A ragtag group finds themselves trapped in the subway tunnels.
The Two Faced Goddess
To The Nines Award: pt 1
The survivors sat huddled around the small fire they’d managed to light in one of the old subway maintenance rooms. Alex Song, the cheerful subway engineer, had led them from the lower subway tunnels all the way to the surface. Without him they’d never have made it. The earlier explosion had caused cave-ins, so Alex had led them through the old disused sections of the tunnel system.
It had taken a couple of days to reach the exit situated in a small, deserted alleyway. They’d followed Alex out and around the corner into a war zone. Rubble, debris and bodies littered the ground. They’d stood there, frozen. Then the guns had started firing. Alex crumpled and Erris caught him, watching the light disappear from his laughing eyes; his blood staining her jacket.
‘Back to the tunnels!’ she’d yelled, slinging his satchel over her shoulder, grabbing Ana’s hand and giving Ty a push. They’d sprinted back the way they had come, bullets zinging and ricocheting around them.
‘Mum!’ Ana yelled, as companions fell.
‘We can’t help them! If we stop, we die!’ she yelled, pulling Ana along. Incredible pain caused her to stumble. ‘Go!’ she screamed, letting go of Ana’s hand. A quick glance showing blood on her calf. Scrambling she half fell behind a metal skip as bullets whined around her, looking up in time to see Dorian grab Ana and Ty, pulling them into the tunnel with him.
Erris sighed, she thought she’d left war behind, yet here she was in the thick of it again. Swearing she examined her leg. With all her skills and training she should have noticed something wrong. ‘Just a graze! Forgotten how much they hurt.’ She touched it, her fingertips glowing, watching it heal.
She gave the body next to her a cursory glance, snapping the chain and pocketing the soldier’s dog tags, noting the stripes on the shoulder. She took everything she could use, tucking the non-standard issue pistols into her waistband. ‘I’ll look after them, Colonel,’ she said, closing his sightless, staring eyes, offering a hurried prayer, and reloading the M4 carbine as she stood up.
Resting it in the crook of her arm she took a grenade and pulled the pin. Stepping out from cover, she threw and jumped back. The explosion was as loud and as violent as she remembered. Dust and debris were still falling as she ran for the tunnel into the waiting arms of Ana and Ty.
She hugged them briefly, wiping away Ana’s tears, yelling over their heads, ‘We need to move! Dorian, take us back down into the tunnels. I’ve brought us some time, but not much.’
‘It’s okay. Stay with Dorian. I’ll catch up.’
‘If your plan’s to work,’ said Chi Sun, standing beside her, ‘Our enemy must believe we went another way.’
‘I can’t let you do that.’
‘Because they need you,’ he said, taking the carbine from her. ‘If I live, I’ll find you. Look after Chi Lyn, please.’
‘They’ll only make it if you lead them, like you did the hostages out of the mountains.’
‘How did you…’
‘Know? I was one of them.’ He smiled and closed the door.
There’d been no sign of pursuit. Chi Sun’s ruse had worked and they no longer heard the distant sound of gunfire. Erris looked at the tired, haggard faces surrounding her; Chi Lyn was crying silently.
‘What do we do now?’ said a woman in heavily accented English.
‘Split up,’ said the only American among them.
‘Are you mad?’
‘Because smaller groups have more chance of surviving,’ he said.
‘Without Alex…’ said a young man, in what had once been a pristine lab coat.
‘We have his map,’ said the American, ‘We can make copies.’
‘Where would we go?’
‘The subway tunnels go all the way to the country,’ said Dorian, not meeting anyone’s eyes, playing with his phone. ‘There are nine different routes.’
‘Will it be any safer?’
‘Perhaps,’ said Erris.
‘So many lost,’ said the blonde woman, sadly.
‘Thirteen,’ said Dorian, not looking up. ‘We were forty, now we are twenty-seven.’
‘Are the numbers important?’ drawled the American.
‘Numbers are always important,’ said Dorian.
‘We’re not splitting up,’ said Erris, standing. ‘We’ll travel as a wolf pack does.’
‘Travel as a wolf pack! Pft! Who made you leader, girl?’
‘These do,’ she said, revealing the glowing sigils on her arms. ‘Either follow, or die.’