Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rant And Rant Again

I just got home having been conveyed in a taxi within which the driver cocooned himself with the radio station which calls itself The Power Station.  It calls itself thus because its headline act is its breakfast announcer, Alan Jones. This man does some good things in supporting strugglers, young vocalists and aspirants to sporting success.  A lot of this is unrecognised and he doesn't play it up.  So that's good,  isn't it?  Well yeah, except...

Alan Jones is also a long term supporter of the Liberal Party, the conservative side of Australian politics.  He's also a an uncritical promoter of their current national leader, Tony Abbott.  Groucho Marx once sang a song back in the Thirties called "Whatever it is, I'm against it." This is Tony Abbott's sole ploy to force a premature election which he would expect to win. He has no policies, he's simply taking an approach to play on people's fears of change, people's doubts about anything new and an extant racist reflex which still exists in Australia.  He is a man who lacks ideas and mines the worst aspects of human nature in an attempt to gain power.

A supposedly intelligent and compassionate man in the form of Alan Jones, backs Abbott in such grubby, negative and base tactics. Alan Jones'  fan base is largely older people who are pissed off that things are not as simple as they should be and that old people in our culture are largely shunted off to institutions on their way to death.  He also attracts a lot of simpletons who want someone to give easy explanations that their poor life choices are the fault of others' people on welfare, people fleeing dislocation, persecution and death in lands where we wage war, or basically people who don't think that  Daryl Somers and Two and a Half Men are the pinnacles of comedic genius.


This brings me back to the cab ride home.  On the radio was a replay of Alan Jones attacking our Prime Minister in a blatant party political piece of diatribe which was passed off as an interview with the Prime Minister and once again designed to cement fear and loathing in the listeners. This was the cab driver's choice.  Now, I'm pretty much sick of bogan political attitudes, simplistic attacks and a dumbed down approach to debate on the complex problems that we need to navigate.  To me its a political parallel to anti-science, the rise of bullshit like Ïntelligent design", anti-immunisation idiocy, homeopathy and belief that Invisible Friend can fix everything.  So I thought, "Fuck this crap! If I have to listen to simplistic right wing ranting drivel in a taxi I'll do some ranting of my own."  So I launched.  I called Alan Jones a number of things.
"Fucking mysoginist poofter cunt!  This queen would suck Tony Abbots dick and gargle his cum to get that other fucking cunt elected and to get ratings.  If he wants a fucking peoples' revolt I'll fucking start it in his fucking underpants with a fucking stanley knife."

By this stage I had to calm down and direct the driver down to my place.  So I did, got in, grabbed a beer and blogged.  It hasn't diminished the fucking contempt I feel for Alan Jones and Tony Abbott.  They truly are cunts. I am not at all concerned about their prospects of continuing mortality.  I am not wshing them dead but if they did pass, I would not shed a tear nor waste time in mourning the fact.  They are cunts. I doubt whether I'll alter any of this when I next visit this blog.  In fact, next time I cap some zeds they could well be celebrity guest cappees.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

AfterFlood - Home Ain't Always That Sweet

Afterflood 4 - Home Ain't Always That Sweet

I dozed off during the awesomeness of Punter’s lads ripping it up on the cricket fields. This was interrupted by some very loud knocking on the front door. The sort of knocking used by cops, bailiffs and debt collectors. Maybe even zeds. I looked around for my shotgun and remembered it was still in the car. Such lack of attention to detail had to change. I turned off the teev and went into the kitchen and found a rolling pin and a bread knife. Then I carefully went to the front door and opened it, stepping away very quickly and bringing the knife into an extended pose. At the door was a neighbour, Judith. She was looking very scared. I lowered the knife.

“Hi Judith, come in.” I peered over her shoulder looking for signs of trouble. Nothing. She looked at the knife, the rolling pin and said,

“Turn off the lights. It attracts the infected people.” That was her nature, calling the zeds people. I quickly did as I was told. I told her to wait, and then went to my car, retrieving shotgun, ammunition and cricket bat. When I returned I ushered her inside to the lounge room. It was weird sitting in the dark. I told her what I’d been up to, glossing over the zed battle, concentrating on what I was going to do next. She calmed down a bit, not accepting my offer of a stiff drink and told me how she was waiting for her husband to come back from Wollongong. He should have arrived by now but with the evacuation convoys controlling the roads she just wasn’t sure. His phone had run out of battery but last she heard he was stuck somewhere near the airport, probably held up by the stream of people flying out. In the meantime she’d been studying the net, brushing up on all of the latest advice on dealing with evacuation, getting food and water and dealing with the zeds. She was rushing her words, not quite hysterical but close to losing it. She was scared. Like me. I got up, felt my way into the kitchen and poured a couple of whiskeys with a splash of water each. I took them back into the lounge room and put them on the small coffee table next to Judith. I heard a noise in the backyard, stumbled to the dining room where I’d left a torch and looked out the back window. I heard Judith get up and then she was standing right behind me. I told her to get the shotgun and shells. Once I’d loaded the gun I risked a quick sweep of the backyard with the torch. Nothing there. I did it again. Same result. I told Judith to stay inside and eased out the back door. Still nothing. Then, crash! Down near the old gum tree. I raised the shotgun and walked down the stairs, my heart pounding. The panic was about to set in, I could tell. I switched on the flash aiming it at the tree. Something was there. I hit the on switch again and raised the shottie, panic being overtaken by an urgent need to pull a trigger and kill whatever the fuck was down there. In the weak light I made out an indefinable shape. Then the shape moved, like a crawling piece of horror from a late night popcorn flick. I aimed the shottie and fired off one blast. The thing kept on moving. Fuck! I moved a couple of metres closer, aimed and fired the second barrel. The crawling thing stopped. I reloaded, turned on the torch and went to find out what I’d shot.

