There was a long, drawn-out sigh, followed by the tearing of the air, and the surrounding darkness was split by a flash of white light.
Sam expected to see the lights on the promenade twinkling off into the distance, the wings of the angel statue silhouetted against the moonlit
sky, the cliffs standing sentinel at either end of the town. But what she expected no longer existed.
Stretching out ahead was a vast wasteland; a filthy, oozing sea of mud studded with the blackened stumps of lifeless trees. Craters, filled with slimy water, touched and overlapped all the way to the horizon. Beaten down into this mess were scraps of equipment, helmets, rifles, coils of barbed wire, even a military tank.
A gold ring, embedded in a piece of rock, lay beside her feet. She looked more closely. The piece of rock wasn’t rock but a human finger. As she looked even more closely, the finger connected itself to a hand, a hand attached itself to an arm, a head stuck itself onto a neck, the neck onto a back with two shoulders. The bones jerked and a rat, as big as a cat, tore itself out of the ribcage of a man who used to be somebody’s husband. The sea of mud wasn’t that at all. It was a sea of blood and bones.
There were arms, legs, heads and hands, some still wearing clothes, some still with eyes and hair, layer upon layer of them. And the blood and the bones weren’t all dead. Some were still alive and still suffering. Their cries rose up all around her. A head lifted out of the mud. A pair of blue eyes blinked. And blinked again.
A hand reached out towards her.