RSS

Monthly Archives: March 2015

29 March

I was facing the shelves of soaps, shampoos, foot scrubs and ointments. All were covered in a thick layer of dust. The room was pitch dark now with my torch off, and the banging on the front panes of glass was growing in intensity as the mob outside grew.

To my right was the counter, and behind it, a darker patch in the gloom meant that the room extended further back there. Pointing my torch towards the back of the room, I flicked it on, not caring that it might attract the unwanted any more – they were already here. Sure enough, the room continued on for a bit. Back there were white shelves of dusty boxes and bottles.

I raced over and randomly chose a bottle. Blowing the dust off as I tried to make out the typed label. It was something beginning with O with lots of unnecessary vowels in its name. Not what I was after. I tried another one further down. A box with a green label and the black writing saying some floxy something was contained within. Wrong again. Two down, possibly only about two hundred thousand more to look at. There had to be some kind of order to them. A druggy-decimal system of some kind. It was too late for me to do any chemistry training, so there needed to be some kind of method to all this.

There was a crunching bang from the front of the store and a loud crack told me one of the windows was starting to give way. I had seconds, not minutes to figure this out now.

If I was a chemist, how would I order things? Alphabetically? No, the first thing I picked up started with an O. Colour? Shape? Flavour? In a supermarket they arranged things by the products that made them the most money at eye level and everything else above or below, down to the least profitable on the bottom shelf. Some companies used to be able to pay the store more to have an end shelf, or to have their products at eye level for a short period, but the arrangement was to lure the buyer to the items the store wanted them to buy.

Perhaps this place was the same. The most common complaint a pharmacist would have to look after would be colds. Ironic that, given the super-flu turned everybody into those creatures outside. Anyhoo, what else? Pregnancy? Venereal diseases! This was fun. What else? Where would you file drugs for infections from some sod lopping off your leg with a machete? That must be a fairly common complaint, surely. So, somewhere near the middle. Slightly lower down than eye level – prime position would be reserved for herpes and genital misadventure in a small township like this. A cluster of small plastic bottles grabbed my attention. Something starting with X. The next started with Sy, but wait, the end of each word was ‘cillin. That was the magic word.

I ripped my rucksack off my back and flung the zips open. An ominous creaking sound rang out over the incessant pounding on the windows and there was a sudden snap as one of the windows gave in and a half dozen zoms fell in, lacerating themselves on the glass shards. I scooped the bottles into by pack by the armload. They flew all over the place and scattered all over the floor. It didn’t matter. I needed to get as many of the ‘cillins as I could.

The first of the animated cadavers stood up, like a puppet with its strings suddenly being jerked from above, and started tripping its way over its fallen comrades. It was time to make like a tree and leave.

On the way out I spotted something else and pushed several packs into my satchel before zipping it closed and bunking it out the back door that I had come in through.

As all the attention was on the store, it was fairly simple for me to hightail it out of town and back to the train. I put an extra sentry on the gap in the fence that I used to get into town, purely because of the number of riled up zeds out there.

It turned out that amongst the many different types of antibiotics I had pilfered, there were several large bottles of the exact right one. Perhaps Jenny could come out of this after all.

The last minute grab of the girlie sanitary items on the way out the door was also extremely well received, and as a result, I had managed to once again polish my slightly tarnished reputation as the resident hero.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 29 March in Zombie Philes

 

Tags: , , , ,

26 March

When the end of the world came to the vast majority of humankind the better half of a decade ago, most people were taken by surprise and simply stopped what they were doing and everything remained exactly as it was the moment the world fell apart around them. Others took the time to follow their routines and made sure to switch off the oven, put the cat outside for the night, and lock all the doors.

Unfortunately for me, the pharmacist happened to be in the latter category, and the shop was locked up tighter than a bank vault. I couldn’t risk more smashing glass only to bring them back to me, and no amount of wedging the machete in the door crack and levering was going to do anything more than bend the tip of my favourite weapon of messy destruction. An alleyway ran down the side of the building and I ducked down there. The shadows were deep and black, and I was on edge not knowing where that lingering lurker had come at me from earlier.

Around the back, there was a dirt car park with a single Toyota parked in it with grass growing up around it to the height of the wheel arches. A single, wooden door was in the back of the brick building. Alarms weren’t going to be an issue, there has been no power for the past six and a half years now. The biggest issue I had was the noise that was going to be made when I kicked the door in. With any luck, if the mob heard it, they would be too thick to work out how to get down the alleyway around to the back door.

I stepped up to the door, lifted my right knee up as high as possible and then planted the flat of my foot against the door as close to the deadlock as I could, putting everything into it with a thrust of my hips for good measure. I only wanted to have to make this noise once and not have several goes at it.

