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They huddled together in the centre of the canteen, breathless and on edge. Nell dropped her pack and started to check their ammo while Coleman, Marinos and Lund stood guard.

Lund glanced at her fellows for a second. Their faces were pale. “Did you see them?”

Coleman nodded. “Caught a glimpse, that’s all. Just before they got Odell.”

She put a hand briefly on his shoulder. He’d grown up with Odell, and they’d joined her team on the same day.

He closed his eyes for a second, then shifted his gun to a ready position. “I saw these long spindly… arms, I think. Then he was gone. He didn’t even have time to scream.”

She bit her lip and tried to keep her hands from shaking. “Grabbers.”

Nell looked up from her pack. “I thought they were supposed to be just stories?”

“To most people they are. And those people don’t know how lucky they are. What have we got?”

Nell let out a heavy sigh. “Not as much as I’d like. Nakano had most of the ammo. If they come at us in numbers, we won’t be able to hold out for long.”

“How much, Nell?”

“Fifteen mags. Plus whatever you’ve still got loaded. Couple of grenades, three tripmines. That’s it.”

Marinos swore. “No way we can hold out for a rescue squad with that. We won’t make it until dawn.”

Lund took a deep breath. They were outnumbered by carnivorous things that they probably wouldn’t even see coming, and they were on their own for at least three hours.

“Lock and load,” she said. The confidence in her voice surprised her. “Coleman, you got sharp eyes so you’re on point. Marinos, you take the rear, and I want you breathing down our goddamn necks. Once we make it to the armoury, we’re golden.”

In her mind, she was trying to trace the straightest route possible, but the base was a labyrinth. With grabbers around every corner, chances are they’d all be dead three times over before they got halfway there. Best they could do would be to take as many of them out as they could, leave less work for the recovery squad.

“Stay close. Let’s do this.”

© Kari Fay

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