Mum stared at the zombies, standing
on her tiptoes as was the norm. She raked a hand through her hair and turned to
dad, her brown eyes full of worry, her face stern and serious. Dad met her
gaze, his own eyes equally as anxious and he touched her shoulder gently.
“What should we do?” She whispered, obviously not wanting us to hear but still trying to be heard over the noise of everyone else. He angled his body so neither of their faces could be seen by us.
“I don’t know,” he replied, “we can’t have them all hanging around here, it’s too dangerous.”
“I want to fight!” I said suddenly, forgetting I wasn’t meant to be listening, “you can’t just send us away like children!”
“You are a child Denis,” Mum said, her forehead creased with her frown, “you’re not old enough for this.”
“I’ve been fine so far! You can’t make us leave!” I argued, not prepared to back down.
“No offense Mrs Roberts but I think we can handle a few zombies.” Rory said respectfully, “we’ve all killed plenty before.”
“You may think you can do this but look around, grown adults can’t deal with this so why do you think you can?” Dad replied calmly, his eyes pleading with us.
“I don’t know if we can dad but we have to try, we can’t just run away and hide.”
“We’re just trying to protect you.” Mum said, her normal serious attitude slipping, her eyes filling with tears, “I couldn’t bear it if anything happened to you.”
I suddenly realized that this was affecting them just as much as it was affecting me, except they tried not to show it. I wondered when this was going to end, would we ever get rid of this infection or were we all going to be killed eventually? Were we fighting the inevitable? And what if we did defeat all the zombies, what would happen then? Would the few of us that remained go back to our normal lives? Would we be able to? Would there be enough of us left?
“I know,” I said, wrapping mum in a tight hug, “but we’ve all grown through this, I’m not who I was last year, heck I’m not even who I was a month ago.”
“Yeah, the world ending does that to you,” Ferrah said in an attempt at humor. No one smiled but I appreciated it and I was sure the others did too.
I heard soft sobbing and saw Rory hugging Tina, her face hidden in his shoulder. Her small frame shook with her crying and Ferrah moved towards them, wrapping both of them in a tight hug. I felt a small pang of jealousy as Rory’s arm slipped around her, despite the fact we were now friends and she’d told me she wasn’t interested. I couldn’t control it, but I didn’t beat myself up about it, there were other things to focus on right now.
Ferrah released Tina and knelt down beside her, her hands cupping Tina’s face.
“What’s wrong?” She asked, wiping away Tina’s tears with her thumb.
“I’m scared.” She whispered, refusing to meet Ferrah’s eyes.
“Okay.” Ferrah said, “Why are you scared?”
“Because the zombies are going to get us and even grownups can’t keep them away,” Tina said, chewing her lip and still staring stubbornly at the floor.
“Well that’s a good reason to be scared.” Ferrah said, “it’s okay to be scared of something that’s worth it, even I’m scared sometimes, and so is Rory, and Denis.”
“I know but I don’t want to be, I don’t like it.” She admitted softly.
“I know you don’t like it but you have to just forget about that and focus on something good.” Tina nodded slowly and Rory slipped his hand into hers. “Do you think you can do that for me?” Tina nodded again and Ferrah stood up and turned to me. “Maybe we should go.” She said and I frowned, not wanting to but beginning to sense I didn’t have a choice.
“That would be a good idea,” Dad said, his eyebrows knit together like wool.
Everyone turned to look at me and I sighed.
“Fine!” I snapped, exasperated. “So how will we get out of here?” I demanded and mum and dad exchanged a look that almost made me laugh out loud. They had no idea.
I was opened my mouth to say that we would be forced to stay but the loud roar of an engine cut me off.
I jumped and spun round to see who it was but all alarm faded from my body when I saw Uncle Bob sitting behind the wheel, a man, with closely cropped black hair sat beside him, his face harsh and made all the more menacing by a razor-thin, ruby red scar which ran the entire length of his jaw on the left side.
Uncle Bob killed the engine, flung open the door and swung out the truck. He landed with a thud beside us, a small cloud of dirt rising from his feet, his grey hair bouncing. He clamped a hand on my shoulder and drew me into a quick hug which felt like hitting a brick wall. He smelled of sweat and blood and fresh air, but underneath that all was a scent the reminded me of when I was a kid going over to his house so he could babysit me, playing crazy games and eating things I would never be allowed to at home.
