Running – Chapter 2

Her legs hurt. They burned like a fire that refused to go out. Her feet were weights secured to the two narrow pieces of string that were her legs. She was too afraid to look back, if she did she was sure that she would stop. Stop to look at the monstrosities coming towards her. Stare in horror as cold, dead hands reached for her and grabbed her. The thought of them gaining ground on her kept her positively terrified, so she ran. That’s all she knew how to do. That’s all she could do. The darkness threatened to overtake her, to devour her torch and leave her in darkness. The torch was fighting desperately in a battle against the dark, and it was losing. As she ran along, she shook her torch with the sheer force of moving forward, bouncing the small light ray she relied on against the sewer walls around her. The cobbled floor beneath glinted at her. She did not dare step near the edge of the narrow platform which separated her from the sewer water, she did not want to know what hell lurked there. How long had she been running for? A few minutes? An hour? It was impossible to tell. All she knew was that she was getting tired, fast. She wouldn’t be lasting much longer. Her hope faded, and she started slowing down, getting herself ready for the horrors behind her.

A light appeared. At the end of the tunnel, it was barely visible because of the distance, but it was just visible. Her eyes lit up brighter than her meagre light source and she put on an extra burst of speed, using the last of her energy for the final stretch. She panted, her chest heaved, her body begging for her to stop moving. The light grew brighter and larger as she got closer, and she caught her first glimpses of the sun…

____________________________________

“Damn it…” mumbled Zach. “Another wasted hour.”

A lone figure stumbled out of a small house, kicking a nearby stone as he passed by it.  The stone half rolled, half bounced along the pavement, finally stopping at a garbage bin further along the street. He swung his bloodied baseball bat over his shoulder for the umpteenth time. “Did the people here discover some new way to gain sustenance or has food just gone out of fashion…” he mumbled to himself. He ambled along the road, ignoring the dried blood all over the walls of the houses around him.

The sky was a pale, cloudless blue. The sun was unrelenting, trying it’s hardest to send more unbearable heat his way. If the infected didn’t kill him, the late Summer would. It was hot, humid and Zach was sweating more water than a running tap. He reached the stone and kicked it again, sending it skittering over the cracked tar of the road. It bounced and stopped at the edge of the pavement, startling a nearby crow. Zach watched it spasm its wings and flap its way to the top of the house next to him. It turned to eye him with a dark, spiteful glare. He chuckled and kept walking.

These days, the loud caws of nearby crows were the only traces of life that made him sure he wasn’t the last living organism on Earth. He hadn’t laid eyes on a person in a little while. A normal person anyway. He found solace in kicking stones following them, looting houses along the way. This was his new way of life, and hell did he like it. Call it what you will, but he called it adventure, albeit with the risk of a painful and horrible death. At least it was better than the life he had been living before this mess.

He reached his stone again but hesitated in kicking it. He realised he was at the bottom of a slope, and kicking the stone wouldn’t get it over the slope. The uphill road obscured any vision he had ahead of him, so he had to get over it, but he wanted to keep his stone. Rolling the mental dilemma in his head, he realised something. Using the tip of his worn out runners, Zach flicked the stone up in front of him, and swung with all his might with the bat in this hands. The stone soared over the hill, setting him running after it. He reached the top of the uphill climb and was astonished at what he saw.

The line of houses that he had been walking alongside ended abruptly at the end of the street. He had the choice of either going left or right, or straight. What troubled him was what lay ahead of him. The ground ended where he stood and dropped steeply, curving a few meters down and finally coming to rest horizontally. The slope repeated on the other side. Poking out of the slope at the other side was a large opening, looking like the cross section of a pipe. A large grate hung on its side on the pipe-like opening, sprinkled with rust and peppered with dents, as if it had been recently been driven into several times. The inside was cut off by darkness, but the occasional glint of water flashed at Zach’s eyes. He squinted his eyes and raised his hand to the sun to block off the light, managing to see a small flow of water dripping out of the pipe and into the large space before him. He saw something poking out of the water just beside the pipe, and for a moment he caught the flash of something golden…

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