The Fast and the Dead - Day 1

THE FAST AND THE DEAD (FIRST DRAFT)
by Gordon S. McLeod

He’d never have thought it could be so hard to outrun something so slow. They couldn’t even maintain a regular walking pace, for crying out loud! But he had to keep moving fast. In the past half hour he hadn’t been able to slow below a rapid walk, and his legs and chest were beginning to protest. That old movie’s gag about cardio being rule #1 didn’t feel so much like a joke right now.

He risked a look around. He was making his way through a drab city block. Grime covered every surface that hadn’t been washed clean by rain; stains that could be rust or worse discolored concrete walls and walks. Barred windows faced outward defiantly, many with broken glass letting hot air gust in. In most cases the glass was broken from outside. In some, it had broken outward from within.

The only vehicles on the streets were rusted out hulks. He saw nothing moving, which filled him with great relief and awful dread; there were no immediate threats. He would stand out like a beacon as soon as he moved.

He considered his options carefully. Hiding, trying to wait it out was futile. They were slow but they’d arrive in the area soon enough, and then whatever it was that drew them to him would give him away. He didn’t know what it was. A smell? Heat? The sound of his breathing, of his heart beating? Whatever it was, hiding was unreliable. He knew that. If you were very lucky, you might get away with it for a little while, but sooner or later you’d slip up in some way you’d probably never know about, and then you were done for.

That left moving on. He felt horribly vulnerable in the streets. They were broad, and he’d have no problems at all getting away from a few, but if they massed up in any numbers he was as good as dead.

He looked at the buildings around him. They were too tall, too uneven. No way to travel across the roofs, at least not in this part of the city. That was a shame; in some places it could be done, he knew, and they’d be unable to follow for any length of time.

Even better would be to find a vehicle. Even a bicycle would be better than being on foot, at least while he was in the city. He wasn’t going to hold his breath though, and he put the possibility out of his mind.