Home for Christmas
It started in the summer. A long hot summer that we thought would never end. It was hotter than usual, sticky and airless it got the whole country talking. When the postman started delivering letters half naked we knew something had to be done. News reports said people were coming down with a flu like symptom and that we had to be on guard as it was deadly, they weren't wrong.
Classes were cancelled and the Dean sent us all home, easy to say but harder to put into practice as the roads were jammed and the trains delayed.
I phoned my parents and they said they were safe, my little sister wanted to play outside and was frustrated at having to stay inside when the weather was good.
The heat made it worse. And the smell. The news blamed wind from one direction hitting a blast from another, then it was the wasps. I think in the end they just gave up wondering and concentrated on the tasks at hand.
The army came and cleaned the streets but even they weren't safe, they escorted us from the college in armoured vehicles as the dead walked in front of us, blood and gore covered the windscreen as we ploughed our way through the mass. They didn't know where they were going or where they'd been, they just kept on walking, even the ones with limbs missing and their innards hanging out just kept on going.
The epidemic hit people when they least expected it, out shopping or picking kids up from school, it just happened and there was nothing anyone could do. One minute you were fine the next lying on the floor shaking and rolling about. I saw about a dozen of my friends go this way, but that wasn't the end, the dead rose and started eating us. A hunger took them over and they were ravenous. The saying I could eat a horse had never been so relevant.
I holed up for a while with a few people and we'd watch each other for signs of the disease.
"Promise you'll kill me if I get it?" someone asked, I had to say I would even though I didn't know how to at first, but I learnt quickly.
And the guns.
"This isn't America" one woman shouted as she hit one of them with a cricket bat. It must have been a cheap one as it broke, I saw her go down among a crowd of them and I'm afraid to say there wasn't much left of her.
There are five other people in my group, two men and three women, one of the men Mark is very nice but is it worth starting something when the days are so unpredictable?. One of the women Joyce is very bossy, if she got ate I wouldn't be at all upset. I did say there were three but since this morning it's down to two. No not Joyce as I'd wished but Sarah, she was lovely. We had to stove her head in in the end, she looked so peaceful lying there at first but then her face shrivelled and had a green tinge to it, her pretty features gone forever, and Joyce is still here!.
I'm marking the days off because I think It's important, every society needs structure and stability and when this is all over it would be nice to say I tried to keep order. I know there are three weeks to christmas day, an important date in my calendar, family time, the day we give and receive in the spirit of it all and I for one am not going to miss it. I have to share a private joke that my sister would absolutely love.
' I'm surrounded by the living dead and I've missed halloween'. I'm glad to say my sense of humour hasn't deserted me.
If I know my mother she's bought the turkey and my gifts are wrapped and under the tree. The sparkly fairy at the top of the tree was given to us by my auntie, I hope she can make it.
I've found a car, don't know how far it will get me but if it stops I'll just find another, my determination knows no bounds.
I take the shot.
Like I said before I don't know where all these guns have come from. I thought we were a civilised country, but who am I to complain when a thing is trying to eat my face. When you watch re runs of zombie films (sometime in the future I hope, when normal service is resumed) then it's funny isn't it?. You laugh at how good or bad the special effects are and make guesses on how much the budget was. It's not like that in real life, that used to be someones son, husband or father I've killed. But can you kill the dead twice?. They lope along oblivious to anything but a feed and those empty eyes ring out the hollow truth that there is no hope.
I've become quite philosophical on my mad journey home. I hope my family is safe, my little tomboy of a sister who likes computer games would probably be quite a good killer of zombies, after all she's played enough on her xbox. How I told my dad off for buying her that game and how now I hope she's learnt enough to defend herself.
Bloods not blood anymore, it's thick and gooey, I thought the cold might slow them down but they are relentless. One time I stood rooted to the spot, it was coming towards me and I couldn't move, I could actually see his brain, half his head was gone but he still moved, I think you have to take the whole brain out for it to have any effect.
Ooh I'm looking forward to my christmas dinner.
I pass through towns that are devastated and empty, where have all the people gone? is there some camp that I don't know about?. I sneak into department stores that once were so busy now desolate and downright scary. I found a trolley and filled it with clothes and gifts, the winter stock isn't out yet so my family will have to make do with sunglasses and shorts, I hope the cctv isn't working I'll be in so much trouble.
I left the others two days ago, they wanted to go in the opposite direction and as much as Mark tried to persuade me I knew which way I needed to go, I did ask him if he wanted to join me but Joyce persuaded him otherwise, I hope she gets it.
The third car gets me home. My street looks the same as when I left, cars are parked up and houses still standing, but there are no children playing or adults going about their daily chores. I try the front door handle and it turns, my mother was expecting me.
My senses may have dulled over the past few months but I swear I can smell her world famous gravy.
I walk into the kitchen and she's by the sink, my mother turns and looks at me and her jaw drops, literally, it breaks away from her face and hits the floor but I know she's smiling inside.
My father enters the room puts down his beer bottle and embraces me, my little sister who always liked to sneak up on me grabs my ankle and hangs on, she can be a little monster sometimes but I do love her.
I'm safe in the warm loving arms of my family just in time for dinner.