58 – The Inside Manon February 14, 2013 at 7:43 pm
Simon left, letting the heavy wooden door slam behind him. They heard the key turn in the lock. Grant sighed as he sat down on the floor. The ground was cold beneath his buttocks and as he crossed his legs his knee gave him a sharp reminder that he was slower than he would like to be. He picked up a black slab of plastic from the pile of junk beside him and he realised he was holding a Blackberry phone in his hand. He tried to turn it on, knowing it would have no use, but he tried anyway. Six weeks ago this thing would have been very useful in this situation. Right now it was just a dead, slab of plastic. He threw it back onto the pile. He looked up at Katie who was towering above him.
“Are you okay?” She asked him. “I’m Katie”. She pushed her long black hair back behind her ears and smiled.
“Kirsty?”, Grant said. “Who’s Kirsty?”, he looked up at her. Katie paused, as if she was formulating an answer. Grant waited.
“She’s wanted by the people here”, she said, carefully. “We were protecting her”.
“Looks like you did a good job”, grant said without meaning to sound sarcastic.
“Well these people are very determined, it seems”, She said. She walked over to the opposite corner and sat down. “They do what they like.”
The flame from the lamp danced and sent jumping dark shadows up the wall. It was draughty in there too. Grant could feel the cold air brushing his face. The silence seemed to last forever and Grant was about to break it by asking who these what these people wanted. Katie beat him to it.
“Thanks for coming to help me.” She said. He smiled at her.
“You sounded like you needed it”, he said. Katie nodded. Grant was still interested in Kirsty, it couldn’t be HIS Kirsty, his Kirsty was a single mum who had lived next door to Grant and his wife for years, she’s not the sort of person to get into trouble and even though he had never said this to the boy, he felt deep down that his mum was dead, but there’s always the slim chance she isn’t. There’s always the slim chance it IS his Kirsty. This still left unanswered questions in his head. What do these people here want?
“Are you going to tell me what’s going on here, or do I have to wait for kiddo to come back ?” He asked. “How do you know these people?” Katie looked at the wooden door. She stood up and walked over to it. She pressed here ear to the door and then laid flat on her stomach. She looked under the door for at least a minute then she stood up and brushed herself off. She sat in the corner again.
“They have lived here for the past 5 weeks”. She whispered. “They’re just a bunch of power hungry pathetic boys who are now living by their own laws”.
“Where did they come from? Peterborough?” Grant asked. Katie nodded slowly.
“The prison.” She said. “Most of them anyway” she added, “They’ve gained a few followers over the pat few weeks.” Grant was confused.
“Followers? From where?” He asked.
“Here. The city.” She whispered. “They drive around in their car, looking for people who are alive. They’ve got this twisted view of the area, they seem to think that any other living people are a threat and a drain on their resources in the city. You’re either with them or you’re not.”
“And if you’re not?” Grant asked.
“They’ll bring you here anyway. They take you in there… And you don’t come back out.” She gestured towards the Cathedral. Grant imagined the Cathedral swallowing up survivors in the city, like a big hungry gargoyle.
“Are there many? Out there?” Grant asked, suddenly realising he was talking to someone who knows more about the new world out there than he ever could. Katie looked at him with a strange lingering look. She slowly shook her head.
“No.” She said quietly. “Everyone is gone”. Her voice quivered. The flame flickered again and Grant suddenly felt warm looking at the bright orange flame. A lump appeared in his throat.
“I lost my wife…” He said. Katie rested her head on her bunched up knees and took a deep breath, “but not on the night. No, she survived that…” he said, as his voice quivered too. Katie had a tear running down her cheek. “We were about to leave the house, to come to town,” he sighed, “I don’t know why, we figured there must be some kind of rescue centre here. The army or something. Stupid” he said, almost to himself. “We were above to leave, we’d checked everything. The area was clear, we had a route planned, we had our things packed. We were totally prepared… And then my wife went next door to…”, he realised he was not going to mention the boy. If Grant died here, the boy needed to remain undiscovered. He paused and wiped a tear from his cheek. “…to check our neighbours were still coming with us”, he continued, almost being truthful. “But she didn’t come back”, his eyes now bright red and filled with water. The lump in his throat pushed its way up and he struggled with it as his eyes overflowed.
They sat in silence for what seemed like an hour, maybe it was more, maybe it was less. Grant had no idea. They both silently cried and while Grant thought of how his wife had died saving the boy from the babysitter, he felt the deep guilt again. He had thought that by telling James to kill the what was left of the babysitter, he was helping him grow stronger. He hadn’t anticipated it going as wrong as it did. He owed it to his wife to keep the boy secret. He owed it to his wife to figure out what was going on here, and to get out as quickly as possible. He owed it to his wife to get back to James and to get him to safety. After that, he didn’t care what happened.
“Don’t worry, I’m not with them”, Katie said, breaking the silence. She wiped here eyes. “We’re living in Morrison’s supermarket. They tried it with us but somehow we managed to stand our ground, as far as I know we had a truce”.
“As far as you know?” Grant asked. Katie raised her eyebrows and smiled.
“Yeah. I’m not exactly in charge”. She said.
“Who’s Simon?”, Grant asked, nodding towards the wooden door. Katie followed his glance, as if to check that the door was still closed.
“One of the girls living with us, she lost her brother to this place. He decided to join them when they turned up at their house a week after it had happened. Debs decided not to. She hid, found us at the supermarket a few days later and then we found a note. It was from Simon. Debs came into town to meet him and he told her what they were planning. They wanted our generator, our food and our water and they were coming to take it. I think Simon realised what he’d gotten himself into. He’s been our inside man ever since.” She looked at the door again and paused. She listened. The only sounds were the rustling of the trees outside and the crackling flicker of the oil lamp.
“Earlier,” she whispered even quieter now, “Debs and one of our guys came here to meet Simon and then all of this kicked off. I’m not sure what happened but it can’t have been good.”
“I know a woman called Kirsty,” Grant whispered after a while. “I’ve been looking for her, what does she look…” they heard footsteps on gravel outside, and then a key rattled in the lock.
“Go, go!” someone whispered as the door opened. Debs walked into the room. Simon closed the door behind her.