Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Zombie, Zombie, Zombie, Oi, Oi, Oi

Zombie, Zombie, Zombie, Oi, Oi, Oi

By Scott Wilson

Word Count:3,776

“Go, you little beauty!” Tim screamed, leaping from his prime seat at the ANZ Stadium.

The Bronco’s were flogging the Seagulls 33 to four, and Johnny Triton was about to crash through the defence and score another try, right under the uprights. With Dazza’s great boot, such a plum position would be no trouble to make the try worth six points.

Tim was in the front row with the rest of the die-hard fans and supporters. He took a big chug of his VB and shook his oversized, foam hand high in the air.

“Tone it down, mate,” someone in the row behind yelled.

Tim turned and was going to give him an ear bashing, when a tremendous flash above the football field reflected back at him in the heckler’s eyes. He heard a loud snap a split second later, like a gigantic rubber band breaking after stretched too far. He turned back around, but the light had already disappeared. Tim thought to himself that it was pretty bloody stupid to have fireworks going off during the game, and in the middle of the day.

On the field, footballers punched, torn and bit each other like a pack of frenzied lions that had just caught their prey. Tim had to turn away from the horrific scene before vomiting his four and twenty meat pie up. Blood flowed freely from the multitude of severed limbs and torn flesh; it looked more like a battlefield than a football field.

Tim turned just in time to see the heckler lunge at him in a beast like manner. Two, bright yellow orbs sat where the man’s eyeballs were a few minutes ago. Tiny red rivers of blood thread around the sickly, yellow eyes; there was no sign of the pupil any longer. A dark, congealed stream of blackened blood ran from the heckler’s nose and down his chin.

“Hey, what…” Tim began to say, but was pulled backwards and on to the walkway before he could finish.

“We’ve got to get the fuck out of here, dude.” A young man in full Bronco’s gear said in a quivering voice.

Tim surveyed the stadium and was shocked to see that more than three quarters of the crowd looked like the heckler. They were half man and half beast. Those not turned into these maniacs were fighting a losing battle to leave the stadium.

“Come on man, we have to get out of here, now.”

The guttural roar from the heckler brought Tim’s attention back to his own dilemma. He threw his VB at the crazed man, hitting him in the side of the face. With a sickening pop, the heckler’s right eye burst beneath the can like a boiled egg under a breakfast spoon. It did not stop him but put him off balance enough to come crashing down hard between two plastic seats. His leg snapped when he twisted awkwardly as he tried to get to his feet. Tim cringed at the sound, and even more at the bone tearing through, the thin skin of the leg as the guy twisted and turned to try to regain his footing. The heckler did not seem to register the pain.

“You sad sorry sack of shit,” the young Bronco fan said, and kicked him in the head.

Tim ran after the young man as he headed out of tunnel under the stadium. They reached the end of it in a minute without any attacks from the rest of the spectators.

“Oh, shit. It’s locked.” The young Bronco supported screamed. He began shaking the locked exit gate.

“Keep it down; we don’t want to attract any of those bastards. Look, mate… what’s your name? I am Tim Flanagan.”

“Terry King.”

“Okay, Terry. We need to find something to lever this lock open. Look around over there and I’ll look over the other side of the tunnel.”

Both men looked along the ground, up the walls; everywhere within a few meters of the locked gate for something to use to pry open the lock. Neither ventured very far back down the tunnel for fear of attracting the attention of the others.

“What about this,” Terry whispered, holding up a large fire extinguisher.

“That might do it, sport.”

Terry rushed to the gate, raised the extinguisher above his head, and brought it down with every bit of strength in his young, muscular body. A loud clang rang out, echoing like a church bell on a Sunday morning. He raised the fire extinguisher above his head again, ready to try again.

“Wait a minute,” Tim said.

Tim moved a pile of empty cartons along the wall, revealing a timber door. He tried the lock, jiggling and shaking it as he turned the door handle until he felt it give.

“Hey, Terry this door ...”

Terry was not waiting for anything, or anyone else. He smashed the extinguisher hard against the lock again. The sound echoed again, this time attracting the unwanted attention of a mob of the crazies at the opposite end of the tunnel.

“Get in here!” Tim yelled from inside the doorway he just opened.

Terry raised the extinguisher again; the lock broke away from the gate slightly this time, not enough to open it though.

“Hurry up, mate.”

“I’ve almost got it.”

Tim disappeared into the darkness of the doorway, but the door remained open.

