Continued from One.
“You are a paranoid skinny,” Finn said aloud. His voice sounded both muffled and loud. He felt like a stiff fish, swimming through the driest ocean of death ever conceived. Stepping over the crumbling wall before him, he skirted a pile of charred remains.
The remains stayed inert.
“But then,” Patrick’s voice came to Finn’s memory, “An arm moved.” Finn felt his heart rate rise; heard his recirculated air pass more rapidly through his mouthpiece. He forced himself forward while his eyes roved over every broken beam, body, and nuclear shadow. The emergency room entrance loomed closer, its automatic door frame hanging at a skewed and jagged angle. Its filthy and cluttered foyer stood in full sunlight, thanks to the shattered glass roof and upper floors.
“I ran over t’side,” Finn remembered his brother describing. “That was the wrong way, but I didn’t know. There were …swarms. Swarms of them everywhere, pouring out the door…”
Finn stood, hesitating. He knew they’d decided the front would be best. He knew his goal ought to be just beyond the foyer. Yet, he also knew how he’d found Patrick, gasping at the last of his air, struggling against a crippled limb, fighting them from within a fallen shack a few meters away.
Mary had saved him. When Patrick didn’t show, she’d looked round the shelter and commented, “Where be Patrick? Shouldn’t he be back now?”
A movement caught Finn’s eye from the hallway past the bright, open entry. He squinted and walked closer. His hand reached back and pulled down the Laserlock. The gun felt solid and reassuring in his arms as he walked. He ducked beneath a bent piece of sliding door. Paused. Did a full sweep. Now fully inside what remained of the hospital, he couldn’t help but feel trapped. He swallowed and forced himself on, toward the movement he may or may not have seen.
There, in the dim light and falling dust, a bent wheel spun atop a smashed, half-buried wheelchair. Finn found himself mesmerized by the spin. How could it do that in this silent, still world?
And that was when he noticed them.
©2019 Chelsea Owens