Red Spot Special
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 7653
A bloodied hand slapped the glass windows at K-Mart. Terry saw it and screamed.
“Quick, lock the doors!” Michael yelled.
The two young sales assistants ran to the front door of K-Mart, pulled the shutters down, and slid the bolts into place.
Michael fumbled with his keys, found the right one and locked the deadbolt on the glass entrance doors.
“What the hell’s going on, boss?” Simon said.“Don’t know, son,” Michael said. “But we’d better keep out of sight of those horrible creatures until we do.”Michael killed the lights, just in case the creatures outside rushed towards them like moths to a flame.
“Luckily, It was twenty minutes after closing time and only a half dozen staff remained in the store. A group of ten or so crazed people with blood soaked, tattered clothes and grey torn skin attacked the last batch of staff leaving the store. None of the teenagers managed to escape and was now lying in a bloodied mess of torn limbs and entrails a few feet from the front of the store,” Michael said to Simon, who had missed most of this while finishing mopping the floors. A bloodied hand slapped the glass window, startling the three survivors.
“Let’s get away from the windows. Maybe they’ll go away if they can’t see us?”
They ran to back of the store where Kate was tallying the day’s receipts. “Kate, call the police please. Something terrible is happening outside.” Michael said.“What’s going on? I can see a crowd of people near the front door.”Simon looked at the monitor and knew what the dark liquid covering half of the camera was, but at least Kate didn’t, yet.
“What’s on the camera?” Kate asked. “I can only see part of what’s going on out there, and it doesn’t look good. What are those people doing crouching down there?” “Just call them. Tell them it is an emergency.”Kate dialed triple zero. “It’s engaged,” she said.“It can’t be engaged,” Simon said. “It’s emergency services.”Kate clicked the speaker button and the group heard the phone beeping its busy voice at them mockingly.“Dammit! How the hell could this happen?” Terry yelled. “What’s he talking about?” Kate asked.“Those people outside,” Michael said. “They’re not quite people. Well, they are but they look like they are zombies. Or at least I think they are. A group of people in the car park went crazy and started attacking the staff when they left the store.”
“Is this some kind of joke?”
“No, Kate. It’s not. They attacked the cashiers when they left. We couldn’t save them.”“I should have been with them,” Terry said. “But I forgot my lighter, so I went back to the lockers. Smoking saved my life.”“Try the police again.” Simon said.The engaged signal beeped back at them again.“We need some weapons, something to protect ourselves if they get in here.” Simon said.“Cricket bats and shovels?” Terry said. “Is that how we are going to defend ourselves?” “We used to sell firearms, but the namby pamby gun haters passed anti-gun laws. We told them a day would come when we’d need them. Now all we will be able to use is in sporting goods or hardware.”
“What about Molotov cocktails?” Simon said. “We can torch the suckers.”
“Not inside, we can’t. The whole place will catch on fire. But if we sneak up on them, we can take them out before they get in here.”“Can we get on the roof?” Kate asked. “If we can get on the roof, we can drop the stuff on them, and then we don’t even have to go outside.”
“Good idea,” said Simon. “People always get killed when they go outside to try and save the day in movies.” “One of us should stay her to keep trying the police.” Terry said.“Okay, you can do that, mate,” Michael said. “The rest of you, let’s do this.”Michael, Kate and Simon cautiously made their way to the paint section of hardware section, weary in case any of the creatures got into the store somehow, and filled two baskets each with turps and metho.
On the way to the loading dock, and ladder up to the roof, they stopped and grabbed a handful of face washers to use as fuses. Each of the three grabbed barbeque lighters from the picnic section.When reaching the roof, they saw the carnage that already took place in the surrounding suburb. Outside of Mc Donald’s men, women and children fought for their lives against dozens of undead. The Shell Service Station down the road burned brightly from a fire started by a Holden Ute crashing into a pump. Red Rooster across the road looked like the staff had locked themselves and their customers in and were fighting for their lives.“Where are the police, or army, or anything?” Kate said.Sirens blared in the background, but none seemed close enough to be of any help.
“If this is happening everywhere, then I’d say the armed services would be trying to lock down the most populated parts of the city.” Michael said.“Look!” Simon yelled.Hundreds of undead stumbled around the streets; many were streaming towards the opposite end of the shopping mall. Simon looked at his watch.“Coles is still open, they’ll be flowing inside the mall soon.” Simon said.
“I’ll go warn them,” Michael said and slid down the ladder to the storeroom.
