Z365 – 024 – Freeze

I freeze, all lessons I learned last night forgotten. Enough people are milling around the tent that I don’t have a clear view of the entrance—that’s doubling as the only exit, I realize, in my frantic casting around for a way out. Perfect—the people who should be helping us have shepherded us into a trap! Or not, I try to reason with myself. Whoever screamed—and for whatever reason—is still outside. It stands to reason that out of sight means out of mind, right?


It’s not something I want to bet my life on. Not after last night—which both feels forever ago but only six hours have passed since then.

Everyone is staring at the tent entrance, so nobody follows me when I turn the other way, toward the tent wall. I’m about to reach for it, when something pushes against it from the outside.

Terror tightens my throat. I jerk away, expecting to get a face-full of rabid sungazer.

The tarp lifts—revealing none other than the asshole.

I relax, if only for a second.

His gaze snags on the coffee and blue slip in my hand. “Done getting put into tiny boxes? Follow me.”

Part of me wants to bark at his order.

Thankfully, the rest of me is smart enough to do as he says. The anger his words bring up in me help me see more clearly, pushing the fright away.

I’m about to snap at him—what, I have no clue—as I step outside… into chaos.

People are running, everywhere.

The soldiers—most of them tired, young, scared, and very obviously overwhelmed—are trying to form lines, but as soon as a knot of them assembles, a bunch of lunatics come hurtling toward them, immediately dispersing their efforts. Even now, only the odd soldier is smart enough to try to shoot at them—not that it helps much.

I’m horrified when three bullets in quick succession make one of the civilians jerk.

I’m even more horrified when that doesn’t stop her, and she launches herself at the soldier making his stand. Blood sprays everywhere as her fingers and teeth go for what little skin is unprotected on his face and neck.

And that’s only one of the crazies. Simply turning my head from left to right reveals at least fifty of them, with more and more streaming toward the intersection from all possible directions.

It may have appeared like a good gathering place, but what is true for us is three times as valid for the crazies.

Strong fingers wrap around my bathrobe-clad arm and start pulling me away, toward the buildings… the buildings leading downtown, exactly the direction I’ve come from.

It’s the closest alley from where we are right now, a mere couple of feet away rather than endless yards and yards of open space. It’s not a good option, but it’s the best option we have right now.

My shocked mind is too slow to protest or reason, and before I know it, I’m running after the asshole, away from the scene of slaughter behind us.

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