Their haughty ‘English butler’ expression gets up my nose. Are we merely unwelcome party crashers? Will we be ushered away with murmured, condescending comments, and a firm restraining hand so as not to disturb other guests?
I doubt it. Most butlers, English or otherwise, don’t eat party crashers. And the other guest’s at this party are beyond disturbing. Their skulls and bones litter the ground.
The first few hosts halt in a line, facing us through the mesh. Zoo animals waiting for a handout. We move from a slow waltz into a quick step. More Creeps push from behind, crushing the uncomplaining front row into the fence. It stretches and bows towards us. Kristine breaks off our relationship.
“Great idea, idiot,” she shouts and legs it back the way we came.
Hmm? You’re off are you? Well, nice knowing you.
I let her go.
The hosts split into Sam and Kristine fan clubs when we separate. Popular as ever, I get the larger half. They roll along the fence in my wake, an amorphous organism of tumbling limbs and bodies, heaving and grasping. Tie wires ping free. The mesh whips and rattles against steel poles. Shoes and bare feet scuff and scrape the asphalt.
Although artificially calm, I’m impelled to move faster when hairs on my neck stand up. The host’s incomprehensible gabble tickles the edge of my understanding. I avoid the temptation to meet any stony, soul sucking eye.
The dark mouth of the covered bridge engulfs me, leaving the mass to crash about amongst ticket booths, seats and pot plants. They jam the caged turnstiles that spill pursuers after me in single file.
My head wanders, bored with my bodies exertions. I glance down at the highway through glass walls. The activities above have attracted several hundred tracking eyes. The motorway trekkers converge beneath the bridge then pour onto the tracks and into the station. They’ve already worked out how to get up here.
I grip my rucksack straps tight, content to burn the drug’s free energy. Three flights of stairs leading down to the train station pass by. I don't go near them. It’s packed solid with Creep’s climbing up.
My boot heels pound the concrete then thud into earth as I clear the bridge and run into the thick weed choked Gardens beyond. I hear a desperate yell and snatch a look back in time to see Kristine reappear at the far end of the bridge.
Bloody woman. Can’t she make up her mind?
She’s running full tilt, dodging and weaving between the Creeps I’d drawn. It confuses them to be snuck up on like this. Would have been smarter and less difficult if she’d shut the hell up.
I return my attention to bulling into the thickening shrubbery. Seconds later the cruise missile catches me. She slows to match my pace, red faced and gasping, arms wildly sweeping aside the tall grass.
We’re brought up short by a half metre of concrete blocks topped by two metres of cyclone wire. Razor wire caps it. The casual observer might find this barrier formidable and retreat.
Kristine is hovering on the edge of panic. She attacks the fence, ready to risk being shredded by the razor wire than be taken by the Parasites.
Not I. I know of a back door.
First I reach up to grab Kristine around the waist and drop her in a heap on the ground. Then I check our back trail. No Creeps. I am not reassured. They’re coming.
Chatterbox talks and takes deep breaths at the same time.
“I can make it...can’t go back...followed us...almost got me.”
I had my own problems. These damn drugs don't provide relief for long. Throats burning, facial nerve endings swap from acid pain to cottonwool stuffed numbness. They’ll decide which one upsets me more soon and I’ll get the worst one full time.
I wheeze miserably. The air has no oxygen in it.
Should I blame my bad habits or whatever that frigging Crawly injected into me?
We’re nearly there, body. Keep going just a little further. I’ll let you die in a nice soft bed. It’s only fair I get to honour this small request. If you’re out there Celestial Being, and you can be bothered listening, make it so. I promise to be good for the five minutes I have left in me.
Two faint tyre tracks show through the greenery. A maintenance road leads all the way around the security fence. This one terminates deep in the Gardens back corner.
I point and Kristine darts ahead.
Wistfully I look through the fence into the grounds. Twenty acres of wide flat lawns gone to seed. Small shrubs and chest high grass obscures a sprawling three-story building.
I know it’s there. My beautiful home of forbidding, grey concrete.
I trudge past several large signs fixed to the fence at regular intervals until I spy Kristine up ahead. She stands next to a beat up, rusting car tilted at an angle against the wall. She reads a sign to herself as I walk up.
"Warning - Keep Out - Burnside Juvenile Detention Centre."