Simon and Kate removed lids from the bottles. Before long, they had fifty Molotov cocktails ready to go.“You ready?” he asked.Kate lit a fuse and lobbed a bottle at the crowd of zombies below. Simon did the same and they continued to lob more homemade grenades down until all ten undead were blazing, stumbling in circles and bumping in to each other.“Should we go to the other end of the mall and see if we can help ward off any of those bastards trying to get in the doors?” Kate said.
“Good thinking, 99.”
****Michael pushed a crowd of zombies out the automatic doors with a train of trolleys, keeping as much distance between them and him as he could.Coles staff were on down this end of the mall and check out operatiors and customers fought with the undead infront of the doors, trying to clear it so the Coles supervisor could lock the doors.Michael rammed the trolleys hard, knocking down two of the slow moving creatures. He was about to run to the door to slam it shut, when a forklift rammed the trolleys from the side, knocking him to the ground and sending the zombies flying. A body landed on top of Michael, knocking the wind out of him. He rolled over and pushed to figure off his chest, it was some poor kid that took the full brunt of the forklift.
“Shut that door!” somebody screamed.The door was clear of bodies and trolleys, but the forklift driver’s leg was wedged against the driver’s chair by a broken trolley.
A middle-aged shopper rushed passed the doors as they slide shut, and pulled at the trolley, but a new surge of zombies overwhelmed him. Within minutes, the flesh hungry undead torn both the store man and shopper to pieces. Michael shielded his eyes when an explosion of searing flames rose up from the mob. Another bottle smashed on the top of the crowd, covering the creatures in a flammable shower of metholated spirits. Five more bottles shattered until all zombies were alight. The forklift moved backwards, driven by a half eaten, half-burnt storeman.
“What’s he doing?” someone yelled.“The petrol tank,” Michael screamed. “It’s going to blow. He’s trying to move it away from the doors.”The forklift cleared the doors, then exploded. Flames lapped at the glass, shaking it violently and incinerating anyone left standing outside.
“Is everyone alright?” Michael said.Groans and replies scattered the silence and reassured Michael that he wasn’t alone. He quickly checked around to make sure there were no undead in the supermarket, and then ran back down to his store. Kate was standing at the automatic doors, trying to open them.
Michael rushed to her side and unlocked them with his keys.
Simon was behind Kate by the time Michael walked back into K-Mart. He held a metal baseball bat above his head ready to save Kate if needed.“Did any of them get in?” Kate asked.“I don’t think so,” replied Michael. “But we’d better check to be sure. I think we should all go together though, no splitting up. We should check in the dressing rooms, or among the garments where zombies could easily hide. Same with rest rooms.”“What do we do now?” Simon said.“Let’s see if Terry has reached the authorities.”
Kate and Simon followed Michael back up to the office.“They’re everywhere,” Terry said, not looking away from the security monitors.
“Have you got through, Terry?” Kate said.“Nothing. Nobody is answering the local police stations, the emergency number or anything.”“What are we going to do?” Simon asked. “How long do you reckon we can hold up in here before they break in?”
“You can try your luck getting home. Not that it would be any secured there than it is here. Or we can wait it out here.” Michael said.“I want to ring Mum,” Kate said.She took the phone from Terry and telephoned her house until it rang out. Michael put his hand on her shoulder, trying to comfort Kate.
“They’re dead,” Kate said and began to cry, “I know they’ve been eaten alive, I just know it.”“I’m sure they’ll be okay, Kate. They are probably just securing the house and can’t come to the phone right now.” “They could be locked in a safe room in the house, too,” said Simon.
“No,” said Kate. “Dad would have been on his way to pick me up. Mum probably went with him to get some takeaway on the way home.”“Bugger,” said Simon.Terry and Simon both tried their homes, with the same outcome.
“I think we should try and board up the window, make the place more secure,” said Simon.“What with?” said Kate? “Ever since Bunnings gained a hold on the market, places like K-Mart and Big W have basically stopped selling any significant hardware, just a limited range of tools, paints and gardening equipment. There’s no wood to brace the windows with.”“We can stack the pallets against the window. That should slow those things down. I mean, they don’t seem to move very fast.” Simon said.“Let’s get started then,” said Kate. “The longer we leave it, the more chance they have of breaking through the glass and getting in here.”The four wearied survivors took turns using the two pallet jacks to bring out any full loads they could find in the storeroom. Pallets of books, cds, electrical goods and anything else heavy that would stand up to the pressure or possibly attacks against their fortress. They tore the pallets containing boxes of chips or other light items apart and used the wood to reinforce the heavier pallets. They piled the lighter items, like the clothes rack and cardboard displays on top of the heavier pallets. After twenty minutes of hard work, the store was as secure as they could make it. Somehow it seemed much longer with the maurading zombies on the prowl and are attacking everywhere; watching their actions through the windows with gnashing teeth and howls.If it didn’t stop the zombies getting in, then at least it would slow them down enough for the four to escape while the undead tried to untangle themselves from the barriers.“Let’s see if there is anything on the news about what the hell is going on,” said Michael.They headed to the electrical goods department and flicked on a few television sets to different channels to try to catch whatever was broadcast.
