Chapter 27

Having to fight to keep calm and stay in control I bundled Clare back indoors and slammed the door shut behind me.

'Why are those ships here?' she demanded as I pushed her towards the living room.

'No idea,' I gasped, forcing my words out between deep, nervous breaths. 'There are loads of the fucking things out there.'

'But why?'

Ignoring her questions I instinctively grabbed at the phone again and held it to my ear. It was still dead and I angrily threw it back down to the table.

'Are they here to pick up the aliens?' she asked, pressing me for answers which she knew I couldn't give.

'Don't know. They could be.'

'But what else could they be doing...?'

'I've told you,' I snapped. 'I don't know. For Christ's sake, I don't know any more than you do.'

Maybe I could have thought of a hundred and one reasons why the ships might have arrived, but none of them would necessarily have been right. Whatever the reason, I knew we were in trouble. Each one of the ships on their own would have been sufficient to hold the three hundred and sixty-eight original aliens so why were there so many here? And from the time they'd first made contact with us we had been told that it would take at least ten months for their rescuers to get here. Less than half that time had so far elapsed.

'We should wait here,' Clare rambled nervously. 'Wait here and...'

'Why? We've done all our waiting, haven't we? We waited here all last night for the power to come back on and for Penny to...'

'Well what else are we going to do?' she screamed.

I didn't know. I walked away. I had to think.

The only logical explanation I could find  -  although it sounded bizarre and completely illogical  -  was that the behaviour of the population had been controlled and manipulated by the aliens. And the ships we had just seen must have been a part of the same plan. The bastard things had enslaved the whole bloody planet right under our noses. So why hadn't Clare and I succumbed? Why were we different?

'Stay here and keep out of sight,' I said suddenly. 'Don't go out and don't let anyone in.'

'Where you going?' she asked anxiously.

'To get Rob and Siobhan. I don't care what condition they're in, I'm going to get them in the car and bring them back here.'

'You can't leave us!'

'I can't take you with me, can I? We can't risk moving Penny.'

'But you can't leave us...'

'I have to,' I sighed. 'I don't want to but I've got to go. I need to know that Rob and Siobhan are safe. They're all I've got left.'

I walked over to Clare and held her tightly. Leaving the relative safety of the house really was the last thing I wanted to do but I didn't seem to have a choice. I couldn't bear the thought of Siobhan being alone with all of this going on. Even if she was still in the same desperate condition when I reached her today, at least we would be together again. I didn't think she'd offer much resistance. And as for Rob, my duty to him was just as strong.

'I'll be back as soon as I can,' I said quietly.

'Okay,' she said, still holding on to me tightly.

'Just promise me that you'll keep the door locked and that you won't let anyone else in.'

'I promise. But what if...'

'No buts.'

'Okay.'

Deliberately moving quickly so that I didn't have the opportunity to change my mind, I grabbed my coat and headed for the front door. Clare followed close behind me.

'See you later,' I muttered and, with that, I went outside and pulled the door shut behind me.

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