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.