The bang was loud. Very loud. What made it worse was the door flying open, slamming into the wall behind it, bouncing off and slamming against the splintered door frame again. Three loud bangs in quick succession! I contemplated picking up some stones to throw down the road again, but I was behind a block of two storey buildings now, there was no way I could lob rocks over that. From inside the pitch dark doorway there came another crack, bang and a few sheets of paper lazily wafted out the door and landed near my feet.

I stepped in and the notice board that had fallen crunched under my feet. I gently pushed the door as closed as it would go and waited for my eyes to adjust to the blackness of the inside of the chemist.

The smell of dust with a faint hint of soap hit my nose. Nothing moved inside and I felt relief that I was alone.

I reached into the pocket of my jeans and brought out the solar torch I found long ago in some electronics store as a kid’s toy. These days it proved invaluable with batteries passing their use-by dates and becoming swollen and leaking, or growing white crystals on them. During the day time I took special care to keep the torch sitting where the black side panel got as much sunlight as it could. I hooded the light with my hand and switched it on. The red glow through my fingers illuminated the dusty shelves. The place had remained untouched all these years!

I couldn’t believe my luck. That was, until the first fist bang on one of the windows at the front of the store.

The torch was immediately turned off. The noise of my entrance had been traced by the mob, and they were making their way to the front of the shop. In my naivety, I was focused on them coming around the back and through the door. I didn’t even think they would just need to come up to the front window, and with enough of them, which there definitely was in that mob, they just needed to apply pressure to that front window and it would burst inwards in no time.

My clock had just run out and I hadn’t even started shopping yet. Do I start looking for drugs, or abandon the mission and run for the hills? There was a little girl’s life at stake here, but there was also a big, cowardly guy’s life at stake in here too.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 26 March in Zombie Philes

 

Tags: , , , ,

23 March

How I get myself into these predicaments I don’t know. I’m kicking myself just thinking about it now.

Raising my machete was impossible as it had one arm on each of my shoulders. Though I couldn’t feel them through my jacket collar, I knew the bony hands were hooking around my neck like claws to pull my exposed face towards its gaping maw. It wanted to bite into my cheek, and tear a strip of flesh from me to chew on.

The adrenaline surge woke me up. I brought both my arms up between his arms and pushed them both out in a circular motion, like some crude form of land-based breast stroke. This broke its grip around my neck. The next motion brought my gloved left hand up and my fingers caught on to the remaining wisps of hair on its slimy looking head. Caught in mid turn, I completed the turn as I brought my right arm around close to my body due to the proximity of the amorous creature, and the machete blade separated the neck neatly from the shoulders.

I kept turning to my right as the girl came around the rear of the car and thrust the wide tip of my blade into her throat. This wasn’t going to kill her I knew, but my other hand was busy holding the decapitated head of the zom I’d just had a close encounter with. I threw the head at her and it bounced harmlessly off her body. She didn’t even react, just kept trying to walk towards me with hands outstretched, hampered only by the blade that was slicing through her larynx.

My left hand now free, I took half a step forward, braced myself and placed the heal of my left palm against the back of the machete handle and shoved, using my legs to give the push extra weight. The blade sliced further into her neck, then slid between two vertebrae and out the other side. The spinal cord severed, her dull eyes rolled up and her body dropped like a rag doll to the floor. I held my machete tight and it slipped out as she fell.

I ducked down behind the car again. Little more than ten seconds had passed, but the enormous dose of adrenaline coursing through my veins had slowed everything to a standstill. I took a peak at the mob which still seemed content to head down the road towards the last sound they heard, and then I took a good look around behind me.

Man, they sure were stealthy when they wanted to be.

It was time to get the mission back on track again and I surveyed the shop fronts looking for some big first aid plus sign or something that pointed out a chemist – perhaps the word ‘chemist’ might be a start. I couldn’t tell what half the darkened shop fronts had once been, but one window a couple of doors down, sporting faded posters in the window, had what looked like a pair of snakes coiled around a pole or something. Wasn’t that a symbol for medicine?

I took a moment to pick up three of the rocks I had dropped in surprise when I was given the unrequited man-hug earlier, and in quick succession threw each one as hard as I could in the direction the mob were still moving. I needed to give them more incentive to head down the other end of town while I went shopping. I ducked down again before three thuds in quick succession sounded from down the road. That should keep them interested for the moment.

Now to tackle that chemist and hope that it had what I’d come for.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 23 March in Zombie Philes

 

Tags: , , , ,

21 March

I took one look at that main street and realised that this was probably one of the more stupid excursions I had been out on in some time. Every hour that Jenny’s infection burned through her body, the closer she came to death. A death that I could very well be the major contributor to. All the same, it was no use going out there and getting myself chewed upon if it didn’t result in a positive outcome for Jenny, and the others on that train.