The outbreak was worldwide. Reports of zombie attacks came from every nation. Or some such thing. The Australian Prime Minister gave an encouraging speech on the military involvent in containing the outbreak.
Nobody knew what caused the outbreak, or how it spread so quickly. Images on the screens appeared the same in each country; chaos and mayhem throughout the streets, people covered in blood cradling wounds and screaming for help.
The armed services were taking control; introducing martial law wherever enough troops remained unaffected by the outbreak.
“We’re not very far from the Enogerra barracks,” Terry said. “Do you think that the army will be here soon?”“Depends on how many people are infected between there and here,” Simon said.
“When do you think they’ll get here?” said Kate.“If the problem is as bad as it appears, then I wouldn’t be holding my breath,” said Michael.“Then what do we do?” said Terry.“We’ve secured the store the best we can. We should wait it out.” Said Michael.“They’ll get in,” said Terry. “We’ve got to get somewhere safe.”“Where do you think will be safe?” Simon said.Terry shrugged.
None of the four thought they would be safe forever in the store. They could only secure store, but the rest of the mall was out of control, or soon would be.
There was no telling how long before someone went stir crazy, opened a door and let a load of zombies in the mall. It would be all over red rover once that happened.
“Nowhere, I guess,” said Terry.
“That’s right, Terry,” said Michael. “We’re at war. It might not be against another nation. It might not be against another race, but we’re at war now. The enemy is not taking any prisoners in this war. They are eating them.”“If you want to leave here, we need to have a plan of where to go and what we’re going to do. There’s no use in leaving here if you just want to see if your family is alive. A house is going to be far less secure than this place. I mean, a shop if designed to stop burglars getting in and stealing stuff.” Kate said.“Yeh, but a burglar won’t go banging on the front windows until the finally crack and walk straight in.”“They’re dead, Terry,” Michael said. “They don’t have the same level of strength they did as humans. They’re slow and not a huge threat by themselves and they only seem to react to movement. With the windows blocked, maybe they won’t keep banging away.”“Maybe they can smell us and they’ll never go away.” Terry said. “Maybe they’ll attract others and soon, there’ll be so many of them out there we won’t ever be able to leave.”“He’s right about that, Michael,” Kate said. “If we want to leave, now’s the time to make our move. I think we are safe now, but I don’t think those zombies are just going to give up and walk away. The more that group out there, the harder it’s going to be to get away from the mall.”“Where do you think would be the safest place to dig in?” Simon asked Michael.“We need somewhere with a good vantage point to keep an eye on our surrounding. Somewhere strong, where no amount of pounding will break the walls down. And somewhere with enough supplies to keep us alive until help arrives.”“Sound like where we are,” said Kate.
“Where else?” said Terry.
“An oil rig,” said Simon.
“How we going to get to an oil rig?” said Michael. “Although, that would be the most secure location. Out to sea where those bastards can’t get to you and enough supplies for weeks.”
“What about outback? Rolling open plains where they can’t sneak up on us.”
“There’s no way of defending yourself in the middle of the bush. They won’t be able to sneak up on you, but you can’t secure a location with no place to hide, or escape without being seen.” Said Kate.
“And the heat would probably get to us more than it would be to them,” said Simon.
“Where the hell should we go then?” said Terry.
“Every movie that I’ve seen; Night of the Living Dead, 28 Days Later, Return of the Living Dead, nowhere is any better than the other. Everywhere is the same eventually,” Simon said.
“We need to get some serious weapons,” said Michael.
“Do you know anywhere close?” said Simon.
“The closest place I know of would be down at Wynnum. It’s still a ten-minute drive from here, but the police station is on the way there. We could see if there are any survivors there. Should be safe there, reinforced walls, firearms, and maybe even some trained officers left alive.”
“How many people were left up at Coles?” Kate asked Michael.
“There was about thirty or so that I saw. A dozen or more staff and the rest, customers.”
“And you’re sure there were no zombies inside?” said Simon.
