The First Wave
Author: Hollie Leanne

Chapter 1
Chapter One

March 20th, 2019.

Haddon, Cumbria, England

 

I remember the warmth the first time I woke up. The heat felt intense, curling around my skin and searing with malice, demanding me to wake. It was easier to close my eyes and allow the madness to continue, as if I wasn’t there and all of this was just an awful dream. 

I chewed my lip as I powered through the pain, waiting almost patiently for the darkness to take me away again. The heat continued to caress my skin, eager for my attention, pining for some kind of reaction. But I let my skin burn in silence; I’ll die anyway, I told myself, so what was the point in fighting?

I recognised I was in a car. I also knew it had flipped onto its top. I was lying on its roof below the rear seat, my leg tangled in the seatbelt above. The fabric against my cheek had the stench of coal, charred to a crisp, and the smell scratched at my gullet. My throat felt like it was mangled with ash, and coughing seemed like the only means to shift it. 

I attempted to cough, keeping my eyes sealed shut. The heat seemed to grow more intense with, coming keen on my face and virtually scorching my cheek, and all the while my lungs burned intensely in protest. But that wasn’t what frightened me. 

“What was that?” It was a low, male tone, and it sounded terribly unkind. 

There was a second, equally malicious voice. “What?”

“That noise.”

“I didn’t hear shit.”

“Well, I did.” Suddenly, I heard the sound of shuffling, feet disturbing the gritty earth, and the more I listened the more I could make out the crackling of flames in the distance. I remained still, allowing the ash to silently choke me until my eyes burned with tears. 

A presence made me profoundly alert, yet I didn’t move. The precious, long seconds that ticked by felt like an hour.

“They’re all dead. There’s nothing to worry about,” said the voice that was ignorant of my cough. 

“That one.” replied the other. “In the back.”

“No way, she’s definitely a goner.” I felt a sharp prod at my airlifted leg and bit my cheek to prevent the squeak of discomfort. “See?” 

A few silent moments went by, the crackling flames beyond almost deafening at the same moment. “Fine.”

I didn’t know when they left, because I fell unconscious again before I could find out. 

 

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