Primordial Soup

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Chapter 11

Mike had been walking for ages along the carriageway, still carrying Jenny and negotiating the wrecked cars, vans and heavy goods vehicles. He had not seen another living soul since the policemen early this morning, plenty of bones and skulls picked clean, but nothing living, not even a bird.

He knew it wouldn’t be safe to go into any of the small villages between here and Middleton, there was no telling how many of these creatures there were, but if the carnage on the bypass was anything to go by there must be thousands of them. His arms were growing tired and he knew couldn’t carry her any more.

He stopped and gently put her down.

‘Sorry sweetie but you have to walk.’

He crouched down to face her. ‘We have to get as far as we can during daylight, and we need to find a safe place to stay tonight, at least until the army or whoever can get rid of these creatures.’

The sound of a helicopter in the distance drew Mike’s attention away from Jenny. He spotted the helicopter flying low over the bypass.

‘Look,’ he shouted, pointing along the motorway. ‘Wave your arms Jen, so they can see us.’

Mike stood up and waved his arms, shouting. The helicopter dipped towards them.

‘We’re here,’ he shouted excitedly. ‘Wave Jen.’

His excitement was infectious and Jenny began waving her arms and shouting with him.

As the helicopter banked towards them a huge flying creature coming from the other direction flew towards it. The helicopter pilot saw it, tried to bank away from it, but it was too late.

As the helicopter and the creature collided, the sound of the impact spread out across the carriageway like a shock wave. The rotor blades chopped the creature’s wings to shreds, shattering the blades. Both the helicopter and the creature plunged to the ground amongst the piled up vehicles. A loud explosion followed by a ball of fire reached skywards as the helicopter disintegrated along the carriageway towards them.

Mike shielded Jenny until all that could be heard was the crackle of fire.

They stood up and saw the burning twisted wreckage of the helicopter and the vehicles it had crashed into.

Something exploded in the helicopter, sending wreckage high into the sky. Pieces of debris rained down all over the carriageway.

‘Run,’ he shouted.

Amidst further explosions they set off running down the grass verge, away from the chaos.

Once they were clear of danger, Mike noticed that the wreckage of vehicles had thinned a little. He began looking for a car they might use; most were burnt out or too badly damaged to be of use.

Jenny pulled at his arm.

‘What is it Jen? What’s wrong?’

She pointed.

In the distance, explosions sent huge amounts of soil skywards as jets and helicopters that filled the horizon bombed the fields.

‘Holy shit. It’s the army. They must be firing at the creatures.’

As they ran down the carriageway the blockage of vehicles had thinned out until the road in front was clear. Not so the other carriageway, that was blocked in the opposite direction. The same carnage, the same slaughter, the same loss of life had taken place over there.

This is where the creatures must have come out on to the bypass, Mike thought. They caused the pileups in both directions.

He walked over to a relatively undamaged car and looked through the open door. At least there’s no blood or bones inside, he thought. The occupants must have tried to run or got dragged out by the creatures.

The keys were in the ignition and the ignition light was still on. Mike turned the key off then on. The engine started and he could see it had nearly a full tank of petrol. There were bones littered all around the car and he saw Jenny staring at them. Her face told him what she was thinking. He walked over to her and pulled her into his arms, holding her tightly.

‘Is this what happened to mum and dad?’ she asked, her voice strained, holding back a flood of emotions.

‘Try not to think about it,’ he said, softly. ‘I know it’s hard, but we can grieve for mum and dad later. What we have to do now is stay alive, for them, and get somewhere safe. That’s what they would have wanted for us. I miss them too, but we still have each other.’

Mike lifted her face up to his. ‘Can you try to be brave for me?’

Jenny nodded, her eyes filled with tears.

Mike kissed her forehead. ‘Come on, let’s get away from here.’

They got into the car and shutting the doors and pressing the switch to close all the windows, he manoeuvred the car through the few remaining cars that blocked the way, until the road in front was clear, and then accelerated along the empty bypass. As they neared the sound of the explosions a low flying jet screamed above them.

Mike smiled at her. ‘We’re going to make it.’

‘Thanks Mike.’

‘What for?’

‘For coming back for me.’

‘I couldn’t leave without making sure that you and mum and dad were okay. I love you. You’re my little sister.’

Jenny leaned across to him. He put his arm around her, pulling her in to him.

‘We’ll be okay, I promise.’

Mike drove down the bypass, steering with one hand, the other protectively around his sister.

The sky in front was full of planes and helicopters; it looked like a swarm of angry bees protecting their nest. The explosions were loud and very close, close enough for Mike to worry whether they would get through unharmed.

A military helicopter swung down in front of them. Through the open door of the helicopter a soldier indicated for him to stop. Mike screeched to a halt as the helicopter landed in front. Two soldiers jumped down from the helicopter and ran towards the car.

The soldiers pulled them from the car and bundled them into the helicopter. The helicopter took off and headed back towards Middleton.

‘How the hell did you survive that?’ A soldier shouted over the noise of the engine.

Mike looked out the window. From the air he could see the true scale of the battle against the creatures. The ground was teeming with them, all heading in the same direction as the helicopter, towards Middleton.

‘Oh my God. There must be tens of thousands of them.’

He saw tanks and ground troops heading towards the mass of advancing creatures. Explosions from rockets and bombs were tearing up the countryside, leaving huge craters. It reminded Mike of scenes in the war films his dad loved to watch.

Jenny looked out the window and saw the creatures streaming across the landscape below, she cowered into Mike.

A soldier handed him a set of headphones with a microphone attached. ‘Put this on. It saves shouting.’

Mike put them on and the soldier’s voice came through clearly.

‘You must have a charmed life mate. Not a living thing has made it out of there. Everything’s food to them.’

‘I knew it was bad but how far has it spread?’

‘Half the county is under siege. If we can’t contain it they’re talking about complete annihilation of the whole county. No one seems to know where it came from.’

‘I think I know. It started on the bridge outside Stourbridge, just down from the research station. I was on my way to deliver milk there. How could it have spread so fast?’

‘Nothing, and I mean nothing, survives an attack from them. They just overwhelm our defences. We kill them and they just reform into something different. Even burning doesn’t stop them. The live ones just absorb the ash and it starts all over again.’

Mike pulled the microphone closer to his mouth. ‘I killed one in a florist shop early this morning, bashed its head in with a vase. It just joined up again into something that looked like a huge slug.’

‘When we land I’ll take you over to control, you can tell them what you know. We need all the information we can get, and so far, that’s not a lot.’

‘What’s going to happen if you can’t stop them? Where will we go?’

‘They’ll stop them,’ the soldier assured him. ‘One way or another. If we can’t contain them they’re talking about wiping out the whole area with a small nuke.’

‘How could it get so bad so quick.’

The soldier shrugged.

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