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CHAPTER VI “Jessica’s Bad Hair day”

This chapter has been a long time coming, my bad. I have been really busy and this needed quite a bit of editing and still some to come I fear. I have written two more chapters and these are being edited over the next few weeks so stay posted.

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NEW readers remember to start reading at Chapter I (The Hall) Use the side menus

CHAPTER VI “Jessica’s Bad Hair day”

Sunday 9am, the morning after infection.

Jessica had initially not wanted to come out today but Peter attempted to dial the guilt trip approach up a notch.

“You owe me girlfriend, you couldn’t go out last week because the championships were on, and the week before that the Psych exams were on, and now you need to rest?”, Peter whined in a desperate questioning tone. Jessica was watching his body language, the way he would fold his arms when he got like this. At this point she could do anything, he was like play dough. He knew he was working the guilt button, but he really did need a break and a picnic on the hump with his favourite girl he thought would be perfect. She did want to spend some time with him so she let him think he had got her.

“Just not the whole day though, a quick walk up, hour on top and back down for afternoon tea, alright Pete?” They lived close to each other and both were off the main drag, farms. Last night’s news had not reached them yet. If Pete had turned the radio on this morning he would made different decisions.

“I guess I can’t complain, so yes to that, lets go, I’ve got the car packed already.” Pete said with his hand on her shoulder ushering her outside but not before she ducked back inside and grabbed something from the fridge.

The hump was nothing more than a two thousand foot hill with a sheer rock face on the south side that reached a modest two hundred feet to the forest below. Sometimes climbers could be seen on the face but not today, the rock was wetter than usual from the rain the day before and that meant the moss would be even more treacherous. To get to the top was easy enough, and lots of the local kids would drive their four wheel drives up to the old log dump and walk the rest. It was popular with abseilers for this reason.

Most of the logs that were no good to the saw millers were left behind and gradually cleaned out by fire wood gatherers or woodworkers so now it was a quite large clearing with a few old camp fires and the usual broken bottles.

The track was easy enough, it meandered northward along the base of the rock face and then swung west half a kilometer up a hill so steep, that your face would be only inches away from the ground at times and you would find yourself walking with both hands on the ground in front of you. The walk up usually took about 50 minutes if you cheated and drove up the first bit to the clearing. Peter and Jessica talked a bit about uni and how she was having difficulty keeping up with all the work they handed out as they walked. Didn’t the lectures realize that students need some time off too.

The couple stayed up the top for most of the morning savoring the incredible view and drinking a glass of wine each. Jessica had some plastic wine glasses with lids so she would fill each with cold champagne and wrap them in a tea towel and ice.

“Nothing like a wee drop at the drop don’t you think?”, she said gesturing with her glass at the panorama below.

“Yeah and I am not going any closer to that edge after a couple of these”, said Peter holding his glass up to clink with hers before taking a swig of the cold bubbly liquid.

“Don’t tell me you’re afraid of a little certain death are you?”, Jessica said walking to the edge of the cliff and looking down and steadying herself by putting the hand with the wine in it on the land side of the drop as if to use it as a counter balance.

Jesus will you come away from the edge, you’re freaking me out”, Peter said more than a little worried. He hated heights, he could go up in a cable car or a plane, he had even parachuted, but never would he put his body near a drop without something tying him down… Stopping him from falling.

“I’ll give you a lolly pop right here if you can sit on the edge”

“God damn it Jess, I wish you wouldn’t do that, you know how much heights freak me out. Not even for that of which you offer, would you get me over there, you know you are safe on that one, you Succubus!”

“I guess you’ll just have to settle for a sweaty Betty on the grass”, she said walking back over with a red checked picnic blanket that she spread out on the grassy moss just beneath a low bushy tree. She had deliberately worn her most revealing raged denim micro shorts. The same shorts the girls in the seventies wore but back then they were called hot pants. They had tattered ends with splits in the sides. The rear was cut to show the fold where the buttock began. Peter had enjoyed the walk up the mountain behind her. She rarely wore them in public because of the way some more boganite guys would just stare at her bum. She looked at him with his favourite cheeky grin as she raised her eyebrows and patted the blanket next to her.

Peter began to kiss her almost politely, almost a formal kiss, a no tongues and touch lips slow dance. This was the thing that always fired Jessica’s passion, but for Peter the magic wasn’t in this, almost kissing crap. He was a no tongues barred type of kisser, open mouthed and mix that spit up man.

As they made love on the grass, a cool wind caressing their bodies, he began to wonder if this would be the one he ended up spending a lot more nights with over the years. Time passed slowly as they danced in the shade of the bush. Pete had thought they may have both dozed off after the passion was spent. The wine had made them sleepy.

“I think the weather might turn soon, what do you think, Pete?”

“Yeah, I think a bit more danger is okay, given the circumstances”

After a couple of glasses of wine and an hour of carnal gymnastics and a nap in the fresh mountain air Jessica and Pete, as he preferred to be called, decided to begin the walk down the hill. They were about two hundred metres from the top when Jessica suddenly crouched and held out her arm to block Pete’s path.

“Why are you st…….” Pete said defiantly, now inconvenienced because he had been stopped as he was just getting back into the rhythm of the down hill part of the walk.
“shh.”
“What’s up” Pete whispered”,
“You hear that?”
“What?”
“Listen!”

Pete could just make out faint voices gradually getting louder. “Retards and rednecks the place is full of them so what?”

“ I think we should go around them, they sound kind of off their faces” said Jessica. He had no time for drunks, thought they looked and behaved like complete morons. He especially didn’t like being here alone and this close to dark with this attractive young female and a bunch of lunatics on the piss on the loose.

“Ok, your call lets avoid them”
“Thanks Pete”
“Your welcome”, he said with a grin gently clutching her hand.

As they detoured to get around the clearing with the rednecks Jessica caught a glimpse of one of them through the trees. She just had the overwhelming urge to scream, almost did, but she managed to stay calm, scream later, she thought.

At the very moment Jessica decided to scream she saw the result of that decision in her minds eye and it was projected to every corner of her vision. This saved her life.

Instead she kinda hunkered down a bit and actually crept in a little closer. Pete wanted to go in closer with her, to support her, but he was shitting himself with fear, so thought it safer for both of them if he hung back.

Now she could see something was wrong, very wrong with these guys, they looked like shit, they looked, filthy, like a mechanic in the same unwashed tattered overalls for five years, they looked… Well, dead!

She also thought they acted like they were looking for someone, anyone and she was suddenly not in a very social mood. They were both jumpy now, and pretty scared.

“What do you think is wrong with them whispered Peter?” Don’t know and I certainly don’t want to ask them any time soon, do you?”…

They walked the last few hundred metres, in almost speechless silence, towards the little clearing where they left the car,

“Fuck” Jessica spat as she pointed into the clearing ahead. Their car was parked in by the white beaten up 85 Pajero. There were beer cans all over the place and there was blood all over Pete’s new Subaru Forester,

“Fucking rednecks, must have killed a roo and cleaned the thing on my car”,

“There’s no fur though Pete”, Jessica said gesturing toward the car.

They were suddenly aware of the silence in the bush, “can you hear that?”

“Can’t hear a damn thing” replied Pete.

“That’s what I mean, there are no bird sounds, or anything” said Jessica.

“Let’s just get that heap of junk out of the way and get out of here Pete, this place is suddenly giving me the creeps”. Pete was already at the Pajero,

“It’s locked, Jess!”

“Shit, what now?”, she said as she moved over to where Pete was.

“Don’t know, we sure as hell can’t drive around it, a nice drop over the cliff on one side and trees on the other” he said.

“Look!, the keys are in there in the ignition, those dickheads locked themselves out so they got pissed”, said Jessica with her hands cupped on either side of her face, which was pressed up against the side window to avoid the reflections.

“Or the other way around if you know what I mean.”

“More likely,” she added.

Suddenly the sound of branches moving and twigs snapping jolted them from their discussion. The

party boys were coming back down. Suddenly one of them stumbled into the clearing and stopped, swaying from side to side and looking straight at Pete.

“Fuck” he said under his breath. Jessica had her mouth open as if to scream, her eyes were showing the intoxicating effects of terror and the bewilderment of someone who could not quite comprehend the sight before her. After what felt like minutes she snapped out of it and grabbed Pete’s hand and slowly began to walk backwards past the Pajero and away from fractured Freddy.

Suddenly, one of Freddy’s friends burst into the clearing followed by a forth one. They all stopped, tilted their heads slightly to the side, chin slightly up and sniffed at the air. With their dark dead eyes aimed at Pete and Jessica they made horrid gurgling sounds that turned into an angry roar as they launched themselves toward the pair with all the might of footballers in grand final mode going for the last deciding touchdown.

“Run!” screamed Pete as they both took off down the track leading back to the main road, too terrified to look back.

The first of the rednecks tripped as he rounded the Pajero losing his footing and crashing heavily to the ground as the other two used his back as a spring board to gain some ground in their quest to catch up to Pete and Jessica.

“Shit they are gaining on us Jess, how can that be, they looked completely fucked up” said Pete as he desperately scanned the ground for something he could use as a weapon. Nothing but useless sticks here or rocks. The were only a few metres away from what looked an impossible fight

“Jess, we gotta find a place to hide, we can’t outrun these guys we got to disappear before they close that last fifty metres” Pete said looking around for the best way to go. Their hunters were still out of sight but they could hear them coming.

“That way, the bush is thicker there,” said Jessica pointing to the east towards a rocky section of mountain surrounded by thick shrub, “Shh! We gotta keep it quiet from here on, okay?” she added pulling on Pete’s arm. He seemed transfixed on the noise of the four infected psychos clambering down the mountain track to the west of them.

They managed to get into the thicket before they were seen and they climbed on top of a small outcrop of rocks, about three metres above the track. It gave them a good view of the surrounding area with some cover behind the shrubs. Peering between the foliage they saw the four of them go past at full speed then stop suddenly coming back up the track and in full view only around five metres from where they crouched, terrified and motionless.

The four were looking the opposite direction when Jessica threw a good sized rock over their heads and off to the side a little. Even though they should have seen it they didn’t, until it hit the bushes about ten metres away, making a distinct shushing sound followed by a clunking sound as it hit the rocks and bounced off down the hill. They all cocked their heads towards the sound and ran towards it.

“Now! Move!” Jessica whispered quickly as she slid down off the outcrop with her hands on the rocks and her feet in front of her. Pete followed her completely bemused and shocked at what had just happened. She had thought and acted so quickly with no consultation, but rather than feel hurt or angry he admired her, realizing what she had done just may save them.

They moved quickly and quietly down the mountain moving slowly away from the track and the attackers and it was working they seemed to have lost them when they came out to a steep section about five hundred metres from the road. It was like trying to walk over ball bearings. The incline was forty five degrees and the ground was covered in sharp granite gravel created over centuries of movement, rubbing together and erosion. The noise it made as the two tried to keep upright whilst slipping downhill, was both loud and high pitched in this quiet still air. They had started a mini avalanche due to the shape of the rocks and the steepness of the ground. The sound traveled up the mountain to the infected hunters who were able to get a good fix on where they were an began to close the gap again.

“Fuck it, Pete run for it they had to have heard all the noise we made, we have to get to the road and flag down a passing car or something, hurry!”

“And if there are no cars?”

“We keep running until we find help” She replied pushing a branch aside to go past. The worst aspect of this new dilemma was that they were not on any track so the going was slow and they could not risk moving back towards the track as they had no idea where their hunters were. After all the noise they had just made, they could pretty much guess they would not be far behind given they were on a well worn track.

Just before they got to the road Pete noticed a barbed wire fence on the opposite side and an old star stake that had rusted at ground level and fallen over. He picked it up and helped Jessica climb the heavy hardwood post that the fence was attached to. He then threw the star stake over and launched himself up and over to the other side. Jessica ran towards the middle of the paddock but Pete stopped at the fence with the stake in his hand, waiting.

