The banging from up the stairs made Ryan cringe. He stopped looking through the cupboards and made his way out of the kitchen to the bottom of the stairs.
“Harry; stop making so much fucking noise, dickhead,” Ryan rasped through gritted teeth.
“Sorry, Ry,” Harry responded quietly from one of the bedrooms.
Ryan shook his head. For almost two weeks he’d been as good as babysitting Harry and attempting to turn him into something of an adept survivor. It had gone okay in that the man was still alive, but it was blatantly evident that he’d never had to fight a day in his life. While the twenty-four year old was a handsome enough bloke, he was slight in build and had no real physical strength. He was keen to learn, but that only really served to irritate Ryan all the more. He chose to go out on supply runs alone in most cases, but on occasions when they were running particularly low, Harry or Georgina would accompany him. This was one of those occasions.
He returned to the cupboards in the kitchen where he continued to look for food and useful supplies; filling his rucksack as he went along. It didn’t take long, but Ryan was happy with the haul. It would be enough to feed the three of them for another few days at least in this one house alone. He head out of the kitchen and to the bottom of the stairs again.
“Are you done up there yet?”
“Yeah; I think I’ve got all I can,” Harry called back down.
“How much space you got in your pack?”
“I can squeeze in some more”.
“Good. Get your arse back down here and load up on a bit more food. There are packs of bottled water too. You can help me carry those to the car”.
Harry came down stairs and did as he was told. It was mutually accepted by all that Ryan was the one in charge. He had a better handle of the situation and was physically more competent than the others, though Georgina could certainly handle herself.
The larder was stocked with several packs of bottled water; as good as a safe filled with gold bullion during a crisis like this. Both men picked up two packs each and headed out of the front door. The late afternoon sun hit them both; summer was in full swing. They loaded the bottles of water into the boot of Ryan’s vandalised SUV before heading back inside to get some more. Ryan wondered why the house would be so well stocked with bottled water, but certainly wasn’t going to bemoan the good fortune.
They soon depleted the larder of all the water before Ryan climbed into the driver’s seat and Harry sat next to him in the front.
“Are we done,” Harry asked.
“Does it look like we’re done? We’ve got a tonne of space to fill. We’re gonna head to a few shops and see what we can forage from those”.
“Why do that when there’s still like another five hundred houses around here we can loot?”
“Because, Harry, we’re going to need to make sure future supply runs are kept within walking distance when the fuel runs out in this thing. What sense would it make to use the car and all the petrol just to get supplies from houses within a mile of where we are? I thought you’d have worked that out by now”.
“Makes sense now you’ve said it,” Harry muttered.
Ryan drove the car slowly through the estate. They drew the attention of a few lurchers along the way and a gawker gave them chase, but soon gave up when it realised it didn’t have the pace to keep up.
They soon arrived at a small retail park. There were groups of lurchers ambling around, but Ryan was more interested in seeing where the gawkers might be hiding. He couldn’t see any, but that didn’t mean they weren’t around. He stopped the car outside a store, but kept the engine running.
“Okay; let’s clear the area of these dead-heads. You got your cricket bat?”
“Yeah,” Harry replied; visibly trying to steel himself for what lay ahead.
“Don’t panic. We’ve been through this a hundred times. Aim for the head. They’re slow so you can always outpace them. Just don’t let too many get too close”.
“It’s easy talking about it and practicing in the back garden, but out here in the real world…”
“Listen, you pussy,” Ryan said sternly. “Do you want to see that beautiful girlfriend of yours starve?”
Harry shook his head and started to breathe slowly and deeply to calm himself.
“You’ve killed lurchers before. There’s just more of them this time. It doesn’t matter if there’s one or a hundred and one; stick with what I’ve taught you. Use your knife in close quarters. Either stab them in the temple or through the eye. You got it?”
“Yeah; I got it”.
Ryan gave a curt nod before opening the door and stepping outside. Harry watched as he went immediately on the attack; felling three lurchers in seconds with his signature 7 iron. This instilled Harry with confidence and he stepped outside too. His cricket bat connected with the skull of a lurcher and another one shortly after. The more he took care of the more empowered he became. It wasn’t long before they were both surrounded by inert creatures. Ryan looked over to Harry with a thumb held up.
“Good job. Let’s get in here and load up before more of them show up”.
The doors of the store had already been smashed by looters so gaining access wasn’t a problem. It was dark, but Ryan didn’t use a torch so as not to draw unwanted attention. A lot of the good stuff had already been looted, but they managed to find a few bits and pieces that would sustain them for a while. They loaded up the car as much as they could and closed the doors. Harry gave Ryan a satisfied smile.