The closer I got the more I was thinking it couldn’t be a zed, just didn’t look right. When I reached it I saw it was a dog. A big one, Great Dane, wearing a muzzle, a long chain and one of those kinky sex collars. It looked like Scooby had eaten his last snack. Shaggy was going to hate me. By the same token I wasn’t happy with myself either. I should have been more aware, willing to get closer and identify the target before shooting. No, I wasn’t pleased with myself at all, on several levels. I dragged the body closer to the house and left it for a burial in the morning. Judith was now at the bottom of the stairs, her body shaking with sobs. When I got near she clung to me, her body trembling. Mine wasn’t in much better shape control-wise so we clung together. I guided us both back into the house and into the lounge room, standing there in the dark. Judith’s trembling had calmed down but she clung to me again, resting her head on my shoulder. After a short while she drew away from me, nervously voicing her fear,

“I thought it may have been one of them. When you fired I didn’t know what to do, I was scared.” I totally knew what she meant and told her so. She went on,

“Do you mind if I stay here tonight? I don’t want to be by myself. It’s just that, well, Greg, you know? He’s out there somewhere and I don’t know if he’ll be back.” Then she collapsed, sobbing again. Her husband was in his forties, worked for a local solicitor doing minor claims, conveyancing and wills. She was in her late thirties and worked in the city for an insurance company as a team leader of a personal injury claims group. They hadn’t been able to have kids and had eschewed the adoption route. After an expensive few years trying IVF they’d decided that kids weren’t to be a part of their lives so they got involved in local community groups. Bush care, visiting nursing homes, working the local church fetes, that sort of thing. They’d also been wonderful to my mum and I was grateful for that. After a few minutes Judith disentangled herself.

“I’m sorry. I’ll get myself together, I’m just struggling a bit right now.” I hugged her one more time and drew away.

“I’ll fire up my laptop. See if we can find anything from Greg. The whisky’s in the kitchen if you want some more.” The computer took a minute or two, to get moving. I clicked on a few links to the social network sites and one on google. Facebook was a blank. Nothing happening at all. I felt a new fear start creeping up on me. Email sites were dead as well. The fear started rushing a bit more now that it had found its legs. Twitter was still up. Most tweets were spaced about twenty minutes apart. Nothing from Heather and that was a bummer. My sister and brother in law were safe as was my brother, now ensconced at Hawkesbury College, no doubt reliving old times. I hoped that Heather was safe in Berowra, and I made a mental note to maybe drive up there in the morning. Twitter recommended a couple of zed sites to follow so I clicked on them just as Judith returned with a couple of tall looking whiskeys. She’d wiped away tears and her face was looking more relaxed. She wasn’t surprised to learn about Crapbook and Shitemail, saying both had been really struggling for the past few hours. I opened up a new window and got Explorer again, and Judith logged into her own twitter account. There was a new tweet, fifteen minutes ago from @Gregtwits.

“Z1’s all round us. Army and cops here as well. At Holy Cross Ryde. Safe 4 now.” Judith tweeted back, “Keep safe. With Nick next door. Staying here. He’s going to HAC 2morrow. Love xxx.”

I thought for a few seconds about Holy Cross at Ryde. I’d played soccer there a few times and did a mental walk around the grounds. The school building itself would be defensible, the playing fields offering good fields of fire. What the fuck? Fields of fire? Where was I dragging that shit from? Next I’d be saying crap like ‘fire in the hole’ and ‘cover me’. I sent a tweet from my account asking for anyone near Holy Cross Ryde for updates. Three came in. They basically gave an unhappy account of a swarm of zeds flooding the place. One twit pic showed the rugby league fields covered in prone zeds, with ambulant ones approaching the school buildings. I could barely make out the windows and rooftops which seemed to have rifles aiming down at the zeds. Puffs of smoke were also captured in the picture and one zed in the process of falling, its head barely still attached. One tweet said another group of army and cops were approaching in convoy in a desperate race to relieve the school. Judith saw all of this and started crying,

“Greg! Oh no, Greg!” I stood up so she could get back to her own twitter stream. She did a pleading tweet for Greg to respond. We waited. I grabbed my phone and powered it up, sliding the menu to twitter. It was still working. I waited for it to update and saw a couple of new tweets. One was from @hcztwit saying that the zeds were at the windows and doors and that everyone was now on the first floor, having barricaded stairs and lifts. I told Judith and she nodded. Another tweeter came in with an update saying that the convoy was in a shit fight of its own near the school. Another tweet reported use of flamethrowers, grenades and some sort of artillery. The television was showing nothing except evac updates and advisories of what to do. What the hell could I do now?

Judith gasped. She had a couple of tweets from Greg. He was part of a group on the first floor, manning the barricades with Molotov cocktails and weapons which were going to need feeding quite soon. The last one read, “Z1’s cming up. L8r. Love xxxxxx” It was sent two minutes ago. On my phone I saw two new tweets giving the bad news. The army was breaking through but the zeds were in the school itself. I gulped down some whiskey and put my hand on Judith’s shoulder. We waited. A long wait during which we got the whiskey bottle and self medicated. The tweets which came up during that time added nothing new, just messages between unrelated groups. Twenty minutes later a tweet on my phone said it was all over at the school. The same tweeter rapidly added details in five more messages. I handed the phone to Judith. She read the tweets, her shoulders hunched, sobs breaking out and she dropped the phone onto the table, She stumbled into the lounge room and curled up into a foetal ball on the couch. I checked the tweets. The zeds had overcome the defences on the first floor but were stopped at the barricades on the second. The army was cleaning out any stray zeds, the search for survivors was on. I started crying as well. Greg was an honest, good man. He was one of those blokes always ready to volunteer for the dirty work at community events, offering his time, clear thinking and good humour where it was needed. He’d often done small jobs for my mum when none of us were available. What I’d call a champion bloke. I really hoped he’d be found but had a feeling that he’d used his life to protect others. I sat down next to Judith who was still curled up, heaving with sorrow. Our combined grief held us in a curled up, twisted mess for another twenty minutes. I eventually dragged myself up and went back to my computer and phone, checking out tweetsville.