“Come on Pete, hurry!” she cried.

“Be there in a sec” replied Pete. The first of the infected rednecks came running madly from the track a little to the left and the idiot tried to run straight through the fence. The barbed wire tore into his chest, throwing him backwards and onto the ground. Pete found it incredibly disturbing that he made no screams of pain, but instead grunted and kept trying to reach the two. As he came back Pete swung the stake with all the force he could muster hitting him in the chest ripping a huge chunk of his arm and chest out. Still he raged on trying to get to Pete. The guy was full of murderous rage and each time Pete swung he went down, but always stood up again, lashing out with his hands and hissing some garbled abuse at Pete.

Pete was in crisis trying to figure it all out. He did not want to kill the guy, but the blows didn’t seem to even slightly dampen maniac’s resolve to get at him.

“Stay down you stupid dick” as he went for him again this time the stake ripped through the thing’s neck, his head falling sickeningly to the side and dark red thick blood spurted out to the side. Pete could not fight the urge to throw up any more, all that blood, and the stench, he had never smelt anything this bad in all his life. A second guy also came off the track and ran straight across the road only to do the same stupid thing, run headlong into a lethal barbed wire fence. The first one was now on the ground writhing violently, covered in his own blood, which was black and congealed and flowing out slowly, like treacle as he pulled himself under the fence toward Pete, who was now busy retching up his wine and lunch just a few metres away.

“Why are they so fucking stupid?” Pete said to himself looking at the two attackers fighting with the fence. Anyone knows you can’t run through a barbed wire fence, Christ even a three year old knows that he thought.

The other two were now coming out of the woods on the far side of the road and were running toward the noise.

“Pete, move! They’re coming, quick!” screamed Jessica from where she had stopped fifty or sixty metres away.

Pete now had to be a little more firm. This time he drove the metal stake straight through the guys face pinning him to the ground. This time he stopped moving.

“Fuck, I killed a guy” he kept saying over and over as he ran towards where Jessica was standing, with both hands over her face in sheer terror and disbelief.

“Something is really wrong here Pete, that guy looked and smelt dead and yet he was attempting to kill you back there, doesn’t make sense at all” she said.

“Walking dead, maybe they actually are walking dead or zombies. Otherwise I just fucking murdered some guy and his dead mates are witnesses. I am now a murderer!”

“I don’t think any court would see it like that. Lets get moving before his three idiot friends figure out how to get through that fence.”

The other three guys were slamming themselves into the fence, bouncing back and stumbling onto the ground. One had become badly tangled and was thrashing about, desperately attempting to break free but succeeding only in ripping more flesh off his ghastly pale grey and wildly animated body. One of the others was kneeling holding the lowest strand of barbed wire in one hand and looking under. Was he learning to figure stuff out, to solve simple problems? Pete thought to himself. For now he just wanted to get the hell away from here before those lunatics decide to wriggle under the fence. Pete turned and caught up to Jess.

“So psychotic, what do they want with us?” questioned Jessica.

“Us, they want us, and if, for some unbelievable reason, they are zombies, which, by the way, don’t exist, then they probably feel the urge to eat our brains. We can at least assume it is some kind of viral madness, or even some psychedelic shit they took, so I say we just go get help” replied Pete.

They kept moving quickly toward a farm house at the end of the paddock. As they got closer they could see someone in the yard on all fours, gardening perhaps, thought Jessica.

“Hello, hello” inquired Jessica, but the farmer did not seem to hear and kept… gardening or something.

“Shhh!” Pete whispered as he grabbed her arm, “He does not look right to me, lets just be quiet, get a little closer, until we can see what he is doing”.

As they got closer, their hearts sank to rock bottom, the guy looked just like the other four and he was ripping bits of flesh from what was left of a young woman. He was covered in blood and had pieces of sinewy flesh hanging from his mouth. Suddenly he spun around to face Pete and Jessica, his head facing them and upwards.

“He is sniffing at the air, just like those other guys, I think he can smell us” Jessica whispered.

“No, I think he is listening to us, he is not sniffing but cocking his head from side to side and moving around as if to scan with his ears, but it looks like sniffing too.” She was now whispering.

Suddenly he got to his feet, growled at them and began to run, slowly at first, then faster as he saw them.

“Shit, lets go, NOW!” cried Pete. They had a good forty metres between them and the farmer.

“Lets double back toward the house once he gets here, maybe we can get a gun and a car from there” Pete said as he and Jessica rounded the dam and the outcrop of privet.

“You mean we steal someone’s stuff?”

“You got any better ideas? I myself, am beyond worrying about anything except our survival right now” said Jessica.

They waited until the farmer was across the dam from them then headed straight back toward the house. Their path was obscured from the farmer by the bushes, so they figured it should take him a while to work out where they had gone.

As they got there, they could see the girl on the grass, her clothes were ripped and so was her flesh. He face was mostly gone and the sight caused Jessica to vomit as she ran past. She held her head to the side to avoid getting herself covered with her own spew, but she kept moving. The farmer was now around the dam and heading back, fast. They went straight in and locked the door.

“We have got to check the house and lock all the windows and doors and find some type of weapon and quickly”

“Let’s stay close together and cover each others blind spots” said Jessica squeezing his hand and desperately fighting off the urge to scream her head off. She trembled, as if she were cold, but the shiver came purely from fear.

“Are you kidding, you’re not getting an inch away from me girl”

The house was clear so far, just the bedroom to go. They could now hear moaning noises coming from the bedroom and terrified, they inched toward the door. They both had knives from the kitchen, but this brought little comfort, considering what they could be facing in that room.

As they opened the door they could see a woman on the bed, she looked really sick but not quite like the others. She gestured toward them as she saw them.

“It’s okay, I won’t hurt you, at least not yet, you guys are safe for a while, but you have got to get out of here if I die.” said the woman on the bed who was struggling to breath, let alone sit up. One arm was bandaged and there was blood oozing out through the gauze. She began to cough, blood splattering her hand as she covered her face.

“Don’t worry I’ve been doing this for an hour now since my bastard of a dead husband bit my arm” she said through more coughing,

“don’t know how long I’ve got, but please don’t stick around when I’m gone, that’s what got me this” she said pointing to her arm.

“George came home from town and said there were crazy people everywhere and as he got into his Ute, some guy reached in, grabbed his head and bit his ear clean off as he drove away. He went to the hospital, but said it was madness up there, so he came straight home.”

“What? did he just bite you then?” asked Pete.

“No, no, I disinfected and bandaged his wound, then gave him some aspirin and a bottle of scotch but within hours he had turned blue and then went into a sort of a coma I suppose for a couple of minutes I guess. I tried to ring for help but the lines were all busy.” She began to cough more blood each time, sometimes she slumped back to the bed and fought her way back to a semi sitting position then continued the grueling tale.

“George was unconscious in the back room, so I gave put a sheet over him and tried to figure out what to do next. That’s when our daughter came home. She wanted to see George, and while we were sitting there with his body, he suddenly opened his eyes, and screamed.” She began to sob now.

“Sorry, I have not even introduced myself, how rude, I’m Margret,” she continued, trying to make light of her desperately hopeless situation. Jessica admired how strong of mind this woman was.

“Look, mam, you don’t have to keep talking, you should maybe rest a little, don’t you think,” Pete chipped in.

“No, what I have to say, may save your life, anyway, where was I… that’s right, Sarah, our daughter, what a hero. George, after he screamed, turned on me and did this jumping on top of me” she said pointing to her bitten arm.

“Sarah tried to pull him off me, but he kept biting my arm. Then she kicked him fair in the head and he spun around and went for her too. She ran to the door and yelled to me to ring the hospital while she lured him away, calling to him. He ran straight at her but she was too fast and led him off up the paddock. When I knew she was safely away I fixed this bandage, then I was too sick to do anything but lie down.” She began to sob more now, her tears mixing with the blood as she wiped her eyes.

“Where’s your daughter now Margaret?” asked Jessica..

“That’s her you passed in the yard, she doubled back thinking she had lost him but as she came back to the house for me he jumped her, her screams, my God, I will take those screams to my grave, she kept screaming no dad! No dad please! over and over, then it all went quiet, till you got here that is”.

“So your saying George came back to life like a zombie? We all know that’s just a bit on the weird side don’t you think?” Asked Jessica.

“Don’t know about bloody zombies love, but yes, he was off with them pixies, almost no pulse and no fog on the mirror kind of thing, then a couple of minutes later my George turned into that monster you saw out there” Margaret said fighting back more tears.

“Look, you can’t stay here, I am going to end up all mad like George soon too, so grab the shot gun, in the wardrobe there, and there’s a couple of boxes of shells there too, the keys to the Ute are here.” Margaret handed Jessica the keys from the bedside table.

Just then there was a loud crash on the back door, followed by another and another. George was back.

“Go please you have to go, he’s at the back door you can go straight out the front and the Ute is only a few metres away. jump in and go, but stay away from town, now go!” cried Margaret as she collapsed back to the bed in a fit of violent dry retches.

Pete had the gun and shells and was stuffing his pockets with ammunition as Jessica grabbed his arm and pulled him towards the bedroom door. The back door began to give way as they unlocked the front. Suddenly it burst open and George stormed in, raging hate filled and hungry for the kill. Pete slammed the door shut as George threw his body into it shattering some of the glass panels. He thrust his hand through almost reaching Jessica as she left the verandah.

“You drive Jess”, yelled Pete, as he chambered a round and snapped the barrel shut as they jumped into the Ute. George was through the door and down the steps before they had closed the doors and made a lunge at Jessica through the still open window, as she fumbled with the keys in the ignition. She hadn’t even noticed Pete jump out of the car as she fired up the engine. He had one foot in the car and one on the ground. There was a really loud bang and she was immediately covered in blood and sinew. She spat and screamed as she pulled the shift into drive and floored the accelerator pedal sending Peter sprawling onto the ground.

He was standing one leg on the ground and the shot gun in his hand, elbows resting on the roof when he fired point blank at George’s head spraying hair, brains and blood in all directions. His body dropped like a sack of shit onto the road and was still. As the Ute sped off he was thrown to the ground but clear of George and the Ute. There was a screeching sound as Jessica hit the breaks and threw the shift into reverse spraying the gravel from the driveway everywhere.

“Sorry” she said with a mock smile, as she stopped next to where Pete was, still sitting in shock on the ground.
“Gee thanks”
“and hey, thanks for this,” she said pointing the her blood soaked face. “We are stopping by the river so I can wash, god knows what cuties are in this shit.”
“I couldn’t fire that thing in the car, we’d both be deaf, sorry but I had to finish him quick” he said loading the shot gun and clicking the safety on.
“I don’t know about you and I feel quite mad to say this, but I think this some kind of infection, causing murderous psychosis of some kind, These things,they bite, eat people and die only when you destroy their head, or most of their body.
I think I am in shock but I just can’t believe it that’s all. I saw it, you saw it too, am I dreaming Jess?”
“I wish I bloody was”, she added,
“Where too now?”
“Well town is east, so lets go north, south or west”
“North west”
“Sounds good to me, I’m staving” said Pete.

