Chapter Six

So there I was,' Paul Castle explained, `I'm sat on the train and it's coming into the station. I knew that something wasn't right. I remember hearing the first few people starting to panic around me but I wasn't thinking straight. All I could think about was the speed. I mean, we were just minutes away from the station and the driver hadn't started slowing down. I've done that journey five times a week virtually every week for the last eighteen months and I've got to know where the train should start slowing down and where the brakes should kick in and...' He stopped talking and turned to look out of the window at the darkness outside. Donna and Paul were sitting in the training room, both still trying to get used to the fact that they had found someone else alive.

`So what did you do?' Donna asked. `By then people were dying,' he continued, wiping a tear from the corner of his eye and hoping that she hadn't seen him. `Everywhere I looked they were just dropping and dying around me. I knew we were going to crash. I wasn't thinking about what was happening to the rest of them, I just got down on the floor and covered my head with my hands and...' `And...?' `And we hit something, but we got away with it lightly. Nothing seemed to happen for ages and then I felt the impact.

It was a real fucking wrench. It threw me right forward and I could hear metal groaning and snapping and breaking. I swear I'd have been badly injured if it wasn't for the bodies. There were so many of them they were like padding all around me. Once the train had stopped I managed to smash my way out through a window. When I got out I saw that we'd gone into the back of another train that was still at the platform. Christ knows how we managed to stay on the rails.'

`Were you hurt?' `I did this,' Paul replied, lifting his shirt and turning around to show her his back. Even though the light was poor Donna could clearly see a huge purple and brown bruise running diagonally across the entire width of his back. `Painful?' He shrugged his shoulders. `Not really,' he replied. `Truth is I've hardly thought about it since everything happened.' `So what did you do next?' `I went to work. Christ, there's conditioning for you. I didn't know what else to do. I mean, I couldn't get home and I couldn't think of anywhere else to go. I figured that if I was at work then I'd at least have some shelter and protection. I knew where everything was.'

`I know what you mean. That's why I'm still here.' `You worked here?' She nodded. `Typical, isn't it,' Paul grinned. `You spend most of your life trying to get out of work then you end up trapped there when everything goes belly-up.' `So was there anyone else around when you got there?' `There were plenty of people there,' he replied, `but no-one else was alive. Jesus, all the people I'd been working with just the day before were dead. All those people that I'd known for ages just gone... You get to know the people you work with, don't you? I had mates there and we'd been out drinking at the weekend and now they're...' He stopped talking and looked up at the ceiling to avoid eye contact before losing control and starting to cry again. Donna sat and watched from the other side of a wide grey desk. She said and felt nothing. Somehow she had managed to distance herself from the pain.

Perhaps it was the shock of everything that had happened? Whatever the reason, inside she felt as dead as the thousands of bodies lying and rotting on the streets. It was as if every nerve in her body had been cauterised. She didn't seem to feel anything anymore. She knew that was a bad thing but, at that moment, it helped. `Have some food,' she said, unable to think of anything else to say. She pushed a packet of biscuits across the desk. Paul shook his head. `You should eat something.' `No thanks.' `Drink?' She offered him a half-empty bottle of water. He nodded and wiped his face on his sleeve before taking the bottle from her and drinking thirstily. `So what do we do now?' he asked as he screwed the lid of the bottle back on and passed it back. Donna shrugged her shoulders. `Don't know,' she replied bluntly. `I mean we can't just sit here, can we?'

`What else is there to do?' `Christ, we should do something. We should get out there and find other people. See if we can actually find someone who knows what's going on...' `Bloody hell, I haven't seen anyone else alive apart from you. I haven't found anyone who's still breathing, so what chance have we got of finding anyone who knows what's happened?' `I know, but I...' `Look, I don't want to go out until I have to,' she continued, interrupting.

`Until I know what's caused all of this I want to stay as far away as I can from those bloody things out there.' Her voice was cold, flat and tired and her message abrupt and definite. Paul didn't bother trying to argue. He got up and made himself a makeshift bed from clothes and blankets underneath a desk. He lay there in silence and stared up into the darkness for hours. Donna sat in her chair and did the same.


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