Authors: RR Haywood
Copyright © R. R. Haywood 2015
R. R. Haywood asserts his moral right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.
All Rights reserved.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. All characters and events, unless those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living, dead (or undead), is purely coincidental.
The inclusion within this story of the characters “Pea and Sam” are used as a prize in a competition and although to a degree they are based on the real persons they remain fictitious characters within a work of fiction and the author asserts his full rights to amend, delete or change those characters.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, copied, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the copyright holder, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
Design, Cover and Illustration by Eddyart.
Howie jumps into view with his trousers round his ankles and in any other setting it would be almost comical, except the expression on his face removes any trace of humour. As one the lines of youths, men and women all burst away in every direction.
Lilly had heard the crackled static filled radio transmission between Marcy and Howie and by the time she had brought the others back in the boats so Lani had descended into madness, gripped by the infection that surged through her body as the shock rendered her weak and helpless.
Lilly saw the bodies of Jagger, Darius and the other children left lying where they fell. She heard Mo Mo shout
and saw Maddox take aim on Lani and in turn she saw Lani aiming straight at Howie.
In that instant she felt the tension in the fort become a real tangible thing that made the air feel thick. Every second was dragged out and her heightened senses became acutely aware of the tremble in Maddox’s hands and the look of absolute pain on Mo Mo’s face. She watched as Nick and his team moved out into a line as chaos erupted when the youths who had been made to kneel, suddenly scattered to run in every direction.
Maddox screamed for everyone to get down. Order was clawed back and all that was left was Lani standing in the middle, alone and armed with her weapon aiming at Howie and in that profound silence she heard Howie utter the words
I see you
. Lilly knew he was talking to the thing inside Lani. Everyone knew it and everyone watched in awe as Howie stalked towards Lani seemingly without fear.
That image seared into Lilly’s mind. The view of Howie unafraid with Meredith at his side. Her head held low and showing her teeth in clear recognition of a thing sworn to be killed. Not one person looked away or dared speak, even breathing seemed too noisy for fear of doing something to spark an action.
She watched as Howie stalked his prey into the armoury and heard the muffled thumps, grunts and bangs coming from within. Confused glances were exchanged and Dave went to move forward until the banging developed a very rhythmic and very obvious cadence.
‘They’re not…’ Paula muttered in disbelief, breaking the silence punctuated by the sound of a table being thumped against the floor
‘No,’ Clarence said slowly, ‘They wouldn’t…’
‘What?’ Dave asked.
‘What?’ Clarence said.
‘What wouldn’t they do?’ Dave asked.
‘Er…’ Clarence said, wincing at the sound of the table banging harder and faster.
Lilly blushed. Even she knew what the sound meant. Everyone did. Apart from Dave who stared round and looked back at the entrance of the armoury with his blank expression somehow managing to convey confusion.
It didn’t actually go on that long. It just felt like it did. The table thumping getting louder and faster. Donk. Donk. Donk. Donkdonkdonkdonk.
Desperate to look in another direction Lilly glanced over to the new woman, knowing instantly it must be Marcy simply from the description Nick had given her. He’d said she was pretty but Marcy was not pretty. Marcy was beyond pretty. Marcy was beautiful with perfect cheekbones showing through golden skin framed by lustrous dark hair cascading down her shoulders and thick dusky pink coloured lips pursing with a foul look at the noises coming from the dark room.
The banging, growing faster by the second, suddenly stopped. What followed was more grunts and muttered oaths making everyone unsure if they should be doing something to stop it.
‘DIE,’ was the word they heard screamed by Lani before Howie appeared jumping from the doorway with his trousers round his ankles.
No further warning is needed and as one the lines burst apart with everyone scattering in a desperate attempt to find cover. Lilly ducks back towards the gates intending to run round the edge to Billy but nothing happens. Seconds go by all filled with near on silence until Howie stops and turns back to stare at the armoury. A dull thud comes first and a sense of relief that whatever bomb Howie was shouting about wasn’t that big. Then the big explosion comes and Lilly watches as the walls to the armoury blow out sending a shock wave that rips Howie from his feet sending him metres through the air to land in a crumpled heap.