“A nice haul I reckon. That should see us right for…”
Harry was cut off midsentence by a gawker that leaped from out of nowhere and barrelled him to the ground. Ryan was unable to assist as lurchers suddenly appeared around him too. It was almost as though they’d sprung a well laid trap. There was no time to wonder where they’d come from as he swung his 7 iron wildly; a little too wildly and after he’d despatched of a couple, the club flew out of his hands and careened through the face of a third lurcher. He still had three to deal with though and made a quick grab for his bowie knife. It was less quick and convenient, but he still managed to bring the suffering of two of them to an end before coming face to face with the third.
Something was different about this one. Its eyes bulged and flesh worn tongue lolled. It wasn’t making a grab for Ryan like a lurcher always did. It seemed to eye him in the same way a mentally disabled person might. Ryan was too enraptured by the lurcher to notice that Harry was still struggling to fight off the gawker.
Then it started to convulse. Ryan didn’t know what was about to happen, but he knew it wouldn’t be something good. He instinctively dropped to the ground and rolled away as the lurcher began to projectile vomit violently; the liquid spraying some ten feet. Ryan couldn’t see the face of the lurcher from his vantage point, but saw that it immediately dropped dead on the floor after it had finished spraying the contents of its stomach. It landed in such a way that Ryan could see its face; or what was left of it. The eyes had popped out of the skull leaving dark holes in their place. The white and gleaming teeth and muscle that had surrounded the mouth before had appeared to have eroded as evidenced by a fizzing sound from whatever the lurcher had thrown up. Ryan was horrified by the sight. Yet another variant of lurcher. The virus was mutating; that was only too obvious.
“Ryan! Help me!”
Harry’s shriek brought Ryan back to reality and he quickly got to his feet. Harry desperately attempted to fight the snarling, snapping gawker off, but he’d since dropped his cricket bat and the knife had fallen out of his reach. Ryan watched on; his face deadpan. Inside, he felt a sense of enjoyment. He imagined the conversation with Georgina when he got back to the house. He imagined her going to him for comfort. He imagined that being the very thing to reignite the spark. This really was the perfect way for things to go; how he’d valiantly attempted to rescue her boyfriend, but who’d died before he had the chance. How tragic! Nobody would know the truth.
Ryan pulled the 9mm pistol from his pocket. It discharged with a loud bang as a single bullet lodged itself in the skull of the gawker who went immediately limp and collapsed on top of Harry. Harry breathed loudly in relief and panic for a moment before pushing the creature away. Ryan chuckled through his nose. He had no idea what had compelled him to save Harry’s life. He sauntered over to the grounded man and helped him back to his feet.
“Thank you, Ryan. I owe you my life”.
“Damned right you do, kid”.
A noise attracted their attention. The sound of the gun had attracted the attention of other nearby lurchers and they were staggering towards the scene in numbers.
“Get in the car. It’s time to go”.
Harry needed no second bidding. They both got into the SUV and sped off before the lurchers descended and crowded out the retail park.
Back at the house that evening, Ryan sat in the back garden; sipping on a bottle of water and enjoying the last of the day’s sun. He thought about what had happened and why he’d decided in that moment to save Harry’s life. There was no answer to the question that made any sense.
He also thought about the vomiting, eye-popping lurcher that he’d decided to name a spewer; the horrific sight of the empty eye sockets and mouth effectively having corroded because of the acidic vomit. It had to be a mutation. It was the only way to explain how there were three different variants of lurcher. It made sense in a way. If the virus was an artificial splice of various things then it stood to reason that not every strain would be the same and they would mutate in different ways as they passed from host to host. But then he wasn’t a scientist so what would he really know?
His thoughts were disturbed by the sound of the French doors opening and he looked around to see Georgina who smiled at him. She took a seat next to his and he couldn’t resist ogling her backside as she bent to sit. After a few seconds of silence, Georgina spoke.
“Harry told me about today”.
“I’d be surprised if he didn’t. The guy loves the sound of his own voice,” Ryan said flatly.
“He told me about what you did,” she carried on; ignoring Ryan’s barbed comment.
“It was nothing”.
“Harry doesn’t think so. You saved his life. You’re his hero”.
“Nothing anybody else wouldn’t have done in the same circumstances”.
“Well it wasn’t anybody else. It was you, Ryan. He’s grateful to you”. Georgina paused for several moments. “I’m grateful to you”.
“Please; let’s not make a big deal of it,” Ryan said tersely; standing and walking out into the garden.
“We don’t have to. I just wanted to thank you. Maybe this situation is helping to bring the best out of you”.
Ryan felt uncomfortable. He knew that saving Harry’s life had been an impulsive reaction and that he hadn’t really wanted to do it at all, but it twigged in his mind that the event could actually work in his favour. It would go a long way to building her trust in him again. If he was prepared to save her boyfriend then surely he was a reformed character. A reformed character that was another step closer to Poontang City, he thought. He turned back around to face Georgina; her big, beautiful eyes focussed on him.
