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Subject: Amy's story rss

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Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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This is Amy:



This is her story:

Amy caught her breath. She’d been running for a while now and it was good to stop, swig some water and take stock. Outside on the street, just beyond the open door to the generator hut, three walkers were spreadeagled on the pavement in varying states of disrepair and decomposition, finally put out of commission by Josh’s handgun. Josh flashed what he imagined was a winning grin and snatched a handy heavy-duty electric torch as he sidled out of the building.

“Stay frosty, babe. Have a look around here and get that generator turned off. Once it’s off we can get that other door open and see about clearing out that there big ol’ apartment block." He told her as he checked both ways and slipped away to re-join the rest of the group.

Amy nodded, annoyed by his attitude, his instance on talking like a character out of an bad American movie as well as being told - again - what her part in the plan was. Josh was a pretty slick operator and had really come into his own since it all went to Hell, but had something of a knack in getting her hackles up. Nevermind, focus on the job. First thing was to turn off the generator. It was a lot easier than she expected, aided in no small part by the prominently marked ‘on/off’ switch on the generator’s John Deere green cover. Happily, the burglar alarms that had been sounding in the distance also stopped. Then she had a look around the generator room and started cataloguing what she needed and what was just an impediment.

Her initial inspection suggested that the three tech dudes were intending to hole up here for a while. Plenty of bottled water, tins of food, bread on its way to becoming penicillin in unopened plastic bags and even some new-but-outdated sports magazines previewing games that would never be played, interviewing players who’d never play again and spruiking products whose target market were, for the most part, shambling around out there moaning and looking to satiate a seemingly endless appetite for human flesh. Too bad for the techies that they’d turned. One of ‘em was probably bit before they hunkered down in their control room and in that sort of environment there was no way out for his two mates when he turned.

As she looked around she heard that very same moaning from outside the door. Amy took up a position just behind the door frame and got her prize possession, a fire axe from the old apartment block they’d been holed up in for the last week, ready to swing at anything that wandered in. Weirdly, the moaning seemed to tail off as the walkers flowed the same direction that Josh ad taken off. The rest of the crew must be making themselves conspicuous as they enacted part two of the plan, the search for the key to Ned’s apartment complex.

For her part she wasn’t convinced. Opening up a building that big was just looking for trouble - especially if it was full of walkers let alone any of those runners or the lardo flesh eaters. She’d broken her cricket bat on the head of one of those monstrosities last week and all it did was turn around and size her up for a snack. Luckily Phil the cop (well, ex-cop as there isn’t too much in the way of law and order about the place at the moment) was there to clean it up with the axe. Phil gave it to her later as both a very useful item indeed and a reminder to ‘walk softly and carry a big axe’. He delivered that advice with an almost shy deadpan smile. When the mood took him, admittedly not often these days, he could be pretty funny.

Anyway, misgivings or not, they couldn’t stay where they were, the block was quickly becoming dead-head central and they needed to move on. Crazy old (he must be in his late thirties at least, hard to tell behind that belly, beard and BO) Ned convinced most of the others to try our luck at this place he knew. Plenty of spare rooms, big water tank on the roof and, more importantly, only one security door in or out. He said he knew where a spare security door key was hidden away.

Amy paused during this brief period of reflection and heard more walkers in the street, it sounded like a greater volume of them than before. She also heard distant gunfire and maybe shouting. The walkers all seemed to be moaning louder now, calling out to their friends that a few live ones were about. If any of them were to come through the door she realised that there was only one way in or out and she’d best complete her business before the horde lost interest in whatever was going on outside and investigated other sources of meat-on-two feet in the area. She was getting ready to leave when she spotted a long cylindrical case casually propped up against some plastic folding chairs in the corner. Closer investigation revealed it to be the sort of tube that architects carried blueprints around in or art students used for transporting their latest masterpiece. In this case it contained neither plans nor pastiche but rather something altogether more useful.

