Amber stopped. ‘Ssssh!’ she hissed. We all followed her lead. Amber motioned towards a flowerbed with some low bushes. I carefully helped Ellis out of the wheelbarrow and we crawled under the bushes. We lay quietly for a while, daring not to breath too loud and then I saw a shaft of light cross the lawn in front of us. Another and then one more followed this. Three tall figures stepped out of the shadows and moved to the middle of the lawn. Soldiers. The same ones as I had seen on the truck. The outline of their weapons and gas masks stood stark in silhouette. It looked like they were looking for something. Or someone.
‘We’re saved,’ I thought. All we need to do is tell them who we are and they will take us to safety. I looked at Ellis and Amber. They both shook their heads. ‘No,’ mouthed Ellis and I knew she could read my mind. I heard the crackle of static and one of the soldiers spoke.
‘Negative, Fox Four. No sign. Proceeding to next check point.’
You’re too loud, I thought. You are far too loud. I looked at Abe. He smiled but I could see that he was nervous. We waited and watched. The soldiers were standing still and didn’t seem to be in any kind of hurry. One of them removed their gas mask and I could see the face of a woman in the moonlight. She looked angry and tired. Perhaps she is not the best person to approach, I mused, and just as I was thinking this I saw the shadows behind the soldiers start to move. Figures began to form in the darkness and as I watched these figures acquired limbs and heads and more importantly, mouths. Viros.
The soldiers were slow to react and the swarm was upon them before the woman could even get her mask back on. They shouldered their machine guns and started to shoot at the viros. Gunfire lit the darkness like a strobe and this made everything look like it was happening in slow motion. The soldier got her mask back on but couldn’t fire fast enough to prevent three viros pulling her to the floor. Her colleagues were firing rapidly but the number of viros in the swarm made it hard for them to keep them at bay.
‘Should we do something?’ I whispered to the others under the rapid crack of the guns.
‘Like what?’ replied Amber sharply. ‘What do you think we should do?’ I felt embarrassed and fell silent.
As one soldier kept firing the other was trying to rescue the soldier who was struggling and fighting beneath the viros. Through a combination of brute strength and luck the soldier managed to free herself and crawl to one side as her colleague emptied his gun into the attackers. She pulled a pistol from out of her belt and started to fire as well. The three viros were torn apart by the bullets and fell to the floor.