I slam on the brakes to stop fifty metres from the potential exit to mull over our chances. Bulling through a snarl of bodies in that skinny passage is a lot to ask of this under-powered car. Two strong men could tip us over if they put their minds to it. But the Creeps haven’t displayed the same willingness to act in concert since the Mother’s destruction so I decide to risk it. What other choice do I have? Other exits may be similarly obstructed. Besides I don’t have enough fuel to check out alternatives.
Out from under the Mother’s thumb the Creeps self-preservation instincts have returned, though they’ll be hungrier than before. Getting amongst them will be risky. To limit my tendency to procrastinate, I select first gear and crawl forward. Winding up my window and hitting the apology for a horn, we slowly approach. The puny engine mocks my attempt to rev it threateningly; its exhaust rasps a tinny, asthmatic cough and then backfires.
The cars’ apologetic noises do part the group of Creeps near the entrance. Despite a heightened desire to preserve their Hosts the melee of confused Creeps inside the gap have less room. They respect my passage only when I shove the bonnet into hips and ram butts out of the way.
A crowd is collecting around us, pressing close against the glass. They slap and claw, keen to get at the Meat inside. However they’re unfocused now, expending more energy fighting each other to get a share. We become the centre of a moving brawl. During our halting progress the car is being steadily stripped of every removable part.
Constantly slipping the clutch overheats it about a third of the way through. Smoke seeps into the closed interior, stinking up our air in a toxic haze. I raise the aggressiveness of my ramming before it burns out completely. Using higher revs, and dumping the clutch pedal, I bump the legs of the crowd in front and move forward to fill the gap created. I’m forced to wait several times to allow those who fall to regain their feet. We don't have the ground clearance to run them over. The temperature gauge climbs and every panel ripples and pops under an assault of fists, elbows and heads. And there’s still no sign of blue sky freedom.
I ram the thick press of bodies again and again, spinning the wheels when we rebound from bruised flesh and broken bones. The unluckiest are ground between the car and the too close walls, which are packed with spiky protuberances. Their bodies make convenient distractions when they are pounced on and eagerly torn apart by other hungry Creeps.
Suddenly we’re out and pushing through a thinning plug of battered Hosts. I accelerate, laying out one slow woman who slams across the bonnet. I dislodge her determined grip on the cowling with a bit of judicious swerving. We’re free!
One of the rear tyres chooses this happy moment to shred. Steel-belted whips flail the mud guard in fury. We’re screwed!