Chapter Twenty

Part II

20

In the desolate, dead and diseased shell that the city had become very little changed from day to day. Thousands of corpses continued to shuffle endlessly through the shadows, their bodies gradually decaying but their mental strength and control somehow continuing to slowly return.

Although the survivors remained quiet and largely out of sight, the absence of other sounds and distractions throughout the surrounding area continued to draw unwanted crowds of ragged, stumbling figures towards the university. Inside their shelter the frightened, desperate people sat and watched and waited for something - anything - to happen. For two painfully long and drawn out weeks nothing changed.

Without any warning the precarious equilibrium was upset. On a cold, grey and wet Sunday morning some nineteen days after everything had begun, something finally happened.

Thirty miles west of the city where the survivors sheltered, in a bleak and nondescript field, lay the concealed entrance to a military bunker. Waiting underground inside the dark and grey building, shielded and protected from the dead world outside by thick, concrete walls and industrial strength air purification systems, were almost three hundred soldiers.

As tired, frightened and disorientated as the bewildered survivors left out in the open above ground, they too had struggled to cope with the uncertainty of each passing hour. Inside the bunker no-one knew what had happened. From the most senior officer in the base down to the lowest in the ranks, no-one had anything more than a few scraps of unconfirmed information to go on.

They had been acting on hurriedly given orders when they'd been scrambled on the first morning. There were many rumours about disease, weapons of mass destruction, germ warfare and contagion but no concrete facts to substantiate or confirm the hearsay. The men and women in the bunker didn't need to know the details of what had happened and neither, for that matter, did the officers in charge of the base.

All they knew - all they needed to know - was that sooner or later they would be sent up to the surface to try and take control of whatever was left. The orders had finally been given by the base commander. Today was the day the first troops would go up to the surface.

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