Chapter Seven

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“What the hell is that?” Lea leaned forward over the steering wheel, squinting at something up ahead.
I followed her gaze to see two men fighting on the side of the road. At first I thought it was a fistfight between two hitchhikers, but then one of them took a bite out of the other. It clamped onto the poor man’s neck, tearing his flesh away from his bones, sending blood and vocal cords snapping free into the air.

“What do we do?” Lea asked, easing her foot off the accelerator.
“We can’t stop,” I said, making sure my passenger door was locked. I watched as the man went limp in the zombie’s hands, falling to the ground. “He’s already dead.”
But Lea continued to slow the car. “Is that a petrol can next to him?”
I looked again and realised she was right. A red can had been dropped on the ground next to the body, tipping petrol over the soil.

“Oh God,” I said. “He must have been taking petrol to that car we drove by earlier.”
“We need that can,” Lea said, suddenly pushing hard on the pedal, catapulting us forward. She turned the steering wheel, veering towards the zombie. The creature was so enthralled in its fresh feast that it didn’t hear us speeding towards it. I ensured my seatbelt was tight and held on as the car slammed into it, feeling a bump as the bodies flattened under the wheels. Lea pushed the gearstick into reverse and put her foot down again, making me lurch forward as the car sped backwards. I looked over the dashboard to see what remained of the corpses, and it wasn’t pretty. The two bodies had been crushed into one another to the point that I couldn’t decipher where one ended and the other began. It was a mess of blood and body parts so disturbing that I had to look away.

Lea rested a palm on the shoulder of my seat as she twisted around to look out the rear windshield while she reversed the car over to the petrol can.
“Quick,” she said as she pulled the car to a stop again. “Grab it.”
I opened my door to see the can sitting right next to the car, close enough to reach. I leaned out and grabbed the handle, lifting it carefully to prevent any more liquid from leaking out. I placed it on my lap and pulled the door closed before we sped off again. The smell of petrol filled the car, making us lift our shirts over our noses as we steered back onto the highway.
A few miles later, Lea pulled over and got out to pour what was left of the petrol into the car. “We’re so lucky, Eva,” she said as she sat back in and slammed the door. “That gave us just enough to get to Sydney.”

An hour and a half later, we were driving through the inner city streets of Sydney, which were eerily quiet and deserted.
“Where is everyone?” Lea said, more to herself than to me. We were keenly aware of any signs of movement, our sense for danger on edge with the knowledge that we were entering the heart of the nationwide chaos, the eye of the bio-chemical storm. We turned a corner to be greeted by the sight of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, tall and looming as it arched over the ocean. We needed to cross it to get to the port and meet the ship.

“Road block.” Lea pulled the car to the curb and turned off the engine. She was right, police cars and barriers had been set up to block access to the bridge. “We’ll have to walk the rest of the way.”
I grabbed my satchel, making sure the folder was in there before I slipped it over my shoulder. I picked up the hammer, but Lea swatted it away.
“Put that in your bag as a back-up,” she said. “I’ve got better weapons in the boot.”
I stepped out and met her at the back of the car just as the boot swung open, revealing a collection of huge knives, a steel baseball bat, a machete and an axe.

“These two are mine,” she said as she took the baseball bat and machete. “You can take your pick of the rest.”
“Where did you get all these?” I asked as I picked up the axe and the largest kitchen knife.
“Something else I’ve learned in this mess: you can never have too many weapons.” She carried the machete and slid the baseball bat in between her belt and her jeans. I put the knife in my bag and held the axe over my shoulder as we started walking towards the entrance to the bridge. We were about to cross the last road before the bridge when Lea stopped.

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