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Authors: Jeremy Bates

Six Bullets (5 page)

BOOK: Six Bullets
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Two bikies with shaved heads and unruly beards—both obviously
eating well as they must have weighted a combined six hundred kilos—prodded the
listless women like cattle up to the second floor of the pub, where the
bedrooms were. The remaining eight roared off on their motorbikes in different
directions across town. They traveled in pairs, armed with shotguns.

I went downstairs and gagged and bound Walter (sorry, boy),
so he wouldn’t make any noise.

I’m back on the roof now with Sully, waiting.

 

••••••

 

We didn’t hear anything for a while
except the distant thunder of the Harleys and choppers crisscrossing the grid-like
town. Then gunshots erupted from the vicinity of the hospital, which, like my
place, sat atop a hill. There were three shots in a row—
pop
,
pop
,
pop
. Shouts followed, then more shots. The other bikies coalesced on the
hospital. A major shootout ensued that lasted close to an hour. Then silence.
One of the fatso’s emerged from the Palace and drove the HiLux to the hospital.
It returned a while later with a bedload of what appeared to be appropriated
supplies.

The bikies went back to scouring the town for other
survivors.

 

••••••

 

Gun laws in Australia—when laws
still meant anything—had prohibited civilians from owning semi-automatic
weapons such as an AR-15 and AK-47. As a prepper this never bothered me much.
Because what it meant was, I couldn’t purchase one myself, but nobody else
could either, which leveled the playing field. Also, if you ever found yourself
in a spraying and praying situation, you were likely dead anyway.

Having said that, my bolt-action .223 Remington is my weapon
of choice. It can do everything a .22 and .308 can do, and the .223 is a very
popular round, which made it affordable to stockpile. And needless to say, the
more shells manufactured for a given caliber, the higher the likelihood of
obtaining more ammo if you ever run out. I also have two backup revolvers: a
.357 Magnum and a .38 Special.

That’s my entire cache. Three weapons. Now, you hear about
these armchair survivalists who have a bunker full of guns—and likely haven’t
fired most of them more than a handful of times, which makes them all but
useless. Contrary, all three of my weapons used to get a weekly shoot at the
range. With the rifle, I could keep every shot in the kill zone at two-hundred
meters, while with the handguns I could hit four-inch targets at fifty meters
in quick succession eight out of ten times—

Two bikies are coming down my street.

 

••••••

 

Jesus Christ, that was something! I
can’t write much now. I’m bleeding all over the place.

 

••••••

 

This is how it went down:

The two bikies parked their choppers halfway down the street
and searched houses on both sides of the road in what seemed like random
fashion. They were fast, efficient, spending no longer than five minutes inside
each—long enough, I reckon, to determine whether anybody was home, or if there
was anything worth looting.

I thought they would skip my place. Like I said, I did
everything I could to make it appear abandoned, including leaving the front
door wide open.

Nevertheless, they still decided to check it out. They
entered through the front door one after the other, 12-gauge shotguns leveled
at the ready. They would have understood almost immediately they’d walked into
a trap because the small alcove didn’t lead anywhere; it was enclosed on all
three sides by reinforced walls. I’d drilled a hole in the roof that looked
directly into the small space. It was just big enough to poke the bore of my
rifle into it while allowing me to see what I was aiming at. I shot the two
goons in the top of their skulls before either knew what was happening.

There wasn’t time to hide the bodies, let alone clean up the
blood or brain matter. All I could do was close the front door and resume my
vigil on the roof.

Two more bikies arrived within minutes, stopping next to the
abandoned choppers. They called to their mates and became agitated by the lack
of a response.

I could have taken them both out right then and there, but I
opted to wait until the other four arrived, which they did, pair after pair.
They had a brief huddle, pointed at different houses, then seemed to make up
their minds on an agreed-upon strategy.

Before they could act it out, I eliminated two with direct
headshots. The remaining four scrambled for cover. Moving targets are difficult
to hit, so I opted for body shots. I hit one bikie in the back and winged
another in the arm. They both dropped to the pavement and attempted to drag
themselves behind a parked car. Two more rounds finished them off.

