It was peaking noon, the cooling morning breeze had long stilled. We sweltered under the heat of the ambient sun, easily felt through the tinted glass of our vehicles. We studied the landscape, it was the typical outback scene. Orange and grey dirt, eucalyptus bushland and the sky showed no sign of rain. The occasional fluffy cloud scattered over the expansive blue mat. There were cows climbing a short man-made hill, which I figured it to be a dam. A pair of eagles circled the gap between us and the motorcycle gang ahead.
“Fuck this. Jo get back to the farm if something happens,” I said as I stepped out of the car. The deep rumbling bass of the idling motorcycles emanated throughout the bush. while their riders stayed mounted.
Jo slid over to the driver’s seat, and James and Nori got out of the four-wheel drive. Frank and a few others emptied out of their own vehicles. “Sean, you sure there is only one smart zombie?”
I looked to Nori and she looked annoyed “Brudda, are ya sure you can shoot that thing? There are humans with abilities there too. Can’t tell which though, they be all packed too close together.”
“I just needed to confirm Nori, no offence. Sean, can you hear their thoughts?” Asked Frank.
“Nope, I’ll let you know when I can hear someone’s thoughts, but they need to be psychic.”
Nori explained the human powers when we were notified by Sarah that one was approaching. We watched what seemed to be the youngest member of the group motor slowly towards us.
“Hi.” He spoke softly, unsure of the situation. He just pulled up, turned the engine off and removed his helmet. He was only a teenager, a soft face with signs of acne problems, his brown hair had “helmet hair” but was well looked after. He kept his hands moving to prevent them from shaking. He had a cricket bat and a galvanized pipe strapped to his handle bars and a butt of a hand gun sticking out from the corner of his pants. I remember thinking and hoping that he had the safety on. The kid looked to James with his glossy hazel eyes “You are the leader right?”
James held back a smirk “No, we have no leader.” He glanced to Frank and back to the kid “We are here for our own purposes and as a team we guide each other. To label any of us a leader would mistake that we are bound to follow orders of a single mind. That my young friend is what will be the demise of the E’Clai and the succession of our cause.”
“Listen, I was sent down to hail the leader, you sound like the leader and my leader wants to have a word with your leader. Can you just nominate one please?”
“Stop saying leader kid.” James winked to Frank and looked back to the kid once more. “Tell your leader that we all can meet here to talk as a group.”
The young bloke shook his head, turned his bike around, kicked the engine over and headed back to relay the message.
The bellowing bass intensified as the riders put their motorcycles into gear and trammed towards us at a cautious speed.
Nori disappeared again and I swore I heard the barbed wire fence twang beside us as the riders pulled twenty metres short and turned their bikes off. They were nearly synchronized in their dismount followed by a short march to stand in a pyramid formation, pointing towards us. We walked forward to put distance between us and the vehicles and closed the distance between the riders. “You mock my terms? I requested to speak with your leader.” He was definitely European from his accent.
Frank spoke up this time “Your kind killed our leader. He then betrayed us. Then I had to kill his shell. I buried him myself.”
“People like us? You think bikers started this war with zombies?”
“We know you are not just a biker. You’re using that body as a host, we know you are a zombie. We know you also have super humans among your ranks.”
Out of the blue, Smithy said “Fuck this” as he put two bullets into the lead riders heart. The man stood there and looked to his chest. “You see now, I had one mission to do before I could leave this hell forsaken shit hole. I was doing well to keep my identity a secret being surrounded by humans. Now instead of collecting an infected human family from a farm, I have to kill 40 humans then it will take me a month to rebuild my strength to teleport so many.”
We all raised our guns at him and I heard the cars behind me start. The super zombie continued with his monologue “My host was called Sven, he was a very athletic dare-devil. Which makes me something more dangerous than what you call a super zombie.” Two of the riders were creeping up behind their once inspiring leader. “We have learned many things from our host.” He disappeared in a swirling black mist and quickly reappeared behind the two riders who were going to stab him in the back.