“Can’t be sure. There was so much commotion that one or two could have slipped in. Dare say they wouldn’t have survived long though.”
“Who? The zombie or the shoppers?” said Terry.
“Are you going to get a crew together and try the gun shop then come back here?” said Simon.
“I think we’d be able to defend this place a lot better if we had some firepower,” said Michael.
“What if you can’t get it? Can’t get any guns?” Kate said. “How will you get back here?”Michael looked at Kate with a hopeless expression that told her, they probably would not be coming back if they were not armed. And maybe even if they were armed.
“It’s a chance that we’ll have to take. There’s just nothing here. Can’t see any way around it.”
“I don’t want to risk it, come to think of it,” said Terry.
“I’ll come with you,” said Simon.
“Me to,” said Kate.
“Okay,” said Michael with confidence. “We’ll see if there are any able bodies up at Coles, and then use the truck in the storeroom.”
“Who’s going to open and close the roller doors?” Kate asked.
“I can open them, and then jump on the back of the truck when we’re clear,” said Simon.
“The automatic door will come back down by itself once you hit the switch,” said Michael. “Some of them will get in there’s nobody down here to keep them out.”
“You can’t let them in here,” said Terry.
“If you help out in the storeroom, then you’ll be right.” Said Simon.
“It’s just plain stupid,” said Terry. “This is what people do in movies just before they get killed.”
“Look, just think about it while we go to Coles and see who wants to come with us,” said Michael.
Michael, Terry and Simon left Terry in the office again armed with baseball bats, crowbars and a backpack full of Molotov cocktails. They made their way up to Coles, stopping at any noise or movement they thought they heard or saw on the way. When they arrived at the other end of the mall, Michael motioned for them to stop and keep quiet. He saw that the shutters were now down in front of Coles, apart from the one the staff used to come and go when through when the shop wasn’t open. On the ground, a large puddle of thick, deep, red blood pooled around a fallen body of a young male shop assistant. Michael could not tell if it was infected or okay from this distance. That was a big problem with these bloody undead. By the time you were close enough to see if they were friend or foe, it was usually too late. Michael pointed to the far wall, and the three of them quickly scurried across the carpeted walkway. Slowly, they moved towards the metal shutters to get a better look inside. At eye level, clear Perspex grates reached across each door to let the shop assistants know what sort of crowd was waiting outside for the weekly red spot specials. It was high enough for the three to pass under if they crouched slightly when they moved. Inside Coles, the lights were still on and people seemed to be moving around.
“Are they alive?” Kate said.
“I don’t know,” Michael said.
Simon crept towards the open door, careful not to step on the trail of blood leading to the large puddle in the centre of the doorway. He snuck under the door and quickly crab-walked to the registers and peered over the top of the counter.Kate pointed to Simon, but Michael already saw Simon’s actions before she had. Simon moved quickly to the door, gripping the heavy iron baseball bat in his right hand. Simon saw Michael and motioned for him to go back, as he began scrambling back one of the people milling around the front of the store turned around and looked at him. Bloodstains ran down the front of his shirt and a large piece of flesh torn away from his cheek exposed the jawbone.
“Run!” yelled Simon.
Michael and Simon exploded out of the front door and ran towards Kate.
“Get out of here!” Simon yelled at Kate.
All three ran back towards K-Mart. Within minutes, they reached the front door and Michael fumbled with his keys until finally finding the right one and opening it. Once they were all inside the store again, Michael locked the door as the first of the zombies streamed down the mall and began banging against the door. It looked like they did not secure the mall before at least one of the undead managed to get in and infect the living.
“We’ll have to block this door now,” said Michael. “They know we’re in here now.”
“Don’t think Terry is going to be able to stay here now,” said Kate.
“Guess it won’t matter if we leave the loading dock door open anymore,” said Kate.
“No,” said Michael. “We should try and leave the store secure in case we can’t find anywhere else safe to hold down.”
“I agree with Michael,” said Simon. “We might not find anywhere else close to bunk down. No use letting those bastards in if we can get away with it. If it’s not safe to close the door, then fair enough.”
“We’d better find Terry and let him know what’s going on,” said Michael.
They cautiously walked towards the mezzanine level office, careful of the shadows in case there were any zombies lurking around the mannequins in the women’s fashion department. Michael thought that if they were coming back then it might be worth pulling all the displays down so that there would be no doubt if any of them were zombies.
Shadows moved in the dim light of the office, indicating that Terry was still up there moving around in the low-lit room. It was probably only the light from the security monitors flashing between cameras that were providing the light as the ceiling light was definitely off.
