The moan seemed to well up behind him as she vanished into the building. He risked a quick glance back and immediately wished he hadn’t; he hadn’t pulled as far ahead as he’d thought. He whipped his head back around to face front and pumped his legs as fast as he could go, teeth clenched, ankle on a slow burn.
He was halfway to the building the woman had vanished into. His eyes were fixed on the doors, which she’d left open. Foolish, he thought. And deadly. He was no more than 30 seconds from making the doors when she reappeared suddenly, shotgun in hand. His eyes widened as she raised the barrel, but then she grimaced and lowered it, gesturing him in. “C’mon, get in!” He didn’t have to be told twice.
The roar of the gun as she fired past him was deafening, but he didn’t let that stop him. She slammed the doors and was still jamming the barrel of the shotgun through the handles when the pounding began.
He kept moving into the room; it was a tavern of some sort, or a bar, or pub. His eyes moved automatically to the windows; most were broken, but were covered with makeshift bars, nailed up table tops and other altogether too flimsy-looking barricades. “We can’t stay here, this place won’t last the hour.”
“Help me find something better to brace the door with.” Her voice was tight with strain but not out of breath, he noticed.
He opened his mouth to argue but shut it with a snap; an hour was better than a minute. His eyes scanned the room. Dining tables and chairs, none much better than what were already in use. Then several large pool tables caught his eye. “Think one of these will do it?”
Her footsteps announced her joining him. “Yeah, let’s move, get it into position. Your leg okay?”
“Let’s just get this thing in place, then I’ll worry about my leg.”
She cast an askance glance at him, what he imagined must usually be a skewering experience, but the glassy-eyed shock on her face robbed it of its power. That must be how I’ve looked all day.
They wrestled the table as quickly as possible across the floor, knocking aside chairs and bar stools that got in the way. They tipped it up on a narrow end, blocking the doors to their full height, and then for good measure secured it with a second pool table jammed behind it lengthwise.
“That’ll hold ‘em until they start bashing in the windows, anyway,” he said.
That was when the banging on the windows began, naturally.