Catch up with any chapters you’ve missed by clicking the appropriate link.
Walking home from town was nothing new for Ryan. It was something he’d done countless times since moving there. The tack he was taking on this occasion was no different to normal.
The jaunt itself couldn’t have been more different though. He was relieved to see that his plan of creating noise to draw the lurchers to the front entrance of the office block had been largely successful and he only came across infrequent pockets of undead as he left the town centre.
He was already aware of the danger gawkers presented. They were quiet, quick and agile, but they were every bit as predictable as their lethargic lurcher counterparts and Ryan remained alert to their presence throughout the walk home. They always attacked in the same uniform style; a darting run that preceded a pounce akin to a cheetah. He knew that if he was blindsided by one he’d be done for, but the pitter-patter of their feet on the ground always gave them away regardless of their lack of vocals.
Ryan seemed to have the situation under control, especially as the concentration of lurchers grew yet sparser the further away from town he went. Rare was it that the lurchers were alone and Ryan recalled the advice of Dr Thorgen Schaffer about them naturally finding groups to latch onto. He wondered how they just naturally knew to form hordes.
He also wondered why the gawkers were so much different. It didn’t seem to make sense that the New Black Plague should affect people in different ways. Did it have something to do with the way the virus was contracted? Did a lurcher simply become a gawker after a given length of time? Did it matter? They were all out to lunch on living flesh so it was inconsequential how they went about doing it. All that mattered was survival.
As he walked, Ryan pondered on what he might find once he reached home. Would everything be as he’d left it? Would looters have done the rounds? If they had then it stood to reason they’d have taken his SUV too. The key to his car was hung up by the front door. If anybody had broken in there was no way the car would still be there, he thought.
He barely broke his stride or thought processes as growling lurchers approached periodically and he used his trusty 7 iron to stove in their skulls. He knew by now not to let them in too close after that first skirmish outside the Safe Zone. If the group numbered more than two or three then he ran. He wanted to survive, not to play the hero.
The walk took little over twenty minutes before he turned the corner onto Minerva Close; the street he’d spent the last couple of years living on. It was a nice and quiet street on an estate in the suburbs. The street itself was home mainly to retired couples with the odd family. He really was a black sheep in that respect; an unmarried man with a decent job and no kids. Ryan had never fitted in, but that couldn’t have mattered less to him.
It was quiet; literally no action whatsoever on the street. That was far from odd. There had been little action before the New Black Plague outbreak aside from the kids occasionally playing football or cricket. Why should it be any different now, he thought.
He swung his golf club playfully whilst whistling as he neared his house. His white SUV came into view and the whistling immediately ground to a halt. He could see the windows had been smashed, but what angered him more was seeing the words FLASH BASTARD inscribed into the paintwork down the driver’s side; likely done via a key. He knew he should have been relieved it hadn’t been stolen, but couldn’t help a flash of anger.
“Fucking cunts,” he exclaimed aloud through gritted teeth.
He checked through the smashed windows and the seats were covered in glass. He spotted a brick or two as well, but there appeared to be no other damage aside from that. Ryan did his best to shake the anger he felt. He knew it was only going to get worse when he checked the house.
Lo and behold, the front door window was broken from where looters had attempted to gain entrance. He wondered what benefit anybody could have got from robbing his house, but then figured whoever it was might have been looking for a place to sleep and something to eat instead. With that in mind, Ryan drew his 9mm pistol whilst keeping the golf club firmly in his other hand.
The door swung open with a slight push and Ryan stepped inside. It felt surreal that he had to be careful in his own home. He aimed the pistol down the hallway towards the kitchen and then swung it right to look into the front room. The place had been looted and he couldn’t help mourning the loss of his videogame console and television.
A noise came from upstairs and Ryan instinctively darted inside the front room and crouched beside the frame of the doorway. He tried to control his breathing and made as little noise as possible; finger poised on the trigger of the pistol. He waited for a minute or so before peeking around the corner and looking up the stairs.
At least he could see nothing from this vantage point. He’d heard nothing else since either. He stealthily stepped around the doorway and crept up the stairs. Ryan couldn’t prevent a slight creak on a couple of steps and he cringed at the noise, though it didn’t seem to invoke a reaction from who or whatever was upstairs.
Ryan stepped onto the landing and was in conflict with himself as to which room to look in first. He quickly opted for the guest bedroom and slipped through the door. The curtains were drawn, but he could see it was empty despite the lack of light. He stepped out and went into the master bedroom instead and had to stop himself from yelling out in shock.
There was a man asleep in his bed. The man hadn’t been woken by Ryan’s entrance and this caused Ryan to level the pistol at his head.
“Wake up, motherfucker!”
The man’s eyes snapped open and he looked immediately at Ryan with a gulp. He sat up and held his hands up above his head; his eyes shifting nervously towards the door.
