just a little something, to get me back into the swing of things
I guess I should start from the very beginning. That’s as good a place as any, isn’t it? I mean, let’s face it, if I started from the middle you wouldn’t have the foggiest idea what’s going on. It’s not one of those easy-to-pick-up stories where you learn the character’s name and entire background within the first five seconds of being introduced. Think of it more as the complicated, intricate twist-and-turn roller coaster that was Lost. I don’t know how many of you watched that programme, but if you did, you’d agree that it can’t simply be ‘picked up’ from the second or third season.
My story is a little like that. So many things went wrong, but they all set a precedent for the next event.
So, from the beginning it is.
Unfortunately, it’s not a very intriguing beginning. I was sat alone in my room on the first Monday of the Easter Holidays eating cheese puffs and listening to music, reflecting on what I’d do in the case of a zombie apocalypse. My recent obsession seemed to be the walking, ravenous corpses that tore you limb from limb in an attempt to satiate their endless hunger. If you asked me why, I wouldn’t know what to say. I could never explain my sporadic obsessions. One minute I was fixated on vampires (from reading Twilight – please don’t judge) and the next it was zombies. But I had worked myself up into frenzy; the slightest noise scared the living shit out of me.
My parents were asleep so I was basically home alone. I knew if we had an intruder, it would take a good ten seconds or so for my screams to stir any sort of response from them and another five seconds for them to gather their bearings and possibly another two to come to my rescue. By then, of course I would be dead.
I decided the only way to keep my fear at bay was to put on some happy music and to stop watching various YouTube clips of The Walking Dead. I had just finished typing ‘funny cats’ into the search box when my phone burst out into an explosion of high pitched rings. I nearly leapt a foot of the bed, throwing cheesy puffs into the air along with any dignity I might have had prior to this. Why I felt the need to put my phone on loud was beyond me. The caller display told me it was my best friend Vi.
‘What?’ I grunted, more than pissed off that she had been the cause for my panic.
‘Nice response. Hello to you too.’
‘Sorry.’ I laughed slightly. ‘You scared me.’
‘Have you been watching zombie clips again?’
What can I say? The girl knew me well.
‘No,’ I lied. The silence on the other end told me she wasn’t buying it. ‘What is it?’
‘You rung me up to tell me you were bored?’
‘Be honoured. Do you fancy a drive?’
‘You know what? I think I kind of would. I need to get out of the house. How long you gonna be?’’
‘About five minutes. See you then.’ She hung up.
Vi had just recently become insured on the roads and so took any opportunity she could to revel in the novelty that was driving. I was still learning, but I was making progress. I no longer stalled, for starters. I did however lie to my instructor every time she asked me how my theory was coming along. My answer was always the same: “Yeah it’s coming along well. I think I need a few more practices before I can take it though.” She always bought it. It’s a wonder.
I dumped the cheesy puffs and went to wash my hands. Clearing away any remnants of cheese, I popped my head round my parent’s door just to double check they were asleep. My father’s incredibly loud, house-shattering snores confirmed this.
I crept down the stairs, trying to avoid any creaky floorboards and grabbed my jacket from the hallway. I knew from there onwards that any attempt to be quiet was going to go right down the drain. For starters, our front door has the loudest click when you lock/unlock it that it’d probably wake the people over in China. The second being that the motion-detecting light right outside our house plunges everything into a blinding brightness every time you step foot anywhere near it. And as luck would have it, my parent’s bedroom was directly above this annoying object. Their room would temporarily turn into the Northern Lights for a good minute or so. Hopefully, I would be long gone by then.
I was wrong though; I only had to wait ten minutes in the blistering cold until Vi rolled up. By the time she had stopped I was shaking like a leaf. I tapped my non-existent watch on my wrist before launching myself into the warmth of her black Beetle.
‘Sorry,’ she shrugged her shoulders. ‘Couldn’t get away from mum.’
‘What did you tell her?’
‘I said I was going for a drive with you,’ she looked perplexed that I had even asked this. I forgot that her mum didn’t give two shits. I was so used to the smothering over-protectiveness of my own parents that it felt unnatural seeing other families actually trusting one another. Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents but if I had told them I was going for a drive at midnight they would have installed bars on my windows, about six different locks on my door and employing heavily armed snipers around the perimeter.
However, if I had known what was going to happen that night, I would have let them.
But…I didn’t know.
And so...things turned out very differently.