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They are heading west – always west. The only way forwards now. By car. By foot, if needs be. Sal hopes it won’t come to that for a while yet.
They’ve lost track of the towns they’ve passed through – all one and the same. Interchangeable locations, with a saving grace. They haven’t succumbed yet. Buildings stand proud, brickwork still on show, though they will crumble beneath the living embrace to their rear. It is coming. Creating chaotic coloured cocoons; moistened mummies lying abandoned, enveloped, in its wake.
“Keep out of Maudsley,” Tim reads, squinting slightly at the erratic scribbled words, as they pass a sign, words muffled by the mask across his nose and mouth. Sal makes a brief note on their battered map. Someone’s hard earned lesson. They are silent briefly.
“We need to find somewhere to bed down,” Sal says. “Someplace indoors.” They exchange a glance.
“There’ll be somewhere. There always is.”
“True enough.” Sal glances at her watch. “Couple of hours yet.”
“We’ll make it,” Tim says. “No worries.” Suddenly, their heads turn as a twin set of lights reach towards them, contrasting clearly with the surrounding darkness. They hear the low note of a car engine, growing closer. Finally, a door – open, then shut, once the vehicle is within eye line.
“Might prove useful,” Sal says tersely.
The couple watch as a man and woman, younger by perhaps five years approach them, hesitant smile at their lips belying the caution in their eyes. “You crazy?” Tim says sharply, gesturing at the lack of muffler either of them displays. He takes a step backwards, increasing the distance between them, clutching at Sal’s arm.
“Mostly, I guess,” the man says. “Comes to us all.”
“You know about the seedlings? The spores?” Tim says, insistent.
“Doesn’t everybody?” the woman asks.
“They’re north now,” the man says. “South, east, west – you name it. We’ve been. Seen the bodies.”
“Masks don’t work,” the woman says, tone decided. “You were exposed way back.” Slowly, after a look at each other, Tim and Sal remove the fabric stretched over their faces.
A short piece for Office Mango's "Horror Bites" challenge - drafted slightly quicker than I would have liked due to time constraints! Fun to write though!