Somehow, impossibly, the sound of the blast drowned out the sirens. There was a staccato shearing of metal as shrapnel dug into the back of the police car. Rick and Cathy felt a wave of hot air. Mendel fell to the ground with a scream and and clutched his leg.
Then the sirens continued their howling.
Rick pushed Cathy down, crawled to where the officer was holding his wound. A black patch was already appearing on the grass beneath Mendel.
“Give me your belt!” shouted Rick, reaching for his waist.
Mendel’s face was contorted in agony. “No. Fuck that. They’re on the ridge by the highway, firing down. That’s where you’ve got to bring her.”
Rick nodded. Another shell exploded and both men winced.
“Don’t come at them straight on. They’ll be firing blind at everything near here. Get to the edge, circle around, try to come up on their side. Take this.” He reached out and retrieved his dropped M-16.
Rick shook his head. “You need that.”
Mendel pushed it into his hands. “I don’t need anything anymore. Get the hell out of here. Now!”
A dim figure rose up on the other side of the smashed car. Rick raised the gun and fired, holding the trigger down as the thing bucked and jumped in his hand. Some hit, some had to have hit, but it hardly mattered.
She sprung from her spot as the thing pounced onto the roof of the vehicle. She passed him at a full sprint and he followed. They heard the sound of handgun fire as Mendel shot at it from the ground. An inhumanly long arm reached out and, with two fingers, pinched his torso. There was a crunchy gurgle and, despite the bulletproof vest, the man was effectively split in two. They rounded a corner as another tank shell exploded in the spot they’d been moments before. It blasted the thing onto it’s back and peppered them with rubble. They didn’t stop.
Neither spoke as they bolted for the treeline. Cathy outpaced him quickly. She was light on her feet, scared, and he if he didn’t hustle he’d loose her. Rick dropped the assault rifle. The damn thing was heavy and did no good anyway. It was like shooting clay. Cathy didn’t slow down when she hit the bramble and vanished into the bushes. Rick grit his teeth, increased his speed as best he could, and followed her in.
Here, in the trees, the sound of sirens was muffled somewhat. He looked around and didn’t see her. Damn it! That woman was the only one with answers. If he lost her…
Something that felt like a rock wrapped in a wet towel struck him between the shoulder blades. Rick spiraled onto the ground, rolling in the leaves. His ribs were in agony.
It stood there, shoulders brushing up against the higher tree branches, looking down at him with a flat, vacant face. It trundled forward, hand extended, fingers ready. Rick was done. He was certain.
Her voice came from behind him. He heard her approach, she stepped past him, and placed herself between him and the thing. She held the collar of her lab coat and shook it.
“You see this? I know you know what this is. Go on! Get out of here!”
The monstrous bulk hesitated, pulling back its arm. It considered the woman, debating something in its lump of brain. Cathy didn’t give it the time. She stomped toward it, close enough to touch.
The reaction was instant. The creature pulled back, seemingly terrified of coming into contact with her.
“I said go! Now!”
It made its decision, turning and crashing back toward town. In anger it lashed out an arm and splintered a tree as it went.
Cathy returned to Rick and helped him up.
“How the hell?” he asked.
“Never mind. I’ll explain later. Just tell me where we need to go. They won’t all listen to me.”
Rick pointed into the woods, a trail leading uphill. They went.