The surviving three riders shuffled their feet and fidgeted, unsure of what to do now. Their life was thrown into the blender once again.
James and Kiwi, the New Zealander, started picking up the bikes to see if any were in still working condition. If John were here, he would of kept each one, putting together as many working bikes as he could from the scavenged parts. They found two that kick-started and the riders checked them over for any defects besides the dents and scratches.
Frank and his team searched the bodies. Much everyone’s dismay, after pillaging the pockets of each corpse, they punched a hole in each ones head with a mallet and tent pegs. Quite a few resources were collected, but their clothes, boots and personal effects were left out of respect. That respect however, only came after Kiwi threatened to put Jason on his ass. “If you dare to steal the boots of men who fought by our side, I’ll beat you down. It doesn’t matter that we didn’t know them, or that they started off on the wrong team. They were human and they died helping save humanity, one zombie at a time.”
We spent the afternoon digging out an old diverted drain to place the bodies to rest and topped their graves with large stones. The motorbikes were placed at the head of each rider with some form of identification found in their wallets and a couple of dog tags which Anita kept the spare dog tags from each and put it on a shoelace necklace.
“I have the most utmost respect for fallen comrades.” James spoke first after the last motorcycle tomb stone was set “But we can not bury every human we come across.”
“I agree, we lost an afternoon to a morbid day.” Frank replied “But humanity is something we shouldn’t forget. Respect for our dead is one of the things that separates us from animals. And zombies.”
The riders decided to stay travel with us, deciding not to go to Barcaldine for stability. The kid was one of the three survivors and Jo refused to let him travel with anyone else. The two riders left were a couple, grey nomads on their travels when the shit hit the fan. They ride behind the lead vehicle as we drove away from the new graveyard.
We travelled into a vividly colored sunset, one that could have been painted by Renoir himself. When the sun had finally hidden itself behind the the hills and the sky was slowly darkening from the deep azure of the day, I found my eyes adjusting to the darkness better than they ever had. I called Frank on the two-way to request that I take the lead with the two motorcycles on either side of me expanding the available light ahead. I didn’t have night vision, but I knew I could see further than anyone else.
Two hundred kilometers outside Longreach, we pulled over at a roadside stop. It had a pub, a service station and a stall. Everyone needed a rest before we went into town, and that would probably be safer done in daylight.
“Zombies…” Nori stated to Frank “In the pub and in the servo brudda. Normal zombies. Can’t work out how many, ‘tween twenty and thirty each buildin’ I reckon.”
Frank was watching the vehicles with Nori and my family, ready to retreat, and cover us if we had to run.
Jason, James and I decided the service station was the most practical to clear out first, given the supplies and equipment they usually kept in stock. As we got closer we noticed vehicles parked along the glass windows and doors of the building. Each fuel tank receiver was marked with a red cross. Across the door was a caravan marked ‘Infected inside’, followed by a heart with the letters ZPI inside of it. We made our way to the rear of the store to find the service entrance, which was blocked by a water tank which seemed to be dragged and pushed by machinery flat against the door. We moved to the bathroom side and tapped the small window where we immediately heard scratches and bangs on the wall from inside.
Jason wiped the sweat from his eyes, “Gawd dammit. Any suggestions before I radio it to Frank.”
“Watch this.” I chuckled and stacked a few milk crates ontop of each other to create a make shift stair case. I climbed onto the iron roof followed by James. I pulled out my Leatherman tool, and used the pliers to remove the roofing screws. James followed suit; it only took us a couple of minutes to remove all of the screws. We lifted the tin sheet and placed it to the side. A humid rush of of air immediately came out of the gap, assaulting our noses. The stench was a combination of roadkill, feces, rotten food and stale sweat. James and I coughed and wretched at the horrific smell.
We either made a little to much noise when we gagged on the foul air or our scent of flesh travelled into the newly created sky light. The zombies stirred below creating a loud murmur of moans. I climbed down off the roof, and scouted around the trash dumpster looking for something I could use. Eventually I found the perfect tool, a coat hanger. I straightened it out as I climbed back to the roof, and we used that to reach down and lift the floating ceiling panels. The smell worsened with us having removed the final barrier between us and the putrescence below. Both James and I spewed into the gap coating one of the infected below.
