Cayo Elina 32

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“Check back there.” Alban said nervously to Elina.

“There’s nothing there, I can see it’s clear.”

“It’s pitch black in there!”

“Fine, but with Gus babysitting the other group you better keep a good watch behind us, there is a lurker roaming around out there.” Elina stomped into the dark alleyway between the rows of machines in the building. The weather hadn’t gotten in here in the past two years and the techs were practically dancing in their excitement. She was inside what was, essentially a huge machine shop. There were lathes, huge stocks of metal to fabricate parts from, welding equipment and an electronics shop.

Alban thought they could get the machines they needed running after cleaning them up and applying generous amounts of lubrication…if they could get power to them. They had brought a generator with them in the transport helicopter and Gus was retrieving it with the help of the other men. Hector had come back, or rather was ordered back, from the front lines by Sidney. He was bloodied and battered, but not badly enough to warrant a trip back on the medical evacuation team. And he didn’t talk about what had happened to him either.

‘He lost his gun though.’ Elina thought, ‘All he has now is that belly buster from the dead marine.’ The marine Elina had been going to infect had died before the evac helicopter headed back with the rest of the seriously injured. ‘I should have done it.’ Part of Elina knew it wouldn’t have done any good. In a spare moment Gus had explained that he could see who the Maxson serum was going to kill, but he couldn’t tell on Elina, because, well, he couldn’t see her in his future at all. Gus then rattled off a series of names, people in the teams around them. ‘He said they all could be injured or mortally wounded and they would survive if I infected them.’ Gus hadn’t thought of using his ability to check such things before and, as he said, it was getting easier to see ahead now, something that seemed to bother him.

“It’s clear Aldan, like I said.” Elina called back over her shoulder. The building had been unlocked, but intact. The first thing they had done was lock it up, then they had cleared it. Aldan was extremely nervous and swore he had heard something down this way. ‘Just scared of the dark.’

Elina stopped and stepped back the way she had come, as she did so a crate toppled off of the industrial strength shelving and crashed down behind her. The sound of crunching lumbar as the box hit the ground was followed instantly by a reverberation of the floor. Elina immediately jumped up into the air, scrabbling up the stack of crate three stories high until she reached the top. Glancing around she spotted where the crate had come from and leaped over to the empty space.

‘Nothing.’A soft noise caused her to cock her head sideway and look to her left. She didn’t see anything but the sound came again, like a footfall planted on the top of the crate, edging away from her.

“Elina?” called Aldan.

“I’m up top Aldan. A crate fell.”

“Did someone push it?”

Elina shook her head, “No way, it’s too heavy, it must have just fallen from all the excitement.”

“What?”

Not answering Elina launched herself over the top of the seemingly empty space above the crate. She shouldered a body off the top and they both ended up falling off the other side, into the next row of the warehouse. Elina caught herself on one of the supporting beams and swung herself to the second level, scanning the floor below.

‘There!’It was a darker shade of shadow, Elina recognized it as the blood that came out of wounded zombies. “Aldan, we have a ghost !”

“What?” He shouted back.

“Get the hell out of here! Get Gus!” She yelled back. Elina jumped down to land on the next bloody stain on the concrete. There was nothing there this time and something struck her sharply in the back. Elina twisted with the blow and ended up with her back to an empty slot on the ground level beneath the towering shelving.

Slowly she backed up further underneath the shelving, watching the ground for any betraying blood that might still be flowing from the zombie and listening for the sound of his movement. ‘I always assume it’s a ‘him’. It could be a woman.’ In her experience the women zombies weren’t that interested in dead end fights. If the zombie was still here it was a man.

Gus barreled around the corner at the far end of the valley; he was still in a pool of light, let in by the gaping front doors across the warehouse. As he rounded the corner he skidded sideways, like a cartoon character and Elina burst out laughing, unable to help it as he careened into a cargo container to keep from falling down.

“Elina?” Gus called, squinting to try and see into the gloom.

“I’m here, Gus. About three quarters of the way down, on your left. I can’t see the zed, so don’t you waste time trying to see him.”

“Invisible?”

“Yeah, I told Aldan it was a ghost, but I was wrong.”

“Swell.”

Gus closed his eyes and proceeded down the aisle slowly, hands held by his side. Elina heard a quiet footfall, between them, but couldn’t decide if the person was coming closer to her or moving away.

“He’s out in the aisle.” Elina said.

“Shhhh. I know. Almost got her.”

“Her?” Elina said with some surprise, ‘Must be desperate.’

“There’s a practical limit to how much I can test as I walk this path.” Gus said.

“What?”

“I’m on the edge of twilight, moving forward at the speed of thought checking every possible thing I can think of, which is quite a lot when you think about it. But even I can’t see all the possibilities, there is a time constraint and, of course, a limit to my imagination in coming up with things to look for.”

“Gus, yo, Gus! You’re talking out loud.”

“And as the foreseen action, meets up with this very cusp of reality.” Gus stopped and lashed out with one arm, Elina saw gore dripping from his hand as he moved quickly away, still spouting words off as he went, “Everything changes in an instant. Not the instant of thought, but the instant of action. Thought’s cannot outrun bullets, but I can see them coming…” Gus paused and moved sideways suddenly, “Even when I cannot ‘see’ them. The result of the unseen action is still foreseeable. And, therefore, avoidable.”

Elina wasn’t content to wait on Gus’s say so to enter the fight, she charged forward, aiming towards the volume of space that the man had seemed to dodge away from. She collided with an invisible zombie and pulled it down with her as she fell. Elina grappled with her opponent for a few brief seconds, not knowing if she was risking her own life by not being able to see a bite coming from the creature. Gus fired off a single shot, which hit midair above Elina. After the explosive burst a zombie appeared above her, swaying and reforming, stuttering in and out of her vision like someone was turning a flashlight on and off.

Gus fired again, ending the battle as his second bullet followed the first into the zombie’s brain. He twirled his old fashioned revolver and blew at the thin tendril of smoke creeping out the barrel.

“Show off.” Elina said.

“I hate the ones you have to double tap.” Gus said.

Elina rolled the corpse off of her and stretched one hand out to Gus for a lift up. He gave it and she nodded, “Yeah, or the triple taps.”

“And don’t even get me started about the four taps!” Gus grinned. Some zombies went down harder than others. A run of the mill shamble when down most times with a single gunshot or skull crushing blow to the head, but sometimes the damage wasn’t severe enough to put them down and they just got up or kept coming.

“An invisible one. I haven’t seen one of them in…well since the height of the attack last year.” Elina said, looking the zombie woman over.

Gus stood there smiling.

“What?”

“Of course you haven’t seen one! They’re invisible!”

Elina swiped him playfully against the chest. “Dork!”

“I don’t like them and is it me or are the zeds taking more damage to put down lately?”

“It’s not you. The shamblers are the same as they’ve always been, but some of these supers are just…whew, a pain in the ass!” Elina said.

“Lucky I was around, huh?” Gus asked.

“I couldn’t have done it without you, moley. Like old times.”

“Just like old times, yeah.” Gus repeated. “Well I left the poindexters alone, I better get back to them, make sure they haven’t been eaten up by another invisible zed.”

“Wouldn’t you have seen that coming?” Elina asked with a giggle.

Gus turned back to Elina, a serious look on his face, “I’m not sure. I can’t see you Elina, I can read you or find you in the future at all.”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“What if there are zeds out there like you? I’m beginning to see why the futures all seem to end pretty badly for me.”

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