Creeps shuffle along both sides of the truck. There’s a solid wall of them in front and more casually stroll in from every direction.
I chew a handful of Duramine. The fuel gauge drops to the ‘E’.
Kristine, hyperventilates and shrinks into herself. We brace for a slow breaking wave of post-humans; an onrushing tide of evil intent.
There’s a ninety per cent chance we aren’t getting out of this. Fifty metres of empty space closes to the pinprick we’re about to own for the rest of our lives. Bad as these factors are, it’s the rippling black shroud of Crawlies running over the top of the ranks that really worry me. They hop eagerly towards us like blood-starved fleas.
A tight alleyway on Kristine’s side offers a singular opportunity to run. Would have been nice of her to point it out. Lack of other choices simplify tedious decision assembly procedures. The Duramine empowered man of action takes control. Who cares if we can fit, we’re going in.
A high revved motor accepts a second gear start. We accelerate, gaining momentum on a downhill run towards the oncoming mob.
“What are you doing?”
“We shan’t be going into town darling. It would appear a Creepy-Crawly convention is on today. Jolly inconvenient, wot?”
A passable English accent of insane parody. It’s the alternative to screaming. Kristine is already doing enough of that for both of us.
Tyres squeal on a fast left hand turn aligned for the narrow, service lane. Poorly packed, the load shifts, canting the truck and affecting the steering. I regain control by scraping the heaving mob’s front line before entering the alley at warp speed.
The Crawlies fling themselves at the retreating truck. I see them shower down on the road behind us. A hand-grenade explodes, tearing my mirror off. Maybe it wasn’t a hand-grenade. An air-conditioning unit is tumbling along the alley behind, ripped from a wall. It’s pretty tight down here.
Creeps loiter in the alley. Their flesh separates from bone even at forty kilometres an hour. The kills are sexless, blurred impacts, bouncing bodies in juddering impacts from the nudge bar, limbs and heads slam firmly into a disintegrating grille.
Bloody strands of red and grey brain, splatter across the windscreen like red rain. Wipers smear the blood away leaving a network of cracks behind to impair vision.
Annoyance at the damage to my new truck prompts a fleeting and improper deed. I open my door to make an example of a tall, male Creep standing against the wall to let me by. His face shuts the door with a cab rattling crash. The window bursts over me.
That’ll leave a dent to remember.
Bodies slip under the wheels, cobbling the road with bone and muscle. There’s a solid bang from underneath. Differential connects with host.
The impacts slow us somewhat. I hold second gear, relying on torque to recover momentum. The chromed bar dents and folds back. I plough into boxes, wheelie bins and suicidal bodies. Anything in my path is ground into the asphalt.
The lane ends, ejecting us in a howling left turn. I sideswipe several parked cars. A grinding crash of breaking glass, shattering plastic and buckling metal. My heightened awareness hears every particle hit the ground. Third gear is reason to swerve around Creeps, maintaining speed.
The revving truck is a magnet for more Creeps coming late to the party.
We approach another entrance to the underground nest. It spew’s forth pre-warned hosts and Crawlies. They press outwards in controlled splendour, not a sign of push and shove. Thousands must live down there.
Slowing to a judicious ramming speed I skirt the expanding mob and remove a few more hosts from the population.
We’re through, leaving the multitude behind.
“Hey, hey, I need directions!”
Kristine blinds herself to my driving. Fingers separate from covered eyes to see the book in her lap.
Her voice croaks, nearly used up. I hit the brakes and cut the corner in an impossible, drunken buffalo wallow.
Slow, boy, slow, no need to wreck us now. Save fuel.
We pass fewer Creeps, though each occurrence proves they have received a personal message to obstruct us. I mostly evade reaching hands. Extra damage on this beat up wreck could strand us. Kristine gives directions with her hands to avoid speaking. She makes a poor choice and we come to a shuddering halt.
A bus has flipped on its side, showing its underside with a complete lack of modesty. It effectively blocks the road.
Our motor stutters and stalls.
The needle is against the stop under ‘E’.
We’re out of fuel.