Authors: Richard Murray,Richard Murray
“Guess we are going to this farm then.” She said as she followed the others. Claire and Maggie were already moving. In moments it was just me, stood on the road. Mike leaned out of the van window and asked, “you
It seemed I had little choice. I climbed into the back of the van pulling closed the door behind me. The van had just a few bits of loose carpeting covered in dust and muck and some empty boxes. They had been shifted around to allow the group to sit on the floor. It wouldn’t be comfortable but it was dry and zombie free.
I sat beside Lily as the van set off. The group chatted about their lives and what they were doing when this whole thing had started. It had not taken them long to grow used to the horrors of this new world. Just a short while ago they had been running from their lives and faced death and rebirth as a zombie. Now while safe they could laugh again.
Stuck in the back of the van with nothing to do, I took the time to look over each of my new companions in turn. Rachel had red shoulder length hair in a pony tail. She was young, perhaps early twenties. She was wearing Jeans and a vest top that once may have been white. A small bag with a thin strap was thrown over her shoulder.
Ellie looked to be around the same age as Rachel. I had the feeling they had known each other before all this. She sat close to her friend and laughed easily. She wore dusty black leggings and a baggy shirt of some kind. Hair dark, almost black hung loose around her face. She sported several piercings and a tattoo of some kind adorned the back of her neck.
I had never understood the urge to pierce or tattoo your body. I had never encountered anything that I wanted to have inked into my skin for the rest of my life. Piercings just seemed pointless, like most jewellery. It served no purpose except to draw people’s attention to you. I had spent the better part of my life actively working to be as unnoticeable as possible.
Patrick it seemed was eager to follow Mikes lead. He wasn’t very tall, perhaps five and a half feet but he was solidly built. I imagined he had been hiding in the gym as that place was where he had spent all his time anyway. He had the look of someone who worked out a lot, but the muscles were all for show. As was the fake tan that was already fading and the shaven head that was slowly sprouting new hair.
Mike was all confidence. He was used to being the leader and he irritated me. He had stepped in and taken over my little group with little fuss. I wasn’t used to being in charge, so had no real way of dealing with threats to my leadership. He was a very handsome man and had certainly caught the attention of Claire. He was naturally tanned and in good physical shape. Dark hair cut short and in what I imagined to be a fashionable cut. He sat in the driver’s seat laughing at some comment from Patrick. I had a brief imagining of what it would feel like to run a knife blade across his throat and felt my heart beat a little faster.
But that wasn’t to be. I had made a promise and as annoying as he may be, I would hold to my word. I couldn’t kill him. I would however have to find some way to take control of this group again. I liked Lily and was used to having her around, not to mention the fact that she had proved herself both capable and effective. I would stick with her, but I wasn’t going to be a happy little follower of Mike.
We drove for about an hour. Through the windshield I watched the suburban area turn to countryside. It seemed as though the majority of zombies had been busy feasting within the stadium. We saw few on the roads. Those zombies that we did see Mike would aim for, clipping them with the corner of the van and laughing as they were thrown across the road. Eventually he pulled up beside a thick wooden gate and shut off the engine.
“Right folks. We are going to be walking from here. This van won’t get down the path to the farm. It’s not built for it.” He called.
“Are the farmer and his family going to be here?” Lily asked.
“Most likely but don’t worry, I know him and I am sure they won’t turn us away.” Mike said as he climbed out of the cab.
The rest of the group followed. Patrick of course following close behind like a puppy. Rachel and Ellie linked arms and walked along as though it were any normal day, whilst Claire and Maggie walked beside Lily talking quietly. I brought up the rear alone and excluded.
Many people when asked will tell you that they love to get out of the town and into the countryside whenever possible. If you ask them why, they will explain in great detail that it is full of life, the air is cleaner and much nonsense like that. I had been in the countryside for ten minutes and I was already thinking fondly of the zombie filled town.