The remaining pair made it into a house three down from mine
on the opposite side of the street. They assumed defensive positions behind the
front windows. Unfortunately for them, they were armed with shotguns, which
were devastating if your target was right in front of you but useless if it was
any distance away. Even more unfortunate for them, I had night-vision goggles
and they didn’t.

It was like shooting fish in a barrel.

 

••••••

 

Sully wanted to accompany me to the
Palace to finish off the two fatso’s watching over the imprisoned concubines. I
gave him the .38 Special. He’s fired it a few times at the range back before
Shiva hit. His aim was shit, but at least he knew how to shoot it, how to
absorb the kick. 

The Palace was a massive brick Victorian building dominated
by a second-story cast-iron veranda. We approached it from the alley that ran
behind it. We both wore night-vision goggles. I didn’t buy the second pair with
Sully in mind; I bought them as a backup, and I’m glad I did now, otherwise Sully
wouldn’t have been able to see much of anything.

I tried a steel service door in the back of the Palace that
the kitchen staff would have once used to take out the garbage. It was locked.
There were two other entrances, one on Sulfide Street, which led to the
restaurant area, and one on Argent Street, which led to the bar.

We tried the Sulfide Street entrance first. I twisted the
door handle, expecting the door to be locked. It swung open. I motioned Sully
to remain low, and we dashed inside, taking cover behind the end of the bar. I
surveyed the long, rectangle-shaped restaurant. Graffiti covered the Outback
landscape murals that adorned the walls. Tables and chairs were overturned.
Broken bottles littered the floor. A number of the floor-to-ceilings windows
that looked out onto Sulfide were cracked or shattered, which was likely why no
one bothered locking the door.

We proceeded through the restaurant to a large
high-ceilinged room where I used to play Two Up on Friday nights with Buzz and
some of the other boys.

A passageway led to the bar. Like the restaurant, it was
trashed, the booze that once lined the shelves all gone. The only item left
standing upright was the pool table.

In the mural-filled lobby we ascended the carpeted staircase
to the second floor. We paused at the top. I heard a rhythmic thumping coming
from a nearby room—the sound of the headboard of a bed striking a wall. The
door to the room was open. I crept toward it and peered inside. The room was
furnished with veneered furniture and quirky fittings. A single candle burned
atop a TV with an indoor antenna. One fatso was straddling a malnourished
brunette, missionary style. I could barely see the poor women beneath his
massive bulk.

There was no way he didn’t hear the gunshots earlier, which
meant he must have assumed it was his mates doing the killing, not the other
way around.

I gestured Sully over. He stopped next to me and waited for
instructions, the night-vision goggles making him look like some mad scientist.
I nodded for him to take the shot. He widened his stance so his feet were
shoulder-width apart. Keeping the elbow of his dominant hand straight, the
other flexed at an obtuse angle, he aimed the .38 Special at the back of the
fatso’s head and squeezed the trigger. The fatso fell forward onto the suddenly
screaming woman. A crescent of blood sprayed the wall.

I was already back in the hallway, revolver aimed. A moment
later the other fatso burst from a different room, one hand tugging up his
pants, the other holding a shotgun.

I put three rounds within inches of each other in the center
of his chest.

As he fell backward, dying, he brought up the shotgun and
fired off a round, filling the left side of my body with buckshot.

 

••••••

 

The women didn’t know what to make
of Sully and me. Some stared indifferently at us and didn’t seem to care
whether they lived or died. Others begged us to untie them from the beds to
which they were bound with rope. I would have liked nothing more than to free
them. But what would be the point? They had no food, no water, no shelter. They
wouldn’t last three days on their own.

Besides, they knew about Sully and me now. If one of them
managed to survive and blabbed about us to the next bike gang that rolled into
town…

                 

 

••••••

 

I burned the Palace to the ground.
The women would have died of smoke inhalation before the flames got to them.