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Chapter IV “A Zombie Plan”

BloodRedBuilding

Bus Stop: Wayne Hutchinson

NEW Readers please BEGIN at CHAPTER I “The Hall”

CHAPTER IV  “Zombie plan”

Wendy lived alone in a large flat above the supermarket in town with her son Mitch. A few years back, her husband ran off with a young checkout chick and had not been seen since. The only way into the flat was a single solid door and along a hall up some stairs then through another very solid door. The hall had one other door that the original owners, who ran the supermarket, would use for direct access to the storeroom. This metal door now had a large rusted padlock barring entry. The fire escape out the back on the wall was cheap, though ingenious way for the owners to comply with fire regulations. Not much more than a modified extension ladder really.
She worked in the credit union around the corner as assistant manager and although nearly forty two now she still got the looks from the blokes. Earlier tonight, while standing naked in front of the full length mirror admiring her aging but still quite acceptable looking figure, she remembered an incident a few weeks ago. Mitch was in his room with his mate Warren when she overheard him say half jokingly, “hey, can you hook me up with your mum, she’s so fricken hot man”,
She kind of guiltily thought he was quite cute but of course, much too young. She actually fancied his dad John, more though.
“Let’s not get gross now, that’s my mum in your warped sexual fantasies” Mitch chided. Tonight they were both off at the hall playing games.
An aluminum builder’s ladder had been adapted complete with safety cage, and fitted to the rear wall of the supermarket. The rope had been replaced with a chain which was used to lower the ladder to the ground.
The whole front of the flat sported a large veranda with a solid waste high timber wall that gave privacy from the street below. Wendy kneeled at the edge of the veranda and cautiously looked over into the street below with a mixture of fear and shock. People seemed to be fighting violently in the street. Others ran screaming from the pub and others were jumping into their cars and driving off at speed. She could hear police sirens in the back streets but the worst thing was the screaming, it was everywhere. Wendy was grateful that her flat was a large four bedroom fortress. A fortress she was to share with three friends, and one complete stranger by the end of this night.
She fumbled with the phone again and tried to ring Mitch again, still no signal. She rang the police but the emergency number was just swamped and constantly engaged. Everyone else, except her friend Jane and her twelve year old daughter Mina, was out, already dead, or not answering their phones. Jane said she was scared shitless and was on the way over as her house was all glass and crazy people were everywhere now.
She arrived a short time later, but drove past slowly as there were about half a dozen of the anger infested crazies wandering around below Wendy’s balcony, looking for anyone that dared to walk on the street. Wendy could see the fear in Jane’s face as the street lights flashed across her face.
An ambulance stopped up the road outside the pub, its lights illuminating shop fronts with its red and blue flashing lights. It had just arrived from the hospital, and the two weary paramedics jumped out and disappeared into the pub. Wendy could not see much happening at the pub since all the patrons ran out earlier. She wanted to yell out and warn them but, decided against it, she just did not want to let those freaks know where she was. She had turned all the lights off an hour ago and was keeping very quiet and staying out of sight of the street below. Next time, Jane drove past much slower, looking up. Wendy quickly flashed her torch at her and signaled to go around the back.
Jane stopped outside and almost instantly four, then two more of the crazies slammed into the side of her van, punching, tearing and kicking violently. Blood splatters appeared on the side of the car and she could hear Jane screaming inside.
One of the things ripped off a side mirror and smashed it against the driver’s window repeatedly until it finally broke,showering Jane in glass fragments. The thing then smashed the mirror into the side of Jane’s head cutting her badly above the ear. He grabbed her hair and tried to literally rip her out of the car through the broken window.
Finally Jane hit the gas and screeched off, her head slamming backwards into the car door as she broke free of her attacker who was left staggering and dazed, looking at a tuft of Jane’s hair in his clenched fist. Wendy could see all this surprisingly clearly in the dim street light, and was now terrified and confused, but remarkably calm. She remembered a conversation she had had with a friend who had been in the army and gone to fight in Afghanistan.
She told Wendy that people were so unpredictable in a life or death situation. She recalled an incident where this really tough talking, apparently brave and fearless soldier had simply gone to pieces when thrown into a battle situation. She explained how a sergeant had become completely frozen when they both became separated from their unit and pinned down in a building by enemy fire from across the street. No matter how much she yelled for him to pull himself together he could not be roused from his state of shock. A guy who she thought of as a real soft type, almost a wimp, had taken out the two gunmen almost surgically and rescued both her and the sergeant and not even uttered a word during the whole thing, even when she thanked him, he just nodded, smiled and walked away like he did this sort of thing four times a day.
Wendy now felt like that timid soldier, scared shitless but totally in control and thinking rationally as she dialed Jane’s mobile number. After what seemed like a long time her friend answered.
“Hello,”
“Jane it’s me, Wendy, where the hell are you”
She was crying as she spoke and she could hear the daughter Mina trying to calm her mother from the back seat.
“I’m driving around just outta town, Wendy I don’t think I can do that again, I’m so scared”
“Look Jane go round the back and stay on the phone I will lower the fire ladder so park with your sliding door right up against the wall, then, if its clear you can quickly climb up, Okay?”
“I don’t know… I don’t feel too safe with no side window, and I’m hurt Wendy, I’m bleeding like a fucking stuck pig”
Wendy was now standing looking out at the dark lane behind the flat and there was no sign of life.
“Its clear, okay get here fast and turn your lights off when you enter the lane”
Wendy heard frantic screams for help coming from the main street. She cupped the phone and ran to see one of the paramedics, the male running across the street with two or three crazies on his back ripping into his neck and back. He fell to the road and was still, the crazies seemed to be eating him.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” she said to herself.
The screaming female paramedic was now almost right below, running fast and getting away, when suddenly she skidded violently across the foot path and onto the road. She had one of the crazies wrapped around her legs. He had jumped out of her front doorway and tackled the poor woman as she ran past.
“What’s happening there Wendy,” Jane barked into the phone.
“Nothing, just stay away from the main street okay”
“Wendy, I am so fucking scared”
“Me too girl, hurry and get here”
“Almost there, just coming across the bridge, Jesus Wendy I’ve seen crashed cars all along the side of the road and the park is full of those crazy fuckers”
“Don’t look, honey, just keep driving,” she said as she ran down the hall and carefully opened the door. The female paramedic had turned onto her back and was now violently kicking at her male attacker managing to land one square into his groin. The crazy, a slight young man screamed in pain and let go. She was now up on her feet and about to bolt when she noticed the open door and Wendy standing there. She spun on one foot to change direction and ran straight in as Wendy slammed and locked the steel door behind her. A microsecond later the crazy guy slammed into it causing Wendy and the paramedic to squeal as they jumped.
“You okay?” Wendy asked
“Think so, just bloody shaken up,” she said through her tears.
“Come up quickly, I’ve got to get a friend and her daughter in through the fire escape upstairs,” Wendy told the paramedic.
“By the way I’m Lizzy,”
“Hi, I’m Wendy,”
Jane pulled into the lane slowly with the lights off and she could just make out Wendy’s silhouette, and that of another person at the top of the ladder. She told her daughter to grab her backpack and get ready with the door.
“Okay Mina, as soon as I give the word open that door and get up that ladder fast as you can.”
“Jane I’m lowering the ladder your almost there, stop the car, get into the back then both of you jump out fast and climb up as quickly as you can.”
“Got you, stopping now darl,” said Jane as she stopped the car, killed the engine and jumped into the back behind her daughter.
“Now!” she screamed. Mina threw the door open and was on the ladder climbing as her mum admired the speed and efficiency at which her daughter reacted. Jane was only a few inches behind as they reached the top and Wendy began pulling the ladder up.
There was a loud bang and a dark, fast moving shape jumped up onto the roof of the van and quickly jumped the three feet across to the ladder and began to climb immediately.As he reached the top the women, now clearly agitated and terrified, began punching at the dark figure who kept climbing.
“Please for fuck’s sake I’m not one of them, please stop hitting me,” said the dark figure now standing before the women holding both hands up to protect his now battered face.
“Who the hell are you, you scared the shit out of us,” Said Wendy.
“My name’s Jason… Jason Mires, I’ve been hiding down behind the pub since those things came in and ripped the place and everyone inside to bits. It seems they can only see a few metres but can hear really well. There were two others hiding out there not far from me and a group of crazies were hanging around out there scouting for victims it seemed,” he said pointing up the lane to the car park behind the pub.
“One of them, a girl about twenty stepped on a twig, a fucking twig, it went snap and they all turned at once and ripped the two of them to bits. One of them, the guy, is now running around the street, and he was the one who killed your partner,” Jason said looking at Lizzy.
“I was too scared to even breath until I saw your van stop and the ladder come down. I haven’t seen any of those crazy bastards around the back for a while now. Sorry to scare you ladies but it was really terrifying down there, I thought I was a gonna for sure. None of you are bitten are you?
The others looked at each other then back to Jason.
“Nearly,” said Lizzy.
“Lost a piece of scalp,” said Jane
“Otherwise I think we are alright, why do you ask?”
“I have been out there for about two hours now and the three people that got bitten and got away, that is not ripped to bits have gone like those others within an hour, so I’m thinking it’s some kind of virus or God knows what causing all this crap,” Jason explained.
“No virus, or infection I’ve ever seen,” said Lizzy.
“Life’s full of little surprises, lets get cleaned up, and…..please everyone keep quiet and don’t turn on any lights,” Wendy said.
The group had forgotten about the crazed youth at the front door and as they leaned over the balcony to look they could see he had ripped his arms to shreds on the front door and had turned to look at a large black Ute coming down the street with a group of men wearing baseball caps in the back. One of them was swiveling a large powerful spotlight along the street. The others were crouched in the back. When they saw the crazy who had been banging on the door they all yehahed at once and the truck screeched to a halt below and they jumped out and blew his head off with shot guns.
One walked across the road to the bottle shop and smashed the window with the butt of his riffle.
“What you guys drinking? Bourbon okay with you,” he said as he climbed inside. A few minutes later he emerged with a carton of cigarettes and two bottles of seventy dollar premium bourbon, jumped back into the truck and they sped off, the spotlight scanning the street for more targets.
What they were too dumb to realize is, they were more of a target than what they were hunting.
By now all the survivors of the High street fortress were kneeling out on the verandah looking on in a mixture of shock and disbelief.
“Temporary Australians those one’s,” said Jason.
“Bloody retards,” spat Mina.
“Mina,”
“What! They are mum, I hate redneck guys”
“Is there any easy way into the supermarket below?” asked Jason.
“Yeah, but the door has a huge padlock on it,” replied Wendy.
“Well I think based on what we just saw we should get in and get as much food as we can in here before those idiots we just saw, get hungry,”
“I agree, I’ll give you a hand,” said Lizzy as they walked back inside.
“Got anything to get that lock off,” Jason asked Wendy.
“My ex husband’s tool box is in the spare room”
Jason found an old rust crowbar in the toolbox and he and Lizzy headed downstairs.
Minutes later the lock snapped off and he could undo the heavy bolts holding the door shut. He went to open the door and Lizzy stopped him.
“Not so fast superman, I’ll go in first and you cover me with that thing,”
“Okay,” Jason said gesturing for her to enter.
“Wendy, bolt the door behind us and don’t open it unless you hear us calling from the other side that it is safe, otherwise ignore everything and don’t open it for anything” Jason added as he stepped inside behind Lizzy.
“Okay” Wendy replied closing the door behind them.
Lizzy had only taken a few steps inside when for the second time that night she was violently swept off her feet and found herself skidding across the shiny linoleum floor of the supermarket.
Jason stepped inside to help but he was literally smashed to the floor by some dark and vicious assailant, the crowbar skidding out of his reach as the face of the devil himself, complete with bloodstained teeth bore down to bite the flesh from his face.
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Chapter III “Immunity, Rob’s Story”

The Dark Woods

REMEMBER! New readers start from Chapter I “The Hall”

Chapter III “Immunity, Rob’s Story”

     Rob was tired, it was late on Saturday night and he was just heading home from work at the milk processing plant and driving west along the usually deserted narrow country road. 

    Tonight there were groups of teens at some of the clearings used by the loggers along side roads that offered a little privacy from the passing traffic and far enough away from the nearest homestead to go unnoticed. 