After unscrewing the lid she slid out a slick black factory-new Remington 12 gauge. A cursory inspection showed it to be clean, lightly oiled and altogether ready for use. Even better, in a new-looking Wallabies sports bag by the chairs were several new and unopened boxes of shotgun shells. This was a major score. The green-and-gold bag didn’t really go with the rest of her outfit. She’d been getting a bit sick of the whole ‘gothic’ thing but the ridiculously sturdy boot she was getting about in were something of a boon, especially when a crawler tried to take a bit out of her ankle on the first day. Memory suppressed, she loaded up ‘Black Beauty’ and worked the slide. Smooth. Purposeful. Now she was ready.

Two of the swift ones padded by, drawn to whatever was making all the others she’d seen head away from her. Amy shrugged and muttered under her breath "No time like the present", disengaged the safety and took aim. Her first shot was a cracker with a tight spread of buckshot liquidising it head. The second runner paused mid-stride to assess what was happening and caught a blast in his left shoulder, ruining his brand-name tank top and twisting him around but not dropping him. Amy swore, worked the slide and fired again, this time into the cranium. Before the corporate logo hit the ground she was feeding in replacement shells from the sports bag and looking at the streetscape outside.

There seemed to be a commotion further up the block. The ever-present low moaning was occasionally punctuated by a shout from non-rotted lungs and gunfire. As she sidled out from the generator door a thought struck her. If she just headed straight back to the others she’d have to wade through all the infected dead-heads they were attracting and be at risk from her friend’s stray gunfire. A much better plan she decided while she was quite literally on the run was to duck back a block and then double round from behind. She nodded to herself and turned the corner, preceded by the muzzle of ‘Black Beauty’.

Nothing to see other than a couple of abandoned cars, an old hatchback and a burnt-out sedan. Neither merited the time it would take to search them. More moans carried by the winds that eddied through the deserted streets encouraged her to move swiftly. Just before she turned the next corner that would see her facing the way she needed to go something reminded her to look behind, a good thing too as a lone runner was almost on top of her. This one was moving silently as it was missing a jaw but still looked hungry. One blast to the chest stopped it and the next to the head crumpled it. A couple more shells quickly found their way inside the shotgun as Amy began to move.

It was probably one of those weird acoustic tricks that the not-so-distant battle that she could hear so distinctly moments ago had faded to nothing. Just winds carrying the hungry voices of the infected around the seemingly deserted city blocks. Maybe it wasn’t so smart to take off on her own, but it was only for a few blocks and the run down the street looked pretty straightforward. She advanced easily, butt of the shotgun almost in her shoulder, muzzle lowered to conserve strength ready to bring up to the firing position at a moment’s notice, maybe those stupid American shows her brother used to watch all the time did have their uses. She stepped around a pile of baled newspapers and magazines, quickly scanning a headlines of ‘Economic Impacts of the Mystery Virus’ and ‘Prime Minister Urges Caution’. No wonder everything went all to Hell.

She reached the next junction, again, with caution as the watchword she stepped carefully around the two cars that were t-boned in the middle of the intersection. One was empty while the other had a corpse at the wheel. No, not a corpse, but one of the infected. He must have been held in place with a combination of seatbelt and buckled door when he turned; he wasn’t going anywhere now, but that didn’t stop him from sounding off with a surprising, and distressingly loud series of moans as his empty decaying hands made violent yet futile grabs in her general direction.

Amy clomped over and silenced him with a couple of blows from the butt of the shotgun and wiped the slime and putrescence from her piece with his limp sleeve. She was wide awake to her predicament and began to walk faster to where her friends should be. One runner, naked except for a hospital gown than hung from one of his arms, was approaching quickly and was taken down with a single blast of buckshot to its mottled grey-green face. The time she took to stop and aim allowed a group of walkers, shambling towards their next feast, to arrive from a sidestreet to block her path back to safety. From the sounds of things there were more following her.

