We looked at each other and then at the door.
“What the fuck?” Dexy was the one to phrase what was going through my mind. “Do they think we’re going to answer the door?”
“All those people,” the words tumbled from Doctor Webb'’s lips almost imperceptibly. “All those people.”
I moved across and placed my hand on his shoulder, giving a comforting squeeze.
“I know. I'’m sorry,” as always, my words were trite, inadequate. What words would be right in that situation? I couldn'’t think of any that held enough weight to convey how I felt about what had happened behind that door. Suddenly, my mind was distracted with the possibility that not all those people had been killed and were becoming infected crazies right there and then.
This really was a war that couldn'’t be won.
“Don'’t touch me,” Doctor Webb jerked away from me like a nervous cat being asked to jump in the bath. “You people, they were right about you,” he backed up and pointed an accusing finger, waving it to encompass each one of us. “You'’re bad people.”
Jim walked past the Doctor as though he wasn'’t there and headed for the door.
“Jim where you going?” Dexy went after him. “Don'’t even think of opening that door, this ain'’t like back at the flats, Bruv. There'’s thousands of those fuckers now.”
“I think it'’s talking,” Jim waved his hand dismissively and continued on his course.
Curiosity got the better of us and we gathered around the door, listening for a voice. All except Doctor Webb, who looked down at the car park from the wall where Jim and King had been shooting.
“There,” Jim pressed his ear against the door and spoke quietly to us. “Did you hear that?”
I gave a non-committal shrug. All I could hear was low growling and the occasional thud followed by wet slops.
“I can'’t hear nothing, Bruv.”
“Me either,” Kate eyed the door suspiciously.
Everyone jumped back as three more knocks pounded against the door, each one louder and more insistent than the first.
The only one that didn'’t gasp at the voice was Jim. He gave us a '‘told you so'’ look.
“Nah, Bruv,” Dexy moved further back from the door. “Nah, fuck that. It ain'’t saying what I think it'’s saying.”
The voice hissed like a punctured lung.
“It'’s saying your fucking name.”
We all turned and faced Dexy, demanding an explanation with our silence.
“Why'’s it saying your name, Blud?” Dodge furrowed his brows and regarded his brother with questioning eyes.
“Whatever. We'’ve all seen those things, they just growl and chomp their stupid teeth, they can'’t talk,” Dexy gesticulated wildly as he tried to convince us, or himself. “That'’s messed up, why would it even say my name?”
As if in answer, the infected behind the door knocked again.
“Shut your mouth,” Dexy ran at the door and kicked it. “Just shut your stupid fucking mouth!” He kicked again and again until Jim grabbed him from behind and pulled him away.
“Behave yourself,” Jim said through gritted teeth.
“Do you know something about this?” Kate asked in a matter-of-fact Police investigation way. “The bombs? The infection? Do you know who'’s behind it?”
“No,” Dexy looked shocked at the question and squirmed out of Jim'’s grasp. “Why would you ask me that?”
“He'’s lying,” King nodded, narrowed his eyes and jabbed an index finger at the air between himself and Dexy. “You'’re lying, Sunshine.”
“Dexy?” I didn'’t want to believe it, I couldn'’t believe it. I had shared a cell with him, been through hell with him, become his friend. He had never given me a reason to think that he knew more about this shitstorm than I did.
What if, though? What if?
I hated myself for doubting him.
“William, Bruv,” he held his hands out, palms facing the darkening sky. “You' believe me, right? What, just '‘cause he say'’s I'’m lying, you all think it’s true?” He gave King a ferocious glance and then gave me a wounded dog look. “You saw what he did. Look at what he did to your face, Bruv! Know what? I'’m done with this bullshit,” he turned his back on us and walked towards the fire escape. “If you know what'’s good for you, you'’ll get the fuck out of here as well.”
“Dexy,” Jim had taken the pistol from his belt and aimed it at Dexy. He pulled back the hammer and the unmistakeable click stopped Dexy in his tracks. “We'’re not done here.”