    The youths would gather here just after dark to get their fires going, partying into the early hours and drinking too much. The worst part and what did them in with the locals was the rubbish they left. For some reason no one had ever taught them that throwing cans, bottles, mattresses, and god knows what else in a fire, did not make it disappear. 

    The cops could deal with that, it wasn’t his job, but he was worried the fools would set fire to the bush again. He decided to drive straight home, he was tired and he needed a drink. He didn’t drink a lot but it was Saturday, his wife had left him the week before and he had damned well earned that double hit of Johnny Walker. He could almost taste the subtle oak flavour from the seven year aging process and then there was that rather pleasant burning sensation as it warmed its way down to his stomach. He would sleep well tonight, he thought.

      The weather was getting wild, the road was wet and as he rounded the corner he noticed the safety rail damaged. He had not noticed it on the way to work and he was almost certain he saw light coming from the ditch behind the corner. Rob noticed things, it used to be his job and when he drove he was constantly scanning the road for any changes. His tool box was full of tools he had seen on the road and picked up. He never hit pot holes, his driving was just too precise.
“Could be nothing, but what if someone was trapped down there?” He knew he had to go back, just in case, “Bloody drunken idiots” he thought to himself as he swung his Rodeo around.

    He parked his car near the corner, on a wider stretch of road to avoid some other drunken idiot running into his car. He grabbed his mag light from the bracket on the door and walked toward the corner.
It was the kind of dark that you would not see your hand in front of your face without a torch and it was also beginning to rain more heavily making visibility even more difficult. As he approached the corner he noticed the skid marks leading into the bush from beyond to the railing. His steps became more urgent now.

    “Shit!” He said to himself as he looked over the edge and saw the small sedan on it’s side sitting quietly amongst the mist and under-story foliage. It was propped up against a tree with the roof collapsed almost to the top of the seat, which caused him to doubt if anyone had survived. As he climbed down the steep embankment, he reached for his phone and began to dial tripple zero. The signal was just to weak and it rang once and broke up. Rob pocketed the phone and leaned over the smashed out drivers window, which, because of the slope, was about level with his chest. He saw a young woman of about twenty four slumped at an uncomfortable angle over the centre console, her head leaning back so she seemed to be looking directly past Rob. He could not tell if she were alive or not, she certainly wasn’t moving.

      “Hello, are you okay miss?” No answer. “Damn! He reached in and rested his hand on her neck looking for a pulse. “Nothing” he said to himself, then he felt something as he moved his hand on her neck, there was a weak pulse, but too weak to sustain life for long, she would die soon if he did not free her. She was in a coma, he had seen this a dozen times during his life in the special forces. Someone who was shot up pretty bad and had lost too much blood would shut down, almost into a kind of “standby” mode and they would usually slump into a coma. Thing is here, he could see no excessive bleeding, just a few cuts and bruises.

Rob worked furiously to get the door of the car open, but it would not budge. He would have to cut the seat belt and somehow drag her up and out and hope this did not finish her off. He really needed help but there were no happy scenarios in this case, she would be dead long before even the nearest help arrived, he had to try.

    He opened his pen knife and cut the seat belt and punctured the airbag first. Then he laid across the doors and reached in and got a firm hold of her under her arms, clasping his fingers together for maximum grip and began to lift. He had raised her so her chin was level with door opening. The idea was to then grab her belt and kind of lay her face down across the doors to reduce her actual weight while he got her lower half out.

    That idea never eventuated. Rob, at forty five years was still feeling good, he should, he worked out at the gym in town a few days a week, rode his mountain bike for twenty kilometers each day and worked like a bear on his farm digging holes building and repairing everything he owned. He lifted the girl easily and as he reached down and grabbed her belt her body tensed suddenly, startling him. Rob’s face was now literally inches away from hers and he thought he heard her whisper something.

    “Bloody wind,” he thought as he looked into her eyes. He wished he hadn’t, for what he heard was not her whispering but the last breath of air escaping her dead lungs. Suddenly her whole body stiffened and he felt the weight vanish as she screamed and lashed out at him with her hands. He immediately released his grip and jumped off the car. The last he saw of her was her face full of hate and anger and a type of lust for a fight you see in the eyes of a cornered predator, her jaw was fully open and, she was, to his horror, attempting to bite him.

    Rob’s quick reflexes allowed him to escape and jump safely out of the way and as he did he spun around and trained the torch on the door of the car. The girl was violently attempting to exit the car banging her shoulders against the sides of the door as she attempted to attack him again.

    “Fuck you bitch” he said under his breath as he hurried back up the embankment, stepped over the rail and onto the road. He would ring the cops and they could deal with this crazy bitch, he thought. The rain was getting heavier now as the storm got closer. He was brushing down his clothes, and opening the driver,s door when she hit him with the force of a freight train from behind, slamming him against the car and pulling hard on his longish blonde hair. He really did not want to hit this girl but when she bit his arm she crossed the line. He swung around quickly hitting her hard in the stomach in a move designed not to cause too much damage, just to slow her down. She took the punch, normally enough to take down a drunk one hundred killogram biker in a pub brawl, in her stride, hardly flinching, except she also vomited quite violently straight into Robs face. Rob, now genuinely shocked, hit her another three times with all the force he could muster and still she came at him, arms swinging madly and teeth bared like a growling alley cat under attack.

    “What the fuck was that shit?” he said out loud to himself. It was no vomit he had ever seen, even in his wildest drinking days. The stench, fuck the stench of it was overpowering, a mix of bile, faeces and long dead animal. Looking at his hand as he wiped the crap off his face and neck, he noticed there was also quite a lot of blood mixed with her last meal.

     The forth punch hit her on the side of the chin breaking her jaw and taking most of the skin off his knuckles. Her head spun to the side and she turned back on the attack again. He now had the knife in his hand and the next time she lunged he slasher her across the stomach with the small sharp blade as he punched her with his other hand in the neck. This would usually kill a normal person let alone a fifty kilogram teenage girl. She just smiled a kind of sick “you can’t hurt me with that” grin and came at him again with even more determined force. She seemed unstoppable and the worst kind of opponent, one with no fear of personal injury, pain or death.

    This time he braced himself against the car and kicked her hard enough between the stomach and her chest to send her backwards and she hit the ground hard on her backside, sliding back in the mud. As she scrambled back to her feet, Rob jumped into the driver’s seat, turned the key, which he had left in the ignition and gunned the motor and dropped the clutch. The back wheels spun in the gravel for a few seconds, sending debris into the air before the tires gained traction allowing the car to speed off. He kept his eyes on the rear view mirror, watching the girl now back on her feet chasing after the car, her features wildly distorted in the glow of his tail lights.

    “Fucking hell, what just happened?” he said to himself shaking his head and changing up into sixth gear. He had reached one hundred and twenty before he let off the accelerator, settling at a steady ninety, “don’t want to end up like the crazy bitch crashed in some ditch” he said to himself. The bite on his arm was starting to really hurt now and he thought he should visit the hospital but for now he just wanted to get home, have a drink and go to bed.

    He pulled into his driveway just on eleven pm and cut the engine just short of the car port coasting to a stop in neutral. It was a game he played to try and stop as close to the end of the car port as he could without using the engine or the brakes. Tonight he was way off course, but he had a bloody good excuse. 

    The door was open and Rob went straight to the bathroom where he poured Hydrogen Peroxide onto the wound. It was only a scratch really, the Peroxide bubbling over his arm, it felt better now, it always did when he did this. He wiped it clean with some gauze cloth, and wondered why it was not bleeding that much. Looking closer he thought he saw something moving in there so he poured more peroxide over it and that seemed to settle it down and it looked normal again. He scooped a generous amount of Ichthammol ointment into the wound, dressed it with a guaze pad and a couple of adhesive plaster strips.

    He switched on the surround system and pressed play on the media player, which was set to randomly play one of the hundreds of mostly seventies songs. Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd began to play as he poured a half a tumbler full of scotch over ice, which was still crackling from the warm liquid when he took the first gulp and sighed, falling heavily onto the couch. 

    He felt like shit warmed up when he woke some hours later, from the most surreal dream he could remember. The clock on the wall now indicated it was five o’clock. That can’t be right, he thought to himself, it was after twelve when he got home. Suddenly he realized it was almost daylight outside and he was having trouble focusing his eyes whenever he looked into the first rays of light coming in the window behind him.

    In the dream, Rob had chased Morgan, his German Sheppard companion, throughout the house as it cowered away from him squealing and barking as though it didn’t know who he was and was terrified. He was desperately hungry and it seemed he was attempting to eat his best friend. Eventually he cornered the dog and pounced, breaking the dog’s spine and front leg as he landed heavily. Violently he began to actually eat his own dog. This is when he woke.

    He got up and walked, still not quite conscious, to the bathroom where for the first time in his life he screamed out loud in a high pitched voice, that sounded like some of the young recruits he had seen on the battlefield who had turned to useless jabbering idiots when under sustained fire. Rob was covered in blood from head to toe, his face was covered in blood, what looked like hair and pieces of skin on his clothes. His hair was matted with dried blood. He would have to cut it all again. Who, or what’s blood he did not want to know.

    As he became fully conscious, he walked out of the bathroom and saw the blood streaked all over the kitchen floor. Pieces of his dog were everywhere, on the benches, the walls, just everywhere. Rob began to shake violently. “gotta pull yourself together mate, now! And that’s an order” he shouted as he returned to the bathroom, undressed and turned on the shower. It took about twenty minutes to get all the blood off himself, then slowly and methodically he dressed and shaved. Looking in the mirror he looked fine. “What the hell had happened?” he thought, “Who, or what, had done such a sick thing to Morgan”.

    After popping a combination of ultra strong vitamins and eating his traditional large fruit salad breakfast and yoghurt, topped with nuts and honey, he drank a litre of filtered water and headed off for his regular morning dump. What came out of him both frightened and alarmed him to the depths of his soul. His faeces, contained blood, bone fragments, and balls of hair, the same hair that used to grow all over his dog.

    He showered and scrubbed himself from head to toe, put on some fresh clothes and cleaned the kitchen ready for breakfast. Had he actually done that to Morgan? “couldn’t be, it just couldn’t be me” he thought, then the missing pieces of his dream came back to him and he fell to the floor vomiting up his breakfast and more blood. He had to get to the hospital and quick, something was badly wrong here, badly wrong.

    Rob looked at the clock radio and the date looked wrong it said Monday six thirty PM. Could that be right? Had he been out for two days? He remembered driving home and the girl from the car and instinctively looked at his bitten arm. The gauze was gone and the wound was healing well. He had to find out what was happening to him.

    He was just getting into the car fighting off the kind of headache that makes everything a blur and suddenly he felt dizzy and began to loose consciousness again, “no, I can’t let this happen again, he thought as he used every ounce of strength and military training to fight the urge to feint. Rob got to the bathroom and popped another two whole grams of vitamin C in liquid form, plus a couple of tabs of amphetamine he had got from his doctor for his ADHD, that had never left him since his school days. It worked for now but he was hungry, ravenously hungry and although, for the last ten years a strict vegetarian and health freak, he craved meat, any meat. He knew he had to fight it and he knew he had the strength to do it.

    During the torturous training, both to be selected and to continue to stay in the Australian special forces, he had to have almost super human determination, endurance and self discipline that eclipsed most human usual needs. He was well known in the forces for having the rare ability to endure incredible pain and both physical and mental stress for days, or weeks if he had to.

    It had kept him alive once, when his entire patrol had perished or succumbed to madness, fear and sickness. They had been on patrol in the mountains of Afghanistan when they were ambushed and outnumbered, by Taliban fighters. He had managed to escape the massacre when the last man had been hit by shrapnel from a rocket propelled grenade, by crawling into a crevasse not much bigger than his body. He had gone deep underground, pursued by one of the smaller Talibs who he managed to kill by kicking his head repeatedly as he attempted to stab him from behind. This had effectively ended any hope of escape the same way he had come as none of the other Talibs would venture down for his body and knew they would wait weeks if they had to for him to come out. He was regretful but also thanked the gods they had not thought a little more strategically and just rolled in a frag grenade, instead of sending this boy in after him.