Terry gave the lock one more go, before the primeval groans closing in from the other end of the passage caused him to look up. An enraged pack of twenty or so crazed spectators was now only ten meters from the gate.

“Fuck off.” He cried, shoulder barging the gate in a desperate attempt to get away.

Tim leapt out from the doorway with a bottle of turps with a blazing rag hanging out of the top in each hand. He lobbed the first bottle and it smashed in a small fireball against the passage wall, spiting tongues of bright red flames over the first row of spectators. Without hesitating, Tim threw the second bottle. It joined the blaze, flaring the flames across the full length of the passageway.

“Here, toss these.” Tim said, handing two more bottles of turps to Terry. Terry popped the lid from the first bottle and hurled it at the flames, no need to light this little baby, he thought.

Another fireball erupted upon the bottle hitting the wall of flames. Tim and Terry both lobbed more bottles at the fire until it blocked the corridor from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. A figure leapt through the flames, catching alight before it left the inferno. It raced towards the two men, but fell to the ground, dead and smouldering before it could reach them.

“We better get out of here before those flames die down,” Tim said, “Is there anything else useful in that storeroom?”

“Didn’t get a good look before I heard those fucking zombies running down the corridor. I’ll keep looking. You keep trying to get that gate open, hey.”

Tim went back in the room and searched the shelves of bottles, lockers full of overalls and dirty socks. His eyes lit up with excitement when he saw a sign on a large set of iron doors stating, Tools. Instantly, he tried to handle and couldn’t believe his luck when he found it open. Inside he found petrol whippersnippers, secateurs, a chainsaw, crowbar and a vast array of other potential weapons to defend himself. The most valuable tool Tim found was a large crowbar.

“Hey, mate. I’ve stuck gold in here.”

He stepped into the corridor.

“Fucking hell...”

Terry was pinned tight against the gate; his left arm held firmly on the opposite side by a group of the crazed spectators. Tim ran over, grabbed the fire extinguisher from Terry’s right hand, and pulled the trigger, spraying the mob in their faces with the dry chemical powder.

“You bastards!” Terry yelled, pulling his arm free.

“You okay?”

“I think they broke my fucking arm.”

“Let’s get out of here.”

Both men ran back to the storeroom. The spectators now blocked both ends of the corridor. Tim pulled a workbench across the room and wedged it against the door firmly. He furiously piled drums, cans and any other heavy objects in the storeroom on top of the bench to secure it in place.

Terry dropped to the ground, nursing his left arm. He shook his head, then pulled a packet of Winfield Blue cigarettes from his shirt pocket and lit a smoke.

“What the hell is going on?”

“I don’t know, mate.” Tim said, shaking his head. “I think it has something to do with that flash or firework, whatever it was. Were you looking at it when it happened?”

“No, some bastard knocked my camera out of my hand, so I was bent over looking under the seat for it.”

“I was facing away from the field to. It looks like something about that light has turned everyone who saw it into a homicidal, fucking zombie.”

Terry drew deeply on his cigarette. He looked around for something to splint his arm.

“Hey, you probably shouldn’t smoke in here, what with all of the chemicals and all.”

Terry stood up and moved to the desk on the opposite side of the room. A green and white first aid sign hung above the desk. He shuffled the mess on the desk around until he found a small portable first aid kit. Inside were the standard supplies for a large workshop, including a triangle bandage. Terry made himself a sling after splinting his arm with some rolled up printer paper. He was glad he did first aid for his son’s football team and knew what to do.

Tim did not bother asking him to put the smoke out again. He was not near the flammable chemicals now, and Tim did not want to piss him off anymore than he was.

“I can’t hear them outside,” Terry said. “Do you think that they have gone?”

“I don’t know? Who knows how cognitive they are now. Maybe if they can’t see us they don’t worry about us.”

“What do we do now? Just sit here and wait; hope someone will come and rescue us.”
Tim picked his mobile phone out of his pocket and flipped it open.

“Shit, no signal.”

Terry looked on the desk for a phone. Under a dirty pair of overalls a cordless landline phone sat, its charge light shining bright green.

“You little beauty.”

He picked up the handset and dialled triple zero.

“You have reached Emergency Services. If you are calling in regards to the crisis at ANZ stadium, please note that, the authorities are fully aware of the situation and managing the situation currently. If you require assistance for another matter, please note that call out times is currently extended due to this crisis. Please hold for an operator.”

“Who puts a recorded message on triple zero, for fuck’s sake?”

Terry lit another cigarette and offered the pack to Tim. Tim shook his head.

“What does the message say?”