“Pathetic bravery was one thing. Another was that no leader accepts mutiny”. He put one hand on each man and tossed them towards us. James and Jason copped the full blow of the flying men.impact. James was thrown off-balance before recovering his footing but Jason collapsed under the weight of the human projectile. Sven used our momentary distraction to teleport to the motorcycles. He sent the bikes flying through the air towards the group of human riders. Gunfire echoed across the land hitting nothing but air or motorcycles in flight as Sven managed to twist, turn and teleport with amazing skill and speed.
“What the fuck am I doing here?” I thought to myself before pulling my sidearm from my waist, firing off three shots. Apparently even with my latest enhance senses, I still couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.
James however had an aim that could make a lady pregnant at ten feet. In four shots he had taken out Sven right leg, which gave time for the rest of us to administer projectile dezombification therapy.
Sven had covered his head with the last motorcycle, which was his bike ironically. He laid as small puffs of smoke attempted to whisk him away as his wounds slowly healed. James and Smithy lifted the motorcycle off and James stood on Sven’s throat. “You didn’t guide those men, you led them on false pretenses. This is why you failed, so know this Sven… nah, fuck it” James pumped his shotgun aimed at Sven’s head and just as Frank screamed to stand down, James pulled the trigger. James looked to Frank “No risks, kill every one of them. That was your ideals. If you plan to keep these things alive for any reason, I think we need to redesign our priorities. If we are going to keep them, my priority is to leave. Look around you, every one of us survived and three riders survived at the cost of twenty-eight lives for one zombie.”
I wasn’t sure Frank was actually planning on doing anything but James was right. For all the carnage, lives were lost, ammunition was depleted a little, perfectly good vehicles were damaged and precious gasoline was splashed all over the ground. A realization snapped inside my head. Sven wasn’t fighting for his life, he was a sacrifice, fighting to set us up to die. Dazza suddenly teleported in over Sven body holding a burning road flare.
“I though we killed you?” He looked to me James. “I thought the same thing about you.” Nori’s voice was near and I heard another twang of the barbed wire fence, but this time it let go from the opposite end. There is no other words beside ‘twang’ and ‘twing’ that would describe what I heard before Dazza’s screaming. The wire shot past its post and swept across the road entangling Dazza inside a very messed up ball of barbed wire. The high tensile strain put on the wire allowed it to shoot from its orignal post to across the other side of the road. The flare hit the fuel covered ground and the fuel around it lit up to a soft blue and evaporated a small circle. At first I was disappointed in the fact there was no “boom”, but in hindsight I was definitely happy there wasn’t.
Dazza screamed and twisted on the outside skirt of the ball of barbs, each movement digging barbs in deeper, creating more cuts and scratches. An unbelievably disgusting sight, the wire was ripping chunks of flesh from his corpse, bits and pieces of skin and gore stuck on the barbs as he writhed around.
“Your not going to kill this one James?” Frank asked.
A rifle shot right next to Frank made him jump like a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. He looked angrily at Smithy.
James replied flatly, “Nope, promised Smithy the next one.”
Nori materialized next me as she walked past me with a spear in her hand. She jabbed the head and body numerous times to ensure the finality of Dazza’s death.
When we’d cleaned up and settled down from the fighting, Frank tried to pull me aside to talk about the efforts of “my” team.
“Mate, the only thing James and Nori have left in this world is each other and me. There is little hope for their family. I’m not much better off, I have the two of them, my sister-in-law and her kids, and the hope my brother is still out there,” I said.
Franks face crunched up as I continued, he was not used to people speaking plainly to him.
” I owe my brother my life for a countless number of things, so my one promise I ever made to him will happen. At that time do not expect us to stick around, you will always be welcome at my uncles under any human circumstance, but because you and John were friends, does not make me loyal to you.” I said, watching for a reaction from Frank, who had collected himself and was now stone faced.
I continued, adding, “I trust John’s judgement, but people change when someone’s world crashes down around them. You know the reason why we came, and we said we would kill every zombie we come across. ”
I ended a very one sided conversation by saying “But from now on, we communicate and plan, not just react, ’cause failing to plan is simply planning to fail.”