The farm was situated atop a hill so the wind had nothing to block it and it was cold. I could not say whether the air was cleaner but it certainly smelt a great deal more like manure than the air I was used to. The nice and firm paved streets had been replaced by a long path of wet mud and of course what looked to be horse manure. I was not in a good mood by the time we reached the farm itself.
This farm consisted of a two story stone house with a small lawn and a peaked stone tile roof covered in moss. The building was old and had probably been in the care of one family for generations. A large rickety looking barn made of wood and a stone stable that currently stood empty completed the farm yard. The whole place was quiet. Mike jogged up to the door and knocked. No one answered. Patrick had climbed through the small flower bed and was peering through a window into the darkened interior.
“Can’t see anyone pal.” Patrick called to Mike who acknowledged with a wave and reached for the door handle. The door opened with no resistance and Mike walked into the house.
“That probably isn’t a good idea.” Lily said as she turned to me. I just shrugged. If he wanted to get himself killed then that would solve one of my problems.
“You should go with him” she added.
“Why? He seems happy enough to do it himself.” I hated how sulky I sounded. Lily picked up on it too. “What’s wrong with you?”
“Oh you know, zombie apocalypse. People we don’t know who are suddenly deciding where we go and what we are doing. The usual.” I said with forced cheer. It didn’t seem to fool her.
“Fine then, you stand out here and I will go help.” Lily said with a shake of her head before she walked across the yard to the front door. I watched her enter, pausing to call out first before disappearing inside. I fidgeted and rubbed my arms. A t-shirt wasn’t the best attire for standing out in the cold wind.
I was concerned for Lily. I didn’t doubt her ability to look after herself but I had no idea how Mike would react if they encountered the undead as they searched. Lily still had my hammer at least. A cry came from within the house. I cursed and ran across the muddy yard.
The door opened into a large modern kitchen. Sturdy cupboards and a large oven filled one wall. An old rectangular wooden table filled the centre of the floor with six chairs placed around it. Two doors stood open and led out of the room, beyond the first doorway were a set of steps that led upwards. I could hear noise from above and shot up the stairs.
The sound was louder from the landing at the top of the stairs. Several doors lined the hall and I headed for the one that stood open. The cause of the noise was immediately apparent. An old man dressed in plain blue pyjamas was on top of Lily struggling to reach her with his teeth. Lily had both hands on the hammer that was pressed under his chin, as she pushed with all her strength to keep the walking corpse away.
I cast my gaze around the room. It was the main bedroom, a double bed filled the centre of the room. Wardrobes and chests of drawers lined the walls at either side. A window filled the wall above the bed. I could see nothing that I could use as a weapon. With little choice I stepped behind the zombie and reached down to wrap my arms around his throat and pulled him backwards.
With the pressure on her arms lifted, Lily scrambled out from beneath the zombie. “Hit it anytime you want” I called to her as I struggled to maintain my grip. She raised her hammer a look of determination crossing her face. I closed my eyes and turned my head away whilst trying to hold the zombie steady. The last thing I wanted was to have infected blood splash into my eyes or mouth.
The zombie jerked in my arms as Lily’s first blow hit true. A second followed and then a third. With each blow of her hammer I felt more fluid land on my flesh.
“It’s dead. It’s not moving” Lily said to me. I released my hold and let it fall lifeless once more to the floor. I felt behind me for the bed, eyes and mouth still closed and sat down.
“You look a mess, stay there. Don’t move” She instructed. I heard her leave the room as the pounding of feet running up the stairs echoed through the house. A conversation followed too low for me to hear. I was sitting in an unfamiliar house with my eyes closed, unable to speak and with a dead body at my feet. It was not a pleasant feeling.
All of a sudden, those little sounds that you would hear every day were magnified. My imagination ran wild. That creak of a floorboard became the zombie wife of the farmer as she came looking for her husband. The sound a door made as it opened, was close. Perhaps in the room, was it a zombie coming from the closet. I admit that I jumped as I felt someone touch my hand.
“It’s ok Ryan. It’s me.” Lily’s voice was immeasurably soothing as she took my hand in hers, skin warm and comforting. “Don’t try and speak and don’t open your eyes. You are covered in blood. The others are boiling some water. We need to get you clean.”
