Rather than my zombie fact book.
I am happy to say that the final edit before it goes back to my partner in crime, Rebecca Bradley, of my zombie book is going really well. The great thing is that I have really enjoyed re-reading it. It is in parts tense, in parts gruesome, and in others intellectually stimulating and funny.
I thought I would throw in a chapter here concerning two characters. Jason and Bevan, who often provide the humour, but who also smuggle in a bit of philosophy. Anyway, here is one I am just working on, so it may change. The paragraphing format means there is a spare line between paragraphs and no indentation to first lines, which would exist in the book, so excuse my lack of html coding to make this look more like the finished product…
Let me know what you think. There might be some clunky phraseology, and you won’t understand some of the references necessarily in the piece, or, indeed, the twist involved in it.
The van entered Olding at the westerly side, from on high. There was a great view of the settlement and the bay which sporadically opened up from between the houses. The green-blue seas could be seen to lap against the sandy shores with a single yacht moored towards the nearer end of the bay. Ordinarily, this was a thoroughly pleasant drive and entrance to a picturesque town. However, the aesthetics of the drive and the view were of little concern to Jason and Bevan.
Indeed, as they drove down the road past the first rows of houses, they could see an old woman with lank grey hair standing in the middle of the road, adopting a stance that was starting to become a marker for them.
“I’m going to try to stay out of trouble. Best if I take evasive action when considering these virals. On the other hand, if she comes near me, I’m not gonna swerve. She’s fair game,” Bevan stated.
“Bev, we can’t be sure of the state of these people. You know, they might get better. There is no way we can know the future like that, despite what that other bloke said. We can’t…no, we shouldn’t go around conducting vigilante guerrilla euthanasia!” Jason said forcefully, indicating the woman in the road ahead.
Bevan pulled the van over to idle on the side of the street. The women up ahead hadn’t yet heard or seen the vehicle and just staggered around, waiting for something to come onto her radar.
“I’m pretty sure there’s no way back for them. If that’s the case, then if we do hit them, we are doing them and us a favour! Though poor Annie might not like it.” Bevan patted the dashboard of his beloved campervan.
“But is ‘pretty sure’ enough? We’ve had a couple of days experience of all this and have no idea what is going on. We might end up killing these virals and then finding out that a cure has been found. It’s like the death penalty and hanging someone who’s later found to be innocent. It’s just too dodgy,” Jason reasoned.
“Dodgy! Would you describe that bird with her muff out, attacking you after eating her dog, ‘dodgy’? Put it this way, Jason, if one jumps into Annie, I’m not going to be too worried. It’s their choice, I’m not swerving around to avoid hitting them and ending up crashing myself,” Bevan replied. “I had a mate who used to drive utes in Australia; you know, with the big roo bars. He said it was safer not to swerve, to just hit the kangaroos head on when they jumped into the road.”
“Mate, you do realise that these are not kangaroos? These are people?” Jason asked in reply.
“If I’m honest, Jason, I’m not really sure,” said Bevan earnestly.
“And I don’t think choice comes into it,” said Jason.
“Okay then, have it your way. They’re just like insects, waiting for something to come into their senses, you know, and then attacking without choice. Like that moth we saw flying into the fire, with its sense misfiring.” Bevan indicated the woman ahead as he spoke. “She’s like a malfunctioning robot. Her circuits are fucked… Look, imagine I had a pot of paint, and one night, something went wrong, and the paint turned to, I dunno, cheese. It’s now not a pot of paint. It might look to you like a pot of paint. Really, though, it’s just a paint pot, not a pot of paint. It’s a paint pot, and it’s full of cheese.”
Jason looked at Bevan. “You get weirder by the day.”
“I know what I mean. Anyway, she’s a paint pot full of cheese, and I ain’t treating her like a pot of paint. I ain’t gonna try and paint my house with her. More likely to throw her in the bin. That said, I don’t want cheese on my van.”
And to Jason’s most quizzical of looks, Bevan smiled, turned and took off the handbrake, pulling the van back out on to the road. With careful precision, he steered clearly around the viral person who stood motionless as the van ticked past her.
“This could be like that old game, Frogger, but instead of avoiding cars as a frog, we’re a car avoiding zombies. I wonder how many points—“
“You’re kidding me. Seriously, Bev, shut up. You’re making me feel sick.”
From where they were, on the western side of Olding, they had to drive down through town and across to the eastern side, where Jason’s flat was situated. Bevan drove through the quiet streets eventually getting to the steep road which led down to the Crab Shack.
