“His pulse is fine, and so is his blood pressure, if a little faint. He’s been dropping in and out of consciousness, and when he is awake he’s seemed fine. His pupils are responsive, maybe a little slow. He’s got a small fever, but it’s nothing outrageous yet, we’ll keep an eye on it.” I closed one of the medical textbooks we’d found, Harry’s mother had been a nurse, so thankfully, we weren’t relying solely on my first aid training.
“What I am worried about is the bites. I’m no doctor, and the courses I’ve done are only first aid... not continued care shit, but they look like they’re getting infected. See the bruising around here?” I motioned at the yellowing flesh gathering around the poorly stitched wound. “Bruising, I’d expect, but the colour doesn’t seem right, and see here.” I lowered the bandage back down over the bite we’d been inspecting, and gently lifted up the second bandage. Both John and I coughed as the putrid stench rose up from under the bandage. “This one here is definitely infected, the smell, the swollen veins, I don’t know what to do. If we had access to medicine and the internet I might be able to find something... but I don’t know.” I shrugged apologetically again and John.
It’d been nearly a whole day and night since the attack, I’d woken up soon after my collapse and after an hour or so, we’d cleaned up the last of the blood from the table and floor and ourselves. Everything had become somewhat surreal after the cleanup, I was lost, and I couldn’t really come to terms with the fact that I was playing surgeon, the life of a friend in my hands.
It was only until I’d taken a seat by the fire, lit deep down in a pit Harry’d dug before our arrival, that the crucial nature of what I was doing hit me. I looked around, there must’ve been half a dozen of us there and they all looked at me, and I couldn’t pick the emotion in their eyes. Looking back, I realise it was a mix of gratitude, disbelief and respect.
We’d struck up brief conversation, about nothing important. You’d think we’d talk about where we would go, how we would find our parents, what would happen to us, but we didn’t. We talked about Football Teams, and Cars, and Movies, and other things that somehow still seemed relevant.
It was when John joined us by the fire that I recognized the look from earlier, and I figured out what it was, because they gave the same look to John, and I gave the same look to John, and he to me. It was almost an unspoken conversation, and I think that’s when we really changed. If I had to pick a moment of when we turned from Teenagers to Post-Apocalyptic Survivors that moment would be it.
Making my excuses I left the group, and wandered over to my car. Flinging open the door, I jumped into the driver’s seat and kicked over the ignition. Leaning over the dash I ignored the stares from the other group members and flicking the switch on the UHF Scanner my Dad had insisted on installing. Almost immediately I found what I was looking for, a broadcast from the military.
‘...it is our absolute recommendation that high-population areas be avoided at all costs, be warned that the infected people are known to travel in herds, and are attracted by sound and smell. If possible, citizens should attempt to make their way to the NHQ South Queensland Royal Australian Navy port. If impossible, citizens should find shelter together away from populated areas and make regular calls on the Ultra High Radio Frequency 233 788.00. Do not attempt to respond on this channel.
People of the Constitutional Democracy of Australia, this is a pre-recorded message from Admiral James Handerson of the Royal Australian Navy, speaking on behalf of the Australian Defence Force and the Federal Government. “Good Evening People of Australia, we haven’t much time so I’ll be straight to the point, it is our absolute recommendation that high-populated areas be avoided at all costs...’
I flicked the radio back off for a moment, digesting the radio broadcast. Turning the radio back on again, I tuned into the frequency given by the RAN, and was met by utter chaos. The radio channel was flooded with people, all trying to speak at once. Picking up the hand piece I tried sending out a call, as my father had taught me, but to no avail. I wasn’t going to be heard over the chaos. Killing the engine, I waved to John, still chewing over the plan in my head.
Sighing inwardly, I reached out and knocked on the wooden door to the small freezer room that Harry’d made his hideout. I should’ve spoken to him before telling the rest of the group our plan. Once they’d heard about a military resistance it’d caught on like wildfire.
“Ya?” He called through the door.
Pushing it open, I stepped inside.
“What is it this time?” He sighed, leaning back down into his seat taking another bite of what looked like a pork rib.
“We’re leaving tomorrow morning.” I said simply.
He leaned back, looking like he was surprised that we’d leave his farm. “Okay then. Goodbye. It’s not been nice knowing you.”
I flinched, his words hurt, especially considering I’d spent years defending him from the taunts and jibes of others behind his back. “I’d like you to come with us.”
He snorted, “Not likely.”
“The military have a defence set up, near Brisbane. We’ll be safe there.”
“Good luck,” He said. “You’ll need it.”
“Harry, please come with us. You have no idea how much safer I’d feel with you around.”
He just snorted again.
“I know you think we won’t make it.”
“I know you won’t make it.”
“Twelve people, 3000kilometres, dead infected people wanting to eat us. Yeah, we wouldn’t make it... by land.”
He turned to stare at me.
“We’re heading east, down to the coast. We’ll find a boat, a big boat, and we’ll sail up the coastline. We have enough Four-Wheel Drive Cars that we can avoid main roads and the big towns.”
“I’ll think about it.” He said simply, looking back at the television, playing a DvD.
“Please come with us.” I pleaded one last time, “We’re leaving tomorrow morning, at Dawn.” Turning, I made my way out of his hideout and went to pack my bags.