“Wonder if he’s got through to the emergency services yet?” said Kate
“Even if he has, I don’t think we’ve got much chance of anyone who could help us getting here anytime soon. They’d hardly send out a single squad car o deal with hundreds of zombies. If they did, they wouldn’t be much help to us anyway.” Said Simon.
At the top of the stairs, Michael raised his baseball bat as Simon turned the doorknob. Simon quickly pushed the door in and Michael stepped forward.
“What the hell are you doing?” Terry yelled.
“Can’t take any chances, dude,” Simon said.
“Coles has been over-run by those bastards,” said Kate.
“We’re going to have to leave, at least to get some decent weapons to defend ourselves,” Michael said.
“We can’t leave, it’s not safe,” Terry said.
“It’s not going to be safe here soon,” said Simon.
“Look, we’re going,” said Kate. “If you aren’t coming with us, then you’ll have to be in the loading dock to close the door.”
Terry looked at the monitors. At least there was not any undead hanging around the back of the store yet.
“Okay, but go now while there’s none of those things out back.”“I’ll grab some bolt cutters and crowbars from the hardware section, just in case,” said Michael. “Can you drive a truck?”“I’ve been on my learners for a few months now,” said Simon. “Pretty sure I can handle it.”“Okay, let’s do it,” said Kate.The four quickly ran to storeroom and organised the truck with supplies, weapons and tools. Unfortunately, the truck was a soft top, so the only secure part was the cabin. There was enough room for the three to sit comfortably for the ten-minute trip; it was lucky Terry wasn’t coming, as four would not fit. The back of the truck was nothing more than a waterproof tarp over a stainless steel frame; no significant protection from the undead.
Terry looked out of the security peephole in the centre of the small backdoor of the storeroom. He did not see any sign of movement and was sure there were no zombies creeping around the general vicinity of the loading dock door.
“You guys ready?” he said.
Kate, Simon and Michael were already in the truck with Simon in the driver’s seat. He gave Terry the thumbs up and kicked the truck into life. Terry pressed the up button and watched the roller door slowly climb up, winding into the darkness of the high storeroom ceiling.When the door rose above the top of the truck, Simon grated the gears to first and drove out and up the ramp to the car park behind the store. Before the truck reached the top of the ramp, Terry had the roller door closed. Terry felt a shiver run down his spine, either from the realisation that he was now on his own, or from fear for the safety of his colleagues.The truck reached the rear exit to the car park before the zombies saw it. A wave of undead surged towards the slow-moving truck, threatening to overcome it with the sheer.
Simon crunched the gears, shifting into a higher gear to pick up speed. The zombies began falling back into the distance when the truck hit sixty miles per hour. Only a small group walking slowly into the car park offered any resistance to their escape. Gears, and bones crunched as Simon ran through the group, having to change back down gears after the front wheels struck two corpses heavily.“Bloody speed bumps,” Simon said.“Try not to hit them if you can help it,” Kate said. “You’ll damage the truck and then we’ll be stuffed.”“Kate’s right, you know,” said Michael. “I’d like to run them all down, but we need to get to the gun shop while we still can. Who knows how any other people have had the same idea? I’d hate to get there with a busted truck, only to find there were no weapons left anyway.”
“Fair enough,” said Simon.
“What do you think caused it?” Kate said.
“I don’t know,” said Michael.
“Government experiment,” said Simon. “That’s always a good excuse for anything major that goes wrong in the world. Might be a natural outbreak, some kind of virus, like Captain Trips in Stephen King’s book the stand.”
“At least the dead stayed dead in that story,” Kate said.
Michael turned on the radio and the CB, hoping to find some other survivors. There was no major stations playing on the fm channel, only a few smaller stations like ninety-six five and triple z. From the announcements on the stations he did find, it appeared to be a local outbreak at this stage. No reports came in from outside of Brisbane yet, but it would only be a matter of time for it to spread. A government broadcast was on a loop on an am channel, advising all citizens to remain indoors if safe and to contain anyone infected. Bodily fluids transmitted the outbreak, so all contact with the blood of the infected must be avoided. The armed services were setting up barricades to contain the outbreak to Brisbane. All travel to and from the city would be restricted to medical and armed services only.
“No word about if they had a cure,” Kate said.
“I’d be surprised if they could,” said Michael. “How can you cure a dead person?”
“With a bullet to the head,” said Simon.
“No, I mean if they can cure the living who’ve been infected,” said Kate.
“Yeh, it sounds highly contagious. I thought you only got infected if a zombie bit you. But by the sounds of it, you could get infected if you had a cut on your arm and got some blood splattered on it,” said Simon.