The school had been cleaned out of zeds and the survivors were being convoyed out to Castle Hill showgrounds, another emergency refugee camp. The survivors were then given a few minutes each to send short, fifty character tweets on a variety of devices, everyone now following the main Holy Cross account. The tweets flooded in. Some early ones tried small greetings but eventually they just tweeted their names. Greg wasn’t one of them. Judith must have noticed what I was looking at and pulled herself out of her ball to come and see. I said nothing. Just waited for her to scroll through the tweets again and again for twenty minutes. Then I heard a car travelling down the road. I looked out the front door and saw a cop car pull up a few houses down. Three armed cops knocked on the door. I watched. Waited. No response. They then moved to the house opposite and noticed me. One of them walked over.

“We’re moving anyone left in Beecroft out. Get ready to move at sun up. There’s only four houses here with people still in them. You know next door? “ I nodded, saying “She’s in here. Her husband just got killed over at Holy Cross manning the barricades. She’s still in shock.” The cop shook his head, “A lot of that happening. Listen, the fire station is pretty well fortified if you want to stay there for the rest of the night. We have a lot of guns and ammo.” I declined the offer, thinking that a good night’s sleep was the best thing. The cop walked off after waving to his colleagues. They were speaking to the guy over the road, no doubt telling him the same thing. They then moved up a few houses from me and knocked at the door. The door opened and they went inside. The last house with people. They were all newcomers, I didn’t know any of them. I didn’t really care either at that stage. Judith’s predicament, the loss of Greg and lack of contact with Heather were enough hassles at this stage. I left Judith there and went around the house, locking windows and doors and blocking them with furniture. Good enough for keeping zeds out. The last door was the front one. I opened it up and walked outside, checking the car and seeing if anyone was around. Behind the car I noticed a branch, about a metre and a half long. I pulled it away. I ripped off the leafy smaller twigs and admired its sharp, pointy end where I’d stripped off a smaller twig.

While I was admiring my handiwork I sensed some movement to my left. It was someone walking towards me. Fuck, that was no walk, it was a zed shuffle. Where had it come from and why was I once again caught short with no weapon?  The fucking thing was too close, I wouldn’t make it to the front door without going through it. I called out to Judith to bring the shottie and held the stick in front of me, prodding the zed. The thing stunk. It stunk of faeces, urine, vomit and all sorts of unholy corruption. I yelled out to Judith again and prodded the undead nightmare with the stick. The thing tried to grab the primitive weapon but was pretty crap in the agility stakes.  More like Doug Bollinger than Ricky Ponting. I stepped back, brought the stick up and feinted at the things face. It slowly moved its head, its mouth doing that horrible slaver thing. I feinted with the stick once again, waited for it to move then rammed the stick into its mouth, thrustíng it upwards as hard as I could. A sickening gishing and cracking sound gave me a hint of my success. I pulled the stick out and the zed fell backwards. I rammed the stick into its right eye, pushing it as hard as I could. There was more sickening sounds and then I really went to work, taking out all my pent up grief, frustration and rage on the hideous thing. After a couple of minutes of constant jabbing, hitting, beating and smashing, the zed was a pasted mess on the front footpath. I walked back a few steps only to see another one stumbling up the road. I heard Judith call out from the front door and turned around to see her carrying the shotgun and ammo. I motioned her to me and held out my hand for the shotgun. She ignored me, stepped around the gished zed and walked to within ten metres of zed number two. She aimed the gun and fired both barrels. The thing’s head simply disappeared in a cloud of gore, bone and smoke. She looked up and down the road for more, then walked back to me, a hint of a smile beginning to show.

“That feels better.” she admitted. I followed her back inside. She was already tweeting about capping her first zed when I reached the dining room. I filled two glasses with whiskey then barricaded the front door. Safe for now. The adrenaline was still rushig as we observed our tweet streams. I finished off my whiskey and said I was going to bed. Before I did I put sheets onto the bed in my sister’s old room and plumped the pillows. I went back to the dining room and told Judith where she could sleep. She nodded absently, sipping at whiskey and watching Twitter. I went to bed and crashed out in pretty quick time.

I woke up what seemd a few hours later and found Judith lifting the top bed sheet and crawling in.

“I need to be held.” she murmured, lying against my side with an arm draped over my chest. I was embarrassed not to be wearing anything except boxer shorts, but she didn’t seem to mind. In a couple of minutes her soft snoring let me know she was asleep.

The nightmare must have kicked in pretty soon after I drifted off.  I was standing on a hill, wearing a suit of armour in the style of Ned Kelly.  In front of me the hillside and plain below was a shambling mess of zeds. I didn't have a hope, so I took off my helmet and yelled out "Stop!" and "No!" I yelled out a few more "No's" and then found myself being cradled by Heather.  She stroked my forehead and my face, lightly kissing my jaw, then kissing me on the lips. She made 'shoosh' sounds and stroked my forehead again, calming me down, but I was still moaning at the zeds.  She kissed me again on the lips and I grabbed her, running my hands up and down her back, meeting her lips with mine.  She opened her mouth slightly and our tongues danced, a hungry yearning expressing itself. I ran my hands up her rib cage and to her breasts, cupping them.  I brushed her nipples and a soft moan encoruaged me further.  I lightly licked her breasts, my tongue darting at the nipples, then I lightly sucked at one, then the other.  I rean my tongue down her stomach, pausing at her navel before exploring further down.  With gentle pressure from my right hand and my tongue exploring her folds below more moans spoke of her pleasure.  I licked, teased and used pressure until a surge of wetness and a deeper cry signalled her orgasm.  I repeated my caresses and tongue dance for a second, then a third wave. I slid myself up and kissed her again, her willingness and desire a delightful discovery.  She rolled out from underneath me and straddled me, easing herself down on my hardness.  Then she started rising and plunging, working her muscles, drawing me in.  I lay back in ecstacy, cupping her breasts, kneading her buttocks as she moved up and down and side to side until my need exploded, shuddering spasms of delight.  I was exhausted.  She moved off me and slid up against my side once again.  I had just a brief thought that it was great being with Heather and another as to what the fuck I was going to do tomorrow. No doubt something would fuck up.  A lot of that was going on these days.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

AfterMud - Z Files 3. Head For The Hills.

