Monday, 25 March 2013
I couldn't think, could barely get my brain to work. So I'd gone for a walk. I just wanted to clear my head. I wanted to think straight. I didn't know that it was the end of the world.
I watch as green hands reach into a hollow where her stomach should have been, and pry inside the viscera. The monster grabs what looks unnervingly like unravelling deli-sausages, and brings it to its face with both hands. Blood and undigested food squirt between it's teeth, spilling over its long, unkempt hair as at it bites down. I feel like I'm gonna be sick.
I'd seen enough Google Images and Wikipedia pages to know that the poor girl lying in the middle of the road being eaten was not a dummy or a movie prop. But it wasn't a zombie. Come on, it couldn't be. But what I know is that I was watching some crazy, emaciated psychopath chew on someone's organs. Surely, this was an emergency for which I could call the police.
I slowly back away as I get my mobile phone and dial 000. It doesn't take long before I hear a recorded message:
"You have dialled emergency Triple Zero. Your call is being connected." says a kind voice. I wait as the call is being connected. But it doesn't. Another recorded message starts up, apologizing for delays. The network is clogged? What the hell is going on?
Impatient with the police, and starting to freak out, I hang up the phone and start walking the other way. It would be quicker to walk past the scene. But I don't think I'd casually pass by a sight like that, even if I was in an armoured van. Once I'm considerably out of earshot, I start to run. I don't know what's wrong with that maniac, but I'll feel a million times safer behind a locked door. The run home was uneventful, except that I get a glance of a helicopter, flying low enough for me to hear the blades chop through the air. My poor eyesight meant that even with glasses I couldn't tell if it was the police or the media. A million thoughts are going through my head, half of which were just different ways of asking What the fuck is going on?!
I get home, closing the front gate behind me, and locking the sliding door as I head inside. I grab the home phone and dial:
"You have dialled emergency Triple Zero. Your call is being connected." says that same voice again, with little to no understanding how drastic the situation is. Again, the Telstra network tells me the lines are busy. I hang up the phone and start pacing back and forth. I'm not exactly good with this kind of thing. I don't function well without information.
Why are all the lines down?
I walk around the house, peeking out all the windows to check for that cannibal maniac, locking all the doors & even closing the curtains and blinds. Finally, I turn on the loungeroom television. If there's some kind of lock down, the news will let me know. I turn to ABC 24 News. The image of the smartly dressed anchorman comes in a second before the sound.
" . . . has died in a fatal car crash. Another woman, aged seventy-nine also died in the crash that involved three cars. A Mercedes Benz was-" I flip through channels, hoping to find something relevant to my suburb, when I hear something from outside. I turn off the TV and peek out the window.
The curtains were made of lace, and through them I could see the image of a thin, stumbling figure with unkempt hair. Their feet shuffled unevenly as they walked. My throat seemed to get caught on itself as I drop the remote on the couch and head into the dining room. Did I lock the front door? Yes. Sure, I did.
I hide away in the dining room, heart beating like a galloping racehorse.
Stay the hell away from me, damn it! I was silently screaming to the monster on the street out front of my house. Oh god! Did I lock the front gate?
I hestitate a moment before deciding that I was safe to head into the outside area. My home has an enclosed porch thing attached to it with two ways in through wooden gates to the side yard and verandah. If someone got in there, they could probably break through a window to get inside. I don't want to risk it. I quickly unlock the sliding door, head outside, and lock the latch on the front gate, then I quickly head over to the side gate. God DAMN it!
We usually leave it locked, but I opened it the other week to let a tradesman get through. Looking past the side of the house and through the open gate, I can see the monster, stumbling along the street. For the first time, I can see the side of its face. It's smeared with blood, and doesn't even look human it's so gaunt and discoloured. I pull the gate to close it, but the latch is keeping it open. Feeling panic rise in me, I unlock the door, getting a spiderweb in my face as I bend down, then close the gate and push it so that I can line up the latch. I lock the gate and look up. The monster hasn't seen me.
I creep back inside and lock the sliding door behind me. Then I turn on the dining room television, careful to turn the volume down low. The image pans across an outback highway before the shot changes, and the anchorman looks into a different camera.
"The Royal Women's Hospital has declared a quarantine after an outbreak of mad cow disease throughout the facility. Doctors and staff are trying to contain the outbreak, while officials are moving unaffected patients to other hospitals." the shot changes to a woman in a pants suit standing outside a hospital.
