It started like all the other designer drug crazes. No one had ever heard of it until it was everywhere. The symptoms of a hit were almost instant. The body temperature raised in response to the drug and kept rising until the person was in a hallucinogenic fever state. Then the crazy would kick in and they would attack anything that moved. The extream violence resulted in crazed packs of addicts looting, mugging, murdering and occasionally eating people.
It got so bad so quickly that entire suburbs were quarantined. Sadly, the first responders and majority of hospitals didn’t know that it spread like rabies on steroids. Their infected patients were up and biting in 48 – 72 days. Which means that a lot of people got infected, and it spread beyond control. Leaving us here.
Eating a borderline mouldy sandwich, legs swinging over the edge of the highway bridge leading out of the city, watching the sunrise, eyes set on scanning the horizon for smoke columns of possible survivors’ night fires.
By us, of course, I mean me myself and I. I had thought of finding a dog and training it for companionship and an extra set of eyes and ears, but the thought of losing companionship again stopped that idea before it took off. So I wandered alone, collecting resources and tools as well as equipment for starting up a farm. I was thinking long-term survival.
I had stayed in the city longer than I wanted to, almost 2 months, but I needed to gather everything I needed so that I wouldn’t have to go back in and leave wherever I settle.
I got up, stretched my legs and clicked my neck. I stood and watched the clouds lose their magical morning colours enjoying the opportunity to catch a breath. Until of course, I heard the distinctive short shuffle of a stray zombie preparing to pounce. I turned and drew my sharpened size 7 knitting needle. Out of all of the hobbies I’d had, nothing paid off like knitting.
I heard another shuffle and found the corresponding moving shadow under a nearby car. I took a deep breath.
Unlike the zombies of Hollywood, real ones are fast. But more than that, they are smart and tend band together to form deadly packs. If their bodies lose too much blood or organs they die just like people. What makes it difficult the kill them is the fact that they have no sense of self-preservation, and can’t feel pain. Their adrenaline and drug-fueled bodies keep fighting until it is literally unable to move. They sleep, but it’s more like a light nap, the slightest noise and they are up and at your throat.
I heard the gravel crunch as the zombie lunged out from behind the car. It’s deadly infectious claws gashing desperately at the space between us. I avoided it for long enough to figure out which side it was weaker on, then I made my move.
The only sounds to escape was the smack of my leather sleeved forearm knocking the zombies’ arm towards itself, and the animalistic grunt the zombie made as my needle pierced its temple. It’s body crumpled towards the floor, twitching as it’s deranged eyes darted around, no doubt watching the last of its nightmare hallucinations fade.
I searched it for anything of interest, but the poor thing didn’t have so much as a wallet on it.
“What a miserable way to die,” I said to nothing in particular.
It felt weird to talk. There had been no one to talk to since I was separated from my sister a month ago. Hot tears built up in my eyes. I wiped them away and walked towards my minivan. I’d stolen it from an impound lot after Megan and I got separated. I had enough petrol in canisters in the back row of seats to get me approximately 2,500km in the direction of my choosing.
I sat in the driver’s seat, my knuckles going white as my hands tightening around the wheel. I looked at the city in the review with a heavy gaze, removing a hand from the wheel and dropped it to the keys.
The hardest part was choosing to leave. I’d searched for her for weeks, spending the mornings foraging and the evenings going to every possible location I could think she would go. I left notes everywhere telling her where I was going. When I didn’t find her body in the mall where we were separated, I cried so hard that I couldn’t breathe. No body meant she’d either survived or turned. The more places I went to the more it felt like the latter.
What had finally pushed me to here was the thought of finding her infected and having to kill her. With that idea fresh in my mind, I turned the keys and the minivan roared to life. I looked at the few rows of seats and did a quick inventory: A couple bags of compost, a rucksack filled with seeds and another filled with fertilizers. Two drums of water and lots of full 5l bottles. A few bottles of bleach and some water purifiers. Three very good solar panels I had ripped of an edgy company’s roof, along with all the wiring and batteries I needed to use them. An arsenal of a military issue semi-automatic with a few boxes of ammo and a spare clip, a handgun with a dozen boxes of ammo, a machete and about 6 pairs of stupidly sharp knitting needles. Then, of course, enough long life food to make me sick of anything tinned or dehydrated, the necessities for a campsite, a couple how to books I thought would come in handy, and then some cooking equipment, spades, and lots of loose treasures I’d found.
I pulled off and headed towards uncertainty.