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Chapter 12

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Chapter 12 -Chamber - 11.02am Sidney stood over Africa. Her dark skin glistened with sweat in the low light. Her Companion had done its work and joined with the young woman, but she was still unconscious. Sidney had no idea how long he had blacked out for, as he lay underneath his car, and looked more closely down at her as he waited. He did not want to rush the issue. This was a moment of revelation for Africa and she would thank him, he knew it. The alien had curled itself over the womans left shoulder and taken on the same soft brown as the rest of her body. It rose out of the torn tracksuit top, an abnormality, breaking her body line with a ridge of hard flesh. But of course it was not flesh; it was an alien Companion lying beneath the new skin. Outside the passage a distant crash made Sidney look up at the alien wall. About a metre of light remained. The wall of brown bodies had built up at either end of the space and given another twenty minutes the gaps would probably be filled in if the aliens sustained the onslaught. Beyond he realised that a building across the road had come down and suspected it was a supermarket on the corner of Ashley road. Its flimsy one level structure was not designed with age in mind, let alone the bombardment of thousands of aliens. He knew there would be perhaps up to fifty people inside at this time of day. Staff and shoppers cowering within as the light diminished, and they tried to understand what was going on. If the roof fell in all would be saved, Companions would fill the spaces, come to their rescue as they lay bleeding. Everyone would need a Companion but this made Sidney think. What if they were trapped beneath rubble and the Companions couldnt reach them? Would they be helped? Instinctively he moved towards the wall and paused. Could he go out into the falling and be alright? Wouldnt he be struck down? And what would happen to Africa? Maybe he should stay here and help her with the transition? Perhaps she could help him rescue the others and Sidney considered this to be the best option so he knelt beside the girl and gently rocked her. She began to stir and groaned as she opened her eyes. All he could see, within those dark globes, was confusion and palms flat against the floor she sat up. What happened? She mumbled, sounding groggy. Everything is fine now Africa. She looked up at him and frowned, What are you talking about, the words jarred in her throat and she froze. Obviously she was not in any pain, her recollection would have been more instant if she had been, but the memories would soon rush in and as they did her body language changed. Her eyes darted from side to side, as if she was looking for some way to escape and she slowly backed up against the wall, sinking further into the shadows. Do not worry you will soon embrace this gift. She whimpered and Sidney could just make out the young woman feeling her body for injury, hands climbing to her neck and the bulbous form that protruded. She was crying now and he watched as she desperately pulled at the new addition, bitter sobs stuttering from her clenched teeth. What have you done? You have been saved. What are you fucking talking about? You did this to me! Saved? Youre insane. Youve been saved from being simply human. Im just a girl. Her words were calmer now, almost resigned. No. You have been joined. We are elevated beyond being just human, not just a man or just a girl....Stand. She remained on the ground. Stand. Why are you doing this? Sidneys mind raced. She was resisting the change. How long had it taken him to realise? Not long but would she need longer. Why am I doing this? He felt anger. This isnt me, this is fate. When the skies filled with the Companions it was taken out of my hands. Its not me Africa, its the new way. Look around you. She was still crying as she glanced towards the wall, reluctantly silent, but sensing the mans anger and fearful he might attack her again. Do you feel stronger? She looked away into the shadows. Healthier? She was still resisting. It doesnt have to be this way, she whispered. What did you say? In an instant Africa had scaled the wall and thrust through the ever narrowing slit. No, wait! Youll understand soon. He held up a hand and reached for the white trainers but it was useless. She was obviously stronger and fast. He hesitated and moved forward. Sidney pushed through gap, scrambling upon mounded aliens, and out into the falling bodies and to his amazement he saw the skies were lighter. The Companions were still falling but it was lighter, the skies were now a mottled grey. The bombardment was coming to an end. About twenty metre to his left and heading up the hill of creatures was Africa. She was moving awkwardly but quickly over the surface of the infestation. He wouldnt catch her. Africa. I can help you! She didnt turn or stop. Every person would have to find their own way and discover their Companion Sidney realised. Like with anything, he mused, it would be different for each individual. He stood on the sea of bodies, alone as the last parachutes of aliens gently floated down to nestled in with their likenesses. The aliens were at least two metres deep here and he saw a road buried, a world sunk beneath a torrent, an alien landscape. He smiled. As he turned towards where the supermarket had collapsed, a dip in the alien surface, something high up caught his eye and he turned in its direction. Rising about the roof top, of a row of shops further down the road, was a distant line of smoke. It was widening, intensifying and he shuddered. The feeling moved up through him as an irrational impulse. He knew it was alien but somehow it was him. He had a fear of fire now, a new feeling unlike any he had experienced. It was raw and primeval and eclipsed the sense of pleasure he had previously enjoyed as he scanned the sea of Companions. He curled his body inwards and sunk back, stumbling as he fought to find his footing. Get a grip. He fell on out stretched hands and spun to watch the smoke curl upwards. Give me control, he said to himself and he felt the fear roll from him and as if drinking a hot drink the warmth returned in his chest first and then through his body, the chill of fear extinguished. He ran his hand down the trunk of his leg, feeling his Companion, acknowledging and comforting it and moved on. Now across the street, he stumbled to the edge of the super market crater and a low wall, the top of the buried outer wall. He looked down, now with a new sense of urgency. The fire was coming and he had to save as many Companions as possible. The Supermarket was a mess. It spread out across the corner of the street, the lowest structure in the area, having been built upon an old car lot about ten years previously. Only part of the roof had fallen in to create a hole about ten metres wide. Carefully he navigated the uneven surface, the brown and black bodies had shifted with the incline of the sagging roof. He knelt down at the edge of the hole and looked in. Beyond the dust had settled. Tall shelves lay at angles, produce scattered the floored in amongst the aliens and lumps of white ceiling appear like miniature blocks of iceberg down in the dark depts. It was desolate, a numbing scene of destruction. Then there was a voice and it stirred Sidneys heart, Help! Someone help me! Help is on the way.

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the same pleasure but she is resisting and Sidney cannot understand why. Beyond their chamber others need his help though so he must move on, but an old enemy has appeared to drive fear into his heart.



Dominic Constable's The Falling Continues at http://www.thefalling.co.uk

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Date: 5/23/10
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