04 September 2008

Fatal Cure - Chapter 23

The story dribbles out of me in a monotone while footage runs in my head like a movie trailer. All the exciting bits are spliced together in confusing chunks. I don’t see Kristine anymore. I look inward and re-experience a past kept suppressed...
...I survive the initial Parasite invasion by discreetly turning my face from adversity. Fortifying the three windows and two doors of my one bedroom flat is accomplished by rearranging the available furniture.
Typically it’s the very least I can do.
I sit in a corner quietly without moving. Childhood skills of hide and seek are resurrected.
My ground floor unit isn't an ideal fortress, but people like me tend to cling to the familiar in stressful situations.
Electricity shuts down the day after the first Parasite ‘Poppers’ go off.
‘Poppers’.
That’s the name I come up with for bursting incubator bodies.
Eating all the food in the fridge is a final banquet of condiments and vegetables. Since I have no way of cooking the frozen meat, it goes out the bathroom window.
I slowly starve.
Every receptacle in the place is full of water in anticipation of the mains supply being cut off too. This turns out to be a waste of time as the taps don't stop running for weeks. I’m still reluctant to flush the toilet because of the noise.
I watch neighbours sneaking out of their homes to seek food for their families. Sometimes they came back. Sometimes they didn’t. I hear screams in the night, gunshots, shouts, and spine chilling shuffling noises outside my walls.
A few terrifying, boring days later, a new enemy arises.
Looters.
They kick in doors and ransack homes. I slide a note to them, covering my traitorous welcome mat whenever anyone approaches. It tells them to go away, I am armed. They aren’t to know my best weapon is a dull butcher’s knife.
A band of drunken teenagers arrive, with sharper knives and blunter baseball bats. They won’t take no for an answer. All my windows are smashed and they are intent on laying hands on me.
I shouldn't have told them to fuck off so literally.
Hungry hosts attracted by the racket displace them otherwise the situation might have turned nasty for me.
I leave my draughty home several days later. Host sightings have declined. I am weak with hunger. Scavenging through this messed up town reaps meagre rewards. Stinking fly-blown bodies lay everywhere. Not all of them are ‘Poppers’. In fact those messy corpses are in the minority.
There are many signs spray-painted on walls and windows advertising a HDC camp. ‘Food at HDC recruitment post, Burrows/Adams road, noon’ is a commonly used template.
It takes weeks of cautious advancement towards the rendezvous before I am starving and intrigued enough to approach. I see no hosts at all.
Skulking in the undergrowth near the Burrows/Adam intersection is unrewarding for several days until I see a four wheel drive and large truck painted with the HDC acronym. They drive up and down the main roads, calling for survivors to come forward and receive a free feed. A large green Army tent is set up and the smell of cooking meat is torturous.
My stomach is drawn to them. I hold it back with difficulty.
I watch the well-armed men from a safe distance and listen to the bullhorn holder’s rhetoric. Shut-in’s, similarly affected by the honeyed words, slink out of various bolt holes. A nervous crowd accumulates. We snatch food from soldiers hands like whipped dogs. While they have our wide-eyed attention, the men with guns regale us with promises. They pledge to protect and feed anyone who joins them. They tell us the HDC is a division of the Army and has ultimate authority over ‘civilians’. The well fed young thugs who pose around us don't seem to resent their indenture. The megaphone wielder claims credit for driving the Parasite hosts out of town. This wins us over. We applaud.
Survivors are to be relocated to a central camp. Many rush forward. Some want time to think it over. The weapons tilt down. They say only a looter would refuse such a generous offer. Looting is punishable by death. Immediately. Without trial.
A frightened, elderly man retreats.
He is shot.
We decide to go with them peaceably.

1 comment:

Coops said...

Yes I missed a day. Sorry about that. There's a better excuse this time.

I promised you quality over quantity so when yesterday's work still didn't measure up at 11pm I took a break.

I am entering an entirely new sequence with this flash back which might explain the change in tone.

Hope you think I pull it off convincingly enough.