Chapter Ten Part Five - Humanity

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Towing the two trailers in its wake, the Massey pulled to a halt in what passed for the village square. Jack cut the engine and leapt down to the ground. The trailer directly behind the tractor contained all of the gear and food that they had managed to bring with them whereas the trailer at the rear had been used to cart Joan up to the village. She had been far too tired to walk, a fact proven by the fact he could hear her low, rhythmic snoring.

“Leave her be,” said Jen, noticing that Jack was making his way towards the trailer containing Joan. “She's knackered. We'll make sure we reserve a proper nice house for her though. God knows she deserves it after getting us all here, safe and sound.”

“Well, no arguments here,” he replied as he backed away from the trailer. “Before we get to the housing situation though, I propose we decide what to do with the bodies.”

He nodded gently towards the church, as if there had been any doubt in Jen's mind which bodies Jack was talking about.

“I mean, I'm all for boarding up the door and leaving them in peace but I don't even want to think about the amount of rats that might attract.”

Are there rats here?”

“I've no idea, Jen, but if there are the last thing we want is them running amok around the village, especially if it was rats that caused the initial Zed outbreak.”

“That leaves us with two options then. We either bury them or burn the church to the ground.”

“Not sure how I feel about the latter, but six hundred graves is a lot to dig,” he replied with a shrug. “That said, there must be a small excavator of some kind here; people can't have done all their digging by hand.”

“That'd probably be the better bet,” she replied with a smile. “You want to get started? I'll do another quick scout around to make sure we didn't miss anyone – living or dead – the first time.”

Jack nodded and jogged off out of the village, heading towards farm from which he had acquired the Massey Ferguson. He had noticed two or three reasonable sized barns off the yard, and he suspected that at least one of them housed machinery that at one point in the not-too-distant past, had been used by whomsoever had worked and owned the farm, pre-Zed.

Sure enough, as he slid one of the large side doors back, its runners squeaking and creaking upon both its top and bottom rails, he was greeted by a sight sure to make a lifelong farmer such as he dance a jig. Several pieces of farm machinery; a miniature combine, a couple of tractors much more modern than the Massey, two large ploughs and there off to his right, the miniature excavator he had been hoping to find.

With no small amount of effort he cleared a path, moving both incredibly heavy ploughs by hand and pulling one of the tractors out into the yard, so that he was able to drive the excavator out of the barn.

Next on the list was to find a suitable plot of land – out of the way so that it did not encroach on ground appropriate for farming and yet easily locatable so that anyone who wished to pay their respects, at any time, could do so.

It took Jack the better part of three hours until he had a hole, deep enough and with enough space, for the six hundred-odd corpses that he and Jen had interrupted during their final sermon, and even though the machinery had been doing all the work he was exhausted, and sweating profusely. Despite his fatigue he did not want to rest though, not until those bodies were in the ground.

He was soon back in the village and the sight that greeted his eyes caused him to tear up. Rather than taking time to settle into their new surroundings and relishing in the fact that they were safe, at least for the time being, people were in the process of bring the last of the bodies out of the church and loading them with great care and delicacy into the trailers that were still hooked up to the Massey.

Jen caught his eye and he nodded, helplessly. It amazed him that even with everything people had been through, even after the absolute shit storm that had been life for the past several months, the capacity for human kindness was apparently boundless.

“I know,” said Joan, coming up behind him. “I know... I woke up and they already had the other trailer full to the brim.”

In her hand she held a jerry can from one of the boats that had brought them to Sark.

“For when they're in the ground before we cover them up,” she said, following his gaze. “Just in case.”

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