I fling the words over my shoulder and block another sharp elbow from my attacker. She raises the meat cleaver again. This is it. This is how I die. I’m trying to resign myself to this fate as she thrusts the blade down toward my throat when she is interrupted by a pair of pissed off pit bulls.
Mack wriggles himself between my chest and the Viral’s above me while Allis clamps down on the Viral’s arm, inches from my neck. She wrenches her head from side to side and the Viral loses her grip on the cleaver, much to my relief. Just as the blade spikes into the kitchen floor a few feet from our scuffle, Mack heaves himself upward, knocking the wind from his opponent and freeing me from beneath her. I scrabble across the floor and snatch the cleaver.
At my command the dogs leap out of the fray and, with all the force I can muster, I swipe the cleaver across the Viral’s throat. After a minute or two, she quits twitching and I get to work.
I pull on a pair of long rubber gloves and grab the limp Viral by her feet. Allis trots past to get the door, tugging down on the handle of a clamp I tightened around the knob for her and her brother, and I drag the Viral out to the burn pit.
“How….did you even….get in…..the house?” I grunt between tugs.
One quart of kerosene later, the stench is foul, but the deed is done. On the up side, the smell should ward off any other Virals in the area for a couple days, at least.
Now, the real work begins. We return to the kitchen and I snatch bleach from the cupboard. I douse the floor with it and mop up as best I can. There is so much blood. When it’s as clean as I can get it, I take the mop outside and add it to the fire. Then, I pull out grandma’s old steamer, fill the small water tank, and get to work. An hour later, the entire kitchen floor has been bleached and steamed to sterilized perfection.
Grabbing the bleach again, I signal the dogs to follow me, and draw a bleach bath for the three of us, especially grateful now for the well-water supply. I’ve never known the virus to spread to animals, but I’m still very much susceptible. The last thing I need is to pet my dogs and get sick because I didn’t wash the blood from their coats. I scrub each of us furiously and another hour later, I free the pups from the tub. Once dry, I grab some alcohol wipes from the medicine cabinet and wipe everything down. The handle on the bleach jug, the cupboard handles, the clamp on the doorknob and anything else Mack, Allis, or I may have touched.
The sun is sinking and there is one more task to be completed. Lockdown. Every window is covered over with double-layered plywood boards and both doors are reinforced by heavy wooden beams laid across them and supported by sturdy metal brackets. I meticulously check every possible mode of entry. How did she get in? Where’s the hole?
I shiver as a gust of wind sweeps through the living room. A gust of wind?! One of the windows looking out into the side yard is wide open. Shit, I must’ve left it unlocked! I had opened it a crack the other day to let in some fresh air. I remember closing it, but I must have forgotten to lock the damn thing. That means the Viral was really trying to get in and checking for security gaps. That, or she had been watching from the woods and saw me neglect the lock. I’m not sure which is creepier.
I lock and board the window and lockdown is complete. Feeling secure, you know, aside from the possibility that I’ve been infected today, I set about making dinner. On the menu tonight is grilled cheese and corned beef hash. I fetch the bread from the shelf and slice some cheese. Grandma had this amazing sourdough recipe that I’ve been using to make my own bread. I found it in a rolodex along with some other useful recipes. I guess she quit using it for phone numbers once she entered into the cellular age. I pull the cord and fire up the obnoxious gas-powered generator and plug in a large hot plate. I make two sandwiches for myself and a big can of corned beef hash to split between the dogs. Normally, they get kibble, but after today, I think they deserve a treat.
After dinner, Mack, Allis, and I head upstairs. We share the king-sized bed in my grandparent’s bedroom. I peek out the window to check on the fire that is still burning in the backyard. The alarm will have to be reset every two hours so I can check the blaze throughout the night. Mack makes himself comfortable at the foot of the bed while Allis insists, as usual, that she is the little spoon and curls herself into the bend of my body.
Tomorrow, I have to go downtown to restock. I run through my mental checklist until I fall asleep. Gas, bleach, salt, dog food, wood screws, new meat cleaver…