“Makes things worse doesn’t it?” said Michael.
This made the remainder of the journey to the gun shop very quiet and morbid. Only a few undead were on the roads, and none seemed to take much notice of the truck. A few stumbled in front of the truck and received a hit with the bull bar for their troubles.
Simon parked the truck behind the gun shop, hoping to keep attention away from the store while they pilfered a weapon supply. The driveway to the back was a tight fit, so there would not be any chance of anything coming down there and giving them a surprise. There was no room to turn the truck around or turn into the car park behind the shop, so the three had to hop out of the passenger side of the cabin.
“Looks safe for now,” Simon said, closing the door of the truck. “At least they won’t be able to get in to the truck or the back of the store now.”
“Let’s see what we can find in the candy store,” Michael said.
Two deadbolts, a chain and a security door took half an hour to break in to, leaving the it too damaged to be secured again once they were inside. Michael and Simon agreed it was a shame to lose the store as a stronghold, but if they couldn’t get in, then they’d be left unarmed anyway. They pushed a filing cabinet across the hall at the back of the store to barricade the door.“You two start loading up enough firepower to hold off a small army,” said Michael. “And I’ll keep an eye on the front door.”
Simon and Kate used the crowbars to pry open the display cabinet and took down two shotguns for each of them and one high power rifle for long distance shooting.
“Don’t worry about any small caliber weapons,” Simon said. “I don’t think a .22 will do much to those bastards. Take all the shells in stock for the shotguns and we’ll see if there are any pistols for a last resort.”The store did not appear to stock many pistols or handguns. Three revolvers and one nine millimeter pistol, with five hundred rounds per gun, was all they could find. They loaded each weapon, and then searched the remainder of the store.
“Nothing like the movies you see in the states. Not a single M-16 or Uzi in sight,” Kate said.
“I think the shotguns will do us just fine,” said Michael.
“What now?” said Kate?
“Back to K-Mart?” said Michael.
“I think we should head to the Marina,” said Simon. “Every zombie movie I’ve seen, the zombies can’t swim. We’d be safer on a boat than the store.”
“What about Terry?” said Kate?
Before anyone could answer, the streetlights switched off with a loud pop. The electricity to the store appeared to die at the same time and the cash register died with a pitiful whine.
“How can we get him know?” said Simon. “He won’t know we’re out the back without the security cameras. The roller door won’t work either.”
“We can’t leave him?” said Kate.
“But we might get trapped if we go back there now,” said Simon. “At least at the Marina, they won’t know where we are and there are no crowds.”
“He’s right, Kate,” said Michael. “It might be suicide going back to the store now. You saw how many of those things were pouring into the car park. We were lucky to get out once, I don’t know if we’ll be so lucky a second time.”
“Okay,” said Kate. “We’ll go back for him once we find help.”
“Agreed,” said Simon and Michael.
After resting for half an hour, the three went back to the truck and headed towards the Marina. The road to the Marina ran along the beachfront, where the trio saw dozens of groups of zombies scattered throughout the beachside suburb. Families feasted upon victims in the picnic grounds, where a family day out turned into a fleshy smorgasbord of men, women and children. The most disturbing scene was a group of children crouched over, what was most likely their mother, eating her intestines. “Why are there so many dead people lying around if the virus is spread so easily?” said Michael.
“I don’t know,” said Kate. “If they feast on human flesh, why are there so many of them? Why aren’t all of the victims eaten before they turn into zombies too?”
“I don’t understand it either,” said Simon. “Some of the dead that are actually dead look in better condition than those that are walking around.”
“Maybe some people have a natural immunity to whatever it is that reanimates the dead.” Said Kate.
“You mean the virus isn’t able to live in their system and just dies with them?” said Michael.
“Something like that,” said Kate.
A teenage boy ran from the public toilets, chased by another teenager with an arm missing. In a few seconds, eight zombies, who left the corpses they feasted on to bring him down, overcame the boy.“Why do they leave the body they are eating to attack the living?” said Kate, now crying from the carnage.
“Maybe the smell of the living sets off something inside them. Intoxicates them, and sends them crazy.”
“I’m just glad they are slow,” said Simon. “Imagine if they were superfast like in that remake of Day of the Dead.”
“Who’d of thought any of those zombie movies could ever be true?” said Michael.
Simon swerved to avoid two pale creatures walking aimlessly in the middle of the road, almost running into an abandoned car on the side of the road. Seeing an elderly woman with her throat torn out, in the driver’s seat of another stationery car almost caused him to crash into abandoned cars in the other lane.
