Authors: Richard Murray
Maggie laughed and eagerly took the pan from me before banging it hard against the stone steps a couple of times. The noise was loud enough to gather the attention of the group but I doubted it would carry down to the road.
With everyone looking at her, Maggie reverted back to her usual shy self. “Dinner” she said before dashing inside almost colliding with Pat as he came through the doorway.
“What was that about?” Pat asked.
“Food;s ready” I told him before making my way into the house. My ankle was sore so I went straight to the couch and sat with my foot back on the table and hoped someone would think to bring me some food.
Maggie came into the living room a short while later with a plate piled high with food. She passed it over to me with a shy smile before heading out of the room at a run. It was pleasant to see that she definitely seemed to be warming up to me once again.
“For a minute there I actually thought you liked the girl” said Lily as she walked into the living room with her own plate of food and two cans of diet coke. She passed one to me as I shrugged and turned my attention to my food, some sort of vegetable stew that was surprisingly good.
“I like kids” I said around a mouthful of potato. “They are easy to understand.”
“So you aren’t such a terrible person then,” Lily said with a radiant smile. “There’s hope for you yet.”
I stuffed another mouthful of stew into my mouth rather than speak and say something to break her pleasant mood. It seemed the safer thing to do. We ate in a comfortable silence for awhile.
“Do you think the zombies will come?” Lily asked finally.
“I think it would be foolish to assume they wouldn’t.”
“We were just getting comfortable here. It seems such a shame to have to move on.”
“This was always going to be a temporary stop. The fact that we have been here so long without any major problems is a surprise.” I told her.
“Yeah, I know. It’s just that every time we settle in somewhere we have to leave. I just want somewhere safe to stay.”
I glanced at her and saw that she was picking at her food and her earlier cheer had faded. I felt an unusual urge to try and offer her some comfort, I just wasn’t sure how. The once comfortable silence was now awkward and I was glad when Pat poked his head into the room.
“Rachel’s seen zombies coming. Lots of them,” he said.
Lily looked at me. “Best get everyone ready to head out.” I said.
“How? The gates blocked.” She said with alarm.
“We have to make a choice, we can either pull that car away from the gate and get out of here now, or we risk getting trapped and hope they move past us. Either way we want to be ready and prepared.” I told her.
Lily hurriedly left the room and I pulled myself off the couch. My ankle was sore but I could walk on it. I collected my hatchet and headed for the barn, I wanted to see how many were coming.
It took me longer than I expected to make my way to where Rachel lay watching over the road. She glanced at me once and then turned back to staring through the sight of her rifle.
“Whatever else you do, don’t bloody shoot that.” I said as I peered down the road. Rachel just sniffed and muttered something I didn’t catch. I resisted the urge to grin at her, it would only make matters worse and that was something we didn’t need.
They were still too far away to count but by the size of the crowd I estimated that easily a hundred or more zombies were making their way along the road. My thoughts were racing as I tried to decide the best course of action.
If we left now we would have to head back the way we had initially come and that idea had its own set of problems. We could stay here, hunker down and hope they passed us before setting off but again, no guarantee that they would pass us or even if these were just the first of many that were headed this way.
We could of course always take whatever we could carry and flee across the fields and into the hills behind the house. That was the worst option as far as I was concerned. I instructed Rachel to keep an eye on them and headed back to the house, ignoring her surly reply.
Everyone was gathered by the van as I arrived and I quickly outlined what I had seen and what our options were. Nobody looked happy when I had finished speaking.
“Didn’t we find some rucksacks?” Lily asked Claire.
“Yes, I put them in the Land rover. I think we have three rucksacks and a holdall.”
“Ok then, let’s load them with food and set them to one side. If we need to leave without the vehicles then at least we will have something to take with us.” Lily instructed.
“We could fight them.” Pat said, “If we move the car and stand by the gate we can use the guns to kill a load.”
“The gate won’t hold with a dozen of them pushing against it, let alone hundreds.” I pointed out.
“Not to mention the fact that the sounds of the guns may bring more.” Lily added.
With no one else able to think of anything better, we started moving. The bags were found and loaded with as much food and water as they could comfortably hold before being placed by the door. After that everyone made sure they were dressed as warmly as possible and gathered a weapon before climbing into one of the vehicles.
I opted to sit in the Land Rover with Cass and Gregg rather than the van. I had spent enough time in the van to realise that it was pretty uncomfortable. Pat had just started to head over to the barn when the first shot rang out, followed closely by a second and then a third.
Pat was off and running in moments followed by Gregg as soon as he was out of the Land rover. I saw the rest of the group climbing out of the van and with a sigh I joined them on the driveway.
“I told her not to shoot anything” I complained to Lily.
“She must have had a reason, let’s find out” she replied indicating with a nod of her head the return of Pat, Gregg and Rachel at full speed.
“Zombies are crossing the fields as well as the road. They were almost on top of me before I noticed” Rachel said between pants.
“They likely got into the fields through that farm up the road” Pat suggested, “It didn’t have a gate stopping them.”
“Ok. We need to get that car moved now, let’s see if we can leave ahead of them.” Lily said.
Pat sprinted down the driveway, rifle at the ready closely followed by Gregg once again. “How many were in the fields?” Cass asked.
“I don’t know. More than enough, I definitely killed one and hit another.” She replied looking nervously back at the barn.
Gunshots sounded from down the drive and we all turned our heads to try and see, though the trees made that impossible. “Grab the bags. I think we’re walking.” Lily said before trotting back into the house.
Cass was the first to pick up a rucksack and I chose another, its weight was almost uncomfortable but if we got separated at least I would have some supplies. Lily came back out of the house carrying the wind up radio and moments later Gregg ran up the driveway, followed by Pat.