“Waiting for somebody?”
“M…m…my girlfriend. Sh…she’s out foragin’”.
“You send your bitch out hunting for you? Nice to see you got your priorities in order. Next question; why the fuck are you in my fucking bed?”
“You…I…what? This is your bed?”
“Have you not seen the pictures around the house, dickhead?”
“I haven’t really paid attention. We just needed somewhere to hide out,” the man said with an uncertain smile. “Your front door was open and we didn’t think you’d be back. I mean, most of those who aren’t in safe zones have become…those things”.
“So why aren’t you in a safe zone?”
“My girlfriend…she tested positive. I couldn’t leave her”.
“Ah, I get it. So because she’s already as good as dead you figured you could rest easy and send her out to do the dirty work? I like your thinking,” Ryan said with a sadistic grin.
“It ain’t like that,” the man said; suddenly affronted.
Ryan came at the man and hit him hard on the side of his head with the butt of the pistol and knocked him out cold. It was such a hard strike that it drew blood, but Ryan felt no remorse. He shoved the man out of his bed and his naked form landed on the floor with a thud. Ryan was incensed that he was naked and had to summon all of his willpower not to shoot the unconscious form then and there. He thought better of the idea; reasoning that the one clip of ammo he had would be better served elsewhere.
Ryan grabbed a necktie out of one of his drawers before dragging the man into the guest room. While his knowledge of knots was minimal, he did his best to bind the man’s hands behind his back. He left the room and closed the door before heading downstairs into the lounge. He sat in his usual seat and couldn’t help but grimace at the fact his TV was no longer there. In spite of that, he couldn’t deny that it felt good to be home.
The fridge, freezer and cupboards had been cleaned out of any decent food. Any that remained in the latter two had long since gone bad thanks to the fact there was no electricity to sustain either of the units. Whatever remained in the cupboards wasn’t going to be enough to feed him for long. The taps ran spoiled water and he wasn’t about to chance drinking it. In essence, all Ryan had was the four walls and a few sticks of furniture.
He returned to the guest bedroom to bind the still unconscious man’s ankles too and further ensure he couldn’t escape. Ryan was awaiting the return of whoever it was that was out foraging and had drawn the curtains so he could covertly look out onto the street. The occasional lurcher walked by and Ryan made a mental note to clear them out if he had designs on waiting the situation out at home.
Eventually, a person came into view. They were clearly female from the way they walked. Wisps of blonde hair poked out of the bottom of a baseball cap that obscured her face; his baseball cap! Ryan scowled and picked up his 7 iron as he walked out into the hallway ready to confront her.
Her form appeared in the door window and his grip on the golf club tightened. The handle was pulled down and the door swung open. She stopped dead and looked up at Ryan. Recognition immediately flickered in the eyes of both of them, but only for a brief moment as all hell broke loose.
She fell forwards and sprawled onto the ground; revealing a snarling gawker standing where she had been. Ryan acted quickly and instinctively. He swung his golf club upwards at the creature, but missed and instead smashed the lampshade and light-bulb above their heads. Glass showered down upon them all, but the gawker wasn’t deterred and made a move for Ryan.
He was quick to get his head back in the game and grabbed the advancing gawker by the shirt it still wore. It snapped its jaws at him; desperate to sink its teeth into some living flesh. The unblinking and bright eyes bore into Ryan’s as he attempted in that split-second to search for any sign of life. All he could see was instinctive bloodlust.
Ryan flung the gawker through the door and back outside. He followed shortly behind in the hope to finish the job, but it got back to its feet with the agility Ryan already knew too well. He was still one step ahead though and swung his 7 iron again.
There was no mistake this time and he struck the gawker hard on the side of its head. The blood and mucus sprayed out across the lawn and the bonnet of his SUV as the violent creature dropped to the ground; still, lifeless and absent a large amount of its cranium. Ryan took that moment to draw breath and felt a sharp pain on his forehead. He lifted his hand to the source of the pain and realised a shard of glass had embedded itself in his head. He pulled it out with a growl and inspected the blood coated sharp tip before throwing it away.
Turning his head, Ryan looked back through the doorway into his house. The cap had flown off the woman’s head to reveal her beautiful facial features, but he already knew fine well who she was. He stepped back inside the house and looked down at her. She looked back with an expression that suggested she was none too pleased to see him. He held out a hand to help her back to her feet and she grudgingly accepted. They stood before one another for several moments as if to ensure they weren’t imagining it. Ryan eventually broke into a warm and genuine smile.
TO BE CONTINUED
Please be sure to keep up with the awesome Just Another Apocalypse Diary by fellow blogger Kira Scribbled. Catch up with now by clicking the appropriate link.
Image header from Culdesac Home Guide.