“How much further?” Kate said.
Simon pointed to the left of the truck a hundred meters ahead. Tall masts jutted out like shiny white teeth above the trees at the end of the park.
“We’ll be there in a minute,” Simon said.
The truck came around the tree line into the Marina car park. Several zombies wandered between the BMW’s, Mercedes and Porches; some would possibly be the vehicle owners. Simon pulled up as close as he could to the gate to the pontoons.
“Lock and load,” Michael said, pumping a shell into his shotgun.
Simon checked the rear vision mirrors, making sure no creatures were milling around the back of the truck. When he was sure they could safely get out, he cocked his gun and opened the door slowly. Kate hoped out of the passenger side, followed closely by Michael. They closed the doors and left them unlocked in case they needed to get away in a hurry.
“This way,” said Simon, running through the gate.
Kate went through the gate next, then Michael swung it shut behind and ran the chain through the links to keep it shut.
“Can either of you drive a boat?” asked Kate.
“Dad’s got a tinny,” said Simon. “I’ve got out in it with my mates heaps of times.”
“I’ve never sailed one before,” said Michael.
“Me either,” said Kate.
“It’s just like driving a car,” said Simon. “The larger boats have an ignition key, steering wheel, throttle and gauges. Once you get it started you will be able to drive it no worries.”
“Where will the keys be then?” asked Michael, sounding worried.
“See that small building at the end of the pontoon,” Simon said. “That’s the office. The keys should be in there for all of the boats at the Marina.”
Simon led them along the pontoon to the office. He opened the door and was about to walk in when a crazed, blood-soaked bearded man leapt at him, sending him reeling backward.Michael pumped a shell into the man’s chest, knocking him over the side of the pontoon. “You okay?” asked Kate.
Simon got to his feet and pumped a shell into his shotgun.
“Why would there be one in there?” he yelled. “They can’t open doors and there’s not enough room for two of them.”
“We just have to assume that they’re everywhere,” said Kate. “Infected people could have barricaded themselves in any building after they were bitten and are trapped in there now until somebody lets them out.”
Overhead, four jets thundered past so close to the ground that the earth shook. Another four flew past a few seconds later.
“Look!” Michael yelled.
Coming in from the bay, a large grey battleship sped.
“It’s the navy,” said Kate.
“We’re saved,” yelled Simon.
They watched as two smaller patrol boats shot past the bulky ship, heading for the shallow water where the naval warship could not reach.
“Look out!” screamed Kate.Michael swung around with his shotgun at chest height, ready to pump a shell into the zombie he saw in the reflection of the office window. The zombie fell with its head exploding from its shoulders. Another one took its place.
Kate began firing her shotgun into the crowd of oncoming undead. A steady stream of elderly people flowed out of the buffet in the Marina’s club and pushed each other to get through the gate.
“Get the keys to the closest boat you can drive,” yelled Michael to Simon.
Simon dashed into the office, smashed the key cabinet open with the butt of the shotgun and quickly looked for the keys to the ten-foot boat moored a few feet away. He ran back out and began untying the boat as Kate and Michael kept pumping rounds into the sea of zombies.
“I’m out,” yelled Michael.
“Take mine,” Simon yelled, tossing his fully loaded shotgun.
Once the ropes were untied, Simon pulled out his second shotgun and rushed forward to Kate’s side. He began shooting.
“Get in the boat,” he yelled to Kate. “Take the keys and start the engine.”
Kate emptied her gun, turned and leapt into the boat, landing awkwardly against the captain’s chair. She dropped the key.
Michael ran out of ammo again and pulled out the nine-millimeter pistol. There were twenty zombies on the pontoon near the gate. It creaked and groaned under the excessive weight until; finally, it collapsed, spilling most of the undead into the water.
“Get in the boat!” Michael yelled to Simon.Simon walked backwards, firing the last of his bullets into the crowd. He leapt into the boat and helped Kate look for the dropped key. They felt the boat move away from the pontoon. Simon looked up and saw Michael pushing the boat away with one hand while firing blindly behind him with the pistol.
“Get in!” yelled Simon, waving for Michael to leap to the safety of the boat. It was now far enough away from pontoon for the zombies to fall in if they tried to reach it.
Kate found the key and quickly started the motor. If spluttered and kicked into life with a roar.
“Jump!” yelled Simon.
Michael pulled out his other revolver and fired with both until the chambers were empty. He turned to leap on the boat, but a zombie lunged forward and knocked him off balance. Michael hit the side of the boat hard, knocking his head, loosing grip of rail on the boat and fell in the water.
