Final Day, part three
It was pretty much a given that we'd bail on the house now. Seeing how easily one of the not quite dead was able to break in highlighted how exposed we were, even in our own home. We turned off all of the lights and looked out of the bedroom window. It was carnage outside. We didn't really know our neighbours that well, but somehow I felt a sense of loss at seeing their bodies strewn across the grassed areas, a regret at never having tried to make more of an effort to get involved in local community things. The local school's swimming instructor was looking for somebody to assist with making a video to help teach children basic first aid. I could have volunteered. I didn't. I figured somebody else...okay, enough. Stop, oh, it's the cat lady from across the way. Run! Come on, run like... oh, never mind. Just don't scream, I thought selfishly.
After a quarter hour, we'd had enough open mouthed sightseeing so we retired to the garage. The little girl sat quietly in the corner. She was watching us carefully, which is something I was glad of. I had been worried she'd adopt the thousand yard stare and completely zone out, although she chose not to respond to us when we talked to her. Somewhere along the way she'd had an accident so Lucy asked if she wanted to take a shower. "No" was more or less the extent of her voluntary communication.
I had recently filled the car with petrol, I was annoyed at the time at how much it was costing but now really appreciated Lucy's insistence on filling the car instead of popping in a fiver every so often. She told me that the car uses the same amount of petrol either way, which - okay, it made sense - but it somehow seemed better to have a bunch of little transactions than ones in the range of 40 to 50. It's not that I'm tight or stingy, but with a third addition to the family there are a whole pile of expenses that never occurred to me. Nappies, for example. And more types of baby food than I ever knew existed. And what the hell is with feeding Felicity couscous and aubergine? My God, we don't even eat like that.
Says the guy who lives for pizza.
I plugged in the travel cooler and piled all of the food in it. Lucy likes to do a big shop on Friday evening, so we didn't have much in the house. Our first port of call would need to be a supermarket. I also rummaged around in the darkness of the kitchen to find the camping cooker. Lucy brought the radio that Vette had given us, a clock, and her digital camera and put them on the table rescued from the living room. We also brought our laptops as we had car adaptors for charging them, though I put them on charge as we were preparing.
I decided to try a different approach with the girl. "Okay, we'd better get you home soon. Your parents will be worrying about you".
I could see Lucy glaring at me. "They won't." Two whole words.
"Where's your mother, sweetie?", Lucy asked.
There was a really long pause, as if the girl was trying to work out what to say. Finally she offered two more words: "Eating daddy."
I really don't know whether it was the girl that started crying first, or Lucy, but pretty soon they were both howling. Fearful of what might happen, I went over and slapped Lucy. I immediately apologised, feeling horrible for having done it. I was going to explain that this is a time for being very quiet, but before I knew it I was lying on the floor gasping for air. Okay, I guess I deserved that. It isn't wise to taunt Cthulhu, especially after witnessing her decapitate a zombie with a frozen fish. Not a knife, not a sword, a frozen bloody fish. How was that even possible?
My wife was awesome.
I sat up and immediately Lucy was by my side fussing over me. "You know why I did that, right?", I asked, glad to be capable of breathing again. She nodded, sobbing quietly. I looked over to the girl, crouched on the seat. "So, what's your name?", I asked.
She looked at the floor, and quietly said "Camilla".
"You don't like your name?", Lucy asked. The girl shook her head. "Okay, so what would you like to be called?"
"Isn't that the Irish word for river, or something?", Lucy asked. I shrugged, the girl shrugged, "I just like how it sounds".
"Okay, from now on you're Erin", Lucy said.
"Really?", Erin asked, suddenly seeming brighter.
"Right now, I don't think it matters what you call yourself so long as it isn't Aaaaargh!", I said. I saw Lucy giggle.
And then the lights went out. It only took a moment for the battery powered emergency light to come on. I ran to the bedroom, tripping over just about everything along the way, and saw total darkness. My heart sunk through the floor and made a crater in the foundations. There are a certain number of amenities that allow you to tell yourself that it isn't so bad. Sure, the entire neighbourhood got slaughtered today, but the electricity is still on so maybe it's just around here and people - army, guys in hazmat suits, whatever - they'll have it contained soon. It'll be okay. But looking out over a dark suburbia, the raspy groaning punctuated by the occasional scream, suddenly these familiar streets became the most dangerous place in the world. We had to get out of here.
I had no idea where to.
I made it back to the kitchen and saw Lucy cooking something on the stove. It smelt acrid, like burning plastic. Maybe it was one of Felicity's meals and it was too close to the flame. "We leave in five", I said. I didn't comment on the smell, I figured if she set the kitchen on fire it'd be a useful distraction to let us escape.
I went to the garage and saw Erin throwing stuff into the car. I was about to chastise her when I realised that she understood. Yup, chuck it all in. There's no time for delicate. "We leave in five minutes", I told her. "We'll all be ready", she told me.
Using the dim emergency light, I took Felicity's pram apart and secured the bottom section to the roof rack. I then popped out the glass panels that were the sliding sun roof, then mounted the roof rack further back than would be normal.
"What happens if it rains?", Erin asked.
"We get wet", I replied.
Lucy returned with two child's backpacks, a purple one and a yellow one. "Spare batteries for the radio and torches", she said holding up the purple pack.
"The yellow?", I asked.
"Can I have a quick shower before we go?", Erin asked.
"No, we're going now", Lucy replied.
"No, I mean like this. We'd get wet if it rains."
"You've taken the...?", Lucy said, then she understood, "Oh, you've... Oh nice. Yes."
We looked around, Erin had gone.
Lucy and I got settled into the car, and Erin returned a few moments later completely drenched. Lucy glanced at me. "It's okay, I think she...you know...", I said. I saw Lucy's eyebrows bounce off the ceiling so I reminded her that we were about to venture out into who knows what. Not only did we not have a backup plan, we didn't even have a plan plan.
Lucy clipped Erin into the child seat, then stood up in the back with the bow and arrow in her hands.
This is it. We were off. The car started effortlessly, thanks to all the onboard electronics. I punched the garage door remote control and...
"Uh, honey? Itty-bitty technical problem", I said.
"Not even slightly an issue", Lucy replied, "here's what you do."
"Back up until you hit the wall, then floor it". I made her repeat it to me just to be sure I heard her correctly. I put the car in reverse and went backwards like a granny in a car park. "Oh, for God's sake, forget about the insurance, those things are gone now!", Lucy chastised. I was a bit heavier footed and the car lurched backwards and punched a hole in the wall.
"That was worryingly easy", I said.
"I think that was the load bearing wall for the bedrooms", Lucy answered, "so full speed ahead and no messing".
I did as was asked and we tore through the garage door. It made a horrendous noise but barely jolted us. It might as well have been made of kitchen foil. In the excitement I forgot to turn the lights on, so what did jolt was the first body I hit. The head impacted hard on the bonnet before the rest was dragged underneath. I slammed on the brakes.
"Wait here", Lucy said, hopping out of the car as deftly as a ballerina. In moments she was back. "Zombie."
I breathed again. Lucy smiled and said "You'll need to get used to that, it'll probably happen a lot."
I turned on the headlights and saw what looked like a horde of the undead. I guess they noticed the car for certain now. Lucy smacked me across the side of my head so I turned the lights off again. I saw her crouch down in the back. "That's it sweetie", she said softly, "just drive, just push the accelerator and don't stop, don't stop for anything."
And that's exactly what I did.
To be continued...