The SES lady at the Evac desk waited while I checked my googlemaphone for updates from friends and family.  The OMG's had turned into a lot of 'fuck fuck fuck' but the key message was from my brother.  He was heading to the old Hawkesbury Agricultural College, now a campus of the Uni of Western Sydney. Top idea.  He'd studied food technology there amidst all the cow cockies doing agriculture.  He'd won a beer guzzling record by holding a beer gun in his mouth while said weapon was on full tilt, for a College record of thirteen seconds.  Not quite the measure of life but it did afford him some yobbo hero status amongst the country boys.  Funny thing is that he never drank beer.  Rum, cider and whiskey were his tipples.  I messaged back accepting the invite and queried the beer gun. The response was not polite.. The college had its own farm, farm animals, laboratories and chemicals.  Lovely stuff to cushion against the Z1 virus craziness.

"Hawkesbury College, near Ruchmond.  Just down the road from the racetrack." I told the lady, adding,  "But I'm stopping off at Beecroft overnight, to secure the old family home.  It 's still on the market and I need to make it safe."  She tapped at her laptop, murmured a couple of   'umms' and hit the enter key with relish.  She then printed out an updated ED.  As well as the old data it had a list of roads I was to follow all the way to the college via Beecroft.  A combination of Google Maps and a shit hot police I.T. team had made it look simple. My new ED also had authority codes for fuel at Shell and Caltex, food authorisation for a single male and travel authorisation for twenty-four hours.  I had to be at the college by then.  Easy. I'd be at Beecroft in an hour from now, do the house thing and out of there first thing in the morning.  Then an hour and a half to the college. Dead simple.  Yeah, right.  Everything's easy when you're an ignorant dickhead.

The SES woman wished me luck as the background weapons tune became louder. Wasn't quite the Zep or AccaDacca but earmuffs were going to be an OH&S Committee agenda item if it got  much closer.  I went over to the Brit backpackers to see how they were getting on.  Turned out they had a choice of getting on one of a fleet of planes organised by the U.K. government or take their chances at a refugee camp being set up at Eastern Creek. Seeing as how theyy weren't Superbike jocks or V8 junkies they just wanted to go home.  They were to drive out to Mascot and park the Falcon in a designated zone, then panic aboard to a Virgin jet.  We hugged each other farewell and I was most surprised they didn't make a final chip about the Poms thrashing us in The Ashes. Thank fuck for that.

Now it was time to talk to Heather.  She was putting her revised ED in her purse as I strode up.  She looked up, that killer smile beaming, drilling into my heart.  By fuck she was gorgeous.

"By fuck you're gorgeous." It came out.  My spam filter had failed again.  Before she could reply I quickly fired another salvo.
"I'm going to the family home in Beecroft, then out to Hawkesbury College to hook up with my brother, some science nerds and some students of GM crops, pig swill and heifer shagging.' I hesitated before adding,
" I'd really love it if you came along. The heifers ain't really all that cute."  Heather's laugh pinged me once again.
"Listen Laundry Boy, I appreciate you asking and am tempted, believe me. The thing is I need to check on my own family and friends up at Berowra.  Mum's not well and Dad is probably too ratarsed on rum by now to sort anything. I really have to check on them, make sure they are safe." She looked at her phone, cramped in her left hand.  " My brother tweeted that he's still up in Rockhampton, holing up in a quarantine hotel. He says they're fine for food, beer and rum, not so fine for freedom of movement."
"Yeah, seems to be a lot of that these days." I wiped off my hang dog look and whipped out my phone and handed it to her.
"I want your number." She nodded, handing me her Nokia.  After a bit of skull sweat I managed to put in my number, my bro's and a calendar reminder for exactly a week later instructing her to  "Make love to Terry." I made sure it had reminder alerts, both noisy and vibrating with extra emphasis on the vibrate option.  We swapped our phones back.  I looked at mine.  The most recent contact update was for 'Jellyfish Heart'.  We laughed together, I'd listed myself on her phone as 'Sting Remover'.

We hugged.  It was one of those ones where you put everything into it, as if you'll never see each other again. We kissed long and hard, soft and slow and kept the embrace going for longer than expected of people not in a realtionship.  Eventually we pulled apart.  I wiped away a few tears from her face with a soft finger touch.  It was shattering, a realisation of something just won and then immediately lost.  Reminded me of the Ashes test when Binger almost brought us home to a brilliant win.  Except this was real loss.  I hugged her again then she turned away, walking to her car.  Her convoy was leaving in five minutes, mine in fifteen.  I watched as she walked down to her Barina, drove out and joined a line of cars at the upper road block, bipping the horn on her way past.  Beep beep Barina.  I was still watching when her convoy drove off, up towards Birrell Street.  She was gone.  So was my heart, my head and any 'harden the fuckupness' which may have been hangin around, waiting for me to act.  I went and sat down under a tree, my back against it and my knees drawn up.  The background gunfire was now coming from a different direction and at an icnreased rate. It sounded like a battle and I wondered how many were getting the Chris treatment. Then more gunfire from closer to the school but to the west.  A few cops ran past, carrying assault rifles.

The noise from the east died out but now the western front was becoming livelier.  I stood up and saw a group of figures in army clobber running with purpose to the school.  They stopped outside the park adjoining the school. Two of them set up a machine gun, another three lay prone, assuming a well drilled firing position.  The cops stood behind the small squad.  Then I saw what the soldiers had been firing at.  There must have been fifty of them, stumbling, shambling and heading for the school.  I turned around to see one of the SES guys start marshalling people into the classrooms.  I trotted over and spoke,
"I have a shottie in my car.  I'll be back in a minute." The SES guy hesitated, then nodded.
"Be real fucking quick." I ran off to my car and retrieved my hip flask, shotgun and the box of ammo Stuey had donated.  I got back to the school and saw the soldiers firing into the shambling crowd.  The cops and the SES guys were firing as well.  So, this is what it comes to.  I walked quickly up to them, next to a cop.  He looked at me, the shotgun and nodded.
"Don't gawk at them,  shoot the zed fucks!" I cracked open the shotgun and put a shell into each barrel,  closed it again.  Checked the safety. Raised the shotgun and aimed.  Fuck!  They were a bunch of old people.  Where did they come from?  Then I remembered the nursing homes up behind Macpherson Street, leading up to the Waverley shops.This wasn't going to be like shooting foxes, pigs and feral cats.  Oh no.  No big fat moggies in trees this hunting day. I hadn't fired a weapon for over twelve years,  My arms shook.  Then over the barrels I saw a couple of the zeds, their mouths working, their limbs shambling them along.  Just like Chris.  My first shot was too high.  I took a breath.  The second shot impacted the left side of the head of one of the wrinkly zeds. That side of the face erupted in a mass of gore and splintered bone.  the rest of the head lolled crazily to one side, attached by withered muscle. It then slid down against the right shoulder, a gruesome reminder of a kid's mangled rag doll. Then the creature fell.  My first zed kill.

