We sat in silence during the drive out of the city. After seeing such inhumane violence first-hand, none of us felt inclined to fill the air with chit-chat.
As Wyatt drove through the suburbs, I could see Ben shifting anxiously in his seat. The neighbourhood streets were just as deserted as the city, except for a few devoured bodies strewn across the side of the road every now and then.
We saw the occasional car speeding down the street, filled with survivors just like us, although most were headed in the opposite direction, fleeing. Even though the outbreak only hit here late last night, a bond had already formed between the few of us who had survived. I exchanged knowing glances with the others in the cars as they passed us, their eyes just us worried and weary as my own. I could tell by their blood spattered faces that the infected hit this area hard, maybe harder than it hit the city. None of this bode well for Ben’s parents. I took a deep breath and hoped that, somehow, they had managed to stay alive.
“It’s just here,” said Ben, pointing to a house on the left side of the street. “The white one with the rose bushes.” Wyatt pulled the RV over and for a moment we sat quietly, scanning the street for any signs of life… or death. Ben turned to us and nodded, so we each picked up a knife and slowly exited the motorhome.
A cool breeze brushed against my face, and I almost felt peaceful as I closed my eyes to breathe it in. It was late afternoon, and soon the sun would start to set, bringing this – the first day of this Australian apocalypse – to an end. But I knew the horror had only just begun. I followed Ben through the gate in the white picket fence and admired his childhood home.
A white, two-storey weatherboard, with flower boxes adorning the window sills and a beautiful garden, it was charming. I could envision Ben growing up here; playing on the long front porch, running through sprinklers in the summertime. It appeared to be untouched from the ravages of the outbreak. I climbed up the porch steps and waited by the front window while Ben searched his pockets for his keys. Wyatt and Jo stood in front of the house, keeping watch.
Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw movement from inside the house. I stepped up to the window and cupped my hands over the glass to take a closer look inside. My heart sank deep into my chest when I saw them.
There, in the middle of the living room, I saw a man’s body. His arms laid motionless by his sides and his head facing the window, his sad, frightened eyes staring into nothingness. An infected woman crouched over him, her blood soaked hands clawing into his stomach as she fed on his intestines. The sound of Ben’s jingling keys unlocking the screen door awoke me from my terror.
“Ben! Stop! Don’t unlock the door!” I whispered as loud as I could, making it sound more like a desperate screech. “What?” he asked, freezing in place. “Why?” I didn’t know what to say. He walked towards the window, his face wrinkled in agony as he saw my eyes brim with tears.
I gently put my hand on his arm as he tried to look through the window, trying to stop him. “No,” he said, shrugging my hand away. “Whatever it is. I need to see.” Watching him peer through the window, searching the inside of his house, I waited for his heart to break. When tears filled his eyes, I knew he had seen it, too. “Dad.” He breathed, choked by his devastation. Wiping his tears away, he took a deep breath in before looking around the living room again. “Where’s my mum?”
Confused, I turned to face the window and looked inside. She was gone. He didn’t see what she had become. “Ben…” I started, but I didn’t know where to begin. “She… Your mum, I saw her.”
Something threw itself against the window, making us both jump back in fright.
“Mum!” Ben yelled, falling to his knees. “No. No, no, no, no, no.” He couldn’t contain his tears anymore, they streamed down his face as he stared helplessly what used to be his mother. Her fingers had been gnawed on, she had chewed her own fingertips off during her feast. Blood smeared onto the glass as she tried to bite through it, her lips and teeth covered in her husband’s flesh. I could see from the festering laceration on her hand that she had been bitten. Red raw and inflamed, it had already started to rot.
Wyatt and Jo had joined us, and together we sat with Ben on the porch, crying silently for our friend and his doomed mother and father. After what felt like hours, I turned to face the garden, unable too bear the sight of the infected woman or her shattered son any longer. My breath caught in my throat as I heard moaning from out on the street.
Peeking over the porch fence, I saw three zombies shuffling passed the house. I held my arm out to warn Jo and Wyatt, and they slowly turned around, following my gaze. Wyatt put his hand on Ben’s shoulder, signalling him to stay down. We sat on the porch, barely breathing as we watched the zombies continue slowly down the street.
“We need to go.” I mouthed to Wyatt, who nodded in response. “Ben, mate,” he said softly as he tried to look into Ben’s eyes. “I’m really sorry, but we need to go. It’s not safe for us here.” Wyatt helped Ben to his feet, but he pulled away and moved closer to the window, standing face to face with his mother.
She growled at him as she pushed her palms onto the glass, trying to break through. Ben held his hand up to hers, tears spilling onto his trembling lips as he looked into her dead eyes. “I’m so sorry, Mum,” he sniffed. “I love you so much. Goodbye.”
He closed his eyes and inhaled a long, deep breath before stepping back from the window and turning away. Wyatt and I followed behind as Ben walked passed us and headed for the RV, wiping his tears on his sleeve.
No-one said anything as we buckled our seat belts and drove away. With barely any cars on the road, it didn’t take long for us to make it out of Melbourne. Heaviness filled the RV, each of us lost deep in our own thoughts as we watched the last of the neighbourhoods fly passed our windows.
As I slowly began to drift into sleep, I felt my heart ache for everything, and everyone, we were leaving behind.
What lay ahead for us remained to be seen, but as Melbourne lay in ruins behind us, I hoped it would be better than what we found today.
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As They Rise (The Eva Series #1)Horror
A Wattpad Featured story. As seen on The Huffington Post. Book One of The Eva Series, which has over 3M combined reads! A kick-ass young girl, a nation swarming with zombies, and a sweet romance that grows amongst the ruins. You'll find all that and...