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I slowly come to, head pounding like a kettle drum, tongue tasting of a litter box and dirty socks. The radio is coming in and out and for a minute I can't remember why I've been sleeping on the deli's concrete floor. Next to my head is the empty bottle of Glenfiddich 40 year old.
That's right, the world has gone insane, people have gone insane, attacking others, and the dead are rising and I haven't been able to find my wife in the last 36 hours.
I jump up quickly, try ying to hear if the infected are still outside, but there's no noises. Crap my head is pounding, moving too quickly. I hobble painfully to the monitor and check the cameras that scan the outside, nothings moving in the parking lot except some newspaper blowing in the wind.
I try the landlines, no dial tone. I try my mobile, just another busy signal. My stomach roils in stress and alcohol. I walk over to the medicine aisle, grab some aspirin and antacids, popping them into my mouth and cracking open a bottle of water from the cold warm and draining it in a couple of gulps.
I then grab some Doritos and eat the bag, gulping down another bottle of water in the process and waiting for the medicine to kick in. On the radio, amongst bursts of static I hear the radio announcer state that martial law has been announced in Australia and that a curfew has been announced for 8pm. He states that people should stay indoors, even if they have been bitten or scratched, that there are military check points being set up around Perth and that the military has orders to shoot to kill.
Slowly my headache settles down to a background thumping bass instead of explosions, and the acid and nausea calm down to a low rumble. I'm as human as I'm going to be for the time being.
I give a short, barking laugh, which sounds harsh even to my ears, breaking the quiet in the deli. All I can hear right now is the fridges and the radio. I've got to come up with a plan of attack. I've got to figure out where I'm going, how I'm going to get there. I need to find my wife and family, and then I need to get them to safety.
First things first, I grab all the money from the till. No idea what's coming, but money never hurt anyone. Grab some bottles of water, some candy bars and put them into a plastic bag which I then triple bag. I don't want to risk losing anything during a run. Grab the cricket bat.
I check the cameras again, nothing on them, deep breaths, sweaty palms, bowels clenched, stomach nauseous, headache pounding.
Good to go.
I quietly unlock the shutters and doors and slowly slide them up, scanning both ways as the shutters rustle and creak as they move and I flinch, fearful of attracting any attention. But nothing stirs. In the distance I can see smoke plumes rising up from various parts of the city....I pull down the shutters and close the doors again and then quickly run next door to Armenti's our business neighbor who owns the local deli. I saw his car as I pulled into the lot last night and maybe it's still there....and if it's still there, maybe I can find the keys and use it, my car is going nowhere very fast.
His car is still there! A black Toyota 4 door. Yes! And now if luck is with me, I can find the keys to it...I head straight into his shop and stifle a noise of disgust....there's blood all over the floor, shelves are overturned, the infected have been through here. Now I just have to hope that I can find the keys and not find any infected.
I hear some tin cans fall from a shelf behind me, and quickly turn around, cricket bat at the ready as an infected, covered in blood rushes towards me, moving slower then the normal sprinters as it looks to be an elderly woman, I swing the bat, cracking it in the face, smashing teeth out as it reels back and utters a gutteral cry.
Shit! I smash it in the head a final time, cracking the skull open as I hear feet scrambling and frantic panting....it's called company. I run to the back of Armenti's and slam shut the door, just as more infected rush into the room.
If I'm lucky they haven't seen where I've gone, but I need to move fast, no chance to look for Daniel's keys anymore.
I sprint out the back lot, opening and gate quietly and moving into the neighbors backyard. This is awful, worse then awful...I've got no car, I've got no mobile reception and I need to make my way home, which is 5 miles away, without getting eaten.
It's bloody hot out, 100 degrees at least and muggy as hell as I start the long trek home...In the distance I can hear those guttural growls and screams of the infected, with the occasional shriek of pain and disbelief of someone caught by one of the them. I keep quiet, staying to the shadows as I try to cover ground quickly.
I move fast, but quiet, something I was never good at, staying to the backyards of the houses on my route home, it seems to be working well as even though I can hear the infected, sometimes alarmingly close, I haven't seen them and even more important, they haven't seen me. The worst parts of the journey is when I have to cross a street or field as they're open with no where to hide. That and when I jump over a fence as I have no idea what's on the other side.
I make a couple of miles this way, almost halfway home, when I first start hearing gunfire, lots of it, it's nowhere close, but there's got to be a full scale battle going on for the noise to be traveling that far, it sounds like hundreds of assault rifles and machine guns, and then explosions. When I get to a yard where I can view the city skyline I see dozens of smoke clouds rising from it, a thick black cloud covering the city.
