Parked on the verge of a country lane, Luke was sat at the wheel trying to start the engine. ‘There’s plenty of diesel, we must have broken something going across the heath.’ He turned to face the others. ‘We can’t stay here much longer, it’s going to be dark soon.’
‘I think we’ll be safer on here than walking down to the motorway,’ Cynthia said. ‘At least the bus offers us some protection.’
‘Me and Luke could go and find a car or something,’ Shaun put in. ‘There must be loads of them abandoned all over the place. We probably wouldn’t have to go far, then at least we won’t be stuck here in the dark.’
‘I don’t think that’s such a good idea,’ Cynthia said. ‘If you get caught out in the open you won’t stand a chance against those creatures.’
‘But there could be a car just down the road,’ Shaun protested.
‘No. You’re too young to risk your lives. I won’t have it. We’ll wait for help to come.’
Luke got up from behind the wheel. ‘I’m Sorry Cynth. I’m not sitting here waiting for those creatures to turn up. You saw what just one of them did to the windscreen, imagine what a whole pack of them could do. C’mon Shaun, let’s go and find some wheels.’
Luke reached up and opened the doors.
‘Please Luke. Don’t go out there,’ Cynthia pleaded.
Julia handed the baby to Emma. ‘Luke’s right. We all saw the size of some of those things that ran across the heath, it wouldn’t take them long to get in here. I’ll go with them.’
‘You shouldn’t go, any of you. And you Julia, you have a baby to care for.’
‘Cynthia, if we sit here waiting those things may kill us all, my baby as well. Emma will you look after her until I get back?’
‘Yeah. Please be careful,’ Emma said, her voice fraught with worry.
Julia kissed her baby’s face. Shaun was already out of the bus and standing in the road.
‘Shut the door after us,’ Luke said.
Cynthia gave him a worried look and put her hand on his cheek. ‘You be careful. I’ve grown quite fond of you.’
He smiled and took her hand. ‘You too. We’ll be back before you know it.’
Cynthia shut the door. She stood looking through the window at them as they walked down the lane.
Luke set off running. ‘Come on you two,’ he shouted back.
Shaun and Julia chased after him. As they turned a bend in the road they saw Luke had stopped in front of an entrance on the left. A house at the end of a long curving gravel drive was fronted by big double gates. The gate on the left was open.
As they caught up to him Shaun said. ‘It’s a big house, and look, there’s cars parked on the drive.’
’You two wait here. I’ll go and see if it’s safe. It’s not worth risking all of us.
Luke pushed open the other gate and ran up the path to the house. Parked on the drive were a Range Rover and a big Mercedes. He looked all around, then waved at the others to come up to the house.
Shaun tried the cars, both were locked.
As they approached the house Luke saw the front door was ajar.
‘It’s open. I’ll go and have a look first.’
He leaned in through the doorway and shouted into the hallway. ‘Hello, is anyone here?’ No answer. He put his finger on the doorbell and kept it there. The bell sounded loud and echoed throughout the house. He took his finger off the bell and waited.
Looking back at the others he shrugged his shoulders. ‘I’m going in to have a look. You two wait here. Get ready to run. Just in case.’
Luke walked into the hallway, his footsteps echoing eerily on the marble floor. Doors were open on either side of the hall, a wide staircase rose up to the floor above.
Luke shouted up the stairs. ‘Anyone home?’
While Julia and Shaun were waiting just beyond the porch, Luke walked into the room on the left, he came back out shaking his head, then crossed the hall and disappeared into the room on the right.
‘Quick, in here,’ he shouted.
As Shawn and Julia ran into the entrance hall, Luke was standing just inside the doorway staring into a room, its floor was strewn with bones.
‘Looks like the creatures have already been here,’ said Shaun’
Julia bent down to examine the bone nearest to her.
‘Don’t touch it, Julia. You saw what happened to Darrell and that was just from a creature’s claw.’
‘I don’t intend to. I think we should go. They may still be here, like at the hospital.’
They walked out into the hall. Luke opened a drawer on the hall table. Inside were bunches of keys. He picked up two sets and dangled them on his fingers. As he turned a big grin spread across his face.
‘What one do you want Shaun?’
‘I’ll have the Merc any time,’ Shaun grinned back.
Luke chucked him the keys.
‘Why do we need two cars?’ asked Julia.
‘Might as well go in style,’ smiled Luke. ‘They don’t need them any more.’
‘Well let’s get going, just in case what killed those people is still here.’
As they walked out to the porch Julia stopped. ‘Listen. Can you here that.’
Luke walked back in and stood in the hall. ‘Sounds like a dog whining. It’s coming from upstairs.’ He ran up the stairs.
‘No.’ Julia shouted. ‘It could be the creatures.’
‘That’s a dog. My Lab used to make the same sound when she wanted to go out.’ He disappeared up the stairs.
‘Those bloody creatures won’t need to kill him. I will.’
A loud crash followed by barking came from the floor above. Shaun and Julia moved out to the porch. Looking in they saw a black pointed face turn the corner of the landing, followed by Luke. He was carrying two small boys aged about five and seven.
Julia rushed in and up the stairs. ‘Where did you find them?’ She took the smallest boy from him.
‘They were hiding under the bed. I had to tip the bed up to get at them, they were too frightened to come out. That must be their parents... in there.’
‘Can we go now? Please,’ she begged.
‘Yeah, the others will be getting worried.’ They headed for the door.’
‘Wait, what about the dog?’ said Luke. ‘We can’t leave it.’
Shaun picked up a leash off the hall table. The black Collie was sitting on the landing, its body shivering. Shaun ran up the stairs and clipped the leash to the dog’s collar.
‘C’mon boy, let’s go.’
The dog’s tail was held low between its legs. It reluctantly allowed Shaun to lead it down the stairs and out of the house.
Shaun pressed the key fob. The doors unlocked on the Mercedes.
He grinned at Luke. ‘Sweet mate,’ he laughed.
Luke opened the Range Rover. He put the boys on the back seat.
‘Can I put the dog in the back of yours?’
‘Yeah mate, course.’
Luke opened the boot. A dogs blanket covered the floor. ‘Looks like he belongs in here anyway.’
The collie jumped up and lay down on the blanket, his head resting between his paws, his doleful eyes looking up at them. Shaun got into the Mercedes and started the engine.
Luke shut the boot and slipped into the driver’s seat. Julia had got in the back and had her arms wrapped around the boys.
‘I hate to think what would have happened to these two if you’d listened to me. It doesn’t bear thinking about.’
‘There’s probably survivors all over the county, hiding and trying to stay alive. Let’s hope the government can beat this thing. We should get back.’