Authors: Richard Murray
The floor of the car was uncomfortable, sticky and smelled musty. My ankle had a dull throbbing ache that seemed to travel all the way up my leg and with my head down I could hear but not see the zombies as they moved past my hiding place.
With nothing to do but wait and hope I wasn’t discovered, I spent a bit of time thinking up imaginative ways of killing Rachel to amuse myself. A great deal of noise distracted me and caused more than a little tension until I realised that the zombies that had been chasing us had arrived and lacking the fine motor skills to traverse the incline, had simply fallen down it.
Now the area around my hideaway had even more zombies around it and I redoubled my efforts for coming up with a truly painful way to kill Rachel. I was going to be in for a long wait, without something to distract them they would just hang around the area.
The sound of a gun firing came from further along the motorway. The now familiar moaning rose from the clustered dead and they set off in the direction of the sound. I waited as patiently as I could. A second shot sounded and then a third. I cautiously raised my head and peered through the windows of the car.
Most of the zombies were moving along the road though a number of those that had fallen down the hill seemed unable to get up, they were trying to make their way along. With little choice but to move or stay in the car, I sat up and eased open the door.
I couldn’t see anything in the immediate area as I climbed out of the back of the car. I tested my weight on my ankle and decided that it would hold, though likely hurt like hell. Staying as low as possible I made my way across the motorway to the banking I had seen the group climb.
A head appeared over the top and I could see Lily looking down at me. She gestured frantically and I did my best to scramble up the steep hill, grasping at thick tufts of damp grass and pulling myself up more than anything.
As I reached the top hands clasped my shoulders and almost pulled me over, I fell onto my side panting and not caring about the sweat that was stinging my eyes. Gregg looked down at me and gave me a quick thumbs up. I guess I had him to thank for the help up that last bit of hill.
“Glad you made it mate.” He said.
“Who was shooting?” I asked.
“Rachel said she saw you climb into the car, so she and Pat went down that way” he gestured in the general direction of the gun shots, “with the aim of drawing away the worst of them so you could get up here.”
Perhaps I was wrong about Rachel attempting to leave me to the zombies, she still irritated me though. “Glad you waited for me.” I said.
“No probs mate” he replied as he helped pull me to my feet. Lily gave me a smile and a gentle touch on the arm before moving back to the rest of the group who were waiting nervously a short distance away.
“Pat and Rachel should be on their way back, so as soon as they arrive we can get off” Gregg said before following Lily.
I turned back to watch the zombies as they tried to climb the steep banking. Some of them would actually make it, given enough time. I gave a low laugh, a sign of relief at surviving more than anything else. I may have been wrong about Rachel’s intentions and I idly wondered if I had misinterpreted other situations in the past. Maybe I had killed people who hadn’t deserved it.
That thought was dismissed as soon as it formed. It didn’t really matter to me if the person had deserved it or not. As long as I wasn’t caught, then I was content.
Pat and Rachel returned and everyone picked themselves up off of the ground and prepared to continue walking. A light rain had begun to fall but the dark clouds overhead threatened to turn that light rain into a deluge. We would need to be in someplace dry and warm for the night or risk illness, which could be a death sentence.
We walked for nearly an hour, crossing more fields of churned mud and animal faeces. All too often we found the remains of the animals rotting on the ground, dark blood pooled beneath and covered in teeth marks. It was a disturbing reminder that the undead would attack any living thing.
The undead were themselves, absent. Although a few miles further on, I glimpsed a farmhouse through the trees that bordered the property and saw a sizeable group clustered around the building. No one else seemed to notice, so I decided it was best not to mention them in case someone insisted we go and help whoever was in the house.
Less than ten minutes walk from the farmhouse with the zombies we came to a stand of trees that Liz told us, surrounded the golf course. The rain was slowly becoming heavier and the light was fading so with few other options we made our way through the trees.
A low wire fence was the only barrier to our entry to the golf course itself. We were all soon over it and walking across well tended grass. The group had clustered together as we crossed the open land. It was disconcerting to be so out in the open after spending weeks trying to stay hidden.
Before us the club house sat on a small rise overlooking the course itself. A single road stretched around the building before heading away from us to connect to the main road a nice distance away from us. A car park with a number of cars still parked neatly in the painted spaces sat behind and to one side of the building.
The club house itself was made up of a two storey building that had been added on to over time, creating a large rectangular building of weathered yellow stone with a gray slate roof. A number of windows on the ground floor had been covered over with plywood and a pale smoke rose from the chimney.
“What do you think?” Lily asked as she came over to stand beside me.
“I think it has people in there” I said.
“Funny.” She shook her head at me and gave a half hearted smile. “Do you think we should let them know we are here? We haven’t had a great deal of luck with other people so far.”
“Ordinarily I would suggest that I go and take a look and see what sort of people are in there, but it seems they have seen us first.” I told her with a nod to a tall man in a dark windbreaker who had stepped out of the front door.
The man seemed to be gesturing us forward and with little option other than to stay outside in the rain we crossed the final stretch of manicured lawn and approached the stranger.
“Hi.” Lily said as she stepped forward with her hands raised in a peaceful gesture. “We are just looking for shelter and mean no harm. We didn’t know anyone was here.”
The stranger looked at each of us in turn as we stood in the rain, our few possessions carried with us. He was a tall man in his forties with a glum expression. “You’re a sorry looking bunch” he said in a deep, rough voice.
“We have spent the day on the move and had to abandon most of our stuff when we were attacked” Lily explained. “We just need somewhere for the night out of the rain and then will be on our way.”
“I suppose you can come in, but you’ll leave those guns by the entrance.” He said with a stern, no nonsense tone.
Rachel seemed ready to refuse and Pat wasn’t overly enthusiastic either. “If you don’t then you can stay out there” the stranger said as he noticed the reluctance. “The people in here are scared enough without worrying about being shot.”
