My new book, 'Of Deads', is nearing completion. It's set in the world of the Stella the Zombie Killer on the night of the crash. It was supposed to be a bright new dawn, a new age in which humanity would move forward with purpose and energy born from a new and complete desire to work cooperatively, to be one planet, with each other and with the People, the benevolent aliens who have made this new future possible. But not quite complete. There are those who would ruin this new beginning. They are the Cynics. On the night of the People's arrival there are parties across the globe, and the Humber Bridge hosts one of the biggest. The Cynics have promised to target these parties. In this extract Cameron is trying to get his kids, the twins, Savannah and Noah, off the Humber Bridge before it collapses after the Cynics have set off bombs at each tower.
More snapping, closer now, so that Cameron feels the noise. It’s the cables, he realises. The cables are snapping, one by one and whipping through the air, echoing round and round, thick steel whips brought to horrible life. The deck drops and he’s down again, his children’s hands gone, and he reaches and grasps at the smoke-filled air. He can feel himself coughing and choking but he can’t hear anything. Is it him that coughs and chokes? He feels detached, lifeless. Then the pain in his knees and elbows from the fall, and the taste of iron in his mouth rush back to remind him he’s alive. He spits weakly, letting bloody drool drip from the corners of his mouth; reddish streaks run into the dust and dirt on his cheeks, and he looks for the twins, raising his head from the tarmac and looking desperately, the world spinning. He's still coughing, squinting his eyes against the smoke and the dust in the air. He can’t see them. He tries to shout but his throat is so dry. He rolls to his side, coughs some more, works saliva into his mouth, swallows to try to clean the dust from his throat, and forces a hoarse cry that no one can hear.
More cracks, more snapping. The deck shakes, drops again. The air behind him at the northern tower is sliced over and over as thick cables whip and dance. He can feel their energy as they break free, the air is filled with the released tension. Another snaps, the deck drops again. Not much, just enough to feel the camber. The deck is falling, cable by cable, mostly from the north side, but close by too.
He’s on his knees, looking for the twins, hardly daring to move in case his tiny weight could somehow send the whole thing crashing into the Humber. All around him people do the same; they’re frozen, waiting. Then movement. The twins, one on either side, tears streaking their filthy faces. Cameron rolls to Savannah first, his movements waking the other adults. They sit up, rise to their knees, look about them, their hands outstretched like they need to balance themselves, still dazed, not daring to speak. Cameron pulls Savannah close, doesn’t hug, reaches for Noah, pulls them both in close, all three on their knees, doesn’t hug them, rises to his feet, drags them to theirs. He steps over bodies, tells the twins not to look down, and walks on, trying to ignore the thought that had they been just two rows of people closer to the explosion it would be blood on their faces not dirt and dust and ash.
Cameron doesn’t look down to the children, not just because of the bodies, but because he doesn’t want them to speak. If they ask for anything other than help to walk off the bridge then he will collapse, unable to do what they need, unable to be their dad, unable to not sink to his knees and hold the twins as tightly as he can and cry until the bridge collapses. He walks on, others now joining him, the tower closer and closer.
Another crack, another fall and they almost stumble. Another and another. Keep moving forward, get under the tower. Another crack. Cameron stumbles into a run, the twins dragging behind, their hands slippery. Cameron slows, grips more firmly, roughly, painfully. He knows they must be complaining but he can’t hear, won’t hear. He pulls them on.
Another crack, another fall and they almost stumble. Another and another.
Cameron pushes on, he can see the crack in the road ahead, the deck beneath the tower raised above the main deck. He won’t look behind. Noah does, he must do; Cameron is forced to drag him all the more, away from the view of the disappearing bridge as if folds down into the estuary.
Another crack, another fall and they almost stumble. Another and another. The road is falling away, the deck tearing from its cables, shrieking a deafening call. Cameron runs, pulling the twins off their feet, dragging them to the tower. He runs but the deck is disappearing, falling away, he spins and throws Savannah the last couple of metres, spins more and throws Noah, then hurls himself, even as the deck cracks and splits in two, to land amongst the steel cables in the cutaway deck still suspended between the south tower.
He is on a cliff face, two metres from the top of the deck. Steel struts, broken concrete and spitting electric cables surround him.
He breathes hard. He can’t see the twins, doesn’t have the strength to haul himself up onto the tarmac; it’s too much to even hold on.
Then they’re there, above, screaming and crying. He can’t hear them, can only see their mouths, wide and dark as if their faces had been sucked into tiny black holes.
‘Go back!’ he yells. His words make no difference. They scream and scream. Savannah reaches down, inches forward. ‘No!’ Cameron screams. There is only one option; he must let go. He stares up into Savannah’s eyes, tries to tell her that it’s for the best, it’s not her fault. ‘Look away!’ he calls. ‘Please!’
She doesn’t. She can’t. She reaches lower. She slips.