Fuck me, the army is fighting tooth and nail, but are they winning?
Nothing I can do one way or another, I've got to try and get home. However thoughts of my wife, my family, the army fighting, are clouding my mind and I get careless as I climb the next fence and am immediately rushed by a bloody snarling golden retriever.
Foaming at the mouth, slaver dripping from it's jaws, which are covered in blood and bits of flesh I'm immediately knocked down as I drop to the ground, and there's teeth flashing in my face, the wind is knocked out of me and I just want to curl up into a ball and hold myself until I can breath, but if I do. I die.
My animal training, aggression training springs into mind and I move on autopilot, shoving my left arm into the attacking beasts mouth and forcing my arm down his throat as I try and lever him off, to try and grab the bat. With my arm so far down his throat he cant get a very good grip on my flesh and the damage will be minimal.
The dog starts gagging as I force my arm down his throat, trying to back up and get a grip onto my arm, as I frantically try to push him off of me and get to my feet. With a burst of adrenaline I throw the golden retriever off of me, feeling it's teeth tear through my flesh, puncturing my arm as it flies back several feet.
Before it can get back up I grab my bat and hit it as hard as I can across the ribs as it dodges my head strike.
It yelps, crying out in pain and fear, looking back at me with eyes, wide with the white, froth foaming it's muzzle. It tries to get to it's feet, jaws snapping at me as I bring the bat down on it's head, again and again, until it's no longer moving.
I take shelter against the fence, staring at the dead dog, breathing heavily, heart pounding a mile a minute as I try to catch my breath. Glancing down at my arm I can see 3 ragged punctures, and gouges from the teeth going down my arm. It hurts like a motherfucker.
I gulp water from my supplies, after 10 minutes or so, get up again. I stumble into the house, keeping a careful ear out for infected, in the hopes of some more aspirin, I ache all over and just want to lay down. I find some in the master bathroom, but thankfully see signs of no one else, the owners must have been out when the shit the fan, or so I think until I see the open front door and the TV on, tuned into what looks like CNN, which amazingly is coming through, abeit in waves of fuzz.
The announcer, coming through broken up as can be, reports about riots in Paris, London, New Year, LA, Shanghai, Tokyo, worldwide, civil unrest, riots, violence, and my blood runs cold.
I cant do anything about any of that I tell myself, I can worry about getting home to my family and protecting them, trying to help see us through this chaos. I head out the back door, it seems safest to continue with my original route, through the back ways as opposed to the main road. I'm almost halfway home and if I don't run into anything I can be there in a couple of hours.
I scan the yards more slowly now, trying to make sure there's no more unwelcome and painful surprises, and the way is smooth, until I'm almost there, almost in the clear and then I see what I've been dreading, what I knew would occur sooner or later...4 lanes, full of stalled cars, no cover for me to take anywhere....I need to cross this road, there's no other way around it.
I sit in the shadows for a couple minutes, hiding behind a tree, trying to scan all the cars, the fences, walls, everything, to see if the way is clear....I can't hear anything, but that means nothing.
I run across the road, and am almost to the other side when I hear a noise, almost a gasp of surprise from 20 feet or so away. I whip my head around to see a blood covered infected running at me...crap!
I step back from the cars as the infected runs out from the shade of the trees at me, and into the sunlight where it stops dead, scratching at it's face while it appears to be blinded by the sun....
What the hell?!
It starts another run from the shadows when it hits the bright sunlight again, stops, shaking it's head, drool and blood flying everywhere and then rushes at me.
That extra pause gave me the time to get the bat up to defend myself. I bash the infected again and again, until gore spatters the bat and it's no longer moving and then I run, I'm only a block from home.
I run up the driveway, wanting to scream out that I'm home, but caution forces me to silence and as I crest the slight slope of the driveway I can immediately see...
that there's no car at home...Nothing...We have 5 cars on the property, 1 of which I drive, and there's not a fucking single car!
The gate to the backyard is open and I quickly move into yard, looking for the dogs, infected, or anything....there's nothing except a couple dog droppings, baking in the sun, already a day or so old....
I unlock the back door to the house, deciding that caution once again, might be the better part of valor and once inside, quickly go through the house, bat at the ready, softly calling out for my family, both human and furballs.
No answer, no dogs, no people.
Where could my wife have gone!? I once again check my mobile, it's dead now, dead battery, and as I go to get a glass of water I notice a note on the table, weighed down with a glencairn.
