I must have fallen asleep at some point, and I woke to Dad shaking me and shouting.
He was convinced someone was in the shelter with us. Shouting about Mary, about Mum, pointing at the door, the bathroom, under the beds. It was chaos. I got out of bed, trying to calm him down, or even just slow him down as he spoke, but nothing helped.
It was like something in him snapped. Maybe it was a nightmare he’d had, or maybe he hadn’t been as convinced as I’d thought the night before, but there was no way to reassure him.
He was frantic, and that was how he stayed. I tried to keep things as normal as I could, but he’d break out into a panic out of nowhere. He became certain that we had to go outside. I’d pull him back from the door, explaining about the radiation, the fallout, even about the badgers, but he wouldn’t listen.
We managed a few hours before he overpowered me and bolted for the ladder. He was screaming about what he could see. It was under the beds, in the shadows, everywhere he looked, angry eyes, all of these voices, so loud that he couldn’t stand it.
I chased after him, pulling at his legs but he kicked me to the ground, his hands reaching for the locks on the door.
So, I shot him.
I just meant to get his leg, or his arm. I don’t know. I just wanted to stop him opening the door. The radiation would have got in, or worse, whatever had taken a dose of the radiation outside. He fell. It was like time stopped, and he fell to the ground, the gun, burning in my hand as his blood began to flood the floor.
I ran to his side, tearing off my jacket and pushing it against his chest, but the blood poured, relentless and never ending. Soon, we were both covered in blood, my tears fell, and I was alone.
I just knelt beside him, holding my jacket against his wound, knowing it did no good, but not knowing what else to do.
“He was right, you know.” The voice took me by surprise, quiet, right in my ear, so strange. Not familiar, and frightening in a way that I couldn’t describe. I turned to face it, but nobody was there. “You were never alone, Caroline.” My eyes darted around the shelter, desperately trying to find someone, but I was all alone.
I had to believe I was alone. My Dad had snapped, gone mad from the stress, but I couldn’t follow him. There was nothing down here. I told myself that again and again. I covered my Dad’s body with a blanket and got a shower.
I could hear them, over the water, but I just told myself that I was all alone. I could see their eyes and their fingertips under the bed as I walked past. I could feel them watching me as I fell asleep, but I had to believe that I was all alone.
The outside is a wasteland. I stay up on the ladder for hours at a time, staring out, knowing that I can’t open the door and leave, and they watch me do it.
They never leave me alone. Always watching, always whispering. Addicted to my madness.
I don’t know what they are. They want me to go outside. Is there anything to go back to out there? Will they follow me? Will you be waiting outside too? They promised that you would. Mum will be there too. Dad. All my friends. The weirdos from next door. I just have to open the door.
Dad was right… we weren’t alone. Maybe they’re right too?
Shall we find out?
One thought on “Safe and Sound – Part Two”
Talk about jumping into the middle of a story! Great writing!
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