 

••••••

 

No respectable survivalist lacks a
fully outfitted first-aid kit. I disinfected and bandaged my scattering of
wounds a couple of hours earlier. The bleeding’s mostly stopped, and for a
while I felt good enough to get everything that happened down on paper. But I
think it’s all caught up with me, because I’m suddenly exhausted. I need to lie
down.

 

••••••

 

Your brother’s gone, Walt. Sully
left.

 

••••••

 

 

I tried to stop him. When I woke up,
the HiLux was parked out front the house. Sully stood next to it, scribbling
something onto a piece of paper. I was on the house’s roof, looking down at
him. I asked him what he was doing.

His face flushed guiltily. “Leaving you a note, Dad.”

“You going somewhere, Sully?”

“I’m leaving.”

“What do you mean you’re leaving?”

“I’m going to Adelaide.”

“Don’t be stupid, Sully. There’s nothing but death there.”

“There’s nothing but death here!”

“At least you’re alive here.”

“You call this living?”

“You can’t leave me, Sully. You can’t leave Walter.”

He was silent. I think he was fighting back tears.

“Sully,” I said, “come inside. Let’s talk.”

He opened the driver’s side door, tossed the piece of paper
and pen inside.

“Sully!” I picked up the Remington, “I know what you’re
thinking. You’re thinking about finding Amy.”

He only looked at me.

“She’s dead, Sully,” I said. “I’m sorry, but that’s the sad
truth.”

“You don’t know that!”

“Come inside, boy.”

“I can’t stay here, Dad.”

“You can’t leave.” I pressed the rifle’s buttstock into my
shoulder, took aim at him. “I can’t let you, Sully.”

“You going to shoot me?”

“Come inside!”

He climbed behind the wheel of the pickup.

“Sully,” I said, “don’t make me do this!”

“Say goodbye to Walt for me, will you?”

I took up the slack in the trigger.

“Sully!”

He closed the door, started the engine, then drove away. I
followed his progress through the rifle’s scope until I could no longer see him.

 

••••••

 

He didn’t take any of our supplies,
Walt. Didn’t take my guns either, not even Buzz’s .22 Winchester. He could
have. I was out cold, and he could have taken everything.

He has the supplies that were in the back of the pickup, the
ones the bikies seized from the bloke holed up at the hospital. He also has all
ten or however many of the bikies’ shotguns, and I suspect whatever stockpile
of ammunition they had.

So he has the means to survive for a while. But he’s just a
kid.

He’s just a fucking sixteen-year-old kid.

 

••••••

 

It’s been almost one year since my
last entry. The sky’s cleared so we can see the sun again. Plants and weeds are
poking through the ground here and there. Even so, Broken Hill remains a ghost
town save the odd bike gang that passes through, or the lone survivor, usually
male and middle-aged, though I once saw a ute driven by a fair-haired female, a
baby in the seat beside her. Oh, you spoke your first word the other week,
Walt, you said, “Dadda.” And you want to know some amazing news? Sullivan is
back! I couldn’t believe it myself, and I admit, tears came to my eyes when I
saw the HiLux approaching and my boy behind the wheel.

He’s changed. He might only be seventeen now, but he’s
become a man—aged through trial by fire, I guess you’d say. His hair’s shorter
and he has a beard. But the change is more than just his physical appearance.
There’s a hardness to him. You can see it in his walk, how he holds himself, in
his eyes, how he doesn’t miss anything.

He played with you, Walt. You laughed like a maniac. He told
me about Adelaide, and the situation there is as grave as I’ve always feared.
Most of the buildings are mausoleums, filled with the victims of hunger or
thirst, or this new super-plague being spread by insects feasting on the dead.
The military patrols the streets in tanks and other armored vehicles to enforce
martial law. They have portable crematoriums to dispose of the bodies they come
across. Gunshots are as common as honking horns used to be. Rival gangs rule
neighborhoods so dangerous not even well-armed troops venture into them.

I don’t know how Sully survived so long. He didn’t tell me,
and I didn’t ask.

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