It's from my wife!
everyone's started going crazy, trying to kill one another. I've tried to call you, but the phone lines are busy. I've headed to Vinesh's with Daisy and Bob. Mom and Dad aren't answering their phones. I'll keep trying to call you, but I'm scared.
I love you.
I take a small, SMALL breath of relief, when she wrote this, she was ok, she was heading to Vinesh's, my adopted brother's house.
My arm throbs from where I was bitten, almost feeling like it's pulsing now, I'm covered in dirt, sweat, grime, blood and less ...wholesome bits, so I lock all the doors, make sure all the curtains are closed, grab the bat and head to the shower, stripping off my clothes along the way, leaving them on the floor, something which drives Squidgy batshit.
I bring the bat into the shower with me, as I'd rather have it and not need it, then need it and not have it and get down to the serious business of cleaning myself up, turning on the water to just a couple degrees too hot to be pleasant, and start scrubbing, wincing as the hot water hits my injured arm.
I stood there, letting the water run over me as my brain turns over, thinking about the last few days, what I'd seen, what I'd done, what I would have to do and what I was going to do...
I needed to still get to Squidgy, that plan, that goal had not changed in the least.
To do so I was going to have to head to Vinesh's house, an easy 10 minute drive away by car at 80ks an hour, a what I feared would be a much longer journey on foot.
I was going to have to cross 10's of kilometers to get there, trying to bypass god knows how many infected.
People, some, most, all? were infected with something that made them attack other people. If you killed? an infected person, shortly after dying? they'd come back to life(?) Destroying their head seemed to be the only sure way of stopping them from what little I'd seen.
The infected had issues with sunlight. It didn't hurt them, but they sure as hell didn't like it.
The infected had normal hearing, and seemed to be more active at night.
The infected didn't seem to feel pain like normal people did.
With these thoughts rattling around in my head, I decided that I'd stay put until tomorrow morning as it was now coming onto late afternoon. I'd get a good nights sleep, and then head out at day break, which would in theory give me the most possible traveling time to make my way to Vinesh's.
I get out of the shower, toweling myself off, grabbing the bat and grabbing a fresh change of clothes, head back out into the living room.
In the meantime I turned on the TV to the local news station, turned the volume onto very low, and then turned the radio on, very low volume. I grab a packet of lunch meat and cheese, along with bread and make myself a sandwich, hoping to catch the news, any news, in the quest to get some more information on what's going on.
Once dinner is done, I put the dishes into the sink, leaving them unwashed. I can do them when and if I get back, I decide to crack a bottle of whisky instead and to tend my wounds in my arm.
It's inflamed with blood oozing slowly out of the punctures, and it throbs in time with my heart beat...it hurts like a bitch. I need to disinfect this, but I have no iodine, I have no rubbing alcohol, but I have crap loads of whisky. Something cask strength is needed for this.
I grab a special bottle that Squidgy and I purchased in Scotland together, a Glenfarclas 40 year old 105, one of only 893 bottles in the world.
I crack it open and without even looking for anything to pour it into, starting pouring it over my wounds, letting the whisky seep into my punctures....the pain is unbelievable, it's like my skin is on fire and being peeled off of me, all at once. I whimper, wanting to scream and pound the counter, but I continue to pour the whisky into the wounds, until I'm gasping for breath.
The smell of whisky fills the air, distracting me from the agony, or at least trying to run interference...
Rich Christmas cake spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, hazelnut, chocolate, big oak, tobacco, sultanas, figs, orange peel, and candied oranges make up the nose. The whisky does it's job, forcing me off the pain, and into this spirit that Squidgy and I love so well.
I take a deep swig, and then continue dressing the wound, aniseed, big oak, little bitter, but with enough sherry to play counterpoint to the oak, the spices, mainly the cloves and nutmeg, chocolate, espresso, moving from sweet to earthy, with honey and the dark fruits coming out to play amongst all the spices.
The whisky explodes in my belly and the finish is long, complex and intense, with the oak playing center point and the spices playing second fiddle, but man what a fucking brilliant whisky, worth the silly price tag that I see it for these days...I wish Squidgy was here with me, enjoying a dram.
I continue to pour the Glenfarclas over the wound until the burn stops, at which point I grab some clean gauze and then bandage my arm up....I sit in my arm chair as the light coming through the gaps in the curtains slowly fades, watching the news come in bursts of information and then disappearing into the fuzziness of the clouds and I fall asleep as I plan my attack for tomorrow, cradling the bat in my arms and imagining that it's Squidgy.