Masonry rips out shredding human forms with sickening thumps. Twisted shards of metal lacerate and amputate. More explosions, more detonations, grenades going off one after the other in rapid succession. Rounds in the magazines of the stacked weapons go next. Pinging off the sides of the rooms and out into the fort proper. Those already hugging the ground are mostly spared but anyone left on their feet is either shot or struck by flying debris.
Flames scorch out deep across the ground then up into the sky. A wall of heat rams into Lilly sending her staggering back as a hand whips up and pulls her off her feet. She goes down hard landing on Maddox who rolls himself over her body, giving her protection against the bricks, stones, metal and bullets turned into missiles. Screams pierce the air. Howling pain filled wails as limbs are shorn off. Beneath her body the ground rumbles and overhead the skies fill with thunder that rolls for miles.
Lilly looks up just in time to see a flaming comet shooting across the ground that slams into a young girl trying to run away. The speed of the projectile removes the girl’s upper body leaving a pair of legs that fall silently to the floor. A life gone, snuffed away in the blink of an eye. The flaming debris lands within the fort igniting the dry tents, canvas and materials left in the open air. Secondary explosions still pummel her ear drums and her eyes fill with flames and the silhouettes of people running without the sense to get down.
‘MOVE AWAY,’ a voice filled with anger snaps her attention over and she sees Howie on his feet with his face ablaze as he strides through the crews grabbing them to be pushed away from the danger. ‘MOVE BACK…MOVE…DAVE…GET THESE KIDS MOVED…’
Dave on his feet in an instant, drawing breath to bellow in a voice that belies human origin, ‘
MOVE BACK NOW.’
Clarence staggers to his feet with a child in each hand wading through the bodies to dump them on the far side. She spots Nick getting to his feet and staring round as though looking for someone. She surges up, pushing Maddox away and knowing Nick’s eyes search for her.
‘BLOWERS…COOKEY,’ Howie yells, ‘GO WITH NICK.’
The three lads sprint past Lilly still struggling to get up and head towards the far side and the children cowering by the vehicle ramp. She goes after Nick, screaming in warning as a flaming chunk of masonry lands right in front of him. In the confusion of noise, Nick doesn’t hear the warning but vaults the object and pushes on, desperate to find the girl.
‘Howie,’ Maddox mutters sprinting from her side to slam bodily into Howie as a chunk of wall sails over their heads. Lilly spins, seeing Marcy shielding a young girl with her body. Roy and Paula on their feet dragging children up and forcing them away. Lilly turns again trying to see Nick but he’s lost from view in the chaos exploding around her.
‘Lilly,’ Maddox grabs her wrist turning her round to face him, ‘get the injured to the hospital…’ he spits the words out with a mask of pain etched on his face and limps off to drop down as he tries feeling for a pulse on the body of a child.
She snaps to the now. To the overwhelming savagery of pain and hurt caused by the detonations coming from the armoury. Fires everywhere and spreading so fast from tent to tent.
Howie runs past holding an unconscious boy in his arms that bounces with the motion causing more blood to drip from his ears. ‘DOCTORS…DOCTORS…’ Howie shouts ahead slamming his foot into the door and he disappears inside. Clarence, Paula and Roy all holding injured children run in the same direction.
Lilly looks round spotting a black clad youth writhing on the ground just metres away. She rushes over dropping to his side and gently pulling his hands away from his stomach. No blood so something must have impacted his mid-section. She scoops him up, becoming very aware of how light and frail he is. These kids were brandishing weapons just a little while ago and looked frightening in their black clothes but suddenly they’re just kids again. Little kids with high pitched voices crying for help with thin arms and legs bruised, cut and bloodied. She runs behind Roy holding the boy in the crook of her arms and pushes through into the medical bay and if it was chaos outside, it’s worse in here.
Doctor Heathcliff Stone covered in blood from a broken nose tending to a young girl laid out on a bed. Doctor Lisa Franklin the same, her own nose bent out of shape and the front of her white lab coat soaked crimson and wet from the beating given by Lani.