I rolled over on the cool tin roof and tried to suck in some fresh air. Laying there, I stared upon the full moon regretting my enhanced senses. James passed me some Vicks Vapor Rub from his pocket, I swiped a large amount out with two fingers and tried to push as much up my nostrils as possible, James repeated my process and rolled the tub down the roof to Jason, who then passed it on.
“James, why the fuck do ya have Vicks in yer pocket, mate?” I asked.
“I’ve been ridin’ in a car with you for a long time now, mate. Gotta cover up your stink somehow!”
Laughing, Jason said, “I have just the thing for the next phase of this operation, hang on.” He hopped down off the roof and ran over to our convoy, returning with an armload of spears.
Jason passed one to each of us, a long hunting knife attached to a broom handle, before he climbed up with his own. The human skull is the hardest bone in the body. It was an easy process, jab, pull, wait, jab, pull, wait… Or so we thought. After being jabbed through the top of the skull of six zombies, the blade was loosing it’s edge.
The number of zombies diminished as the spears grew blunt, when suddenly we noticed an amber light from below. I speared a zombie who’s eye were glowing amber. The next zombie approached out of our reach and looked up to us creating an amber glow that reminded me of a fire. James attempted to spear it but the zombie reached for the spear and pulled him down. We both tried to catch him, but the zombie was quick.
James landed on top of the zombie with a heavy thud combined with a loud snap. Apparently a zombie cannot hold the weight of a solid American Indian. As the glow-eyed zombies moved towards my best mate, I speared them as fast as I could. James pushed off a zombie who had knelt over him and stood up, towering over his next opponent.
“You’re not the only ones that can glow. Then try this on for size.” James’s hands and arms had a glowing aura of green and violet around them like some kind of armor. His first punch precise to the zombies chest, launching the zombie across the room out of my sight.
“Stay up there Sean!” He yelled. The aura seemed to be flowing down from his shoulders to his hands. As he swung his next punch, the flow seemed to create a shape just before impact.
James had created some room for himself and was now aiming for the zombies head. His arms seemed guided to his targets even as the infected attempted to dodge and weave. Jason’s spear and mine were snatched out of our hands and suddenly disappeared. Two zombies directly below us suddenly clumped to the floor as the spears reappeared through their heads and out the bottom of their torso.
James had a hold of a zombies head which was falling apart at the touch of his flowing armor. The body dropped to the floor and when he kicked it across the room a green spark shot out from his foot when he connected with the zombie.
Mateship wouldn’t let me hold back. I pulled out my two pistols and jumped down. I shot one twice in the head the moment I landed. I turned around to see Nori and James leaning against a shelf casually with bodies strewn about the floor.
“Blister.” James quoted me.
“Blister?” Nori was confused. I laughed my while responding at the irony of being quoted one of my favourtie expressions
“Yeah, a blister shows up when all the work is done.”
We shined the torch through the front windows to signal Frank to clear the main doors by towing the caravan away. The others climbed down to drag the bodies into the bathroom, and collect the things we deemed worthy. We categorized everything in the milk crates I used earlier for steps. We filled them right to the top, then placed them evenly throughout the vehicles and trailers. It was a good haul, and we were grateful for the supplies.
The majority of confectionary was left behind with the soft drinks and spoilt milk drinks. We secured a few empty jerry cans and spare parts for the vehicles. I was regretful I gave up my new truck to ensure we drove the same vehicles, but it was the smarter decision.
When we sorted ourselves and the new supplies we sat down for a debrief and threw out possibilities of why the zombies suddenly went smart. Nori said she felt a super, but there definitely was not nearby. It happened before James decided to share his power.
“The one to pull down James studied us for a moment. They didn’t attack simultaneously,” I said.
“Something must of been controlling them and I dare say that the ones in the other building probably are already under it’s control,” Frank stated. “We are going to need a different approach. I think one of the zombies was a sentinal, so to speak. By killing it, we triggered something.”
“Nah brudda, doesn’t work like that.” Nori jumped in. “If a super was controlling a group of zombies and then that group was dead, it’d notice, the super has to be actively watching or communicating. We are being followed or it was a chance moment the zombie was being controlled.”
“Then where is the super?”
