Chapter Five

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There was a comforting sense of calm hanging over the old family home as Max crept back down the creaking stairs. He decided that for the first time since he was plunged into this world of the undead, he could relax and take his time.

He returned to the sparkling, pristine kitchen and leisurely made his way through the cupboards. The place was a gold mine. He filled his bag with a variety of canned goods, along with some chocolate bars from the fridge for him to enjoy in the next few days. On the bottom shelf of the towering fridge unit was bottle upon bottle of water, which he happily packed into any available space within his now bulging backpack. He even managed to sneak in the odd can of lager into a side pocket, toasting the memory of Tom Hume as he did so.

He felt a wave of guilt, scavenging off the bones of this family's lives, seeing as he had killed them not five minutes earlier; but this was the world they now lived in. Something told him that Tom would have been urging him to take what he needed anyway.

Max wandered around the rest of the house; he began to truly appreciate the beauty of this place. The Humes had clearly taken pride in their home.

Beside the fire, a fine wooden table lay empty apart from one sole screwdriver. Max gently picked it up as he had done with everything, well aware that these were someone else's possessions. He twirled it in his hands as he strode out of the room with newfound determination.

Bounding back into the fresh air, he stooped and wrapped his fingers around the edges of the fallen door. Tensing his body, he eased it back onto its base and dragged it into its original position. Using one hand to grip the doorknob, he guided the other to the golden metal hinges. It did not feel like it, but Max was stood in this position for well over an hour, balancing the door and screwing the hinges back into place one by one until the job was done perfectly.

He pulled the door shut from the inside until he heard that satisfying click of the latch, then flicking the lock to the left he once again restored security to this stunning home. The Humes finally had the peace they deserved.

Stepping back to admire his handy work, it was only now that he noticed the old looking door at the far end of the corridor. He hesitantly made his way to it, well aware that it was the only portion of the house he had not yet explored. He slid the baseball bat from over his shoulder, catching the glimmer of that gold inscription as it flashed past his eyes.

He threw the door open and felt for the light switch on the other side, finding it on his left after flapping his hand repeatedly against the dark wall. A light hesitantly blinked on above his head, illuminating a small garage. At the front stood a classic electric lifting garage door, and just behind it, an impressive red pickup truck, clearly well-loved and maintained by its owner.

Even the one weak ceiling light made the paintwork shine, as if it had just been driven off the production line. On either side of the car stood towering shelves full of what looked like assorted clutter, but hidden behind the vehicle was an old fashioned workbench that brought a smile to Max's face.

He had always been one for crafting and building; it was fun to him but also brought with it a sense of tranquillity. The bench was equipped with an array of wood, material, saws, hammers - anything you could ever need. Excitedly, Max set down his bag next to him and began to explore and rack his brain for something he could craft.

Firstly, Max decided to make a proper holster for his bat out of thick leather material. He emptied the contents of his bag onto the cold stone floor, and began to sew his creation down the centre of the backpack.

Once he had finished, he slipped on the bag and practiced both sheathing and drawing his weapon. It worked well and Max couldn't hide his beaming pride.

Just when Max had given up scavenging, he noticed a leather zip up bag propped against the end of the shelving unit. He plucked it up from the ground, enthusiastic as there was some weight to it. He blew off the layer of dust and unzipped the bag to reveal a deadly looking weapon.

Initial excitement was dampened slightly when he realised it was only an air rifle, but after finding a few boxes of pellets next to the bag, he was more optimistic. The gun looked custom built, with a huge scope fixed to the top, and the entire weapon was painted with camouflage.

He put the pellets into one of the new pockets on his bag and rested the gun against the bench. He ran back into the house and searched frantically for the keys to his new ride, eventually finding them in a bowl next to the front door.

He spun back towards the garage, excited to drive the beast of a car, but stopped in his tracks and turned slowly back. Next to the bowl sat one solitary photo frame, and in it a family photo. The three of them were pictured in their living room, sat around the fireplace. Flames licked behind them, and they all wore the same uncontrollable grin plastered across their faces. Max slipped the photo out of its frame and folded it into his wallet. He was determined to remember every single person who helped him as he would be eternally grateful. He owed his life to them.

Walking back to the garage in a more sombre mood, Max sat the rifle and bag into the passenger seat, raised the garage door and took his seat behind the wheel. He clicked his fingers and prayed for the car to start, which it did, roaring into life with the turn of the key. Max laughed, as if it was ever in any doubt with a car in such good condition.

Max edged the car out onto the driveway, before closing the door behind him. He took one last second to look back at the house and blessed the Humes under his breath before driving away. It was time Max got as far away as possible from his home town, and all the bad memories that came with it.

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