As the houses blurred past them on the downward route, the café-restaurant on the westerly edge of the beach came into view. Just as they were nearing the car park and the corner which sent the road at right angles, a figure stumbled out into the road. In the short time that the men had to take in the data and interpret it, the man jolted into the middle of the road. With bare and lacerated feet, sodden clothes and hair, and with bloody arms flailing aimlessly in front of him, the two men in the car made their flash judgements.
“Watch out, there’s a fucking viral there!” Jason shouted.
Bevan was driving, at the time, in the middle of the road, not anticipating any other traffic. However, and despite his earlier claims, something animalistic and perhaps violent in Bevan took over and instinctively made him swerve to the left so as to actually hit the man in the road, and then at the last minute, he pulled the wheel back a small margin, as if his subconscious mind was having a debate with itself, unbeknownst to “him”, in mere instances, pulling him one way and then the next.
“What the fricking hell are you doing!” screamed Jason as Bevan swerved to the left, and then marginally right again.
The end result was that the van clipped the shoddy (though in no way diminutive) looking grey-haired man. He was hit by the edge of the van and its wing mirror, which was bent back in the process, throwing him brutishly to the road. Jason glanced through his window to see the viral hit the ground and almost bounce.
“Take that” Bevan called back.
“What the hell are you doing? What were we just talking about? You can’t go around running these people over! It’s not just some kind of weird computer game. You don’t get points by doing that to them, by running them over!”
“Look, it’s a dog-eat-dog world now,” explained Bevan.
“Bevan,“ said Jason, “you move from the sublime to the ridiculous at the flip of a coin. Jesus, I’m not a dog, and nor was he! And there could be a cure!”
“Mate, I’m not sure he was really a he,” said Bevan as he steered the campervan past a car which had crashed into the front of the art gallery. “Wow. What have we come back to? Check that out!”
“I suggest we get the hell back to mine as quickly as possible. I wanna be on the first bus outta here.”
Jason looked left, and from the raised position in the van, could just about make something out on the beach as the van slowly moved past the car-inserted gallery.
“Sweet bejesus,” said Jason, a look of horror descending over his face.
“Oh my God,” replied Bevan, looking right at the car which protruded from the glass frontage of the gallery. More particularly, he was looking at the gore, liberally spray painted like some piece of caustic modern art on very public show, around the car and on the shards of broken windows.
Then everything properly came into view. Bevan stopped the van and his left arm reached out to grab Jason and attract his attention away from whatever he was trying to look at on the beach.
There, before the two men, was a scene right from the very horror movies that Bevan had so often whiled away his drink or drug-induced slumberous Friday nights watching, in post-pub dazes. What was once the driver of the old car was now a food bag for two ravenous freaks of nature as they tore into the flesh and sinews of his body, teeth grazing bone to make awful scraping sounds. Jason realised that the two infected people were no longer the people they once were, concerned with running a shop, or perusing the local tourist attractions. To him, they were animals, intent on one thing and one thing only. The body took all of their attention, bar a marginally snarling glance round at the campervan as it stood there idling, carrying two onlookers, ashen-faced with horrified astonishment. One of the pair who were tearing the body apart was a woman in her late teens.
Jason recognised her as she turned and dismissively half-snarled.
“Jesus. That’s Ella, from the pub,” Jason exhaled.
Ella worked at the local pub and often served both Jason and Bevan after a day’s work. She was nice enough, and they often saw her about town, with her friends. Bevan had often tried to ingratiate himself amongst them to little or, in reality, to no avail. Bevan’s track record with the ladies of Olding was notoriously poor, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying. He was very trying.
But now the men didn’t know what or how to think. This person whom they had once known was now devouring another human being in broad daylight.
“What do we…do?” asked Jason, unsure, confused and shocked.
The other infected person was a pony-tailed man in his thirties who neither of the men recognised. His hair was dishevelled, mostly out of the hairband, and his brown T-shirt and jeans had soaked up an inordinate amount of human blood has he gorged himself on flesh and guts and skin and ligaments. All parts of the body seemed to be fair game. His face was covered in blood as he dipped his head and dove into the open carcass as it lay half out of the car. Perhaps the victim had been trying to escape when he was set upon, the men did not know. What they did know was that the world was now a very different pace full of new and shocking stimuli, which their brains had not gathered the experience to deal with. Their powers of induction were impotent as the file-drawers in their memory offices were empty of reference.
“Let’s get out of here. Now.” Jason felt like his world had closed in and around him; that only the immediate stimuli had any influence; that his actions were simple reactions to them—a sort of survival mode of pure cause and effect. That he was a mere insect, a moth.
And this, here—this, now—this was the fire. Jason’s eyes were burning with the wretched horror of it all.
“Let’s get to my flat and… Let’s get to my flat.”
Bevan slipped Annie into gear and accelerated off, leaving the decimated body in the car to be fed upon by the vulturous brace of virulent beasts.