    He had had to wriggle on further into the cave, at one point through forty centimeters of stagnate water until he found a place big enough to sit up and assess the situation. He was in there for six days alone in the dark, the stench of the dead Talib stinging his nostrils and having to drink the foul stagnate water to survive. On top of this he got dysentery from the water. Eventually he found a way out by crawling another few kilometers, getting stuck for an entire day at one point, getting free only by ripping the clothes and a fair amount of his flesh from his back and shoulders, before he found an exit at midnight on the sixth day.

    It took him ten more days to get back to his base on foot, traveling only by night and living off small animals and insects. The others at the base almost shot him coming back in. They could not believe he had survived and had the embarrassing but pleasant duty of contacting his family back home for a second time and apologising for informing them he had died in an ambush. By the time he left the forces he had become somewhat of a legend in his own time. This he thought, should be a walk in the park.

    Whatever this thing was, he knew his body had the capacity to fight it. The bite on his arm even began to heal by the third day. Since the day he found Morgan, he had not slept and he was worried what would happen when the amphetamines ran out. He had to resupply and soon, his life and god knows how many other lives may depend on it. He knew he would need help, some one would need to lock him up so he could sleep and not kill a human this time. He dialled the number of his friend Peter, an ex policeman mate who now lived at the old police station just out of town. 

    Peter would be able to lock him in one of the old cells, one he was not using as a wine cellar, for the night until he could work out his next move.

Peter answered immediately, his voice at a whisper and fearful, “hello”

“Peter, its me Rob, listen, I need some help”

“Mate we all need some help, have you seen the news?”

“Don’t have a telly, what are they saying?”

“They reckon, there is some kind of virus going around that puts you in a coma within an hour, then it somehow resuscitates its host who becomes violent and bent on killing,”

“Adds up,” he said before telling Peter all that had happened during the last few days and offered to drive over.

“Be really careful, these crazy infected people are everywhere now and they seem to be learning and getting more cunning. Stay away from anywhere dark, even the bush, drive straight here then straight up to the garage door. I’ll watch for you and open it up. There seems to be a lot less of them in the daylight, I think direct sunlight hurts their eyes”. Peter went on to tell him what he had seen in the night and even over the phone it chilled him just a little. Rob was not going to tell Peter about the bite and Morgan until he was safely inside the house. 

   Peter was about to let one of his best friends, one of the growing number of infected killers into his home without knowing all the facts.

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Chapter II “The Worm Turns”

Please NOTE: My most recent chapters are on the top.  New readers visit Chapter One Blog and start there.

LJF Hutch ArtworkArtwork by LJFHutch

Chapter II “The Worm Turns”

Saturday, 9.30 PM…

      Bullet was due to be working all night as the first case of infection came into to the hospital. It started with old Fred Hunter running into the hospital emergency centre and confronting the horrified nurse. Freddy boy was covered in blood and his flannelette shirt was open, but mostly ripped off. He had two large bite like wounds, one in the upper right arm and another visible through a large ripped hole in the arse of his jeans.

      Bullet was sitting in the rec room, where doctors who were on call rested between emergencies. He was playing games on his laptop when the bell rang and the light above the door flashed on and off rapidly.

      Most of the rural doctors did not bother to come in when on call, as usually not much happened in town and if it did, they could get there within twenty minutes or so anyway. Bullet thought that was just too slack, as in the case of a stabbing you might only have minutes to save a life, not twenty.

Bullet’s real name was Douglas Furnmont and his sister was Jamie, who had decided to go to the hall LAN because she had a crush on Tag. He got the name Bullet when he was eighteen, when he used to sit for hours on his back porch with his dad’s Winchester rifle fitted with an eight times scope.

      He also loved to eat the golden yellow passion fruits from the vine that grew on the back fence of the garden. It was a huge vine, and when it was full of fruit, the rats would come from the bush and take a bite out of each one. One year they destroyed over one hundred of his favourite fruit, right under his nose in a single night, so the young Doug set up a spotlight to illuminate the vine. It’s good to prepare he thought with a chuckle to himself. He also fitted a home made silencer to the barrel of the Winchester which was highly illegal, but people in the country had a different, more relaxed way of interpreting the law when it came to something like a bit of modified pipe, stuck on the barrel of a gun.

      Bullet would sit and cap the rats as they came for the fruit. One night he drank a long-neck bottle of Coopers, smoked two joints over the course of six hours and shot over fifty rats… in the head. “They didn’t even suffer, died instantly I reckon,” he thought justifying his murderous rampage. He was always spectacularly good at whatever he decided to do. As an intern he was better than most older doctors twice his age. At sixteen he held the trophy for national archery champion. Some of the girls at school used to think he was such a hick. He was just a saw millers son really, with a love of all things medical from books to TV shows. He would fake an illness when he was younger, just to pick the doctor’s brain. Eventually his local GP saw through his scheme and started to lend him medical books.

      He never killed anything, except rats, with his gun, that he did not eat. That’s the way people in the country lived. He used to think it was so funny that some of the other students at med school down in the city would get so upset when he told them about his life growing up in the country, even though they all enjoyed a good steak. Just as long as they did not know how it got on their plate.

    “Got a live one doctor” said the nurse on duty.

    “Och! Those bites look nasty”, replied Bullet, leaning over fascinated. Any non medical people would see this and think, “gross” just before they turn away. You really had to smell it to get an accurate picture and you never wanna do that.

    “And deep”, the nurse said, trying not to wince from the stench of the wound.

    “Does it hurt much Freddy?” asked Bullet with a warm smile, opening the plastic seal of a syringe and inserting the tip into the little vial.

    “Feels like someone stabbed me with a bloody hot poker, that’s for sure” came the reply as he squirmed about uncomfortably, “not to mention the headache that feels like a jack hammer in me head”. Fred was never one to complain, a tough old coot with a huge tolerance for pain, but this hurt so much it was making him feel sick to the stomach and it scared him.

He did not scare easily but Fred could feel an intense burning sensation and a feeling like someone had cut him, filled the cut with hot broken glass and was now continually punching the wound. That was the throbbing that meant his body was increasing his pulse to send more blood to the wounds, to fight the infection. What was actually happening though, was the extra blood flow, was spreading the infection more quickly throughout his entire body.

     “Better give you a tetanus shot,” he continued, as he read the document on the clipboard the nurse had brought in. He found the vein in Fred’s arm and pushed the needle in, squeezing the fluid into his blood stream.

“What bit you Freddy?”

    “You mean Who? The bugger bit me doc, I went out the back of the pub and this psycho jumped on my back from the roof of a car and bit two huge chunks out of me before I smashed his head in with a lump of wood that I managed to grab off the ground as I fell. I did not want to kill him doc, he just kept coming at me harder each time I hit him. When his head was like a smashed melon he stopped.

The cops will probably charge me with murder now” Fred said looking back and forth between the nurse and Bullet.

    “You mean a human did this?”

    “Well yeah, but no human I’ve ever met. This guy was crazy and all covered in blood, looked like he had been in a brawl, his face was all cut up and yellow looking. Might have been the street light though. His eyes doc, I will never forget those eyes, it was like looking into hell itself. Ain’t never seen eyes like that on a human, ever, not even in Nam. Am I gonna be alright doc? I don’t feel so good, I feel really cold now, really cold”

    “Strange thing is those bites don’t seem to be bleeding much, and look at this one closer, it looks like something moving there” Bullet said using a magnifying glass to get in close. He could not say what he saw to the patient in case he caused him to panic, but he was fascinated by what looked like thousands of minute worm-like things moving all about the surface of the wound. He speculated that this is what stopped the bleeding.

    He gave Fred another injection of pain killer and disinfected and dressed the wound after he swabbed the area to have some tests done, then put him on a gurney in one of the rooms for an overnight observation.

“Get some sleep Fred, I’ll get this this off for tests and if you’re not dead by morning, you can go home, okay”, he said smiling widely while screwing the lid of the specimen jar on and writing on the label.

    He was walking back to the doctor’s rec room when the double emergency doors flew open and two paramedics pushing a gurney came in with a teenage girl who was strapped down because she had already made a couple of savage attempts to bite the paramedics, who were clearly terrified.

“We sedated her but it had no effect at all, we were scared to give her too much more”

    “You mean she was worse than this?”

    “Mate you got no idea, at first we thought this chick was off her face on ice or something, but she was biting huge chunks of flesh out of her friend’s face and neck, in between beating her to death with her bare hands. It took four of us to get her restrained. We got help from two young guys who were filming the whole thing with mobiles. This will all be on bloody YouTube next,” Said the female paramedic. It looked like she was trying to eat the other girl’s flesh, it was hideous stuff really.”

    “Did she bite anyone else”, Bullet asked.

    “Burt got a scratch from her fingernails as she lashed at his neck”, she replied. Bullet walked over to the other paramedic and shone a torch on his neck wound.

    “Hang on a minute will you”, Bullet returned quickly and looked at the wound with the magnifying glass.

    “Nothing moving here I don’t think you are infected with anything”, he said applying some alcohol disinfectant with a gauze and thinking about the moving things in Fred’s wounds. The paramedic found his comments about the wrigglers strange but dismissed it as stress talking.

     Outside the weather was turning bad. He made a mental note to ring Jamie, the minute all this calmed down, just to check she was okay. Nothing serious, he told himself, just a gut feeling and ringing her would stop the nagging worry. Right now though, his phone was on silent in the rec room buzzing madly away as Jamie tried to call him from the hall.

    The mobiles the paramedics were carrying beeped crazily and as they answered Bullet could hear the operator yelling into her mouth piece.

    “Jesus the phone has not stopped guys, there’s reports coming from all over town about attacks by crazy, aggressive people. You guys are sure in for a busy night. I’ll have to call in for help from town. “Meanwhile we got a serious attack at the pub, two people badly bitten by some psycho”

    “Gotta go doc, you be right with this one”, the female paramedic said gesturing toward the girl lying on the gurney in the next room.

    “Yeah I’ll tend to her and get ready for the next load, see you”, the paramedics left and he called out to one of the other nurses at the front nurse station and asked her to call in anyone that could help.

    That was the last Bullet ever saw of the paramedics and now he was starting to worry, just too much coincidence to feel comfortable. He was not one to worry, too rational for that, but he was fighting to not see more into this. “Keep an open mind” he told himself, “stay calm”.

“Bloody hell, its Saturday night,its freezing cold and pissing down rain, so it’s gonna be a little hard to convince anyone to come to work”.

“Do your best June, I’ll check out the girl in there meantime”

     Bullet walked into the emergency room quietly and cautiously not taking his eye off the girl, as he picked up a syringe and ripped the plastic wrapper off it. He thought she probably looked quite cute under all that blood on her face, about nineteen or twenty, her long black hair obscuring some of her face and sticky with the other girl’s blood. He could see she was about five foot three and slim as she lay apparently asleep now.

    At the sound of the ripping plastic, the girl’s eyes and mouth flew open and and she began thrashing on the gurney with such violence she almost toppled it. He checked the restraints were holding, almost sat on her legs while he examined the ripped flesh on her left hand with the magnifying glass. It was full of those wrigglers.

    There was a huge crash and screaming from the room Fred was in and he ran quickly toward the recovery ward. As he looked in the room, he saw Fred, his skin had turned grey and sickly, sitting, straddled on top of the old man who was in the ward asleep, but now on the floor. Fred was literally ripping mouthfuls of flesh from the old man’s face, both men screaming sickeningly.