"That's it mate.  Keep it going." This was from the other cop who was slipping another magazine into his rifle.  The first wave of zeds was down, but there two more following it.  How many fucking nursing homes are in Waverley?  Obviously enough to supply three waves of an army of zeds in a surreal mix of blue rinse and incontinent stumbling.  I reloaded.  The next  shots decapitated two more of them.  By now the combined firepower of our small group was decimating the horde.  I fired off ten more rounds before the zeds were stopped.  Some of them weren't dead, making jerky crawl movements and still slavering with their mainly gummy mouths.  Two of the soldiers walked amongst them, doing the Dance of the Double Tap.  The rest of us stood there, still surging with adrenaline.   Then I noticed that the soldiers looked really young, like mid to late teens.  I spotted the Waverley College cadet insignia on their uniforms.  Those kids had just been shooting at what could have been theio grandparents, even great grandparents. This was becoming more fucked up by the minute.  We'd come to this, using school cadets to wage war against what were once our own loved ones.  Too much angsty crap for my brain.  I pulled out my hip flask and took a swig before handing it to the nearest cop. It quickly did the rounds, the cops ignoring the underage drinking of the young soldiers.  They'd earned a quick snort of the Mark.  The two double tappers walked back, both of them looking to be in their later teens.  They sported winning grins wer.  The taller one said,
"Some excellent tap dancing here boys.  Fucking wrinklies are the shit,  Represent the Double Yooo!  Woooo!"  Then he grabbed the flask, swigged down a gulp and handed it to his co-tapper who did much the same before passinmg it around again.  After we'd had second gulps it was empty.  So was my heart.

The taller, older cadet retained his cheeky grin.  That and his young face and uniform reminded me of photos taken at Gallipolli of the sixteen year olds who bumped up their ages to join what they hoped would be a Great Adventure back in World War One. Their modern counterparts seemed quite pleased with themselves.  The adrenaline was still running.  I also intended to run.

The SES guys soon herded the rest of the evacuees out of the classrooms.  At the same time we saw another group of cops, SES and soldiers approach from the east, where the other battle had been fought. When they reached us there were handshakes and congratulations all around.  The cops conferred and one got on his radio,
"Tamarama and Bronte precincts clear between McPherson and Bondi Road. Waverley twenty-three and thirty two proceeding to Clovelly precinct with SES and army components. Request resupply of ammunition and water for fifteen.  We''ll RV at the Cemetery."  He must have been happy with the squawked response as he grunted with satisfaction.
"Okay, the primary school crew stays here until evac is completed.  Then radio in for more tasks."  He motioned to the cadets I'd fought alongside,
"You fellas tag along with us.  Your major has arranged some treats for you."  The kids whooped with joy. Obviously they'd been promised something special before they'd been sent out to fight. They all went and piled into a combination of cop cars and council trucks, lights flashing in some kind of victory dance.  The remaining SES guys and cops resumed their traffic and evacuation marshalling, keen for us to leave.  My group was now ten minutes overdue so there was no dawdling, we went to our cars and drove up to the roadblock.  There was a delay which I used to refill my hipflask and check my ammo.  Six shells left.  Gonna need resupply, so I walked up to the cop who was keeping us in queue.
"Got any spare shottie ammo?  Twelve gauge?  Any sort of load will do."  The cop walked a couple of paces and opened up the boot of his car.  He reached in and took out three boxes of ammo and as he handed them to me said,
"Use them wisely.  Good luck and thanks for the help back there."  I shook his hand and went back to my car, belted up and took a swig out of a water bottle and slipped The Reels into the CD player. Cued it to Bad Moon Rising, and drove off to Dave Mason's take on the Creedence classic.  A lot ran through my mind as the convoy headed out.  We went through Bondi Junction, then down to Edgecliff, before hitting Bayswater, William Street and then down to the Harbour Tunnel.  All along the way we saw similar convoys, each headed by a car liveried with green masking tape and ribbon tied to aerials.  We headed north west from the tunnel, down to the next one going through Lane Cove.  By then I'd tired of Mr Mason and slipped on a Billy Connolly CD.  I needed a laugh.  All the way I was thinking of the loss of my home, friends, Heather and my non killing ways.  The destruction of that first zed at my hands replayed itself, a horror show.  Then it went.  Billy was talking about willies and I started laughing.   I yelled out "Go Big Willy" in an hysterical release.  Ironic really, given the fact that I'd thought all my actions thus far were pretty much those of a small balled man from Scaredistan.  At Beecroft Road I headed down Hannah Street,  to the old family house.  I pulled up into the drive, took my pack and went to the front door.  A red tape was across it.  I took it off and unlocked the door, noticing an ED on the floor.  I picked that up and stowed it into my pack.  I left a note on the telephone table explaining who I was and what i was doing, along with contact numbers for the rest of the family and myself.

One of the first things I checked was the pantry, especially the bottom shelves. Good, there was till some gin and whisky I'd left there during the period of shock and cleaning up after mum had suddenly died.  Before she'd left us I used to visit her once a week, share a meal and we'd catch up with each other.  Occasionally I'd take her on excursions out into the country or up the coast to visit her one remaining school friend.  I sure missed those times, her love and her common sense.  I paused before snappimg out of the maudlin thinking.  i'd done enough of that after the funeral and it was an occasional habit with which I knew how to deal.