“That’s fine” Lily said quickly, “We can understand that. We have had some trouble with strangers ourselves.” She said with a gesture towards Rachel and Pat that told them to agree.
“Aye it’s tough times but with God’s help we will get through. You can call me Jim. Come on in.” He said and led the way into the building.
With a final glance back at the rest of the group and a smile of reassurance, Lily led the way inside.
The group of people who had set up camp in the club house had done a fine job of covering all the windows so that the light of their candles was hidden from view. They had settled into the bar which aside from the abundance of alcohol also had a fireplace that was roaring merrily and filling the room with inviting warmth.
Jim explained that the club house had a number of function rooms, a dining room and kitchen. A couple of offices and a staff room along with shower and toilet facilities completed the club. The kitchen had been fairly well stocked though most of the meat and fresh produce had either spoiled or been consumed already.
Introductions were quickly made to the nervous looking group. Robert was in his fifties and apparently a bit of a pompous ass judging by the self important way he kept trying to tell us how he was the manager of a company I had never heard of. He was here with his wife Debbie and their son John.
Eric was in his sixties and the only person in the room who had ever actually set foot inside the club house as a member. It was he who had led the group to the golf course when the world went crazy.
A rather attractive red headed lady in her thirties introduced herself as Louise and told us that she was a nurse and happy to check any ailments we may have. I had no need to exaggerate the pain of my ankle and would be happy for her to take a look.
The final member of the new group was Michael, a boy of around twelve or thirteen who spoke quietly and only rarely. He had been found beside the road by Louise and had no idea where his parents were.
Claire almost squealed with delight when she found out that the club had a number of cooking utensils that were powered by propane gas. Eric explained how the club had purchased them a number of years ago when they had an important event booked and a gas fault had resulted in the gas supply to the kitchen being cut off.
With something to cook on Claire wasted no time in offering to prepare a meal for everyone and before long we were all sat close to the fireplace and eating a vegetable curry made mainly from tinned vegetables and rice. It tasted pleasant enough and sharing the meal allowed the two groups to relax and share stories.
“So how long have you guys been here?” Pat asked around a mouthful of food.
“About a week now, we lost a few people along the way too.” Eric said with a sideways glance at Jim.
“I think we have all lost loved ones,” Lily said into the silence that followed. “I’m amazed it spread so quickly, the zombies are everywhere.”
“That was because the first people who passed it on were bitten but not killed.” Louise said.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, when you are killed by a zombie you can turn into one of them fairly quickly. If you are just bitten and infected, it can take hours, even a full day before you turn into one of them.” Louise told us.
“So all those bitten but not killed, avoided the hospitals and went home. When they turned, they bit others who carried it with them when they fled. More than one refugee centre was overrun because of that in the beginning.” Eric added.
“I wonder how many people are left” said Lily quietly.
“Oh still plenty of people around, mainly hidden away but they are there.” Eric said pressing his hand briefly against her arm in what I assumed was a comforting gesture.
“The soldiers are still fighting” John said, his voice filled with fervent belief.
“What makes you think that?” asked Lily.
“We heard it on the radio.” He replied.
“When did you hear? We haven’t heard much on our radio.” Lily said eagerly.
“A few days ago” Eric said before John could speak. “This place has a strong aerial and we pick up bits and pieces. Not much else to do but listen to it while we are stuck in here.”
“So what is your actual plan?” I asked, “Stay here and what... hope for rescue?”
“It’s safer in here than out there, if you can tell us of somewhere else we can go then do so” snapped Eric.
I considered replying and telling him all the reasons that staying here for the long term would be disastrous, but in the end I decided against it. Knowing my luck, if they decided to leave, Lily would insist they all come with us.
The silence continued for several uncomfortable minutes until Eric realised I wasn’t going to answer. “I thought not.” He said with satisfaction. I gave him my most irritating grin and went back to eating.
“God will see us through” intoned Jim with little change in his dour expression.
“Aye, he’s doing a great job so far.” Gregg said in a clearly audible whisper to Cass, which caused Jim’s expression to darken.
“We are still alive boy. God has a plan.” Jim’s voice rose and his hands trembled with anger.
Gregg chose not to answer and silence fell once again on the group as we finished our food.
I ate another spoonful of rice and looked at each of the people in the room carefully. I could see the advantage of Louise coming along with us. The presence of a trained nurse would be a huge benefit.
John was young enough that he would be useful but the others were dead weight. Eric was too old, as were the pompous Robert and his wife Debbie. Jim was apparently a deeply religious man and I could only imagine the problems he may cause in the future. The young boy was little use and would be a drain on resources, though he was still a child and I wouldn’t object to Lily bringing him along.
The wheels were turning in Lily’s head, I was sure. She would either decide that we should all stay here together for awhile or that the others should come with us. I wanted less of a drain on our resources not more.
With a sigh of pleasure Eric stood and said, “Claire that was a wonderful meal. Now it is time for us all to turn in. We have only a few blankets but we usually sleep in here by the fire anyway. You are all welcome to join us.”
Claire blushed prettily at the praise and started to gather together the plates with help from John while everyone else started looking for places to curl up for sleep. I waited for everyone else to find a place and get settled before I chose a place of my own near the door. It would be colder but I had no desire to sleep surrounded by so many people. I used the lumpy rucksack I had been carrying as a pillow and lay back.
Sleep wasn’t long in coming and I awoke before dawn stiff and cold. I was the only one awake and I relished the peace. I pulled myself to my feet and limped from the bar as quietly as I could.
The toilet facilities were the same as any other public place. A number of plain white urinals and stalls lined the walls on one side and on the other, several sinks with soap dispensers and mirrors attached to the wall above them.