Sat, 15 August 2009 - 9:49 pm

Landslide

We shouldn’t have stopped today. It seemed so harmless. Another gathering of buildings by the roadside, our supplies running low; just a quick stop, that was all. Just a quick stop.

I don’t know where they came from. We were spread out, everyone checking the buildings for anything of value to us. I think Dan saw them first; he was the first one I heard shouting. They were stumbling over the slope above the little town, tripping over rocks and falling down. Dirt skittered down around them – that should have been our first warning.

I counted heads as the group emerged into the street to see what was happening. The shamblers were still a way off, so we decided to complete our search before we left. They’re slow and we were sure we’d have time.

Once upon a time, there were trees on these hills, and grass with its tiny roots, binding it all together. The rain scoured all of that away. There are no trees, or grass, or roots. Nothing to hold it all together. The messy weight of the shamblers was enough to bring it all down.

My first thought was that another storm was coming. Then I realised the rumbling was under my feet and shivering up the walls. I looked up and the whole world was sliding.

I think I screamed. Then there was running, everyone running away. Except Thorpe – he ran back towards the rolling hillside that was coming down to meet us. I shouted at him and looked back. Dale was behind us, just in front of the first building the dirt swept over. I saw him go under, dragged into the wave feet-first.

I ran harder. I couldn’t help it – I just had to get away. Everything was pounding so hard I didn’t even notice the rocks pinging on my back. Then I was thrown down and everything washed over me. I couldn’t breathe. I tried to curl up into a ball, but I couldn’t do that, either.

Then it was over. I pushed myself up and spat out foul grit, and couldn’t believe there was air. My eyes were streaming; I had to scrub them before they’d work properly. Then I saw an arm near me and went to pull it up. It was Terry, coughing and struggling to get up. We stumbled around, trying to find everyone. I ticked names off in my head – Matt, Dan, Tia. Thorpe struggling out of the press of dirt and rocks, shouting so desperately. Dillon fought with the door to a store to get it open, hobbling out on one crutch and looking so worried. He was the only one of us inside when it happened; the rest of us got caught in the tail-end of the landslide.

Except Dale. I haven’t seen Thorpe so frantic since the diner when the rain first came down. It took us minutes to find where the ex-Wolverine was buried, and longer to dig him out. He was unconscious, unmoving. I had to push the fireman out of the way so I could check his pulse and his breathing. His mouth was full of dirt.

I’ve never actually done CPR before except on the training dummies. My hands shook and I had no idea if I was doing it right. The breaths made me dizzy. I kept counting and counting to get the ratios right – breaths and compressions, breaths and compressions. I’m not sure when he came around. Someone pulled me back and I landed on my backside, blinking away spots. Someone was crying; I think it was Tia.

 

Dillon was the only one of us not mud-coloured. Head to foot, we were long brown smears. He was so bright in his orange jacket, hobbling over the fallen hillside on his splinted leg and one crutch. I think we all heard him shout at the same time and turned to look. He had almost made it over to us.

We weren’t the only dirty bodies pulling ourselves out of the ground: inexorable and hungry, the shamblers were dragging themselves free. There was one just a few feet away from me, almost completely emerged. I hadn’t even noticed the movement. Dillon smacked it in the head with his crutch before I could finish scrambling to my feet. Once, twice, and once more to make sure it wasn’t going to move again. Then he grinned at me.

The flush of relief was sliced off by the movement behind him. More of them were crawling free and he was too close. He tried to hit them, but he couldn’t turn and his leg– He went down. He screamed and then I couldn’t see him any more..

We got to him as fast as we could. No-one had any weapons – it was just bare hands and desperation. We pulled him free and got him into the campervan. There was so much blood. I did what I could for him, but… there was just so much. He kept telling me that it was all right, it’s all right, Faith, don’t worry, it’s all going to be fine. I managed not to start crying until he fell asleep.

I can’t sleep. I keep watching him breathing, terrified every time it catches. I don’t know what to do. Masterson is so far away. The vehicles are stuck in the landslide.

Hold on, Dillon. We have to make it. We have to.

Please don’t go.

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