I checked and double-checked the body armour I was wearing. A car magazine wrapped around my left forearm, some junk fashion magazine my right. A high-collar, thick, leather motorbike jacket zippered up to my chin. A pair of grotty jeans and tough steel-caps finished off the ensemble. I don’t think I would quite make it to the pages of the magazine on my right arm somehow, but it was standard stepping out attire in the world of the zee.

Picking up a half dozen or so decent sized stones from the side of the road, I let one fly when I was still a hundred metres or so from the nearest shambler. The last thing I needed was for them to smell or see me as nothing would distract them then. I couldn’t see where the stone was going due to the fast encroaching twilight, but it must have hit some shop frontage or something because the smash of a window cracked through the silent town like a gun going off. All of the local inhabitants immediately turned towards the source of the noise and started inching their way in that direction.

I skirted wide around the main street, scooting from behind an old bus shelter one moment, to a car in the middle of the street, its driver’s door swung wide open to the elements capturing its last moments some six or seven years ago.

I looked around the town for any obvious signs of a pharmacy, keeping a wary eye on the lurching mob gathering around the newly broken window. I lobbed another stone further down the street to get them all moving away again. This one hit the road with a faint tick sound and skittered down the road. This only caught the attention of one or two, and they quickly dismissed it and went back to jostling with others around them in the hopes that whatever broke the store-front window was something edible.

I stood up and hurled another stone in a slightly different direction, this time hoping to hit a tambourine shop, or something that would make a bit of sound this time. The old-man grunt I let out as I biffed the rock made one of them turn towards me. I ducked down hoping I hadn’t been spotted, then there was a solid crack as the stone hit something metallic further down the street. I risked a glance up over the dead car I was hunkered behind. The majority of the snotties were now turned towards the new sound and lumbering off in that direction. One, however, that had clocked me when I chucked the stone was taking a vested interest in the direction I was in.

The mob that was following the sounds were taking their sweet time to lurch off towards where the stone fell. I could hear their shuffling gait on the pavement and roadway. The odd wet slap as they collided with one another. Clothing, stiff with dried bodily fluids, or barely hanging together after so long, whispered and rattled like sandpaper as they moved along. I peered through the empty sockets of the car’s rear door window frames and saw the lone lurcher closing in on me. It looked like it was once a girl of seventeen or eighteen. The skin was dried out and orange-brown from years of dehydration and sun, the sagging eye sockets held dull and emotionless eyes, and the lips and gums peeled back to reveal crooked and yellowed teeth, seemingly too long for a girl forever trapped in her teens. What was possibly once a floral dress, was little more than a brown, dress-shaped second skin on her. It had fallen off her left shoulder and showed off a tattered bit of lace that could once have been a bra covering a now puckered and desiccated breast. She shambled on in my direction as the others all made their way up the road.

I gripped my machete, running the plan through my head. Seeing the ballet unfold before me as she rounded the corner of the car. Saw in my mind’s eye as I stood and buried the long knife straight down into her brittle skull. A quick twist of the handle would split the head like a coconut and the grey ooze beneath would spill out in a gush down her once pretty face. Her knees would be the first to go, like the elastic holding her up had been cut. Her body would crumple to the floor with little more than a soft slap of leather on tarmac.

So that’s how it played in my head at least. The reality of it was somewhat different.

In anticipation of the quick and silent kill, I barely noticed as something grabbed me from behind. I spun to see a face full of dull and chipped teeth heading straight for the exposed flesh of my own face. Too busy watching those in front, I had neglected to check behind me often enough.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 21 March in Zombie Philes

 

Tags: , , , ,

19 March

On rare occasions I sneak out at night on my own. These are nearly always if there is a pressing need which can’t be met in the daytime or with others in tow. Tonight I need stealth and speed. We are using the daylight hours to run the train and get as many hours out of the failing engine that we can. Running the train at night is not an option as the number of blockages on the line make the risk of derailment from an unseen object a harsh reality if we don’t see it in time.

Jenny’s health has taken a rapid decline as she has picked up an infection. It started out with pus coming out of her wound, and a black mark crept up her remaining leg stump towards her groin. The word is that if the infection hits the main line to her heart or brain that she would be in a lot of trouble. Hence the night time mission need.

Some of the others volunteered to come with me tonight, and I should have taken them up on their offer, I don’t know why I didn’t. Probably because I still feel responsible for Jenny’s condition – for one thing I shouldn’t have let the kids come out on a raid with us, and for another, I’m the one that lopped off her leg. I don’t want to get anybody else into the same situation.

We have parked up the train in the outskirts of a largish township where I am hoping to find a chemist which hasn’t been raided too badly. I was told to look for anything containing amoxicillin, which apparently is the key ingredient for killing an infection. To tell the truth, all I’ll remember is the ‘cillin’ bit because this comes from the word penicillin which is what I’ll be looking for.

