~ Chapter Eighteen ~

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Perri met Holloway's stare and was taken aback.

Questions eddied through her mind. She wondered about the man staring back at her and something answered back. A voice in her head that told her that this man... was a liar.

A liar? But, what was he lying about? She asked the voice.

Thrust from her thoughts so suddenly she could have sworn she'd have whiplash, Perri became blindingly aware of just how loud the group had become.

Her lips parted as she attempted to shush them, but she was cut off by a shriek echoing in the distance.

Everyone turned to the sound in unison.

And soon, more screeching and hollering followed.

Infected silhouettes were fast approaching.

Time went still.

All sounds were blurred into nothingness. No one flinched. And the dead seemed to run in slow motion.

Someone shouted through the silence, "Run!" The word was distorted and barely distinguishable.

Suddenly, time caught up. But, then it seemed to almost go too far. Everything began to happen very quickly.

"Run!" They shouted again.

As if everyone had been stuck in the same hallucination and distortion of time, they erupted with a panic. Each person turned away from the dead horde and sprinted like their lives depended on it.

Which they did.

Infected began to pour out from every direction. Some even took to throwing themselves from the upper levels of buildings, with no regard to self-preservation whatsoever.

Gravity slammed their bodies into the ground and onto vehicles, sending blood splattering all around.

The group members scrambled over and through the labyrinth of vehicles, unintentionally spreading out, away from their fellow survivors.

Gavin trailed behind Perri and Skeet. She held the nervously sobbing boy's hand and would not let him go. No matter what.

They reach a patch of open ground surrounded by an array of large trucks and lorries.

The others come to the clearing also and all rush to the center to regroup.

The horde was not yet upon them. They were all so exhausted and fretted over their extremely limited options.

Heads flicked left and right as the clinking of metal tumbled near the group before it was heard entering a scraping roll.

A pop and a hiss followed thereafter.

Then, the group rapidly found themselves engulphed by a thick cloud of white smoke.

They coughed and tried—to no avail—to fan the smoke away from their faces.

A few survivors started to panic, as the snarling dead surrounded them, and they darted out of the smog.

Bodies pushed and shoved in the dense cloud, knocking each other about.

Perri gripped Skeet's hand tighter and pulled him close. But—

"Gavin?" She'd lost him. "Gavin!?" She called his name desperately.

No response answered back.

Within the white shroud, the clamoring was all Perri could hear in those brief moments that seemed to last forever.

Unexpectedly, flashes of light exploded all around them, accompanied by the sound of gun shots. Multiple shooters.

Perri could only just hear their muffled shouts within the smoke.

A gloved hand clamped down on Perri's wrist and she whirled to find a large mass towering over her.

She tugged Skeet behind her, placing herself between him and the figure that stood close enough to step on her toes.

"Come." Beckoned a muffled voice through a gas mask.

The figure gave her an urging tug on her wrist, though not too forceful to suggest ill-intent.

Not a lot of options were available to Perri. Going with the stranger in the mask seemed like the most logical at the time.

She allowed the stranger to guide her and Skeet through the smoke to the side of a truck.

The stranger released Perri's wrist and opened the door to the cabin.

"Inside." The deep, muffled voice insisted.

Perri urges Skeet to enter first and wasted no time to join him.

Only when she checked over her shoulder to see the stranger climbing up after her, did she really notice the military uniform they wore.

The soldier pulled the door shut and discarded their gas mask, revealing short, golden-brown hair.

When the soldier turned to Perri and Skeet, he didn't look at them completely as he spoke.

"In the back. Now." He said.

Without the mask altering the sound of his voice, the hint of a Scottish accent caught Perri by surprise, causing her to pause a moment.

"Quickly." He urged.

So much noise and gunfire still surrounded them.

There was a lot of space behind the seats in the cabin. And for once, luck seemed to be in favour of the living. The section behind the seats even had its own curtain for them to pull across and hide behind.

Skeet crawled through first and laid down with his back to the wall. He outstretched a hand toward Perri as she climbed through after him.

"I'm coming." She whispered, feeling the need to give reassurance.

She laid beside him and held him close.

As the sounds outside grew louder, she could see that it was bothering Skeet by his increased panting, so she gently placed her hand over his exposed ear and he squeezed his eyes shut.

A sharp gasp escaped Perri's lips as she felt a body press against her and she tensed.

The soldier slipped in behind her and pulled the curtain across, concealing the three of them.

Daring a glance over her shoulder, she could see that the soldier had his back to her. She loosed a shaky breath, trying to calm her nerves as if she could expel the fear from her body with every exhale.

She tried to focus on being there for Skeet. Keeping him safe.

But, her thoughts would simply drift back to Gavin, to Max, to the soldier at her back, and... to Holloway.

Where is Gavin? Is he alright? Why did Max have to be such an idiot? He'd still be here if he wasn't such a jerk. If it weren't for me. And what the heck have we gotten ourselves into now? Saved by soldiers. And Holloway... what exactly goes on in that shifty brain of his? Everyone has their secrets. What is he hiding? She wondered.

It made her head ache and her eyelids feel heavy.

Too many questions. Too little answers.

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