Primordial Soup

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Chapter 12

The helicopter swooped low over a mass of army vehicles and tents and landed in a clearing. The soldiers jumped out and helped Mike and Jenny down.

‘This way,’ said the soldier who had spoken to Mike in the helicopter. He led them over to a large tent. ‘Wait here.’

Jenny was shaking. Mike hugged her to him. ‘We’re safe now. Everything’s going to be okay.’

The soldier reappeared from the tent. ‘Follow me.’ He turned and went back in. Mike and Jenny followed him through the open flap.

The tent was full of army personnel sitting at computer screens. The soldier led them through to the back of the tent where an army officer sat at a desk covered in maps.

‘These are the survivor’s, sir.’

The officer stood up and came around from behind the desk. He held out his hand to Mike. ‘I’m Major Barnes.’

‘Mike Taylor. This is my sister Jenny.’ Mike shook his hand. It was strong and confident.

‘Please, take a seat.’ Major Barnes indicated the folding chairs in front of the desk.

He sat on the corner of the desk and smiled down at Jenny. ‘Collins tells me you might have information on where these creatures originated from.’

‘I think they came from the research facility off Stourbridge road. It does animal and crop research, but stories have gone round that they’re doing other research as well, secret stuff.’

The Major sat back down behind his desk. He typed something into a laptop and turned it round so Mike could see. A map of the county filled the screen.

‘Show me exactly where it is.’

Mike leaned forward and pointed to an area on the map. ‘There’s an access road off the Stourbridge road, just past the bridge. It’s the only way in and out.’

The Major tapped a key and the map magnified, zooming in on the research station. ‘And where did you first sight the creatures?’

‘There.’ Mike pointed to the screen. He looked at Jenny then back to the Major. ‘I don’t want to say any more with my sister here, she’s been through enough.’

‘I quite understand. Collins would you escort this young lady over to the canteen? I’m sure she must be hungry.’

Jenny clung on to Mike. ‘No. I want to stay with my brother.’

‘It’s all right, Jen. You go with the soldier and I’ll be there in a minute.’

‘Come on love.’ Collins held out his hand.

Jenny reluctantly got up and walked out with the soldier, casting a fearful look back at Mike.

‘I won’t be long. I promise.’

Major Barnes waited until Jenny and the soldier had left the tent. ‘What else can you tell us Mike?’

‘On that bridge, there, I found the remains of a body in a car and called the police. As I drove away from the bridge a creature was on the back of my milk float, it tried to attack me but the perspex screen stopped it, then it fell into the road. It chased after me but when it saw the police cars coming it ran off into the old warehouses.’

Mike pointed them out.

‘All the policemen were killed by them, the one in the car with me and the others on the bridge. All that was left of them was bones. They can strip a grown man in minutes. The policeman who was in the car with me was killed by the one that nearly had me, it bit his head completely off. The same on the bridge and in town, just bones. What the hell are these things that they can do that to a grown man?’

‘We don’t know,’ Barnes confessed. ’We’re plotting their movement to all points of the county. With the information you’ve given us it does seem likely that they’ve all come from that central point.

‘The research station.’

‘It would seem to be the most likely point of origin. What about Stourbridge? Do you think there’s any possibility of other survivors?’

‘I don’t think so. The whole town seemed dead. Some of the houses and the police station were alight and the main street is littered with bones and wrecked cars. My parents were killed by those things.’

‘I’m sorry for your loss, Mike. You and your sister were very lucky to have escaped. My men have seen no other survivors, not human or animal.’

‘I saw loads of the creatures at the bridge, all kinds. They seem to change after eating. I splattered one in a florist shop in town. At first it looked like a small mutant cat, then it just joined up again into a slug like thing. When we were on the bypass, one of them, a huge flying one, took down one of your helicopters.’

‘Yes, I was told. If we can’t stop them here we’re pulling back to widen the cordon, then it’s up to the Air force. Well thanks for your help Mike. I’m sure you want to get back to your sister.’ He rose from the desk and offered his hand.

Mike stood up and the two men shook hands.

‘Will they really use a nuclear bomb?’

‘Who told you that?’

‘It doesn’t matter. Will they?’

‘Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Nevertheless, as a last resort we may have to if we can’t contain them. As you said yourself, it’s not as if anything is alive in that area anyway.’

Mike turned and walked from the tent. He spoke to a soldier standing guard outside. ‘Can you tell me where the canteen is?’

The soldier indicated a big khaki tent opposite.

Jenny was sitting at a long table with a group of soldiers. He walked over and sat down next to her. She turned and took his hand.

‘That’s a brave girl you’ve got there,’ said a young soldier. ‘She’s been telling us what happened. Sounds like she was very lucky, you both were.’

Mike looked into Jenny’s eyes. ‘Thanks for looking after her. Are you all right?’

‘Yeah. I miss mum and dad,’ she said, and cuddled into him.

‘Why don’t you get yourself something to eat?’ Collins said. ‘We’ll sit with her.’

‘Thanks I will.’ Mike got up and went over to a long counter that ran down one side of the tent. He selected a sandwich and a bottle of water and sat back down.

‘Did you have something to eat?’

‘I had a sandwich, but I wasn’t very hungry.’

As Mike opened his sandwich and pulled out a half. A loud commotion of shouting and gunfire came from all around them. The soldiers sitting at the tables jumped up from their seats and ran outside.

Jenny gripped Mike’s arm tight.

Collins came running back in. He grabbed Mike by the arm. ‘They’ve broken through the defence barriers. Quick, come with me.’

Mike jumped up from the table pulling Jenny with him. They followed the soldier out through the back of the tent.

Collins shouted to be heard above the sound of weapons fire. ‘Think you can drive that?’

‘Yeah, I... I think so,’ Mike stammered.

‘Then get her in it. NOW! Get as far from here as possible.’

Gunfire, explosions and screaming could be heard coming from behind the tents. Mike stood rooted to the spot, shocked at the cacophony of noises. Jenny’s screams were hardly heard.

Collins shook him. ‘MOVE IT. NOW.’

Mike looked at him in desperation. ‘Where do we go?’

‘Get as far away from here as you can. Keep going south and don’t stop to look back. They’ll use the bomb if we can’t contain it.’

‘Come with us,’ Mike said.

Collins smiled. ‘My place is here with my unit. Now get going.’ He rustled Jenny’s hair. ‘Bye sweetheart, you keep safe now.’ He ran back through a gap in the tents and was gone.

Mike and Jenny ran over to the lorry. He opened the door and lifted Jenny up into it. She climbed over to the passenger seat and Mike climbed in. He turned the ignition and the engine roared into life.

He had difficulty with the gears at first but soon got the truck moving. As they drove out of the compound groups of soldiers ran past the truck towards the tents. Mike looked into the large door mirror. He could see the creatures swarming over the compound, attacking the soldiers who stood no chance against their onslaught.

He shifted the gears and roared out of the compound in the direction of Middleton.

Jenny was hanging on to the seat. Mike was about to tell her to put her seatbelt on but saw there were none. He relaxed his foot off the accelerator. The last thing I need to do is crash this bloody thing, he thought.

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