I looked in the fridge and found some cheese, unopened long life milk and wilted lettuce, along with anciuent condiments we'd yet to pitch out.  I cleaned everything out, binning the old stuff and boxing up anything useful from the pantry. I checked all the rooms, but we'd left nothing valuable or useful before cleaning it out for market.
I did notice my old Gray Niccols cricket bat.  I picked it up and shadowed a cover drive, almost dinging the wardrobe. I took it outside and put it in the boot.  Could come in handy against a zed, just like in that Pommie zombie comedy.  I retrieved my laptop, chargers and plugged them in, trying to get as much charge into the batteries.  I'd forgotten to use the charger in the car. I turned on my HP abacus and scanned the latest feeds. MSN was still up, as was Google but the number of search results were limited to dozens, not hundreds.  Twitter was also becoming sparse and blog entry updates weren't frequent at all. The Cloud was dissipating and soon would shrink down to a few sites.  I left updates on Twitter, blog and Facebbook.  Then I cooked up some pasta, dried out cheese and tomato paste.   I went back to the car and retrieved a bottle of cleanskin Merlot.  Screwed off the cap, poured a big fuck-off glass and lit up a an old Amanda cigar.  The teev was showing just a few channels of evac shit, some old movies and a hashed mash of CNN, Fox, Sky and ABC24 feeds. for an hur I caught up what had been happening during my bissful, drunken, beachside self indulgence. I'd ignored a lot of bad shit in my life but this was the largest pile of crap since the back-up of the Bondi outfalls.  I hadt a hint of how to deal but instead loaded up the DVD of the 2006/7 Ashes whitewash of the Poms.  I really needed to see Punter's First Test brilliance, Warney's inspirational leadership to bring us to victory in Adelaide, Gilchrist's demolition of the Poms in Perth and Haydos and Symmo smashing them in Melbourne.  Yeah, cricket perfection..  Thanks boys.

I retrieved a bottle of bourbon, hit 'play'and nursed whisky in one hand and the remote in the other.  Bliss.  If only tomorrow would be the same. Unfortunately Groundhog Day wasn't on the menu despite its existential demands. While I was watching a glorious replay of Punter's lads running amok, other elements of this new world were playing their own horrid games. I was going to need an even newer rule book.  

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Afterflood Zombie Files - Don't Vote For Reality, It's A Bastard

My head was full of fear, the googling thing in my skull hadn't quite yet logged in.  Looking back at Stuey's shooting of Chris I now know that deep down there'd been a realisation that what Stuey had done was necessary, but  the shock, combined with the effects of the strong rum had pulled another level of fog over my mind.

I kept on walking up the hill on the north side of Bronte Beach.  I walked past the millionaire mansion once owned by Heath Ledger and reached Hewlett Street.  I took one more look down at the park and the beach, Chris' body now just a misdrawn stick figure on the clubhouse promenade with Stuey nowhere to be seen.  I turned around just as a police car pulled up right near the steps I usually take up to Andrew Court.  Two cops got out, one of them carrying a data slate, the kind carried by couriers, pizza delivery types and other functionaries of an online world.  The other carried  a look of exhausted worry.  Worry beckoned to me,
There it was, no questions about shotgun blasts, decapitated shopkeepers or crazy old clubbies, just my address.
I told them,hysterically  adding,
"But what about Chris and Stuey?  Chris is down there, dead and Stuey's off his nut!" I pointed down at the clubhouse,
"Okay," the cop looked down at the beach, "we're dealing with that, a team is on its way and it will be okay".  Just one thing about that,   was the victim infected?  sort of stumbling, pale, mumbling or groaning?" If so, did he bite you?"
I shook my head, still in a fog, still not registering what was turning out to be something far more horrible than what I'd just seen.  Alert, I wasn't, never really had been.

"Okay, go back to your place, pack up and go to your evacuation centre. Its on this docket."
Data Slate Cop printed out what looked like a receipt and handed it to me.  It had my name, address and Bronte Public School on it, plus a series of numbers.

"The numbers are your receipt for your apartment, its contents and any outstanding financial obligations currently associated with it.  When this is over, you'll need that receipt.  Keep it safe.  Now get the fuck out of here. Oh yeah, that guy you saw get shot? "
I nodded, at last an acknowledgement of what I'd seen.  Also I'd forgotten I was carrying Stuey's weapon and two cops hadn't blinked an eye. Reality gave me a big fuck off slap to the head.  The cop went on,
"If you see another one like him, use that shotgun. Head shots are the only way to stop them.  Go on, get packed and get to evac."

The cops walked away and up to the house next to Heath's and knocked on the door.  I watched.  No answer.  They waited, so did I.  No answer. Data Slate cop punched his receipt printer, tore off the paper and slid it under the door.  They then stuck a strip of green tape on the door. When they saw me they shooed me off.  I walked away, with increased pace.  When I got to my block I saw a few of the other residients piling their cars with prized possessions.  I rushed up the stairs to my place, saw a red sticker on the door and went inside.  A cop receipt was on the floor, telling me that as there was no-one home the flat was now government property, due to the emergency.  If I didn't contact the number provided or report to a police officer I would have no right to the flat, its contents but would still be liable for any financial liabilities. I laughed, put the shotgun down, tore up the note and took stock. I gathered a few family photos, a couple of books, a stack of cd's and DVD's including Zombieland and Planet Terror then all the food I had.  Only amounted to two boxes worth of supplies.  Then it hit me, Chris' shop was closed.  all shops would be closed.  I switched on the radio and tuned to ABC Local, the go to station for emergencies.  I switched on the TV, it was still working.  Flipping the channels showed me a series of news desks, explaining eveacuation details for The Emergency.  Kochie was noticeably absent but Karl Stefanovic was there, running through hard facts and locations.  The ABC had  Virginia Trioli going through much the same.  On radio they were doing it by postcode groupings.  I listened for mine as I showered.  I changed into jeans, steel capped boots, long sleeved drill shirt and packed socks'n'jocks for a week, two pairs of jeans, my board shorts, two other pairs of shorts and a few windcheaters and jumpers until the pack was amost full. I packed my toiletries and first aid kit in the front pocket and whatever touring maps I could find and strapped a pair of runners on one side and sandals on the other. Reminded me of my ratsacking days.