Those were the days before I became a teenager and they decided I was old enough to be left on my own. When I was young and innocent and didn’t have to worry about zombies attacking me whenever I rounded a corner.
“Hey kiddo,” he said, grinning down at me, “how ya keepin’?”
“As well as I can with the apocalypse looming,” I said and smiled back at him.
“You getting out of here?” He asked, glancing from me to Ferrah and Rory who each held one of Tina’s hands.
“Mum wants us too but I want to stay and fight,” I said, the happiness that had swelled inside me from seeing him disappeared all at once.
“Oh there’s no question, you have to go.” Uncle Bob said, and mum and dad exchanged a smile. I frowned and he chuckled. “Look at the pout on that girl, it’s like she’s five again.” That only made my scowl worse and dad joined in his laughter.
Mum tutted disapprovingly and crossed her arms across her chest. This didn’t have the effect she wanted so she sighed heavily and shot them a look that could have killed.
“I don’t think now is the time.” She said, looking pointedly over her shoulder at the scene behind her. It was one of chaos, the bodies of zombies and humans alike littering the ground, being trampled as other zombies moved forward to take up the battle.
I was thinking the same thing but mainly because I didn’t enjoy being laughed at, even though they didn’t mean anything bad by it. I think they needed to laugh just as much as the rest of us, we’d all been serious for far too long.
I tugged my fingers through my tangled ponytail and scratched my scalp. What I needed was a good shower but there was little chance of that happening, even if all I could do was wash with a warm bucket of water I’d be happy. I just needed to feel clean again, to scrub off the blood and dirt of the day and snuggle down in a well-worn T-shirt and leggings. Simple, comfortable.
“Take the truck.” Uncle Bob said suddenly, turning to me. “You need it more than I do and all I’ll be doing is fighting.”
“Are you sure?” I asked, concern evident in my voice.
“Of course.” He said, tucking a curly strand of hair behind his ear. “I’ll find something else, don’t worry.”
“Thanks, Bob.” Mum sighed gratefully, her tense expression loosening a bit.
“Ah don’t mention it.” He said, waving his hand dismissively. “Anything for my favorite niece.”
“I’m your only niece!” I said, smiling at the familiar joke.
“Exactly.” He replied, pulling me into another hug.
“Thanks, Uncle Bob,” I whispered, squeezing his shoulders.
“No problem kiddo. Stay safe.”
“I always do,” I said and turned to Rory, Ferrah, and Tina. “Let’s go.”
“I’ll drive.” Rory volunteered and climbed into the truck. The man who’d been beside Uncle Bob was now gone, he’d somehow slipped away without me noticing and I was grateful for that. He’d freaked me out and though Uncle Bob had obviously trusted him I wasn’t sure.
He seemed to have disappeared now and Tina climbed in followed by Ferrah then me.
“Keep safe!” Mum said, waving to me. “And try not to get into too much trouble.”
“We will.” I blew her and dad a kiss and Rory started the engine.
“I love you!” Dad yelled.
“Love you too dad! Love you, mum!”
“Love you too.” She replied, her voice only just distinguishable over the rumble of the engine. I wiped a tear from my eye as I wondered if I’d ever see them again.
Rory spun the truck around and bumped along the dry ground, picking up speed as we got closer to the line of zombies. My heart began to race as we got closer and closer then finally we were among them, their fingers slamming against the windows and scrabbling across the metal.
Tina let out a whimper and I felt Ferrah shift beside me as she wrapped her arms around Tina. I could hear her whispering in Tina’s ear, repeating the same five words again, and again, and again.
“It’s going to be okay, it’s going to be okay, it’s going to be okay.”
Something heavy slammed into the side of the vehicle, fingers like claws tore through the front windscreen smashing the glass and sending the shards spinning across the dashboard. Tina screamed and Rory swerved violently, somehow managing to fling off the unwanted passenger.
We burst through the crowd of zombies and sped down the road, leaving the crowd of angry zombies behind us.