Terry told him in his own words and own colourful language.

“Okay. I say we sit tight until…”

A tremendous thud shook the door to the storeroom, shaking the drums on the bench only slightly.

“Guess that answers the question about their cognitive abilities. Have you got through to an operator yet?”

“Not yet. Is there another way out of here?”

Tim looked around the large storeroom again. It was about ten meters long and five meters wide. At the far end, a wire cage extended from the floor to the ceiling, jutting out a third of the length of the room. Stored in the cage were various training and field aids; goal post pads, scrum machine spare parts, tackle pads and about fifty footballs stored on iron shelves. Tim saw the air conditioning vent a few feet from the top of the shelves and formed a plan in his head.
“How long do you think the range is on that handset?”

“Don’t know, why?”

Tim pointed to the vent running along the ceiling, eight feet from the floor.

“Do you think you can climb up there?”

Another crash against the door assisted Terry make his decision quickly. He ran towards the cage, followed closely by Tim. Tim climbed the sturdy shelves and forced the grill from the vent. It would be a tight squeeze, but he was sure they could both fit in the rectangular vent with room to crawl. They would not be able to turn around if they stumbled upon any trouble.
“Give me your hand.”

Terry pulled his broken arm from the sling to steady himself, while reaching up with his right arm. Blinding pain shot up his left arm when he rested too much weight on it to help lift himself up and ease the burden on Tim.

“Almost there, mate.”

The door rattled harshly, metal screeched as the mob behind it managed to force it open an inch, pushing the bench back. Two drums of fertilizer crashed to the floor, knocking the lids free. The foul aroma of chemicals filled the air with acidity.

Terry scrambled to the top of the shelves and pushed himself into the open vent. Tim was about to follow when he heard another drum crash to the ground. This time kerosene spilt onto the storeroom floor.

“Give me your lighter.”

“Not really the right time to smoke a celebratory cigarette, buddy.”

“No, I have an idea.”

Terry passed his lighter through the open vent, and then put his arm back in the sling. It was burning as if he had spilt acid on it now.

Tim picked up a large net filled with footballs from the shelf below. He took his keys out of the pocket of his jeans and rammed one into the closest football. His ears rung from the loud pop. Tim flicked the Zippo lighter on, frantically trying to light the pigskin leather of the football. The laces took to the flame, as did the polyester bag.

Another drum fell off the bench. Tim could now see two crazed faces sticking through the doorway, just above the last row of drums. Tim was hoping to have a bigger flame going but it would have to do. He tossed the bag; it landed a few feet short and bounced.


The polyester bag broke and footballs bounced in every direction. The puddle of kerosene ignited, shooting up the side of the bench in a bright blue flame. Half of the footballs were already wet from bouncing into the chemicals. They ignited and spread the fire further as they bounced under the bench, into the shelves against they wall and under the desk. Within a matter of minutes, the far end of the storeroom was ablaze with searing flames and toxic, black smoke.

“Let’s get out of here.” Tim said, coughing from the acrid smell already rising in the room.
Both men crawled through the vent in the opposite direction to the fire, hoping to outrun the smoke before it filled the air-conditioning system. After ten meters, the vent ended in a T-Junction. They listened to each direction, hoping to hear if one way was safer than the other was. Between the explosions of chemical drums in the storeroom and the hiss of cool air, flowing quickly through the vents it was hopeless.

“Any preference?”

“Well, you are in front if we go right, Tim. With my bung arm you are probably better leading the way than for me to slow you down.”

“Okay, right it is.”

Thick black smoke began pouring into the vent from the grill Tim left open. The smell became stronger in the confined space, spurring the two men on faster. Within minutes they reached another junction, this one branched left, right and straight up. There were small foot and handholds on the vertical vent to use as a ladder.

“What do you reckon? Go up and try and get out on the roof.”

“At least we might be safer up there. You wouldn’t think they would think to climb the walls. I’d rather try and my arm hurt like buggery than to sit it out in this shaft.”

“Okay, let’s do it. You go I front this time. That way, if you slip, I can stop you falling too far.”

“Or take you down with me.”

Slowly and painfully, they inched their way up the steep shaft without any major incidents. Terry slipt a few times, but managed to regain his grip on the small, rectangular hand and footholds. The handset stayed in range for twenty meters before cutting out with a cold, harsh, beeping.

Upon reaching the roof of the stadium, Terry toppled out of the external vent and crashed onto the hot metal roof. He groaned as he used his broken arm to lift himself up. Tim was quick to respond and leapt to his aid, helping his to his feet. He was not sure if it was more to prevent giving away their position from his cry of agony than for genuine care. All he knew now was, he wanted to get home to his wife and two sons.

