Chapter Forty-Four

Michael and Emma lay motionless on the floor of the motorhome, still hidden beneath a heavy blanket and daring not to move an inch for fear of attracting the bodies again. There were still hundreds of them nearby - the survivors could sense their closeness - but their interest in the vehicle and its occupants finally seemed to have dissipated. For a while the relentless banging and rocking of the motorhome had stopped.

'So what the hell are we going to do now?' Emma asked, her voice the quietest of anxious whispers. 'Don't see we've got much choice,' Michael replied, equally quietly. 'Those soldiers seemed to just disappear. We have to be close.

Their base must be here somewhere.' 'How are we supposed to find it? We're not exactly going to be able to get up and go walking around outside, are we?' 'We don't have to. We'll just wait here and...'

'Wait here and what? Just keep hiding on the floor with a bloody blanket over our heads? For God's sake, how are we suppose to...?' 'So what else do we do?' he hissed, interrupting her. 'Do you want me to start the engine and try and drive us out of here? Imagine what that's going to do to those bloody animals around us.' Emma didn't answer. Instead she buried her head in hands and did her best to hide all the desperate emotions she was feeling.

Not since being trapped in the attic room in the farmhouse from which they'd recently fled had she felt such fear and hopelessness. Just when she thought their situation couldn't get any worse, they had taken another fall. Their options appeared to be simple and bleak - sit and wait as Michael had suggested or risk everything by trying to get away. Unable to contain her feelings, she began to sob. Instinctively Michael shuffled closer and wrapped his arm around her. 'We'll get out of this, you know,' he whispered, his voice softer and his face just inches from hers. 'Trust me. We'll find a way to...'

'How?' she pleaded. 'How can we?' Although she hadn't seen a crowd of this size for the best part of two weeks, she knew that one body would invariably attract the attention of another and, therefore, a hundred bodies would attract a thousand more. Every second that they lay still together and waited made their situation more dangerous. 'We'll get out of this,' he said again, doing his best to reassure her when it was obvious that he was far from sure himself.

'I swear those soldiers are still close. Their base was always going to be difficult to find, wasn't it? They're going to have to come out into the open again sooner or later and then we'll...' 'I think we should just give this up as a bad idea,' Emma sighed dejectedly. She looked deep into Michael's eyes and, for a moment, considered telling him just how empty and hollow she felt. She had trusted him and he had let her down. This had been his idea.

She'd wanted to be more cautious. She felt strangely cheated, almost betrayed even. 'What?' he mumbled. 'I said we should give this up as a bad idea,' she repeated. She stopped speaking momentarily as the motorhome shook. Another body had collided with the thin metal wall a short distance from where she and Michael were sitting. That single, apparently random collision and the sound it created drew more of the obnoxious cadavers back to the vehicle. Seconds later and the air was filled with a deafening clattering again.

Not seeming to care anymore, Emma carried on speaking regardless. 'I think we should wait for a while and then just get the hell out of here. We were doing okay back at the farmhouse, weren't we? We'll find somewhere like that again, I'm sure of it.' 'How many times have we been through this? There are millions and millions of fucking bodies staggering around this country and they're not about to start leaving us alone now, are they? And we weren't doing okay back at the farmhouse, because if we were we'd still be there now, wouldn't we? Accept it, no matter where we go, no matter what we do, they're going to be snapping at our heels constantly.' 'Yes, but...'

'But nothing. Look, I'm sorry this hasn't worked out, I still think it will. I just need to stop running for a while, Em. I'm tired.' 'And you really think these soldiers are just going to open their arms and help us?' Michael thought for a moment before answering. 'Yes.'

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