The undead population seem to prefer the night time more than day for some reason. I once thought it was to do with it being too bright for their dead eyes, but this can’t be the case because I’ve even seen obviously blind ones (mainly due to a complete lack of eyeballs) stumbling into things at night. Another theory back in the day was that the night time temperature was lower than in the day, and the permanent flu that they have makes their body temperatures too hot for them. But again, even in the dead of winter they still prefer to huddle together indoors in the daylight hours. Who knows.

Whatever the reason, the inhabitants of this township will be out and about like they’re on a Friday night pub crawl. They generally mill about and bump into one another, their noses tasting the air for uncorrupted flesh, and they generally stank up the place with their decaying, shambling presence.

I’m about to head out now, so here goes. Straight in, straight out. No time stopping off for a cheese burger or window shopping.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 19 March in Zombie Philes

 

Tags: , , , ,

16 March

The train coughed and spluttered its way along today. A couple of days back we were forced to put in a few gallons of bad fuel. The tanks were nearly dry, and running a diesel empty is a bad thing to do. I was forced to use the only fuel we could find for some miles, which it was fairly obvious was a couple of years past its use-by date. A modern locomotive actually runs on electricity, however if you don’t have overhead electric cables, or extra rails carrying that current to drive the engine, the locomotive has to carry its own electricity generator in the form of a diesel motor. So, although the diesel motor is not the thing driving the wheels, it is required to generate the power needed to run the train. Without it, we’re all just sitting in a dead tin can.

According to my old, and very well worn, map book, we were only a couple of hundred miles from our agreed destination. The trouble is that if the train packs it in now that we’ve got hundreds of miles of walking to do. With the children, and not mention the injured such as Jenny, to lug along on foot, that is about 10 days’ travel. Food, water, safe routes, safe lodgings each night, all these logistics are just unfathomable. If it were just Adam and I there would be no problems, but with 30-odd tag-alongs this is an impossible mission. The only way is to keep nursing the sick train along for as far as we can get.

Everybody is aware of the situation. We can all hear the coughing, spluttering engine, and see the lights in the train dim and the speed decrease every time there is a power brown-out.

Jenny’s situation has changed for the better at last, and the fevers have stopped. By some miracle she seems to have avoided any significant infection in her severed leg to date, though it is still a swollen, pink and raw mess. She has a lot of pain, but spends long periods lucid and sitting up in her hammock in whispered talks with Adam. For his part, Adam is a lot happier now and excited about our destination, as long as Jenny will be there with us all.

Right now we just chug along with an eagle eye out for other sources of fuel to replace the sludge that we’re forcing through the poor engine at the moment, crossing all fingers and toes that we get through the next week with a functioning train until we reach the end of the line.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 16 March in Zombie Philes

 

Tags: , , , , ,

11 March

The last few days for Jenny have been touch and go. She has run a high fever and there’s not a lot we can do about that other than try to keep her as comfortable as possible. Adam hasn’t left her side, and he tells me she had a moment of lucidity where she looked at him and smiled, before another wave of pain sent her back into her own personal hell.

For my part, I wallowed in my own self pity for a while. Why did I take the kids out on a mission into the zombie-filled world? What was I thinking arming them with firearms and not expecting accidents? How did I possibly think I could protect an entire train load of woman and children?

Adam doesn’t appear to have blamed me for her losing most of her lower leg. He somehow just sees it as a natural progression from having mince meat for a leg, to having a stump for a leg. He isn’t aware of the fact that I was responsible for decapitating that limb. I’m glad. I think his feelings are strong enough that he might somehow resent what I have done.

It was a bit unfortunate that the mission we had taken the kids on was quite an important one – we had run out of food and needed to see what we could find in the township. With Jenny’s accident, we didn’t manage to complete this task, and a few days later things were getting even more dire. We had to go out again if we were to keep our strength up.

This time we took a small team. Adam wanted to come along, and somehow I really wanted him to get back on that bike again, but for my own fears’ sake I asked him to stay behind and keep an eye on Jenny. He looked torn, but agreed his time was best spent looking after the girl who spends 90% of her time in some form or other of sleep.

The raid was a quick in and out. We went through back yards of the cottages in the small country town we were in looking for fruit trees or any form of vegetation which appeared edible. One tumbledown place appeared to have signs of recent habitation, so we steered clear of that place and kept moving. In the end we netted a decent load of tiny, sour apples which we can cook down into something, a backpack full of a large, soft leafed plant which somebody assured me was tasty, and most importantly, some willow bark which could be used to make a mild painkiller for Jenny. We had enough food for a couple of days, so we all scurried back to the train and got on the move again.

It was time to sit down with the adults and come up with a plan of attack. We couldn’t last forever on this train, and the likelihood of finding diesel was becoming more and more unlikely.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 11 March in Zombie Philes

 

Tags: , , , ,