“Michael!” yelled Simon, reaching over the side to try to grab his fallen comrade.
Michael swung his arms limply to keep afloat in the water, blood trickling down a gash on his temple. Simon grabbed an oar and held it out to Michael.
“Grab it,” Simon said.
Michael looked at the boat, then Simon and then the oar. He was not focusing on anything properly, and Simon realised that he must have concussion from the head injury.
“What do we do?” Kate yelled, holding tightly onto the steering wheel.
“He’s not with it,” Simon said. “The blow to the head’s knocked him senseless. I’m going to have to jump in to help him.”
Kate looked at the pontoon, then at Michael.
“How would you get back in the boat?”
“There’s a step at the back, near the motor. If you keep us covered from the boat we should make it.”
“Okay,” Kate said.
Simon took too his backpack off, placed his guns on the seat next to Kate, then slid over the side of the boat. Kate pumped a few rounds into a couple of zombies that were leaning over the side of the pontoon, trying to reach out and grab Michael, who was well out of their reach.
Their bloodied bodies fell into the water and a crimson pool formed around them, reaching Michael. Michael was only a few feet from the boat, so Simon was next to him in a matter of seconds. He dragged Michael back to the boat and pushed him up onto the step.
“Help him in,” Simon called out to Kate.
Kate rushed to Michael’s aid and pulled at his wet sleeves to drag him in. Simon pulled himself onto the step as the HMAS Armidale and HMAS Ararat pulled into the Marina. The Ararat came close to the small boat Kate and Michael were on until it was touching their boat. He waved madly to the two seamen that aimed their rifles at him so they didn’t open fire. Blood covered Simon's clothes from the dead zombies in the water and was worried that he might appear to be one of the undead.
“Don’t shoot!” Simon yelled. “I’m alive, don’t shoot me.”
They lowered their weapons and allowed him to climb back aboard the boat. A seaman tossed a rope ladder over the side of the naval craft for the three survivors to climb up. Michael was unable to climb aboard as his head still spun from the knock, so they lowered a stretcher and medical officer down to assist.
“Petty Officer Smythers, will take you to the First Aid Room,” a tall, dark mustached officer said to Kate.
“Thank you,” Kate said. “There is another survivor at K-Mart. Terry wouldn’t come with us when we left. I don’t know if he’s still okay.”
“We’ll take you to the HMAS Anzac, where other survivors have been transported, once we check you for infection,” Smythers said.
Two other officers fell in behind the group to reinforce the importance of the examination by the naval medical staff.When they completed the examination, Kate, Simon and Michael were transported to the warship, where they were escorted to the lower deck. The ship already had 184 officers and crew aboard, and with the additional load of one hundred and seventy survivors, there was little room for many more.
“Can I have your attention please,” Captain Birtwistle said to the civilians. “We have secured a location at Fort Lytton and will commence transporting all civilians there via our Seahawk Helicopter in one hour.”
Kate and Simon were flown to Fort Lytton on the same Seahawk, while Michael was kept aboard for further medical attention to his head wound. The helicopter flight was rough and took twenty-seven minutes, which seemed longer for both Kate and Simon compared to the rest of the day. It might have been the commentary that the co-pilot rambled on with too; “The small fort had been built in 1881 as the defense station for the city of Brisbane, and remained active until just after World War II. Fort Lytton was a classic example of a coastal fortress, surrounded by a water-filled moat, and its heavy armaments were concealed behind grassy ramparts connected by underground passages. After World War II, the fort had outlived its usefulness and fell into disrepair until petroleum refining company Ampol took over the site in 1963. The fort became a national park in 1988, which today protects this important link with our military past. The Armed Services quickly fortified the peninsular upon the outbreak in the city.”
“Kate,” a voice called from the crowded barracks near the helipad.
Kate squinted to see whom the voice came from. Out of the crowd a familiar face appeared.
“Terry,” Simon said.
Terry ran over to Kate and Simon and hugged them.
“You made it,” Kate said. “How...when?”
“Just after you left. I heard helicopters and went back onto the roof. They brought me here with two other people that were on the roof down the Coles end of the mall. How’s that, hey. Didn’t even see them over there.”
“Do you think we’ll be safe here?” said Terry.
“I think we’re safer here than anywhere else in Brisbane now,” said Kate.
“I kind of don’t feel as safe without my side arms now.”
“I wonder how long we’ll have to stay here?” said Terry.
“Until the city is safe again I guess,” said Kate.