Making a home out of a detention centre came about through unhappy circumstances. But a reinforced concrete shelter is a happy find regardless. Throw in the generator, rainwater tanks, secure windows and doors, stockpile of long-life food, clothes, vehicles and fuel and I elevated myself to self-sufficiency with many years’ surplus of priceless commodities at my disposal.
For an unclearly remembered length of time I cared very much about living, and kept myself busy which went a long way towards keeping me sane. I spent every day designing clever emergency exits such as this one, and made plans for every contingency I could think of. I used to fantasise about how impressed the rescuers would be when they eventually arrived. I gathered books on motor repairs, wind generators, farming manuals along with a thousand other items. I dreamed of how I’d be congratulated and greatly respected for my forethought.
Oh vanity, thou art a cruel mistress.
Of course no-one came. Hope dwindled by degrees. Optimism turned into hostility. Hostility degenerated into despair.
I wrench myself back to the present by looking on the one bright side of my frantic preparations. I'll actually get to use this exit that took so much energy to construct. The fact that I’m using it as an entry doesn’t take away from its brilliant design.
I’d driven this wreck down here and used it to ram the concrete block wall, loosening the bricks. After positioned the ute against the hole cleared from the rubble, I removed the wheels, and jacked up the chassis to leave a crawl space beneath it. It’s just wide enough for a fat man to crawl through.
I figure wandering hosts were highly unlikely to discover this area by accident and they were even less likely to crawl underneath a wrecked car. I staked my life on that belief anyway.
While I’m thinking my laborious thoughts Kristine has climbed onto the car’s sloping roof and peers through the wire at the distant building.
“You put this here? Is that where we’re going? Why didn't you leave some blankets to put over the wire? We’ll use your pack. Hand it up.”
The way the car rocks under her, she’ll collapse the frigging prop in a minute. Then we’ll be screwed.
I hold up both palms until she stops jumping around. When she is still, albeit with her hands on her hips and a impatient glare in her eyes I struggle with the rucksack’s buckles and drop it to the ground. Without explanation I duck down and push my precious loot ahead, crawling into the drift of dry leaves and branches that have collected against the opening.
Having to compress my stomach and the exertion makes me vomit while I’m halfway through. Surprisingly there’s still something in me to throw up. At least being sick stops me worrying about the snakes, spiders and possums that might be under here.
With copious wriggling I squeeze through the gap in the wall. Kristine watches me reappear on the other side of the fence, open mouthed. Recovering, she slides off the cars’ roof and pokes at the spot I’d entered through. I’m treated to 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 fold my arms and endure the complaints. She wouldn’t be hooked up if she’d crawled through my vomit on her stomach, like I did.
Resigned to a lengthy wait while she disentangles herself, I lean against the wall. In this relaxed pose I’m totally unprepared when an acne-faced, young male Creep grabs at my face. Luckily for me he is thwarted by being on the wrong side of the wire. Before I can reach for a weapon he sees Kristine’s floundering legs sticking out from under the car and goes after this easier target instead.
I barely have time to shout this warning before the Creep has grabbed her boot. She screams and kicks at him making the car rock. Seeing the prop slip I dive to the ground and jam my arm, shoulder deep, into the gap. Two hands grab mine and I haul Kristine through. I feel the muscles in my back tear as the Host who clings to her feet adds to her weight. I must release Kristine’s hands before she is completely clear of the hole. She screams as the Creep claws his way up her leg.
“Ull your wegs out!”
“Aaaarrrrghhh, hhhhuh, whhhhhat?”
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I kick the fence hard to dislodge a stack of wheels from their perch on the other side. The falling wheels are attached to the prop under Hilux. It crashes down, flattening the Creep in a snap and crackle of breaking bones. Blood and dust bursts from the gap, momentarily obscuring Kristine from view. The way her scream builds I’m certain both her legs must have be broken. But no, she’s managed to pull her feet clear just in time. However, her legs remain caught in the grip of the dead Host. His rigid hand, and little else, protrudes from under the ute.
“You almost squashed me, you crazy bastard! Ohhh noooo. My foot! Get it off my foot!”
She kicks and punches at the bloody hand. I slap her away and break the Host’s fingers to free her.
“Let’s get out of here before the Crawly comes out.”
It must be crushed but I’m all for being over-cautious. We leave hurriedly.