For all his protestations that he was okay, they ended up staying put for some time anyway. The crowd of the dead that had gathered after the racket they’d made took hours to disperse enough that they could even think about moving on.
“We’re only a couple of blocks away, the street will be safe enough.” Ben awkwardly paced the edge of the roof, partly to make sure he could move when he had to, and partly because he was anxious to get going.
“And how do we get down to it? We made it through the night because we were up here after all the noise the fire escape made. If we go down on it, we’ll be right where they’re gathering!” They’d been having the same argument for a few hours.
Ben threw his hands up in dismay. “Fine then, we don’t go down that way.” He glanced over the side he was on; there was another building abutting the one the were on in the direction they wanted to go, but it was a couple of storeys down to its roof. Claire could make it easily enough but it would be difficult for him. His eyes followed a drain pipe that dropped straight down the wall. “We’ll go down here. Once we’re on the next roof we’ll figure out where to go next.”
Claire frowned, inspecting the route. “Better than the fire escape, I guess. Are you going to be able to manage it?”
“The pipe runs down next to windows, that’ll give me a way to brace myself with my working foot. Won’t be easy … but it’ll be easier than climbing up out of that pub was.”
By early afternoon the risk of moving was outweighed by the pressure of waiting so long that they were moving by night again, or stuck in the open on the roof. Neither option sounded appealing. Claire grabbed the plastic bag containing their food and water to let Ben focus on getting himself down safely. “We’ll have to try and find something better to keep this stuff in. The cans are too heavy, the plastic is wearing. It’s going to break soon.”
Ben nodded. “Should’ve grabbed a few more bags while I was there, but I didn’t expect to be carrying cans in the thing. We’ll make do as best we can, I guess.”
As predicted, it wasn’t easy, nor was it silent. Ben made it down safely though, and from there it was a relatively painless crossing of several roofs at the same level to get them across the first of the remaining two blocks. The small amount of noise they’d made in their descent hadn’t drawn any extra dead back to the area that they could see.
The smell of the water was getting stronger, strong enough at times to clear the air of the smell of the death they’d been so used to they hadn’t even thought of before. The unexpected relief lifted their spirits and cleared away some of the tension, too.