I nodded, that was all I could do. I had begun to worry that I could feel the infection seeping into my skin. I was in no way a germaphobe
but I had always had a healthy understanding of the bacteria and infections I could pick up through contact with others, especially considering my choice of pastime. The feeling I had as I felt the fluids slowly run down my face was something close to terror. I held tight to Lily’s hand.
Several eternities passed as I sat there and waited. Lily spoke soothingly to me in a low and calm tone. She spoke of her life before all of this, of family and friends. She told me how she had been working in a bar and considering college and a career though she didn’t know what she had wanted to do.
Her voice lowered and she spoke quietly of the shock she had felt when she realised that I was a killer. She admitted that she was going to leave me and not look back when we arrived at somewhere safe enough for her to do so. She stopped talking for a moment and I wanted desperately to speak, to ask why then she had left the stadium with me.
I heard her sigh and felt her body shake where she was pressed against me beside the bed. I realised she was crying. She stood abruptly as someone came up the stairs and released my hand. A moment later I heard one of the girls speak as she entered the room. Rachel or Ellie, I wasn’t familiar enough to recognise them by voice alone.
“Ok. We have some boiled water here. They said they put some disinfectant in so hopefully we can get you clean safely” Lily told me as she placed something heavy beside me on the bed.
“It will be hot, sorry.” She said as she gently wiped around my eyes. The water was painfully hot. In a short time though, she was done. “There. I think you can open your eyes now.” Lily said.
My eyes opened slowly and I had to blink several times as the light filled them. Lily sat in front of me smiling, the rag she had been using to clean me held in her hand. Her eyes were red.
“Thank you.” I said, my mouth was dry and a little croaky. Lily smiled and stood.
“The other guys have cleared the house. Mike said he hasn’t found the wife, but their truck is missing so she was probably in town.”
I nodded slowly. “Where are they now?”
“Downstairs. Claire is making some food and the others are trying to get the TV to work.” Lily replied.
“Thank you for letting me come
with you. At the stadium I mean. You didn’t have to.” I told her. I thought it was important to say that.
“I was happy to see you” she said after a small pause. “I was upset when I thought you had been killed because I asked you to help Claire and Maggie.”
“That was my choice.”
“Perhaps, but if you were on your own you wouldn’t have risked it would you?”
“No. Probably not” I admitted.
She sat beside me on the bed once more. “When you didn’t turn up and I thought you were dead, Brian had shown how useless he was. Despite your being... what you are, you at least had risked your own life to save mine and others.
When we got to the stadium all I could find were people who were out for themselves. Everyone was so desperate to ensure their own safety with no care for others.” She paused and gave me another of her radiant smiles.
“I realised that we all have out faults. Yours might be fairly major.” She laughed and after a moment’s thought, I did too. “You are who and what you are Ryan, but you at least have been willing to help me and others. We wouldn’t have even got out of that stadium if it wasn’t for you.”
“So you are not thinking of heading off on your own then?”
“No. Everything has gone to hell. We all need all the help we can get. Stick to our agreement and we will be fine.” Lily said with a smile. “Now come on. Let’s go see if we can get something to eat and have a look around, you really do need some clean clothes.”
I had to agree. My clothes were speckled with a variety of fresh fluids. I pushed myself to my feet. “What about him?” I asked pointing at the corpse on the floor.
“Mike and Pat can get rid of it. They may as well do something useful.” Lily said as she walked from the room. It seemed she at least hadn’t fallen for Mikes charms. I followed her from the room as a small smile tugged at my lips.
Downstairs we found Claire working happily over the stove. Maggie was sat quietly at the kitchen table. Lily poked her head through the door into the living room to ask Mike and Pat to shift the dead farmer before sitting beside Maggie at the table.
A glance through the door told me that the other girls were sat watching the news. It was pretty much the same thing I had been watching days ago in the flat. I figured it was on a loop and would just keep going till the power went out.