WARNING: THIS CHAPTER MIGHT BE UPSETTING TO READ.
It was chaos. Dead bodies littered the floor, fire everywhere. Giant metallic moving statues were walking amongst them. She saw one pull a sword out of the head of a massive beast. It was like she had just walked into a scene from some kind of futuristic science fiction movie. As if she had walked onto the deck of the Enterprise with high tech machinery all around. Except they weren’t in space, they were in Stratford. But a sick and twisted version of Stratford, a version of Stratford that was burnt and destroyed almost beyond recognition. Her eyes fell on a small girl, no older than 6. She was lying on the ground, writhing in pain, her skin covered in burns. She was crying. There were so many noises going on but Christiana could still hear her cries. She was crying for her mum, but there was no one there to help her, she just lay there, wailing and screaming and everyone inside the glass bubble were ignoring her as if she wasn’t there.
She walked over to window, getting as close as she could to the girl who lay five feet away from it. She bent down and pressed her hand against the glass, pushing hard, trying to reach her. There was a lot of noise and movement going on around her but she couldn’t focus on it. She could only see the girl. She let out a loud sob and pushed even harder against the glass. She heard another wail and allowed her eyes to leave the little girl. More people, more cries. It was a blood bath of dying people. Those who were moving were dragging themselves along, trying to find shelter. Fire was everywhere. It seemed as if the air itself was on fire. She remembered the heat that she had felt when she had been outside, it had been suffocating, intense and terrifying, and she knew by the looks on the faces of the dying bodies, that it was nothing compared to what they were feeling right now.
Christiana’s body convulsed and every drink she had taken that night escaped her, falling into a technicoloured liquid mess around her. She felt the sun, she felt it on her now in this glass bubble but it only felt warm, not hot, not like how they were feeling it.
She turned to face indoors, throwing an accusing glare to those inside. No one was really watching her, they seemed busy barking orders and focusing their attention on a circular plate of glass in the centre of the room. One set of eyes were on her, the girl who was at her table before, Daniela. She was staring at her, her face pale and terrified.
“Help them,” Christiana said, although her voice was so small she knew no one heard it.
She stood up, her eyes searching for someone to bring sense into this. She saw Kelly, walking around and ordering different people in the room, barely looking outside, as if this was the most normal thing in the world. Was she the only one who thought this was wrong? Was she the only one who was shocked by what was going on?
“Help them!” She screamed.
People turned to look at her then. Kelly looked up from where she was and as soon as her eyes met Christiana’s, she saw the colour drain from her face and terror fill her eyes. Immediately her expression changed to one of anger.
“Who let her in here!?” She shouted.
Everyone looked at Christiana then. Someone ran over to her and pulled her up to a standing position, she turned round and saw that it was Jason.
“I’m sorry,” Jason said, “she ran and I couldn’t catch her in time.”
His eyes were matching how she felt however and they were darting over all the carnage out of the windows.
“Jason,” Christiana whimpered, “Look at them all.”
“Come on,” he said, his voice sounded strong but there were tears streaming down his face. “We can’t be here.”
Christiana felt a stab of anger and pulled her arm free of him.
“No!” She screamed, turning back to the rest of the room. “Someone needs to help these people!”
Christiana watched as people in the room looked out the window, shock registering on their faces as if this was the first time they had noticed the dying people on the ground.
“We need to get them in here!” Christiana said. “Open a door! Let them in, get them out of that sun!”
It was Connor’s voice, although it sounded like it was coming from a sound system, her eyes shot around the room to find him but couldn’t see where he was.
“Connor?” She called out.
“Jesus, Kelly,” Connor yelled, his voice angry. “Why the hell is she seeing this?”
“Connor, where are you?”
She followed the direction of most people’s gaze, they were turned outside. No, she thought, he can’t be out there, please, please say he’s not out there. She looked but only saw the statues, the bizarre moving metallic statues out amongst the flames. One of them moved to the glass, there was something so familiar about his build, she moved closer and recognised Connor’s features peering out of the statues face.
“What the hell?” She said.
“Don’t freak out Christiana,” Kelly said from somewhere behind her.
