Missionary snatched am incendiary grenade and waited with thumb and forefinger grasping the timer cap. It had to go off at the right time; too soon and the manogs would girt the explosion. Too late, and they would be upon him. He waited one second and twisted, dropping the device as he turned and fled down the fire escape. Bounding from the rails, he caught hold of the wall just over the second landing. Swinging his legs sideways, he let go at the apex of his swing and rolled under the cover of the top landing. The grenade reached its fevered pitch, and exploded.
A scream drowned out the ringing in his ears. He ran up the stairs to the next landing to see how his grenade had fared. The stench of burning flesh filled his nostrils from one burning manog corpse. Movement beyond the flames revealed two that survived. One of the merge mutations growled and glared at him.
“I promise you; you’ll die for this! The whole pack won’t stop until we’ve hunted you down,” said the manog.
Brad didn’t fear the threat. The flames would burn for several minutes. By now, Gary’s family had reached the bottom of the stairs, and even if the angry pair had circled; they’d be long gone. He dangled over the rail and dropped and grabbed hold, one level at a time.
The family still ran as he passed them on his final drop to the ground floor. They came to a halt, slightly out of breath, but still looking keen to go on.
Gary set his hand to the exit door.
“Don’t!” Missionary warned. “The Hunter will be waiting outside.”
“How do you know?” asked Gary.
“It’s like you said, “he never misses,” so he’s going to take it personal. He won’t stop until he kills me. Now here’s what we do. Gary; when I leave here, I want you to take your family out of the city via the highway’s southern exit. Look for a turnoff pointing to Haven. Don’t stop until you reach a white walled installation with blue power bars. When you get there, tell them ‘Missionary sent you.”‘
“What are you going to do?” asked the woman.
“I’ll lead the Hunter away. He’s using a manual rifle, so he needs time to re-cock it after every shot. I’m going to get him to fire. When he does, you run.”
Without warning, the boy hugged Missionary tightly. He looked nonplussed at Gary over the boy’s shoulder. Gary simply shrugged. After a few embarrassing seconds, Missionary patted the boy’s back.
“I’ll be alright,” he assured him.
Missionary planted a hand high on the exit door and slowly pushed it open, keeping himself within the door frame. He wanted to give Hunter the impression that he dallied whilst standing behind the door. A shot ensued, as a hole appeared under his extended arm.
“Run!” Missionary cried.
He rolled behind a stout tree as another shot tore a strip of bark away, centimetres from his head. From safety, he watched Gary’s family file around to the rear of the building. That’s all that mattered. Even if he died this day, at least, Gary’s family would find sanctuary.