The fires raged.
From his vantage point in the helicopter, Callaghan couldn't pick out details, it was clear though that the streets were swarming with the dead and the dying. He shook his head at the carnage below, a loud, resounding boom echoed throughout the streets as a car's fuel tank went up in flames; just another drop in the ocean. He saw people standing on their rooftops waving frantically at the helicopter even as the dead pressed in and barged their way through simple, hastily-erected barricades, he noticed that far more jumped, plunging to their deaths than those that foolishly believed that a last-minute rescue might come, and he watched as these people were stripped to the bone. Thankful that he was unable to see the details in their entirety, Callaghan shut his eyes and leaned his head back.
"This wasn't supposed to happen."
He thought back to two months ago, when the infection in Britain seemed all but eradicated, and only Manchester and Inverness had yet to be cleared. How could it have come to this so quickly? Suspicions were raised when the coast guard unit hadn't reported in, or the next day, or the day after, but there had been a storm, so it could have just been down to communications interference. The truth was, Callaghan suspected, far more sinister, a police unit was dispatched to the area and reported that the guards and all the civilians populating the coastal village were dead, shot. A crashed vessel wasperched on the beach, with several containers that looked as though they had been opened from the outside, shot off. What was even more worrying was that a search of the interior of the vessel confirmed all of Callaghan's fears: it was a British ship.
He wasn't sure why anyone would knowingly transport two containers full of the undead across the Channel, nor was he sure if these people were even still alive, or how they'd breached the quarantine. He wasn't sure of a lot of things at the moment, he thought of Stephen, he'd not seen the man since that talk they'd had in his office, and he spent a moment wondering if he was okay. He doubted very much that he'd take his post graciously, particularly after all the arguing he'd done, he wanted to see the front, that much was certain, but he was a civilian, and ten times out of ten, civilians found that the front was a much less exciting place than they actually thought. He was about to light a cigarette, but he heard a grunt from the man sitting next to him, and stowed the thought, the Major was a good soldier, but there were times when Callaghan thought the stick up his backside was lodged in too deep.
"Tell me sir." The Major probed "Are they still looking for those runners from the coast?" his accent drawled, thick and heavy, definitely Southern, unfortunately appearing to lack the manners that the typical Southern Gentleman was meant to possess.
"Oh well. Soldiers aren't meant to have manners, they're meant to fight and win." Callaghan thought grimly to himself, he turned his head away from the spectacle down below and back to the Major, who was still wearing the digital camouflage fatigues his outfit seemed to take a shine to.
"Last I heard, they were Major Barnes." He answered, dryly.
"Well sir, begging my pardon, but I think they've got bigger problems to worry about now." As if to prove his point, another explosion – this one much larger than many of the others – lit up near the stands of the iconic tower of the city below. One of the legs was now nothing more than blackened, twisted metal, and the structure bent awkwardly, before the metal gave a tortured scream, and the tower collapsed, falling apart as the top came down. Callaghan grimaced.
"How many people took shelter in that thing?" he wondered to himself as it finally impacted on the ground, crushed entire rows of buildings and kicking up a storm of dust.
He wanted to look away, but the sight was strangely hypnotic, it was only when the dust finally settled that he came out of his trance. He looked to the pilot.
"Take us to Granville, there's no saving this place now." He said, with a reluctant finality.
The helicopter banked to the left and took its occupants east, Callaghan finally tore his eyes away from the sight and decided to take the longest nap he'd ever had in his life while eight hundred feet below, the city of Paris burned and tore itself apart.