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.