Chapter Eight

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After a short break to catch our breath, we ventured on, keeping track of the blood trail as we went. With our energy already depleting, we chose to tread carefully but swiftly, hiding behind cars and creeping around buildings to avoid the stray zombies on the streets.

We entered a beautiful part of the city that looked to have been there for centuries. Narrow lanes, historical sandstone buildings and old townhouses surrounded us. It was like we had stepped back in time. Turning a corner, we came across a street filled with overturned shop stalls and rotting food. My heart sank when I saw the blood trail disappear into a maze of squashed fruit, vegetables and disgustingly decayed bodies.

“This is The Rocks,” Lea said as she stood with her hands on her hips, surveying the damage. “It was market day here when the outbreak hit. I used to come here with Skye.” Her voice cracked at the end, choking up at the thought of her girlfriend.
“We’ve gotta keep moving,” I said, pulling her by the hand. I wanted to comfort her, but I knew if we spent too much time thinking about the people we’d lost, sadness would overwhelm us. We could not allow ourselves to feel. Our lives depended on it.

Attracted by our voices, a zombie popped its head up from behind a broken stall. It stood up, holding a dismembered foot in its hand, munching on the little flesh that remained.
“Ugh,” Lea sighed as she walked towards it with her machete held high. “I hate these god-damned things.” She swung at it, slicing into its neck but not completely taking the head off. The creature fell to the ground, and Lea finished it off by crushing her foot down onto its skull. We continued walking quietly, I tried not to breathe through my nose to avoid the potent smell of rotting food and bodies that filled the air.

The sound of an engine interrupted our silence. As it grew closer, I knew it wasn’t just an engine I could hear, but the sound of blades cutting through the air. It was the unmistakable sound of a helicopter. Lea and I looked up and around, but it was nowhere to be seen.
Lea held her palm over her forehead to block out the sun as she looked. “It sounds so close.”

A second later, it flew over the top of the buildings and into view. It was so close I could see someone in a military uniform and helmet leaning out, holding a large brown bag in one hand and scooping something out of it. He lifted a pile of papers out of the bag and flipped them into the air. We watched as the pieces of paper floated down onto the street. It flew over us, and to our elation the officer saw us and waved. We waved back, and it felt so surreal to have some kind of contact with someone from the outside world after so long in isolation. He pointed to a new pile of papers in his hand before throwing them down and giving us a thumbs-up. The flyers rained down over us, and we reached up to catch them, curious to see what they were. I grabbed hold of one and held it out to read it:


This flyer was dropped from a US Army helicopter.

For all uninfected survivors, we are coming to save you.

Be at Circular Quay wharf tomorrow (24th Oct) for rescue. Rescue boats will stay at port as long as is safely possible. For best chance of rescue, arrive at wharf early.

– Australian, British and US forces with assistance from the UN.

I folded the flyer and slipped it into my bag before I gave the officer a final wave and watched the helicopter disappear over the buildings into the next street.

“That was awesome,” I said, suddenly feeling energized by our encounter.
“You know,” Lea said as she watched the last flyer fall to the ground. “This time tomorrow, we’ll be on the ship. We’ll be safe.”
I flashed her a wide smile, excited by the mere thought of getting to the ship. But in my peripheral vision, I saw something that wiped that smile off my face. The fear in Lea’s eyes told me she saw it too.
“Eva,” she said quietly. “Run.”

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