I looked down at my hands. It was too dark to really see more than the shape, too dark to see the blood I could feel, prickling as it dried in air.
It stuck the skin of my fingers together as I flexed, pulling my flesh into a moment of webbing as I opened my fingers, before the skin peeled free.
A groan emanated from one of the bodies. Didn’t want to hear groaning. Not out of squeamish disgust. Not fear of him finding his strength and harming me. No, a whole other fear, a fear I’d make him stop.
I staggered away, foot catching blood and slipping, throwing my boot into the wall with a thud. I threw out my arm, palm slapping against plaster to regain my balance, and sticking slightly. I could smell it, taste it on the air, dust and blood, kicked up and spilled by the short fight.
I staggered out of the corridor. I’d broken my knife. It was a junk knife I’d borrowed from Mike, but it it had been mine for the time I’d held it. It was a good knife, well, a good knife probably would’t have broken…
I should go to Jim. He’ll get me a better one. But I’d have to leave the Island. Maybe Jack’s dad could get something, or make something. He looked like he had a pretty serious workshop.
Maybe I should get something a little more… heavy duty than a knife. Maybe a knife wouldn’t cut it. Ha.
Beth was right. They had guns, bigger guns. They had more men. They had cars.
I reached the point we’d split up. There was no more furniture turned over, giving me little path to follow, but there we’d already made our way through the building.
Windows. The sun had set, leaving only the dirty orange glow of street-lighting to bleed through grimy papered glass.
Soon enough, I came across a door. Closed. Locked. Undamaged. I brushed my fingers along the raised cylinder of the lock, the metal cold to the touch, icy.
A simple barrel latch, the same kind he’d used his little device on before. It hadn’t taken long. No damage, lock behind him. Confuse the trail.
I pushed the handle down and threw my shoulder into it until the creaking wood gave way with a splintered whine of tearing wood. Yeah, I was making the trail pretty clear, but I didn’t have a fancy lock pick, and I didn’t have time to mess around with trying to find another way out.
Besides, it was hard to find much of myself that cared.
I rotated the ball of my shoulder in its socket to fend off the ache, as I soaked in my surroundings. Free, at last, from cramped interior, I tried to find my bearings. Direction…
Low hanging clouds obscured all there was to see of the sky. No stars. No moon. A single street light, buzzing it’s nasty electric drone threw out it’s pitiful attempt at lighting. It seemed to cast more shadows than it lit.
I was not on a main street at least, no one here to greet me with violence. I looked to what little I could see of the skyline over the nearby buildings, seeking the grey brick of Jack’s father’s workshop. It was close, safer than anywhere else. I didn’t want to drag anyone else into this, but I didn’t have much choice. Besides the decision had already been made. I hadn’t had long to consider the ramifications of it at the time.
There were three guys dead or dying barely a hundred paces behind me. There was likely a hell of a lot more angry and vying for blood behind them. As soon as they found a place to focus… I couldn’t count on being alone for long.
I picked up the pace. There was little point trying to track where Mike and friends had gone. If there was a sudden burst of gunfire – I might be able to locate them. For now, best I made my own way and hope they managed on their own.
Up. I needed to get height. Easier to hide, easier to escape, easier to spot enemies, the higher ground was always an advantage.
A drainpipe, steel, not plastic, ran up a stout building a few yards away. I was at the base in seconds, giving it a tug to test its strength.
No good. The whole pipe came out from the wall along with a plume of mortar dust, screws still hanging from its brackets. No good.
Anything else? Garbage can? I kicked one over, the bag it held splitting, spilling it’s rancid guts onto the asphalt. A host of flies burst into the air around me and the smell hit me like a wall.
Grimacing, I lifted it and flipped it upside-down, pushing it against the brickwork.
Shouting. They’d found the bodies. Not long.
I climbed onto the thing. It rocked an uneven, abused cylinder on an uneven footing. But with wobbling legs I managed to stand, walking myself up the wall with my hands like a kid ready to take his first steps.
I’d have to jump. I’d have to catch the gutter, not much else to grab.
If I fell, if it gave way… I’d have to fight. Fight would be loud, there was no more shooting elsewhere to distract. I’d would bring them all running.
I took a deep breath and jumped. The metal edge of the gutter cut into my fingers. I felt it give, an inch, my heart leaping in the moment of weightlessness. The panic of the fall.
But it held. It settled.
I hauled my body up, kicking my leg over the lip of the roof.
As I rolled over onto my back, panting with the effort, I heard heavy footfalls. A broken door bounce too far open into the wall. Boots on concrete. Talking.
“They got out this way, look, the door. Footprints, which way d’they go?” I lay, looking up at the sky. A drop of sleety rain landed on my cheek. Blood on my boots. Great.
“Too wet, they don’t last a few steps.”
“Fuckers! ” Shouting. Idiot. You’ll let me know where you are, or you would have done if I wasn’t a handful of meters away from you. “Go get Victor. They got out, but they can’t get that far.”
Another drop hit my forehead. Rain. Great. I should probably move, try find some shelter.
I couldn’t. I tried to convince myself it was because they were so close, the creak of shingles would alert them of my presence.
But they didn’t stand there long. One left, boots thudding back through the building. The other picked a direction and started searching.
I didn’t have the energy.