“You gonna shoot me, Bruv?” Dexy didn'’t look back at us, he kept his gaze firmly fixed on the fire escape.
“Only if you force me to,” Jim said, a stern no-nonsense look on his face.
This time I heard some of the infected behind the door start laughing. Not an all-out human laugh but more of a spluttering snicker, halfway between the wheeze of a heavy smoker and the maniacal laugh of a villain from a Saturday morning cartoon show. They seemed fully aware about what was happening on our side of the door and revelled at the wedge they’d managed to drive between us.'
“You'’re bad people,” we looked around to see Doctor Webb standing next to our gun bag and aiming a shotgun at us. His face was hateful and twisted, bulging and bloodshot eyes stared down the barrel. “Bad people!”
I silently admonished myself for almost agreeing with him.
We weren'’t bad, we were victims of circumstance. The infected had kept us in a constant state of stressed reaction, most of the plans we made just didn'’t happen and the ones that did left us in even more shit than when we started. None of the events were our fault. If the hospital survivors hadn'’t been so intent on hurting us, they would have been with us on the roof, in relative safety.
It’s not our fault. It’s not.
Jim was the first to react, moving his pistol from Dexy to the Doctor.
“Don'’t shoot him, Sunshine,” King said. “He might be the last doctor in London.”
“You know that'’s not true, Mervyn,” I decided that I was going to talk him down. My turn to be the hero. “What happened here,” I waved my arm back towards the door while slowly moving towards Doctor Webb. “It wasn'’t our fault. They were going to kill us.”
“And now they'’re all dead,” his voice cracked with nervous energy.
“Yes,” I kept my gaze locked on his. “Yes they are, and we'’re sorry that it happened like this,” I walked past Jim and stood beside Dexy. “But shooting us won'’t change it,” I glanced back at Jim. “He'’s just going to shoot you back. Nobody wins here, Mervyn.”
The infected had started throwing themselves against the roof door, each thump making me feel that much more skittish.
“It won'’t take them long to get through,” as much as I was trying to sound soothing and calm, the noise from the door forced me to raise my voice. “Just come with us. We can get through this. We can live, Mervyn.”
His face told me that I was getting through to him. The rising tide of hatred began to ebb away.
“You'’re wrong,” he lowered the gun and allowed it to slip from his fingers, the cold metal of the barrel clattered against the rooftop. “We can'’t live,” tears streamed down his face and he wiped them away with both hands.
“Yes we can,” I held out my hand. “Just come with us.”
“Running and hiding isn'’t living,” he looked down at the car park and then gave me a smile that chilled me to the core. “Good luck.”
I sprinted towards him when he stepped up onto the small wall. Everyone behind me cried “No!” as loudly as they could, but it had no effect. He leaned forward with his arms outstretched like a high diver on the edge of a diving board and then he fell out of sight.
I looked over and the wall and saw him lying on the ground far below us, a large sphere of blood had burst from his head and his limbs were twisted at unnatural angles. A few infected stragglers stood at a distance and carefully regarded the dead body.
Doctor Webb had taken the cowardly way out, the path of least resistance.
That went well. Good job, hero.
King stood beside me, placed his hands on the wall and peered down.
“Messy,” he took a sharp, over-dramatic intake of breath and clucked his tongue.
The others had gathered round and each taken a look for themselves, as though they 'needed to see the evidence before believing he was dead.
Jim put the shotgun and two rifles back in the bag and hefted it over his shoulder. “Fucking idiot,” he looked down at Doctor Webb'’s broken body and shook his head.
Another thundering crash came from the roof door.
“Can we just go?” Gemma folded her arms across her chest and eyed the door that weakened with every subsequent blow.
“What about him?” King inclined his head in Dexy'’s direction.
“He comes with us,” Jim said.
“But if he knows something about all this,” the scar across King'’s face seemed to pulsate with anger.
“He'’ll tell us. Just not right now,” Jim walked across the roof. “Come on Dexy, we'’ve got a fucking bus to catch.”
A huge, toothy smile lit Dexy'’s face up and he ran across to us, relieved that the interrogation had been postponed.