Christiana was beyond freaking out, she didn’t know how it was possible, but Connor was out there walking amongst the flames in this strange metallic suit and seemingly unaffected by the heat killing everyone around him. She didn’t know how it was possible, but right now she didn’t care. She could only think about the screams that were reverberating around her head.
“Connor, help them,” she said, her voice quiet.
The metallic statue looked around him and took in all the dying people. He looked back into the bubble.
“Daniela, get me back.”
“Sure,” Daniela said, her voice quiet and strained.
There was more movement behind her, but Christiana couldn’t face taking in any more information, she just kept on looking at Connor’s statue body.
“I’m ready,” Daniela said again.
The statue figure walked over to a large mound of the same metallic substance and seemed to step into it. As it did, it melted away. Christiana’s heart began to race even more, panic rising. Where had he gone? Her eyes searched the metallic mound, looking for any sign of Connor but the thing didn’t move. Suddenly there were arms around her and without looking she knew they were Connor’s. She turned around to see his concerned face searching hers. Emotion overtook her and she wrapped her arms around him and sobbed loudly into his chest.
“What’s going on?” Duncan’s voice sounded over the same loud speaker Connor’s had been just moments before.
“Craig, are we still clear?” Kelly asked.
“Nothing for 30 miles.” A man’s voice replied. “Any that are in the area seem to be dying on their own.”
“Daniela, bring them all in.”
Christiana looked up then.
“You’re bringing the people in?” She asked.
Kelly looked at her levelly.
“There’s nothing that we can do for those people out there. They’re already too far gone.”
“Well surely we should at least try!” Christiana cried.
She looked around, waiting for someone to agree with her, when no one did she felt her stomach drop.
“We can’t just let them all die!”
“Even if we brought them in Christie, they wouldn’t survive the burns they already have.”
Christiana pushed herself free from Connor at his words. She walked over to the little girl, still crying in pain.
“Look at her!” She screamed. “She’s just a child! You’re telling me that there is nothing we can do for her? We’re just going to leave her like that?”
“There’s nothing that we can…”
“Don’t tell me that! What about people that might be safe from this, shouldn’t we at least look to see if there are any that we can save?”
“We can’t go out there,” Kelly said. “If the heat didn’t kill us then the toxic air would.”
“Everyone out of this building is now exposed Christiana,” Kelly said. “Whether it’s now or in a couple of days, no one will be able to survive out there.”
Christiana shook her head manically, pushing the idea out of her head, refusing to believe it.
“No, there must be something.” She said. “There has to be something.”
“There is something,” Connor said.
Christiana turned to him, hope stirring within her.
“Duncan,” he said, turning to face one of the statues outside. “Christiana’s right, no one should have to suffer like that.”
The statue nodded in understanding.
“Jensen, give me a gun.”
Christiana felt her heart jump to her throat. “No!” She cried. “You can’t!”
“It will stop her suffering.” Connor reasoned.
Christiana searched desperately for a reason to contest this, a way that would save her.
“How do you know that she won’t survive?” She pleaded. “How do you know that the air is so toxic?”
There was silence for a moment. Finally it was Kelly who spoke.
“Because we’ve been researching this attack for years, if there was any way to survive that atmosphere then we’ve had enough time to find it, but there isn’t. The only way of surviving is to stay out of exposure.”
Anger boiled deep within Christiana. “You knew this was going to happen?”
Kelly nodded once and turned to the statue outside.
“Duncan, put the poor girl out of her misery. Daniela, hold off bringing the rest of them back, we should try and save as many people as we can out there from pain.”
Christiana turned back to the girl, Duncan’s statue now standing over her. The little girl looked up pleadingly at him, her wailing now directed towards this strange moving object. The statue knelt beside her and took her hand. His touch seemed to increase her agony and she screamed even more, pleading with him to help her. Christiana watched the statue’s face soften and smile tenderly at the girl, keeping her eyes on him. Christiana was so fixated by this, she didn’t even see the gun at the girl’s temple until it went off. The girl’s cries stopped as Christiana’s began, one long wail that echoed round her head although no sound escaped her mouth, it built up in intensity and volume until all consciousness left her and she fell into Connor’s arms.