Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
Is all she asks. Four bloody words. I stand there like an idiot. Meanwhile, buildings burn and people run about screaming. Alarms, sirens and explosions blend into a constant din. The news said it was a ‘massive layered drone swarm attack’. Whatever that is, it’s turned my life into an apocalypse movie.
I stare blankly at Esther. Giorgio, on the other hand, is ready.
“We need to get to high ground so we can see what’s going on.”
Smooth-talking bastard. I hate him.
She looks at Giorgio.
“I know what’s going on. I’m trying to survive it.”
He looks confused.
“Okay, then. Supplies. What first?”
That kicks him into gear.
“Weapons! Tools or kitchen knives.”
That gives me an idea.
“We should head for Steve’s. His place is above the kitchen shop a couple of streets down.”
Giorgio waves his hands.
“No, my dude, no. Can’t rely on anyone except ourselves. Can’t guarantee what people are planning.”
‘My dude’? Really?
Esther slaps the back of his head.
“It’s a start. If this Steve’s in, we might get lucky. If not, it’s still a place where one of us is known. Less risk of confrontation if he comes home to find we broke in.”
She looks at me.
“We run to Steve’s. You lead.”
Sounds simple enough. I never really thought about running through a disaster. I mean, who does? I manage about a bus length before some woman slams into me, knocks me down, then punches a stiletto heel through my hand as she scrambles up and runs off.
I scream. Esther wads tissues either side of the wound, then uses her hair thingy to keep them in place.
“We need to get a better dressing on that. Let’s go.”
Giorgio gets to the next junction ahead of us. A wheel comes in at chest height. He turns to face it, arms up. By the time we get there, he’s down, face ripped apart where the trials bike went over him.
Esther spits in the direction of the departing rider.
“With spikes on? Cocksucker.”
I look down at my smooth-talking bastard dead best friend. Fuck this. Fuck this. Fuck th-
Esther slaps me.
“Tears later. Run now.”
Her stare could melt metal. I run.
Steve’s door is open. Sounds of a fight upstairs. She pushes me in, swings the door closed, then bolts it and puts the chains on. After that, she squeezes past and takes the stairs two at a time, dagger in hand. Where did that come from?
I’m halfway up the stairs when there’s a scream. I enter the lounge to find her helping Steve onto his settee. The room’s wrecked. I can see three sprawled bodies.
Steve waves to me.
“So this is the hottie you’ve been pining over, Andrei?”
Okay, floor. Swallow me now.
“Always best to tell the hitter up front, so she can allow for it.”
She crouches by him.
“Went out for more water. Got some, came back to find three tossers taking advantage. Was doing okay until one of them knifed me.”
Sticking his hand in a pocket, he pulls out a set of keys and gives them to her.
“Place is yours. You can shelter here. Dump the bodies, including mine, down the road. Got supplies for a week if you’re careful. Things should have settled by then. Be nice to Andrei. He’s a great guy when he’s not overthi-”
No dramatic pause.
She closes his eyes with a trembling hand.
“Now it’s time for tears.”