The Fast and the Dead - Day 24

They half-ran, half-hobbled through an intersection, nearly tripping as they tried to keep an eye on every direction at once. They could hear more of the dead close by, too many sources to count, but not enough to be visible. Ben almost wished they were visible; it was somehow worse when you couldn’t see them, couldn’t tell if they were going to mass up and trap you.

“We … have to … get off the street,” Ben managed between gasps as his ankle protested their rapid pace. “We’re too exposed!”

Clair didn’t reply; she was busy searching the building facades as they passed. He was about to say something further when they both stopped short as movement ahead caught their eye. Two of the dead, ahead of them. Both were coming their way, but were too far ahead to be aware of them. One dragged itself along the ground; it was a safe bet it had a problem with its legs, if it still had legs. The other was upright and walking, but leaning so heavily against the wall of a building Ben momentarily felt sorry for it; he could relate.

They stared ahead for a moment, minds racing. The sounds behind them prompted a look; the first they’d spotted was still on their trail. Ben recognized it by the long tattered remnants of a duster it was wearing. It wasn’t closing in fast, but they couldn’t just stand around and wait for it to catch up. He couldn’t tell if the others they’d heard were coming or not.

They could try to keep going ahead on the street; the crawler wouldn’t be much threat to them as long as they stayed out of range of its hands and mouth, and one walker wasn’t that difficult to avoid. They’d be gambling that those were the only two, though, and the stakes were awfully high. There wasn’t much point in going back; there was precious little of value, and nowhere to get to.

That left going in.

The buildings around them were taller, though not the skyscrapers of the Core. They ranged from 5 to 8 storeys, Ben figured. Most of the windows and doors were broken in. That could mean they’d been looted, or it could mean the dead had been busy. There was no way to tell from out here. 5 to 8 storeys left a lot of room inside for the dead to wait.

They looked at each other, and after a moment’s hesitation they ducked inside the nearest building.