He listened again; maybe he had misheard. Then he heard another scream. They had discussed many scenarios on their candle-lit nights in that boat and they had said that if they had run into any problems like this, they would only deal with it if it was safe. They would only get involved if it was close enough to be a problem to them. Listening to those screams, he thought she was close enough for it to become his problem. They had also said that they would stick together and never go out into the city alone, not unless they absolutely had to. Grant knew he had to go alone, especially with the situation in the toilet right now. He opened the door to the boat and shouted inside as quietly as he could; he was still all too aware of the crowd at the other side of the river.
“Have your insides fallen out or something?!”, a chuckle erupted from the bathroom cabin.
“I don’t think so. Not yet. Just don’t come in here for a while!”, the reply rattled through the thin wooden walls. “Have they gone?”
“Of course, they’re floating down the river, dead as dead can be. Don’t move out of the boat, there are more of them out here, I have to go around the corner, I think someone’s in trouble. Keep this door closed!” and with his knife in his hand, he closed the door and walked away from the boat. He knew he couldn’t wait for another response because he would end up in a debate and there was no time for that. As he approached the apartments, he looked up at the windows and wondered once again if there was any way they could take the block. He could see into the windows of many apartments and he could see movement. There have been times when he laid in the boat at night, with the curtain open just wide enough to see outside, and he fantasised that those infected remnants of life that littered those apartment blocks like an aggressive disease were simply people. Healthy, happy normal people. He had imagined that they were up there in the windows, making their evening meals or watching TV. Almost every room had movement in it on one night or another, the whole building was swarming with them and realistically, he knew it was too dangerous. In a mirror of the world they used to live in, being on the outside of those apartment blocks was the safest place to be. High up in one of the blocks he could see a silhouette squirming against the window, licking and biting at the glass. Whoever that ¬†used to be had been dead for six weeks and they were still moving. People in this city had all died on the same evening, and since then they had become vicious animals. Some gradually grew weak, but some just grew hungry. He knew that they couldn’t stay here forever. There were too many of them and the hungrier they grew, the more aggressive they became and the further they traveled. In his plan to escape the city centre, he could only see one flaw and the sound of that moped may just lead to the solution he was looking for.
The screaming had stopped, or at least the screaming of the woman had stopped. He began to pick up pace, extremely aware of the audience he had in the apartments surrounding him. He tried to run as fast as his old legs could carry him, ignoring the shooting pain in his knee as much as he could. It had been there for years but never as bad as it was at that moment. The past few weeks had really taken their toll on him and as he turned the corner, he realised he was about to be put to the test once again. There were about fifty of them, all surrounding a tree. Buried somewhere beneath them was a moped, he could hear the engine running but they weren’t interested in that; they wanted the girl. She was sitting in the fork of the tree, high enough to be out of their reach but not high enough to be safe for long. They were clambering and clawing to get up to her and he knew that they would clamber onto each other eventually. He hid against the wall of the apartments and looked around him. It was chilly tonight and very still, which meant he could hear them coming but this didn’t offer much comfort. He was nervous to say the least. All this noise was certain to attract more and allowing any of them to creep up behind him would shave been a fatal mistake. He looked at all the ground-floor doors of the apartments, they were still locked and even though this should have made him feel better knowing that the hungry faces at those windows above him were trapped inside, it didn’t. This all felt very gladiatorial to him, and he was about to fight the beast.