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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……..” ,
“Well he’s not dead and he’s really pissed off and chucking a psyc”.
“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.

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