‘Here,’ Doctor Anne Carlton shouts to Lilly, motioning a table top swept clear of objects to make another hard surface on which to work. Lilly rushes over to ease the boy down.
‘Where’s his injury?’ Anne asks staring down as her hands start working from his skull down his neck towards his body, feeling for broken bones or fractures.
‘His stomach,’ Lilly says, hiding the wince as Anne yanks the boy’s top up to reveal skin already a deep purple.
‘HEATHCLIFF…crush injury, mid-section,’ Anne shouts without turning.
‘Risk of toxic shock,’ Heathcliff shouts back without stopping his own work, ‘Get Penicillin into him and work to stabilise the vital organs.’
‘Into the back,’ Anne looks up at Lilly, ‘the meds are all stacked in order…look for Apsin VK…’
‘Apsin?’ Lilly asks.
‘Brand name for Penicillin…quickly go…’
‘Lilly, bring me more gloves,’ Doctor Andrew Stone shouts as she rushes past.
‘Gloves,’ Lilly says back, ‘Apsin VK…gloves…’
‘I need more dressings,’ Lisa shouts pressing firmly on a bleeding wound of an unconscious man.
Lilly gets into the back room and stops stunned for a second at the order and precision of everything laid out so neatly and in such stark contrast to the chaos outside. Bottles and boxes of medicines stacked on a table and she works along, muttering the names on the labels before finding a box marked Apsin VK 250mg. She grabs the box and turns to see the gloves stacked in the corner in size order from small to extra-large. Who shouted for gloves? It was Andrew. He is average size so best take the large. She grabs the box marked large then thinks again and takes a box of each, stacking them in her arms before grabbing a roll of sterile dressings and heading out into the room now so full of wounded children and adults.
‘Here,’ Lisa shouts at her.
‘Gloves,’ Lilly drops the box marked large next to Andrew who yanks a pair out. ‘More gloves,’ she calls out placing the other boxes on a central table. ‘Apsin VK,’ she holds the smaller box out to Anne before darting over towards Lisa.
‘Gloves on, open the packet and be ready to wrap him up,’ Lisa says grimacing with the effort of squeezing the man’s arm.
Lilly nods and without panic she goes for the medium sized gloves and pulls them on her hands before ripping the plastic bag open to get at the white dressing within.
‘Start just down from my hands…’ Lisa says, ‘That’s it, wrap it tight, tight as you can. We’ll tourniquet it for twenty minutes…’
‘Tourniquet?’ Andrew shouts from across the room.
‘Arm injury, going on now,’ Lisa shouts back.
‘Mark the time,’ Andrew calls back, ‘Lilly, you got a watch?’
‘Twenty minutes from now that tourniquet needs to be loosened, mark it.’
‘Lilly, once you’ve done that come to me,’ Anne calls out.
‘Okay,’ she winds the bandage round the arm working to cinch it as tight as possible thereby freeing Lisa’s hands so she can take over, breathing noisily through her mouth and wincing every few seconds from the pain in her broken nose. ‘Are you okay?’ Lilly asks in genuine concern.
‘Do I look okay?’ Lisa’s reply is sharp but it only serves to harden Lilly who stiffens and moves off to Anne, ‘What do you need?’
‘We need triage, find someone who can do it.’
‘Does she know what triage is?’ Andrew calls out.
‘I know what triage is,’ Lilly replies looking round at the youths lying on the beds, the table tops and being lowered gently on the floor by the men and women carrying them in.
‘Lilly,’ Andrew gains her attention counting under his breath as he works CPR on the bare chest of a boy, ‘if they’re screaming they’re alive. The urgent patients are the quiet ones or the ones bleeding out…’
‘Got it,’ Lilly says.
‘This one is dead. Are we recording life extinct times?’ Andrew stands back grimacing as he rips the gloves off.
‘No time,’ Anne shouts, ‘Lilly, find someone to remove and stack the bodies. We can do formal identifications later.’