I then went through whatever I could find on the net as to what had happened while I was being an oblivious, self obsessed, dozey prick. I found that the H1N1 virus had jumped ship into some sort of brain fucker, maybe allied to an encepholytis thing but the science was beyond me.  Boffins had released mosquitos into the east coast flood areas, mossies which carried bacteria designed to sterilise other mossies.  It worked but not before the mutant virus had spread.  By the Flying Spaghetti Monster had it spread.  Cities and towns were being evacuated, right fucking now, and then they would be cleansed.  People who'd been infected by the mutant virus were being herded into makeshift camps. There were vids of some of them, aimlessly shambling and then occasionally taking a bite out of someone.  All accompanied with the OMG screams and a spooky mumbling from the biters.  I found a couple of snuff vids from a group tagged as #zedkillnow. Those vids reminded me of what Stuey had done with Chris. That's why the cops were matter of fact about that little episode and weren't surprised by my possession of a shotgun.  They were getting everyone, well, the uninfected, the hell out of town before the critical mass of infection would wipe us all out.  Was that right?  I didn't know, all I was worried about were family and friends but still I looked after myself and resumed packing.

I surveyed what I'd packed and in another box I stuffed detergent, toilet paper and the half dozen plastic bottles of water I kept in the fridge.  Then my beer, and a bottle each of rum, bourbon, single malt, gin, vodka and Drambuie.  All my booze. I carried everything down to my car and waved goodbye to Therese and Ian from downstairs as they were marshalled off in their Lancer by a bloke in an orange SES vest.  I went back to my flat,  did an idiot check then grabbed all the chargers and batteries I owned, including the car adaptors for laptop and phone.  I checked the phone for signal and found that it did.  I sent texts to all my contacts telling them I was heading to the local primary school and would update later.  I checked my own inbox and found similar messages with a lot of hysterical OMG!!!'s included, like you'd expect from Big Brother contestants when they first realised they were actually in Da House. My twitter timeline was full of crap, but had some helpful links which I immediately hooked into, #dontpanic being one of the best. I tweeted what I was doing then flicked back to SMS mode. I sent one to my siblings saying I'd head up to the mountains to my brother's place, going via my sister's at Balmain.  The messages got through, acknowledgements from all, with my sister saying to avoid Balmain, she was going to her son's place outside of Griffith.  He was minding a farm for friends of the family.  Perfect bug out place.  Okay, so I hooked into my frends' replies.  They were a mixture of sensible planning and panic.  The sensible ones I wished good luck, the panicky ones I told to take ten deep breaths and do what the evacuation people were saying. I looked for my hip flask, the one with the Makers Mark logo and opened it up, sniffing the contents like a seventeenth century toff sniffing his perfumed hankerchief as he walked the streets of a stinky London. Smelled alright to me, nothing like London and the only peasant around here was myself.  I took a quick swig, recapped the flask and did the final idiot check.  I pulled out all electrical cords, turned off all switches, checked the fridge (for the tenth time) and turned off the water mains. both hot water and general purpose. That was me done. I looked around the flat, it seemed emptier but still as if someone lived there.  Pictures on the walls, and, oh crap, better put the pot plants on the balcony with their rougher, óutside' mates.  Right, that was it.  Everyting locked, ship shape and as untidy as I dare, which was a truckload of untidy.

I walked out, final bags in hand and went downstairs to my car, dumping the bags on the back seat while others milled around, waiting for the direction to go.  Fuck, check letterbox. Sure, I was goning to summon the real estate agent offering instant valuation and then follow up with a selection of home delivery Thai, Indian, Chinese, Turkish and pizza orders. I laughed at the futility of it but still put the flyers into the Blue, (Paper and Cardboard only) Recycling Bin. Gotta help the planet.  My head was still spinning, a combination of fear, panic and wanting to run.  Fight or flight, I'll do a runner every time. I checked the fluid levels for my Commodore, only needing to put in a bit of brake fluid and top up the wiper water tank.  All packed, ready to go. Now what else was happening?  There were still six of us waiting, two couples, myself and Heather from number nine. The two couples were backpackers on short term leases.  Noisy fucks a week ago but they looked scared, making nervous jokes, trying to lift flat spirits and reassuring each other in some sort of cultural throw back to the Blitz. Heather just looked stunned.  She also still looked stunning.

Okay, recap on Heather. My first encounter with Heather had been a few months ago, earlier on in  the swimming season.  It was a late Sunday morning and I'd just put a load of washing in the communal laundry and walked out onto the landing between floors.  She was walking down from above wearing a very skimpy bikini, an angel from above. I did the smiley "hi" thing and she smiled back.  I noticed a large red mark above her left breast, extending up to her shoulder.  She noticed my gaze, rubbed the area and explained she'd encountered a jellyfish and it was still stinging.  Hmmm, here comes Prince Valiant,
"Ï have something you could put on that." Geez, that came out wrong.  I quickly added a postscript, Ï have some Sting Go, for bluebottles and such."  Fuck, did I really say  'and such'? I was babbling.
"Really?  Does it work?"
"Sort of. Its best with ice, some sort of alcohol rub, then you smear it on."  I sounded more confdent now, having used the stuff before in exactly the same combination.
In my flat I got out the icetray and put some cubes on a saucer, then retrieved my reserve Stoli from the freezer.
She was checking out my flat, the untidiness of bachelordom combined with a coupe of prints of classic nudes on the walls, photos on the bookshef and the detritus of my slack lifestyle scattered around.