She’d been alone before since what Ned referred to as ‘our extinction event’ began, but this was about the worst she’d ever had it. Separated and surrounded with no clear escape route. If it wasn’t for ‘Black Beauty’ she may have despaired. "While there’s ammo, there’s hope" she reflected as she ensured the shotgun was fully loaded and the axe was also securely tucked into her studded belt with an eye to easy access. Two shots brought down the first couple. Another took care of the creepy looking ex-business man with a half-rotted face sneaking in on her left. More moans behind. Hell, she couldn’t stick around and shoot her way out of this one. Another blast into the side of the head of what appeared to be a former security guard cleared room for her to step away from the car jam and advance. She only hesitated for a second before turning the head of a high school girl, not that much older than herself, into a fine red-grey mist. Compassion was one of the biggest killers for survivors. In the first week she’d seen a guy in their group who seemed pretty solid taken down by an infected kid who couldn’t have been more than ten or eleven. Poor guy just couldn’t pull the trigger and tried to reason with it, even as it was biting into him. It may have reminded him of someone he’d lost. Phil had to swiftly euthanize both of them and as de facto leader addressed what was left of the group. His words had stayed with her:

“I doesn’t matter what they look like, who they were or even who they were to you. They’re gone. They aren’t the person they were. We’ve all seen that." He said. "Don’t hesitate. It will be them or you. Don’t let it be you." Stark words that really brought the nightmare world they were living in home.

Remembering where she was, Amy put all such thoughts out of her mind and began to step a bit quicker. Every few paces she would stop, aim and watch another walker slump to the ground with her having inflicted what the few public service announcements she’d heard on the radio described as ‘severe cranial trauma’ to her closest would-be assailant.

She was almost on her way when another of the big ‘uns lurched towards her from a recessed shopfront. This one was in stained mechanics overalls complimented by a beanie knitted to resemble the national flag and looked all kinds of mean, managing to get one of his horrid paws on the gun. He was much stronger than she’d ever be so she let the gun go and grabbed her axe. The beast dropped the piece to the ground and advanced; its rheumy eyes, running with what could have been pus, fixated on her and its strong, powerful hands reaching out. Amy glanced over her shoulder and confirmed she had the space she needed behind her, the herd of walkers on her tail weren’t too close, to swing her axe.

The beast lunged probably a bit too early, telegraphing its intent with a snarl, and she could skip away unharmed. Her riposte hit the thing on its hand and sliced off a couple of fingers. No jet of blood, just a black-red liquid oozing and slowly coagulating around the cut. This was nowhere near enough to slow it down. She avoided another clumsy grab and this time stepped to the side and put all her might into her swing which connected to its temple with a dull thud. It seemed stunned and Amy saw her chance, her follow-up vertical blow cleaved a deep furrow into the skull and inflicted enough trauma to the cerebellum that the enraged muscles went limp and the eyes dimmed. She extracted the blade with a sticky sound and gave each side of the blade a rough wipe on the beast’s overalls.

Turning to flee she saw ‘Black Beauty’ being inadvertently kicked into the gutter by one of the walkers that has gained on her while she was fighting the beast. A good shotgun was not something she’d give up without a fight and so she stepped forward and with a couple of well-placed swings another two walkers were destroyed and she could grab the shotgun. It looked okay and the pump mechanism worked fine as it chambered another shell that quickly dispatched the infected form of a late middle aged woman in a blood spattered floral frock.

Amy fed more shells into the gun and started to run towards her friend’s location, being careful to stay in the middle of the street to avoid any more gropes or lunges from doorways.

Turning the corner into the street where her friends should be she saw a site that would stay with her for a long time. In amongst thirty or forty prone forms, all infected and all damaged to a greater or lesser extent, there was still a couple of crowds of walkers occupying the intersection. About half a dozen or so were on their hands and knees gnawing at the unidentifiable matter in the centre of a rapidly spreading blood puddle. At least twice that number had Ned bailed up against a wall. He was firing into them but the only effect of his Glock was to allow those at the back a better chance to grab him as their fellows in front fell.