“Well, we made it.” Tim said, wiping the sweat from his forehead.

Terry lit a Winnie Blue and replied, “Didn’t think we would a few time there.”

Tim looked at his Terry smoking disapprovingly.

“Aren’t you worried they’ll smell those things?”

Terry pondered for a moment, then dropped the smoke to the ground and crushed it out.

“Didn’t think about that. My old man always said these things would kill me. Guess they will if they bring those things up here.”

Tim walked over to the edge of the roof and looked down at the road.

“Shit, look at this.”

Terry came over and could not believe what he was seeing either. Down on the street, dozens of police cars, fire trucks and ambulances lined the road. Shots were ringing out like firecrackers on Chinese New Year. Each time one of the crazed spectators ran out of the exit a rain of bullets met them. The fire truck was using the water cannon to push the fallen bodies back towards the exits, trying to stop the crowd from coming out onto the street.

“They’re gunning them down like feral kangaroos.”

“How are we going to get out of here? If we run, they’ll think we are infected to and shoot us.”

“They must have a plan to rescue others like us. I can’t believe that only two of us out of the thirty two thousand aren’t affected by whatever that fucking flash was.”

“Have you still got your mobile, Tim?”

Tim reached into his pocket and was relieved that it made it up the shaft in his pocket without being damaged or dropped. He checked the reception and was glad to see four bars sitting under the antenna icon.

“Yep, we’re in business.”

He dialled triple zero and received the same recorded message. Tim put the phone on speaker and hung it from his shirt pocket.

“Put your hands in the air,” a voice from above blared at the two weary men.

They both looked up and felt a mixture of relief and fear at the sight of a police helicopter. Knowing that they would most likely be shot if they did not comply, Tim put his hands on his head immediately. Terry put his right hand on his head and struggled to get his left out of the sling, his watch was caught on the material.

“Put both hands where we can see them,” the police officer yelled.

“Shit, give me a break.” Terry said, tugging at his caught watch.

The arm came free just as the police marksman fired, hitting him in the shoulder. Terry dropped to the ground, passing out from the shock before his body hit the roof.

“Don’t shoot,” Tim, screamed as loud as he could. “We are okay, were not fucking zombies.”

“Hello sir, can I help,” the female voice said from the mobile phone speaker.

“Oh, fuck.” Tim said.

“I beg your pardon, sir,” the voice said harshly. “This is police services; please state the nature of your emergency.”

“I am on the roof of the ANZ stadium. A police chopper is shooting us at. Tell them to stop, we aren’t infected.”

“I’m sorry, sir. I am having trouble hearing you. Is there a lawnmower in the background? Can you turn it off, please?”

“It’s not a fucking lawnmower! It’s a police helicopter. They think we are infected.”

“Please hold,” the female operator said politely.

“I can’t hold…”

The phone went on hold before he could finish his complaint.

Tim looked up at the helicopter, squinting at the bright midday sun behind it. He could not work out if they still had the rifle pointed at him, or if they had heard him and understood, they were not a danger.

“Can you hear me up there?”

The harsh wind from the helicopter became stronger as the chopper quickly came in closer, almost blowing Tim from his feet. His mobile phone flew from his pocket and rattled across the roof.

“What is your name?” a voice yelled at him from the chopper.

“Tim O’Flanagan.”

“Okay, Mr O’Flanagan, you are safe now. We have received advice from despatch that you called.”

“You fucking shot Terry.”

“Our orders are to shoot anyone in this area that does not respond to a direct command. It’s the only way to know who is safe and who is affected by the Z-Flash.”

“The what?”

“Z-Flash. The Iraq’s have developed an experimental weapon. Turns people into aggressive and uncontrollable psychopaths.”

“Is he going to live?”

“Yes, he was shot with a tranquilizer. We have almost run out of the bloody things down at ground level. Rubber bullets don’t even slow the infected down.”

“So they aren’t killing them?”

“Hell no. They are doing that to themselves. We are trying to knock them out before they tear each other apart or get out of the stadium.”

The police officer directed Tim towards the helicopter. Once they were safely aboard and in the air again, Tim turned to the officer.

“So is there an antidote for this thing?”

“The army are working on it. Until then we are going to have to find somewhere to hold these poor buggers.”

“For how long?”

“As long as it takes. You wouldn’t want thirty thousand psychos running around Brisbane would you?”

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