“Not around here. I think it was a scout from a distance moment. Actively communicating with different zombies around different locations to see what is happening. This, of course, now means that a super knows that we are here and we may need to move quickly. It could mean that something new happened. Something that no-one who survived had seen before…. errr brudda…”
Frank stumbled at the response from Nori for a moment and then continued “So we still have no idea. Do we approach the pub and take out the remaining infected or do we move on quickly?”
A vote was made to clean out the bar. Partially to see if the same control happens again, or if it were confined to that space. We approached the front doors which had been chained shut and the same message had been spray painted on the door as had the caravan. A frontal attack seemed to be the best option. The kid and I were standing at the back with rifles ready for anything that escaped past the frontal force.
James stood dead centre with his shotgun ready as the leading attacker. Jason stood aside the door ready to cut the chains. When the chains were cut the doors open quickly followed by a rush twenty-six zombies. Every gun had fired at once dropping the first seven zombies when their eyes suddenly turned amber once again.
“Stop!” the next zombie yelled before being shot in the head, then in unison the zombies stopped “Why do you kill my children” they chorused. Another zombie stepped forward and James shot his second round descimating the zombie and damaging those that stood behind it. It came to our attention that this had been a toppless bar, or the day of infection the bar had some entertainment as five women stood shirtless in ‘hipster’ jeans.
“Don’t move, or you become a threat.” James yelled as his armor formed around his arms once again.
“You percieve my children as a threat yet you attacked them in the confines of their buildings like fish in a barrel.” It was freaky to here a group of people speak in perfect sync.
“Your ‘children’ are animals, a pest, and infection! They need to be cleaned up.” Frank yelled.
“Then, allow us,” the chorus intoned.
On queue each of the zombies turned to one figure and bit her one at the time, and then dropped to the floor as the topless barmaid stood there. Her eyes slowly changed from amber back to what I assume to be her original hazel colored eyes. As the wounds healed quicker then they appeared, she seemed to grow younger. The bags under her eyes disappeared along with the smile lines, her breast perked back to their teenage position, her cheeks came back to color and her lips moistened and fattened from the previous thinned and cracked appearance and the sunspots and freckles vanished from her shoulders and arms. From a mid-thirties woman, she looked twenty years old.
“Not good…” Nori whimpered.
In that exact moment a hail of bullets flew towards the now beautiful barmaid, she started to take a step. She moved faster then anything I saw before, but for my eyes kept up with her. She shifted herself sideways to dodge the intitial bullets then ducked, twisted and shifted to her right. She picked up James, easily throwing him back towards the doors of the bar. She pirouetted to her right and grabbed Smithy and swung him around after James. She was flanking us in a matter of a few seconds. She barged Nori over as she rolled herself around my friend and had reached me.
Suddenly I was being kissed once again. “Emily says ‘hello’.”
Time resumed to normal for a moment as the kiss lingered, before the kid aimed his gun at her. Time shifted back to her movements, she grabbed the gun from the kid and bit his upper arm before turning to ensnare her next prey. All she met was a knife to her neck. Jason had drawn his military knife and she had run right into it decapiting herself. For the few moments the head fell to the ground, my perception of time was still altered. Everything stayed in slow motion until the head came to a rest after a brief roll.
“Fucking Bitch!”I screamed. I grabbed the kid who was unsteady on his feat. He was burning up, sweat poured from his skin and he started to twitch. Blood flowed fast from his bite wound, but only for a moment.
In an instant, the blood stopped flowing, the kid stopped fitting, his breathing stopped and his life was lost.
I felt his legs crunch up, just before he opened his eyelids. Behind them was that familiar amber glow.
The kid whispered “Did you get my message Sean?”
I shot the kid through upwards through the jaw with the .22 rifle that hung from my shoulder and fell on his chest when I caught him.
I dropped him, rushing over to James and Smithy with the others. James was rolling Smithy off of him when we reached them at the far end of the bar, James was fine. Smithy had broken his back on a table before he slammed into the bar stand, ending his life.
The sound of teleports were heard behind and James had fully suited up with his green and violet armor. This time he’d added a ‘helmet’ that looked like a buffalo. We turned to face five super zombies, two of which I recognised as Emily and Richard.
“Not good…” Said Nori, the queen of understatement.