"The Royal Brisbane Women's and Children's Hospital, is under investigation after an outbreak of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy or 'Mad Cow Disease'. Officials believe the outbreak started with an infection in the Intensive Care Unit through improperly cleaned medical equipment. Details are still unclear at this stage, but the hospital, which has more than 1,000 beds has-"
suddenly, the scene changes back to the anchor desk.
"We apologize for the interruption, but we take you now to breaking news of a lockdown in the Southern Brisbane Area . . ."
The scene changes to a shot from a helicopter. The scene pans around a view of suburban streets and houses, near a small business district. The reporter's voice comes through on a voice over, talking about police and lockdown and telling people to stay in their homes. But I'm not listening. I'm looking at the image of people. Panning over the streets, it looks like a normal shot of suburbia, except for the number of people on the street. Each street in the shot seems to have two or three people slowly walking along the road. that alone would look like people going home after a concert or fireworks, it's not shocking. What is shocking is the number of other people in each shot. Lying in the middle of the road, fallen down by the curb. From the height of the helicopter, I can't see details. But none of the people lying down are moving, and many are in awkward angles, seem to be lying on top of dark puddles or even seem to be spread out over the road. Just like the poor girl I saw less than fifteen minutes ago.
The scene changes to a journalist standing beside a police car, making claims of a cult or a terrorist attack, but that niggling thought in the back of my mind suddenly springs right back to the front: zombie.
I know it's stupid, and I know that I am being a paranoid nerd. But the thought comes right back. I get up and head back to the living room. But as I get close I start to creep around slowly as I get up close to the window, leaning against the wall next to it, and I peek out through the curtains. The long-haired zombie has is almost half the way up the street now, and a long way away from the house. But I see, down near the bottom of the street, now there's a woman smeared with blood. A woman without a stomach, who looks familiar. I immediately get away from the window and start searching through the house, careful to avoid windows. I don't care what's happening, I need to board up those windows. Or at least, block them with something better than lacy curtains. I head to the guest bedroom. There's a mostly empty bookshelf and a nicely made bed. I take the few items in the bookshelf out, and start to drag it out of the room. I bump into walls and nearly crush my toes a few times, but eventually, I drag it into the living room, and use it to cover one of the windows.
Then I run back to the room. I want to get the bed out and use the frame, but after a minute, I give up, and instead grab the mattress. I flip it on its side and slide it through the hall, then I lean it against the other front window with the lacy curtain. Then, just to be overly cautious, I head back to the guest room, stand the bedframe up on its 'head', and push it as close to the window as I can. Then I close the door to the bedroom, and the study, and again start pacing back and forth with nervous energy and sore arms.
I check the time. Still only 5:30. Shouldn't my parents be home by now?
No, not really. Stop panicking. Calm down . . .
No screw it. I grab the phone and ring my Dad's mobile number. It doesn't work the first time, so I call again. I get voicemail.
"Uh . . . just call me back, alright? This is Matt, by the way." I hang up. Then I immediately call my mother's mobile. Again, voicemail. I give her a similar message and throw my phone onto the couch.
My parents are usually busy around now, it makes sense they wouldn't answer. But it doesn't make me feel any better. Is it paranoid to get a weapon?
Yes, yes it is. But I decide to do it anyway. I grab the shed key and head into the backyard, which is safely locked (as my dad is paranoid about criminals), and head into the shed. Since it looks big and nasty, I grab the axe. I once cleft through a felled paw-paw tree with one good swing, so this ought to do me well. I head inside, locking the door behind me, hide the axe behind the television so that my family doesn't think I'm crazy when they get home (if they get home) and I sit there watching the news.
As I sit there, I hear another noise outside. I jump up and grab the axe, alert. I don't know what's about to happen. I hope my family is secure, or on their way home. Especially my mother, who works in a nursing home, and is probably at greater risk of infection.
But I have faith that my close family is safe. It's a small grace, but it takes a while for a zombie apocalypse to take hold. I hope others have taken advantage of that fact.
I don't know what started it. I don't need to. I don't like the idea of hurting anything, even a zombie. But I value my life enough to do whatever it takes to survive. As I walk around the house again, checking the windows and doors with an axe in my hand, I am confident that I've made the message clear:
I'm ready for you.
Guy with an Axe