The First Wave
Author: Hollie Leanne

Chapter 5
Chapter Five

The night felt darker than usual. 

I had retrieved my backpack, and I hugged it to my chest for it was the only companion I had. I’d managed to find a little house not far from my encounter, where I settled in for a long night up in the attic. It was cold; my breath visible, so sleep was out of the question. I couldn’t sleep in a bed, not that I could sleep if I tried. I was vulnerable enough as it was. 

That man knew I was here. And if he was here, others may have been, too. I needed to be alert and hidden. If I was going to die, it wasn’t going to be at the hands of strangers. 

This new reality soon dawned on me, and it didn’t take long before I felt warm tears falling down my cheeks. I sniffled as quietly as possible, all my energy aiding the violent shaking of my body from both fear and the cold. I huddled myself into my jacket, my thighs trapping my bag to my chest, and prayed for the night to be over quickly. 

I listened for anything out of the ordinary, but it was as quiet as it always had been. I hated it. My mind began to stray back to my life before, back when the danger was all over the news but I was too ignorant to listen. 

I remembered in flashes here and there of the TV depicting countries under attack, bodies blurred out so that we couldn’t see the extent of their injuries. But back then I never thought it would hit home. I would always run out with Robin whilst Mum sat in the front room with her eyes glued to the screen, but her concerned expression never caused me to worry. I always told myself it would pass and that we would be fine. Images of that night began to come into focus, my memory piecing back together, and it chilled me more than the evening air. 

Robin and myself had gone out for a drive that night. She drove, and I was in the front passenger seat, both of us singing to whatever the radio would throw at us. For a battered Ford Fiesta, her car was nippy, and I remembered my hair in my face when I wound down the window. We were as carefree as teenagers should have been. She’d only passed her test two months before, and we went everywhere together. 

But the shops were shut that night, completely abandoned, but I couldn’t remember why. Both of us had been too ignorant to notice just how empty the streets were. There were barely any cars, no one walking their dogs and no children playing on their bikes. I remembered climbing into the back seat as Robin continued to drive, calling me an idiot in the process. I didn’t listen. I should have. 

All I wanted was to get a better look at our surroundings from the three windows in the back. I got more than I bargained for. 

I remembered shots fired, followed by the car spinning uncontrollably. We were screaming, and everything started getting loud, gunshots ringing in my ears so loudly I thought I was going to go deaf. But then the car rolled, Robin screaming before her head hit her door window.  I remembered my breath catching, my head smacking into the roof of the car, before everything went dark and the real chaos in Haddon began. 

But all that didn’t matter now. Robin was gone and I was alone in a world now ridden with monsters. All I could do was wait out this nightmare, but I couldn’t help but wonder how different things would have been if Robin had survived. Would we still be here in Haddon? Or would we have been wondering halfway around the country searching for shelter? I would never know. Yet somehow I could picture it. 

I could see us hand in hand in the hills, keeping low as chaos erupted around us. I could see her blonde hair in the breeze whilst her baby blue eyes were keen for danger. I imagined her leading us, keeping us safe, for between us she was the one with morals and sense. I only had recklessness and determination, yet both of us together would have been unstoppable. 

My reverie was short lived. 

The floorboards beneath my feet shook and I cringed into my bag. Voices, low and muffled, sliced through the silence, and once again my heart and lungs were in my mouth. I could feel my adrenaline building, my breath hitching whilst my body tensed with anticipation. I silently slipped both of my arms through the straps of my pack, before I rose to my feet as quietly as humanly possible. 

Multiple bangs and crashes sounded from below, accompanied by at least two voices. They were male, and they sounded agitated. Judging by the haste of their presence, it sounded like they were searching for something. 

I briefly wondered if the stranger I had met earlier was one of them, but something in my mind was adamant that he wasn’t here. This was a completely new threat, and I was completely unarmed. 

I moved across the room, my hand over my mouth to halt any sound that may have wished to escape against my will. Through the gaps in the floorboards, beams of light shined through. They guided me through the darkness, where multiple items portrayed themselves as hazards. A couple of children’s bikes, piles of books, olds videos, and bin bags full of old Christmas decorations that would never see the light of day again. I had to move so slowly, so quietly, hoping against hope that the hurriedness of below would cover my movement. 

I was never so lucky. 

I lay low behind an old, dusty box just as the hatch to the attic was lifted rather violently. It was airlifted and thrown halfway across the room, the noise deafening against the planks. I flinched, ducking low just as a male form began to crawl through the hole in the ceiling, his body almost too big to fit. 

I shivered, both hands over my mouth in panic. I looked around me, his torch illuminating the room just enough for me to see a little clearer. I searched frantically with my eyes for anything that may have been of use. 

I heard his heavy breathing, which threatened the panic within me to just burst out. I wanted to run, to scream, to do something, but something deep down held me in check. 

Be smart, a whisper in the back of my mind, gentle and soothing. Be fast; be smart… you can do this.

At first I thought it was my mother. However, beneath my hands and through the tears that blinded me, Robin’s name was at the tip of my tongue. 

He was moving closer, looking for something. He was moving slowly, his steps calculated. I closed my eyes for a moment, accepting the reality of my situation; he knew I was here. 

But then his torch swept across the dusty floor towards me, leaking over the box that I hid behind. To my left I followed the light, keeping low, until it flickered over something that would be very useful. 

Be fast... 

I held my breath. On the floor, there was a pile of kitchen supplies less than a metre away from me. On top of that pile was a little frying pan. The metal handle glinted at me, daring me to grab it. I licked my lips.

Be smart… 

Shaking like a leaf, I made my move when the man began to search the other end of the attic. I slid onto my belly, slowly dragging myself through the dust until I could reach the handle. My fingertips grazed the edge of the handle, I was so close-

“Up here!” the man screamed. It all happened so quickly. I snatched the pan just as the light shone over me, and I practically threw myself to my feet. I didn’t know what I was doing. I couldn’t control myself. Before I knew it I was leaping over the box I had hid behind, my hands grasping the pan like a tennis racket. 

What took ten seconds felt like an hour. The man raised a gun at me but dropped his torch at the same time. In those precious seconds I leapt like a rabid animal at him, swinging the instrument across his face with all the strength I had in me. The shock of the contact rippled through my arms, rattling my joints, but I didn’t feel the pain. 

He went down with a shout and a thud. I didn’t stop to see what damage I had done. I dropped the pan and ran for the hole in the floor, more or less jumping the stairs that led to the first floor of the house. 

There was another man waiting for me at the bottom, but I was already in flight mode. 

I lashed for him when he reached desperately for me, shrieking as I did. He was so taken aback from my sudden appearance in the low light that he never anticipated my teeth ripping through the flesh of his arm. He screamed in agony as blood began to pool into my mouth, threatening to seep down my throat. In the panic, my foot hooked around his ankle and yanked, effectively knocking him completely off his feet. 

I didn’t stop to think about what I had just done. 

I didn’t have time to think about what I was going to do next. 

Feet came crashing up the stairs, sounding like thunder in my ears, and the voices sounded terrifyingly angry. 

I did the unthinkable. I ran towards them.

 

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