Sometimes running away is the hardest thing you can do. What I want, what I really want, is to turn around right now and plunge back into the midst of the Maliche, let their rotting, stinking bodies surround me, and kill as many as I can before I die. For Mum. For Dad. For Joss.
God, please let Joss get away. Mum and Dad might be gone, but please, please… save him. I left him climbing for a rooftop, and the Maliche can’t climb, and he might be safe enough—but I have to run, and running is so, so hard when all you want to do is die.
I can’t die though, not today. Today I have to live, because in my backpack, weighing me down like guilt, is the box. It’s a perfect cube I can balance on one hand, sharp-edged and shined to perfection—a magic box, the only hope we have of stopping the Maliche forever. And I want to stop them more than anything else in the world, more than I want to die, because while there are Maliche, no one dies.
And so I run, heading north in a town that runs south towards the battle, running for life and death and salvation along a road whipped by the wind and smogged with dust.
From dust created, to dust returned. Only that’s exactly it: with the Maliche on our doorstep, there is no return. I’ve seen the bodies they leave behind, twisted, gruesome things with flesh squeezed until the insides pop, left in the sun to ferment with a rictus of pain on their faces. And the eyes. The eyes are the worst.
No. Running away is hard, but it must be done. Humanity needs to die.