Lucie couldn’t help but think about the irony that of all the people who had survived this, Ruby Scope was one of them.
Now, sitting in her dark basement that smelled of must and age armed with nothing but a small candle and a cricket bat, she listened to the dead scuffling about on the floorboards above her. She wasn’t sure how much time had passed, perhaps a few hours. The cold was beginning to seep through her skin, cling to her bones and enter her bloodstream. Her entire body was freezing. Small sharp shakes ripped through her every so often; her teeth chattered uncomfortably against one another.
Ruby Scope sat opposite her, with her head resting against the concrete wall and her eyes closed shut.
Lucie thought back to that very same morning and how normal it had started out.
‘Mum! I’m going to be late for school, where’s my bag?!’
Eerie silence greeted the sixteen year old girl. Lucie cursed under her breath and grabbed the cashmere jumper from the back of her chair, slipping it over her head as she ran down the stairs. The jumper was new and Lucie liked the feel of it against her skin, it was surprisingly soothing.
‘Mum where are you?’
The living room was empty, but she spotted a small white piece of paper taped to the wall. It read:
Lucie, have gone to visit your Aunt for a few days. There’s money on the fireplace and please remember to take out the rubbish.
- Mum and Dad.
Lucie swore even louder this time, snatching the paper and scrunching it up as tightly as it would go. Of course they would leave without saying goodbye; they did it often enough. They thought money could substitute their absence.
Before she knew it, tears had sprung to her eyes and a lump had formed in her throat. Why must they always leave her like this?
A frantic knock at the door claimed her attention. She hastily patted her eyes dry and plastered a look of mere indifference on her features. She was just about perfecting the apathetic expression.
The person that Lucie least expected in the world was standing on her doorstep; eyes wide with terror and mouth hanging open in a frozen exclamation. Ruby Scope rushed past Lucie, knocking her out of the way and slamming the door shut.
‘What the hell do you think you’re doing? Get out!’ Lucie reached for the door handle.
‘DON’T OPEN THAT!’ Ruby hissed vehemently through her teeth. ‘I’m not sure how many I already drew here…’ She grabbed Lucie’s wrist and guided her back into the living room.
Lucie jerked it away. ‘Ruby what the hell?! Why are you in my house?’
‘You don’t know anything do you…’ Ruby’s eyes stopped frantically searching the room and instead focussed on Lucie.
‘Lucie, the outbreak… It has to be an outbreak. What else can it be? There’s so many out there. Far too many. I wasn’t sure what was going on at first, I thought perhaps it was drugged up vandals running loose, but it’s so much worse.’ Ruby sunk to the floor, utterly despaired. Lucie simply stood there, staring at her.
‘Ruby I swear to god if you don’t get out of my house, I’m calling the police.’
Ruby gave a small, humourless laugh. ‘The police won’t help. Look outside the window, Lucie.’
Lucie sighed, exasperated, and marched over to the window just to see what the fuss was about. ‘You’re a freak Ruby Scope, and just for this I’m going to make your life living hell at school. More so than it already is.’
Ruby said nothing.
Lucie peeked through the gap in the blinds. At first she couldn’t see anything. But then a figure passed in front of her, right in her front garden. It was shortly followed by another. Then another. Then another.
One passed far too close and Lucie leapt back, letting out a blood-curdling scream. Ruby jumped up and clasped her round the mouth, freezing her in place. The silence that followed was absolutely deafening. It was a few seconds of both of them waiting, trying to listen for something over the sound of their own frantic hearts.
Then came the slow, haphazard thumping at the door.
‘Oh shit…’ Ruby whispered. ‘Lucie, grab a weapon, grab some candles and head for the basement. I’ll be right behind you.’
Not even thinking about what was going on, Lucie’s consciousness seemed to stop working and it was as though a primal instinct to survive had taken over. Completely on auto-pilot, Lucie’s body moved her in the direction of the wax candles in the top drawer of the kitchen. Her father’s prized cricket bat stood in a glass cabinet back in the living room. Lucie snatched the fire-poker from the mantelpiece and brought it high above her head. She halted slightly, unsure if she should be doing this. The thudding at the door increased suddenly; a window smashed from the back of the house. This was all the motivation she needed.
She brought the metal stick flying back down and the cabinet shattered into a million tiny pieces. Lucie grabbed the bat and shot back into the kitchen where Ruby was stuffing canned goods and bottled water into a plastic bag.
‘What are you doing? Hurry!’ Lucie twisted the key in the lock and flung herself upon the door.
She nearly went tumbling down the concrete steps into pitch darkness. She froze again, trying to will herself into this black abyss. Ruby shoved into her from behind.
‘Get the key! We have to lock ourselves in!’
Ruby didn’t waste any time in locking the door behind them and ushering Lucie further into the basement.
‘How long do you think we’ll be down here?’ Ruby’s wearied voice brought her back to the present.
‘As long as it takes for us to get rescued.’
‘Are we even going to get rescued?’ I mean they-‘
Lucie held up her hand, cutting Ruby off. ‘Don’t talk to me.’
They both lapsed into silence.