‘How the hell can we do this without blood?’ Lisa snaps pulling her hand away from the dead lifeless neck of the man she just finished tying the tourniquet on.
‘I believe that’s what got us in this mess, wasn’t it?’ Anne points out with a glare at the other three doctors. ‘Locking Lani in here for her blood…’
‘Not now, Anne,’ Heathcliff growls.
‘Lani made her own decisions,’ Lisa says flatly, ‘next? WHO IS NEXT?’
‘Lisa!’ Anne snaps at the harsh shout.
‘This boy has stopped breathing,’ Lilly says calmly, feeling for a pulse on the neck of the boy Howie carried in. Thick lines of blood from his ears stain his neck and shoulders.
‘Let me see,’ Lisa pushes in at her side to place the flat round end of her stethoscope on the boys chest. She pauses, closing her eyes while her fingers work the same area as Lilly was, feeling for any signs of life. A few seconds and she opens the boy’s eyes to shine a small torch at the pupils, ‘dead, get him stacked.’
‘Shouldn’t we do CPR?’
‘Save energy and time for ones with a chance,’ Andrew shouts.
‘Lilly, get more help in here,’ Anne adds her voice to the shouted orders. The young woman strides and pushes her way past the groaning children spraying blood and vomit over the floors and walls and yet more coming in, helped along by adults and older uninjured youths.
‘Maddox,’ she calls his name, seeing him rise from depositing a child before turning back to the door. She rushes over to follow him out to a fort now ablaze with flames shooting high from the tents and structures within. ‘They need more people in there…’
‘Get what you can,’ Maddox stops mid-stride to assess the damage and chaos in front of them, ‘the adults looking after the young children….use them,’ he fixes her a quick look full of intensity and she detects the pain in his eyes and the tremble of his hands. How he’s still walking after being tazered so many times is incredible. Then he’s gone. Walking purposefully into the devastation with a calm voice giving clear orders.
With her arm up shielding her face from the heat of the fires, Lilly runs round the edge of the fort. Skirting the blaze in the middle, dodging people who run screaming and panicked. She picks the long slope of the vehicle ramp out with ease and notices the children being shepherded up towards the ramparts at the top, away from the heat and harmful fumes and smoke billowing to fill the enclosed fort.
‘LILLY!’ She spots Billy waving and runs faster as he breaks free from the adult trying to catch him and runs down the ramp.
‘Billy, go back up,’ she shouts waving her arm but knowing he won’t stop until he’s got to her. She sprints hard while knowing that a few seconds of being lower in the fort won’t hurt him but just the sight of her brother injects a fresh burst of energy into her limbs. ‘Are you okay?’ She drops down at the last second, absorbing the impact of his small body flinging into her open arms. His head instantly nestling into the crook of her neck as she envelopes him with a tight squeeze of maternal affection that would see her kill to protect him. Billy doesn’t answer but clings tight as he’s lifted and carried back up the ramp.
‘Everyone up…come on,’ she calls out using her free hand to guide the slower children up the slope, ‘That’s it, fast as you can…’
‘Lilly, what’s happening?’ A woman shouts, panting heavily from running up and down the steep incline.
Too much to explain, too little time to say it all. ‘Not sure,’ Lilly opts for the best answer, ‘The hospital is full, they need help in there…’
‘We need help up here,’ another woman shouts, ‘what about these children?’
‘HAHA! Lilly and Billy and Milly,’ a young voice squeals out in delight as Lilly feels a fresh pair of arms wrap tight around her legs, ‘Pick me up, Lilly…where’s Clarence? Can I go with you? Are they having a bonfire?’
Fighting to stay upright, Lilly goes to reply but finds the young girl spinning round with another squeal of delight at the cold nose and furry head pushing into her neck. Releasing Lilly she lunges out to wrap her arms round Meredith’s neck, burying her face in the deep fur.
‘Is that dog safe?’ A woman asks, hefting a stick with a menacing intent that has Meredith flicking her top lip up with a low growl warning of the danger of holding a weapon near her little ones.