    “What the hell is going on in here doctor?”, the nurse said as she stepped into the ward, stopping abruptly at the horrid sight in front of her. Bullet held up a hand and gestured with a finger on his lips to be quiet as he backed slowly from the ward.

    As he closed and locked the door, Fred spun around with incredible speed throwing himself at the door with eyes wide and full of hateful intent.

Bullet could hear the girl in emergency violently thrashing with the gurney finally tipping over as she worked her way free.

    “I think we got a major problem here, so don’t go near these crazies until we know what the hell we are dealing with. I’m pretty sure they are infected with some type of virus and it seems it is only transmitted via biting. Don’t get bitten, I need you too much. Get onto the cops and see what is happening out there will you June, oh and make an announcement to get any staff on duty here immediately please.”

    “No worries doc” she said as she headed for the phones.

There was another nurse madly punching the phone’s key pad attempting to get some of the casual staff come in, given the circumstances.

“Doc something is wrong here, every number I ring is unanswered or engaged”, she said.

    “Okay, don’t worry about that for now, just go and get anyone you can find and begin securing the doors and windows and don’t under any circumstances, unlock, or enter the recovery ward, no matter what you hear in there”.

What about the screamer in emergency, she’s going to destroy the place?” she asked looking toward the open door.

    “I’ll take care of that one” Bullet replied.

    “Too late shouted June” pointing at the girl who was now standing at the emergency ward door looking back and forth toward June, the other nurse and Bullet. She was suddenly on top of the other nurse who had been sitting at the reception desk, violently knocking her off her seat, smashing her to the ground with such force that they both skidded at least three metres along the polished floor, before slamming into the wall, the nurses elbow punching a large hole in the plaster wall as they came to rest.

He would never forget the look in her eyes as she pounced on her prey. Nor could he believe that he had just witnessed a human leap so far. So much so, that to him he thought he saw her actually diving, as if into water, but with her hands and fingers ready to clutch, from a good two metres away from the reception nurse’s seat.

    The girl with the black hair bore down on the screaming nurse, one hand on the nurse’s forehead, her knee across her other arm, her now prominent and dripping teeth and whitish grey saliva moving sickeningly quickly toward the nurse’s throat.

    June and Bullet seemed to be stuck in some slow-mo cut scene as all this madness ran it’s course.

The phones at the now empty reception desk began to ring all at once and two more ambulances screeched to a halt in the emergency bay out front.

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Chapter I “The Hall”

Artwork by LJFHutch

Chapter I “The Hall”

Saturday, 10pm.

“You guys just got your arses kicked”, Warren yelled over the towers of computer screens. He gestured with a flick of his upturned finger toward the teenagers sitting at the trestle tables in the middle of the hall. “You’ll get yours next round,” came the reply from the smiling slightly pock faced teen that sat with his head just above the high point of his large LCD monitor. Most of the small crowd of some twelve people, barely acknowledged the comments, as it was almost as common as eating pizza at these events.

Some of them knew each other from school, some were at University while others were in various paid jobs. There were three girls in the group and one older adult, John, who was the father of one of the boys. The all lived in an idyllic, small, if not a little too hot, country town on the east coast. The unemployment rate here was officially about six percent, if you applied the government’s skewed criteria. Realistically, though, it sat at about ten percent, more if you were a teenager or an old fart without good contacts.

Today the town is a Mecca for a mix of neurotic thirty somethings, searching for their inner child through a myriad of expensive alternative therapies and medicine and the very well off, semi-retired business types. It is still a nice place to live with a vibrant music scene and fantastic natural vistas, and this is why so many have stayed so long throughout all the changes in demographic. Most young people piss off to the city the day after school finishes, to escape the boredom and lack of decent jobs. Those that stayed usually had a job of some type and were happy to coast along through the week and party all weekend.

John leaned closer to his son Warren, glancing a little to the left to see his opponents on the other side of the hall, “This time lets flank the bastards before they get anywhere near that damn building, I’ll hide under the front stairs and set up a Betty, they won’t expect that”. They were talking about the latest WWII hit game, which had become incredibly popular at lans.

All the players in the hall on this night, shared the same passion for virtual warfare and the camaraderie of all night battles fragging your mates. They chipped in fifteen bucks for the night, which covered the hire of the hall, and junk food. The lan began at two in the afternoon the day before and would finish at eight in the morning, two days later. The gang were entering their second sleepless night at the hall. Tonight it would not be the games that kept them up. No one there expected to sleep much, though they all brought a sleeping bag and a pillow. Some even brought a foam mattress.

“Hey! Anyone up for a zombie mash?” Phil uttered a little timidly watching Zara with his periphery.
“Oh that is sooo boring” she moaned rolling her eyes as she scanned the room, “It’s the same old thing each time, you start in a trashed out barn fragging the zombies as they bust into the room in ever increasing numbers, until we all die”. “Yeah, that’s about it, anyone into it?” Phil said more determined this time, pleading with the others using some explicit hand gestures and raising his eyebrows in a kind of facial question mark.

Zara began to wonder what the hell she was doing in this nerdy testosterone pit, “my brother” she thought to herself as she glanced around the room. She was here because she actually loved beating guys at their games and she loved her dad and her brother. Her mum had ran off with one of her dad’s supposedly good friends two years ago, which devastated all of them, as they had only seen her once since then, and that was only for a few hours at Christmas. Besides, killing things via a computer seemed so harmless and natural, she used to say, “its like sex fantasies, you could do anything in a fantasy and no one really would ever know or care. She loved to stir up her brother’s mates, who all thought of her as some kind of untouchable sex goddess, with her almost Scandinavian facial features, olive skin complexion, and tight athletic figure. She didn’t dress like a tart or a plastic, but she always seemed to show something her form despite her clothing. Sometimes she would dress like a Goth complete with dyed black hair and black cape, but under this cape she would be wearing the tightest jeans known to man. She’d look hot in a Burka, Phil had once told Mitch, she was smart too.

Zara was good at this stuff, really good, an unpredictable master of deception and strategy. She preferred a single shot Arisaka rifle, because as Warren once said,
“the bitch shoots so damn well, she only needs one shot”.
“A lot of pent up aggression comes out playing a first person shooter on computer with friends” she once said to her brother Warren. He took about 3 minutes to talk her into coming to the lan with an offer to supply her with pizza and juice and even tea if she wanted. Some of her girl friends were off to a beach party inhabited with half pissed surfers and footy players. She figured it was much easier fighting off guys using a keyboard and these ones would all be tired, not completely wasted on goon. Besides, she had just broken up with the dickhead she had called a boyfriend. She had wandered into the dunes for a quiet piss and found one of the “Barbies” with her face in his groin and that was the end of that, she called him a fuckwit and kept walking. Zara preferred a quieter lifestyle these last few weeks and was a bit over getting pissed at parties and spending the next day throwing up and feeling like shit. She also didn’t mind the guys who went to these things, they may have been shy, but they were either too scared to hit on her, or simply just respected her and gave her no shit and tonight she wanted no shit from anyone.

“Zombies would not act like that” said Phil, “they would just stumble around in huge numbers and just overwhelm everyone, slowly!”.
“Depends what type of zombie we’re talking about here guys”, said Warren, “I mean if its twenty eight days later style zombies, you’d pretty much be screwed no matter what you did, I mean those fuckers ran like demented thugby players after a drunken gang bang, fucking everything that breathed”. Warren was literally obsessed with the topic of zombies and never missed an opportunity to talk about them. He had collected almost every zombie movie and read almost every book known to man about the myth. He even had the legendary “Zombie Invasion Survival Plan” poster on his wall and he ran an almost viral blog called “A Zombie Ate My Baby”. He surprised himself by how many other zombie fanatics were out there with a passion and insatiable appetite for all things zombie. He now had around fifty thousand followers and was selling jet black Tee Shirts with “A Zombie Ate My Baby” printed on it in florescent green and white type and a print of a zombie with baby flesh hanging from it’s mouth.

His dad John, had done all the artwork and helped with the printing and the marketing. Not that they needed to do any, it seemed not a day went by without at least a whole bunch of orders for shirts landing in his inbox. They were in the process of getting this print place in the city to do the printing as they couldn’t keep up at this rate. John was having to work less now to help Warren, which suited him just fine. Teaching a bunch of hormone filled teens who really didn’t want to know about learning was getting as “old” as he was.
“Jesus Warren you’re so subtle”, Zara piped “ zombies don’t fuck people they eat their brains”,
“then your screwed!” replied Warren admiring his sister’s sense of humour.

Outside, the weather was becoming overcast and a storm was brewing, dark clouds were gathering in the mountains behind the hall and the wind was picking up. Thankfully no lightning or thunder yet and inside they were oblivious to the brewing storm outside. The hall was a local community hall and was seven kilometers from the nearest habitation. It was situated across the road from the volunteer firefighter’s shed that contained a brand new four wheel drive fire truck and various tools and uniforms. Being winter now, this shed would only be attended at weekends when volunteers came in to do the odd maintenance jobs. A single fluorescent light on a pole supplied the only light on the dirt road between the hall and the fire shed dimly lighting the only car in the hall’s car park, John’s ninety nine model silver Commodore. The hall was used mostly by the surrounding community, with almost every group and sub-group in the valley using it for something. There used to be a dance almost every other week here in the past, though thanks to society’s growing obsession with litigation and safety, the insurance and local government regulations were so overbearing, that it just wasn’t worth the trouble. Some idiot even left the pub pissed one night, attempted to drive home, but crashed his car into a tree, after running a young motor cyclist off the road, then successfully sued the pub owner for serving him the fucking booze. Luckily the appeal judge was an old style believer in “self responsibility” who not only overturned the judgment, but ordered the drunk to pay all the publican’s and the state’s court costs in addition to attending rehab for the next month.

“Well Romerio’s Night of the living dead, and Land of the Dead, the original master of zombie films, had your slow moving zombie variety. Now these guys would need to corner and overwhelm you by sheer numbers. This would be a mere annoyance and not so much a threat, don’t you reckon?” Zara said with a glance around the group of now enthralled teens.
“Don’t forget one bite and your a zombie” replied Mick from the other table.

Now the discussion was gaining ground and some of the other lanners from across the hall were moving over to join the debate. John was thinking about the last time he sat with his own mates around the fire drinking beer and how the conversation would inevitably get right down to something that was guaranteed to last all night and raise everyone’s blood pressure in the process. The last topic, he remembered was whether the death penalty was effective or morally justified. They would get so serious, to the point of shouting each other down and sometimes the mix of an argument with alcohol and it could get really nasty, to the extent where some serious apologies were needed the next day. So far, luckily, no one had resorted to physical violence. He much preferred to be here talking about fricken “zombies”. At least the whole argument was laced with a healthy dose of imagination and speculation rather than politics and bloody religion. Didn’t some wise man once say, never talk about religion or politics.

“The biggest problem as I see it guys, is that all these films, almost, no totally without exception, have characters that are basically morons and that really shits my cornflakes right out my back door” said Tag as he walked over, wheeling his office chair in front of him. He copped that name at school because he chose to wear his shirt inside out just to piss the teachers off. He thought it was a cool name, as did Warren and Zara’s dad, who sometimes did a little relief teaching at his school. Mr John, he thought, didn’t seem to give a shit about all the things other teachers got so pissed off about and he respected him for that.

“As long as you’re not being a dickhead in my class, I won’t bother interrupt the non learning process”, he once told a difficult class.
“Don’t forget also, that really annoying thing in all these movies where the dickheads, usually the main characters, act like they have never seen a horror movie and do such retarded stuff as walk into a house, open the door and say hello, is anyone there? Fuuuuckkk! Even worse was the movies where, while watching a zombie horde eating people’s flesh and advancing down the road, some turkey would say something like, what could possibly be happening here?” Jamie said as she looked up from the screen she was sitting behind.

“Usually just before they cop a fricking icepick in the forehead” Mitch quipped.

