘All clear below.’ Will stated as he pushed against the door.
Luther glanced back at Will as they stumbled down the steps. ‘Leave that, they’ll be through it before you can get away.’ Will considered the suggestion, looked around at the tight staircase and then followed.
As they reached the floor below something crashed against the metal fire escape above, follow by another thump and then finally the door swinging open. It struck the handrail with such force that the whole staircase shook and knocked the four fleers of balance. Will caught himself before he could fall hooking an arm around the nearest piece of structure. Nita was not as lucky as her grip on Joshua came loose and she stumbled forward down the next flight of steps catching herself on the barrier at the foot of them. Luther managed to keep his footing whilst retaining a hold on Joshua’s shirt but the injured man lost his balance and landed heavily on his backside.
Will looked up and saw them swarming out onto the stairwell above. He picked himself up and caught up with Luther. ‘Is everyone alright?’ Luther nodded in agreement. Nita looked up to them with a smile which soon faded.
Joshua stared at her but his eyes didn’t have the caring depth that she was used to, only the cold face of death peered at her. With a jolt Joshua lurched forward and reached out for his partner. Nita had no time to react as Joshua’s hands wrapped around her left shoulder and the right side of her waist. His momentum overcame them both, her back bent against the strain causing her to scream and his weight took them toppling over the railing.
TOO BE CONCLUDED