Chapter One Part Five - Safe

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The air inside was stale though much to their surprise, there was not the stench of death they had expected. That did not mean there were no Zeds inside, of course. What it did mean though, was that it was highly likely they'd got lucky. If there were Zeds there were only a few and that was a very good thing indeed.

“It'll be a quicker process if we split up,” said James, quietly. He held in his hand the leg of a wooden chair that he'd broken from one of the many such things littered about the foyer.

“Pretty sure I don't need to tell you how bad an idea that is, James,” replied Annalise in hushed tones that matched those of James. “We stick together unless we have no other choice. All we have to do is secure this first wing.”

“Yeah, yeah you're right.”

“That happens on occasion,” she replied with a smile. “Now c'mon let's get this done. You never know, we might actually manage to get something resembling a good night's sleep!”

“That'd definitely make a change,” said Jackie, doing her best to put the events of the last few hours to the back of her mind. Right now there were more important things for her to worry about. She would have time to grieve properly later – they all would.

Taking their time the three survivors trod carefully so as to make as little noise and disturb as little as possible. The interior walls were of wood and beams. It really was just like an enormous log cabin.

There did not appear to be any bedrooms in the first wing, it was simply a vast entrance hallway leading to an incredibly large brick chimney stack in the centre.

They made it to the chimney and discovered the remnants of a fire in the grate at the bottom. The chimney itself was cut in the shape of a pentagon making any fire lit five-sided. At either side two corridors branched off at an angle from the main hall. The doors there appeared to be closed. Big, heavy fire doors. Beyond the pentagonal chimney looked to be some kind of restaurant area. Chairs and tables were strewn all over the place. Clearly there had been panic at some point however now, there was nothing but an empty calm.

“Take the left, Jackie,” said Annalise. “James, you take the right. Make sure nothing can get in or out of those corridors unless we want it to. I'm going to check the rest of the interior perimeter.”

Whilst James and Jackie carried out her orders, Annalise headed beyond the enormous hearth and picked her way through the tables and chairs. The floor was littered with mouldy food, most of which had been trodden into the carpet.

She made her way to the edge of the room. Touching her fingers to the wall it felt solid enough and as she made her way along, she could certainly not see anywhere the integrity of the wall had been compromised.

Soon she had made it all the way around and back to where Jackie was putting the finishing touches to securing her designated doors. The girl had managed to tie the door handles tightly using rope normally used to hold back heavy drapes.

“That ought to hold,” she said, nodding her head behind her towards a particularly hefty looking cabinet. “Give me a hand with that and I think we're set.”

Annalise nodded and although it was a struggle, the two girls managed to lift and walk the cabinet to a position directly blocking the doorway. A quick glance over to the other side and they could just about see, around the hearth, that James had managed to secure his designated doors in a similar fashion.

“I reckon that'll do for now,” said Annalise. “Go and grab Ken and Fiona. We'll keep the front doors as an exit if we need to make a hasty retreat.”

“Rolling watch?”

“Read my mind, James. You, Jackie and I for three hours a piece. At least that way, we should get some sleep!”

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