Jamie was friends with Zara but not really part of her group at school. She was very quiet and artistic, preferring to sit by herself and draw. She never found that spot for long because her drawings were so weird but incredibly detailed and technically brilliant, that other students used to crowd around gawking and making comments about her drawings and talent. She was kinda naturally good looking but shunned makeup or revealing clothing. She would usually just wear those horrible baggy long hiking shorts and boring loose tops that hid her best assets very effectively. The boys used to think she was a bit dull and even thought she was a bit fat. If they had seen her skinny dipping at the river where she lived, they would sing a different tune. She liked being left alone and being a bit anonymous.

“People would just not act that dumb” Phil added. Just then there was a huge crashing sound outside the hall, followed a split second later with the tinkling of broken glass.
“What the fuck was that?”, someone yelled. Some seconds later a young guy of about twenty came staggering into the hall covered in blood with a gash above his eye and his shirt torn and bloodied.
“Shit it’s that Ward whatshisface guy from the farm supplies shop in town, what happened?” Said Mitch.
“Fuck knows, I was loading me stuff into the car and and these two guys jumped on me in the dark and one of the fuckers bit a great chunk out of me arm. I only just managed to get away”, stuttered Ward as he pulled his shirt away to show off the wound.

As he tried his eyes rolled back for a minute and he looked like he was going to fall over.
“Whoah champ, steady on mate, you better sit down” said Mitch with one hand cautiously on Ward’s shoulder, trying to avoid touching him for fear of catching something.
“Shit, I don’t feel so good” Ward said as he slumped to the floor and promptly passed out.
“What the fuck do you think is the matter with him? That thing on his arm doesn’t look bad enough to do this to him. Said Zara looking down at Ward from a safe distance.
“I don’t know, but I ain’t touching the fucker,” Mitch chipped in, “don’t know what you could catch, besides he smells like shit.”
“Maybe he is a zombie” Warren said with a laugh.
“Bullshit! We were just talking about zombies, what a coincidence” said Mick sarcastically.
“Shit man he don’t look so good and that hole in his arm looks really gross”. “Why the hell didn’t he just drive straight to the hospital instead of coming in here to fucking die?” he added.
“We better ring the hospital and get him some help” said Jamie.

“Oh, fucking great”, John said walking outside to see the damage to his car. Jesus H fucking Christ, what a mess. Ward’s car was sitting lifeless with steam pouring out the bonnet after he had rammed into the back of John’s car. I hope he’s got insurance, Oh God” he said as he noticed the ute across the road with the bonnet jammed into the ripped open tin wall of the fire shed.

“Looks like some really bad post modern art installation, but is there any other kind” he though. As he walked over to it he could see the driver inside with his face squashed up against the cracked windshield, his neck obviously broken judging from the angle of the body in relation to the head. John had to really fight the urge to puke. There was one single street light high above the fire shed which, mixed with the slight mist and the angle in relation to the car, made the scene before him look all the more surreal and creepy. He pulled the little LED torch from his pocket, switched it on and pointed it at the window of the car for a better look.

“Should wear a seat belt pal, don’t you know it’s double demerit points all Queen’s birthday long weekend?”, he said in an attempt to deal with the horrific but almost eerily comic images confronting him, through the use of his customary dry, black and a little tasteless style of humour. The sight of the driver and all the blood on the inside of the glass was getting to him and his stomach began to do a turn and rumble.

Suddenly he found himself thrown forward with the force of the most violent convulsion since his binge drinking days, as he threw up all over the grass beside the car. When he composed himself, John stood and walked a little closer to the windshield of the crashed car. Suddenly he let out a loud high pitched scream that both surprised and appalled him. The eyes of the driver opened so wide and so fast that John actually began to piss his pants before literally groping himself, forcing his bladder into aggressive compliance.

The driver, a young mill worker wearing a baseball cap over his a shaved and heavily tattooed head, neck and shoulders, was now attempting to violently exit the car, his head lolling from side to side like some demented rag doll as he flung his arms about smashing into the windows, pulling at the door handles and ramming his shoulder against the door, that was to John’s relief, jammed shut from the impact and the lunatic walking artwork, was trapped for now.

John could never understand this generation’s love of body art, the permanent kind done by tattooists who have run out of room on their own bodies. There seems to be no shortage of willing young human canvasses ready for the needle and ink. When he was young, he remembered his dad telling him that usually only the very uneducated and “common” people got tattoos. He saw them, as John still did today, as a form of body vandalism. At least you could steam clean a wall if you didn’t like it.

“Screw this”, John whispered as he ran back toward the hall. Inside, Ward was gripped by convulsions as four or five of the lanners attempted to restrain him on the floor of the hall.
“Jesus, look at his arm, that bite, or cut or whatever, is growing in size, all weepy and black and disgusting looking” Warren said moving for a closer look.
“He’s got fucking maggots or something in that cut, look, its moving, yuck, I ain’t going near him”.

As he shut and locked the metal door John called out to the others, “Hey guys I think we got a few problems”
“You think?” Jamie snapped almost losing it now.
“No I mean outside as well!. That dead guy in the car outside with the broken neck……..” ,
“Yeah?”
“Well he’s not dead and he’s really pissed off and chucking a psyc”.
“Bullshit!”
“You keep saying that”

Just as John finished Ward’s whole body seemed to jump about a foot off the ground and his head flew back cracking violently against the hardwood floor as he coughed or sneezed or yelled as he spat about a litre of blood and sinewy snot all over Warren’s jeans.
“Fucking hell, he just covered me in that shit, the sick fuck”
“Warren! For Christ sake get it together, just go wash your daks and get the hell back here. I need you calm, strong and clean. This is not good whatever it is” John almost shouted, shocking himself. He wondered if he could cope, or, was he losing it? He was not happy, that’s for sure, this was a major fuck up and he was the only adult in the room and he wondered at this point, should he take charge? He felt suddenly like a child again, scared, confused and really pissed off.
“We gotta get some help for Ward man” said James.
“Well there’s no hurry now, the fuckers dead!” said Warren as he walked towards the toilet.
“Shit, now what do we do?” said Mitch.

Everybody was gathered around the lifeless body of Ward now, frozen with fear and not knowing what to do, hoping someone would do something.
“Get the body outside before he turns” said Jamie half joking.
“Not such a bad idea guys, just in case, no, just kidding it’s just not a good idea health-wise. Someone give me a hand” John replied appealing for some help.
“We can’t just throw him out, we don’t know what this is yet ” questioned Ruby.
“Just watch us”, said Mitch helping John slide Ward’s body across the wooden floor. “I have seen enough fricking horror flicks to know what comes next and if it doesn’t, then no big deal, right guys, he’s dead, I don’t think he’ll give a flying shit where he is right now. Anyone has any strongly held beliefs, is welcome to sit out there in the dark and comfort him.”
“True, let’s get the dead guy the fuck outside and I’ll call the cops” said one of the others.
“Good move ah, sorry I don’t know you?”
“Jimi” he replied as he fumbled with a mobile.
“No godam signal out here”, “Mine’s okay”, said Ruby dialing tripple zero. “Its bloody engaged though, can you believe it, why would it be engaged?”
“That’s a rhetorical question right?” Said Zara raising an eyebrow, “try home”.

They all watched with worry on their faces as she dialed, “No reply, I’ll try the hospital” She dialed again. “busy, what’s going on here” She said trying desperately not to sound too scared.
John had just began to drag Ward outside when his whole body suddenly stiffened and his eyes almost seemed to pop out of their sockets, completely bloodshot, huge and full of rage.

Before John had time to react, Ward’s previously “dead” body had spun onto its side, grabbed John’s leg and yanked his feet, by the ankles crashing him to the floor almost instantly. John was now officially in shock, as was mostly everyone else. He watched in total disbelief and horror, as the next few seconds unfolded, as if in slow motion. Ward was on his feet, his mouth open more than was humanly possible and with some newly found incredible strength, he yanked John to his feet again by the hair and one arm. He was now running with John powerlessly in his grip trying to keep his feet under control as he and Ward crashed into the nearest table, knocking it and all manner of expensive computer gear to the floor in the process. He landed so heavily on the floor that he thought he felt or heard his back actually break as Ward came down on him, biting a huge chunk out of his neck. He did in fact hear the click of his back breaking and that was the last thing he ever heard, as he was dead almost the instant he had that thought.

Zara, at the site of her dad’s sudden death, at the hands of a supposedly dead psycho, screeched like a Banshee running towards the two of them kicking at Wards blood-soaked head with all her might, tears literally splashing all around her, screaming
“You fucking cunt, fuck you, fuck you”.

Ward had no intention of stopping mid meal, his grip ferocious, as his black teeth ripped John apart in front of her.

Mitch had been up the back of the shed and had just picked up a wooden cricket bat when all hell broke loose and John when down. He ran across the hall at full pitch, just like he had done hundreds of times before when he used to play rugby. He swung the bat as hard as he could at Ward’s head, but slipped in the mix of blood and other bodily fluids, sending the bat way off target. It hit Zara just above her left ear glancing off close to her skull, ripping out some hair and a small chunk of skin and it continued it’s deadly ark, eventually slamming into Jimi’s stunned face almost point blank. The force crushed his nose to pulp, broke all but a few good teeth, blinded him in one eye and sent him into a silent coma almost instantly. He never knew, or felt a thing again.

Zara, to her surprise, reacted swiftly and automatically, all those martial arts moves she practiced in slow motion every day, now locked firmly in muscle memory. She swung at Mitch with a perfect defensive swing of her arm that connected the hand holding the bat as her free hand came behind catching enough of the handle to take it from him. She immediately grabbed it with both hands, pushed him back and out of the way, then she swung down with such ferocious force that Ward’s head almost ripped free of his body, from the impact as it swung sickeningly to the side smashing his skull and covering everything within a five metre radius with his brains and an unhealthy amount of zombie blood, bone and other bodily fluids.
“Fucking hell, fuck, fuck, fuck” Mitch now covered in all manner of body parts and fluids, was hysterically screaming over and over, crying and staggering in circles, in a state of panic and shock.

Warren was in the toilet washing down his jeans when Ward came to life and killed his father. He rushed out in time to see Mitch demolish Jimi’s face. The shock was so severe that he stood for what seemed like minutes, completely unable to move or think. Tears had made his vision like that of a fifty year old unable to focus or read.

“Noooo!, no, fuck, dad fuck, Zara, what the fuck, shit no, not dad, no fucking way,” he screamed as Zara approached him, her arms open. Their tears melted together as she embraced her brother, their foreheads touching. Blood from her wound above her ear dripping constantly onto her shoulder.
“We gotta be strong big bro, we gotta get through this shit, somehow” she almost whispered to him.
“What the fuck do we do then, what the fuck is going on here”, he replied sobbing but still now.
“I don’t know yet Warren, but I’ve got a horrible idea we are going to find out sooner than we want.

Several of the others were now attending to Jimi, who was unconscious on the floor, making strange gurgling noises as he began to drown from the blood that had gone into his lungs. Jamie had placed his head to the side and had scooped out most of the fragments of teeth still in his mouth. One of the others had gone and fetched a bucket of water and some rags to clean him up but silently they all knew he could not possibly survive. All they could do was keep him as comfortable as they could for now. There was blood everywhere now.

Zara very reluctantly placed a tarp she found in the store room over John’s body.Mitch was kneeling next to the unconscious Jimi, sobbing and repeating over and over.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to, I slipped”
“Not your fault Mitch” Jamie was saying, “It’s all just really horrible but we have to get help and quickly if he is going to live.
“Am I going to jail, Jamie, are they going to lock me up, I fucking killed one of my friends man, killed him, I deserve to go to jail.”
“No one’s going to jail mate”, she said attempting to put him at rest.
“I ll jump on Zara’s laptop and see what news there is of all this while you guys keep trying your mobiles” Said Jamie as calmly as she could, walking over to the bench seat where Zara had left it.
“No news here, must be all a coincidence I reckon”, said Jamie pounding furiously on the laptop. She had the only connection to the Internet and the outside world thought the wireless USB dongle plugged into her laptop. Trouble is she said, is that she had used all but a few megabytes of her monthly allowance.