"Sorry about the mess." Traditional apology, I'd used it too often.
"Sókay.  Youré a bachelor obviously." I gave her the ice cube dish, not offering to do the rubbing.  She applied the ice while I went and got the anti-sting lotion. When I walked back into the kitchen dining nook she was rubbing Stoli onto her breast, underneath her bikini top. Now I needed the ice cubes. She looked up and took the lotion.  I did some busy look away stuff, grabbing a couple of glasses and pulling some chilled water out of the fridge. I poured two glasses and ventured a gaze at Heather, just in time to see her readjust her bikini top and do one of those wiggles which makes blokes like me think of anything besides scivvies and waggling two fingers at a bunch of toddlers. She noticed my obvious interest,
"Ï have a boyfriend." she smiled.  I grinned back,
"Let me know when that job becomes vacant.  I'll lodge a resume."
Heather took a swig of Stoli then downed the glass of water before standing up and moving to the door.
"Thanks for the first aid, Laundry Boy.  See ya 'round." She threw back a smile and a swish of dark brown hair as she walked out the door.  I propped there watching her arse sway along the walkway. She turned around once she reached the stairs at the end and gave a wave which I reciprocated. Took me a full half hour to get my hear rate down to something which wouldn't alarm St Vincents Hospital.  Then I retrieved my washing from its wet thrashing.
Since then I'd noticed her around and about and exchanged pleasantries, even going to the shops together once or twice when we found each other about to embark on identical missions, but from my point of view it was all very sadly platonic.

Six of us waiting, ready to decamp to the local primary school.  Heather had her gear packed in her old Barina and the ratsackers were loaded up into a '96 Falcon wagon.  We stood around looking at Stuey's shotgun, wondering what the fuck was going to happen next.  A bloke wearing overalls, an orange SES vest and a rifle strapped across his shoulder walked up to us. He was holding a two way radio which was making walkie talkie noises. He listened, pressed the 'transmit'button and said,

"Ready for last of Andrew Place to go." He looked at us all and ground out the orders he'd uttered too many times,
"Okay you lot. Time to go. Park in Dixon Street near the school and go and get further evacuation advice. Don't forget your evac dockets. Those ED's are priceless."
After a quick conference re batting order of convoy, Heather led off with the Brits following her and me playing tail end Charlie. As we left I saw the SES bloke give us a wave. When I next looked in the side mirror he was finishing up taping across the driveway. Job done. I gave a mental wave goodbye to the block, my home of the last decade or so. Its care was now in the hands of the Bondi butterflies. Heather led us around to Hewlett Street and at the end of Dixon we found a cop waving us to the right. A hundred yards down there was enough space for our three cars. Further up the hill we saw roadblock barriers manned by another cop, this one wielding a very serious looking rifle, like one of those used by cops who surround hostage farmhouses outside of Adelaide. To our left was the school. Another SES guy was walking up and down keeping watch on all of the parked cars. Up the other end of the street we saw a small convoy of cars be waved through another road block. In the distance I heard what sound like a car backfiring. And again. I’d heard that sound before on soundtracks of movies featuring the cappingness of people called Eastwood or Willis. The six of us looked at each other, a lot of questions in a quick glance. Then the shooting of Chris decided to do an unrequested replay in my unforgiven mind, like some sort of crap initialisation fault in an iPhone app, written by aGen Y Jobs disciple in between tweeting about  'awsm pwning'. It was overlaid by the SES guy telling us to go up to the school, to the classrooms where we go to vote. This week I mainly be voting for ‘I want all of this crap to stop’. In both houses. Just write ‘1’ in the box for returning to normal. The SES bod told us to just take our ED’s. Oh yeah, Evac Dockets, not election porn from that cute Greens chick who always hangs out there on election day and never goes for the sausage sizzle.

The school grounds had around two hundred people milling around, waiting their turn to approach the classrooms. As we walked through the front gate a cop checked our dockets and waved us on into the grounds. A few more backfires popped off in the closing distance. Either the boy racers who frequent the precinct hadn’t spent a lot of time on tappets and timing or something a tad more sinister was on the hob. All I wanted was a few WRX hoons to go past and the world would be getting back in sync. Ended up there wasn’t a fully sick ride to be seen bro’, just some more popping and an increase in worry lines on the combined faces of the SES and cop establishment types. The SES guys all of a sudden were carrying rifles and shotguns. Some sort of apocalyptic magician’s trick. Prepared. There are times when you walk through the soft sand down at Bronte and it its hot, really scorching your soles, and its totally fucking hard to lift your feet despite the burniness. Seeing previously unarmed and peaceful volunteer blokes toting Arnie gear added a similar beachside angst. Painful, check. Necessary, in doubt. Scary, yes. Anthony Green called that one as a victory for the Get The Fuck Out Party after a simple, preliminary count of primary votes:
 “No need to go to preferences in this seat Kerry, we can call it right now. We’re just waiting on the early results in the adjoining electorate where the Scared Shitless candidate is way ahead in the count of some key  booths.”

We went to the tables which were signposted in alphabetical groupings., just like elections. The four backpackers were directed to an international table, just like absentee voters. I was in the ‘A-H’ group, Heather in the ‘P-Z’ afterthought. The background backfiring died away, as I suspect did a few souls. A few minutes later the SES official asked my name.

“Terry Barton.”

I handed her my ED and my driver’s licence. She asked me where I was planning on going. I looked at Heather waiting two back in her queue and thought of my siblings. Once again that nasty little fucker called ‘doubt and indecision’ órchestrated a coup and named itself as supreme leader of my mind. Nothing was definite except wanting to run. To where, I now had idea.  Then what had been a little acorn grew into the mother of all oaks in my head,  and in its unyielding, oakey language it yelled,

 "Time to man the fuck up you useless prick.  For fuck's sake, make a move!"

Those talking trees can be a real bastard, just like those tiresome fucking Tolkien Ents, especially when all you want is to hide under a bed and wake up when everything is all nice and easy again.  I realised something about that little fantasy. Not. Going. To. Happen.  The road was waiting, and so were people I knew and loved. The background popping started again, closer this time.  I thought of my family, my friends and Heather.  Then I thought of Stewie's shotgun.  Fuck it.  It was now my shotgun and I suspected it was going to become one of my besties.  Man up?  It was going to take a shitload more than a shottie, a V6 Commodore and a crush on a neighbour.  It was however a start.  Time to hit the road.