Breaking out from this group and staggering towards her was Josh, the cocky smile long gone from his face, the film of grime on his face distorted by tear tracks. Josh kicked a feeding walker in the shin and with a loud snap; it continued to obliviously gnaw at what was left of a former companion. Josh was cradling his left hand. It was wrapped in that hoodie, the one with that stupid game company logo he always wore, but Amy could clearly see dark red blood seeping from beneath the makeshift bandage.

Josh looked at her. He saw her horrified gaze, looked down at his hand and nodded. The background staccato of Ned’s pistol had ceased, replaced with his screams and then the disgusting ripping sound of flesh being torn by teeth and hands.

“There were too many of them, Amy" Josh sobbed. "We opened up the apartment but we couldn’t even get in the door."

Amy looked at him with pity. She had a few minutes; all the infected in her immediate area seemed to be happily feeding away. She’d be there with him and make sure he didn’t turn. She owed him that much and she knew, were their positions reversed, he’d do the same from her.

“Chaz and that guy in the yellow pyjamas, they got taken down by the horde. We fell back here, but they kept on coming. From all directions. We held out for a while and we got most of ‘em but when Phil got bit, another grabbed Wanda and that was it." He stumbled closer, tears subsiding. His face wore neither his habitual scowl, nor the mask of desperation it had just been minutes before it just looked neutral. Resigned.

"I got bit, Amy" he said with a curiously detached voice. "Don’t let me turn."

“I won’t, mate" said Amy "I won’t." Both she and Josh had seen enough to know there was no reversing what had happened. No cure and no hope. The only thing to which the newly infected could aspire was not to become a full-blown infected and join the legions of ravenous monsters destroying what was left of the human race.

“I don’t have long." said Josh "You need to go. They won’t notice me now I’m one of them, but you’re still on the menu." He dropped down on one knee, seemingly to conserving strength.

Amy looked about. Now the guns were silent and no-one was shouting it seemed as though there was nothing to attract any more dead-heads towards them. Josh started mumbling, Amy wasn’t sure if he was praying or just making his peace with the world, but she gave him some space for a few long minutes. For the rest of his life. The mumbling stopped.

“I can feel it, Amy, it’s starting" he grimaced. Then he looked at her with deep sincerity. "Do it".

She nodded and lined up her axe for the mercy blow. Tears were welling up in her eyes now. She didn’t really know Josh that well and she never really liked him but he was one of the group. They’d kept each other safe and even though they’d only been together for about a fortnight they felt like ... family of a sort. She cursed, held her breath and gave Josh the best shot she could. Better this than turning. With a bisected skull still attached at his neck he slid down to the street from his knees and was forever quiet.

She was still here. Alone, but still here. Story of her life. Amy stepped back and scanned the environment. Nothing. Nothing useful .

Nothing except a bicycle chained to a street light outside a chain cafe. Hooray for the ‘ride to work’ crowd. She moved quickly and lined up the chain and combination lock for a blow, then another and another. The chain was broken and the lock shattered. This noise attracted the attention of a few of the remaining walkers who looked up with interest from their terrible feast with blood smeared faces.

As the closest few walkers struggled to their feet Amy hopped on the bicycle and began to pedal, something she hadn’t done for years, and slowly and near-silently cycled away from the scene of carnage. They came here seeking a new sanctuary but found only more misery. Maybe there wasn’t any sanctuary left anywhere anymore. She tried to put this out of her mind; there’d be time to mourn later. Amy focused on her breathing and avoiding the obstacles that littered the street but still found her eyes wet with tears as she cycled away into the dwindling afternoon and towards a lonely and uncertain future.
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Christopher Dickinson
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Nice read, thanks.
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Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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wortsenawl wrote:
Nice read, thanks.


No worries at all.

Glad you enjoyed it.

I had a friend who is studying creative writing look at it prior to posting and she suggested that I make it clear where it's set. The original draft was half America and half Australia. Going with the 'write what you know' approach I decided to set it closer to home.
 
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