“Perhaps you’re right. My conscience would never have allowed me not to save him today. Like I said last week, we’re stronger together and Harry’s getting better every outing”.
Georgina smiled. She stood and approached Ryan; putting her arms around his neck and embracing him tightly. He placed his arms around her waist and had to fight the urge to grab her shapely bottom. He savoured the feel of her breasts pushed up against him; caring little that he felt like a horny teenager. She kissed him on his cheek before pulling away and their eyes met. It was a long stare and Ryan could feel the intensity. More to the point, so could Georgina.
Their attention was broken by the sound of a smash inside the house.
“What the fuck…” Ryan said.
He picked up the 7 iron that lay next to the chair where he’d been sitting before looking through the kitchen window and through the house. His heart jumped into his mouth.
“Wankers,” Ryan growled. “I can’t fucking believe this shit!”
“What’s happening, Ryan?”
“It’s the damned military”.
“Best guess, they’re pissed about me taking my leave from the Safe Zone. Sad bastards have found out where I live and come for me. They obviously need a hobby!”
“What are we going to do?”
“We’ll have to get out of here. It’s either that or we get hustled into the back of a truck and escorted away. When they find out you’re infected they’ll probably just kill you,” Ryan said offhandedly, but seriously.
“We need to get Harry”.
“There’s no time. The cunts are swarming the place. We’ll have to go. Harry can plead ignorance and they’ll let him into the Safe Zone where he’ll be better off. Don’t worry about it. I’ll look after you,” Ryan said; spying his opportunity.
“No chance! I’m not leaving him. If you want to go then go, but I’m not leaving Harry”.
“Despite the fact they’ll shoot you as soon as they find out you’re infected?”
“I’d sooner take that chance than leave Harry behind. Besides, I’d rather die properly than turn into a lurcher”.
Ryan went to speak again, but Georgina barged past him. And went into the house. Ryan screwed up his face and snarled with frustration. He didn’t know what to do. He looked through the kitchen window and could see Georgina with her hands held up and protesting as officers moved to apprehend her. Was he really going to lose her again? Did he have a choice? The military would surely throw him in solitary confinement again; this time for a long stretch. When he got out, Georgina would likely be dead if they didn’t kill her as soon as they discovered she was infected.
He made his choice and ran for the fence at the end of the garden. He was just about to scale it when a voice caused him to halt.
“Stay where you are. Don’t move another muscle. I mean it; I’ll shoot you where you stand”.
Ryan let out a frustrated sigh and smiled ironically before turning around to face the officer who had an MG aimed at him.
“Drop that weapon and put your hands up”.
“I’ll put my hands up by all means, but I ain’t dropping this golf club”.
“I said drop it now!”
“And I said fucking no!”
“Don’t make me fill you with bullets, fucker! I swear to god, I’ll do it”.
“You’d better pull the trigger then hadn’t you, you squaddie faggot!”
Ryan grinned brashly. He knew the officer wouldn’t shoot whether he dropped the 7 iron or not. No matter what he did, Ryan was certain things couldn’t get any worse and he toyed with the idea of cracking the man’s skull open.
The chance would never arise. Ryan didn’t see nor hear the man that crept over the fence behind him and bludgeoned him over the head to knock him out cold.
When Ryan came round, he was tied up in the back of a vehicle. He had no idea how long he’d been there, but he’d been slung in haphazardly. Harry and Georgina sat on a bench that ran along the edge of the cabin; both with their hands and feet bound too. The vehicle was in motion; Ryan could garner that from the vibrations and engine noise. He looked at Georgina groggily.
“They rounded us up and then stripped the house of anything worth taking. All food and water, chairs, the beds…whatever else they could lay their hands on. They were looking for you”.
“I figured that much. They’ve obviously done some kind of database check to find out where I live. Surprised it took them so long to get there”.
“What are they gonna do with us,” Harry asked; the fear in his voice abundant.
“Probably nothing with you. You’re clean. I’ll likely get incarcerated. Georgina…I’m not sure. Ah fuck; my head hurts”.
Georgina sighed aloud. She looked at Harry and shook her head to signal for him not to respond further before looking back at Ryan.
“We’ll all be fine. You can explain why you escaped. You’re nothing if not good at using that silver tongue of yours,” Georgina joked.
“You would know,” Ryan said with a wink and a sly grin.
Harry eyed them both quizzically and Ryan immediately realised he’d dropped the ball. Georgina looked as though she wanted the floor to open and swallow her. They’d done so well at hiding their past relationship up to this point. Harry went to say something, but was distracted when the vehicle screeched to a sudden halt and they could all hear noises outside.
TO BE CONTINUED
Please be sure to keep up with the awesome Just Another Apocalypse Diary by fellow blogger Kira Scribbled. Catch up now by clicking the appropriate link. Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8.
Image header from Culdesac Home Guide.