“No chance.” Gregg said, waving his arm towards the road. “Too damn many of them.”
“Fine. Grab a bag each you two, we need to leave” Lily said before setting off around the side of the house. Claire and Maggie followed and then Liz. Cass and Gregg went next and then Pat and Rachel. I was last simply because I was the slowest with my ankle being hurt.
We passed beyond the house and through a wooden gate into the fields. A trail had been worn into the grass beside the road and I guessed that the horses walked this way often when the riders went cross country. We were surrounded on all sides by fields that led up some hills and crossing the fields in the direction of the village were dozens of shambling figures.
My ankle ached and I was steadily dropping behind the rest of the group as we walked across the seemingly endless fields. Approximately three hours after we had set off the rest of the group came to a stop and I slowly made my way to them.
I was sweating profusely from the strain of carrying the rucksack of food and water while also trying to keep most of the weight off of my injured ankle. As I reached them I saw why they had stopped. The fields had ended and before us was a sharp slope that ended at the motorway.
The motorway itself was full of vehicles of all types. Large lorries, transit vans, cars and even an ambulance covered the road as far as we could see. None of those vehicles were moving and many sat with doors open. Discarded belongings lay scattered around the vehicles and lined the sides of the road.
At various points up and down the motorway most of the undead stood silent and waiting, though a few wandered between the cars. “Well we are pretty much screwed” said Pat.
I had to agree. “I haven’t seen those ones from the stables for a while. I think we lost them at one of the stiles.” I said keeping my voice low.
“So we can’t go back and we can’t go forward. What the hell are we supposed to do?” asked Rachel in that whiny tone of hers that I had come to dislike immensely.
“We need to cross.”Lily said, “If we get across that, then Liz said there’s a private golf course by some woods.”
“You fancy a game to relax you?” asked Rachel snidely.
“No, but it will have nice large walls around it and more than likely very few people. We can spend the night there safely, perhaps find another car.” Lily told her with far more patience than I could have done.
I really would have to find a way to get rid of her soon, she was becoming extremely irritating and her stupidity with the rifle had caused us to abandon the majority of our scavenged supplies and our vehicles.
The group continued to argue and discuss their plan while I sat and nursed my ankle. I searched through my pockets for the painkillers and swore when I realised that I hadn’t picked them up. They were likely still sat on the coffee table in the living room of the house at the stables.
Gregg excused himself and wandered away to relieve himself and I tried to focus on what people were saying.
“As soon as we go down the hill, they will see us and we will be screwed” said Pat.
“All we have to do though is get across the motorway and up the other side. I don’t think they will be able to get up quickly, if at all.” Lily tried to explain.
“Could we make a distraction further down the motorway and then get across?” Claire asked.
“No. Any distraction big enough to move these ones out of the way will draw the attention of those further up and we will still be sat here with a load of zombies down there.” Lily explained patiently.
“We don’t have much choice” Gregg said loudly as he returned, “Big group of zombies behind us and heading this way.” He waved back across the field we had just crossed and in the distance I could just make out a group of figures moving slowly towards us.
“Those things just don’t give up” said Pat shaking his head.
“Right then, we have no choice.” Lily said standing up and brushing the dirt from the seat of her pants. “We head across, try and stick together and if we get separated we meet up at the golf courses club house. Agreed?” she asked looking at each of us in turn.
No one raised a voice in disagreement and we all took a moment to prepare ourselves for the trip across the zombie infested motorway. I was going to be at a disadvantage and would likely trail behind. I readied my hatchet.
Keeping as low as possible, we made our way down the steep incline. The grass was slippery from the latest rainfall and the sharp rocks offered more hindrance than help. We were halfway down when the first zombie spotted us.
It screamed and ran with a great deal more speed than expected, straight at us and was soon followed by more of the undead. Pat had run on ahead and he swung the hammer at the creature with his impressive strength. The hammer bounced off the zombies shoulder but it hit with enough force to knock it to the side and allow Pat to crush its skull with a better aimed blow.
The rest of the group were halfway across the motorway before I made it to the bottom of the incline. A zombie was making its way towards me, it had one arm missing and
its jaw was hanging loose. Jumping around was out of the question so I struck out with my hatchet and caught its arm.
My second swing missed and the zombie fell against me, knocking me sideways to bang my side painfully against a silver car. I pushed it away with my left hand and swung the hatchet with my right, feeling the vibration in my arm as the blade struck the skull.
One more blow and the zombie collapsed to the ground. I cast my gaze towards the group and saw Pat and Gregg swinging wildly at the zombies to keep them away from the others. With the exception of Rachel and her rifle, the only weapons carried by the females of the group were knives and they were not much use.
If we survived this I resolved to find them some better weapons. I swung my hatchet and killed another zombie that had almost reached me. I limped across the motorway striking and killing any zombie that came near.
A gunshot rang out and I looked across to see Rachel with a manic grin firing wildly into the zombies as the rest of the group climbed the hill. It had gained the attention of all the zombies and they rushed to reach her, leaving me stuck firmly behind.
Rachel caught my eyes and fired once more at a zombie that had gotten close before turning and scrambling rapidly up the hill. I could almost admire her screwing someone over so well, if that someone wasn’t me. Any moment now the zombies would notice me and I would be dead.
I glanced around for inspiration and finding none I pulled on the handle of the back door of the car beside me. It opened and I ducked inside pulling the door closed behind me. The zombie still buckled into the driver’s seat was going wild at my presence and concerned that it would attract the attention of the zombies massed on the motorway beyond I dispatched it quickly with my hatchet.
It looked like the driver’s side window was down or possibly smashed completely which is likely how they had gotten at the driver, but there was little I could do about that. I ducked down onto the floor of the car and lay as still as possible. My only hope was to wait for night and try and get away.