Right then came a loud pounding noise on the door of the shed.
“Shit no windows except those up the roof there” said James looking around.
“And that’s bad, how?” questioned Mitch.
“Because we can’t see who…or what the fuck is banging on the door”
“I’d rather they are banging on solid door and not some windows”, said Zara.
“Open up and see, but I’ll give two guesses, and I reckon if you think about it long enough, you will be pretty much correct both times”, Phil said.
“So what now guys, is this a zombie plague or what, and is it okay to behead those fuckers out there?” Said Tag pulling out a six inch flick knife from his pocket.
“Wooh!, where did that come from?”, said Jamie
“He’s a knife freak, been collecting since he was ten, should see his twelve inch Bowie”, said his best friend, Mitch.
“Twelve inch aye” said Zara cheekily looking at Tag who was grinning from ear to ear, raising his eyebrows.
“Lets think seriously about this guys, but first I think we gotta find out if it is our dead guys turned zombie, then go from there. Until then, does everyone agree not to open that door no matter how much they beg?” Warren said looking around the hall with a fake smile.

The hall was basically one of those old wooden buildings that resembled an old barn. It was built during the forties when timber and power was cheap so the walls were solid hardwood weather board with only a few small shuttered windows, which tonight were thankfully locked. Five years ago the council landed a federal grant which was enough for a new colour bond roof and some clerestory windows to let some light in. Inside the walls were lined with plywood and there was a basket ball hoop at each end and a small kitchen, toilet and store room that were added during renovations some years back.

Warren found an aluminum step ladder out in the store room, at the back of the stage and used it to get up to the windows that lead to the roof. As he climbed out a gust of wind almost knocked him over the edge. “All I need now is rain to make this tin roof like a bloody ice rink” he said out loud. As he looked toward the fire shed he noticed the ute’s door wide open and no body in sight. “Shit I hope the ambos took the body away”, he thought sarcastically. The roof leaned only slightly down but was a long way off the ground, he guessed about four metres, enough to hurt your legs if you jump… or fall.

He laid down on his front at the edge of the roof and his worst fears were realised, though he was still shaking his head attempting to believe what his rational mind was denying as he watched the scene unfold below. Just then he felt the first drops of rain on his back. Then down came the deluge as the clouds opened up like a drunk at a garden party.

He could see two dark insane looking, once human creatures below, hammering on the door with such violence, he thought he could see the flesh ripping from their arms, the door was turning a bright deep red from the pieces of flesh left on it. Both looked insanely strong and scary but the one from the ute with the broken neck looked deceptively lame, his head flopping about on his shoulders but incredible power in his bloody fists. The door began to give and he could hear those inside begin to lose it yelling at each other about something. He wondered who the other one was, John had said there was only the driver in the ute. Just then he saw movement in the distance, two more of these things were walking toward the shed now. He knew the wooden door, although fairly solid, would not keep this many of them out for too long.

Warren slowly shimmied away from the edge then got to his feet, too quickly, much too quickly and the soles of his cheap runners went from under him as he slid toward the edge. He just had time to realize that his only real hope, was to grab the gutter on the way over, so he allowed himself to land face down but much harder than he wanted, his nose slamming hard against the tin, spraying a film of blood into his wide open mouth. He almost bounced over the edge but was able to get a firm grasp on the rounded edge of the gutter with both hands as he went over the abyss.
“Now what the fuck do I do” he said out loud to himself.
“Warren I’m coming”, he heard from the window above. “No, no! Don’t even try, it’s too slippery, I will have to drop and try to land on the roof of the car to cushion my fall”. He said this more to allay Zara’s fears,than out of any real hope or facts, as the car was fifty feet to the left of him and he knew if he loosened his grip enough to shimmy along, Lara Croft style, he would simply plop as a meal from heaven to those hideous insane things below. For now they had not noticed him and for this he thanked a lord he didn’t even believe in. He also knew he had only a few minutes, tops, before he would let go from fatigue, for now though, he hung on tight.
“No Warren, try and hang on while I get the others” Zara told him as she disappeared.

Inside the door buckled a bit more with each blow from the two animated dead things revealing a little more of the brass latch each time. The rivets were popping out one at a time as well. At this rate the door would give in the next few minutes.
“What the fuck are we gonna do?” screamed Mitch.
“Calm the hell down and look for anything we can use as weapon, or I swear I’ll throw you outside, you got that man? Now go get Tag and his knife, find a piece of pipe or any fucking thing we can hit these fuckers with when they come in”, Mitch said with more strength, conviction and authority than he had ever imagined.
“Guys! Warren’s hanging from the roof above those things, We gotta act real fast or he’ll drop and fuck knows what those things will do to whats left of him” Zara yelled running toward the door. She had two baseball bats and handed one to Tag.
“Good girl Zara, you wanna give that to one of the guys?”,
“No fucking way, that’s my brother up there and I did not get to be captain of the softball team for shit you know, I can swing one of these things you know.”
“Okay, on my signal someone swing that door open and everyone stand back, while we fuck em up, which should give Warren time to drop down and get back in here”
“Dude we should get more weapons first”, Mitch said gesturing toward the back of the hall Where Jamie was rummaging through various sporting goods.
“No time man, you go get something anyway though, okay?”

As he spoke the door flew open knocking two or three of the teens to the floor screaming and scrambling to their feet to escape. On the roof Warren was losing his grip, he would have to drop and probably break both his legs. The thought was a sobering one. He looked down to see the door fly open and the two creatures attack those inside with the ferocity of medieval berserkers.

Without warning the gutter ripped free as the brackets popped out and he dropped five feet, then ten, then fifteen, but amazingly, he was still holding on. The whole gutter section gave way and Warren crashed the remaining ten or so feet instantly, landing hard on the wet thick grass below though to his relief, he landed on his feet and rolled. Unfortunately, the gutter hit him hard as well, opening up a long nasty looking gash that ran from his forehead to his ear, blood immediately pouring into his eyes obscuring his vision as he ran toward the open door and the chaos within.

The driver of the ute charged inside first, his eyes reflecting total psychosis and unfathomable rage, screaming and lashing out at anyone with a pulse. Tag swung his bat violently, missing the driver completely and only just clipping the other more healthy looking zombie on the top of his head. The bat hit the door and continued on, hitting Mitch on the upper arm knocking him screaming to the floor, the dead driver quickly pouncing, landing heavily on top, jaw fully open showing a hideous mouthful of broken teeth.

Zara on the other hand hit her mark completely crushing one entire side of other zombie’s head, sending him crashing into the trestle tables, knocking over the two remaining computer towers and tangling himself in the spaghetti of wiring. Before the first tower hit the floor Zara swung another perfect hit to the other side of driver’s face sending teeth, flesh and blood into the air. She spun on her feet and brought the bat straight down on the top of what was left of his head so that all that remained was a crushed neck and bits of flesh clinging on determinedly to the remains of his head and face. He finally hit the floor and was still. Zara was like a Samurai warior in full fight. A couple of the others were sobbing, or vomiting at the sight of the dead attackers and all the gore.

Mitch was screaming for help as the other zombie punched his face and tried to bite, but was unable to use the hideous broken teeth on his victim before Warren stormed back in and kicked the driver’s head so hard it actually spun a couple of times, lifting his body off Mitch as he kicked and pushed upwards. The zombie rolled to his back and was getting to his feet when Zara’s bat demolished his head and he was still at last.
“Okay first things first, is anyone bit?”, yelled Zara “cause if you are, we’re gonna have to kill you now, anyone got a problem with this rule?”

They all just stood dumbfounded at what had just happened, Tag was just getting to his feet holding his unused bat, looking slightly embarrassed.
“Fucking awesome sister,” “fuck yeah, that was wicked man”, said Jamie, “Hallefuckinglujah to that,” Ruby added.
“We gotta bar that door right after we drag these bloodbags outside….. I saw another two of these things heading our way when I was on the roof ”, Warren said slowly.
“Then we got to work on our very own zombie plan”,
“Warren, what about dad, won’t he turn into one of these things?”, Zara asked as Warren walked over to the zombies on the floor.
“Never thought about it sis, but shit, you’re right, I just don’t want to deal with it right now, can someone else do it, it’s just too much right now. I feel, any more of this crap and my head is going to explode.
“I’d like to at least bury him, but given the situation here, but I think we have to be a bit cold hearted and put him outside, he would do the same if it were one of us, I know it. It would kill him, but he would do it,” Zara added.
“Mitch and I will take care of that for you guys”, said James looking across at Mitch for some sort of moral support.

Tag and Warren began dragging the dead driver’s carcass outside and into the bush behind the hall. Some of the others, that were not still incapacitated by shock did the same with Ward and the other thing’s body. Only when the bodies were removed, the blood mopped up and the door roughly repaired and relocked did any of the survivors speak.
“Well guys, just like in the movies we do the head in first. Next, I think, from what I’ve seen, they can see okay but hear even better and we don’t know about their sense of smell. They stink like hot turd so I don’t reckon they hunt by smell,” Warren theorized.
“We also know that if you are bitten, like Ward, you are pretty much screwed, so rule number one is as Zara said, if you get bitten we got to kill you, end of story, no exceptions….any objections?” Warren looked around at the horrified, and terrified faces in the hall.
“I say we should, if we can, wait until you turn, then kill. It’s more humane, and besides, what if some people are immune to infection? We’d never know and maybe miss out on someone someday developing a vaccine,”.
“That’s assuming it is a virus we are dealing with here.
“Good point Phil, but we can only do this if it is safe which means we will have to put you outside until you turn, how’s that?” suggested Warren.
“Done” said Phil.
“Next, do we elect a leader or make it up as we go?”
“Warren, how about you be leader in battle situations but we discuss each move in between. Besides you’re the oldest and I know we can trust you since you’re my big brother too”, suggested Zara.
“Everybody happy with that?” They all slowly nodded approval.
“I think we should go to Tim’s farm up the mountain, it’s close, sits on top of a grassy hill, built like a jail and has sheds full of food, tools and hardware. We can build an eight foot high fence around it and electrify it if needed. Also the power comes from a turbine in the creek that supplies thirty kilowatts of two forty volt goodness”. Warren suggested enthusiastically.
“The one drawback,” added Tim, “is we have to go right through the middle of town to get there and if we assume from the lack of response from the emergency services and the hospital, that this is happening in town as well, we have a genuine problem on our hands for our long term survival.
“We know these things are downright vicious, so we got to be disciplined and very careful, in addition to understanding the fact that we all may die in the very near future, so we all need to come completely to terms with this”, added Zara looking first at Warren, then to the others.
“They aren’t really zombies in the strict sense of the term, are they”, said Tag, “I mean all we know so far is they go ballistic when they turn, and they turn about an hour after being bitten. Also that redneck from the ute had a big chunk missing out of the back of his neck and shoulder, so maybe he crashed after he turned and didn’t die first”, he paused and looked up at the ceiling for a bit then added, “I hope, against hope, that there are not too many more of them out there”.

Outside the wind had picked up and the rain was pelting down, then the power went out and the hall was cast into complete darkness.
“Shit that’s just great, breakout the torches guys and quickly” said Jamie as she reached into her pocket for her own LED wind up torch.

It was only now that they noticed the erie and menacing sounds of moaning, growling, cries and distant screams that would haunt them each night from this point on, taxing the very sanity of the survivors. Then the violent and persistent banging on the door started up again and those inside looked for their friends in the desperate faces around them.