26 August 2008

Fatal Cure - Chapter 15

Making myself at home in a detention centre came about by unhappy accident. Needless to say I’d been looking for a reinforced concrete shelter at the time. The generator, rainwater tanks, secure windows and doors, stockpile of long-life food, clothes, vehicles and fuel were incredible bonuses. I was a king surrounded by priceless commodities.
For a short period I cared very much about living. Staying busy kept my mind active. I spent many days designing clever emergency plans around every contingency and fantasised about how impressed my rescuers would be when they showed up. I gathered books on motor repairs, wind generators, farming manuals along with a thousand other items. They’d congratulate me and greatly respect my forethought.
Oh vanity, thou art a cruel mistress.
The days and weeks had scattered like calendar pages in a Disney movie. Hope dwindled. No-one came to save me. Optimism turned to hostility, hostility degenerated into fear, and fear became hopelessness.
On the plus side, at least one of those old, ultra-clever contingency plans can pay off for me before I die.
For instance, this old Hilux I’d driven down here and repeatedly rammed into the concrete blocks with the bull bar. With the wreck parked against the hole, all the wheels removed and the chassis propped up with a bit of lumber, I had an escape route just big enough for a fat man to crawl through. To shut the ‘door’ I stacked the wheels on an old forty four gallon drum just inside the fence and attached them to the prop. A few cut branches concealed the gaps either side of the car and the natural undergrowth did the rest.
Hosts probably wouldn’t discover it by accident and they were even less likely to crawl through. Even so, I’d only used this route once before. It wasn’t something I wanted to draw attention to.
Kristine climbs onto the car’s roof before I can stop her and peers over the fence at the distant building.
“You put this here? Why didn't you leave some blankets to put over the wire? We’ll use your pack. Hand it up.”
She’s not much of a lateral thinker. The way the car rocks under her, she’ll collapse the frigging prop in a minute. Then we’ll be screwed.
I hold up a hand until she stops jumping around then struggle with the rucksack's buckles and drop the leaden weight from my back. Ducking down, I push my precious loot ahead and crawl into the drift of dry leaves and branches, disappearing under the car. I vomit again. Surprisingly I still have a bit left in me to bring up. Being sick successfully distracts me from thoughts of snakes, spiders and possums that might be under here.
A bit more wriggling and I’m through the gap in the wall. Kristine watches me reappear on the other side of the fence, open mouthed. She slides off the roof and pokes at the spot I’d gone through. She starts a running commentary as she pokes her head in.
“Doesn’t look very safe. What about snakes? Ewww. Did you have to throw up there? I’ve got some on my hands. Shit, my shirt’s hooked up on something.”
I wait stoically. She wouldn’t be hooked up if she’d crawled through my vomit on her stomach like I did.
I rest the pack against the wall and straighten up, totally unprepared for the acne-faced, young male Creep, who appears opposite me. Before I can reach for a weapon he sees Kristine’s floundering legs sticking out from under the car.
I barely have time to warn her before a hand closes around an ankle. She screams and kicks. The car rocks some more and the prop slips. I jam my arm shoulder deep into the gap and feel around. Two hands grab mine and I haul Kristine’s heavy arse through. She’s heavy because the Creep doesn’t let go. He gets dragged under the ute, still clutching her ankle.
“Ull your wegs out!”
Kristine is not quite through but I’ve jumped the gun. I bump the stack of wheels off their perch. They fall and jerk out the prop. The Hilux crashes down, flattening the Creep in a crackle of snapping bones. Blood and dust bursts from the gap, covering Kristine. The way she squeals I’m sure both her legs are broken. But no, she’s still caught in the grip of the dead Creep. His hand, and little else, protrudes from under the ute.
“You almost squashed me! Ohhh noooo. He’s got my foot!”
She kicks and prises at the bloody hand. I reach in and have to break several fingers on the kid's hand before she can extract herself.
“Quick. Run. Before the Crawly comes out.”
My thoughts exactly.

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